Colorado's booming blooming wildflower season; Bike to Work Day 

click to enlarge Colorado's state flower, the Blue Columbine - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Colorado's state flower, the Blue Columbine
Mother Nature has seemingly made up for last year's dismal wildflower season by giving us - so far - flowers as far as the eye can see.

While the cooler start of this spring and summer is delaying the typical timing for when many wildflowers will blossom, the additional moisture we've had is the key to why you're seeing so many flowers. "I believe that all across the board we're going to see a bumper crop, and that would include Columbines as well" said Jen Toews, a botanist and Native Plant Master at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  Toews, who co-authored the Denver Botanic Gardens "Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains" guide book said "I'm seeing a delay of about two weeks" due to the cooler temperatures. But, the wildflowers are coming, and "this is a really good year...keep your eyes open, because you may see species you haven't seen before", Toews continued. "If there's that rare wild orchid that's been on your bucket list, definitely keep your eyes open for it." She expects that the ubiquitous Paintbrush specifically will be abundant and in a wide variety of shades of red, as well as locoweed and penstemon. If you're not able to go deep in to the mountains to look at wildflowers, the Botanic Gardens does cultivate and display many of Colorado's native plants, and Toews said that this is a good time to see their display of Colorado's wildflowers.

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Identifying the wildflowers we see can be a bit of a challenge, so a good guidebook is a useful
addition your backpack or pocket. The recently released 3rd edition of "Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide" has proven to be a reliable and easy to use guide for me this season. Whether just out for a hike, or on a photography oriented trip, the book has helped me figure out what I was seeing. The book is divided up by flower color, so if you're seeing a blue flower, but have no idea what its name is, you can leaf through the "blue" section and it's clear, sharp photos to determine what it is. An index of flower names, again divided up by color, is also included in the back of the book, so if you hear the name of a flower, but don't know what it looks like, you can easily look it up. The pocket sized book, also available as a digital download, features a brief description of each flower, including where and when it is typically found, its scientific name, and a photo of the flower. I've used the book while out hiking and taking photos, and it's been a handy and valuable guide to have available. 

While you're out hiking, photographing and enjoying the wildflowers, remember to Leave No Trace, and photographers are encouraged to follow the NatureFirst principles.

This coming Wednesday, June 26th is Bike to Work Day, with breakfast stations at many locations is Colorado Springs for people who choose to ditch the car for the day and commute by bike. There is also a corporate challenge for bike friendly employers.

Be Good. Do Good Things.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.



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