Signs of Life

By Eilene Lyon

Spring is well underway in southwest Colorado. Let’s see what we can find in the yard and neighborhood. Weeds always seem to get the jump on everything else, especially the mustards.


One of my banes, Alyssum simplex
For some reason, blue mustard (Chorispora tenella) doesn’t annoy me (or spread) quite so much.

Then there are the usual suspects.

This one needs no introduction. They are cheery, though.
Stork’s bill (Erodium cicutarium) can be used as a potherb, but I didn’t find it particularly tasty. In places it has already gone to seed!

Only a few flowers have bloomed in the yard.

So far only four daffodils. One of my neighbors (whose garden has been featured in national magazines – no, I’m not envious) has literally hundreds blooming.
And a few delicate grape hyacinth.
A Vinca sp.

But more are on the way.

Lilacs are budding.
The first chive blossom about to open.

A couple interesting plant facts: 1. Vascular plants actually have two separate life forms, the sporophyte form (what we notice as plants) and the gametophyte form. Pollen is a gametophyte and produces sperm. 2. Some plants are dioecious – having separate “male” and “female” plants (though it’s actually the gametophytes that have sexes).

We have two mature Rocky Mountain junipers (Juniperus scopulorum) on the property. On the northwest corner, we have our pollen producer. On the southeast corner the female cone (juniper berry) producer. The juniper pollen is so thick this year that when the wind blows, it looks like smoke drifting through the trees.

The pollen from these male juniper cones is sending The Putterer running for allergy meds several times a day!

Let’s make a quick stop by the vegetable plot (about 100 sq. ft.). The salad greens are sprouting and a couple spaghetti squash plants are coming up, but not so photogenic.

The rhubarb is well on its way.
And the asparagus spears – yum!

Let’s venture out in the neighborhood.

This may not seem a harbinger of spring to you, but that’s when we see the ants building their mounds along our dirt road.
One of the early blooming varieties of wild lupine (Lupinus sp.).
The Whipple’s cholla (Cylindropuntia whipplei) is looking festive!
Some cheery wild phlox (Phlox longifolia).
Chokecherry buds (Prunus virginiana) and boxelder bug.

And waaaay down the road.

A blooming apricot tree.

Sterling swimming in the pond isn’t exactly a sign of spring. As long as it isn’t iced over, he’s up for a dip.


But he’d better be ready to skeedaddle!


I had hoped for a bird shot – we’ve had broad-tailed and black-chinned hummingbirds at the feeder, but they’re still a bit scarce and skittish.

Feature image: Narrowleaf cottonwoods (Populus angustifolia) in bud against a Colorado blue sky.

31 thoughts on “Signs of Life

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  1. Wow! Look at all your signs of spring. You are so much further ahead than us. There I am happy with my little sprouting seeds, but nothing has appeared in the yard yet. However we are to have a high of 20 Celsius today, so I figure with a few days of that weather some things will start to appear. Enjoy your day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Though we’ve had cold nighttime temps, the days have been pretty warm since mid March. I decided to take a chance and sow all my seeds outdoors early. So far so good! I was actually surprised by that lupine. My columbines are getting close to blooming, too.

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      1. Yes, the lupine seems to have bloomed quite early! If I can get my beds dug this weekend, I may be able to plant some lettuce and swiss chard seeds outdoors. It would be nice to have an early crop!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your photos are lovely and show me a pretty part of the country. I’d love to so many daffodils that there’d be a sea of yellow somewhere on this property. I’d be jealous of your neighbor. As for plants with pollen, I want to love them but they often make me sneeze so it’s a tense relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Her daffodils are just the beginning. She really has incredible gardens. I can’t be jealous, though. I live on a forested, rocky hill. She lives on the flats with irrigation and an endless supply of manure (horses)! I’m very happy I get anything to grow here at all. Last year I put in a new flower bed with poppies and delphiniums. Most are coming up, so I hope they will bloom. I need to get some spring and summer varieties to tuck in there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Eilene, what a wonderful collection of natural treasures! I love wildflowers as well as on-purpose ones. That is one thing about living in the city, even though it’s more suburban where I am, is that there aren’t a lot of wildflowers. And being Arizona, not even dandelions! I have heard that there are trees that are male or female, depending. Apparently landscapers who really know these things know what to plant where because they have different characteristics. Thanks for moving us into spring!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course, you get flowers year round there. Do you find any of your plants going dormant at all? I like being in a four-season location, but we do have to endure some extensive “brown” seasons!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your bloom happens much later than ours, which makes sense since London doesn’t get anywhere near as cold! We start seeing daffodils in late February or early March, and they’re usually all dead by now, though I haven’t been anywhere that has them since mid-March to check, for obvious reasons. I do love them though, particularly the yellow and white ones with orange centres that always remind me of eggs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We actually got below freezing again last night, but not a hard freeze. We have a desert climate, but at high altitude, so it does stay cold longer. I’ve seen snow in May a number of times. I hope you get a chance to enjoy some local blooms soon!


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