Photo: State Flower: Columbine, in full bloom this summer.   Photo by Diana Lynn Rau

What an explosion of color this summer in Grand county!  For anyone who has been out walking or hiking in the valley, flowers have ruled the landscape.  The late snows delayed our spring blooms and it was really almost the beginning of our normal summer until the blooms began in earnest. Some of the blooms I have seen in my walks and bike rides earlier in the season are now being replaced by the blooms of summer that are out in full and the high country is alive!  The last few weeks have been dry in the lower valley and in some areas the flowers are already peaked. Go outside and take a walk to see what you can find. Grab a Colorado Wildflowers book or go online to one of the many wildflower sites and see what you can identify. Don’t be shy – there are so many kinds that you can mainly just guess but at least try.

Take any trail out of Winter Park or Fraser and the lupine is exploding in the shadow of the trees.  Many tree-shaded areas on the lots around Pole Creek golf course or in the Winter Park Highlands are covered with purples, fuchsias,  yellows, reds and whites. The parade of flowers started with the early pasque flowers and beautiful patches of phlox of many colors. Then the golden banner lined the trails and both sulphur and creamy buckwheat filled in the spaces. The arnica was the beautiful yellow under the trees.

Summer flowers have started to take over the fields and the columbines are blooming.  My favorite is the blue Colorado Columbine that grows so much in our valley and everyone wants to thrive in their garden.  My yard is filled with pink wild roses and different types of penstemon, clovers, goldenrods and yarrows. The hillsides up Cty Rd 851 were filled with blue flax while Tim’s Territory had white patches of bedstraw next to blue patches of harebells. Now the yellow rabbitbrush is starting to bloom and the western and tansey asters of many varieties fill the landscape.  And of course the Shasta daiseys, black-eyed susans and classic Colorado sunflowers raise their beautiful heads high above the others.

The meadow on the way to Nine Miles Mountain at the YMCA was splendid this year, rich in so many types of wildflowers under the Aspen trees.   The roads and trails of the both Winter Park Resort and Granby Ranch have so many different varieties. But the Green Gentian or monument plant catches my eye this year.  This plant exists for many years, the shoots up it’s great stalk, flowers and dies. And if there is any truth in the rumor has it that the size and number of stalks predict the snow to come in the next winter, we could be having another big winter next year!