Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
May, 2005
Regional Report

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Feel the earth beneath your feet and see nature at her best. Take a walk on the wild side....

Wildflower Walk

I think one of the reasons I am a gardener is because I love to be outside. I had an indoor job once, but it was torture. I couldn't imagine working for the rest of my life cooped up inside a building. Now that most of my gardening is done behind a computer keyboard, I need to "hug a tree" from time to time. Recently, I went for a wildflower walk with my friends Joyce and Gary Reeder. Our outing to Edgewood Park in Redwood City was fulfilling and inspiring.

A Gem of a Park
Highway 280 runs beside Edgewood Park, but thankfully, the busy freeway is hidden from view. The natural world takes precedent while you are walking the trails. My personal delight is the pollywog bog in the low area beneath the wildflower-carpeted hillside. Hundreds of little black wigglers were basking in the sun near the grassy edge of their shallow pool. You wouldn't think that a grassy field would be the ideal home for frogs, but there they were. The vibrations of our footsteps sent them splashing, en masse, toward deeper water -- a pollywog stampede of sorts. They eventually returned to their basking once we stood still for a few minutes.

Further along the trail Joyce pointed out a large portion of gopher snake, ensconced partially in a hole. We could not determine if he was coming or going until he finally tired of our presence and slithered away into the safety of his underground home.

The native spring grasses were lush and green with abundant patches of gaudy wildflowers looking like a patchwork quilt thrown across the hillsides. Perennial lupine, low-growing wild primrose, abundant buttercups, Indian soap, and blue-eyed grass dotted the trail side. Even the poison oak was looking verdant and bursting with vigor.

When we reached the plateau on the north side of the 467-acre park, the panoramic view of San Francisco Bay was spectacular. We continued along the trail toward the cool and welcome comfort of a shady glen. The soil beneath the native oaks was alive with bracken and Indian paintbrush and still more poison oak. Small canyons and arroyos along the trail were home to squawking scrub jays, twittering sparrows, and the occasional red-tailed hawk. We saw a bright orange lizard sunning himself on a rock, oblivious to the fact that he was a perfect target for the hungry hawk.

Edgewood Park is an ecological rarity in that the soil is mostly serpentine (the state rock of California), which is low in calcium and nitrogen but high in other minerals, making it toxic to many types of plants. However, adaptation over the ages has created a collection of plants perfectly suited to this particular location. According to the Friends of Edgewood Web site, "Edgewood can be thought of as a living museum with a window to California's past."

I came away from my tree-hugging adventure refreshed in spirit and respectful of the beautiful world that surrounds me. Horticultural docents lead walking tours through Edgewood Park every Saturday and Sunday through June 12. For more information visit the Web site at:

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