Saturday, March 21, 2015

Two extra special chances to volunteer! March 28th & April 4th

Bentley is ready to help at the workdays
Extra special workdays you say?

We've been invited to participate in the Greater and Greener conference, which will feature our gardens as part of their bus tour. This is a big deal, as the "conference will bring 1,000 global park leaders, city planning and design professionals, and urban park advocates to San Francisco, to discover the power of parks in creating healthy, resilient, and sustainable cities." I think it's an honor that we've been asked to participate, and showcase how hopefully healthy, resilient and sustainable our gardens are!

To get the gardens looking extra special, we have added an additional workday on March 28th. At our usual first of the month workday (April 4th) we will make sure the gardens are in tip-top shape for the conference April 11th-14th, with the big tour being April 13th. You're welcome to attend both or either workdays, per usual meetup at 10am at Pennsylvania Garden. We provide all the necessary tools and training, just come ready to have fun and make your neighborhood look great!

If you have any questions you can contact me at: emily@pgsf.org

For more information on the Greater and Greener Conference, please see: http://www.greatergreener.org/

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lost treasures.

Last weekend Matt and I were at the garden eating our customary bagels from Hazel's and coffee from Farley's when we discovered a load of trash at the bench. Which really means a homeless person's stash of junk or the castoffs from a theft. Either way.

Among the pile was a lot of photographs dating from around the 1880s to the 1920s. I like that sort of thing so I brought them home, only to find some had names handwritten on them.

I started looking up the names online, and discovered two that led somewhere. One led me to the Find a Grave website and I was able to add the photograph to the grave image. Hopefully the relatives of Sgt Melvin Gardner Gross like the baby photo I added. He was born and died in Pennsylvania which is apropos, and it seems like he had a good life.

The next led me to the grandson of Edna Laing Bachman, who I found on LinkedIn. I contacted him to ask if he wanted the photo, and he was happy to have it.

"As it happens, we are burying the ashes of Howard Hosmer, husband to Edna Caroline Laing Hosmer at the family plot in Tranquility New Jersey on April 17th. The family will enjoy seeing the pictures."

So her photo will be with her daughter's husband and family. One person's trash is another person's treasure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dog area reclaimed and other news

Bill, Michelle, Will and Leslie
get the dog area into shape
We had a super productive workday on Saturday, and I want to thank everyone who made it happen: Jackie, Bill, Nate, Will, Michelle, Connie, Leslie and Jean. This crew really got to it and reclaimed huge areas of the garden from weeds and did a lot of extra tasks too. I encourage everyone to make at least one volunteer workday, as we always have a lot of fun and it's a great feeling to look out over the garden and know you made something beautiful and green happen.

All clean! Jean, Jackie
and Nate posing in a now
picturesque dog area
As for the specifics, if you've been in the dog area lately you could not help but notice how much of a weed jungle it had become. As we started pulling out waist-high weeds I half expected to find a small dog living among them.








Even turning compost
can be fun, really!
As a crew we pulled on, digging when necessary, to reclaim the dog area from weeds. Meanwhile Jackie made the path along the cactus wall accessible, as it was almost entirely blocked by shrubbery. Nate also reclaimed a pathway by the beautiful (and getting ever larger!) Agave attenuata, making it a bit wider to accommodate the growing plant.



If you spend $5 on coffee
you can find a trash can!
jeez people 
Later on Alison removed the graffiti from the kiosk at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden with a little chemical solvent (yay for our anti-graffiti film!), and I walked up and down the garden removing a ton of trash. It's amazing how just removing trash makes the garden look way better, so I was glad to spend the time and energy on it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Jim made the garden awesome today; you can on Saturday!


Shed was broken into
 but nothing taken, whew!
Quick announcement that Saturday at 10am is our monthly volunteer workday. Meetup at Pennsylvania Garden, we'll rally, and disperse from there! Tons of things to get done this time of year, Spring is around the corner and we need your help to keep the gardens in good shape.

Fortunately we have some amazing neighbors around the garden, including Jim, who in addition to taking care of the doggie trash (which is a minor miracle to me, thank you Jim!) also keeps an eye on things. Jim noticed our shed was dismantled and pillaged and alerted Annie and I right away.

Jim making the shed whole again,
adding reinforcements too
After work I was able to go straight to the garden and met Jim, and we put the shed back together and sorted through the garden supplies that were strewn about. At first pass it looks like they didn't take anything of value, which is a big relief. We were able to put everything back together pretty quick, but it always feels a little violating when someone trashes the garden. After consulting with the crew at Center Hardware we added some reinforcements to the shed and it is now in better shape to withstand any future attacks.

Hope to see you all at the garden this weekend, there is a ton of good light work to be done so bring  a friend. Alison and I put up a few flyers around the neighborhood, so we are hoping to have a big crew. If you have questions about our workdays or how to get involved please send me an email at:  emily@psgsf.org



Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Fun & Stormy Workday

Monica's keeping the garden
clean and tidy!
Rain may have loomed in the afternoon, but on Saturday morning the weather was perfect for being at the garden getting work done! On account of the rain, one priority today was to plant two olive trees. These olive trees were part of a generous donation from the event we did with the UCSF Medical Center Lights On Celebration. First thing Annie and Matt set about finding a good spot for the trees and getting them in the ground, and I got things ready for our other volunteers.

Will and Riley clearing the pathways
Next on the scene was Wil, a brand new volunteer that was eager to help out. Will and I got started weeding the pathways, and were soon joined by Riley and Monica. We worked our way around the top part of the garden, clearing mountains of grass from the pathways and carefully weeding between the very spiky plants in the middle bed. Eliot arrived soon after, and my mom Debbie showed up too, and both joined in the weeding party, adding to the speed at which we cleared huge swatches of weeds.

One of the two new olive trees
planted today at PRG by Annie & Matt
Now, with so many volunteers on hand we were able to diversify; Riley swept the two paths leading into the garden and the steps, Debbie cleaning out the Agapanthus, and Monica went about picking up trash. Monica deserves a big kudos from everyone, because she has been coming regularly, on her own (!) to pickup trash to keep the gardens looking great. Next time you see her walking her dog at the garden, be sure to tell her thank you!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Our Garden Has Heart

We've always put a lot of heart and soul into the gardens (it really is a labor of love!) but at the moment the garden specifically has a heart someone made out of bricks. It's up in the dog area, slowly being overtaken by weeds enjoying our winter sunshine. Stop by and enjoy a moment of 'heart' in the garden. You can also join us at our workday, Saturday February 7th to keep the garden in good shape.

Go see it in person; stunning combo
of rosemary and Chasmanthes

There are always reasons to visit the garden, and right now a bunch of flowers are bursting onto the scene; our daffodil collection is just starting to get going, and many other bright and cherry blooms can be found. Every year when the rosemary covers itself in light blueish-purple flowers I think about what an awesome plant it is - drought tolerant, fragrant, edible, showy, structural - and why I don't see more of it as a landscaping plant!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Birthday project

It's my birthday today and Matt and I decided the perfect way to celebrate was hit the garden for a little project.

On the way up there we weeded PRG and pruned a few things. Then we set about our task. We've been noticing that the Euphorbia mellifera in the middle front bed always looks ratty in midsummer, as it really needs a bit more water than it gets where we planted it. This year it looked rattier than ever, and finally half of it died. Time to go.


I pulled it out while Matt cut off the lower leaves of Moby Dick, the Agave americana variegata in that bed whose leaves that were crushing other plants nearby.


Then I rescued the Aeonium nobile remnants from the middle back bed and pruned them to shape to plant where the E. mellifera was. That bed is fast becoming the Aeonium showcase!

I grabbed some cuttings from a nearby Senecio serpens (Blue Chalksticks) and ta-dah! All done. Lots of before (left) and after (right) pics above.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Volunteer day lite



Today Matt, Anna and I had one volunteer at the volunteer day, but she was magic! Emily (not the usual Emily) has gardened before, and set about weeding the steps of yarrow, oxalis and all the other annoying weeds very skillfully. Quite a feat, given that they mingle so closely with the 'good" plants there, but the area is transformed.



Anna weeded the Triangle Garden, and I turned the compost and noted that next workday we'll have a full bin or maybe two to dig out and spread around the garden. I had wanted to rent a wood chipper so we could reduce the big compost heap behind the bins down to something more manageable, as all the branches there take years to compost. I'm betting there's 3' of compost under all that, which has built up over the last 6 years (!) but we can't get to it. Sadly the rental company didn't get back to me yesterday. Next time...



After that I planted three Aloe maculata in the middle back bed near the spot Matt improved today by adding rocks where the twig border had given up the ghost. I think the rocks look great - we should get more for areas like that.

Matt also pruned one of the Prunus cerasifera (Cherry plum) trees which hasn't been done in a long time - lots of nice straight branches available now for twig borders.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Phormiums from Phoenix



Today Matt and I planted five or six nice big bunches of deep red Phormium at PRG, along the back edges and filling in gaps. 

These were recently donated by Phoenix and will do the usual Phormium thing: look a bit sad for a while, then bounce back to become fantastic, tough plants. 

I'll add some pics tomorrow. Thanks Phoenix!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Plans for more condos

As Emily mentioned to me recently, Socket Site reports Plans For Condos To Replace Prized Potrero Hill Hardware Store are in the works, and as you can read a "contemporary five-story building with 65 dwelling units over a ground floor of residential/commercial flex space" are slated to replace Center Hardware at some point in the probably not distant future.

Sad face.

The furore of comments aside, one thing was nice to see:
"The Planning Department questions the amenity and quality of the rear yard facing I-280 freeway and believes this compromises the exposure to the units facing onto it with a foreground of concrete, noise, and pollution…. The existing Pennsylvania Garden to the south presents an opportunity and amenity that the project should embrace."
 We will certainly miss Center Hardware - they have supported the gardens for many years and we needed them on countless occasions for supplies. A sad day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Donation!

Aloe ferox in bloom
I got an email from Phoenix last week about some Phormiums and Dietes he needed to be rid of, and not only that but would dig up and deliver to the garden (bless you!) so naturally I said yes.

Today around 4pm I was feeling very sleepy from a long weekend but determined to get them in the ground before the next rain storm, drank a quick cup of coffee and dragged Matt out to the garden.

The Dietes turned out to be variegated! Score. We planted 4 big clumps in the front border, one in the left bed and one in the brights bed. Then we put the Phormiums (loads of the deep red/brown kind) in pots for next week - we'll plant those at PRG.

Too dark for photos - sorry! But above is something inspiring from this year :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Post rain weedorama

Matt and I hit the garden for the volunteer day and kicked out some serious weeding. 



I turned the hot, steaming compost piles (reignited after being rained on this week) and removed piles of nasturtiums and horsetails from the front bed. When that was cleaned up, I rearranged some society garlics, and Matt rescued an Agave filifera and arranged the pups near it. 



Matt staked the recently planted Phormiums, then dug up a big Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm) volunteer and potted it for planting tomorrow. Volunteer Emily cut back the Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) by the bench, and Anna and Mary planted loads of Agapanthus in the triangle garden. 

Good times. 
 
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