Home & Garden Columns
I’m sure there’s a reasonable rationale behind it but to a posyhugger, the stretch of road leading into Sunol-Ohlone Regional Park is an instrument of torture. All along the roadcut on your right, if you’re on time for it, you’ll see a fine display of paintbrush, the occasional blue dicks and bindweed, and the first flush of Calochortus albus, the subtly gorgeous white fairy-lantern, much of it conveniently near eye-level as you pass.
All this is liberally interspersed with a stiff procession of “NO PARKING” and “NO STOPPING” signs. They haven’t thought to add “NO CREEPING” so you can take it slow. Hard to photograph, though.
If the lanterns are blooming along the road they’ll also be blooming inside the park proper, fortunately. Less fortunately to those of us in our creaky years, you have to hike almost to Little Yosemite to see them. Then you have to hunker in the dust and burrs to get a close-up, unless it’s dry enough to stand in the roadside ditch where they grow on the hillside.
On the way you can see an active red-shouldered hawks’ nest, singing house wrens, goldfinches, titmice, nuthatches, bluebirds, acorn and Nuttall’s woodpeckers, rufous-crowned sparrows, black-headed grosbeaks, ash-throated flycatchers, and if you’re lucky, a western screech-owl blinking at the sun from a sycamore hollow.
Flowers? Paintbrush, Ithuriel’s spear, several lupines, violets, clematis, blazing star, blue dicks, fiddlenecks, yarrow, monkeyflower, mule ears, blue-eyed grass, gilia, lots of poppies, and of course that fairy lantern. And those magnificent oaks, bays, and sycamores.
Better get there soon; grasses are ripening and browning already, and the season’s likely to be short this year. This weekend would be good, for the tag end of a nearby Earth Day party.
When you exit 680 onto Calaveras Road, just past the intersection with the northbound offramp, there’s Lisa Arnold Nursery. Over the years that’s been wholesale and/or retail at irregular intervals. It’s retail now, and owner Lisa Arnold (surprise) says it’ll stay that way “if we do well this year.”
She’s celebrating Earth Week with refreshments and 171 free gallon-size coast live oak seedlings, festivities centered on a clever arrangement of gallon-can plants in front of the office as a simple Western Hemisphere map.
Part of the celebration is off-site: planting the first of 171 donated trees in front of Fremont’s John F. Kennedy High School on Tuesday April 22, official Earth Day. Arnold gave the school district a tree for every home run the A’s got in 2007.
The nursery has reasonably-priced Japanese maples, seriously striking rhododendrons and azaleas, palms, tree ferns (inexpensive!), dogwoods, tropicals, flower and foliage color, and lots of trees. Rhodies include some with yellow or deep-claret flowers.
New to me: a bright-yellow-leafed smoketree; a small single dahlia with dark maroon foliage and lemon-yellow blooms.
You couldn’t ask for better conditioning than on that hot open lot, if you’re planting east of the hills or in full sun. It’s loud during rush hour, so grab your rock-n-roll earplugs. Worth it!
Lisa Arnold Nursery Sales
9950 Calaveras Road, Sunol
Monday Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.