Pitkin County’s Extended Winter Slows The Revitalization Of Landscapes

Alpine Columbines are perennials that typically bloom in mid-spring to early summer.

Summer is fast approaching here in Pitkin County, but it’s been very difficult to discern, due to the extended winter season experienced this year.  As recently as May 19th, the City of Aspen was bracing for a winter storm warning– one of many that have dragged out winter into spring this year.  The City of Aspen and Pitkin County are known for — brilliant sunshine and low humidity in

summer, but temperatures have not modulated to the point where it is conducive to creating or reviving landscapes.
There are a couple of factors at play here:  Cold day and nighttime temperatures keep the soil from warming and stimulating root growth.  Cloudy days inhibit photosynthesis. The last 5-10 years or so we have had more sunshine and higher temperatures in May, causing perennials, trees and grasses to burst into growth. This year, plants (except dandelions) have stayed dormant waiting for the signal to take off.  And super-saturated soils from rain and snow kept oxygen levels low in the soils. Plants need warmth, light, and air to grow well and our high clay soils have been soggy all spring from the unusual moisture. Weather this spring has held many of our trees and perennials in check, delaying normal bloom times by two to three weeks.

Penstemons die back in winter — but they revive themselves during the spring.

We have now had about two weeks of warm and sunny weather and plants are really beginning to take off! Residents and visitors returning to the valley this week for the annual Food and Wine Classic, will be treated to lots of Poppies, Columbines, and Peonies, that are normally done blooming by this time of year.

It will be exciting to watch the gardens unfold around town!
Images courtesy of front range living

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