Every June the first outside plants of the summer join the items for sale at local stores. For the past two months weather has teased me with intermittent hours and days of warm, but snow and cold doesn’t leave easily, and hail comes in spurts joining in the weather battles. By the time the first plants arrive my hunger for color is high and trying to decide what to buy while fighting the urge to binge is no easy task.
The stores put plants outside with little fear of cold or hail, but the challenge from lack of moisture is year round. Visiting the stores I see clerks regularly doling out precious water. Most stores give up the battle quickly and within weeks the temporary white tents will be gone. The image of vivid green in the mountains is misleading, trees can hold their own in the high altitudes and rocky soil, but tender plants dry out within hours.
During the winter I read about plants from plant catalogs. Checking for ones that can withstand some drought, and the deer and elk will avoid.
Generally the plants are safe from the deer and elk because they have a variety of things to munch in the backyard. Sometimes the inquisitive elk challenge me, pulling out the plants and gently sitting them by the bed. The flowers and roots left completely in tack so I can replant them and the game can continue.
This year chipmunks that normally sun on the rocks in the backyard decided to share one of the herb pots I place by the back door. This morning my beautiful parsley was turned into green spikes and the basil was taken whole including the roots. It happened so fast I found myself staring at the black dirt while our lab sat at the gate staring off the deck.
The chipmunks did not find the strong scent mint of herb in pot number two appealing so a search for recipes begins. And by next winter as I search for the perfect mountain plant I’m sure my criteria will continue to grow.