Garden in Spring

Charlie Liles, the head of the local National Weather Service Office, has done a good job of tracking freeze dates in and around Albuquerque. It’s one of his most visible functions, keeping the gardeners informed.

apple blossom

His data pretty clearly tracks the trend: what the climate wonks call the “shrinking diurnal temperature range,” which translates as “it doesn’t get quite so cold at night any more,” which is one of the hallmarks of greenhouse-driven climate change. Here in Albuquerque, the average last frost date over the long term is April 15, but for the 1991-2004 period it’s April 1. A little bit of consistent change in the overnight temperatures can push those last freeze of spring and first freeze of fall dates around quite a bit.

I guess global warming’s good for the garden.

This year we got down to 32 degrees April 10. My money’s on that being our last freeze, and with the rainfall we’ve had this spring (more than four inches since Jan. 1, by far a record since 1890-something and more than three times average), the garden’s all of a sudden busting out.


Lissa was exhausted this evening, but I pried her off of the couch for a quick wander through the garden to see what’s growng. Out front, she spotted the lovely little iris you see above. It’s at the front of our big iris bed, which is looking like it’s about ready to pop, but not quite. So for now, it’s the little early ones poking out here and there.

Out back, the apple trees are in blossom, and the wisteria is starting to leaf out. We’ve got this lovely miniature oak (we didn’t mean it to be miniature, but one must adapt to one’s garden ecosystem – it doesn’t work the other way ’round) is covered with these cute little oakleaf clusters.

Our Harrison’s rose (the yellow rose of Texas) has sent out runners, competing for space with the mums with which it shares a bed. My money’s on the Harrison’s, which has the advantage of being from hardy pioneer stock and being much preferred by the gardeners. (The ecosystem’s not entirely on its own.)

Today’s high was 76, and tomorrow’s forecast to be much the same. I’m playing hooky from work, with a morning on the bike and tickets to an afternoon baseball game.

I love spring.