Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Work Week

Lucky old me – I get a whole week off work at the holidays and I’m planning lots of gardening time! Which is great, because there is a LOT to do in the garden - I need some help.

If you would like to join me in the garden and work off some turkey, escape the relatives, or reduce your carbon footprint if you’re visiting SF for the holidays, please RSVP by emailing annie at and let me know what day(s) you’d like to come do some gardening. Available days are from December 26th to January 1st (our regularly scheduled monthly volunteer day) and we usually get started at 10am, though can start earlier or later.

Here’s a sampling of the sort of tasks we’ve got planned (and ones taken care of are crossed out):
  • Pruning Artemisia californicas, Romneya coulteri
  • Digging up Dahlia bulbs
  • Weeding the red bed, dog area, and pathways thoroughly
  • Mulching – trip to the mulch depot!
  • Potting up cacti that are being saved for the terraced slope project
  • Weeding the cactus wall
  • Planting some cool new plants we recently got
  • Removing diseased Cannas
  • Digging out old concrete on the back border and planting Calandrinias
  • Weeding the Mariposa Center Garden
  • Move Ceanothus from red bed, and Salvia mellifera from bench area, to dog area
  • Remove Vinca from back border
  • Plant lavenders in lavender hedge, and Clivias behind bench
  • Defoliating rose bushes, then pruning them
  • Severely edit the front border - naughty nasturtiums are back!
And here are the days that people have RSVP'd for so far (will be updated as we go):
  • December 26th (Annie, Nate)
  • December 29th (Annie, Jes)
  • December 30th (Annie, David, Emily, Riley) 
  • December 31st (Annie, Emily)
  • January 1st (Annie, Nate)
Update Dec 26th: Nate and I potted up loads of cacti, defoliated the roses, planted Clivias, rearranged the three Pericallis lanata by the bench, and weeded the paths.

Update Dec 29th: Jes and I thoroughly edited the front border, removing three wheelbarrows full of nasturtiums and corn marigolds and cutting back the floppy Gaillardias. I planted three Society Garlics (Tulbaghia violacea) in the middle back bed, deadheaded all the flowers there, and cut back the aster "Bill's Big Blue." I also planted a Hibbertia astera by the bench.

Update Dec 30th: Emily, Matt, David, Riley and I cut back the Romneya coulteri and Artemisia californica, planted Calandrinias on the back border, removed diseased Cannas, dug up all the Dahlias for storage, weeded some of the red bed, moved the Salvia mellifera to the dog area and various other tidying.

Update Dec 31st: I turned a Ceanothus "King Sipp" into a living hedge by tying it to a twig border with twine, and trimmed up the Agave americanas by the info sign at the front of the garden. Emily joined me and we planted a Phlomis purpurea by the top arch, weeded, and then went down to weed about half the Mariposa Center Garden.

Update January 1st: Nate and I weeded the paths quite a bit after successfully pruning all three roses. Later on I planted three Dudleyas and four Pelargoniums. I tied our Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata" to the woven twig border next to it (hoping for living edging!) and found two rooted branches - moved them to the twig border too. Lastly I took a division of a Salvia leucantha and planted it in the front border.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Batten down the hatches?

    This weekend was supposed to be the start of Mad Rain for California. We are supposed to get 10 inches between now and Christmas, so I went to the garden and prepared by organizing pots and potted plants, making sure the storm drain was clear, cleaning up the worm bin and adding new bedding, turning the compost bin, and doing some weeding.

    Matt planted some Calandrinias along the back border (coming along nicely) and I overseeded the area with multicolored California poppy (Thai Silk Mix) seeds to fill in until the Calandrinias take off.

    Then it started raining, so we buggered off home before we got soaked. But... it didn't really rain that hard!

    I wonder if the predicted rains will be all that bad?

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Street Parks Workshop

    This just in from lovely Julia at SFPT:

    Greetings! Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Street Parks Workshop, on Saturday, January 29th, 2011, from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. Workshop location to be determined.

    Why attend? You’ll:

    • Get inspired by seeing innovative garden sites on our Street Parks Tour
    • Get the inside scoop on granting opportunities for your greening project
    • Engage and share ideas with other street parks stewards
    • Discover best practices for gaining and keeping community support for your street park
    This workshop is especially recommended if you have recently become involved in the Street Parks program. More information to follow in the new year.

    All best,

    Julia Brashares
    Program Manager - Land Stewardship
    San Francisco Parks Trust
    McLaren Lodge
    501 Stanyan Street
    San Francisco, CA 94117-1898
    Tel: (415) 750-5110
    julia at

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Garden neglected

    Emily's Ranunculus looking
    Last weekend I didn't set foot in the garden once. What with the short days and competing holiday-themed tasks to do, it was pretty sad for me not to check in with my little plants.

    I did, however, make it to the San Francisco Botanical Garden 2 for 1 sale. I was looking for two xeric shrubs. One to put near the bench to replace a black sage (Salvia mellifera) which I find a bit boring, and another to anchor the bed we cleared the week before.

    I had a list of potential candidates, and found none of them. I did however get a few plants that I hope will do instead. And a few others for various other spots in the garden. I got:

    Hibbertia astera
    Cussonia spicata
    Carpenteria californica
    Dianella tasmanica (variagated)
    Daphne odora

    I know all these guys will do fantastically in the garden, and I can't wait to plant them next weekend!

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Happy birthday!

    Happy birthday to Pennsylvania Garden - started on December 7th 2008!

    (Also happy December birthdays to Matt, John, Gary and Leah!)

    I'd like to extend a warm "thank you" to everyone who has helped make the garden what it is in the last two years.  It has been a lot of hard work and dirty fingernails, but what a fabulous result.

    Here's a (probably incomplete) list of all the people who have helped us this year - thank you all:

    Adam, Alison, Andrea, Andrew, Anna, Annelle, Arum, Ashley, Audrey, Barbara, Bill, Boj, Brandon, Bruce, Bruno, Carolyn, Carrie, Center Hardware, Channing, David, Deborah, Dino, Donna, Dorothy, Doug, Elliot, Emily, Flora Grubb Gardens, Gary, Gina, Hilla Hueber, Jamba Juice, James, Jamie, Janet, Jason, Jean, Jess, Jim, Joan, John, Josh, Juana, Julia, Katie, Kay, Kendrick, Kepa, Leah, Leanne, Matt, Max, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Miyuki, Nataly, Nate, Nick, Phil, Rebecca, Rick, Rickshaw, Robert, Ron, Ryan, Sabrina, Sage, Sandra, Shanti, Sharon, Sheila, Shen, Steve, Tanya, Tony, Topher, Whole Foods and lots of others.

    Come celebrate on January 4th at the garden with a birthday potluck! We have a volunteer day at 10am, and at noon we'll eat cake made by Emily and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Hope you can come by!

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Rain held off

    Red bed weeding results
    On Saturday the rain started early, and I thought nobody would come to volunteer day. I was surprised and delighted to get to the garden and find Emily and Nate already there!

    We started out by redoing the twig border at the top of the steps, and weeding the bed behind it thoroughly to prepare for new plantings. Nate showed me a knot that can be used to hold the twigs in place better than the square knots I've been using - it only took me 17 tries to remember how to tie it!

    Now that the bed is prepared, we need one or two nice sized, evergreen shrubs to anchor that spot. It has to tolerate very dry conditions on that slope, and part shade. Bonus points for scented flowers! Since that area is next to the Yucca collection, I am leaning towards either a low Yucca, or some Aloes that need part shade, though something bushy to screen the view and sound of the freeway would be a good idea too.

    We weeded the red bed for quite some time... I don't know the name of the very successful weed that grows there, but it runs on long roots just under the surface and sprouts clumps very quickly. We removed several tubs full of it, and we'll be working on that bed and it's weeds quite extensively over the winter.

    Nate deadheaded Cannas in the red bed and also removed some diseased one entirely from behind the Wrong Way sign. Emily planted two Rudbeckias in the red bed.

    Matt's border work
    Matt also worked on the area behind the Wrong Way sign. He removed some broken concrete and planted some Calandrinias there. We have started enough cuttings of that plant to entirely edge that border in tough, succulent greenness, and we're looking forward to the bright prink flowers next summer.

    You can see the part he did a few months ago in the foreground of the picture here, and the newly completed part behind that.

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Volunteer day tomorrow!

    Hey you! Come on out to the volunteer day tomorrow at 10am. We'll have Jamba Juice cards for everyone (donates 10% to PSG instantly!) and some fun tasks to take care of, such as... weeding! Twig border maintenance! Deadheading a mighty forest of Cannas! Prying concrete off the edges of the back border and planting Calandrinias there!

    Every volunteer gets a free Agave americana pup too.  Whether they want one or not!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Good news

    From Donna: "The street light are fixed - they are on now - yeah!!!!"


    Street lights update

    After receiving calls from Jim, Annelle, Donna and me, seems like Caltrans have passed the buck to PG&E, stating that power was not getting to the light poles. Donna logged a ticket with PG&E and says:

    "I also provided PGE the actual numbers on the poles so hopefully they will fix it soon. They indicated that they will come out and look at it within 2 business days. If they can't fix it that day, then they have up to 7-14days to get it fixed.

    I will follow up with them again next week. In the meantime, I think Caltrans are now getting bombarded by calls.

    Someone put up a flyer on one of the poles encouraging people to call Caltrans, I have since taken that sign down.

    Can you post something on the blog just letting folks know that I will take responsibility for following up with PGE and folks can stop making service calls to Cal Trans?"

    Well, I think that covers it! Thanks Donna, Jim and Annelle :)

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Fix those lights!

    People have been asking me what's up with the street lights that are not working at the garden. Here's a message Jim posted last week about who to call - the more who do, the faster this problem wil be fixed, no doubt!

    "Some of you may have wondered about the street lamps next to the garden that have been inoperative for the past 2 weeks or so. I called CalTrans today to follow up on my earlier call to 311 in SF. I was assured that the maintenence people would get right on it. There have been two car break-ins in the last 2 weeks on the block (including my Rover which had a window broken out and radio stolen). Be careful! In case you want to contact CalTrans about this problem, it is MSR ticket 509347; CalTrans # 5102864444."

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Spring Bulb Prep and other News

    People who visit the garden are awfully nice. Today Jamie and her two dogs stopped by, and later Dino and his two dogs came by. They gave me moral support (We love the garden, it's beautiful!) and I gave them the 10% donation cards for Jamba Juice (email me if you want to pick up your own card). I'm so glad everyone enjoys the garden, it makes being out in the cold and wet to take care of the garden even more rewarding. Pics are of the new red bed extension, and one of the rose bushes - yep that's a flower bud!

    So what was done today. A quick run down:
    1) Extended out the red bed around the sprinkler a bit, need more sticks. Put in a grouping of deep pink and purple Ranunculus with blue, purple and deep red Anemone. Also put the purple coneflower (Echinacea) in same area
    2) Planted Daffodils (variety "Erlicheer") around the lambs ear (Stachys byzantina) under the Prunus.
    3) Planted the Allium neapolitanum around the Cosmos under the Prunus
    4) Moved the leggy red Ranunclus to the sunny side of the red bed, and added more red Ranunclus bulbs to fill in around the existing ones in that bed.

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Quiet weekend

    Yucca flower
    Due to Thanksgiving and wet weather, we didn't do much gardening at the weekend. We did buy some much-needed tools at Center Hardware for the garden though:

    1 digging bar (our old one was stolen)
    1 folding handsaw (for midweight pruning)
    1 broom (no more broken, ratty, handle-less brooms!)
    1 machete

    I went right out to the garden and used the folding handsaw to saw off 5 arms from the big Agave americana variegata which were old. Worked a treat! Then I went down the street to the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) area and tried to machete down some fennel plants. I was very excited to do that - the fennel has been bugging me, and I've always wanted a machete! Well, it was a disappointment: the machete was quite dull.

    Salvia gesneriflora "Tequila"
    I went home and looked up how to sharpen machete blades. Apparently, if you buy machetes that cost less than $50 they are always dull. This one was $15.99 so you can imagine the level of bluntness. If you are a skinny Crocs-wearing Brit living in Panama, this is your best option to sharpen things up. If you are me though, you'll probably get out your sharpening tool and try to have a go. Not much happened - the angle of the blade edges was ground too low and I'd have worn out my tool and my arm trying to hone it down. Apparently I need an electric angle-grinder.

    I looked online again and found a sharpening service that'll grind it to the right angle much faster, so that's a trip I'll need to take soon. I'll be spending $15 to get the blade sharpened on a $15 tool - gah! Perhaps I can get our horse farrier to get the angle ground for us when he comes on Friday...

    Moral of the story: buy quality tools. And don't leave them in the garden, or they'll get stolen!

    Pics show some recent flowers in the garden - our first ever Yucca flowers and the giant Salvia gesneriflora in the dog area.

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Do you like Jamba Juice?

    If you're a health-conscious type who likes to start the day with some fruity goodness, you are probably a fan of the smoothie purveyor Jamba Juice. They were founded in San Luis Obispo, have their HQ in Emeryville, and they don't use high fructose corn syrup or any other nasty gack in their smoothies.

    Why am I rambling on about them, you ask yourself? Well, they have a program called Community Appreciation Fundraising that we have partooken of recently, and it's an easy way for us to raise money for the garden. Here's how it works:

    1. If you like Jamba Juice, we will give you a little keyring card with a barcode on it. We have 250 of them to give away!
    2. Every time you head out to Jamba Juice you get them to swipe your card and 10% of your purchase goes to Pennsylvania Garden!

    Wow - that's easy. Use the card and Jamba Juice makes an automatic donation - costs you nothing!

    What's the catch? Um, there isn't one! Just get a card from Annie or Emily at a volunteer day, or send an email to Annie or Emily and we'll get a card to you ASAP. Thank you for supporting the garden!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    The Jewel of Potrero Hill, allegedly!

    A while back, our friend Adam, latterly of NENtv, made a short film about Pennsylvania Garden. Today I was emailed by Michael from NEN who let me know the video was live and ready for viewing. Well, let me tell you it warmed the cockles of my heart to watch this video on a cold, wintry day. Hope you enjoy it: click here to see the video.

    You'll see many hardworking PG volunteers talking about their contributions to the garden on the video. What you can't see is me, just off camera, staring at them with mean eyes in case they said something bad. Kidding! ;) Matt, Emily, Gary, Sage and Ron are among the stars of the show. Thank you all!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    only the best for P. Garden!

    A kills weeds
    with a smile!
    In our pursuit of excellence, we imported a special guest volunteer today all the way from the UK! Actually, A is on vacation here and agreed to take several ours out of his day to weed at PG, which I found astonishing. I quickly handed him a trowel and gloves and got him to work though, and in 3+ hours he demolished many loads of weeds from the red bed. Thank you A!

    In the meantime, Matt swept the steps and cut out the hillside at the bottom of them in preparation for the small wooden support planned for that spot to keep the callas in place.

    Yesterday Matt, Emily and I went to the San Francisco Botanical Garden's sale, and bought a couple plants. Emily took the Dendromecon rigida (Bush Poppy) we got there down to the Mariposa Center Garden and planted it, replacing the one that sadly failed to thrive down there recently.

    Tree Dahlia in full
    force and effect!
    I planted some yellow Chasmanthe floribunda bulbs in the left bed,  trimmed dead leaves of the Washingtonia palm (it's alive!), weeded a lot, organized the pots and gave some plants to a couple who dropped by the garden on Emily's advice: I hope to bribe them to come back and help us in the garden one day!

    We also had an impromptu visit from Topher and her crew who came to see what I was up to, and Jess an her relations, ditto. I gave mini-tours and answered questions.

    All in a a lot accomplished in 5 hours! This is just to add to the time Josh spent in the garden yesterday, weeding away. A good weekend all round I think.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Plant profile: Asclepias tuberosa

    It's been a while since we did a plant profile as we've been so busy with other things in the garden. But today one plant struck me - it's been flowering for ages now. This hard worker deserves the spotlight!

    So, what's deer resistant, butterfly attractant and thrives in sun in average or dry soil? Butterfly Weed!

    Latin name: Asclepias tuberosa ("as-KLEP-ee-as too-ber-OH-sah") - we have "Silky Gold" and "Hello Yellow"

    Common name: Yellow Butterfly Weed, Yellow Milkweed, Pleurisy Root
    Originally from: New Hampshire to South Dakota south to Arizona, Mexico and Florida.
    Blooms: The cultivars we have are bright yellow, but the wild form is more orange usually.
    Light: Full sun
    Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water!
    Where to find in P. Garden: We have a nice clump in the left bed.

    Milkweeds are the host plant for monarch butterflies. The entire lifecycle of these butterflies, from caterpillars to adults, revolves around this plant. I think I might have seen one monarch butterfly in our garden, but you never know - perhaps we will attract thrings next year? We have loads of other butterfly species though.

    Because its tough root was chewed by the Native Americans as a cure for pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments, Butterfly Weed given its other common name, Pleurisy Root.

    One of the finest native American perennials, it grows about 2' tall, and suffers from various insect infestations (aphids mostly) though a spritz of soap spray usually does the trick. They can be propagated by division, cuttings start well in water, or by seeds. I hope we can grow a lot more.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    So much accomplished today!

    Our volunteer day went on a bit longer than expected, but Emily, Matt and I were joined by Nate and Tanya - we always get lots done when they are around.

    We started with weeding the Mariposa Center Garden. Emily took Nate and Tanya down there and they stripped out every weed there. Later on Emily planted an Eriogonum and an Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Alba', as well as several sweet peas which will enjoy climbing up the fence there all winter, and some clumps of Chasmanthe too.

    In the meantime, Matt and I cleared plants off the back slope in preparation for terracing that area to make it accessible. Lots of Agave americanas removed (we really have too many...) as well as columnar cactus and Crassula ovata.

    You can see the before pic above (after to come) - we'll eventually have two terraces and three gravel paths in that area, so people can walk back there and see what we plant.

    Finally, after an Arum-supplied drinks-and-cakes break, Nate, Tanya and I redid the small brick path. I thought this would be a short job but it ended up taking a couple hours... first Nate and Tanya removed all the bricks. Then we leveled the area carefully, removing lots of stones and dirt. Then we started replacing the bricks.

    After realizing we couldn't mine sand from the back area due to our regular sand pit being filled in last week, Matt went down and bought three bags of sand from Center Hardware. we spread that out and relaid the bricks. It really looks good! Thanks for sticking out that project to the end, guys.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Community Meeting: Please attend!

    We are holding a progress report and meeting on Tuesday November 9th from 6-8pm at Fregosi Paints, 150 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    If you live in the neighborhood, please attend this meeting where you can:
    • Learn what grants we received and how we plan to spend them
    • Find out what tree species Friends of the Urban Forest recommends for our spot
    • Meet the team who has been working so hard to make this project happen for almost a year!
    • Find out how you can join in - our tree planting day is coming up soon! We need your help!
    Fregosi Paints are generously providing water and sodas for the meeting, and Brickley Production Services is providing chairs.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    French drain done!

    Our gravel was delivered yesterday by San Francisco Gravel! So today Matt had a day off and bless him, he went to the garden to work on the French drain.

    First he dug the ditch out a bit more, then he lined the ditch in hardware cloth (it's not really cloth, it's metal mesh) to prevent dirt getting into the gravel and ruining the draining effect.

    After that he started shoveling the 2600# of 3/4" crush gravel into the wheelbarrow, and dumping it in the ditch, load by load. This took several hours. And it was hot today, in case you didn't notice when you were out voting.

    I was going to ask him to move the dirt dug out of the ditch up to the red bed, but he sounded so utterly exhausted on the phone after he was done shifting the gravel that I didn't have the heart! Turns out he dumped it in the sand mining hole we have down in the back. Oh well ;)

    Go check out the new drain! I hope it works to make that area less soggy...

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    French drain needed

    Gary & Annelle's scarecrow
    guards the ditch
    We have spent a lot of time digging around trying to find the source of the wet spot in front of the middle back bed. At first we thought it was a broken pipe. Finally last weekend Emily, Matt and I dug all the wet out, and we think it's juts a plce were water collects under the wood chips, and is held there by a big rock.

    A gravel delivery is due shortly from San Francisco Gravel. We'll fill the ditch with gravel and it'll make a French drain that diverts all the sogginess into the front bed, where it's needed.

    Dudleya pulverulenta
    Other tasks done included planting some of the plants left over from the UCSF demonstration garden that Emily and Arum did. Among them were two California succulents - Dudleya farinosa and a Dudleya pulverulenta which is absolutely stunning.

    Lastly, I went out and put stakes and caution tape down the opposite side of the steps to the handrail. That slope is very delicate - it's steep, and rain and dog paws easily uncover all the bulbs planted there, which are just starting to come up. Someone also crushed a large amount of the Sisyrinchium californica (Yellow-Eyed Grass) that was at the top of the steps, and I replaced some of it this weekend.

    Don't stray off the path!
    I also replaced some of the creeping thymes (Thymus praecox "Pink Chintz," Thymus minor and Thymus "Latavin Lucy") that got disturbed during the handrail project. Hopefully, with the handrail on one side and the caution tape on the other, all the plants on both sides will get a break and have a chance to establish themselves by spring.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Another NEN blog goes live

    I've once again had the pleasure of contributing to the Neighborhood Empowerment Network site. This time, the blog post subject was how to plan a garden like ours. Hee haw - plan!? Who told them this was planned?

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Community Event a Success

    I may have gotten Pennsylvania Street Gardens into a mess (UCSF's Community Celebration event) but Arum definitely got me out of that mess - she seemingly effortless kept her cool running the booth talking to the community, and making everything look great (see photos of the event). Meanwhile, I ran around like a crazy person helping kids and Jennifer Newsom participate in planting an edible garden. The day could not have happened without you Arum! Many thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out our poster and pickup a little UCSF sponsored giveaway of an ecopot basil, parsley or chives.

    UCSF also made a generous donation to fund out booth, which included 2 edible gardens and 1 native plant garden. The new fun native plants that will now call P-garden home are:

    eatonni (3) - 4 inc
    Salvias (1) - tiny 6-pack
    Erioginum (1) - 1 gal
    Epilobium cana (1) - 1 gal of our native Fuschia!
    Dudleya pulverulenta (1) -5 gallon of awesomeness
    Dudleya farinosa (1) - 1 gal
    Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. coactilis variety white (1) 10 gallon
    Agave desertii (2), 4 inch
    Agave shawii (2), 4 inch

    The event was truly a mega-event hosted by UCSF to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Benioff Children's, Women's and Cancer hospital. There was flamenco dancing, a ton of free food, and even the gorgeous farmer's market (well a very upscale one anyway!) style decorations that were also for the taking. I saw a lot of very happy people walking out with armloads of produce!

    Arum and I met a lot of great people at the event, and I hope to see them all at the garden in the near future. Specifically the workday on Novemeber 6th from 10-12 at Pennsylvania Garden on Pennsylvania in between 18th and Mariposa. But I bet you all already know to be there ; )


    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Come visit us at UCSF!

    Hey everyone,

    Pennsylvania Street Gardens (aka P-garden etc) has been invited by UCSF to participate in the Community Celebration at UCSF Mission Bay from 1-6pm (more info here)! I know you will all be watching the World Series just a few blocks away, but before the game come stretch your legs at the event. There will be food, music, and of course gardening activities. I have designed a native plant garden for oohing and awwing (see photo; awesome Dudleya pulverulenta) and their will be an edible garden too! Hope to see you at the Pennsylvania Street Garden booth+ gardens.


    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Local metalworker makes PG safer

    This just in: if you visit the garden today you'll see new evidence of the craftsmanship of Potrero Hill metalworker Ron Lester (Iron Maverick). He has just installed our brand new handrail, and it runs from the top of the steps all the way down the length of the storm drain, and in classic Ron style has a wavy, organic feel that fits the garden perfectly.

    We have always loved his work; he donated the arch at the front of the garden to us, and we liked it so much that we asked him to create the info board holder that we funded with our May 2010 plant sale. After consulting with dog owners, the decision was made to build a fence around the dog area and we've hired Ron to do the job.

    We folded the handrail into that brief, and it'll help in our planned improvements to the lower path: stopping folks from being tempted to jump into the ditch, and with baseboards added, stopping wood chips from smothering the Aloe nobilis hedge there. We'll trim back the plants along that path and make a little retaining wall opposite the handrail to keep the Callas in place, widening the path at the base of the steps.

    Watch out for the dog area fence soon - the entire garden will soon bear the stamp of Ron's metal artistry! We're very happy to support a local business too, and keep all the money donated by locals on the Hill.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Tree Dahlia gets ready to rock

    Dahlia imperialis
    Our Tree Dahlia (Dahlia imperialis) is about to start flowering. Get out there and see it now - the 10' tall flower spikes are usually blown over by November winds and we only get to enjoy it for a short time!

    Today I deadheaded and trimmed a lot of plants in the garden. I also chatted with Ron yesterday about the handrail he'll be installing at the steps tomorrow. Can't wait to see what that will look like!

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    Raffle winner - please check in!

    mjg1966 at won the raffle at the plant sale - please email me to claim your prize! annie at (or check your email - I sent a couple messages to you)

    thanks! :)

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Get your PSG tees here, folks!

    Some of you may have noticed PSG volunteers wearing some pretty stylish tees at the plant sale last weekend. Well you can have one too! We used to create a whole line of PSG logo tees and sweatshirts, among other things. And $5 from every sale goes to PSG. Click here to buy 'em.

    We also have other fun gardening tees for sale - to see the whole line, click here.

    Xmas coffee mugs and personalized Christmas ornaments can be found at CafePress if you’re looking for unique Christmas gift ideas!

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Deluge of good news!

    This just in: stacks of cash
    What an utterly bonkers week. To add to the excitement of getting a gong from San Francisco Beautiful and receiving $85,000 last week from two granting bodies, we enjoyed a hugely successful plant sale on Saturday and then on Sunday I was interviewed by the Examiner about our plans for the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) just down the street.

    Today I got a call from KPIX (Channel 5) that they wanted to do a TV interview right-now-this-minute at the site of the  Pennsylvania Railroad Garden (watch the video and decide for yourself if we should get Emily in front of the camera next time - I vote yes!) This was followed closely by a request from the Potrero View for comment on how on earth we plan to spend our outrageous bounty. And to cap it all off I've just received notification that we received an Innovator Award from SFPT for $1500.

    (I really think I have to take Alison's advice and play the lottery this week - it seems Lady Luck has my number on speed dial.)

    OK, well I'm going to live in Hawaii now and employ a professional back-patter for full time fawning. I invite all the other fantastic PSG volunteers to follow my example! Do we think SFPT will notice if we invoice them for Mai Tais? Nah!

    Watch KPIX tonight, 6pm

    Emily and I just met with a photojournalist from KPIX-TV (Channel 5) and if you tune in tonight at 6pm, you’ll see the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) on TV!

    All this press is the result of the Community Challenge grant awardees being announced today. The excitement is mounting – we should be able to start work soon. Go team!

    Examiner article

    Replacing blight with beauty
    By: Erin Sherbert
    Examiner Staff Writer
    October 18, 2010

    The short stretch of 17th Street at the edge of Potrero Hill has long been known for its homeless encampments, illegal dumping, hypodermic needles and petty crimes.

    The street is one of many right of ways in San Francisco that is not formally “accepted” by The City, meaning officials have no obligation to take care of it with street cleaning, sidewalk repairs and everyday maintenance.

    Yet, one neighbor is working to clean up the street — one grant at a time.

    Annie Shaw, who lives on 17th Street, initiated the Seventeenth and Pennsylvania Urban Renewal project, a plan to give her street a complete makeover.

    She is using $45,000 from the Community Challenge Grant program, which provides matching grants to local residents, businesses, nonprofits and other community groups to make neighborhood improvements such as litter abatement, landscaping and adding public artwork.

    “Nobody looks after it, so it’s a disaster,” Shaw said of her street. “Nobody had any intent to take care of it.”

    Shaw is one of 28 community members who are receiving a piece of a $577,000 grant to embark improvements, which include rain gardens at San Francisco State University and community art at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.

    Companies give 1 percent of their business taxes annually to the grant fund.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce the recipients today.

    “Clean and green neighborhoods are essential to the quality of life of all San Franciscans, and these innovative community projects help to beautify our neighborhoods and get communities working together,” Newsom said.

    Shaw’s project started more than a year ago with a small garden she planted at the off ramp at Mariposa Street. She caught the attention of Caltrans, which owns the land, along with her neighbors, who appreciated the small touch of beauty in the neighborhood.

    With the grant money, Shaw plans to start work on building new sidewalks this spring with the help of some professionals. She will plant trees and “spiky” plants that will both be beautiful and create an uncomfortable spot for transients to sleep, Shaw said.

    Once the street is brought up to code with Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks and acceptable pavement conditions, The City will officially take over maintenance, said Christine Falvey, spokeswoman for the Public Works Department.

    In the past six months, The City has accepted more than 200 streets that were not officially maintained by San Francisco.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Sale and festival - fun times!

    Yesterday's benefit plant sale and raffle were a great success for us: we raised $2241 to put towards to fencing of the dog area: that's twice as much as we made in May at the last sale!

    At 8am we met Gary who'd donated the use of his tents, tables and chairs to us from Brickley Production Services.

    Matt & Melissa
    Melissa worked the cash box and sold raffle tickets, while Emily and I sold plants and advised customers on what would work for their garden or patio. Nataly arranged the plants beautifully and kept things restocked, as well as selling her own succulents (among other things) which looked lovely! Leah priced and trimmed, and Matt delivered what he described as "a billion" wheelbarrow loads of plants to people's cars, or even their houses if they lived locally. He even dug up a variegated Agave americana right out of the garden for one lady who just had to have it. It's OK - we have lots of others, and it was a tad crowded in that spot ;)

    Leanne, Arum, Nataly and Phil worked the booth at the Potrero Hill Festival all day (after helping set up at the sale!) and their setup looked very professional indeed. They raked in the raffle ticket money, and gave away lots of dog treats too! How could Nataly have been at both events, you may ask? I think she must possess super powers ;)

    Emily, me, Leanne,
    Arum and Nataly
    At the end of the day, Emily and I went up to enjoy the festival for a few minutes. There was dancing, there was eating, there was a petting zoo (um, it was total Cute City there - I almost rustled a little goat, they were so adorable!) and clearly a good time was had by all.

    When we to back to the sale, Nate, Tanya and Michelle had come to help us tear down - thank goodness for them, because I for one was shattered! We had a few leftover plants that I'll probably put on craigslist next week, when I've had a chance to inventory them. And I need to announce the computer-selected winners of the raffle! Never a dull moment around here ;)

    Pics to come soon - check out Emily's ones here!

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Welcome to Pennsylvania Garden!

    We hope that everyone had a blast at the plant sale & Potrero Hill Festival. Our fund raising efforts were wildly successful, many thanks to everyone who participated. We have such a great neighborhood!

    For new visitors:
    Pennsylvania Street Gardens is a non-profit group dedicated to greening Potrero Hill and the surrounding neighborhood. It was founded by Annie Shaw in December 2008 with the creation of Pennsylvania Garden at 18th and Pennsylvania.

    We maintain Pennsylvania Garden, and are working hard to keep it looking beautiful, and plan on hosting many fun community events (think movie night, dog show, and photography contest!). We love working with members of the community (artists; engineers; dog walkers!) so green thumb or not, you can be a part of the garden too.

    If you'd like to volunteer or get on our email list, please
    send an email to: info at

    If you'd like to donate please follow this link: click here

    If you have materials (plants, equipment, services, other?) to donate please send Annie an email at: annie at

    If you want a Pennsylvania Street Garden T-shirt: click here

    Hope to see you all at the garden again soon!


    Friday, October 15, 2010

    The plant sale is TOMORROW!

    The plant sale is TOMORROW from 10am-4pm! Everybody - tell your friends to please come on down and buy these 600 plants and massive pumpkins and buy a raffle ticket for the $350 in prizes we just have to get rid of!

    Raffle items include:
    • Salvia mexicana in a beautiful pot from Flora Grubb gardens!
    • 2 framed and matted photos of flowers by artist Hilla Hueber!
    • Embroidered PSG bag from Rickshaw (see pic; oooohh ahhhh)!
    • 2 SpeeDee oil change coupons for the motorized vehicle in your life!

    Tickets will be $1 each, 6 for $5, 15 for $10

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Funding at last!

    I’m very proud to announce that we have just received $85,000 in funding for the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) which aims to change the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue into a nice place to live.

    This is the combined total from the CCG and PUC grants. We asked for $145k, but their fund is limited – we will apply again next Spring for the rest.

    This allows us to divide the project into two (frankly more manageable) chunks:
    Phase 1 from 2010-2011: retaining wall and trees (using the funds we were just awarded)
    Phase 2 from 2011-2012: plantings, seating, sidewalks, fence etc (future grants)

    We will plan community meetings to discuss our plans and look for volunteers to help manage the project shortly. If YOU want to be involved, we need your help!

    In the meantime, thanks are due to all of you who contributed to the grant writing, fact-finding, number-crunching effort it took to get these grants written up accurately and submitted in a timely manner, and all those who worked hard to clean the street and liaise with DPW, SFPT and Caltrans to get them on our side.

    Congratulations! Let the work begin! :)


    Gong: bestowed

    Last night I was invited to receive a San Francisco Beautiful award for Pennsylvania Garden. We were one of four winners this year at the prestigious event, and it was quite the gala function. Tickets were not, ahem, cheap, but then again this is a fundraiser for the foundation that saved San Francisco’s cable cars from being thrown away. Yes – that’s right! Were it not for SFB tourists visiting our fair city would have nothing to do but throw crab sammies at the seals and wonder why it’s sooooo cooooold…
    I digress! The event last night was at the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel, a splendid Art Deco affair atop Nob Hill. And it was not cold – the roasty weather meant I was able to step out in a strappy dress and heels with no jacket! I made poor Matt wear a suit and tie, as did Ryan. Emily rocked a hot frock too. It was quite the scene!
    There was also a hat contest going on. I was determined to make a hat for the “flora” division that showed off water-wise plants, so I popped into Flora Grubb Gardens and picked up a Tillandsia xerographica and wired it in all its curly, pale celadon-and-rose glory to a headband. Next I added a pearly pink rosette of Graptopetalum paraguayensis “Pinky” and a more spiky, vertical bromeliad of unknown name with a pink flower. To complete the look, I wired on several leaves from our variegated Cortaderia selloana “Silver Comet” which made a long, twirly feather effect.
    I didn’t win the hat contest. Suspect favoritism, hehe, but cannot complain – I did receive mad props from one of the many tiara-wearing beauty queens (?!) in attendance, Miss Chinese American Chamber of Commerce (according to her sash.) So there. ;)
    We ate a lovely meal and were presented with our award and yeah, it felt great to get so many pats on the back after all the stabbing pains in the that back gardening can cause ;)
    Afterwards we weren’t ready for bed, and it turned out Emily had never experienced The Tonga Room, so we tottered over the road and enjoyed the tropical rainfall and Singapore Slings. I mean, where else can you go in SF when you’re overdressed on a Wednesday night? 

    Congratulations to all the volunteers for this award!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Potrero Hill Festival

    The 20th Annual Potrero Hill Festival will be held on October 16th on 20th Street between Wisconsin and Missouri Streets. Yes that's right - the same day as our plant sale!

    Potrero Hill, the iconic neighborhood is hosting the 20th annual festival with of a “New Orleans” Style Brunch created by the California Culinary Academy and an exciting street fair at our great location on 20th Street. We’ll have music, food, crafts and activities for the young and old alike.

    The Potrero Hill Festival will support the programs of the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House (NABE). The NABE is an invaluable community resource that provides important programs for the community, including youth and senior nutrition, employment and supplemental education programs and programs for developmentally disabled adults.

    We support this cause - and we'll be hosting a booth at the Festival so drop on my and say hello, and buy a raffle ticket for one of our splendid prizes before you wander down to the plant sale at Pennsylvania Garden! It'll be a great day out for everyone and the weather won't be as blisteringly hot by the weekend ;)

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Sale plants looking GOOD!

    Salvia elegans, Plectranthus
    argenteus and an Echeveria
    ready to sell.
    I was perusing the plants we have for the sale and wow: they are looking really nice! We have over 550 plants for this sale - loads more than last sale, and they are beautiful quality. We have quite a few from Whole Foods, some from Sloat Garden Center, and a geat many have been grown on for us by Matt's dad in Mendocino who has a nursery business there.

    I'd say the standouts are some beautiful 1 gallon white gingers - they will smell heavenly when they flower: awesome patio plants. Then I have a matched set of three powder blue Agave americanas in 10 gallon pots that will make someone a very imposing set - their leaves are in perfect condition and form - so architectural.

    There's a massive specimen Agave filifera that you won't find just anywhere, some Peruvian Lilies just covered in flowers, and the unusual and exotic Euphorbia lambii - one gallon size and they'll quickly grow to a magical 10' tall tree-let with a very Dr Seuss look.

    We've got loads of sweet peas just getting ready to cover your arbor in scented flowers, pots of delicious-smelling Pineapple Sage that are just about to bloom flame red, and millions of succulents for that vertical garden you've been dying to build. We even have Anthurums and variegated spider plants for indoors (why don't more people do border edges with these? In a shaded spot they brighten things up and make a great outdoor plant here in the Bay area - grab some Clivias too and make a rocking shade garden!)

    Here's a list of the species we'll be selling, in various sizes (2', 4", 6", 1 gallon, 2 gallon, 5 gallon and 10 gallon) with more to come daily:

    Aeonium arboreum “Atropurpureum”
    Aeonium sp.
    Aeonium haworthii
    Aeonium "Kiwi"
    Aeonium "Sunburst"
    Aeonium - variegated
    Aeonium "Zwartkop"
    Agave americana
    Agave americana variegata
    Agave attenuata
    Agave fillifera
    Agave parryi
    Agave lophantha
    Agave scabra
    Aloe arborescens
    Aloe brevifolia
    Aloe maculata
    Aloe nobilis
    Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily)
    Anemone sp. (pink)
    Aster “Bill’s Big Blue”
    Atriplex lentiformis ssp. breweri
    Calandrinia grandiflora (Rock Purslane)
    Canna indica – red
    Canna - variegated
    Carex flagellifera (Weeping Brown Sedge)
    Centranthus ruber (Jupiter's Beard)
    Chlorophytum (Spider Plant)
    Citrus x limon (Lemon)
    Clivia miniata (Fire Lily) - orange
    Conifers - unidentified, weeping
    Cordymine "Red Sensation"
    Coreopsis (yellow)
    Cotyledon orbiculata
    Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblongata
    Crassula erosula "Campfire"
    Crassula multicava
    Crassula ovata (Jade plant)
    Cuphea ignea (Mexican Cigar)
    Dianella tasmanica
    Echeveria sp.
    Echeveria "Blue Curls"
    Echeveria pulv-oliver
    Echium pininana
    Euphorbia sp
    Euphorbia lambii
    Euphorbia lathyris (Gopher Spurge)
    Freesia "Scarlet Red"
    Fuchsia sp (pink & purple flowers)
    Graptopetalum paraguayense "Pinky"
    Graptoveria "Fred Ives"
    Haemanthus albiflos
    Hedychium coronarium (White Ginger)
    Hydrangea sp (White Lace)
    Hydrangea sp
    Impatiens balfouri
    Iris douglasiana
    Iris douglasiana "Canyon Snow"
    Isomeris arborea (Bladder Pod)
    Jasminum blinii (Pink Jasmine)
    Juniperus chinensis ("Old Gold" juniper)
    Juniperus horizontalis "Blue Chip"
    Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi (Lavender Scallops)
    Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Paddle Plant)
    Kalanchoe tomentosa (Panda Plant)
    Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) 'America'
    Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) 'Berry Dare'
    Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) 'Mrs. Collier'
    Lavandula sp. (Lavender)
    Leonotis leonurus (Lion's Tail)
    Lysimachia nummularia (Creeping Jenny)
    Mentha suaveolens variegata (Pinapple Mint)
    Miscanthus sp. (Ornamentakl Grass)
    Myrsine africana (African Box)
    Nepeta "Walker's Low" (Catmint)
    Nicotiana alata "Lime Green"
    Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose)
    Opuntia sp.
    Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem)
    Passiflora sp (Passion Flower) - lavender/pink
    Pelargonium (Geranium)
    Phormium (New Zealand Flax)
    Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax)
    Plectranthus amboinicus (Cuban oregano)
    Plectranthus argenteus
    Rosa (Rose - pink)
    Rosmarinus (Rosemary)
    Salvia elegans (Pineapple sage)
    Salvia elegans (Pineapple sage)
    Salvia greggii "Moonlight"
    Salvia karwinskii (Karwinski's Sage)
    Salvia leucantha (Mexican Sage)
    Sedum sp.
    Senecio madraliscae (Blue Chalksticks)
    Sisyrinchium californica (Yellow-Eyed Grass)
    Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears)
    Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)
    Tulbaghia violacea (Society Garlic)
    Viola sp. (Violet)
    Washingtonia (Mexican Fan Palm)
    Zantedeschia (Calla Lily)

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Bike tour!
     I was out in the garden at 9 am labeling plants. In a little while, Emily came along and we labeled away while trying to prevent some small children from hurling themselves into agaves while their parents ignored them (!)

    Around noon, 40 bicyclists converged on the garden! This was not a surprise – it was part of the Garden City Workshop & Bicycle Tour put on by San Francisco Parks Trust (SFPT) and Garden for the Environment (GFE). In fact, Julia from SFPT was cycling along with them!

    Emily took pics while I did a very brief megaphone talk on how the garden got started. They asked questions, took brochures, and they were off to the next stop on their tour!

    Kunzea baxteri
    After this whirlwind of activity Emily and I finished up some labeling, noticed the first ever flowers on our Kunzea baxteri, and then drove to Flora Grubb Gardens to get a raffle prize. We were immediately struck by a 5 gallon Salvia “Limelight” in a tall, matching green ceramic pot that set off the violet-blue flowers amazingly well. Saw it. Wanted it. Had to have it. Got it. Yeah!

    Next we went to Flowercraft and got a load of plants for Emily’s upcoming UCSF demonstration garden. My patio is full to the brim with plants – will we sell them all? I hope so!

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    One week before the sale!

    Phil obliterates weeds
    Today we had an extra volunteer day to help with prep for our big plant sale on October 16th

    We had a great turnout! Leanne and Phil, Alison and Rick, Emily, Arum, Gina, Michelle and I worked from about 9-2pm, and in that time we weeded the entire dog area, sheared the lavenders and watered them well (thanks Rick and Alison!), deadheaded Cannas, Scabiosas etc, planted loads of Muscari bulbs and daffodils "Fragrant Rose" and "Replete" and labeled tons of plants for the sale. Whew! Great job guys!

    We also presented the winners of the dog contest with their prizes: a fabulous set of doggie poop bag holder and refills of biodegradable dog poop bags! I think they went down pretty well: Big thanks to Arum and for providing the prizes.

    Arum, Rick and Alison
    After that Emily was kind enough to drive me over the Sloat Garden Center on 3rd Avenue. This entire trip should have taken no more than an hour - we were just picking up donated plants to use as raffle prizes for the sale. However, due to Fleet Week it took... two and a half hours. Most of that spent inching across Golden Gate Park while steaming in frustration.
    This made Emily and I very late for our next appointments, and was totally aggravating. Gah! Lucky Emily and I always have lots to talk about ;) Sorry Ryan and Melissa. Don't hate me - hate the Blue Angels, people!

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    International Tulip (Or Daffodil!) Guerrilla Gardening Day.

    Saturday 9 October, is the first International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day. Just like International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day in May it's an excuse to go out and plant tulips (or daffs) in your neighbourhood and beyond, knowing that others are doing the same all over the place at the same time. This feels pretty good and will look good come spring 2011. I've heard that guerrillas in France, Italy, Canada, USA, Belgium, Austria, Germany will all be taking part... and for those for whom it's spring time well... why not make 9 October your sunflower day?

    Join the Facebook event for more info here.

    (If October 9 passes you by the tulips or daffs won't mind, you can still plant them well into early winter).
    I'm going out to plant a few dozen daffs and Muscari in Pennsylvania Garden on Saturday. Join me?

    LAST CALL! Calling all dog owners! Win a prize!

    UPDATE! We have some winners already.... just TWO more prizes left to grab folks! ENTER NOW!

    Great day for dog owners at P. Garden: we’re having a contest, and you can win some excellent prizes!

    We have 6 fantastic sets of dog poop bag dispensers and biodegradable bags up for grabs in this contest. All you have to do is answer this one simple question by emailing me: annie at

    Name ONE dog who visits the garden regularly and who has been mentioned in this blog!

    Yeah, pretty easy, but we want to give away these prizes so send your answers in right away! Spread the word on the contest and cleanup day (see rules) so we can get as many hands on deck as possible - we need to get things looking lovely for the plant sale on October 16th, where 100% of proceeds go towards improving the dog area.

    UPDATE! We have some winners already.... just TWO more prizes left to grab folks! ENTER NOW!
    Michelle and Gypsy
    Alison and Peeka
    Dorothy and Bella (I think?)
    Gina and Tank

    The Rules:
    The first 6 correct answers win a prize.
    Closing date for entires is whenever we get 6 correct answers!
    You must pick up your prize in person at the volunteer days on October 2nd or October 9th, when we will be cleaning up the dog area a little in preparation for the plant sale on October 16th.
    That sale is a benefit for the dog area’s new fence! If you can stay and pull a few weeds, great!
    No substitutions, no whining, no howling!
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