What Happened??

MichaelL(Spokane6b)April 11, 2013

I was horrified to see the temperatures recorded in the Denver area this week. How can anything growing/blooming survive 70 one day and 9 the next? How are you all doing? Even though the Sunset Western Garden Book has Spokane and Denver in the same climate zone (2B), we never see swings like that. Do Japanese maples, magnolias, flowering cherries, peaches, forsythia, things like these, grow well in Denver?

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Here in Boulder, all of my fruit trees were starting to bud out - plums, pears and apples, with the plums furthest along, at the green tip and tight cluster stage. (Handy link below for a Michigan State page showing temperatures for damage at different blossom stages). Overnight temps dropped to around 8 degrees. I expect significant loss. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I even think that most of the onions I put out (having started them indoors in February) got whacked, despite a few inches of snow cover. We'll see.


Here is a link that might be useful: MSU fruit bud hardiness

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:10AM
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Oh, and as to your other question about magnolias, peaches, etc. - there are three issues here: the crazy temperature swings, widespread alkaline soil, and four months of drought in the summer. Peaches and apricots do OK, but only crop every other year or so due to frosts; apples and pears do better (though fire blight takes its share).

I can think of only a handful of magnolias and japanese maples in town, and they're in protected, pampered locations. Forsythia, redbud, wisteria also survive, again with significant bloom losses in many years.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:28AM
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Very cool link Ian!

Looks like we could expect some loss on our apples but the tart cherry should be fine with the 7ú we had.

I was wondering why the asparagus was not showing up yet. Now i am glad it was not.

The walking onions were up 3" and they look like they are going to recover.

Don't have any "Japanese maples, magnolias, flowering cherries, peaches, forsythia,". Now you know why.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Wikipedia tells us about Colorado: "Lowest point Arikaree River at the Kansas border 3,317 ft"

It isn't all about elevation. One thing, those very high mountains create their own weather!

Up here on 48o northern latitude, our weather is strongly influenced by the northern Pacific Ocean, even if we are hundreds of miles inland & a couple of thousand feet higher. It makes for little sunlight during the winter . . .

A couple of thousand feet? Back when I had only lived here for 5 years or so, I was looking at some property near the south end of Coeur d'Alene Lake. It was not far from the St. Maries River.

Then as now, gardening was important to me and I was under the mistaken impression that if I stayed below 3,000 feet - there would be a reasonable growing season. And, this nice level land was somewhere around 2,800 feet with plenty of southern exposure.

We decided to camp there overnight. By the next morning, the left-over coffee was frozen in the pot sitting out by the cold campfire. It was Independence Day weekend. That wouldn't be a surprise at much higher Colorado elevations but we must all be asking ourselves, "where do we go?!" Can't even dig a hole and get below 2,000 feet.

I appreciate you citing Sunset zones, Michaell. I think they fairly well define the Rocky Mountain gardening or, at least, do better than the hardiness zones.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 10:36AM
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Oh, and Steve reminded me of a fourth issue: 80-90 mph wind gusts coming down off the mountains a few times a year. I should probably stake a couple of my plums - the rootstock is looking a little spindly on them for 12' trees.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 2:08PM
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Daffies got hit hard, garlic too, some onions won't make it either. Otherwise, a couple ash in the neighborhood got their buds frosted. Other than that, if it can't take the cold snap in spring, it won't be planted here (except if some folks buy plants at the bigbox - we saw some Pieris and azalea at Lowe's the other day...

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:29PM
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Though I like Lowes for most things and it's less than a half mile from home I'm skeptical of shopping their nursery except for the most basic of things.

Example, they often sell fruit cuttings that have not yet rooted.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:05PM
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We had 9 degrees last week and up in the 60s today but maybe snow tonight. Fruit trees are starting to show buds so hope they make it through the next week. All my fruit trees froze last year so I am hoping they don't this year. Daffodills that were blooming went on the ground last week but garlic didn't look like it bothered it. Probably be cold this week but not that cold. Of course they forecasted 22 and we got 9!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 1:01AM
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Geez, more single digit temperatures in the 5 day forecast :-(

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:35AM
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I don't see single digits in the NWS forecast, but I might get some hoops out in case that front that passes mid week looks colder than what my poor garlic can take. Trying to get the seed garlic back to normal and weather not cooperating. But we're on the Front Range, so nothing new.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:25PM
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