by Joanne Kennedy
We Westerners like a challenge--but gardening in Wyoming might be too much of one for me.
It's dry here, and the growing season is short. Every year spring seems to come earlier. My bulbs come up, my daffodils bloom, and then wham! We get slammed with snow. Last year we got ten inches on May 25th.
At least I've learned not to run out and buy bedding plants at the first sign of spring. It only took me a few years of tragedy to realize that you absolutely can't plant anything until the end of May. It's really tempting to break that rule when the skies are blue, the temperature is a balmy 75, and robins are frolicking in the back yard, but I've learned to resist temptation.
You also have to resist the temptation to buy many of the plants that catch your eye at the garden center. Anything that needs moisture or humidity is out, and since the temperature can vary by forty degrees in a single day, you need fairly hardy varieties. Delicate plants don't make it either; they tend to get flattened by the wind.
And if your flowers survive the dryness, the variations in temperature, and the wind, they're liable to get shredded by hail sometime in midsummer. Almost every year, we have a major hailstorm, often with chunks of ice the size of golf balls falling from the sky. Last year, the hail totaled my car, so you can imagine what the garden looked like!
So why do I live here? Well, when it's good, it's really good. Because of the dryness, our summer heat isn't sticky or humid, and it doesn't rain much. The fluctuations in temperature mean that if we just wait out a cold spell, we'll be back to blue skies in no time. And the wind's great for cleaning out your car. Just face Nebraska, open the doors on both sides, and let the wind do the work!
Once you've lived here a while, you learn what works. I have a gorgeous patch of poppies in the back yard that seem to be able to withstand any weather. Shasta daisies do well, too, and mums.
And when we do succeed in growing something, we sure appreciate it!
What challenges do you face in your gardening efforts? Are there particular plants that work well in your area despite the difficulties?