Sunday, January 13, 2019

The winter planting continues

Hesperaloe parviflora "Brakelights"
Matt and I spent some time at PRG yesterday, and at PG today, planting more new and interesting plants. Here's what went in:

At PRG we planted 5 Hesperaloe parviflora "Brakelights" down at the bottom of the garden. This almost grass-like succulent is also known as a Hesperoyucca - it really does have yucca-like leaves. This one also has lovely little flowers which you can see in the photo.

The small clumps should grow into a bigger grouping eventually, but very slowly. They are extremely drought tolerant and should do really well in the spot we placed them.

Furcraea foetida "Mediopicta"
Next up, we placed three Furcraea foetida "Mediopicta" further up the street.

This is a strongly variegated, but spineless type of Furcraea that's very decorative. They seem to have had some leaf damage but I'm hoping they grow out those damaged parts quickly.

We picked up trash all down the street, and noticed that all the green waste from a couple weeks back finally got picked up by the 311 folks. Yay.

Yucca rostrata "Blue Velvet"
Lastly, we put in two new Yucca rostrata "Blue Velvet" to go with the larger Yucca rostrata we already have on PRG which is doing so well - despite having been somewhat overshadowed by the large bush mallow shrub next to it.

This is a very slow growing but super tough Yucca, and hopefully there two will do well.

Yucca desmettiana "Blue Boy"
Today Matt and I went up to PG and popped in 8 plants there. We started out by thoroughly weeding the middle back bed on the street side, in preparation for adding 5 Yucca desmettiana "Blue Boy" in there.

This is a fantastic reddish-purple colored Yucca and having a group of them like this is pretty cool. We moved one of the Agave gypsophyllas and an Aloe arborescens to make it work, as well as digging out a huge slab of concrete buried in the dirt.

Yucca filifera
Next we put in three Yucca filifera in the top bed. These guys will very, very slowly before trees but it will be many years before that happens.  We have two more to add to the same spot.

This is a super, super spiky plant. Don't hesitate to stay the heck away from it, or you'll get stabbed!

Lastly, we picked trash and called in a 311 pickup for it.

So that's 18 new plants for PRG and PG - all of them brand new species for us. Let's hope they do well.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Another 40 plants go in at PRG

Chris + cactus = Chrictus
Today's workday was forecast to be wet and windy, so, expecting fewer volunteers than usual, I changed my plan to bring loads of new plants and just bought... about forty.

Luckily for me, our stalwart gang showed up and we planted them all! Josh, Chris, Hilary, Aditi, Matt and I put in a full 12 person-hours of work total, and managed to install the following:

20 Artemisia "Powis Castle"
6 Euphorbia wulfenii
8 Salvia canariensis
5 Salvia leucantha
1 Agave lophantha

"Take that, Santolinas!" - Hilary
Chris moved some columnar cacti into a nice group, and pruned and weeded and de-pupped agaves like crazy. Matt staked up all the new Salvia canariensis so they don't get blown over in the wind, and watered all the new plants with water he got from Fregosi paints, and moved some rocks around.

Hilary and Josh planted and planted and planted, then cut back Santolinas with a vengeance, and Aditi rescued a poor pitiful pampas grass from a thuggish salvia.

Josh gleefully whacks a plant
I picked up loads of trash, set the plants out to match the planting plan, and weeded away too. I used the 311 app AGAIN to ask them to please remove all the green waste that's been piling up. Hope they get on it!

We've got about 100+ more plants to get into the ground in January/February, so we will do some extra volunteer days: keep an eye on the blog if you're interested in joining in. We have a workday January 14th 3pm-5pm coming up - that's a Monday - so if you are available, drop by!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Day 6: Plantathon? Puppathon?

Hesperaloe parviflora "Yellow"
Today was a relatively quick planting day. Matt and I popped in 5 Hesperaloe parviflora "Yellow" up at the top of PRG, added a Yucca elephantipes and a Yucca guatamalensis, and cut back some seriously unruly Santolinas.

Hesperaloe parviflora (aka Hesperoyucca parviflora) is a really tough desert plant and we have another group of five to go in, except this time a red color, elsewhere at PRG. Hope they do well!

Coco + Aditi
While we were there we saw Aditi and her new puppy, Coco! Coco is a poodle x German Shepherd and came courtesy of ex PG volunteer and grant writer Emily, so now the garden mascot baton has been passed from Emily's dog Bentley to Aditi's Coco. Congrats Coco - big shoes to fill...

Sunday, December 30, 2018

And yet more plants planted - what a day.

Agave neomexicana
Matt and I returned to PRG today and started at 10am. We worked til 1.30pm, then had a break for lunch (garlic noodles at Sunflower!) and resumed until about 3pm I think. I am SO tired!

We did get a lot of plants in the ground, and tons of weeds weeded out. Here's a roundup:

First we put in five Agave neomexicana. This is a cute little blue-gray agave that should produce lots of babies for us - more agaves everywhere!

We moved a Yucca elephantipes to make a group with another one. For some reason people keep cutting off the flowering tops of these yuccas, which is pretty sad because it takes at least a year for them to look good again.

Agave "Blue Flame"
We cut back some Artemisias, Santolinas and Perovskias, and put a lot of weeds into bags. We also rounded up a mattress and other trash that was dumped. I put in a separate 311 for that  (to go with the one for the weeds) and it was already closed as they apparently picked the stuff up - great news.

We planted five Agave "Blue Flame" - a nice, softer-leaved agave - around the bottom end of PRG, and hopefully they won't get too beaten up there. That variety tends to suffer from broken leaves if people or dogs walk into them. Fingers crossed.

Agave gentryi
Down at the bottom behind the kiosk (and close to the five Agave "Sharkskin" we put in this week) we placed three rather small Agave gentryi, which is a very spiky and toothy species.

These will grow pretty big, so they're spaced quite far apart right now.

Agave impressa
Lastly we planted three Agave impressa closer to the top of the garden. Again, this is a medium-large agave at about 3-4 wide eventually, but the ones we put in are under 12" wide. They should get up to size in a few years.

So in total that's 26 new plants planted today, for a total of 55 planted this week. I need some tea to perk me up! Only about 150 left to plant...

Saturday, December 29, 2018

More new Agaves!

Agave stricta
More new plants have been installed! Go check 'em out - it's been a veritable festival of planting this week as Matt and I have been out there every day since Wednesday, and more is to come at PRG.

First up, today we planted a gorgeous group of five Agave stricta (Hedgehog Agave) plants - these ones are ultra, super spiky so don't go cuddling them... weeding around them will be a real pleasure too. Let's just say we are planning to get a load of mulch to keep the weeds down really soon.

Agave parryi
They're planted right by an Agave vilmoriniana "Stained Glass" (Octopus Agave) which is funny - Hedgehogs and octopi!

Up the street a little way is a group of six Agave parryi we also installed today.

This one is a real favorite of ours, with lovely gray-blue leaves and a nice round shape, and we should see babies sprouting up from them soon enough.

Agave "Sharkskin"
Yesterday we put in quite a few new plants too. We made a group of five Agave "Sharkskin" behind the kiosk at the bottom of the garden. This one has lovely gray and smooth leaves.

We also moved four Ochagavias to a better group, combined several groups of Dietes bicolor together to make a nice area for them, pulled out a lot of dead Euphorbias and weeded and weeded and weeded... yes, the pile of debris for Recology to take is huge, but they haven't responded to the 311 request yet, so bear with us.

Yucca filifera
We put in three Yucca filifera at the top of the garden, right between two massive Agaves. They look pretty smart - one day they will be tree-sized but it will be a VERY long time (decades...) so don't hold your breath.

OK that's it for today. More to come tomorrow - if you want to join us, feel free! We'll be there from mid-morning on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

New Agaves going in for the holidays!

Agave bovicornuta
Happy holidays everyone!

Today Matt and I decided to plant some of the new plants we've received for PRG. We have about 230 plant to go in, so this will take some time... today we planted 10 Agaves, and did an inventory of plants and planting plans at that garden.

First of all we walked down the street and checked the planting plan once again, making adjustments. Then we set about clearing weeds from two areas, and planting five Agaves in each spot. One is a set of five Agave bovicornuta (Cow's Horn Agave) which is a really beautiful Agave with red teeth.

Agave ghiesbreghtii
The other is a group of six Agave ghiesbreghtii with their lovely striped leaves and white teeth.

We moved an Agave lophantha to the top of the garden to make room, and put in a 311 for all the masses of weeds Chris and Carrie have been cleaning out of the beds so diligently.

The weeds are coming out so easily now, after all this rain, and adding new plants is really fun. Makes for a rewarding session. We'll try and do some more tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Plants are on the way!

Back in 2013!
A big order of new plants is on the way, and should arrive next week. Over 200 plants!

Along with all the plants we have propagated this year, we will have quite a number of plants to go in the ground this winter, allowing the winter rains to water them in. Planting is always my favorite part of gardening, so the next couple of workdays will be great fun.

Why do we need so many plants, you ask?

Well, we planted about 800 plants total at PRG when we started that garden in 2013. In the past 5 years, many of them have done splendidly, growing to fill their allotted spaces well. Others didn't fare so well for many reasons:
  1. They were damaged by homeless encampments, theft or other damage. Sad.
  2. They are short-lived "filler" plants that do need to be replaced every so often, so they don't look pristine anymore and no amount of pruning will improve them (Artemisias, I'm looking at you...)
  3. They are still alive, but they're not as drought tolerant in that particular spot as we had hoped (Kniphofias, for example) so we will remove them and replace with something else.
  4. They died for no known reason - we will move the remaining ones into groups and give them another shot.
That's pretty normal on the whole, and I'm pretty pleased with our plant selections overall. So we will replace the ones we expected to replace, remove the ones that don't really want to live at PRG, and bring in new plants to replace them. And as mentioned I've got lots of "free" plants we made from cuttings to add to the mix, so that will help.

A lot of the new plants will be types of Agaves we haven't grown before - small to medium sized ones which should be very happy at PRG, and super tough plants overall.

I also ordered a few new plants to put at PG too, while I was shopping. It's going to be an exciting winter!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cupcakes consumed!

Our monthly Volunteer Day dawned this past weekend with overcast skies, but the weather soon turned to glorious sunshine! Quickly followed by a blast of cold rain. Then more sunshine!

Despite all this variability, we had a great team out to help out at the volunteer day. The plan was to finalize much of the weeding as possible, to prepare for planting the large plant order I've made which will be coming in in the next couple weeks.

These new plants will fill gaps where previous ones died or otherwise disappeared. So we set to work!

Matt moved some cacti, and Chris removed a dead tree. Sarah, Hilary, Carrie, Josh, Leslie and I weeded like mad, and made a vast pile of weeds which I put into a 311 request to pick up.

Then we all had a break for cupcakes, which were delicious :)

Thursday, November 29, 2018


It's Matt's birthday on Saturday, and it's Pennsylvania Garden's 10th birthday too! What does that mean? It means we will be having cake at the volunteer workday on Saturday from 10am-2pm.

We're going to do a real push to weed Pennsylvania Railroad Garden this week as well, as I have placed a large plant order and the beds need to be prepared before the plants go in.

So please join us - we'll be at PRG rain or shine. :)

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Weed is legal in Canada!

Well, that got your attention ;) But the reality is, weed(s) are also legal in California, and we have too many of them. So at today's volunteer workday we pulled a lot out - along with some tired looking plants that need to be replaced.

I totally failed to get great pictures of all the seven volunteers who worked so hard in the surprisingly hot sun, but here is a screen grab of the 6 311 tickets I opened as we have SO MUCh stuff to get rid of!

A desk and two trash cans had been dumped, there was an encampment on the pathway, and we made four vast piles of green waste.

Add to that, Carrie and Chris had a phenomenal workday on Wednesday too, and had cleaned out a vast pile of weeds themselves. We still have a way to go, but this is a great start on PRG to prepare for our big winter replanting effort.

When Matt and I got home, we propagated a ton of plants from cuttings for that effort, and we're looking forward to getting them in the ground really soon.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Come to our volunteer day!

Hey everyone - it's time to deep weed PRG! We have a lot of plants on order to go in there, and we need to utterly clear the beds of weeds and  tired-looking plants before we can do that.

Meet us at PRG by the new benches at the corner of 17th x Pennsylvania on Saturday November 3rd at 10am and we will go from there with tools and drinks for all!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

New trash can at PRG! New benches!

Behold! Such beauty!
During last week's meeting, Aditi asked Sophia Kittler, Senior Legislative Aide to Malia Cohen about a SF Public Works trash can for DPW-owned Pennsylvania Railroad Garden.

She got a positive response, and Sophia worked with Larry Stringer, Deputy Director for Operations at SF Public Works and others at Public Works to make it happen.

Much to our surprise, a can was installed this week! It'll be emptied by DPW daily so feel free to go right ahead and throw trash INTO it, vs on the ground - your volunteer gardeners appreciate your help with that.

Can of Joy Delivery Truck
It's a thing of beauty. We've never been so excited about such a mundane thing, but TBH the reason we had trouble with trash cans before was, well, where do we empty them? And who will do it? Thus far, Aditi and Chris are emptying the poop cans, and that's a Not Fun Task.

Are there any dog walkers who would like to help out every week or two with this task?

One bench of two
In other news, two new benches went in at PRG as well. They've already been seen in use by neighbors, and that brings us joy too. Will they become graffiti-ed and used as the foundation for homeless shelters? TBD. Enjoy them while they are there!

Our next volunteer workday (Nov 3) will be all about weeding PRG, so join us - we need your help as we have new plants coming in that can't be planted until weeding is complete.*

*Just kidding. Weeding is never complete.
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