After almost six years of hard work, we have California poppies blooming in our front yard! From the moment we bought this house, I’ve wanted a hillside of poppies and finally, my wish has come true. Although our front yard isn’t exactly a carpet of poppies yet, what you see is a huge improvement over what this yard looked like six years ago. On the day we were handed the keys, I began ripping out the tenacious ivy that was taking over the entire yard and turned off the leaking 40 year old irrigation system. As that first summer progressed, we watched in amazement as the existing native manzanitas, toyons and Ceanothus began to flourish and a plan for the front yard began to take shape in my head. I wanted to remove a crumbling retaining wall, restore the natural slope to our hill and plant a wildlife friendly, drought tolerant garden filled with native shrubs and poppies. But that plan had to wait. We had a bigger, more important project to finish – our house.
Once we moved in, I hired a demolition crew to rip out the useless irrigation system, eradicate the rest of the ivy and remove the rotten, termite infested retaining wall – along with enough dirt to fill a dumpster! And then came the weeds. After killing the weeds, we planted more shrubs (manzanitas, toyons, Ceanothus, California coffeeberries and Myricas) and sprinkled poppies seeds. The shrubs took root but the poppies didn’t. It turns out that California quail LOVE poppy seeds and ate them all up. Undaunted, I sprinkled more seeds and planted a flat of poppy seedlings. And after watering, watching and waiting, my garden finally matches the image I’ve had in my head.