Landscape Typology: Grassland/ Wildflower Plains
Natural Places in San Diego: Laguna Mountain State Park, Ramona Grasslands Preserve
Description: A Wildflower Meadow was cleared in a barren area along the Quail Gardens Drive fence line. The soil here is sandy and hydrophobic, making it especially difficult to establish new plants. Thus, a 15x25-foot area was raked around a large existing tree stump and amended with reclaimed potting soil to promote infiltration. The perimeter of the space was mounded with mulch to create a weed buffer and planted with perennial grasses such as deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and canyon prince wild rye (Leymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’) to define the circular space.
Wildflowers in this area include larger annuals such as Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Giant Phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora) and Hooker’s Primrose (Oenothera hookeri) as well as smaller annuals such as lupine (lupinus sp.), poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii). The wildflowers were grown using a combination propagated plantings and seeding. Larger annuals such as Sunflower, Giant Phacelia, and Hooker’s Primrose were propagated from 2-inch flats for better mortality and prevention of pest damage. Smaller annuals such as lupine, poppies and baby blue eyes were seeded in the foreground with high success. The intent was to create a circle of color at the garden entrance to catch a guests’ attention from the upslope path overlooking it.
Helpful Tips: Timing and soil are key factors in developing a wildflower meadow. The first round of seeding should occur just before or after the first fall rains. The meadow can be lightly reseeded every 3-4 weeks through the rainy season to create waves of color over a longer period into June. The earlier the fall seeding, the better for getting plants established for larger blooms and a longer season. Make sure to include late season perennials such as fuchsia (Epilobium sp.), goldenrod (Solidago californica) and native milkweed (Asclepias sp.) for summer interest.
Banner Photo:Mojave prickly poppy | Rachel Cobb