One of the first things I did after moving in to our house over 10 years ago was plant a small bed of culinary herbs by the front door. Some of these perennial herbs have thrived, while others didn't. Two thyme plants have survived in this planter and grown bigger after some of their competition was frozen two winters ago. These small and subtle herbs bloomed with small and subtle white flowers this spring.
Here's another small but hardy perennial native growing in our front yard. You won't find Sulphur-flower Buckwheat in your morning pancakes (the food crop Buckwheat is another genus) but it is native to the western U.S. While it's not indigenous to New Mexico several varieties grow in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The little plant in our front yard decided this was a good year to display it's namesake blooms.
Golden Columbine is flowering in our yard. Columbine (species - Aquilegia) are high-altitude perennials native to the Northern Hemisphere. Golden Columbine is indigenous to the Southwestern U.S. and is growing well around our house.
Planting a garden each spring is a wonderful start to the growing season. We can choose new annual crops based on what grew well (or didn't) last year and whatever looks interesting or unusual. Planting trees and perennial crops requires more planning. Some perennials like strawberries will bear fruit the year they're planted, but fruit trees can take two or more years to bear a crop.
A Woods' Rose in bloom. After several years living in our garden, this native perennial has finally bloomed. This rose has slowly grown and spread each year, but hadn't bloomed until this year. I'm not sure what combination of events brought on the flowers, but here they are. And the Woods' Roses smell great despite their compact size.
Being an EcoDaddyo, and a cyclist, I bike around our fair city whenever possible. Given the short in-town distances we drive, biking is an easy alternative. Recently, we enrolled our eco-kid in daycare and I'm usually on pick up duty. I was happy to find that this is easy with our new dad-powered, bicycle-pulled kid trailer.
The weather is warming, trees buds are swelling, irises are sprouting and it feels like spring. The Vernal Equinox is nearly here as a late winter storm passes through, and the trend is definitely toward Spring. I often hit a wall in late winter and lose my momentum. Spending time outside is one thing that refreshes and recharges me. Feeling the sun, breeze and nature around me clears my head and helps me move forward again. Going outside to walk, bike, garden, even backcountry ski are my Winter to Spring reset button.
Did you feel that? It felt like the earth moved under my feet. Actually, it was a shift in climate, as marked by the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. The PHZM (Plant Hardiness Zone Map) is the guide gardeners use to decide what plants will likely grow, or not, in our yards. The 2012 version of the PHZM shows that the hardiness zone lines have shifted for most of the U.S. My home has shifted from Hardiness Zone 5b (1990 map) and is now solidly in Hardiness Zone 6b (2012 map) which is 10°F. warmer.
I Love Winter. Except for one small thing. It is VERY difficult (or VERY expensive) to get fresh and ripe vegetables in the winter. And it is nearly impossible to get LOCAL vegetables (other than root crops) in the winter. That is, not until I built a cold frame. Now we have fresh salad greens (and hopefully carrots and broccoli) grown in our snow-covered backyard.