Springtime (almost) on the Rockies Front Range

Yes, we had snow last week, temperatures in the low twenties, but this  weekend it was spring. Denver has over 300 days of sunshine a year, and today is one of them. No sweater necessary, no wind, just perfect.

Of course, everything is still winter-brown with the exception of a few brave tulip leaves that have popped up. Most years my tulips are destroyed by snow; they come a little too early to escape the blasts of winter weather that often punctuate Denver’s spring.

A walk around our orchard reveals that we have a lot of work to do to get it ready for the real spring and summer. The berry bushes (gooseberries and currants) we planted not long after we moved here have outlived their looks and usefulness. Now they are mostly just prickly and ugly and spread like crazy—either from the birds eating the berries or underground shoots spreading and popping up into new plants. This year we’ll need to dig them out and replace them with something else; something hardy but pretty. Lilacs maybe.

Despite the snow that always seems to show up when the Denver Broncos are on Monday night football, the truth is that Denver is a semi-arid zone. We get an average of 13 inches of precipitation a year. A year. The edge of our orchard is dotted with actual cactus that have “volunteered,” in other words, we didn’t plant them; they just appeared. Most of the time I wish them gone, except when they flower. Then they make me smile.


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