Only in Colorado.
Only in Colorado would you hike a trail and be climbing of five foot drifts of snow
Only in Colorado, would you spy towering conifers of pine and fir, side by side with plants you would ordinarily find in the desert.
Succulents like cactus and yucca, and one of my favorites, the ever so delicate stonecrop.
I was reminded of this as I gazed upon the carpet of yellow covering the ground in front of my house recently.
Boulder County is unique that way. It encompasses many different ecosystems, some in the span of just a few feet. Walk the Canyon Loop Trail at Betasso Preserve and you will see what I mean.
One part of the trail feels moist and lush, another turn and you would swear you’re in the desert. Since I grew up in a hot and humid climate of the midwest, it’s the desert plants fascinate me.
The Prickly Pear Cactus store up the moisture of this winter to produce showy yellow and bright pink blooms. Their thick, squishy leaves minimize moisture loss in the most intolerant of environments. That liquid inside their leaves aid them in survival during the 300 days of sunshine and hot weather of summer. And those prickly needles help protect it from being munched by most wildlife, but not all. The state mammal of Colorado, the Bighorn Sheep, don’t seem to be bothered by the needles and regularly eat it as part of their diet.
Another succulent that catches many people’s eye when it blooms is the Yucca. Yucca are common in the Flatiron Mountains outside of Boulder. Yuccas typically bloom every few years. The stalk, reaching 5-6 feet high, displays milky white blooms that seem too numerous to count. Since you might not see it for another five years, enjoy the show the Yucca puts on when it blooms.
But my favorite that recently caught my eye is the lovely Stonecrop. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in coverage of the ground. Their yellow flowers are delicate, yet vibrant. The sunny yellow color has taken over many part of our property, providing a ray of sunshine after a hard day’s work.
Keep your eyes open for the wildflower display the next 2-3 weeks. July is considered the peak wildflower month in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. With this springs’ moisture, it should be truly breathtaking.
There are even some hikes close to the Front Range that if you hit it right, you can see 100 species of wildflowers blooming along a single trail. These century hikes exemplify the incredible diversity that Colorado has to offer in its natural environment.