When you live in the mountains – elevation 4,000-5,000 feet – “spring” is a flexible term.
Spring can arrive in early March, for a few days anyway. It will be sunny and warm (in the 50s!), migrating birds start arriving with their beautiful songs, and one willingly – hopefully – believes spring has arrived. It has, after all, been a long winter and hope springs (pun intended) eternal.
But winter has a wicked sense of humor, and will throw some fresh snow and cold temperatures at you, making you admit spring has yet to truly arrive. Plants and animals revert to their slower, wintertime existence until the second – or third – spring arrives, in April, warming things up again.
Yet even in May, a hint of winter’s cold can arrive, briefly, reminding one to never be complacent, to expect the unexpected.
Mountain wildflowers are, I’ve learned, hardy. They handle whatever nature throws at them. Frost? A mere momentary inconvenience. Sub-freezing temperatures? No problem. Spring, and its warmth, will return. It always does. Just wait.
Greenhouse flowers – those I buy to put in pots on my deck, such as geraniums, pansies, and alyssum – aren’t so hardy. I moved the pots into the garage to ride out the overnight frosts for a few days.
These photos of forest wildflowers were taken on May 4th and 6th during early morning runs with my dogs in the forest, temperatures hovering around freezing. Other than the sunflowers, these wildflowers are tiny, making me focus on the ground more than usual, crouching low to take photos, often scrambling up banks to get closeups. The results are worth the effort, I think. My dogs are patient, waiting, used to me suddenly stopping to take a few photos before continuing on our way.
An unintended example of wildflower hardiness: when I returned from our forest run the morning of May 4th, I found some of my home garden wildflowers – lupine and flax – coated in thick ice, a sprinkler having watered them all night. (I have an artesian well so I run a hose from the well head to sprinklers for my lawn and garden and let it run 24/7.) They soon thawed in the day’s sun and were none the worse for wear.
Featured image: early larkspur, covered in frost. One of my favorite wildflowers because of their deep blue color.