This year’s splendid wildflowers are quickly fading as temperatures shot up this week. The flowers were truly special due to the late season storms. Now gardeners are faced with cleaning up their residential superbloom.
Unlike more natural spaces in the mountains and deserts, my garden gets continued scrutiny, even as the wildflowers turn brown and go to seed. This year with everyone staying home during the Coronavirus pandemic, many families and individuals out for their daily walks have told me how much they enjoy seeing the flowers. I wonder how much they will enjoy the dried brown stems and seed pods. I know, however, that the birds are really enjoying them. Though I am sensitive to the wildlife value of spent flowers as they mature into nutritious seeds, I also recognize that my garden can look more unkempt than even I prefer. I balance a desire to demonstrate the beauty of native plant gardens to my neighbors with a desire to feed insects, birds, and other critters.
And so the clean up begins. I will leave plenty of seeds for the birds, but I am even now starting to clear wildflowers that have fallen into the sidewalk. This is especially true for the tansy-leafed phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) which is prickly and irritating to the skin. In addition to clearing the walks, I have begun to collect seed for next year. My garden reseeds without any help, but I collect gobs of seed to share with fellow gardeners and to sow in the South Pasadena Nature Park.
Wildflowers are definitely not low-maintenance, however, to me, they are worth every bit of effort that leads to the spectacular display each spring. I have written about tending a wildflower garden before, so I won’t repeat it here. Rather, check out the following posts and my book, Wild Suburbia – Learning to Garden with Native Plants.
Blog posts on growing wildflowers
How to grow wildflowers, distinguish seedlings from weedlings, and keep them blooming longer. (11/29/2009)
Wildflower season is over
How to cleanup and collect seed after the bloom (7/24/2015)