What is great about Spanish Peaks Living?

Nine years ago this month, Mike and I drove down from Fort Collins to choose a few acres in Navajo to buy. We didn’t know much about this area, only that we loved how it felt to our suburban souls. It took us another year to build our passive solar home facing the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with Mount Mestas to our west.

I was reminded again early this morning why I love living here. I woke up around 6:30 AM to see an unobstructed view of a bright red sunrise to our southeast. This is BIG SKY country to me, where the landscape and the silence are the main characters! Every time I go outside in the morning I stop and feel astounded by the silence. This is what the earth used to be like. Maybe a few bird sounds, but otherwise perfect silence…

Sure there are also unattractive features to this area, but the land is encouraging and haunting all at once, and the summers are glorious!

Our first summer here we had so much fun exploring the back roads and back stories, like this dilapidated adobe schoolhouse slowly sinking back into the earth west of here…

or taking the train up to Fir to hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band play in a big mountain meadow.

When I first met Mike he said he wasn’t moving again until he could look at something besides the house across the street.

We found this cartoon in a magazine and laughed together about it. Then we went in search of someplace with truly ‘spectacular views.’

We found those here and so much more…

Our Circus Squirrel Performs!

The latest from our backyard garden melodrama. A squirrel just climbed up and started riding around on the new wind whirley-gigs that Mike re-painted this past week…

First she climbed this one but I didn’t have my camera ready…

Then she went up this one and started to enjoy the ride!

Next, it was up to the upper level….

For a quick run around upstairs!

Maybe she went up there for a better view.

Then she turned around, took a bow and waved byebye!

What’s blooming mid-July in our Foothills Garden?

The answer to that question is just about everything I’ve ever planted! Loving the ubiquitous lavenders, yellow and pink yarrow, catmint, and volunteer sunflowers! We just deadheaded the catmint and Jupiter’s Beard this week, and had over two inches of rain so far this July on our ridge overlooking the Sangres de Cristo Range! Let’s hear it for the monsoons!

My Blue-Mist Spirea bushes on the right and left foreground are acting a little bit shy with just a few flowers so far, but all five should be full out in a week or so!

And this Magenta yarrow is in its first year, so its taking its sweet time to bloom. A couple plants got damaged by that late May snowstorm we had. The Russian Sage and Showy Four-O’Clocks are very late in blooming.

But overall, I’m quite happy with our results this summer!

Native plants in my Colorado foothills garden

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.