Saturday, April 5, 2014

Weeding after rain is so much fun

Today's volunteer workday was great - the sun shone down heartily and we had new volunteers! Jackie, Amanda, Dana and Eliot dropped by to join Matt and I and we all weeded with enthusiasm, which is just as well since rain = weeds.

Matt planted a massive Phormium donated by Phoenix recently, and also moved a Cortaderia that was being swallowed alive by giant Salvias in the dog area.

Jackie, Amanda and Dana cleared out the lower pathways - they'd become overgrown with Euphorbias and Aeoniums.

Matt and I also cleaned up the front bed - I moved a couple of Tulbaghias and we filled two compost bins to way overflowing with weeds. Oh, and I turned the compost too.

Anna and Mary cleaned up the Triangle Garden and also noted the weeds are rampant there. Who's up for a second workday this month? We need an army of weeders!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bring it on!

Ryan being particular;
that's why he's good at this
In an effort to protect our lovely new signpost at PRG, I ordered some anti-graffiti film to cover the plexiglass face. The hope is that if someone decides to deface our signpost we can just peel off the clear film - it's basically a giant screen protector, like what you have for your cell phone - and ta da no damage to our signpost.

This is a great task for my husband Ryan, so we walked over together and I assisted in the installation. After much misting of the glass with water (essential) and squeegee-ing the film (also essential) the film was mostly bubble free. So graffiti doers, bring it on, our signpost is ready for you!

Come to the workday
and check this mushroom out
Also, you can make your own mark on the garden this coming Saturday April 5th. It's our monthly volunteer workday! So many things need
attending to I can not bring myself to list them all, but there is a wide variety of things to do. If you can make it we'd love to see you at the gardens.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Project Sign

Today at the volunteer day we were ready, at last, for a somewhat momentous event: adding the sign to Pennsylvania Railroad Garden.

We'd explored several options for locally made and artistic sign options, but at the end of the day nothing beats the practicality of a recycled plastic enclosed cork board message center. The one at PG has served us well for years, so a matching one was ordered by me and arrived this week in some very large, heavy packages.

Matt and I dragged them outside today, with tools, and set about assembling the sign. The posts were so long we realized we'd nee to dig two 3' deep holes, so the post hole digger was procured, two 60# bags of concrete, and the digging began.

Emily came down with two lovely new volunteers, Ali and Neda, and along with Nate they picked all the trash from PRG and weeded quite a lot. We all took turns digging the holes, and eventually they reached 3' deep.

Then we positioned the sign int he holes, adjusted it level, and collected up rocks and started adding rocks, concrete and water in the holes around the posts, layer by layer.

Pretty soon it was all done - ta dah!

Another great project completed in 2 hours. Great job everyone. All that remains is to create the signs to go inside the kiosk thanking all our lovely volunteers and grantors.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A year of green at PRG

Now the street is a
great place to visit
It's time to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of greening PRG! It was a year ago that we came together over a few weeks as a community to plant the newly engineered landscape of the park. We planted out hundreds of beautiful plants shipped in and carefully stored at Reagent's Cab (thank you!), with the help of SF Scrap metal (thank you!) and dozens of volunteers (you're the best!). All planted according to Annie's wonderful designs (amazing!).

Lovely winter color
 brightens PRG
The recent rain has really helped these plants thrive - so many are looking bushy and happy, like the Dendromecon putting on a great show of bright yellow winter flowers, and the rosemary with a bit of Bougainvillea peaking through.

It's been awhile since I've been able to thoroughly walk both gardens; recently I've been away from San Francisco taking care of a critically ill family member. Being able to come back and walk through the gardens, remembering all the great time I've spent here, the wonderful people I've worked with making these places beautiful, has been a great joy.

I hope the gardens are here for you too when you need them, sometimes a place just to take your dog out for a potty break, but also for finding your emotional strength when you need it. So get out for a walk today and enjoy the 1-year anniversary of greening PRG!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Good timing on that rain...

Well we're getting a little rain at last! Hurrah - and just a day after the volunteer day so the timing is just right.

However, we're still in a major drought so we're switching off the water and the plants are actually looking good despite it all.

Matt and Jackie met up yesterday and sorted out a few problem areas in the garden. Jackie pruned back some Salvia leucanthas - perfect timing, as they'll be sprouting new growth soon.

Matt pruned the Aster "Bill's Big Blue" and also the Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage)

After that he cut back the Melianthus major (honey flower) which was looking much too scraggly, and planted some Bulbinellas at the base to tidy up the area at the bottom of the steps.

Anna and Janet were over at the Triangle Garden clearing out trash and tidying up the Buddlejas and so on. All in all the gardens are looking petty darn good right now considering!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Leucadendron salignum
"Golden Tip"
It has been a dry winter. Really, really dry. And of you're a gardener you already know this. If you're not, and you didn't, time to start saving water.

We haven't watered the trees at Pennsylvania Railroad garden in a few weeks, but today it was time - they're supposed to get 15 gallons each per week for the first two years, and it's only been a year since they were planted. Matt and I headed out, fixed the hose (again) with parts from Center Hardware and set up the trees for their drip, water courtesy of Fregosi Paints.

Ice plant - what is your name?
We're also going to switch off the weekly sprinkler at Pennsylvania Garden, which has been keeping this looking great all year. Admittedly it's not a lot of water - it only comes on once a week, and only hits about 1/3 of the garden in total. I don't think the garden will suffer from a dry spell too badly - after all, we chose most of the plants because they're xeric or drought tolerant.

Tidy, with extra Agave!
After setting up the drip line for the trees, we headed up to PG and set about some tidying tasks. We weeded the middle back bed, cut back half of the Aster "Bill's Big Blue"  and planted a nice big Agave shawii there, after removing some ratty looking Aeoniums, over-enthusiastic Crassula lycopodioides, and lots of grass that likes to get in among the Dasylirion wheeleri which is very hard to weed around, having leaves like saw blades as it does.)

Afterwards the area was nice and clean - you can see how much that Dasylirion has grown. Here it is when we first planted it in May 2009, though we moved the Aloe glauca in that pic shortly after that pic was taken.

All sorts of things are in flower right now - Leucadendrons, the cherry plum trees, Narcissus, Cordylines, and the ice plant whose name I can't remember in the brights bed - come and see!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

A sunny and quiet 2014 has dawned - happy new year to all the garden supporters!

Matt and I popped out to plant a few items tat need to have their roots in the dirt. We loaded up a wheelbarrow of plants and walked down to Pennsylvania Railroad Garden and put them in:

1 Agave lophantha
1 Agave "Green Giant"
1 Agave parryi
8 Puyas of some sort

We weeded and picked up trash a bit, then called it good.

Please note that the January workday is off due to a whole load of other commitments we have. Come join us in February for some gardening fun!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy holidays!

Agave xylonacantha
Things have been pretty quiet at the garden recently - we're all pretty busy with work and family obligations, but today Matt and I wandered up to PG for an hour to make sure everything is cool. I noticed right away that once again someone had broken into the shed - this time by crawling along the side wall by the loquat tree and pulling out a side panel.

We retrieved all the stuff pulled through the gap, and placed a lot of Agaves and Yuccas back there. Anyone who tries that again will have to be very determined. Agaves to the rescue again ;)

Puya sp.
After that I did some trimming and pruning, and found that Scabiosa "Ace of spades" had rotted out, so I removed it and put in.... an Agave lophantha! (Nope - John corrected me it's A. xylonacantha)

Opposite that in the middle front bed our poor Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum “Silver Lace Bush” that was such a favorite of mine had died. Someone pruned it back to stubs, and that killed it - so sad! In its place we put a Puya of some sort - TBD!

We have tons of Puyas, Bromeliads, Yuccas, Agaves and so on to plant - better get 'em in the ground soon.

Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

5 year anniversary

Today is the 5 year anniversary of Pennsylvania Garden, the day that Matt and I went out and planted the very first plants on that nasty lot of land. Awww.

I looked back, and here's what we planted that day, with status update:
  • 4 Dietes - they rule; they're everywhere now
  • 8 Agapanthus - ditto 
  • 3 Hakea suaveolens - flowering as I type
  • 3 Kunzea baxterii - never a dull moment
  • 1 Coprosma australis (variegated) - kicks major butt
  • 2 Geranium maderense - um, not all that prolific...
  • 3 Ceanothus "King Sip" (ground covering/low) - superb border edging plant - trimmed some today in fact
  • 2 Geranium macrorhizum - bopping around int he left bed somewhere I think...
  • 2 Dianella Tasmanica - much too excitable, yet mostly dull looking. I removed and sold them.
  • 1 Aeonium - can't even remember where the original plant went, but we have dozens of them.

So yeah. Not bad for the very first selection.

Today we had a volunteer day too, and I should have brought cake except I only remembered it's the 5 year anniversary just now... oh well!

Emily, Matt, Eliot, Mary and Carlin came to help me weed the front border, turn the compost, weed and trash pick Pennsylvania Railroad Garden, cut back Stachys and Plectranthus, and generally get some biz done in the chilly December weather.

John also cam by with a truckload (literally) of Furcraea (some sort of species) which he and Matt went right ahead and planted at PRG, filling in some empty spots instantly.

Later on Matt moved an Agave parryi that had flowered by the arch up to the compost area, pulled out an Agave americana from the same spot and put it up in the dog area, and replaced the original A. parryi with a nice new one.

Good job folks - and happy birthday PG!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Volunteer Workday: Green Saturday?

Get in the holiday spirit by
coming to the workday this Saturday

Our monthly workday is coming up this Saturday, December 7th from 10am-12; come get in the holiday spirit with a little digging in the crisp winter air! Please meetup at Pennsylvania Garden, and we’ll disperse from there. We have the necessary tools and gloves, and like always, whether you're a new or returning volunteer, all are welcome.

With the commencement of the 'shopping season' I've noted a few monikers for the days:
Black Friday
Plaid Friday
Small Business Saturday
Cyber Monday

I think we should add 'Green Saturday' 
noun Day of volunteer gardening in Potrero Hill

You wouldn't have to buy anything, or wait in a line, but I can almost guarantee that you'll have a great feeling of satisfaction after the workday!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Good Gardening

Can you identify this caterpillar for us?
What does it mean to be a good gardener? The idea of what it means to be a person that 'cultivates the land' runs the gamut from those who engage in habitat restoration to the blue-ribbon flower grower. At the very beginning of our workday yesterday it was just Annie and I picking up trash along PRG. This pause gave me a few minutes to think about this spectrum of what it means to 'cultivate the land', and it made me really proud to be a part of Pennsylvania Street Gardens. All of our volunteers bring a different perspective and energy to the gardens, and it is a privilege to work with them to cultivate our little corner of San Francisco. Many thanks to everyone who makes these gardens possible!

After a little bit we were joined by Jackie, Nate, Eliot and Jenny, so I organized the group for different tasks as the workday continued. After Annie was done weeding at PRG, she joined Matt for the remainder of the workday on a special project of putting in some additional Agaves in at the northern end of PRG. Meanwhile, the rest of the group set about to rid the southern end of PRG of fennel, and Jackie came across a really cool caterpillar. If you know its proper name please comment or send me a note ( Jenny patiently hand watered from the corner to the start of the redwood fence, giving the Salvias and other non-cactus/agave plants in the garden a well deserved drink; they've made it through the dry summer, and are ready and waiting for some real rain.

Nate, Eliot and Jackie making the triangle
garden look extra nice
After a brief discussion about how we feel like we've neglected the triangle garden a bit lately, we walked up the hill and weeded there, and then our roving band of weeders moved to PSG. Nate and I tackled some massive Malva neglecta and cleared leftover brush from the dog area while Jackie and Elliot weeded by the french drain. After cleaning up a nasty mess by the shed of shoes and unmentionables, I went to PRG and Jenny and I packed up the hose and thanked everyone at Fregosi for letting us use their water. Meanwhile the rest of the crew made sure everything was put away at PSG. We definitely had a full workday and then some, so we finally called it quits and went to lunch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Summery Post-Summer Workday

Leslie and Amanda in position to reclaim
the path from the Helichrysum
The temperature gauge on my car read 72F when I left the house for the garden workday today with no wind and bright sunshine. Annie was out and about this weekend on horse business so it was my turn to setup the watering for the trees.   Leslie was the first to arrive for the workday and we started by weeding out the blackberry and some of the ivy along the pathway  - and were soon joined by Amanda and Mary! We worked our way along the path, mostly weeding, and also pruning the dry and dead Helichrysum petiolare. The path was now much easier to navigate and the Helichrysum will fluff out again after the first good rain.

Mary and Amandy tidy the border
Next, we weeded the front border and cleaned up the Gaillardia, sweeping the sidewalk and keeping everything fairly neat and tidy. Keyvan joined us and set about picking out all the tricky grass from in among the plants in the border and then made quick work of the variegated Mint that always takes over in front of the middle back bed. The ladies fanned out in the garden, giving the Glaucium flavum a much needed cutting back and taking out the dried up annual Marigolds from along the pathway.

Pull weeds like pesky sorrel
 now before the rains hit!
The temperature was climbing above 80F now and the time was nearing noon, the end of the workday. Amanda and I went down to PRG to pickup trash and put away the watering. I made a note to spend more time at the next workday at PRG to keep it looking good. After putting away the gardening supplies we enjoyed the shade by the bench at PG and called it a day. What a lovely post-summer summery workday!
Mint in the pathway begone,
 Keyvan is here!
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