Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don't steal our flowers!

The flowers at P. Garden are for the neighborhood. For everyone. Nobody should be taking flowers from the garden, except volunteers who are deadheading, or doing other tasks that involve removing plants with flowers that are done flowering.

If you see someone at the garden picking flowers, please remind them that the flowers are for everyone, and they are stealing from us all if they take them home for their own personal enjoyment. Some plants won't flower again if their flowers are removed. Some could even die.

It's also worth noting that  there's a law in San Francisco against damaging or stealing plants or trees in public gardens.
No person shall remove or take away any tree, wood, bush, turf, shrub, flower, plant, grass, soil, rock, or anything of like kind from any park without permission of the Recreation and Park Department.
Any person convicted of a violation of Section 4.06 of this Code shall be punished by a mandatory fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 upon a first conviction, by a mandatory fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 upon a second conviction and by a mandatory fine of not less than $150 nor more than $500 upon a third or subsequent conviction.
The court shall, in addition, impose a civil penalty of an amount necessary to reimburse the Recreation and Park Department for the value of the tree, wood, bush, turf, shrub, flower, plant, grass, soil. compost, rock, water or other material removed as well as any labor expended to replant or otherwise restore the area affected. Any revenue collected as a civil penalty pursuant to this Section shall be credited to the Recreation and Park Department.

So please: don't hesitate to protect the garden and prevent flower theft. I'm not going to hesitate to call the police and have someone cited for stealing from our garden.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Save the date!

Another missive from Julia at SFPT - if you've ever wanted to become a San Francisco Street Park Steward, this is your big chance! Massive fame, constant adulation and wads of cold, hard cash-money await you!*
Please mark your calendars and save the date for the next Street Parks workshop, scheduled for Saturday, July 24th from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. The workshop will provide you with helpful tools for creating and maintaining environmentally responsible street parks, as well as giving you the opportunity to network with other creative and talented Street Parks Stewards like yourself!
Expect to receive more details about the workshop in the near future!!
Get hold of Julia if that sounds good to you:
Julia Brashares
Program Manager - Land Stewardship
San Francisco Parks Trust
Tel: (415) 750-5110
julia at

* Darnit, another blatant lie from me. Sorry - did you fall for it? You should know better by now!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hot, in fact

Yes, today was, in fact, hot. Which was nice consider the last week has been uncharacteristically chilly even for San Francisco. So out I went and did about 4 hours of work:

  • Watered front bed, steps area, bamboo/back fence area and left beds with the new sprinkler.
  • Trimmed the Cordylines that live in the wine barrels at the front, and watered them (needs to be done more often!)
  • Filled water jugs so that midweek Center Hardware strip garden watering will be easy.
  • Removed 4 wheelbarrows of corn marigolds and poppies from the front bed - they are done, and the rest need to be pulled out.
  • Chatted with David G, and Gary 
  • Cut back the Kangaroo Paw that is looking pretty dead....
  • Deadheaded roses, Kniphofias, Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)
  • Potted 12 Mexican feather grass babies up for the fall plant sale.
  • Removed all the floppy leaves from the cardoon - it's going into flower mode - and put them in the compost bin.
  • Noticed that the Cannas had been deadheaded too - must have been Miyuki
Whew - I am beat. And there is SO much more to do right now - I started making a list and it got so long I began to wonder if it was all possible! One thing that takes too much time is watering. I spend a lot of time moving the hose and adjusting the sprinkler, which I could be doing more important things.

This is the year we find out if once weekly watering is enough though. And some plants are not going to like it - mostly ones donated by neighbors with wetter gardens. This means I'm going to be digging up some plants and preparing them for the fall sale...

Photo shows the lupine planted yesterday. One thing that really helps plants at P. Garden get a good start in life is a well made basin around the base: the plant ends up at the bottom of a bowl with sides about 6" high, which helps funnel water into the root area. It's very important that our plant get set up like this, since the sun is so fierce, and slope so quick to drain.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

New hardware

After a somewhat poopy week, weather-wise, today was all sun and breezes.

I got to the garden around 1pm and noticed something new! Ron, the Iron Maverick, had been by and put up the new community signpost backing! I've ordered an enclosed corkboard to be attached to it, and there's also room for the brochures Matt designed when we get those printed. It matches the design of the arch so we have a look going. I'm super pleased with this! And it was all funded by the plant sale we had back in May.

I watered the left bed, and planted a Yellow Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus) in the place where we cleared out the Vinca recently. I think that should be a big improvement. I also watered the potted plants and noticed the sprinklers are doing a good job. They don't cover all areas though, sadly.

Leah dropped by with some Dietes for the Center Hardware strip garden, and later on I was joined by Miyuki and her husband Nick who came to help. They really helped, too! They weeded all the nasturtiums out of the front bed, lots of mint from the middle back bed, and even helped me water the strip! Many hands = light work, once again. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video of Community Clean Team event

Shannon sent us the link to this YouTube video of our big day - check out all the hard workers in action!


Rob and another neighbor for 1025 17th St yelled at a guy attempting to dump mattresses on the newly cleaned street last night. The guy took off, but someone else dumped some wood on the opposite side of the street.

Today I put up 3 "WARNING: DO NOT DUMP" signs. I have more (from DPW) but I need more zipties to fix them.

Product review: Ray Padula The Pulse™ Brass Pulsating Sprinkler on "H" Base

The garden has been extremely dry recently - the rains have stopped, and if you dig down, the dirt is dusty dry all the way to the rock underneath. H'm. We have our automatic sprinklers going on on Friday nights, but when we're in the garden we like to give some plants a little extra water. So we were excited to get a sprinkler recently. Specifically, a Ray Padula The Pulse™ Brass Pulsating Sprinkler on "H" Base.

This looks like a quality product - it got great reviews online, and it's mostly made of brass (except the base) so we know it's going to last forever. It has a hose attachment on both sides of the plastic base so you could connect other sprinklers together I guess. Two in a row would really get the job done fast!

I tried it out in the garden recently. After I figured out how to adjust the distance of spray and the diameter of the pattern, I was able to leave it alone while I did other gardening tasks and it covered a really large area. We have ridiculous water pressure at the garden, being on city water, and with the water turned all the way up it sprayed too far. This wouldn't be a problem on a large lawn though.

It worked best at the top of the steps, angled downwards (propped up with a brick) so it sprinkled all the way from the Brugmansia to the Pittosporum on the other side. It does seem like this style of sprinkler would be best on lawns or other flat areas, but the great thing about it is that it waters gently, so there's no runoff. Runoff has been a problem on the slopes at the sides of the steps - some of the bulbs there have been uncovered - so this prevents that happening until the yarrows and other plants there get established.

The downside of the size of the arc is that it takes a while for the water to penetrate our dusty-dry dirt. This is something to switch on and forget about while you do other tasks, for sure. I was able to weed and compost the bamboo area, and reorganize the plastic pots while it sprinkled. I do love to multi-task!

If you are looking for a pulsating sprinkler, I'd recommend this one - it seems well-made and I expect it will last a very long time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More ideas!

A great deal of ideas for the 17th and Penn area were talked the at the street cleanup on Saturday.  Mostly focusing on the HIGH cost of a retaining wall, but the real need for it as a means of flattening the slope at the North end of the street and making it inhospiotable to those who'd like to sleep, camp, start fires and do drugs there.

One idea that came from Stephen was putting boulders in the spot, inestad of a wall. This would accomplish our goals for a lot less cash. We'd also use rocks to create a barrier to cars parking on the street getting up onto our sidewalk. Here is a very quick and dirty sketch of both a side and front view (click for a larger version):

We could then plant the area with cacti and agaves to create a Southwestern feel - perfect for the very dry spot and in keeping with our nickname for the street when we moved in - the Wild West!

What do you think?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

6 hours in the sun

Today, Matt and I picked up Leanne at 9am and headed over to Leah's to pick up some Dietes she donated for the Mariposa Center Garden. We headed right back to the strip and started digging holes in the rocky dirt for the plants. This was Leanne's first time digging the dirt there and I felt bad - it really is rocky and hard!

Pretty soon we were joined by Arum and she brought drinks and snacks for us. Her ginger scones are like crack to me (I ate 5 in 2 sittings in the last week) so you can imagine my delight at seeing her.

We worked Leanne and Arum to the bone, and we got all the Dietes planted, and watered the entire strip. Good job, guys.  We also met Deputy Sheriff Mike McVay who is part of the Transit Police Bureau. He complimented us on the garden, and asked us to give him a call if we see naughty youths tagging in the area, and especially coming through the hole in the fence in the strip garden.

Then Leanne went home for a well-deserved rest, and Matt, Arum and I went up to sit on the Pennsylvania Garden bench to rest for a while too. Ron and Tank joined us for a relaxing chat.

We'd set up the sprinkler to water and after Arum left, Matt reorganized the tool shed area while I took cuttings to propagate for the next sale and trimmed and rearranged plants in the left bed a little.

Emily, Ryan, Bentley, and Emily's parents showed up just as we were leaving, and so did Gary. We felt bad rushing off, but it was about 3pm and we'd had no lunch. Yikes!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Street cleanup day a success!

We had an astonishing turnout at the 17th and Pennsylvania Urban Renewal (SPUR) project's first official clean up today! We enjoyed homemade cupcakes and scones (baked by Claudia and Arum), as well as coffee and sodas, and more sodas, water and baseball caps from Fregosi Paints, and afterwards a BBQ put on by DPW! Regent Cab let us use their parking lot, Brickley Production Services loaned us tables and chairs and Hilti their deck, and Fregosi their bathroom.

Who else was there? Too many to list! (And to remember... my feeble memory - someone help me!)

Emily, Elliot, Matt, Eddy and Maile, Gina and Ron, Ben, Jan, Stephen, Jo, Janet, Alison, Jeff, Shannon, Cat, Stacey, Tony, Steve, his dad and nephew, Melissa, Meka, Renee, Maya, Kuzauri, Anne, Eddy, Jan, Leslie, Will and Claudia, Monisha, Marie, Eric, Malia, Nathan, Alisou, Theo, Shannon, Rudy, Jeff, Oliver, Marie, Bruce, Rodney, James, Steven, and ALL the awesome folks from United Playaz!

And from DPW we saw Sandra, Mike, Ed, Larry, Mohammed and the team who made it all happen: thank you guys!

We also collected vital pledges from the volunteers. We need 25% in matching contributions from the community in order to get the Community Challenge Grant, and today we secured a great deal of our match from you all generous people.

All in all, an extremely successful day: thank you all SO much for all your hard work: you made a real difference. I am so excited about what's to come!


9am-11.30am - street cleaning at 100 Pennsylvania! Come on down!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Quick strip trip

Today at lunchtime I helped the ever efficient Emily with her Mariposa Center Garden project. And we did it in record time! We managed to drive to Bay View Green Waste Recycling, fill 5 big bags with mulch, drive to the strip and spread them out in just 45 minutes.

Half the strip is mulched (the bigger "half" actually) - we just need 4-5 more bags of mulch to complete the job. I double dog dare you to try and beat our time. Who's up for it?

Pics show the first of the flowers on the Lavatera assurgentiflora (Island Mallow) (top) and Emily spreading mulch on the strip (bottom).

More debris clearing pics

Emily and I stopped by to thank the DPW crew and took some more pics at lunchtime today. As you can see they took out that traffic barrier and a lot of weeds!

Debris clearing has begun!

No parking enforcement on Pennsylvania Ave began today, and DPW sent heavy machinery to the street. This morning they were ripping out the old traffic barrier, scaring up lots of very large rats, and tearing out weeds. I expect things will look very different later today, but here's a peek of the guys at work:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Announcing: SPUR!

We've come up with a new working name, and acronym, for this project! We needed one for grant applications so this is what we came up with:

Seventeenth and Pennsylvania Urban Renewal - S.P.U.R.

Not bad at all.

Update:  SPUR is now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden, to avoid confusion with

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I feel pretty - oh so pretty!

Actually, I suppose I should say "I feel beautiful" because I just learned that Pennsylvania Garden has been awarded a San Francisco Beautiful Beautification Award! Yes, that's right, we're going to the Golden Gnomes!*
Friedel Klussmann founded San Francisco Beautiful in 1947 with her successful campaign to save the city´s cable cars.  Today, the cable cars are an instantly recognizable San Francisco symbol.  Today, SFB is an incorporated non-profit organization with a paid staff and a volunteer Board of Directors.
Since the early 1970s, the Beautification Awards have recognized individuals, organizations, community groups, and businesses that improve the quality of life in San Francisco. Nominated project have improved the City’s physical environment and has enriched the life of the community.
The awards Dinner is set for October 13th, at the very swish Mark Hopkins Intercontinental Hotel. If you should choose to attend this event, you may well see me, in a frock, attempting to behave elegantly. That alone should be worth the price of a ticket! But no - there are better reasons to go:
Each year, San Francisco Beautiful brings together community leaders, activists, and philanthropists to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the award winners.  The dinner also serves as a fundraiser for San Francisco Beautiful, drawing sponsors from corporations, foundations, and private individuals.
I'm especially excited because the winners each receive a golden wheelbarrow with which to cart mulch around in style, filled with a year's worth of chiropractic appointment coupons, tweezers for removing cactus spines and handy packs of Advil. OK, that's not true. ;) But you do get the iconic SFB award - the "Golden Gnome" (above left)! OK, that's not true either. But it should be, right?

I'd like to thank Caltrans, DPW, SFPT and the people who nominated P. Garden for this award, as well as the fabulous volunteers who made the garden what it is. Not to mention the community support we've had - every cheerful visitor who ladles on the praise while we're toiling away in the hot sun really does make us feel like it's all worthwhile. It really does!

*I made that name up. It's not really called that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lunchtime trip

Today at lunchtime I zipped over to the garden and put the water on. I got the Center Hardware strip watered while the front bed was sprayed, then I directed the hose at the front of the middle back bed. I also hand watered the new Silene coronarias near the bench, as we as some recently transplanted plants in the left bed.

Not bad for one hour!

Photo shows the now-flowering Lilium - what cultivar? Maybe "Menorca"?

Free environmental conference for high school students this Saturday!

Julia Brashares emailed me today. She said:

"I think you should know about an amazing opportunity for junior high and high school students, the BREAKING GROUND Youth Conference, just in case you have kids this age or other members of your street parks group do.  The BREAKING GROUND Conference is presented by the SF Parks Trust, is completely free, and focuses on environmental themes.   Conference workshops are presented by young people (under 22 years old) so it’s a day of peer to peer education and inspiration, as well as music, arts, and fun!   See more details below.  
To attend, pre-registration is required by Thursday, June 17th at 10 am.   Pre-register in just seconds at You can be the first to know about our newest workshop updates by “liking” our facebook fan page! Just go to and hit “like!”

The San Francisco Parks Trust invites you to the 3rd annual Breaking Ground Urban Gardening Youth Conference! It is free, open to all Bay Area junior high and high school students!  Breaking Ground will take place on Saturday, June 19, 2010, from 9 am – 4 pm.
Why should YOU attend?
  • Workshops are led by youth, for youth, and feature hands-on, learn-to-do-it-yourself activities: learn to compost, care for an organic garden, or discover our Green Jobs panel offering tons of jobs and paid internship opportunities.
  • Enjoy excellent food and live entertainment!
  • You’ll have the option of touring some of San Francisco ’s coolest gardens, and a plant nursery with an unexpected twist
  • Connect with youth interested in the same issues as you are, and learn how to get involved in projects improving YOUR community!
Breaking Ground will be held in the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, just next to Strybing Arboretum (9th Ave @ Lincoln Way).  Check-in takes place from 9-10am, and the conference runs from 10-4pm. Taking public transportation? The 71, 16X, 44, 43, and 6 buses as well as the N Judah all stop within 2 blocks of your destination"
Despite the fact that I am (well!) over 22, I think this is pretty cool. If you have any questions about the conference, please call Julia Brashares at 415-750-5110

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Work Extravaganza

So much happened at the garden over the weekend, it is hard to be coherent about the whole thing! First, I want to thank everyone who stopped by to help. Shen and Felix watered and weeded, Miyuki weeded, and planted the Verbena donated the previous week by Shen along with some Echiums that are now the start of a beautiful new planting by the dog area (see photo). Kay donated Geranium maderense, Silene coronaria, and Parahebe perfoliata all exciting editions to the garden! Among the many many things Annie did for the garden over the weekend, the most visible is a giant Yucca that is now planted next to the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus). Which the cardoon by the way, is about to flower in full purple glory any time now!

The garden also had many visitors who made us volunteers feel extra special about the garden - everyone had lots of good things to say about our work! Eva and Gene stopped by with their parrot (if you're reading this send please send us an email so we can be in contact!), as did neighbors Will and Claudia. Many other folks stopped by with their dogs, all of which were cute temporary additions to the garden.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 19th Community Clean Up Day Posters

Hi Everyone,

Next Saturday June 19th is the big Community Clean Up Day on our Pennsylvania and 17th Street. To read more about it, go here:

Showplace Square (8th and 16th Streets)  is the meeting place for the general DPW-organized event. For people only interested in working on the 100 Pennsylvania block, we've agreed to meet at Pennsylvania x Mariposa.

Pennsylvania-specific volunteers will get coffee and pastries at the above location at 9am provided by P Garden, and afterwards DPW is doing lunch at Showplace square.

Tomorrow (Saturday 12th) we're going around the neighborhood plastering posters. If you have time between 2-3pm please join us.

We'll meet up at my place at 1020 Mariposa St. #2 and head off from here. Afterwards we'll meet back up at my place again for coffee, tea, and yummy baked bribes (I mean goodies)! If you have a staple gun and/tape gun please bring those.

If you can't make it this Saturday, but want a poster to place in your building or in your neighborhood, I'll be around this weekend if you want to pick some up.

You can also download these digital files and print them yourself:

If you have any issues downloading the files, please email directly at

Thank you everyone for all your support!

Arum Ahn

Volunteers Needed to Help Plaster Posters for Clean Up Day

Hi Everyone,

Next Saturday June 19th is the big Community Clean Up Day on our Pennsylvania and 17th Street. Tomorrow we're going around the neighborhood plastering posters. If you have time between 2-3pm please join us.

We'll meet up at my place at 1020 Mariposa St. #2 and head off from here. Afterwards we'll meet back up at my place again for coffee, tea, and yummy baked bribes (I mean goodies)! If you have a staple gun and/tape gun please bring those.

If you can't make it this Saturday, but want a poster to place in your building or in your neighborhood, I'll be around this weekend if you want to pick some up.

You can also download these digital files and print them yourself:

If you have any issues downloading the files, please email directly at

Thank you everyone for all your support!

Arum Ahn

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cleanup day! Volunteers NEEDED.

DPW has organized a cleanup day on June 19th and we need 20-30 people to come by and pick up the debris left when their machinery goes down Pennsylvania and scrapes up all the weeds and trash!

Come down to Mariposa x Penn at 9am, get free coffee and snacks, and spend an hour or two with us cleaning up your neighborhood!

Lunch (BBQ!) will be provided for volunteers AFTER the cleanup at 11:30am at Showplace Square, 8th and 16th Streets.

Let's show DPW what we can do!

Plant profile: Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblongata

Latin name: Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblongata ("cot-eye-LEE-don or-BIC-you-lah-tah var. ob-long-AH-ta") “Flavida” ("FLAV-id-ah")
Common name: Finger Aloe
Originally from: South Africa
Blooms: Tall flower spikes hold nodding peach-colored bells.
Light: Sun or light shade
Water: Rain is plenty
Drainage: Well drained soil or just some rocks will do...
Height x width: 36" x 48"
USDA Zones:  9-10
Where to find in P. Garden: There are clumps all along the cactus wall.

This plant was originally found in the wild in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. E. van Jaarsveld describes it in the new "Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Crassulaceae" as Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga “Grey Sticks”. It may also be identical to Cotyledon “Mr. (or Mrs.) Butterfield”, which is described as a garden hybrid.

In South Africa, the disease caused by eating these plants, called cotyledonosis, has poisoned sheep and goats but rarely other animals. Ranchers in South Africa found that the meat of animals killed by cotyledonosis also remains toxic to humans and dogs who eat it.

I can’t remember where we got our specimens, or what they were described as when we got them, but they are doing fantastically well and flowering right now with those wacky, frilly, girly peach flowers on the elegant stalks.

They’re exceptionally tough, drought-tolerant plants that maintain a great form and look good all year round. Thumbs up from me!

UPDATE: Totally drought proof - 5 years of zero worries succulent gorgeousness so far. Thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fencing at the Mariposa Center Garden - done!

This evening I met lovely, hardworking volunteers Emily, Ryan and Leanne at the Mariposa Center Garden to finish the fencing there. Emily and I were early so we picked up the tools and fence materials from the garden, and wheelbarrowed them down to the strip.

When the others arrived, we pounded in two U-posts at each end of the to-be-fenced area, and attached the fence to each end, then pounded in 4 more posts in between, trying to stretch the fence as tight as possible. Not easy without guy lines or tensioning posts, but I think it'll work. Then we wired the fence to the posts.

We left the hole in the Caltrain fence open (second photo from top) - we need Caltrain to fix that hole permanently, and there's no point fencing it ourselves til they do - the homeless people will just trash it to get through.

After that, we watered all the plants - 2 wheelbarrow trips with old milk cartons full of water (the hose doesn't stretch all the way from P. Garden) and we were done! Many hands make light work - thank you Leanne, Emily and Ryan for a very enjoyable evening on the street!

A number of people stopped as usual to thank us for our work - if any of you are reading the blog please come help some time! We have volunteer days regularly, and the more people who come and do a little of this or that, the faster these plantings will be ready for everyone to enjoy (upcoming tasks include planting more plants, watering, fetching mulch, applying it, and finally, removing the fence once the plants are established!)

And once again, thanks to Center Hardware and The Godmothers for bankrolling this neighborhood improvement project!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I like!

Have you heard of CSN Stores? They have over 200 specialty shop sites that offer everything from a bathroom vanity to adhesives and most things in between! I was recently contacted by CSN Stores to do a product review which I will be featuring in the upcoming weeks, so be sure to check back.

Later on this year we'll also be doing a giveaway to a few lucky readers too - I think you dog lovers are going to really like it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mariposa Center Garden fence half done

Today Emily and I met at the Mariposa Center Garden to try to set up a fence to protect it from life on the street. It’s a temporary fence – when the plants grow up we’ll remove it.

The nice guys at Center Hardware donated the materials: we had 100 feet of 12 gauge fence and 10 U-posts. They loaned us some good wire cutters, and I brought along a 9 pound hammer, pliers, tying wire and gloves. Before Emily arrived, the nice guys also sort of stood around and assessed puny-looking me in my nice office clothes, my collection of somewhat rusty tools, and, I think, felt a bit sorry for me. Which I thought was pretty reasonable actually, as I was suddenly feeling under-qualified for the job!

So Emily arrived and we pounded in the U-posts. I had wanted T-posts which are a lot more rigid, but they weren’t available. So the pounding was a bit of a pain with the flimsier posts and the rocky dirt. Then we cut a 50’ length of the fencing and attached it to the existing fence at one end, and pulled it along the posts set down the strip, wiring it to the posts as we went. We placed it inside the strip of Dietes plants, and outside the other plants – just to hide the fence a bit. The fence looked a bit crooked and floppy, so we added another post to tighten it up, which sort of worked a bit. We ran out of time and had to go back to work, but the first half of the fencing is done and looks pretty good!

We had one angry (deranged?) person tell me we shouldn’t be doing this, and that he’d kill the plants, and about eight delighted, happy people who stopped to tell us how great our efforts were. So on the whole, I think the community is behind us ;) We won’t be winning any prizes for tight, ruler-straight fence building but hey – we got the job done and I think it’ll work.

Later this week we need to do the other half of the fencing, attach signs to the back fence telling people about the garden, and water the strip. Anyone up for it?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Awesome Volunteer Workday

So many thanks to Shen and Leaanne who worked tirelessly to whip the garden into shape! There was much weeding of the middle front bed (goodbye Oxalis! see photo) along with pulling out variegated mint and bindweed. Leaanne also deadheaded the two standing rose bushes, Coreopsis, and Scabiosa 'Fama Blue'. Shen also donated a bunch of Verbena (see photo) that she grew from seed - many thanks Shen!

Other accomplishments include but are not limited to:
1. Building dirt wells around many of the plants in the red bed, mostly the Dahlias
2. Composting around the Dahlias
3. Watering all of the newer plants in the red bed especially the Cosmos, Zinnia, and Rudbeckia seedlings
4. Cut back the overgrowth on the path by the stop sign
5. Planting some Cosmos seedlings in the front left bed where the yellow Aquilegia used to be (before it was stolen! horror!)
6. Thoroughly soaked the bed along the stairs on both sides and the area with the Nicotiana.
7. Toward the front of the red bed by the tea tree (Leptospermum) planted Agastache mexicana 'Acapulco Rose'

Even though Annie had a super long day doing lots of other hard work, she still came by the garden in the late afternoon and: watered (the Mariposa Center Garden, left bed, middle back bed, potted plants on back slope, wine barrels), moved Curry Plant (Helichrysum italicum) out from under cardoon to further upslope, and cut back the Euphorbia myrsinites (Donkey Tail Spurge) that was done flowering.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Emily Gogol, Josh Schechtel and I applied to the SF Parks Trust to have them become our fiscal agent for the project. This means that we can accept donations and grants to fund the project as if we are a 501(c)3 but without all the paperwork! Donors get the tax write-off, and we give 5% of donations to SFPT.

This was approved yesterday, and I'm signing some more paperwork for SFPT but it's basically done. Great news.

I also met with representatives of Saturn Construction to get some ideas for what can be done on the street to improve it. We need to get several more quotes - does anyone know a landscaping company who could work on this? The quotes we'll get will give us an idea of what grants to pursue.

I created some images to show Saturn the sort of things we could do. The images are in the Google Groups' files section, and also here:

If you have comments, questions or ideas, now is the time to share them. These are just ideas, and do not cover the entire scope of the project. Let's start the conversation here: when we have a good idea of the direction to go, we will hold another meeting at the NABE. Not everyone interested in this project is on the email list - at the next meeting we will ascertain who needs to be on this decision-making list, as I feel it's too difficult to coordinate ideas on and off list. Let people know: if you want to be part of the decisions made, get on the list! Click here!

We also have some other fundraising ideas in the works that will be fun, but will need volunteers for. We need a volunteer coordinator who, as the need arises, will get hold of DPW, the neighbors and businesses, and other volunteer groups, to let them know when/where we need people (for a planting day, trash clearing day etc.) If you think you can do this job, please let me know. The work will be sporadic, and not difficult! UPDATE: Arum has volunteered to help with this. Thank you Arum!

OK, let's hear your thoughts!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mariposa Center Garden revisited

Last night Emily, Gina and I planned to work on the Mariposa Center Garden (Mariposa at Pennsylvania), planting the plants we got using our donation from The Godmothers.

We met at 6pm and weeded, then laid out the plants I bought last weekend and started digging into the rocky, dry dirt. Thank you digging bar! Gina had a flash of genius and went home to get her digging bar too - pretty soon we were getting into the swing of it: use the digging bar to loosen dirt, then the shovel to empty the hole, then back to the digging bar, and so on.

3 Dendromecon rigida (Bush Poppy - picture below)
4 Lupinus arboreus (Yellow Bush Lupine)
5 Cistus "Sunset"
2 Lavatera "Barnsley"
1 Rosmarinus (Rosemary)

(We have 9 Achilleas, and a lot of Dietes left to plant, and we need a few Bougainvilleas to cover the fence)

Lots of people driving or jogging by shouted encouragement. And after a little while we were joined by a young man who probably lived on the street, and maybe had a few... issues, but he helped us dig a hole anyway.

Another guy used the hole (pic left) in the middle of the strip's fence (often repaired, never for long. Note to self: Call Caltrain again to get it fixed) to access the railroad tracks while we were there, and I had to explain to him when he returned that the hole will soon be filled and he'll need to get down to the tracks by another route. He wasn't pleased.

Such is gardening work on the street! Always lots of interesting characters. We managed to get Ryan to come down and provide male presence (and dig some holes!) which was much appreciated - I think he was going to go to the gym, but he got a different sort of workout!. And as the sun started to go down Matt joined us and we planted the last plant and watered everything in until it was dark.

Today I'll be picking up some fencing supplies to protect the new plants - all donated by Center Hardware (thanks Brandon and co!). If you have fencing skills and can help me pound in a few posts and attach the fence, let me know! We also need to mulch the strip heavily and water it weekly for a while - if you live nearby, can you help?

Bottom photo shows, from left, Gina, Emily, Ryan and me. Go team!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vinca, thy name is weed.

Among the pantheon of gardening mistakes I have made, one had a light shed upon it yesterday.  Namely, the planting of the supposedly happy-go-lucky blue flowering periwinkle known as Vinca major.

More like "nasty-go-evil"! It was slow to get started, due to the dryness at P Garden, and it's preference for damp, shady spots. Just as I had planned - it would not get out of control and would be a good ground cover. At least, that's what I said to Matt when he spent a lot of time telling me it was a bad idea.

Yesterday however I noticed a patch of it had taken a firm hold and Matt went on to spend a lot of time telling me "I told you so" which as we all know is one of the most annoying things a person can say. On the other hand he was so delighted to be right that he helped me yank it all out and as a result we have cleared a spot for a yellow bush lupine to be planted shortly.

In other news, Emily came back from her trip and spent several hours watering (that's me watering at left, too). The ground at P. Garden is dry, dry, dry - all the way down as far as you can dig and then reach for the digging bar (about a foot) so this is it plants: Who needs more water to make it? Right now I am looking at the standard roses, the Brugmansia, the ginger, the yellow wallflowers I recently put in, and the Dahlias that Emily's looking after. We shall see who can make it on once a week water... fingers crossed.

Emily also planted some baby burgundy Cosmos in the left bed, and some Zinnias and Rudbeckia hirta "Cherokee Sunset" in the red bed.

Photo shows yellow Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) "Coronation Gold" with California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) "White Linen" and some calla lilies in the background.
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