Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Took A Walk Around The Park ...

A view of the overlook and flag plaza
While it's true that gardening can be great exercise, the stop-and-start nature of my gardening habits make it a less than aerobic activity.  I decided it was time to add fitness walking back into my life and today was my first foray.  The last time I walked the trail at Rick Rice Park, only the detention pond and the trail had been installed.  I found it a very different place today.  As described on the website, "the park, an aesthetic enhancement and creative use of a storm water detention area next to Mason Creek, is still developing yet already offers benches, an overlook platform, a flag plaza, and a central lake and fountain surrounded by a mile-long trail."  


Wetland planting
The Head Gardener and I were even more delighted to find that the park has now been extensively and attractively landscaped, using native and adapted plants that can handle  the site's weather conditions.   We were especially gratified to see that the landscape architects' design plan also includes bird and butterfly habitat plantings that should bring an abundance of winged visitors to the park.  Amongst the plants, we spotted quite a few personal favorites: were Gulf Coast Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), Salvia greggii 'Cherry Chief', Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra);, Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), and Texas Sundrops (Calylophus berlandieri).   We noticed that the wetland areas of the detention pond are planted with  moisture loving iris and cannas, as well as clumping grasses that we assume are moisture-tolerant.  Plantings near the trail include signage identifying specific plants by both common and botanical names. We were dismayed to see some misidentified plants but learned from the landscape maintenance company's rep that they were aware of the problem and it would be corrected.  
The undulating planting swales are stunning.


The arch of the pedestrian bridge can be seen in the background.
The Head Gardener and I are especially enamored of the sinuous planting swales along the banks of the pond.  We're looking forward to seeing them come alive with movement when the grasses have regrown.  The pedestrian bridge across Mason Creek is stunning in its elegance and simplicity and it fits the space beautifully.  Eventually there will be paved walking trails on both sides of the creek.  And despite the fact that the Katy Freeway is a mere block away, it doesn't intrude on the sense of tranquility we felt in the park.  




That tranquility was only slightly shaken by the signage which warns visitors to watch for snakes and alligators.  Fortunately, the only wildlife we saw were some turtles sunning themselves on rocks and a Great Egret standing in the shallows of the detention pond.  The maintenance company's rep told us that they had not seen any alligators thus far but expected them to find their way there eventually from the interconnected waterways in and around the Katy area.   Other four-footed visitors are frequently seen, however: the park is already a popular dog-walking venue.  A welcome amenity are the pet waste disposal stations,  complete with mutt mitts for pet owners to use. 


Great Egret with turtles camouflaging themselves as rocks
I'm looking forward to many more walks in Rick Rice Park and I hope my fellow Katy/West Houston residents will find time to visit this verdant oasis near my corner of Katy.



8 comments:

Alison said...

That looks like a cool place! It's so wonderful that they have taken such care to plant it up and make it so beautiful. I love the undulating planting swales too. Hope you don't run into any snakes or alligaors any time soon. I need to get my butt in gear again too.

Fairegarden said...

What a delightful installation, Cindy, with the promise of even better things to come! I love the pond edge plantings, too. Very, very well done.

Leslie said...

Snakes and alligators...oh my! That will keep you walking fast and get that heart rate up. In any case the park looks quite lovely. What a great view for your walk!

Layanee said...

A lovely place to walk. Your pace will increase as you become more familiar with the view. Maybe.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

What a great place! The only thing that's missing is a bit of shade. The snake sign is priceless.

Commonweeder said...

Oh, how beautiful it is in your part of the world. Daughter Kate was up here in Mass. and we had some sun, but it still looks wintery. But not for long.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about this park! I live in Katy, and actually live off of Westgreen closer to Fry. I had no idea this park existed!!! We'll be checking it out soon!

Barry J. Kaplan said...

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Interstate MUD, the developers of the park, I thank you for your comments. We have a lot more work to do and seeing these posts makes it all worth while.
PS. The sign is a nice way of making dog owners think twice regarding letting them run loose in the park.