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We had a fairly epic year for this part of western Colorado. Typical for this area, the snow falls starting in December and sticks around, building layers like a cake over the months of January and February.  Then in late February it starts to be a net loss of snow instead of a net gain. It also starts to rain, which helps melt the snow. We are left with the early December snow at the last, big dirty piles which leave behind human detritus in a mini moraine wherever the "glaciers" were. Like most of you, I have spent the winter waiting for the snow to melt and see what survived the winter. Would those snowbanks ever melt?
Snowbank in late winter.

I can always look forward to violets and iris reticulata coming up in early March, with the leaves and buds of daffs not far behind, depending on the microclimates in my yard. That is, if the snow is melted off the garden first, although I'll usually find the daffs poking up through the snow in my warmer spots.

Spring violets

The violets growing wild around my yard are almost weeds but not quite. I'll rip some out now and then, but I still love them.

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orchids at a friend's house
The photos of the lush orchids of the Florida contingent of SMGB participants are just beautiful, and I wonder if there is something growing for you Floridian SMGBer's all year round?  What's it like living in Michigan, or Vermont? Kansas? I know we all talk about what we can grow and what the weather is like, but I'd love to know more about the "big picture", so to speak.  

I am a native of Colorado.  I've lived here all my life in different parts of the state, except for maybe three months in Port Arthur, TX when I was a young pup.  Growing up in the north west end of Metro Denver, I remember my parents had snapdragons that re-seeded in masses, a thyme plant that we would trim for spaghetti sauce, and my mother's favorite, Autumn Joy sedum.  I remember the Jackmanii clematis which was in just the right spot. And tomatoes. Always tomatoes.  

in 1989, I met Mr. Light and moved with him to Summit County, Colorado, home of ski areas like Keystone, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. Then in 1998, we moved here, to the Roaring Fork valley. The Roaring Fork Valley is the Carbondale/Glenwood Springs part of Colorado.  We moved to the RFV because Summit had such a short, cold growing season.  No tomatoes except in a hothouse, and even then grudgingly, because the average altitude of Summit County is 9,500' above sea level.  The RFV is average 6,000' to 8,000', depending if you live in the valley or on a mesa above it.  

Flat Tops blue flower1

In Summit, I could grow native plants if I chose the right ones. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of lovely high country wildflowers like columbines and fireweed - or this beauty. I have no idea what it is, but it's a deep rich blue, just like the photo.  If you want a traditional garden, it's tough.  Certain cold lovers like pansies do grow well, but everything else is a crapshoot if you are growing perennials.

A johnny jump-up in spring
This little jump-up was lurking under the 3 feet of snow in the raised bed garden all winter. I found him when the snow melted, isn't he sweet?

I was so thrilled to move to a lower elevation farther west towards Grand Junction. Living here, I've had to adapt to a new gardening climate, not completely different than what I grew up with in Denver but certainly not exactly the same - their snow usually melts right away instead of hanging on all winter.

Colorado's climate varies, sometimes a lot, by region, elevation and geography.  Which got me thinking, what's your climate like?

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Originally posted to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Colorado COmmunity.

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