Have you ever dreamed of growing a real meadow in your garden? Let me tell you how I turned a weedy, sloping field into a colorful and ‘wonder full’ meadow, filled with native wildflowers. Now is the time to begin.
First choose a spot. My weedy field is on a gentle well-drained slope which is perfect for wildflowers. You may have an area in mind, large or small, in your garden. You can even grow a mini-meadow in a container.
Then, get rid of the weeds. Clear your chosen area with weedkiller to eliminate any weeds which may compete with your wildflowers. Mow or weed-eat the existing or dead vegetation as short as possible, collect the weed clippings and get them off your property so the weeds seeds don’t spread.
Rake the surface of the soil to a depth of one inch only. Tilling the soil shallowly will avoid the disturbance of any dormant weed seed from years past. Now you are ready to buy seed.
It’s possible to find an online source for native California seeds, which is what I did, but you can easily find the following varieties in individual packets at the nurseries. California poppies, Clarkia, Yarrow, Blue Flax, Tidytips, Coreopsis, Baby Blue eys, Five spot and Globe Gilia bloomed and reseeded best of all. Now we wait for rain. (Yes, it will come.)
The first rain of the season will be very exciting for you because that day or shortly after, you’ll be sowing your seed. I’ll be out there, too...no doubt. Broadcast one half of your seed as uniformly as possible, by hand, over the prepared area. You can mix the seed varieties all together if you wish. Sow the remaining seed in a crosswise direction for best coverage.
At the same time and as you sow, press the seed into the soil by walking over your newly sown area. There’s no need to rake it in or cover the seed any deeper than one-sixteenth of an inch of soil. This accomplishes two things, good soil contact the seeds need to sprout, and hiding seeds from hungry birds. If there’s more than a week of no rain during the next few months, hand water your ‘meadow’ for a few minutes each seven days or so. Otherwise they will need no water but winter and spring rains.
Tip: Sowing a pinch of seed in a flowerpot or recycled PonyPak tray filled with potting soil will help you identify the seedlings.
Last of all, weed, weed, weed. Watch your new meadow area carefully through the winter and early spring and remove any weeds you notice. That will help your wildflowers thrive without competition. In late July, just weed-eat, mow or simply stomp down the drying wildflowers for a neater look. I allow the seed heads to fall on the ground to sprout next year and my meadow area, once full of awful weeds, has reseeded every year for six years.
Growing a wildflower meadow is a leisurely occupation with a lot of waiting and observing. The big payoff comes in April and May, when wave after wave of blooming flowers fill your meadow area, attracting buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies.