• My California native meadow in June

    by  • July 1, 2011 • Meadow project

    In Fall of last year, I became tired of a field full of Filaree and embarked on planting a beautiful meadow of native wildflowers and grasses. The Filaree stickers  stick terribly to Maggie, our Corgi.  Here are photos showing  progress and challenges. June is when the pay-off for all hard work happens.

    Here is the meadow at the end of June, with the Chinese Houses faded and the poppies still going strong. The stars for this month are the wonderful and new-to-me Globe Gilia and the flamboyant Clarkia amoena, as pretty and bright as any petunia.

    Meadow looking south

    Meadow looking south

    The Sycamore is all leafed out after having been frozen in late snows. The Cherry tree at top left was also damaged enough in the cold that it has no cherries this year and now only presides over its own patch of wildflowers which spread downhill.

    Maintenance and mulch
    I’ve weeded around the edges, but only when I wander out there, (no big sweep through)… mostly finding odd grasses, field madder and bedstraw.
    I’ve watered a bit in the hot mornings.
    I’ve put logs along the upper edge to neaten and define it and I’ve mulched the path and the bare patches of ground in the middle of the meadow and around the edges, preparing for the hot summer.  A nice long late-season rain this week has brought some welcome moisture. I’m delighted with that!

    Meadow and steps toward house

    Meadow and steps toward house

    There are paths or steps on all sides and Tractor Man and I find ourselves walking this way with Maggie just to enjoy the color. There is so much to see, always something new, it seems.

    Globe Gilia, Gilia capitata

    Globe Gilia, Gilia capitata has been the star of the show in June

    Globe Gilia is not only tall, almost 3 feet high, but also full, having many branches and lots of buds. I’d consider sowing this in a swath elsewhere, after reading that it reseeds and germinates easily and seeing its fine ferny foliage. Being drought tolerant and  butterfly attractors are two more benefits. What’s not to like?

    Meadow on a sunny day

    Meadow on a sunny day

    You can see how the sea of Gilia rises above the meadow. Once the Clarkia started late this month, the color scheme has gone a little wild and circus like.  I can imagine that this would be one reason for planting swathes of one type of seed; that might be more like Mother Nature paints these colors.

    Globe Gilia

    Globe Gilia

    In the photo above you can see the drying seed heads of the Pacific fescue, Vulpia microstachys, which I sowed mostly in the center of the area. One disappointment has been no sign at all of the California Melic, Melica californica, California Barley, Hordeum brachyantherum or the Purple Needlegrass, Nassella pulcha that was supposed to be in the California Flowering Meadow Mix from S&S Seeds.
    .

    I hope I haven’t accidentally ‘weeded out’ the other grass seedlings, but what I did was try to ID the seedling first. One of my goals for the property is to identify native grasses, if they are here and plant and encourage more native grasses.  Right now, I’m having trouble just identifying them, so not seeing three kinds included in the mix is discouraging!

    Globe Gilia contrasts well with poppies

    Globe Gilia contrasts well with poppies

    At first the deer nibbled all the tops of this Gilia, and I was uncertain what would happen! It looks though, like they germinated so thickly that plenty were left to bloom and the deer have found, or learned that they’re not for them.

    Clarkia amoena

    Clarkia amoena

    The Clarkia looks as if it has actually been painted with a brush.

    Clarkia, poppies and gilia

    Clarkia, poppies and Gilia

    The above photo was taken this morning, July 1st.

    What’s next for the meadow
    It looks like the July stars will be the Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, which is beginning to pop up above the meadow top and the Blue Flax linum lewisii, starting to fill out. The perennials, mostly penstemons and agastaches and Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, around the edge will continue to to their job of anchoring the edges.

    Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

    Common Yarrow, Achillea millefolium with Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’

    Poppies are fewer and the flax starting to apear and fill in

    Poppies are fewer and the flax starting to appear and fill in

    Meadow flowers with perennial penstemons around edge

    Meadow flowers with perennial penstemons around edge

    Notes: Do you want to see the beginning of this project?  Here are all the previous posts:

    The Meadow project, month by month
    What am I really doing in the garden in October?  Planning and removing weeds
    Do you dream of a natural and beautiful wildflower meadow?  Finding and sowing seeding
    Let’s check for progress on the meadow!  Weeding and watching the weather
    How to weed a meadow in the Sierra Foothills  More weeding…letting the sprouts thrive
    Let’s check on Fall and Winter projects!  Identifying seedlings
    The wildflower meadow in May   Small triumphs
    My California native meadow in June  Starting to bloom
    The midsummer meadow  The peak bloom
    Stomping down the Autumn meadow  Neatening up
    Native California meadow in the second year

    *There was a California native meadow project done at Yerba Buena Nursery in 2005. They have it organized in an easy to navigate week by week sequence with tips included so if you want more details, check it out.

    More links:

    S&S Seeds, Inc.
    Carpinteria,CA

    How to sow wildflower seeds article by Judith Larner

    Wildflower FAQ by Wildseed Farms

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.