Meadow design guidelines

It seems I violated some design guidelines when I seeded my California native wildflower meadow. Experienced meadow builders don't scatter seed willy nilly and let whatever wants to grow poke its head up. No, they actually plan areas in their meadow dedicated to specific flowers.

Of course I had seen and read the Yerba Buena and Rancho Santa Ana web sites before starting my own meadow, but there's nothing like actual experience to drive a point home. Yerba Buena has a nice photo essay about their spectacular 2005 wildflower season. In the essay, it's abundantly clear that they have not been random about their seeding. See, for example, the picture in week 2 of the corner of the meadow covered in baby blue eyes.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has a shorter series of slides, but they reveal more about their process, including slides and text about periodic solarizing of the soil (to reduce weed populations), and their planning and seeding (looks like chalk outlines divide up different seed areas).

One of the things that I feel I did correctly, was to plant a perennial cover of yarrow that established itself in the shade of the taller flowers. I won't impose months of dead flower stalks on my neighbors, despite their wildlife value. When I cut the dead flowers back the yarrow was there to fill in and soften the ends of dead flower stalks. With a little water, it's done just fine at that job. It might get to be a pest next year, but for now it's ok.

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