DryStoneGarden

Plants, Stone, California Landscapes

Flower

Baxter Creek Wildflower Area

Beginning of the Wildflower Area

Near our house, along the Ohlone Greenway bike path, there’s a wildflower area tended by volunteers. I’m not sure how long the area has been tended, but it was already established when we moved to Richmond five years ago. It’s a mix of native and non-native wildflowers, kept remarkably well weeded. From March until about June it has a consistent show of flowers and is impressive enough that I sometimes ride the mile or so out of my way to see what’s in bloom. This week I counted about two dozen different annuals blooming or budding. Cal poppies and phlox are the stars at the moment; later in the year there is always a big show of clarkia.

Looking North

Looking South

Phlox

Baxter Creek

Past the wildflower area, the bike path effectively ends a few hundred yards later when it hits San Pablo Ave. The wildflower area used to be the turnaround point, but now there’s a restoration project just past it that is starting to grow in and be quite nice, too. The restoration project is in Baxter Creek Gateway Park, built in 2006, part of Richmond’s plan for the Richmond Greenway that would continue the bike path across San Pablo Ave and through the city to connect with the Bay Trail. Poor little Baxter Creek comes out of a pipe, gets a few hundred yards of daylight, and then goes back underground to cross San Pablo Ave into the brownfields of central Richmond.

Poor Little Creek

Under Construction

These two photos are from a powerpoint online showing photos and drawings of some of their creek restoration work. I didn’t realize how much earth moving had gone into the restoration project, in contrast to the wildflower area where the work was little more than weeding and seed-scattering. The two projects go well together with the garden/flower appeal of the wildflower area and the ecology/infrastructure goals of the restoration.

After Construction

The city reshaped the bed of the creek to make it more sinuous, using grading and habitat to help slow, filter, and infiltrate the water. Willows are the most obvious plant, but there are also young oaks, maples, buckeyes, coffeeberries, Toyons, monkey flowers, artemisias, yarrow, coyote brush, and probably others.

Baxter Creek Shaded by Willows

Artemisia californica

Toyon

Even with the wildflowers and restoration work, there is no hiding that it is an urban setting. But I can appreciate the juxtaposition of native plants and corrugated metal, and nothing can undermine the look of a happy monkey flower.

Monkey Flower

7 Responses to “Baxter Creek Wildflower Area”

  1. March 18th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Katie says:

    Thanks for the reminder of the nice work done by volunteers and the folks who “restore” places.

  2. March 18th, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Town Mouse says:

    Very cool! It’s always encouraging to see such projects, and I think the east bay is a shining example in that regard. Amazing, too, how far along the flowers are. My poppies aren’t even showing buds yet.

  3. March 19th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Brad says:

    Huh. Didn’t realize there were any projects like this up in Richmond. Very cool.

  4. March 19th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Buenorific says:

    Thanks for posting on this very cool project. You know, Richmond, CA is the largest city in the country with a Green Party mayor elected into office. She’s in her 2nd term actually. There’s a whole lot of ‘greening’ going on up here – bike paths, urban agriculture, creek daylighting… so far its been a big secret.

  5. March 19th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    Good going for the volunteers. It shows they believe in the community and everyone benefits from their involvement. Too bad the creek has to go into hiding where it’s not convenient to the land use around it.

  6. March 26th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Byddi Lee says:

    It is just great to see California natives growing and used even in urban setting , or particularly in urban settings – those Monkey flowers sure are thriving!

  7. March 26th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    plantanista (Maureen D) says:

    Planning to ride on up and see how it looks tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Richmond has so many great, innovative projects happening. Maybe the looming refinery, belching wastewater treatment plants (my pet issue), and other industry causes people to seek a balance. Tom Butt, one of our Councilmen, is organizing an Urban Ag Summit in June, I believe it’s during the first week…