The moisture in May’s late and only significant precipitation event, as devastating as it was on some levels, nonetheless brought sustenance to the surviving vegetation and assured the growth and blossoming of several flowers, even if they were endowed with less vigor than following a wet spring.
Having encouraged a number of wildflower patches in our garden for a number of years, we are once again blessed with a profusion of Colorado’s state flower, the Colorado Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea). Considered by some to resemble a dove (columba means dove in Latin) and by others to be reminiscent of an eagle’s claw (from Latin aquila, for eagle), the typical blue blossoms are not the only possible manifestation of this species. Pink, purple, red, and yellow varieties have successfully established themselves and it has been our experience that the color yellow tends to assert itself over other hues as the individual plant ages.
Prairie Spiderwort also emerge in June, starting with a few isolated blooms here and there and advancing across more expansive areas. Their beautiful petals are no less cerulean than our state flower’s. Earlier observers were reminded of a spider, either because of the angular leaf attachment suggestive of the legs of a sitting spider, or because of the stringy, mucilaginous sap that strings out like a spider’s web—or both.
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All of us know about the crucial role milkweed plays for monarchs and we are glad the fluffy seeds took to our rock garden after a slow start. Not only have the milkweed and columbine clusters graced this viewer, they have played graceful hosts to numerous insects besides. Sphinx or hawk moths, which are also known as hummingbird moths because of their size and ability to hover near a flower like their avian counterparts with whom they are often confused, have been bountiful this spring season and watching them flit from one nectar-bearing vessel to the next and insert their lengthy proboscises into the calyx (or, in the case of columbines, the deep spurs below where the sweet substance is stored), is as mesmerizing as following the undulating flight of their swallowtail relatives who are showing their spectacular selves in ever-growing numbers.
To avoid the worst of the heat of the woefully frequent (and sadly increasing) June days when the thermometer climbs into the 85 to 95 degree F range (30 to 35 degrees C), I do my gardening and walking early in the morning. It was on such an early morning that I happened upon a beaver in the process of finishing his night’s labors, the harvesting and ferrying of clumps of aquatic plants to his home. He would go on to spend the day in his comfortably cool lodge. Not so the throngs of turtles who lounge languidly in the midday heat and who epitomize the essence of sun worshippers. Maybe knowing that it’s always possible to dive into the water for a quick cool-down makes the loafing more pleasurable.
After May’s migration frenzy, our year-round and summer resident birds are busy raising their families and swallow and phoebe nestlings are among my happy-making observations. One very special morning at one of my favorite destinations holds my first-ever encounter with impossibly cute black balls of fluffness on stilts—the juvenile offspring of the Virginia Rails I told you about earlier this year. At this stage of their development, I see in them very little—if any—resemblance to their parents.
Mercifully, June has brought a few relatively cool stretches and as I’m writing these lines on the last weekend of the month, the dry spell which followed May’s late snowfall is finally coming to an end, thanks to a duo of deliciously damp and drizzly days. Rain and mist are soaking the soil, dowsing the flora, and turning the green greener before our eyes. I hope July’s showers won’t be long in coming.