Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Volunteer Workday this Saturday 10-12

Everyone can lend a paw
Our monthly workday is coming up this Saturday, November 1st from 10am-12; it’s a great way to get out and about in the sunshine after Halloween! We will meetup at Pennsylvania Garden (251 Pennsylvania Avenue) and disperse from there. We have the necessary tools and gloves to make it happen, and any will provide needed training too. New or returning volunteers, green or black thumbs, all are welcome!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mind the sign and the cactus!

SFMTA should be
 fixing this soon!

Just a quick garden update, SFMTA has been called and they are still within their 5-day window (!) for fixing the 'Do Not Enter' sign that was run-over on Sunday. Annie and Matt zipped over to the garden to cleanup debris, but we'll have to wait for SFMTA to get their act together. For now, please use the arch entrance to the garden.

3 columns of our new
silvery, fluffy and spikey cactus
In other news, I turned the compost today and readjusted the heap (it's getting a bit out of hand back there!) and removed a mountain of trash from around the bench. The highlight was getting a rejuvenating snuggle from a lovely pup, Molly, who came over to say with her 'hoomin. I can't guarantee such a cute dog will be there when you visit, but there is a beautiful brand-new cactus at the bottom of the steps; it was purchased because of funding from the UCSF Medical Center, so thanks to them for enabling us to make the special purchase and to Annie and/or Matt for installing such a spikey and beautiful specimen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fun at the Potrero Hill Festival

Many thanks to all of the lovely folks who stopped by our booth at the Potrero Hill Festival today! Your kind words of support and your generosity towards the gardens really go a long way.

We had dozens of people sign up to volunteer at the garden (!) and many went home with a delicious jar of honey from Connecticut Friendship Garden and SF Bee Case. Other park stewards were on hand too, with Friends of Jackson Park, the NABE, and many others either at our booth or one next door. We made up the 'green belt' at the festival, and it was a lot of fun.

 I look forward to seeing everyone at our next workday on Saturday November 1st from 10am-12. It really is a community effort and it takes many hands to keep both gardens looking great, hope to see you all again soon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A hot and doggy workday

A snuggly visit at the garden
 for  Lucy and her people
Once mighty fennel is easier to remove
after you remove the top and let it wither
Saturday Eliot, Nate, Mary, Ana and I all got together to get some work done at Pennsylvania Garden (PG), Triangle Garden and the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden (PRG). It was the usual first-of-the-month Saturday workday, except for the weather, which was a balmy +80F at the garden. Despite the heat we worked hard, picking up 8 tubtrugs worth of trash (!), clearing pathways and weeding our way around all three gardens. The only gardening photo I have to share is of a fennel bulb that we previously chopped; one method for removing extremely difficult fennel is to basically cut the fennel to the grown. Then, as it attempts to recover and looses some of its death grip on the ground in the process, you come back and dig it out a few weeks later.

Snoopy gets a good shake on at PRG
We were visited by many a cute dog and their owners, and I was able to snap a photo of Lucy with her owners at PG, and Snoopy at PRG. A few people even stopped by and promised to volunteer at the next workday, so I hope to run into them again next month! Everyone is invited to our workdays, so if you can come by your help is greatly appreciated in keeping the gardens
looking their best.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Saturday Workday Party Double Feature

Gardening and a Party!
This Saturday, October 4th is a volunteer workday at the garden. You are invited, and really, it's a triple feature because you can
1.Come by the garden for the workday, then take a nice walk to
2. Progress Park, which is hosting a party put on by the SF Parks Alliance & DPW  (info here) 
3. The weather should be summer quality 80F!!!

Maybe it could get even better, and the line at Mr&Mrs will not be long? Ok, that would be a miracle. Regardless, looking forward to seeing you all out and about this weekend!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Clear Cut Success of a Volunteer Workday & UCSF Special Event

Scraggly Calindrinia cut back into
 shape now that they're done flowering.
Thanks Michael!
Saturday was a big day at the gardens, and for the gardens! As many of you know, we hosted our monthly volunteer workday, which is always a lot of fun and keeps the gardens looking spiffy. We were also invited to participate as a community group in the UCSF Medical Center kick-off celebration. Before we get into all the fun that was event, let me tell you about the workday.

Eliot and Josh
 all smiles with their pruners
Michael, Nate, Eliot and his friend Josh (on vacation!) did a transformative job cleaning up the gardens on Saturday. As a team we trimmed back the Agapanthus and Calindrinia along the perimeter, cut back the growth that was invading the pathways and pulled a fair number of weeds in the process too. All the pruning and clearing took nearly the entire workday, but we were keen to also pickup the mountain of trash that had accumulated at PRG! We ran down the hill and did a quick but thorough job fishing out all the debri that had
Jackie and Ryan get the booth ready
collected/been dumped at the park. Meanwhile, Anna and her crew was at the Triangle Garden getting it whipped into shape - I was so busy with my crew I didn't get a chance to chat with them - but way to go team!

After the workday was over, I quickly went home and regrouped for the big UCSF Medical Center kick-off celebration. Jackie, Rick, Alison, Ryan and my mom Debbie all lent a hand during the event, making it a big success. Unfortunately Annie and Matt were out of town, but they were able to pick up some stellar plants that looked great at the event and will make a nice addition to the gardens, so they were there in spirit!

"I wish cancer ended! Also be a doctor"
Thanks to a generous donation from the UCSF Medical Center, and the 'OK' from Sequoia Productions, we created a Wishing Tree for the event. The event had barely started and we had bunches of UCSF staff, kids, families even dogs coming up to check out the Wishing Tree. I had always hoped people would use the opportunity to write something thoughtful about what the hospital meant to them, and I was amazed by the emotion a few people poured out in their words to us volunteers, and in writing on the Wishing Tree. It was a very fun and fulfilling day to say the least, and we met a lot of great people. I've include a few photos here, and you can find more on my website.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

You're Invited

Everyone can lend a hand (or paw) at the gardens
You're invited to the volunteer workday this Saturday September 6th! There is always plenty to do around the gardens, and no experience is necessary. We provide all the tools and training and the weather should be lovely. The garden is definitely in a need of a haircut, so we will be cutting back the shaggy Agapanthus and Santolinas, and tending to a variety of other plants that need some TLC.

We'll meet at Pennsylvania Garden at 10am, hope to see you there!

If you have any questions you can always email me at .

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Volunteer Excitement & Shed Disappointment

Leslie making quick work
of the grass that was taking over
The weather yesterday morning may have been a bit gloomy, but a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers turned out to spiff up both Pennsylvania Garden and the Triangle Garden. So much was done at both gardens I will run through the highlights, with photos!

All smiles while working at the garden
A quick aside, our shed was broken into last week and a random assortment of things were were taken, including all of our pruners. The saddest thing is that all of the supplies are worth more to us in terms of cost and effort to replace them than they are to the crazy person who busted through our shed. Oh well. I promise to get all the tools back in order for the next workday. Now onto the photos!

Excited crew at the Triangle Garden
At Pennsylvania Garden Annie and Matt worked together to turn the compost and spread the finished compost around the garden. Quickly done with that heavy work, they set about to cleaning up the back slope area and added a few hardy plants that were waiting on the terraces in pots. Meanwhile, Leslie, Joanne, my mom Debbie, and I plowed through the left front bed, removing all the weeds and dead growth from the Agapanthus and Alstromerias. Our weeding party then moved on to the back middle
Chris and Ann giving
 the garden a 10 out of 10
bed and surrounding pathways, including trimming up the variegated mint that was getting out hand and blocking the pathway. At the Triangle Garden the crew pruned and weeded, leaving the garden in much better shape. It was a very productive workday, and as shown, the compost bin was pleasantly full by the end.
A full bin after a full workday
Many a neighbor came to visit during the workday, often saying something like 'Wow, this is great, thank you!' and from the doggie visitors, we received encouraging snuggles. One of the best compliments we received was from Chris, enthusiastically giving the gardens a '10 out of 10'! I hope to see you all as volunteer and visitors at our next workday, Saturday September 6th!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Volunteer Workday This Saturday

You're invited to join us this Saturday at our volunteer workday. We'll meetup at 10am at Pennsylvania Garden and then get down to work, making the gardens even more beautiful.

Any questions? email

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Front border looking lush
Another warm sunny day at PG, and Matt and I went out for an hour to plant more tough, xeric stunners. Actually the trip to the garden ended up being closer to two hours, but we got lots done.

I turned the compost heap again (seems like the only exercise I get!) and added straw, then Matt added some water. Compost needs to be damp for optimum decomposition, and we have two bins full that are just a couple of weeks from being ready to spread.

Little Puyas in the front
Matt planted two clumps of Puyas of two different unknown species. This tough family of bromeliads comes from the Andes and Chile and is pretty drought tolerant. With a bit of luck we'll find out what species these ones are soon, but basically one went in as a low clump of grass-like edging along the middle back border, while another group went at the top of the terraces.

Echeveria secunda before and after
I planted a whole flat of Echeveria secundas near the bench. I rescued them from the Triangle Garden up the block. These lovely blue-green succulents do much better with a little dampness and shade, and were frying to death in full, blazing sun at TG. You can see from the photo how much happier they'll be in a few weeks.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Now's the time of year for planting succulents

Crocosmia "Lucifer"
My favorite time of year: the best time to put Agaves, Yuccas, Aloes, various cacti and other succulents in the ground because they don't need to be watered in.

With that in mind, Matt and I popped up to the garden and spent a happy 4 hours cleaning up the terraces, planting as many plants from there as possible, and taking care of the compost bins.

Kniphofia "Pineapple Popsicle"
I turned one of the bins into an empty bin, layering in straw to help speed up the composting process. Pretty good workout right there! In the meantime Matt was pulling all the potted plants from the terraces, weeding and sorting through them to get them planted.

A list of plants released "into the wild" to grow out of pots today (and yesterday too) includes:

1 Agave colorata
1 Agave desmettiana - variegated
3 Agave lophantha
5 Agave parryii
4 Agave shawii
1 Agave sisiliana
1 Agave weberi "Arizona Star"
4 Aloe maculata
8 Bromeliad sp.
8 Echeveria secunda 
1 variegated Furcraea sp.
1 Furcraea longaeva
6 Gasteria sp.
1 Mangave "Macho Mocha"
6 Puya sp.
6 Sempervivum sp. 
2 Yucca aloifolia 
1 Yucca sp.

Yucca aloifolioa var. gets a haircut.
I'm sure I'm forgetting some but that's about 60 plants in the ground: not bad at all! I also moved an Aeonium, cut back some Euphorbias, swept the terrace steps and organized a bunch of pots behind the shed. Phew!

The thanks is to you!

Many thanks to everyone that
has made the gardens special!
Without getting too sentimental, let me start off by saying thank you to Paintsource, Inc., formerly Fregosi & Co. Paints, which is right across from Pennsylvania Railroad Garden. Over the years they have always been friendly, helpful, and  also generously provided paint related supplies. Back when we were doing outreach for the new garden they graciously provided meeting space. An absolutely huge benefit has been the access to water for our street trees, which really made the addition of the 23 trees to the block possible. Wrangling water to the site by other means would have been a nightmare of cost and permitting. Hmm, this is a long list of great things they've done for us! It makes me feel like I should take an ad out in the Potrero View thanking all of the individual neighbors and businesses that have participated in creating or keeping the gardens beautiful.

It was heartwarming to see their 'thank you' at the bottom of their advertisement. Annie and I may have been named in ad, but there are dozens of people that we have relied on in big and little ways over the years that make the gardens possible. Many heartfelt thanks to everyone that has made the gardens special!
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