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Brrrrrrrrrr! It's COLD out there!
By Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach on Feb 2, 2011
As I type this post, NOAA website tells me the Denver temperature at 6:00 a.m. is -13F...not as bad as predicted. Perhaps this will be our lowest temperature for the winter (in which case we've lucked out! I remember lows of -30F in my tenure at Denver Botanic Gardens!)...but it does put the lie to the Tropicalismo tendencies of recent years. I confess, I did put out a Camellia in my garden last fall--but a very Hardy one to be sure! We shall find out! The picture above is one I took last September on the amazing summit of a pass in the Tian Shan mountains of Kazakhstan. I suspect subzero cold is the norm on that pass for months at a time, and I can only wonder how cold it gets there...is there a better argument for growing mountain and alpine plants than the simple fact that they have evolved to thrive in frosty places?
September was perfect seed season on this pass, but there were a wealth of little gems still blooming: the white daisy above was especially winsome (notice the dense tuft of silvery leaves!) and the miniature campanula below were two of the tinier gems that would make awesome additions to an alpine trough or a crevice garden, don't you think?
We are lulled by our wonderful Colorado summers into thinking we live in a balmy, almost subtropical paradise: just remember next summer that over half our year we can expect hard frost (starting in September some years and extending well into May: that's nine months actually!). Nine months with hard frost does not a mild climate comprise! It's no wonder we grow alpines here! Two thirds of our year is ALPINE, silly!
And when you consider the vast diversity of the world's high mountains: tens and thousands of glorious peaks (so many of them unexplored and harboring who knows what treasures), perhaps we should spend a bit more time with plants adapted to frigid cold rather than cossetting marginal subtropicals that constantly disappoint us...
Category:At the Gardens