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.

Fillers

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.

Mini-meadow

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!

P.S.

Photo credit: https://www.planetware.com/pictures/south-africa-saf.htm

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

Connecting Garden Beds with Color

Jun 22 2021

We all have areas in our garden that pose a significant design challenge. Such is the case with this bijou bed adjacent to our main patio. It is seen from the kitchen windows year-round yet is part of a 5-acre landscape with much larger sweeping borders. Measuring approximately 12 feet square with a central container…
Read More

Flowers & Foliage – My Favorite, Easy-Care Shrubs

Jun 8 2021

Here in the Pacific Northwest the ubiquitous rhododendron are doing their thing with oversized, luscious blooms in every shade from purest white to deepest purple. They are positively seductive – until suddenly they're not. The sad reality is that a garden filled with these has only a limited season of interest, after which there's just…
Read More

Garden Renovation; a Phased Approach

May 25 2021

Some projects take on a life of their own, and what began as a simple request for a consultation to brainstorm privacy ideas for a back garden quickly evolved into a discussion about much bigger problems: crumbling retaining walls, lack of a sitting area, waterlogged grass better suited to ducks than children and the most…
Read More

Dreary Rental to Secluded Retreat: Front Garden Transformation

May 11 2021

Renovating a neglected rental property into a functional and comfortable home was a significant challenge, but one that that these young homeowners, Katie and Evan were up to. Both trained as architects, they knew what to look for, what they were getting into, and understood that this was going to be a long term project.…
Read More

Family garden makeover

Apr 27 2021

2020 had many of us re-defining what was important. With movements and social interactions severely reduced, our homes became far more than just a place to eat and sleep, but also an office,  a home schooling center, and often a necessary oasis from the chaotic world beyond our borders. When a lovely family in Snohomish,…
Read More

The Art of Spring Bulb Displays

Apr 13 2021

Spring is season of promise. Cherry trees and magnolias are in full bloom, baby lambs and goats frolic in green pastures, and our favorite spring bulbs put on their annual display in a rainbow of colors. I recently enjoyed a visit to a client's garden that was a true delight with hundreds of daffodils, species…
Read More

When good plants go bad

Mar 16 2021

I have always loved the pristine white bark of the Himalayan white birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii) and it was an obvious choice to anchor the far end of our island bed  where it was highly visible from many vantage points. When a colleague offered me two more I created a small grove of these,…
Read More

Color-Changing Evergreens

Feb 16 2021

Funnily enough, no-one has ever asked me to design a high maintenance garden, yet there is a common misconception that low maintenance translates to an endless row of boxwood or a border entirely devoted to rhododendrons. While these may be easy care they certainly won’t win any design awards. Yet evergreen trees and shrubs are…
Read More

Design Evolution: doing it your way

Feb 2 2021

As an independent designer I'm in the fortunate position of being able to design gardens that will be professionally installed by my recommended contractors*, by the homeowners themselves, or even by another preferred and local-to-the-site contractor. (*I never accept a referral fee so my recommendation is  based on the fact that they always do outstanding…
Read More

New Year, New Vintage(s)

Jan 19 2021

It's no secret that I enjoy a glass of wine in the garden. So imagine my excitement when I received an email from Proven Winners a few days ago, where the word "wine" appeared SEVEN times in just a few short paragraphs! Naturally they knew they would have my attention, so as I continued to…
Read More

Welcome to My Garden Adventures

SE6A7058

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

Archives