Saturday I had the opportunity to take a short hike with some of the local native plant society folks through Manzanita Canyon, one of the small neighborhood canyons in San Diego that break up the urban development on the mesa tops. One of the communities that surrounds it, Azalea Park, has been cleaning up the canyon and the neighborhood. One of their projects is been to transform a vacant canyon lot into a pocket park devoted to native plants.
The sign announcing Parque Linda is almost as big as the little park itself, and is flanked by a sturdy plant of bladderpod (Isomeris arborea, aka Cleome arborea) a plant that’s floating to the top of my list of favorite natives.Visually, it’s a pleasant, low shrub, with yellow flowers several months of the year. The growth habit is open enough that you can see some of the interesting branch structure, so the plant isn’t just a yellow gumdrop.
Judging from the number of insects visiting it, the plant also appears to be a big favorite of the local animal community.
The garden was organized by adults, but many of the local children participated in its creation. I was particularly struck by the little clay signs that were used to identify many of the plants. The adults identified the plants they wanted to label, but the kids made the signs.
The park gathers together a number of plants that can survive on whatever rainfall comes their way. But being a garden and not a revegetation project, Parque Linda will require the ongoing support of the community to maintain it. The fact that the little garden exists at all–not to mention that people will be committing its upkeep–speaks to the fact that this is a neighborhood that cares about its well being, a place where people’s interests don’t stop at their property lines.
We need more places like it.