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by High Country Gardens

Spring is a long time coming to the high country in northern New Mexico.  By late October our gardens have been frosted back and the deciduous trees and shrubs have lost their leaves. In no time, the snows come and winter is here to stay for a while. So when some of my favorite early blooming spring shrubs come into flower, it is an over-do delight for the senses.

Much of my front yard consists of native grass prairie. But up close to the house, I have enclosed my front portal (porch) with a curving 5 foot tall stucco wall. This is a very traditional style in NM and makes beautiful garden spaces, protected from the winds and warmed by the sun.  And when my fragrant Desert Peach (Prunus andersonii) and Dwarf spreading Sand Cherry (Prunus besseyi ‘Pawnee Buttes’) shrubs come into bloom, the walls hold the wonderful scents close to house so I can sit on the portal, savor a cup of morning tea and enjoyed the sights and smells as the morning sun pops up over the mountain.

I have long been enamored with the Desert Peach, it being a choice but unknown native beauty from the remote areas of eastern California and western Nevada. I planted this species in two spots in my landscape three years ago. And to my delight, a pair inside my portal have finally matured and burst into full flower! I have a similar fondness for Dwarf spreading Sand Cherry.  Both of these native shrubs are favorites for native and honey bees. And the scent of their profuse flowers is sweet and delicious.

As the West becomes harsher and the weather more unpredictable with climate change, these two along with numerous other species of native shrubs will become increasing popular because they are so waterwise, subtly beautiful and habitat friendly. Start with these two early blooming stars to see and smell why you should be growing them too.