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Cold Snap, Warm Snap
By Matt Cole, Director of Education on Feb 15, 2010
Its when it gets cold that you appreciate warmth. Thick socks, long underwear, hats with ear flaps and home-knit scarfs become some of my favorite things. Standing over the heat vent while the furnace is running is not far behind.
But here in Denver, we're fortunate to have daily highs even when the nightly temperature is low. The snow is still crisp and white, but a midday trip through a garden is not the painful experience that waiting for the morning bus or scraping the ice off your car can be. As Ellen noted last month, the Gardens are full of beautiful winter interest plants and unplanned serendipities, like the fox tracks. I look too at people in the winter. In some ways they are unrecognizable under their layers, but they are also bright, equipped and colorful.
Behavior changes in the winter too. The cold brings our steaming soups, traditional dinner straight from the oven, and hot cocoa (which is a constant temptation for me). Gardeners, even hardy Colorado ones who fear not the cold, are parted from their empires by frozen ground or covering snow. And so we dive in to garden planning, imagining color, coveting new plants, and even getting started on the maintenance tasks ahead. It is the best time to do that planning and envisioning: Starting Your Garden from Seed, Planting the Spring Kitchen Garden, Landscape Design Theory and Dreaming of Spring planning workshop are all timely late winter projects for Rocky Mountain Gardening.
Of course, some of the fun of garden planning is getting to the nursery or plant sale and discovering you must have that beautiful apparition now flowering. Its then that the thoughtful gardener, the one who has invested time in understanding their landscape will shine. Not only will there be a good aesthetic choice to fit that plant in place, you'll know it will have enough light. Or perhaps nearly enough light. Garden planning may not tell you what you must do to be successful: sometimes it merely has to tell you what you're deviating from.
Winter can be frustrating because you can't necessarily progress the way you'd like to. Perhaps you overwinter some favorite beauties in a cool basement, or turn to houseplants. What gardeners seem to resent most, 'though, is a false spring day that urges one to go outside and work, only to see the ground recovered with ice and snow.
Finally, when winter has really gotten under your skin, the Gardens offers its immediate and appealing cure: the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory with beauty in bloom. No matter what its like outside, its wonderful inside. Let it snow!