Friday, April 15, 2011

No, you fools! Not yet!

lilacs budding in the snow
      Every year, it seems like trees and flowers are tricked into budding early by a few days of unseasonably warm weather. We had a warm spell about three weeks ago followed by a week of on and off again snow. Walking out to feed the birds, I noticed my lilacs were getting ready to burst into blossom. "No you fools! Not yet!" I cried.

      Lilacs are a hardy flowering bush, beloved of the early pioneers probably because few other flowers grew well in our desert climate and sandy soil. You can find their clusters of purple flowers and delicate scent in almost all the older yards in Nevada. If there's just a little water, you'll still find them flourishing near anywhere the pioneers settled.

      The tradition in the valley is you don't plant until all the snow is off Peavine Mountain northwest of Reno. Peavine only climbs to an elevation of about 8, 000 feet, much lower than the summits of the Sierra Nevadas to the West which reach 10,000 to 11,000 feet. Its lower elevation is a good barometer of how spring is shaping up. Trust me, there is still a lot of snow up on Peavine, no matter how warm it feels here in the valley. My poor lilacs, however, don't seem to know or care about this particular piece of local horticultural wisdom.

what I hope my lilacs will look like this summer


  1. I hadn't realised how cold it could be in your part of the world. I never think of Britain as warm but we are currently enjoying quite late Spring-like weather and have quite a number of lilacs and other shrubs in bloom already.
    It is not safe to assume there will be no more frost but hope springs eternal.
    If your lilac does look as good as the fabulous one you have posted you must be quite some gardener.

  2.      Oh, yes, it is the Sierra snowpack that gives us our water for the summer. There are also world-class ski resorts in the mountains not thirty minutes from Reno. We've been unseasonably cold. It should be in the 70's by now, but we've only been in the 60's (15° C, I think, right?)

         No, I'm not a great gardener. Thank Google Images for that great lilac shot ─ one of my lilacs is the scruffy little bush you see in the first picture. In fact, this entire blog grew out of Mad Priest ribbing me that I should start a blog and me replying, "And what would I write about? My constant battle to keep my lawn green in the desert?" And so, a blog is born.


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