California poppy

(Eschscholzia californica)

The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a beautiful addition to native gardens and flower gardens in general. One huge difference is that once your poppies are established they will need very little summer water, yet will flower and remain beautiful into the summer months.  I love these flowers with their light green fern-like leaves and bright orange blossoms. But what I discovered as I attempted to let my poppies grow wild is they do need tending!

 

The poppies were planted in April of 2018 as a small patch between the white sage, purple sage, hummingbird sage, and the  holly leaf cherry bushes (Prunus illicifolia) of my front yard.  I wanted color and textural contrast between the sages and the cherries, and the summer of 2018 was glorious with color and pollinators everywhere!

The summer of 2019 was equally colorful with poppy flowers extending 5 feet in each direction beyond the original rock border patch. Lovely!

Fast forward to 2020: what a mess! The flower bed had become a bramble with few flowers and mostly spent stems of poppies from summer’s passed. I wasn’t sure what to do! I knew of gardeners who pulled up and discarded every plant, every season, then planted again in spring. That seemed wasteful and beyond my efforts of permaculture and sustainability.

I reached out to the Theodore Payne Native Plant Nursery for advice and it saved my poppy patch!  With Dee’s help, we removed all the bramble stems and had   left just a few plants for next year’s garden.

I was so surprised when within 2 months the patch had returned, in full bloom, and July is now bursting with color and plants! Amazing!

More proof that plants native to your region will usually thrive better, use less water, and attract the wild pollinators that keep nature in balance.

 

About the Author:

Kay is a retired school teacher and holds a Certificate in Field and Nature Studies.  She has a passion for botany, native plants and permaculture.