All the spring flowers in Old Town Albuquerque have started to bloom! All the trees, shrubs and vines are leafing out, and flowers are filling the landscape with color. On my stroll through Old Town early Monday morning, I saw lilacs, irises, mulberry trees, Bradford pears… and a roadrunner. To those of you who have a while yet to be done with winter, please enjoy the flowers.
flowers and plants in Albuquerque
Albuquerque is considered a “high desert” climate at an altitude of 5,000 feet. This is different from “desert.” It’s all about the amount of rainfall we get each year. Visitors are often surprised at the large trees and variety of landscape plants in the Rio Grande River Valley. If you want to see a complete desert with rolling sand dunes, visit White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo. The huge native cottonwood trees growing along the river can be 300 years old or more.
a little local plant history
Centuries ago, Albuquerque was very brown and nearly all farms and villages were along the river. When wells were dug and irrigation began, more land was used for farming. Acequias (irrigation canals) channeled water from the river to the settlements and farms. Today Albuquerque has over 300 miles of canals and acequias. In the early 1900’s, the third president of the University of New Mexico, George Tight, wanted the campus to look like a park. He and the students spent weekends planting trees and flowers around the new campus. He even imported a crate of squirrels from his native Ohio, and their descendants live at UNM and the surrounding area to this day. When Clyde Tingley was mayor of Albuquerque in the 1920’s, he had hundreds of Siberian elm trees planted throughout the city. Today they provide soothing shade to the older neighborhoods from the river to east of downtown. As the population increased over the decades, people planted their favorite bushes, trees and flowers, often from where they lived before moving here.
You can enjoy the spring flowers in Old Town Albuquerque, as well as chrysanthemums in the suburbs and golden cottonwood trees along the river in the fall. If you’re big on gardens and landscaping, a visit to the Botanic Garden is always worthwhile.