"The Poppy Project" at Arastradero Preserve, Palo Alto, California, replanting 70 acres above the parking lot.

Text and images copyright © 2012-2014, Craig Dremann, all right reserved

The Reveg Edge, Box 361, Redwood City, CA 94064 (650) 325-7333 - email

Spring 2013 movie -- blooming of the poppies

Google Map of location.

Palo Alto Weekly April 19, 2013 - Poppy Project article

Donations for the Poppy Project.

The Poppy Project blooming in April 2013, with over 2,000 blooms

Arastradero wildflowers
Postcard shows what the whole hillside could eventually look like.

Before the poppy project got started, nearly all the plants growing on 70-acre hillside above the parking lot at the Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto, California were weeds introduced from Europe.

It has been 150 years since California native wildflowers grew on this hillside, and Craig Dremann is trying to change that history, by planting a test plot, directly above the parking lot.

The normal California native grassland pattern that existed before weeds invaded, was a 50:50 mix of perennial bunchgrasses and dozens of different wildflowers that bloomed 10 months of the year.

California bear flag

The native perennial bunchgrasses were so common on California hillsides in 1850 when the State flag was designed, that bunchgrass plants were included as part of the design, with twelve underneath the Grizzly Bear.

However, grassland plowing and overgrazing in the 1800s, plus the two years of intense drought in the 1860s helped the European weeds to take over 99.99% of the California grasslands.

John Muir in the last chapter of his book, the Mountains of California, describes what California looked like when the whole State was completely blanketed with wildflowers each spring.

Craig firmly believes that the Arastradero 70-acre hillside can be converted from the existing weeds, back to the original beautiful bunchgrass and local native wildflowers and that is why the test planting has begun.

DONATIONS to support the Poppy Project can be made by local businesses, families or individuals interested in converting this hillside, back to solid wildflowers.

Donations can be made on line through Go Fund Me.

Or donations can be made by mailing in a check, or by phone using an American Express, Discover, Mastercard or Visa credit card.
Credit Card donations can be also be faxed.

Mailing address: Craig Dremann, Box 361, Redwood City, CA 94064
Phone: (650) 325-7333
FAX: (650) 325-4056.

Every dollar donated is your vote, to add another poppy and to help change the botanical, ecological and geologic history of this hillside, and help convert it back to an original California native landscape.

Thanks to the LOCAL BUSINESS sponsors of the Poppy Project

--San Mateo County Credit Union, Palo Alto downtown branch.

--Konditorei Cafe in Portola Valley.

--And many thanks to the individual donors and patrons to the Project.

--Plus, thanks to Hedgerow Farm for the donation of the native grass straw bales for the project.

Updated April 20, 2013, there are over 2,000 blooms today, including some of the rare white poppies still in bloom. The local oil-paint fine artist Kim Holl was painting several canvases of the poppies today, when finished will have the title "Arastradero Poppies".

Arastreadero poppy
Closeup photos were taken of the flowers blooming at the Poppy Project, print are available directly from the photographer: Bryan Beck

Updated July 2, 2013--Poppy plants are producing seeds now, and seeds are being harvesting to plant more poppy seedlings for the fall.

I am starting to spread the native grass straw to kill the weed seedlings, and as new donations come in, will be able to replant more area. The bales cost about $20 each to transport them and spread them, and we need about 100 bales for the new area.

The four tarweed plants are about the flower, and you can smell the lemony-perfume scent of the plants, and the scent is so strong that you can smell them from about 20 feet away.

Updated August 8, 2013

Arastradero wildflowers

Native wildflowers blooming through the summer.

Updated February 2014 -- Report from the 1850s what the wildflowers used to look like in the area, from HUTCHINGS' CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE from the article "AROUND THE BAY/ IN THE SEASON OF FLOWERS by Rev. T. Starr King.

"Here they have flowers in May, not shy, but rampant, as if nothing else had the right to be; flowers by the acre, flowers by the square mile, flowers as the visible carpet of an immense mountain wall. You can gather them in clumps, a dozen varieties at one pull. You can fill a bushel-basket in five minutes. You can reap them into mounds.

And the colors are as charming as the numbers are profuse. Yellow, purple, violet, pink colors, are spread around you, now in separate level masses, now two or three combined in a swelling knoll, now intermixed in gorgeous confusion.

Imagine yourself looking across a hundred acres of wild meadow, stretching to the base of hills nearly two thousand feet high the whole expanse swarming with little straw-colored wild sunflowers, orange poppies, squadrons of purple beauties, battalions of pink and then the mountain, unbroken by a tree or a rock, glowing with the investiture of all these hues, softened and kneaded by distance.

This is what I saw on the road to San Mateo. The orange and purple seemed to predominate in the mountain robe. But on the lower slopes, and reaching midway its height, was a strange sprinkling of blue, gathered here and there into intenser stripes, and running now and then into sharp points, as if over the general basis of purple, orange and yellow, there had fallen a violet snow, which lay tenderly around the base, but in a few places on the side had been blown into drifts and points."

2014 poppy bloom counts:

March 15 = 10
March 23 = 44
April 1 = 150
April 10 = 400
April 20 = 625
May 10 = 800

Two patches of Tidy Tips bloomed in April-May and the butterflies loved them.

Number of native species in the project site in May each year:

2012 = Zero natives, not seen for the last 150 years.
2013 = Two native bunchgrasses, one annual native grass, four kinds of wildflowers.
2014 = Four native bunchgrasses, one annual native grass, seven kinds wildflowers.
Total of 15,000 seedlings planted so far.
2015 = As many as the Palo Alto residents and businesses want to make donatation towards, to have thousands more wildflowers planted on their Preserve hillside

Page updated May 21, 2014.