Our private superbloom: Navajo Tea in Navajo!

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!

How my brain is healing from serious concussion

Although I have other experiences with brain injuries and healing, this most recent concussion a little over a year ago has been quite different. This was the first time I experienced auditory and visual hallucinations after I fell and knocked myself out on a stone floor.

From the first I had lots of balance problems, especially because I so fear anymore falls. But what was different for me was the constant feeling of the world spinning around me, much like the whirlies when you’re drunk. Especially when I turned my head either way or put it back very far I felt so dizzy. This went on for months afterwards and between my bad lungs and my whirling brain, I worried about my balance quite a bit.

What I find most curious about me is that I go through periods of symptoms like the twirlies, and then they go away for a while, maybe a month or so, and then they come back again. When they are bad, I don’t trust myself to walk alone without support of some kind. I have felt like this for the past few days and then this morning I felt fine again.

I know that brain cells can repair themselves, I guess it’s a bit like re-wiring. I experienced that after my TBI in May of 2008. It took lots of rest and a couple years, but I did get almost back to ‘normal’ for me. These kind of personal experiences teach us new appreciation for the incredible resilience of our brains. Perhaps that is what is happening to me now. I get better for a while and then I flash back to that old dizziness for a few days, just to fully appreciate when my balance comes back again.

Let’s hear it for the process of neuroplasticity!

In spite of high winds & a foot of snow in May, these flowers are radiant in my foothills garden!

This morning the Rocky Mountain Penstemons are smiling BIG TIME

As I move from east to west this plant, that got eaten last year by I don’t know what, is raring to grow.

I love to watch the serendipity of plantings from years past. For example, I had no idea this combination of these little yellow flowers, the Penstemon pinifolius (red), the RM penstemon (purple) and lavender would look so good together this year. I’m not smart enough to plan that!

And these were all planted at different times too. At first I had too much purple and the interesting Knautia macedonica ‘Red Knight’ plant, so I added a yellow yarrow right in the middle. And in spite of high winds and a foot of snow on May 22nd, everything survived!

One thing I have learned, plants need to be quite resilient to survive the wild and windy weather up here!

Mid-June Colorado Foothills Garden Notes

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.

Happy to be home!

After just two days up in the northern Colorado cities, Mike and I are always so happy to come home! Speaking as someone with a brain injury, cities increase my stress level immediately, even as we drive north through Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. In summary, being there exhausts my brain energy so quickly. There is also the stress of staying in a different house with different people. All I know is that I need to sleep a lot after I get home to “catch up” on my mental comfort level and health. Of course, psychologists have known for years that:

“City living can chip away at your psychological immune system, which can be precarious for those with a family history of mental illness. According to psychologists , this environmental stress can increase their risk of developing a psychiatric condition, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.”

As we drive south out of the metro parts of Colorado, we both breathe a gigantic sigh of relief. We love to return to the life that we love in one of the least populated and developed counties in Colorado. We find slow, quiet, and peaceful is great for our sanity! Our passive solar home always stays cool for free while we’re gone. I miss my garden and Mike misses his cat Rosie when we go on trips.

This is our reward for moving down here six years ago now… Try to beat that view from your back porch! When I first met Mike he said he wasn’t moving again unless it was to somewhere where he wasn’t looking at the house across the street. Success at last!

I immediately go outside and check on my plants. Luckily nobody got eaten while we were gone 🙂

And yes, I do have some native plants coming up too, like this yucca, a transplanted Cholla cactus and some evening primrose. I sure hope the Cholla decides to bloom this July! It’s flowers are a bright magenta color.

Postscript: The funniest thing I witnessed on our drive through Denver was a trucking company named: “Follow me to Jesus, Inc.” No shit!

Garden Snow Art – May 22, 2022

OK, so I am not thrilled to find a foot of snow on my just-beginning-to-bloom garden this morning…

…but I do get a kick out of photographing the results of the snow, and besides, WE REALLY DO NEED THE MOISTURE!

Yucca makes a fine pincushion pattern in our sculpture garden!

And there is a little beauty to be found in the midst of a May blizzard. Besides we got over an inch of precipitation! Sure hope those baby blue bird chicks in our birdhouse survived…