The Backyard Is Coming Alive… But For How Long?

Here we are in early June and it is already predicted to be in the mid 90’s. According to www.accuweather.com (as I am writing the first draft) it is 10:45AM and the current temperature is 89⁰ degrees with the humidity at 8 percent. The “realFeel” is 100⁰ degrees…. Ouch!

These are temperatures we might see in July or August but are not typical for early June in Colorado Springs. It is a little too hot and too early in the season for this heat, for me. Normally for this time of year we see temperatures in the low to mid 80’s which makes for beautiful weather in Colorado Springs. Add that reasonable temperature to a gentle breeze and low humidity and it feels relatively cool except when you are in the direct sun, which feels more like a microwave oven or heat lamp because of the thinner atmosphere at 6000-plus feet.

At this altitude the ultraviolet rays are very intense and you can burn to a crisp in just a few minutes. This thin atmosphere also causes the intense sunshine to burn up lawns and landscape, especially with the extremely dry air and high winds. It makes for difficult gardening when you combine the intense sun and high evaporative conditions. I consider gardening war in this climate, with the late frost, hail (I mean lots of hail), extreme temperature shifts, arid climate, Chinook winds, and short growing season. Sometimes I wonder why I bother even trying to have a garden. Add all those issues together with being in a drought and it is all out war to harvest any homegrown vegetables! We are currently on water restrictions and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is restricting watering to two days a week. I think it is time for xeriscaping the front yard! At least I have a good canopy of trees to help protect most of my yard from the harsh sun. It seems like the heat index of the city just gets warmer every year. Amazing how miles of asphalt and thousands of heat absorbing rooftop will affect the local climate. I guess I will enjoy the green of spring while I can because it will probably all turn brown very soon.

I took the day off so I could enjoy the weather and do some backyard photography. I like the fact that I can sit in my backyard and see all kinds of bird activity with just a few yard in all directions. I took a few shots of the flowers, bees, and birds occupying my yard, which I posted in a gallery below. I pray that this heat wave is short-lived and weather gets back to normal temperatures with afternoon rains to cool off the city.

Dandelions

Macro shots of dandelion seeds as they are floating around the flower head.

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Surviving the Late Frost

Well, many of the blossoms on the fruit trees in my backyard did not make through all the cold weather this spring. It seems that every other year an arctic cold front descends over Colorado Springs in late April and even into May killing off many of the early blossoms.

Luckily, the peach tree in my yard did not bloom until a few days ago and it seems that most of the buds survived. There are damaged pedals but for the most part the blossoms ok. I am keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that my cherry trees will keep their blossoms. There are few trees more beautiful than a cherry tree in full blossom, not to mention all fruit that they provide for the robins.

This morning I took some pictures of the peach blossoms using my Nikon 105 Macro. I had to get out early to catch the rising sun and take advantage of the windless conditions of the early morning hour. Spring is such a great time to photograph with a macro as there are so many new things emerging in the garden.

Happy shooting and thanks for visiting my webpage!

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April Snow

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Even though spring is here, winter is still hanging on. Today the area is under a blizzard warning and the snow is flying. While driving in downtown Colorado Springs, I caught this image with my Samsung 4G phone. The cool thing about the camera on these phones is the enormous depth of field, somewhat like a pinhole camera.

Robin Attack

Saturday morning, and the wind is blowing outside with a bone-chilling bite to it. As I look out the window, I see robins literally attacking the enduring fruit still clinging to the tree branches in my backyard.

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As usual for Colorado Springs, the first weekend of spring is here, it is freezing, and the snow is flying. Although the calendar indicates that the first day of spring passed by only a few days ago, we still have a few snow storms left before we hear that wonderful sound of thunder and enjoy the fresh smell of rain; it doesn’t usually warm up along the Front Range area until May. There are a few other subtle springtide observations encouraging me, such as tulips emerging from winter slumber, the distension of the buds on the trees. Though it is cold out, another sure sign that spring is here is that the robins are back, and in large numbers this year. I have about twelve to fifteen birds hanging out in the back yard, waiting for warmer weather; however, with the ground covered in snow, the robins are looking for food anywhere they can find it. This particular robin (pictured above) was relishing the small crabapples still clinging to the tree branches. Even though the shriveled apple has been on the tree since last year, it still took some work before the robin was able to twist and yank the fruit free from the tree. Seeing these birds return to the area makes me anxious for milder weather. I cannot wait to see the cherry blossoms, and other flowing trees, come to life in the next month or so.