• Native California meadow in the second year

    by  • May 3, 2012 • Meadow project, Spring • 10 Comments

    Big changes all around

    The meadow in May…checking the progress and weeding, weeding…

    Last year, here in the Sierra foothills, I started a meadow project in a weedy field below the south side of our home. Bounded by a sycamore tree on the south a path on the north, a rock garden on the west, the field was sowed with native CA wildflower and grass seed and was a joy all through the summer months.  Weeding was the only maintenance.

    2012 April Meadow

    2012 April Meadow

    This spring there are big changes.  The perennials planted around the edge are thriving and green,…the whole field is greener than this time last year, even with the little rain we’ve had.  The other change is with my available time to weed at the onset of the seedling stage. Taking a full time job prevents me from weeding for a solid week at the easy stage when weeds are small like I did last year.


    2011- Last year, 3rd week of April

    2011- Last year, 3rd week of April


    2012- This year, 3rd week of April

    2012- This year, 3rd week of April

    I have been dismayed at the vengeance with which the filaree seedlings have sprouted. Is that why it’s green? No, the seeds have really come in thicker this year rather than sparser like I predicted. But, I believe removing the weeds is the key to continued success.


    Mid April meadow

    Mid April meadow


    Thick patches of filaree 'beaks'

    Thick patches of filaree ,…see the vertical ‘beaks’?


    Poppies and flax

    Poppies and flax

    Poppies and flax predominate during the first of May.  This week is the second that they’ve bloomed.

    Poppies and flax wave gently

    Poppies and flax wave gently in the morning wind


    Weedy path

    Weedy path…evil things….

    The weeds there are filaree, bur clover and Mouse ear. I’m removing a lot of the Coreopsis that is thriving from seeds around the place, all the Feverfew when found and a patch of Ajuga has popped up which I’ll move elsewhere.  I’m removing many of the Elegant Madia or Tarweed seedlings because we already have fields of that in other places.


    Perennials grow around the edge

    Perennials grow around the edge, lavender, agastche, penstemon, autumn sage, artemisia, sages and begin to bloom.

    I notice more Golden yarrow, Eriophyllum confertiflorum, and small manzanita, our Arctostaphylos viscida or Sticky Whiteleaf Manzanita sprouts popping up….and lots of cudweed!

    Manzanita seedling

    Healthy manzanita seedling, all natives welcome.


    The brighter greens are cudweed

    The brighter greens are cudweed, Pearly everlasting, Gnaphalium californicum.  You can now tell where I weeded.


    The flax took two seasons to bloom, but oh, well worth the wait!

    The blue flax, linum lewsii, took two seasons to bloom, but oh, well worth the wait!


    Wheelbarrow of weeds. These will be put in trash bags and taken OFF the property.

    Wheelbarrow of weeds. These will be put in trash bags and taken OFF the property.

    Judith Larner says, “The story of California native gardens is the story of weeds.” I believe it.



    Weeding…so satisfying…

    I may be weeding here but you can’t beat the working conditions. The weeding only took two or three days, a lot less than I thought it would take! I’m happy with my meadow in its second year.

    Done weedin'

    Done weedin.’  Can these even be called shoes?

    More info on the Meadow project:
    The story of California native gardens is the story of weeds
      and the importance of weeding in a restoration project

    The entire 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


    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.

    10 Responses to Native California meadow in the second year

    1. May 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

      It came back so beautifully for you this year! I agree, it’s very hard to keep up with garden chores and work full time. At least this time of the year we have a few hours of light to work by in the evenings. Fabulous shoes.

    2. Marie Hurst Lewis
      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you for posting about the meadow. We have 6.2 acres and lots of filaree!! Still waiting for some of the native plants sowed last fall and winter to bloom, and hate to cut the grass until the wildflowers are gone.

    3. May 4, 2012 at 6:45 am

      I heard from other meadow enthusiasts how very difficult it is to keep a meadow going, the exotic weeds just overwhelm the natives. Good for you for doing your best (and sorry about the Mouse ears ;->)

    4. Carol
      May 4, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Hi Sue. Did you disturb the ground (till) before seedingÉ I find when I do that the weed seeds that have lain unexposed all germinate the following year. Am also mystified why you are removing feverfew…a beautiful medicinal plant that should be an asset to a wildflower garden.

    5. May 4, 2012 at 9:27 am

      It looks lovely, Sue. That was somewhat how I envisioned our orchard floor looking this spring, until I had to remove most of the wildflowers. Evil voles. I did leave a few ‘islands’ of blooms though, not too near the trees, and the second spring even here is vastly different. The poppies especially have filled in very well, as did our Nemophila, but the weeds are a constant chore, and honestly, I frequently fail at getting them pulled early. Although at least now I’m only working with a few clusters of flowers, not the whole orchard. It’s a lot of work when you’re working with such a large area, but the rewards are definitely worth it!

    6. May 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      I keep hearing that weeding is more important than planting to the long term health of a native plant restoration. I think your meadow show that to be true in spades. It looks great this year–way better than the eyesore weedpatch!

    7. May 9, 2012 at 7:25 am

      Thanks, Katie, if you have the time to weed, it’s a great project. It was daunting to see how many filaree seedlings popped up, but took only two afternoons to weed.

      Thanks, Marie, Good luck with your garden,…sounds like it is as big as our place,…Lots to do. I don’t like to mow all of ours, either. I love the fields of tarweed in the late summer.

      Thanks, Mouse! The weeds come out easily with my old steak knife, very satisfying to let the natives have their room. Under the poppies and flax are scads of Globe Gilia seedlings to come in June. I admit, I do think of you Mouses and your ‘ears’ when I see them. *smile*

      Thanks for commenting, Carol. I didn’t till the ground, just killed the weeds and raked lightly to remove them. I sowed the seed on a rainy day in September. The feverfew is pretty and useful, I hear, but so prolific here that it discourages the natives. It lives in some places in the garden but not in this meadow.

      Hi Clare, Thanks! Too bad those voles don’t like weeds! It is a large area and I have seen some gopher holes but figure they can have some and leave enough for us. We also have gopher snakes and owls that they have to deal with. Disappointingly, the baby blue eyes and five spot did not return this spring. I guess they require some thing I don’t have here, to reseed. The flax is awesome, though!

      Hi, James, Thanks! If you seed native wildflowers in some places in your garden, I bet you’ll really be glad. It’s true,..once they establish, just weed and let them go.

    8. May 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      The meadow is looking awesome, Sue! You’re right in that weeding is the primary maintenance task, but the reward is great once the meadow is established. In terms of weeds, we have mostly filaree and black mustard, but I’ve noticed an abundance of yellow star thistle popping up here and there the past couple years – really hate those things! I generally don’t use herbicides, but we’ve decided to apply Spectracide this spring on the emerging thistle seedlings to hopefully eradicated them once and for all (is that even possible?).

      I envy the large plot you have for creating this habitat – I have a smaller 5′ x 8′ area planted with native grasses and native annuals – mostly tidy tips, birds eye gilia, goldfields and farewell-to-spring (Clarkia bottae) – but it must be fenced off with chicken wire to keep out the rabbits. Not very aesthetically pleasing…

      • May 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

        Thanks, Arleen! Bigger plot, bigger job! I’m glad you have some spot for wildflowers, too. Have you ever tried spraying the fence black. I sprayed my metal fence posts (grey and orange!) with a neutral browny-beige paint to disguise them on the property lines. Star thistle,…ugh! I’m sorry to see it on my place these last two years. Could you lop off the seedheads this year at all?

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