Last Wednesday was the first Wednesday of spring, and another beautiful day for the Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group’s weekly walk. There was some overcast with a little morning chill, but there was a solid turnout of thirty walkers and one K-9 best friend at the Exedra at the group’s normal start time.
Before the walkers got started Noemi Alvarado shared that the group’s Piedmont Heritage Tree submission of the large redwood at the entrance to Wildwood Gardens had been make, and this year’s selections will be announced at the City Arbor Day festivities on April 28th.
Spring brings with it beautiful flowers and this adds to the enjoyment of walking Piedmont’s streets. Looking for these flowers seemed like the natural thing to do on this first spring Wednesday morning; and the streets in the upper, central part of the city were picked as a great place to hunt for spring beauty.
The group headed off, going up Highland Avenue past the trees with wonderful, white blossoms in upper Piedmont Park, and then went down to the crosswalk at Sheridan Avenue. They crossed the street and saw the house on the corner had gotten a head start on another type of hunt. On its front yard lawn were about a dozen very large, different colored, plastic Easter eggs. The group was tempted to see if there was candy inside them, but exercised self-control, and continued on to Sheridan’s corner with Lakeview Avenue. The houses on both sides of the street have large dogwoods with delicate, white flower petals that the group enjoyed.
The walkers made their way up Lakeview, noting the very tall, old redwoods that shade the street. The story was told that over a hundred years ago the man who built the beautiful home, a little further up the hill at the corner of Sea View and Lincoln Avenues, was a lumber baron who loved redwoods and he planted them around his estate. On their way up Lakeview, the group saw an opening between a set of redwoods in a front yard. It was reported that during the region’s January wind storm one of the redwoods came crashing down, taking out trees on its way, and falling into the street.
At the top of Lakeview the group turned south, down Sea View, going a block to its corner with Lincoln Avenue, where the lumber baron’s home was pointed out. It was also shared that Senator William Knowland, the U.S. Senate majority leader during the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950s and owner/publisher of the Oakland Tribune, once lived in the house too.
The group went down Lincoln to its corner with King Avenue and down King to Crocker Park. The park’s flowers were too tempting to resist and the walkers went in to enjoy the azaleas, fruit tree blossoms, dogwoods, calla lilies, and other flowers. The walkers emerged on Hampton Road and went up it to Sea View where there was another beautiful sight to see. The Reich family’s front yard was a veritable forest of different colored tulips. They covered the yard and the walkers took the attached group photo with them.
The walkers made their way back to King with a one-block walk up Farragut Avenue, and then continued down King to La Salle Avenue. However, along the way, there was a wonderful, exotic front yard garden to see. On a past walk the group had met the homeowner and he had told them the story of the garden’s creation. It was originally a typical Piedmont front yard, but he had an inspiration. A neighbor was doing an excavation and had a truckload of dirt that he was willing to trade for a case of beer. The mound of dirt provided the base for this large garden of tropical plants. Jim Kellogg and Mike Henn were on the Piedmont Planning Commission at the time and told the group about the challenging approval process for the unusual landscape design, which turned out to be wonderful.
The group went west on La Salle and crossed Crocker Avenue. In the next block was a front yard with two gorgeous dogwoods and more beautiful spring flowers. Further on, just starting-to-bloom red buds and striking red leaf maples added even more color to this spring walk. The walkers turned down Woodland Way where it meets La Salle, and were pleased that repair work was being done on the roof of a home that had been damaged when a large tree fell on it during the January windstorm. Further up Woodland the walkers were charmed by wisterias on the two sides of a garage and the purple floral frame around its entrance that the plants made. Even though the group was a little behind schedule for a noon time return to the center of town, they couldn’t resist taking a side trip through the short, shady, and secluded Wistaria (not Wisteria) Way loop. This got them to Wildwood Gardens, which takes over naming rights for the road when Woodland turns and goes a block up to Crocker Avenue.
Wildwood Gardens is well named and the walkers enjoyed the homes’ front yard flowers on their way back to the Community Hall parking lot. This return also included the bonus of passing the group’s redwood Heritage Tree submission. It had been over a three mile tour of Piedmont’s beautiful spring trees, plants, and flowers; and was like a walk in a big, wonderful park during the first week of spring.