My father, Dr. Jack L. Carter, was a well-known botanist and strong advocate of growing native plants in the areas they are native to. We lovingly called him a “native plants nazi” because he was always commenting on how inappropriate certain plants and trees were in our yards and neighborhoods. In his honor I would like to mention a few natives that have either volunteered or been transplanted into my garden up here at 7,000 feet, west of Walsenburg Colorado.
My favorite is the Showy Four O’Clock. This one just happened to be properly placed to come up every year under my Buddha. It starts blooming in the late day in mid-July and continues for quite a while. The only year it did not bloom was in 2018 when we had a wildfire nearby.
A plant I love to see down here is what I know as the Cane Cholla Cactus. They are common along Highway I-25 from just north of Pueblo to the Colorado-New Mexico state border and they are blooming right now. I liked them so much that I started a few of them in my garden four years ago, because I know they take a long time to grow and bloom.
I just cut off the end of one cane and planted it in the ground. This is a plant two years later….
I am so excited to see that one of my four year old plants actually had a bloom this week! I didn’t know how long it took to get these to bloom. Gardeners must be AMAZINGLY PATIENT.
I have also added a nice evening primrose, which has always been one of my favorites, and of course we have much more yucca than we want!
Finally, we have had hundreds of native sunflowers here ever since we moved in. I love them. They remind me of my Kansas upbringing.
Seven years past the first time I witnessed a superbloom here in the foothills of southern Colorado, we are having an even bigger one again, right around my home. We live in the Navajo Ranch area smack dab between the towns of Walsenburg and La Veta Colorado.
This is Navajo Tea also known as greenthread, the common names given to multiple species within the genus Thelesperma. This species is a native of the Great Plains and mountain states.
Thelespermas are used by a number of the southwestern Native American peoples as herbal teas, earning the plant common names like Navajo Tea or Hopi Tea. The plant can be boiled whole until the water turns a rusty color and used as a tea. Historically it has also been used as a medicinal remedy and for yellow dyes.
Here are a few local views of our superbloom:
Here is a hillside of flowers with the Spanish Peaks as a rainy backdrop…
Fields of flowers with Mount Mestas in the distance…
And just plain fields of flowers! What a grand spring surprise for us!
WOW, it was plenty HOT here yesterday! We got over 90 degrees, which almost never happens up here at 7,000 feet. My new plants were not pleased, but those that have been here for the past few years were fine. Here’s a photo summary of what is happening in my garden.
First of all, this is what my “sky garden” looked like in June 2019. We had just completed the hardscaping at this point!
These day in the far east end I am nursing a new plant, an Icelandic Poppy, and so far so good in spite of all the wind we’ve had lately. My Jupiter’s Beard at the end is struggling but still hanging in.
Lavender absolutely loves it up here! And that large Jupiter’s Beard on the left is thriving too.
I forget the name of these cute little yellow flowers, but they sure are tough! Then I have a couple of different penstemons in this grouping near one of my lavender plants. The Blue-mist Spirea bushes with start blooming in July.
This is a view of mid-garden with the steps. Yarrow dominates this area. It seems to be pleased with itself. My native Four-O’Clock is slowly creeping out from under Buddha and that big Catmint plant. It got hit hard by the big snow we had the end of May, that almost froze all the flower heads off! My green shamrock is in the foreground. Thanks Mike!
My west end is mostly new or native plants. So excited to see that yellow Evening Primrose start to bloom this morning! The native sunflowers are everywhere over there and I just planted a “Little Kim Lilac” bush over there. Sure hope it survives the wind! Check out a few of Mike’s creations, the metal sculpture and his horseshoe wind chime under the Bluebird’s box.
I should also include this central square of flowers, the first place I planted anything about four years ago. Can you find my metal coil dog? That’s one of Mike’s more recent creations.