Sunday, February 3, 2019

New plant from John!

Yesterday after the volunteer day Matt and I sped off to John's house, where he needed to find a new home for a LARGE Agave attenuata in his front garden. Luckily it's a very soft and toothless kind, because this specimen is huge. Like, "is it even going to fit in the car?" huge. Like "It probably weighs more than me" huge. And if it had teeth, someone would have been hurt.

Using ropes, a reciprocating saw, two wheelie bins and a piece of wood we managed to lower the Agave onto the ground and nobody got killed. Then it got into our car - just.

Today Matt and I took it to PRG and planted it - with the help of a random passer by - and it looks amazing.

Hope you enjoy it! And thanks John for always thinking of us :)

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Slightly cloudy with a chance of Agaves

Today's volunteer day was happily mostly rain-free, and we had a great group out to help weed and plant, and as a result much was accomplished.

John, Josh, Amanda, Aditi, and Hilary joined Matt, my parents (on a visit from Wales) and I at PRG and we all got stuck in weeding, weeding, and a bit more weeding.

First order of business, with rain in the forecast to help them settle in, was planting the two Acaia steonphylla trees that Jamie gave us recently. Matt accomplished that, and staked them in well too, so they should take off quickly. What a lovely tree they are: extremely drought tolerant and very graceful to boot. They're one of my favorites.

My parents picked up all the trash on the street, and weeded too. A whole new area was cleared of weeds and 5 Euphorbia wulfenii and 3 Artemisia “Powis Castle” were planted as ground cover in two separate areas.

John and my parents
Josh and Aditi took on another area, moving an Agave weberi "Reiner's Selection" away from the path. Then they replanted a piece of columnar cactus that I found in the bushes, and rearranged a large group of Nassella tenuissima nearby - they also planted 7 of the same grass to make a nice design.

2 Salvia canariensis went in along the fence lines courtesy of Matt, and they were staked up as they are quite small still. Hope they grow really quickly.

These are ones we started 6 months ago from cuttings and I'm very pleased to have more of them to plant because they are incredibly tough and xeric.

Amanda took on a section of the path to weed thoroughly, and John delved in with his usual fervor to help me weed in the rain garden at the bottom of the garden. We even had a visit from Kunaal and Coco the puppy - always good!

The garden is starting to really look good after all the winter work that has gone into it - thank you all for making it happen.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Surprise! More Agaves!

Clockwise from top left: Before, Vanzie,
Frosty Blue, after
Matt and I made a quick trip to PG tonight and planted three good-sized Agaves. If you're in the garden tomorrow take a look.

They are Agave franzosinii - one of the biggest Agaves in the world, and a stunning pale blue color. This one is a 15 gallon baby so far, but should get huge - over 6' tall and wide. No photo - it got too dark.

The other two are Agave ovatifolia "Frosty Blue" and Agave ovatifolia "Vanzie", which are now located in the brights bed, close to our other Agave ovatifolia which is just the regular species.

Again these are pretty big Agaves which can top out 5-6' wide, so this will be an epic display. They're near the Agave weberi "Reiner's Selection" and I think ti all looks rather nice, especially as I removed 5 tubtrugs of weeds there too...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wednesday trip

Dahlia imperialis in bloom
Today I met Chris at the garden and we accomplished quite a few tasks in a couple of hours. The sun was absolutely gorgeous and PG was looking very lush, with all sorts of things flowering right now.

First of all, Chris removed the arch at the top of the steps. It was so old and rickety, and despite his having fixed it up in the past, it's time had come. Out it goes! What will we put there instead?

While he was doing that I finished up weeding under the cherry plum trees and mulched the area. I planted three Artemisia "Powis Castle" there as ground cover.

Chasmanthe floribunda
Chris emptied the dog poop container, and replanted some Aloe maculata, then moved the Leucadendron salignum "Golden Tip" from the steps to the bed opposite - hope it grows a bit better there.

I started weeding the steps, cut back the Phlomis purpurea, and planted an Agave there too. I have some Achilleas to go in there, and more Agaves too - perhaps next week.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

More new plants

Yucca gloriosa variegata
This time at Pennsylvania Garden!  Matt and I packed the truck with new plants and set to work yesterday, getting things in the ground that will be OK with a week with no rain.

Matt kicked it of by moving an Agave parryi and two Agave attenuatas in the middle front bed to finish up the job I did over the weekend. Looks great, but I didn't get a photo!

Next up, he pulled out a huge, but sadly suffering, Phormium tenax from the left bed. Honestly, they did so well for us over the years but xeric they are NOT, so this one just had to go.  He replaced it with three spectacular Yucca gloriosa variegatas which will be very happy there. When I ordered these 15 gallon plants I hoped they would have a trunk and be taller - they were intended for PRG. But they were pretty short when they arrived, and being slow growers they will work in this spot better.

Agave attenuata "Boutin Blue"
While he was working on that I removed tons of weeds under the cherry plum trees and created a pile of them deep in the bed where they can compost out of sight (mostly).  Then we planted five Agave attenuata "Boutin Blue" there. Hopefully far enough out from under the tree canopy so they get enough light, and don't get covered in leaves, but we shall see.

Again, these were intended for PRG but we placed much tougher Agaves there - these ones aren't as resistant to foot traffic to be honest. But now they are in a more protected spot, and it feels right.

With all the weeds gone I need to get back to the garden and add more wood chips to prevent fresh weeds springing up soon. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Started to get the donations planted.

Banksia serrata
Yesterday I wanted to get some of Jamie's plants in the ground, as I knew rain was coming today. I started out in the middle front bed, where our big Agave americana variegata, affectionately known as "Moby Dick" used to live - until it flowered! The stump from that was so big we couldn't remove it, so Matt has been planting Agave attenuatas all around it.

That's been working OK, but I have also noted that the Leucodendron "Jester" in that bed has done incredibly well with no help, so it seems like a great spot for a related plant from Jamie's donation: Banksia serrata.

After weeding and clearing the area, that went in just fine, and I mulched it well with wood chips afterwards. It should make a large shrub or small tree, and has wonderful serrated leaves and big creamy colored cone-like flowers.

Cistus skanbergii
Next up, I added the Cistus skanbergii in the same area, and the two Teucrium aroanium as well. Hopeful the latter two will do well, but will have to keep an eye on them. The Cistus will be great. More mulch, away we go.

After that was done, I moved to the middle back bed and started weeding. I weeded around a lot of the Aloe maculatas, and moved one to fill a gap. They do look very tired in midsummer, but quickly spring back and get growing as soon as the rains start.

Leucospermum "Veld Fire" - back
The blue fescue grasses (Festuca glauca) that we'd planted there are not xeric. I finally admitted that, gave up and pulled the remaining ones out, and put in lots of mulch.

As the area behind them was empty, and was an area with lots of sand in the soil, the perfect plant to add was Leucospermum "Veld Fire". I'll add a couple more variegated Yuccas later, but overall when the Leucospermum gets going it'll be perfect there.

OK that's all for today - more soon!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

New donation

Today I picked up some plants from neighbor Jamie. They're all super tough and a lovely donation to the garden: we'll have to get them planted right away!

Acacia stenophylla (2)
Agave bracteosa
Agave geminiflora
Aloe ??? - need to ID this one
Banksia serrata
Cistus skanbergii
Dasylirion longissimum
Dyckia sp. 
Leucospermum "Veld Fire"
Teucrium aroanium (2)

Thanks Jamie!

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 these 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.
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