Prairie Gardens

California gardeners enter the drought season, alternatives to traditional
lawns start to seem more attractive than ever. Consider giving a strip of your lawn over to prairie and meadow flowers;
you may well find yourself letting it take over the entire lawn over the years.

with drought-tolerant natives like California poppy and yarrow. Add Western columbine in filtered shade,
where hummingbirds will flock to the bright red flowers, and juncos and song
sparrows will relish the seeds. Purple
needle grass is a native bunch grass that will grace your meadow with purplish
flowers and attract seed-eating birds in the fall. Don’t forget about milkweed, which not only provides strands of
fibrous bark for orioles and other birds to use as nesting materials if allowed
to stand through winter into spring, it is also the only plant where Monarch
butterflies lay eggs.

carefree meadow flowers that will attract birds include cosmos, calliopsis,
sunflower, and pincushion flower. Contact Larner Seeds at 415 868-9407 for native wildflower seeds, and if
you’d rather start with established plants, head to a native plant nursery like
Go Native in northern California (650 728-0728, Moss Beach), or Tree of Life
Nursery in southern California (714 728-0685, San Juan Capistrano).

Plant list

poppy: Eschscholzia californica

yarrow: Achillea millefolium

columbine: Aquilegia formosa

needle grass: Stipa pulchra

milkweed: Asclepias californica

Cosmos: Asteraceae (Compositae)

Calliopsis: Coreospis tinctoria

Sunflower: Helianthus annus

flower: Scabiosa, many varieties