• Native California meadow in the second year

    by  • May 3, 2012 • Meadow project, Spring

    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, Anaphalis margaritacea.  You can now tell where I weeded.

    Bert Wilson from Las Pilitas said about this:
    “You can tell how much of a native nut’ a person is by how they react to this plant, WOW, you’ve got a PEARLY EVERLASTING!, or God, why don’t you pull out that weed! Sun or part shade, drought tolerant but tolerates regular water. Laughs at fertilizer, rock, dogs, feet, and bad gardening. A good plant for master’ gardeners or butterfly nuts.”


    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.