August 31, 2009 | Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

Colorado columbine

Colorado columbine (Aquilegia caerulea) usually blooms in May in Denver, and June and July in the mountains. Yet this picture was taken a few days ago below Lake Isabel, in the Indian Peaks Wilderness in Boulder County. Nearby a meadow was filled with marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) which is an April bloomer in the lowlands. There were masses of chiming bells (Mertensia paniculata) and other spring blooming plants on the steep slope where a snowbank lingered--a hint that this awesome display of springtime flowers was a product of our mountain environment and a special microclimate.

How privileged we are to live in the Rockies where on a single hike we can have springtime flowers, full summer glory and then masses of arctic gentian (Gentiana algida) blooming with icy, autumn brilliance agains the red foliage of mountain avens (Geum rossii). When you see this you know winter is not far away: all four seasons intermingle in our mountains this time of year...

Arctic gentian and autumn avens folliage

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