Grow Your Own Super Bloom!

There's an air of anticipation; conditions are looking favorable for parts of California and southwestern United States to be bedazzled with a super bloom this year. Have you ever experienced this? It's high on my wish list – several good photographer friends have taken stunning images of this phenomena which turns the hillsides to a vibrant carpet of wildflowers. I'm especially interested in seeing the extravagant display of orange, native California poppies. Why those poppies especially? Well, I'm looking outside at rain-laden skies and bare branches – again. Yes, I have broadleaf evergreens, a wide variety of conifers plus interesting bark and berries, but I crave bold bright COLOR! My two large, orange containers make me smile even though I haven't been terribly creative with their winter plantings this year, but their color reminds me how much I enjoy my annual display of orange California poppies. I inherited a few when we purchased this home in 2009 which I later transplanted to another part of the garden. Here they have continued to thrive in the lightly dappled shade of birch trees with zero effort on my part. I never water them, nor do I thin them. I let them self seed, pulling out any that are in unsuitable spots when I have time. When they are past their best and starting to look rather weedy (and lots of seed pods have opened) I just yank them out by the fistful, throw on an inch of mulch to tidy things up and call it good. They always self seed sufficiently to give an encore the following year. Critter issues? These are deer and rabbit-resistant, or at least if a few get taste-tested I'd never know as they grow in such abundance. It may not quite qualify as a Super Bloom but it's the best I can do in Washington state right now! I have to admit that my growing technique is somewhat unorthodox so here are the "proper" directions:

How to Grow California Poppies

  • Best grown from seed directly sown into the garden in very early spring or late fall (if you have mild winters)
  • Find a nice, open sunny spot and rake the soil until it is loose
  • Scatter seeds lightly and thinly then cover with 1/4" soil (or just rake lightly again)
  • Water in gently with a very fine setting
  • Thin to 6" apart when seedlings are well established

Key Facts

  • 12-15 inches tall
  • Bloom time will vary with climate but June is typical for England and the Pacific Northwest
  • Best in full sun but also tolerates very light shade
  • An annual- but allow to self seed and you will have a display every year.
  • Sow during the rainy season and you may not have to water at all.

How-To Video from Renee's Garden

Design Ideas

These poppies need to be planted in large blocks to be effective.


I like to plant them beneath tall deciduous trees as loose fillers.

I especially like the color echo between my orange container and the poppy blooms.

If you have a large, sunny border that is still maturing you might consider seeding in groups of poppies as temporary fillers in between other perennials or shrubs or simply to add an early splash of color.

Lovely use of California poppies at RHS Harlow Carr, Yorkshire

All the plants in the border above need full sun, low water and average soil so mingle happily together.


A mini-meadow of California poppies at Breezy Knees Garden, Yorkshire captivated our tour guests last year

With or without the addition of grasses, this large border of bright orange California poppies creates a gauzy meadow effect which is enchanting.

Other Varieties to Try

Orange not quite your color? Try these: Tropical Sunset is a unique blend from Renee's Garden in glowing sunset colors – it will still make a bold statement but offers greater variety. Dancing Ballerinas, also from Renee's Garden features frilly flowers in sherbet colors  which are generally softer in tone. Dusky Rose is a pastel pink (Renee's Garden) Tequila Sunrise is a bold red and cream mix (Renee's Garden) Botanical Interests (another top notch company) offers the native California poppies as well as some pretty blends including Mission Bells. Your hardest decision may be choosing which ones to grow!


Photo credit:

Did you know that I am leading garden tours to see the super bloom (of a different sort) at the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Flower Show, and South Africa? All 3 tours are down to the last handful of spots (or less) but we still have room for YOU!

Subscribe to Receive Blog Posts

Gardening inspiration delivered right to your inbox from Le Jardinet

Chelsea Flower Show 2022: Favorite Sanctuary Garden #2

Jul 26 2022

Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Had I read the background on The Boodles Travel Garden , designed by Tom Hoblyn ahead of time I'd have struggled to comprehend it on that level, trying to determine which plant represented which country for example. Even now, truthfully, the written concept does nothing for me other than indicate…
Read More

Chelsea Flower Show 2022: Favorite Sanctuary Garden #1

Jul 12 2022

I had to stop and pinch myself more than once. I was actually here – at the one and only Chelsea Flower Show, with a coveted Press Pass no less, enabling me to photograph all the gardens with fewer crowds (although dodging the BBC cameras mounted on enormous booms was a challenge at times!) Although…
Read More

Woodland Garden Updates – Ideas Needed!

Apr 19 2022

This spring has seen some major changes in our woodland border – the long-overdue removal of three large Bradford pear trees. We inherited them and used them as a starting point for this entire border, underplanting with Japanese maples, adding columnar Swedish aspens and planting the banks of our seasonal stream with moisture loving favorites.…
Read More

Before & After: Creating an Inviting Entry Garden

Apr 5 2022

Who needs a sign that says "KEEP OUT!" when your front garden requires a machete to reach the door? As I carefully navigated my way past the mature stand of bamboo, keeping a watchful eye out for any lurking pandas, I could understand why I had been called to this lovely home in Redmond, Washington.…
Read More

Early Spring Container Refresh

Mar 22 2022

It's the shoulder season here in Seattle. Sometimes I need a long-sleeved T-shirt + fleece vest+ puffer jacket. Other days I'm too warm in short sleeves. For my container gardens that means things can start to look a little winter-weary, yet it's too soon for my favorite summer annuals and frankly I don't have much…
Read More

Climate Change and the Average Gardener: Reality Check

Mar 8 2022

I took a walk around the garden a few days ago, making a mental list of what needed pruning or moving this weekend and was horrified to see so much winter damage on my broadleaf evergreen shrubs and even some evergreen perennials. Many of these plants have been in the garden for 7 years or…
Read More

The New Forsythias

Feb 22 2022

My dog-eared  copy of Dr. Hessayon's book Trees & Shrubs (1983 edition) states that "Gardens are brightened each March and April by the masses of yellow flowers on the leafless branches [of forsythia]." It then goes on to warn of its two enemies; birds who eat the buds and gardeners who hack the shrub to…
Read More

It's Showtime 2022!

Feb 8 2022

Noted by Better Homes and Gardens as one of the BEST garden shows in the country, The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is back in Seattle this week. If you're a keen gardener, a new gardener, a gardener with questions or just ready for a day out this is for you. I've only missed one…
Read More

Bringing Sunshine to Winter Days

Jan 25 2022

There are only so many grey days I can take. Seattle isn't exactly known for its winter sunshine, but after several days of relentless freezing fog I'd had enough. I even went to the lake for a swim – usually a panacea for all things grey, and while it was wonderful in its zingy 'now-I-know-I'm-alive'…
Read More

Ancient Garden Art: Well Dressings

Jan 11 2022

Mystery, secrecy, intrigue – it all happens behind closed (barn) doors in the Peak District, Derbyshire. Plans are made, sketches discussed, materials gathered and volunteers found as villagers huddle together to discuss the next well dressing. Well dressing is an ancient, pagan tradition dating back to the Romans or Celts (no-one is quite sure) when…
Read More

Welcome to My Garden Adventures


I'm a serious plant-aholic. In other words I'm usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I'm truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.

Buy My Books Here!



Container Gardening Course

Enter KCHAPMAN20 to get 20% off

Architecture, interior design, and more ∨

Use the help of top home decorators to select matching bedside tables and a new lamp shade for your own bedroom design.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

TV Interview