Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lovely Photoshoot at PG

Thanks to all our volunteers
 and Monica (photographer)
and Amanda (Flowers & Styling)
It's a big honor and privilege to create and keep the gardens looking good, and it relies on so many volunteers to make it all happen. Everyone has done such a great job, so good even, that the garden has been chosen as the site for a few photoshoots over the years. I think that is a pretty big kudos! Most recently Monica and Amanda were working at the site, and I happened to run into them during their shoot. So volunteers give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done at making the gardens beautiful. Monica and Amanda were very kind to share the final, beautiful finished product with us from Style Me Pretty and the original photos; enjoy!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A little bit of everything volunteer workday

Out with the old, soon in with the new!
John and Matt dismantling the shed
Big thank you to Annie, Matt, John, Carl, Nate, Justine and Debbie for getting so many different things done at the gardens on Saturday! As you may know, our shed has been broken into quite a few times, so it was time to take it down and plan to put something in its place that was more secure. Annie decided today was that wonderful day and set out with John and Matt to dismantle and move it to the curb. Annie will make sure the old shed is disposed of, and Matt is gearing up to build a new better storage unit, so our shed woes should be taken care of soon.

We get the best visitors
at the gardens!
Dog snuggles abounded.
Meanwhile, Carl, Justine, Debbie and I headed down to PRG to remove the mountain of trash that collects there weekly (!) and rip out as much of the fennel and other pesky deep-rooted weeds that seem to thrive in the bone dry soil that is down there. Annie and Matt had to leave to attend to horse-related duties, but were able to get started sorting out the compost with John at PSG. John did a
Cheery Justine makes quick
 work of the pathway weeds
fantastic job with some expert pitchforking to get the piles sorted and turned. I hauled up some water from SF Paint Source (they are so nice!!) to help get the ultra dry compost going again and Nate showed up to help too.

Nate, surrounded by numerous
cacti at ground level,
takes care of difficult fennel
Overall a lot of great progress was made at both gardens and we had a really fun time chatting and making the gardens look even better! Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next garden workday, hopefully with a new storage unit and maybe some rain (ok I'm just dreaming here....).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Volunteer Workday this Saturday

Come join us at our workdays!

A beautiful place
for enjoying the outdoors that
 always needs volunteer TLC
It takes YOU to keep the gardens looking good!

Everyone, green and black thumbs alike, is invited to our monthly workdays. Always! Per usual, our workday is the first Saturday of the month at 10am. That happens to be this Saturday August 1st. My Mom and I were out last weekend picking up trash and hand watering a few crispy trees, but there are plenty of tasks at all three gardens to do this coming weekend and we need your support.

We meetup at Pennsylvania Garden, gather supplies, divvy up tasks and disperse from there.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: Emily@psgsf.org. Hope to see you around the garden.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A moment of silence for the shed

The shed is dead. At the weekend I saw it'd been rifled through again and I spent some time cleaning it up, but this evening we found the door destroyed and hanging open. Matt and I emptied all the tools into my car and took them home. 

Perils of street gardening, I tell you...

Friday, July 3, 2015

Genentech Gets the Gardens into Shape

Many thanks for the volunteers from Genentech that spent their volunteer time at all three of the gardens (!) a few weeks ago. This crew works well together at Genentech to make the best medicines possible, and they also did a fantastic job as a team making our gardens even more beautiful and well-kept. I also work at Genentech, and it's a big privilege for our gardens to be part of the annual Genentech Gives Back Week activities.

So much went on at the workday that I'm just going to have to give the highlights. First, I was onsite early in the A.M. to receive a truckload of mulch that was kindly provided by a local arborist. Once the volunteers arrived at 1pm we divided into teams; Gina, a neighbor of Annie's and a Genentech employee, led a group at the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden taking care of a ton of trash down there and watering the crispiest trees.

Another group went to the Triangle Garden to clear trash and weeds. Long-time volunteer Nate was on-hand with his baby Malcom to help get another group started weeding the left bed, and I started groups removing weeds from the pathways and clearing the weeds and annual pruning of the Salvia dog-area in preparation for the mulch. I ran between all the groups answering questions and checking if anyone needed anything, and we had a great time chatting and working together.

Grubby toe or grubby root?
 It gave us a double take
 when we turned the compost! 
After all the weeding, pathway clearing and distribution of fresh compost to some needy plants, the teams changed gears and began distributing the mulch. You can see in the photo it was a huge pile, and we were fortunate to have pitchforks, shovels and wheelbarrows provided by DPW. Pathways were swept and compost turned; we were able to wrap up by 4pm and enjoy the well-kept gardens!
Many hands really do make light work and it is the consistent effort of the volunteers that keep the gardens going - thanks to everyone who participated, and I'm glad to welcome you back next year!

Friday, June 12, 2015

How to cut back shrubby Euphorbias

 If you're like us, you know the shrubby Euphorbias are the fun lovin' criminals of the plant world. Tough, drought tolerant and always seeding themselves everywhere.

We have lots of Euphorbia characias in the garden and enjoy their compact shape and amazing chartreuse flowers. But when the flowers are over (more brown than lime green) they need to be cut back, so here's how.

Don't do this
First of all, note that Euphorbia sap, a white milky and sticky substance that leaks out when you prune them, is quite the irritant. Don't get it in your eyes people! Some species have sap that can blind you, so take care.

That also means that pruning them around dogs and children needs to be done right.

First, do not just deadhead the tops of the flowers and leave sticks with nasty sap at small-beast eye level! Someone's gonna get hurt, and at the very least it looks ugly when you prune plants this way.

Second, if you cut down to a few inches from the base and compost the stalks (I chop them up a bit for faster composting) it's a quick job. See the before and after here - the new stalks coming in will quickly fill out the shrub.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Drought casualties

We have had a few drought casualties already.

One area hard hit is the brights bed at the top of the garden.

The gigantic Salvia gesneriiflora 'Tequila" is 90% wilted or dead (some parts may make it) as well as the Buddleja "Ellen’s Blue" and another Buddleja Joan gave us ages ago. Even the Kool Aid Bush (Psoralea pinnata) is looking dry.

The question is: when the drought ends, what will we replace them with?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Super Volunteer!

Today's volunteer day dawned bright and sunny, and Matt and I headed up to the garden ready for a few light tasks. Nothing major. It's hot, yaknow?

However, that was not to be.  Super Volunteer Bob showed up and did All The Things:

1. Turned the compost LIKE A BOSS
2. Cut back the Chasmathes like it was HIS CAREER
3. Obliterated a huge nasty stand of ivy that was out of control AS IF IT WAS A DRAGON HE WAS FIGHTING. AND WON.

Not only that but his wife Barbie weeded the steps with determined efficiency, and Jackie came too and weeded the back terrace with great gusto. But really, honestly, Bob killed it.

I cut back some Euphorbias and Matt did all sorts of tub-trugs full of damage to weeds.

But Bob owned it.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rehab and rescue

Some kind of Dyckia
Matt and I popped out for couple hours of gardening and took three large Aloe maculata and Aloe vera out to plant in the garden.

After that was done, Matt dug up a Phormium that has been hiding in the bushes for quite some time and potted it up so it can get some rehabilitation in a safe place. While he was doing that, he found a bag thrown in the shrubbery.  A quick look inside revealed the name of the owner, and I left him a voice mail to say I had his bag and some cables if he wanted them. Shortly after that I found another of his bags, and when he called he was quite happy. He'll be reunited with his goods this week.

Agave shawii
I weeded on the back slope, discovering very happy Agaves hiding back there, growing away in the bone dry soil as they like to do. It's all about plant selection in this drought!

I also reconfigured some Aeoniums and planted an Agave parryii.

That said, here's a list of plants not looking happy at all this week:
Calla lilies (usually they die back this time of year, but at PG they normally remain green year round)
Cussonia natalensis
Psoralea pinnata
Salvia "Tequila"
Fuchsia boliviana

None of these would normally be called xeric, but drought tolerant they have been. Until now...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Crispy dry out there...

Thanks for dumping that...
Despite a sprinkle of rain this week the gardens are looking crispy dry - well, the plants that aren't super xeric, that is. The Fuchsia boliviana is in a sad state and will likely die.

Even the Cussonia natalensis is looking iffy: if it dies I shall be very sad indeed. The Agaves, Aloes and other succulents are as happy as clams, naturally.

Agave tequilana flowering
Matt and I spent an hour or so picking trash at PRG today. We found, and filled, three wheelie bins! We left them by a big pile of wire casings someone dumped at the garden - they recycle wire at the scrap metal place around the corner and I suppose dumping the plastic casings in a garden seems totally fine to some types.

We also picked up a dozen or more dog poos in bags. What is up with that dog people? Why do some of you pick up your pet's waste, bag it, tie it, then throw it in the bushes or straight up leave it on the path?

Agave "Lemon Lime"
Calandrinia and Kniphofias
Some people just leave loose craps right on top of plants though. Harder to pick up so you don't even try? Pretty lame.

In other news a number of Agaves are flowering now. The Agave tequilana we planted as a pup in 2009 is huge, and going off like a rocket (image shown) as well as BOTH of the big Agave americana "Lemon Lime" specimens that Matt and Paul brought from Healdsburg. I'm sad about that! Almost all species of Agave die after flowering so we will replace them with something equally epic when the flowers are done - which will be months from now.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Workday Grass Removal Crew & More

Luke made short work
of the compost!
A big thank you to everyone who attended the workday - Annie, Luke, Jenna, Joanne, MaryBill and my mom Debbie. So much was done that it's hard to record it all, but I can at least report the highlights and acknowledge the great work that was accomplished!

First off, Annie set about to taming the Salvia canariensis that was overgrowing into the pathway with its' beautiful silver and purple abundance.

Jenna all smiles
weeding the pathway
The rest of the crew divided up into groups, weeding the pathways and doing a thorough clean-out of the grass that has taken over much of the garden. In particular, we made a big push to get the middle front bed, brights bed, and left bed all cleared and spiffed up.

Annie removed some overgrown Euphorbias along the top path and replaced them with Aloe maculatas, as well as trimming up the giant Phormium "Alison Blackman" who will soon need to be moved elsewhere as she has become too mighty.

Pathway clearing expert Joanne
Towards the end of the workday the fully crisped and dead-gone lavenders in the dog area were removed and Annie put in a nice variety of Agaves in their placeAs much as we all love lavender, a tough spot requires really tough plants; if a plant doesn't survive we will try something different instead of trying to replace it. 

A little art someone made
in the dog area - lovely!
Compost was turned (thanks Luke!), plants dead-headed (thanks Mary!), and every time I turned around Bill had expertly removed huge swaths of weeds. Everyone did a great job and it was fun to hang out and chat while we worked.

Hope to see you all at the garden next month!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Big and Small

First what I consider the 'big' stuff: our neighborhood! The lovely folks at Potrero Kids have put together a plant & bakesale, and I encourage you to stop by and check it out. The tomatoes were actually grown on Potrero Hill, so they will be extra happy in your yard this summer.

The 'small' stuff is everything else! The Greater & Greener  (http://www.greatergreener.org) conference visited the gardens today, and I was lucky enough to be able to take time to lead the tour an answer their questions. Participants ranged from the Deputy Director of City Operations of Copenhagen to a PhD student from Cambridge, and many, many people involved in conservancy programs in their city. The group asked a lot of great questions and thought the gardens looked great.

Way to go Potrero Hill!
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