Springtime in January

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Aspen budding in unseasonably warm weather

By Sandy Barnes

Recent balmy weather apparently has fooled local aspen trees into thinking spring has sprung.


While hanging laundry on the line, Evergreen resident Mike Wilson saw buds on the tips of aspen branches. The tender buds were sprouting little gray-white tufts called catkins on trees beside Wilson's deck.

In fact, the entire grove of aspen that extends into his neighbor's yard was budding, Wilson said.

"Something is just not right for aspens at 8,000 feet elevation to be budding in January," he remarked.

Mike Goldblatt, an ISA certified arborist at Lam Tree Service in Evergreen, agrees with Wilson.

"In January, that's pretty crazy," Goldblatt said.

The aspen are coming to life at least 6 to 8 weeks ahead of time, he said. The past decade has seen unusual weather patterns, Goldblatt remarked.

"We're in uncharted waters."

When cold weather reappears, the worst thing that could happen is that the aspen might be affected for one year, Goldblatt predicted. 

For a few days at least, it was springtime in the Rockies.