Blooming: spring in Santa Fe

This time of year, it starts to warm up in Santa Fe and thoughts turn to spring. Soon, the city will be collage of blooming plants. Aspens will begin budding, tulips and crocuses will appear, there will be a bit of forsythia and fruit and trees will flower.

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A budding aspen and a bird outside our window, photo/Steve Collins

The city is a mix of both native plants and those that were brought here by people who missed the colors of home. In our mostly stark landscape, spring blooms are a welcome diversion.

Santa Fe is a city of hidden gardens. People mostly choose Xeric plants, but sometimes people opt for thirstier plants. You’ll see a range that goes from tulips and poppies to cactus flowers, Russian Sage and later in the summer Maximilian Sunflowers.

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Cholla cactus in bloom at Tent Rocks (Kasha-Katawe) National Monument, photo/Steve Collins

The year-round Santa Fe Farmers’ Market moves back outside after months in their barn-like winter quarters. Growers will begin bringing greens and other early seasonal crops that have come out of the ground and not the greenhouse.

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Flowers for sale at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, photo/Steve Collins

Restaurants  begin serving al fresco and the prime spot in any eatery from posh to casual, becomes the outside tables under overhangs or colorful umbrellas to shade the high desert sun.  Uggs are stored for the season and shorts and sandals appear on the streets.

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La Casa Sena may have the best dining patio in town hidden in a courtyard, photo/Steve Collins

Outside the city, as snow melts, the Rio Grande and the Rio Chama swell with spring run-off. Rafting season starts on both and fisherman take to local rivers and streams.

Lizards emerge from hibernation and sun themselves on rocks. They are cute and fast.

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A cute little lizard basking in the sun, photo/Steve Collins

Spring is one of the best times of the year to visit Santa Fe. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 50s or 60s (and even 70s). The sun is usually out and it’s glorious. At night, temperatures drop into the 30s. Even into early may there may be snow. When the sun comes out the next day, the snow quickly disappears into the parched ground. Lodging rates (except for spring break times) are still at off-season levels and restaurant reservations are easier to obtain and museums and other local attractions aren’t yet crowded with travelers.

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Blossoms art the Santa Fe Railyard, photo/Steve Collins

Spring is a special time in Santa Fe as the high, dry land comes into bloom.  What is your favorite thing about spring in Santa Fe?

Nothing says spring like Easter. Santa Fe, originally named “La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís” (The Royal City of the Holy Faith of San Francisco de Asis) by the Spaniards who founded it, is still a strongly Catholic city and Easter is a really important time in Northern, New Mexico. During Semana Santa (Holy Week) each year, tens of thousands of Pilgrims arrive at the small village of Chimayó, heading for it’s church, El Sanctuario de Chimayó. Read about the annual pilgrimage.

Northern New Mexico had a strong Penitente Tradition. Good Friday and the Penitentes in New Mexico tells a bit of the story.

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16 Responses to “Blooming: spring in Santa Fe”

  1. Linda
    March 1, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Interesting to see how many plants are common to these islands too, but it seems like it must get a tad cooler with you in Winter I think. Here we can eat out year round, at least daytime. How cold does it get in winter?

    • Billie Frank
      March 1, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      It can get pretty cold for a short spell in winter. From the teens (Fahrenheit) to even short stretches below zero. The thing that saves us is all the sunny days and the altitude- we’re closer to the sun and the air is thinner. This means, if the sun’s out and the wind’s not blowing, it’s quite pleasant out. Where in NY, I’d have to wear a hat and glove even in the 50s in winter- I wind myself, even when it’s in the 30s walking around with my coat open sans hat and gloves. I love it.

  2. Donna Hull
    March 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I visited Santa Fe in May one time and it snowed! However, not for long and not enough to ruin our fun. Santa Fe is delightful any time of year but especially so in the spring.

  3. Leigh
    March 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    I think we’ve got another solid month before it really feels like spring though at least the snow is melting quickly and I am loving the longer days.
    Leigh recently posted..Gear Review: The Clever Travel CompanionMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      March 2, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      We used to live on a mountain in the Adirondacks in NY. We’d have bits of snow still around the house Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May.

  4. Cathy Sweeney
    March 1, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    One of my favorite things about nice weather is being able to dine al fresco. I’ll bet there are some wonderful places in Santa Fe to do that. I’m a big fan of cactus flowers — love the pic of the Cholla cactus.

    • Billie Frank
      March 2, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      Santa Fe has wonderful hidden patios and courtyards for dining- plus less dramatic places. I, too love cactus flowers- but I love almost all flowers- they make me happy.

  5. Zoë Dawes
    March 2, 2013 at 1:12 am #

    What a lovely article – a delightful reminder of spring’s joys just around the corner. It’s rather more exotic in Santa Fe than NW England but the Lake District will be full of Wordsworth’s daffodils this month & in glorious bloom throughout spring.

    Thanks for a chance to share your pleasure :-)

    • Billie Frank
      March 2, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      “I wondered lonely as a cloud…” Those lines are etched on my brain. Ah, school days.

  6. Monika Fuchs
    March 2, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    What a nice reminder that spring is just waiting around the corner. Here in Germany we still have snow all around, but the sun is warming up and spring is not far away anymore.
    Monika Fuchs recently posted..Captiva Island, Florida – charmante Insel an der Westküste mit einer dramatischen GeschichteMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      March 2, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      We usually don’t have snow for long in Santa Fe.

  7. Patti
    March 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Santa Fe is one of my most favorite places, there is just something so special about the area. Before we moved to Ashland, OR, we were looking at a B&B in Corrales that was for sale, but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. We would have been happy to live there though. I find the desert fascinating, there is so much life and so much color and the southwestern culture/flavor is very special. We have been to Santa Fe twice and I would happily return!
    Patti recently posted..Spring Fever ~My Profile

    • Billie Frank
      March 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      I love Coralles. It’s a newt town. Hope you get back to Santa Fe- we’d love to check Ashland out sometime.

  8. InsideJourneys
    March 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    Sprint in Santa Fe sounds delightful. I especially like the idea (and remember) what it was like after the cold of winter to be able to dine al fresco. Love the birds, too!
    InsideJourneys recently posted..A Jamaican SpringMy Profile

  9. Jim Liston
    May 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    Great pictures, love the cactus flowers. Thanks for sharing.
    Jim Liston recently posted..Invasion Of PrivacyMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      May 7, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      We do too. They gve color to a drab landscape/

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