Easy Wild Flowers for Fall Sowing

Lynnette Kampe

California poppies top the list and I’ll bring some seed packets to the next meeting, free while they last to those who attend.  Other easy favorites for sunny spots are tall, pink and salmon colored Farewell-to-Spring (Clarkia unguiculata), the familiar blue spiked flowers of Arroyo Lupine, (Lupinus succulentus), and Caterpillar Flower (Phacelia cicutaria) with funny, fuzzy, curled lavender flower stems, hence the name. A petite charmer, with starling baby blue flowers is Baby Blue Eyes, (Nemophila menziesii), which likes a bit of shade. These were all were once common on Mount Washington and could return again with a little care.

You may want to consider a wild flower mix for your home garden but be aware that many commercial “wildflower mixes” contain anything but the kitchen sink. Local butterflies will be drawn to your garden much more if you plant California native wild flowers. I can’t supply them free but if you call or email me I’d be happy to bring packets of Theodore Payne’s custom mixes for Southern California with names like “Butterfly Mix,” “Desert Tortoise Mix,” and “Rainbow Mix.” Remember to tolerate a few holes in your leaves from caterpillars and you’ll be thanked by hungry baby birds and greeted by the fluttering butterflies of the caterpillars that the birds miss.

Wild Flowers seedlings don’t grow as quickly as the non-native wild oats, so before you sprinkle flower seed clear the area of weeds. Remove the sprouting grass, either with hand-pulling or gentle raking to just dislodge the grass sprouts without turning up new weed seed. After clearing away the weeds lightly sprinkle your flower seed and pat it down to barely cover the seed. On a slope it’s a good idea to rake parallel to the contours to help catch the seed as rain tries to send it down hill. Just after a rain is a good time to plant, as early in the season as possible. If the rain starts and stops you may have to sprinkle water yourself to keep seedlings going. Some years are better for wild flowers than others but in the garden you can provide the rain.

Last year there was a wonderful display of Poppies in Rainbow Canyon, on Avenue 44 just below Glenmuir, a few in Elyria Canyon mostly near the end of Elyria Drive and some along the sunny side of the Seaview Ave. loop. I’d love to see them all along the Jack Smith Trail, especially at the top of Moon Canyon. I’ll have a sign-up sheet at the meeting if you would like to help with tending the poppies, or if you want to do your own planting, remember: “Weeds out, seeds in.”

Please join me Sunday, December 4th in Rainbow Canyon to give the poppies a hand. Please call (323) 221-1782 or email lynnette.kampe@gmail.com if you can help.

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