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The Xeric Zone > Foundations :: Landscape Notes, Cool Season 2002 - 2003

 

 

 

Landscape Notes, Cool Season 2002 - 2003

 

After a slightly early first frost prior to Halloween, spring seemed to go on and on this year, with only brief cold in December and early April. Even January was more typical of March, so that is when spring really began this year. But even with the drought, I will not complain of afternoon hikes wearing shorts comfortably, watching the sunset paint high clouds pink over the Manzanos on the descent, and returning home with on-sale donuts to find winter jasmine in full bloom…all January! Ditto Gooding's verbena that same month, followed in March by white evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) and in April by prairie verbena (Verbena bipinnitifida) and desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata). Of course all that turned to crisp by later in May.

 

El Nino looked more like La Nada (the nothing), except for about the wettest February and March since records have been kept. It was definitely not cold, just enough light, soaking rains to keep everything in nature and in landscapes from dying. Overall, El Nino merely made cool season average as far as rain and snow amounts. Yet the sounds of desert denial are deafening, with trucks bringing residents various plant fare from the alpine world to the north.

 

*Albuquerque Cool Season Climate (Nov - Mar, 150-190 days)

 

(brief periods with nights below 10-15°F and longer periods of days over 60°F, with a few unsettled, stormy periods between much sunshine and near-average temperatures)

*Information source for long-term climate data: Western Regional Climate Center

 

Location

 

Average

Daily

High

(°F)

 

Average

Daily

Low

(°F)

 

Average

Extreme

Season High

(°F)

 

Average

Extreme

Season Low

(°F)

 

Average Number of Nights

< 32°F

 

Average Precipitation

During Period (inches)

 

Heights / Foothills

53

28

78

7

113

1.5-4"

(6-18" or 50% of that falls in the form of light snow)

West Mesa

58

28

80

11

109

Valley

55

23

79

1

150

 

Most native and adapted plantings installed in projects over the years performed well, except the usual over-watering or absolute neglect that cannot be avoided…or those dreaded killer rabbits devouring fresh, young plants. While aspens continued to crackle or tear up concrete paving in so many properties, native plants such as desert willow, prickly pear, chocolate flower, and desert four o'clock continued to grow, flourish, and astound the senses.

 

Surprisingly, even native plants from chaparral areas of our foothills received just enough rain early on to produce massive flower and seed stalks, such as beargrass (Nolina texana) and all our native oaks. That translates to great seed collecting this summer. Let's hope this mild spring continues into summer, bringing plenty of colors and vibrant landscapes and expanding their positive influences to even the most skeptical. ˇViva el desierto!

 

David Cristiani

Albuquerque, New Mexico

May 30, 2003

 

 

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