A foot of snow. That’s what fell on my garden last week. Twelve inches of heavy, wet, icy snow covered our lawn, bent the branches on our trees, and broke the tender new shoots on my perennials. Yes, I had already planted annuals, but I put them in pots on our deck, which I hauled into the warm house when I saw the forecast. I managed to cover my lettuce and chard, which were already in the ground, but they’re reasonably hardy and did just fine, although they may still decide that they’ve endured a winter and it’s time to bloom, producing a flower stalk instead of the leaves I want. All things considered, however, we did well. Many of our friends and neighbors lost entire trees. I can’t complain.
Continue reading “May Snow”
I love wintertime. I love the snow, the icicles, and even the subzero temperatures (probably because we so seldom get them). Having grown up in the monotonous weather of southern California, I think winter is amazing, even after 25 years in Colorado.
However… sometimes we just get too much winter. Not in quality—Colorado winters are milder than one might suspect—but in the quantity of days when winter is likely. We’ve experienced a hard frost and snow as early as September 8 and as late as mid-June. I like winter—but I like summer too!
Continue reading “My Annual Mid-winter Attitude Check”
Yes, it’s May. And yes, it’s still snowing. In fact, we had temperatures around 20 degrees, with snow, over the past few days. The prediction is for warmer weather, but in previous years we’ve had snow and lows below freezing well into June. Of course I’m anxious to get my garden growing—but what will survive our winter/spring weather? Surprisingly, quite a lot!
We were gone last fall, so I never got around to pulling out last summer’s freeze-killed veggies. It turns out that was a good thing. With no protection at all, my Starbor kale roots survived our Zone 4 winter, and new growth is appearing from a dead-looking stump. I expect the kale plants to bolt as soon as it warms up a bit more, but in the meantime, I’m harvesting kale now. I plan to include kale in my garden again this year, starting seeds inside and setting out plants in late June to mature in September and October, after frost sweetens the leaves. You can bet I’ll leave those plants in place next fall, maybe with a bit of mulch or a row cover, for yet another early harvest. Continue reading “Snow-tolerant Veggies”
We have a lot of snow in our front yard. It may not seem like much to those who live in Minnesota, upstate New York, or Maine, but for us here along the Front Range of the Rockies, it’s a lot of snow. Colorado is dry. Colorado is sunny. We don’t get all that much snow, and what we do get melts the next day. The “real” snow is supposed to stay up on the ski slopes, not in our front yards.
When we picked out a lot for our new house, we were thinking about a longer growing season from our south-facing backyard, the spectacular view of Pikes Peak out the living room picture windows, the warmth of sunshine filling our bedroom. We carefully oriented our house to take advantage of all these.
Continue reading “Snowy Blankets”
Brrrrr. I woke up this morning to -17 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit!), and the weather folks are predicting cold and more cold. While I ventured out to refill the bird feeders, and I need to dig out the car later (something about mailing Christmas gifts), for the most part I can snuggle up at home, with the thermostat in the 60s and a cup of warm tea defrosting me from the inside out.
The birds aren’t so lucky.
Continue reading “Cold Brrrrrds”
(Be sure to see Bosque Birding, Part 1.)
It was pitch black, and our motel room was uncomfortably cold, despite the noisy heater that had run all night. I groped my way out of bed, half asleep but excited about the coming day. We were in Socorro, New Mexico, just north of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. In less than an hour, I’d be taking pictures of some 30,000 Snow Geese flying into the dawn sky.
Continue reading “Bosque Birding, Part 2”
Question: I’m a birder and nature photographer living in Colorado, with a limited budget for travel. Where can I go for fun and photos at this time of year?
Answer: Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge!
Just a day’s drive south of Colorado Springs, Bosque del Apache is the place to go for anyone interested in birds and/or photography. The week we visited, right after New Year’s, the refuge was home to 8,100 Sandhill Cranes, over 32,000 “light” geese, and a whopping 57,000 ducks! With such numbers, spectacular photos are pretty much guaranteed.
Continue reading “Bosque Birding, Part 1”
This is the hardest time of the year for me. After growing up in California, I’m used to spring starting about now. I want to get growing now—not wait for two or three extra months! So today, in defiance of Colorado’s climate, I’m going to give you some crocus growing tips. Take that, winter!
While the snow has mostly melted, even the recent warm temperatures haven’t been enough to thaw my soil. The perennial bed looks exactly how it did a month ago—brown and lifeless. However, by blogging friend Carey (at Carey Moonbeam), across town and a smidgen lower in elevation than I am, reports she has blooming crocuses in her yard!
Continue reading “Are the Crocuses Up Yet?”
The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, the predicted high is well above freezing, and it’s been like that for months. Sounds like perfect weather—but not if you’re a plant. As I look out my window at my dormant garden, I can hear the plants crying for water. Everything is so dry! Desiccating winds have drained the last vestiges of moisture from exposed leaves and branches, and even the so-called evergreens are shriveled.
While the Midwest and Northeast get plenty of snow cover, and the Northwest gets rain all winter, Colorado gets neither. When the weather continues dry and windy, there needs to be enough water in the soil for our plants to replace what is lost to evaporation.
Continue reading “Winter Watering”
We had several inches of snow last night. The fields are white. The driveway is white. In fact, pretty much the only color outside is… white. At least right now the sky is blue.
Now tell me—why do we plant early bulbs with flowers that are white? If snowdrops came in scarlet and crimson, I’d be first in line to buy some. At least crocuses come in yellow and lavender.
My favorite early bloomers are Tête-à-Tête daffodils. Their intense golden yellow color is just what I need after a winter of muted pastels and dead brown. They shrug off each Spring storm, emerging from the melting snow with all their bright cheer unscathed.
I’m sure white flowers have their place. There’s nothing like an all-white flower garden seen by summer moonlight. I like white daisies and white baby’s breath. But at this time of year, when everything in me yearns for color, growing white flowers makes no sense at all!