Sunday, February 28, 2010

New cool stuff

This morning I got a call from plant hunter-to-the-stars*, John. As usual he had something awesome and gasp-inducing for the garden, and was even kind enough to bring it over - right away!

Who was with him but Channing, unfailingly polite and humble but actually a veritable fountain of horticultural knowledge. He also knows a lot about taxes. And Subway sandwiches. In fact, why hasn't he been on Jeopardy? Anyone?

But I digress. These two bad boys had been up at dawn to procure a very beautiful, large, trunked specimen of the plant Furcraea longaeva which is like an Agave on a stick, basically - this version without spines or teeth, but still wickedly sharp. And they brought it to me! We walked around the garden and chose the perfect spot for it - at the front, by the arch, where we can admire the trunk. And then they planted it - right away!

Have I mentioned before that I love these two guys?

After that, anything garden-like would be a bit of a let-down. But I did manage to set up my Yucca collection area by the steps and am pretty pleased with it. Here's what I did:

- Moved one of the Weeping Yuccas (Yucca recurvifolia) closer to the others to make a group.
- Moved the Silver Leaf Yucca, aka Blue Yucca, or Palmilla (Yucca rigida)to the area (it was being flattened by a nearby plant in the back middle bed, so hopefully I saved it.)
- Planted my new Yucca linearifolia near the front. It is so cool!
- Planted Emily's Cordyline "Torbay Dazzler" as well, for some bright color.
- Moved 2 Achilleas back, and 2 ferns (Cheilanthes sinuata) forward.
- Added 2 Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) for color.

You can see the before and after pics at left - hard to tell, but it really improved this spot I think!

*If being on NENtv makes you a star, then I am one.  Along with most of the other Pennsylvania Gardeners!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Camera shy? Me?

Today we had NENtv filming a segment about the garden, and it was fun!

Matt, Emily and I spent some time cleaning up the garden (weeding paths and removing flags) then I spent some time in front of the camera trying to think of clever and insightful things to say, and probably failing. Nerve-wracking!

I was followed by Emily and then Matt. After that, Ron and Tank who happened by were interviewed about the beautiful arch Ron built us. Adam and Alex from NENtv wanted to know if they could get a high up view of the garden by accessing a building across the street. Just so happens Sage and Barbara live there, and they are friends of P. Garden, and they kindly let the guys on their roof deck. Sage also got some camera time himself.

In the meantime, a couple of projects: Emily planted an Erysimum menzieii ssp. concinnum (wallflower) in the left bed, and Matt and I were ably assisted by our new friend Craig in moving bricks from behind the bench, and rebuilding the decrepit twig weaving around the front of the left bed. Matt weeded too, and when we were done the area looked very clean and tidy (see pic above). I hope we didn't put Craig off gardening for life - he did get a little dirty!

At that point I realized I was supposed to be in Brentwood and quickly packed up and ran off, while the guys went to film Gary (and hopefully Annelle too!)

Altogether a very fun day - thanks Adam and Alex from NENtv, and thanks to all my charming, outgoing, camera-loving garden friends for putting up with it all!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Your 15 seconds starts... now!

In my efforts to promote friendly, neighborhood gardening desperate and depraved pursuit of stardom, I have been nicely asked by demanded in a loud and unladylike voice to be asked by Adam of the Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) to appear in a short feature about P. Garden, discussing how community gardens improve neighborhoods glorifying my fantastic self to all and sundry.

Apparently, "the NEN is a constantly evolving collaboration of community organizations, city agencies, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. Our goal is to empower neighborhoods to become cleaner, greener, healthier, and more inclusive places to live and work." - who could argue with that goal?

Adam wanted to interview some of my devoted volunteers miserable slaves, so I asked who among them was available. Naturally they politely agreed fought viciously among themselves, and the segment will be filmed on Saturday, February 27th at 10am.

If you are a neighbor who enjoys the garden, please come out too! Let's see those happy doggies and flower-loving kids!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bring on the daffs...

Today I also went to the garden about 8.30am and dug up loads of Cannas for Robyn of FARM fame. I also gave her some more pineapple mint - I hope it's not at naughty for her as it is for me. Darn stuff is everywhere. Had a nice chat with Dorothy and Bella, and John and Owa (sp?) then ran off to work.

The daffodils (Narcissus) are starting to flower at P. Garden, and if last year is anything to go by they should be flowering until April or May. Time to go check them out! Here's what we have in bloom today, from top to bottom:

"Mount Hood"
"Flower Record"
"Ice Follies"
"Geranium"
"Dutch Master"

If you happen to be there and see a spent flower that's close to the path, feel free to "deadhead" the daffodils by nipping off the dead flower. This prevents the daffs from wasting energy making seeds. Energy I'd rather they spent making more flowers for us to enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

San Francisco Botanical Garden needs help

I got this email today and signed the petition - 'nuff said:

I am writing you today to ask for your help. The fiscal crisis that our nation and city faces is hitting every agency and the Botanical Garden faces damaging cuts. If we don’t do something to increase our revenue, the city will be forced to layoff critical employees and the Garden itself will begin to deteriorate. San Francisco would lose the unique urban oasis that the Garden provides, as much of this beautiful space could be destroyed and invaluable collections would be lost.

The SFBGS has done all that it can do to continue its 55-year record of supporting the Garden in this economy. Recreation and Park made the only proposal which will protect the Garden: $7 per person non-resident fee. While most botanical gardens charge a general entrance fee, ours would only be for non-residents. All San Francisco residents, SFBGS members, and school groups would still enter the Garden free of charge everyday all day. We are also able to institute graduated prices for out-of-town seniors and children, and provide designated “free days” for all attendees.

Virtually all botanical gardens in the United States charge admission fees that are often much higher than this and usually apply to all visitors. Even other institutions in Golden Gate Park, such as the Japanese Tea Garden, charge a fee to all visitors. This proposal would bring in enough money to stave off job and service cuts, with the least impact on its visitors. Without it, we will certainly face severe cuts, endangering the collection of rare plants and depriving community residents of a tranquil place to visit.

I sincerely hope that we can count on your support for this critical proposal. The Recreation and Park Commission is moving ahead on the proposal and will hold a crucial meeting on March 4th at 4 pm at City Hall to make a final decision. In order to save the Botanical Garden, I need you to do two things:

1. Go to our webpage by clicking here to sign our petition asking the Commission to save the Botanical Garden.

2. Attend the meeting on March 4th at 4 pm at City Hall to show your support.

As a supporter of the Garden, we need your help. It will only take a small amount of effort on your part but it will have a big impact on saving the Garden we all love so much.

Most Sincerely,

Michael McKechnie

Executive Director

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Potrero Boosters meeting

On Feb 23rd Ed P, Annie S. and Matt P. will attend the Potrero Boosters meeting at the NABE with a view to meeting people from the Boosters, and the Merchant's Assoc. and discovering what plans in the neighborhood are afoot, and who and what can help us with this project.

UPDATE: We attended the meeting and met Tony Kelly, President of the Potrero Boosters, Joe Boss, Auditor of same, and Craig Adelman, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office of Housing. I've contacted Tony and Joe for more input into our scheme, and Ed will be contacting Craig,

I will also contact Ed Hatter of the NABE to see if we can use that spot for our meeting(s) in future.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Plant shopping

With Spring just a few weeks away (see crocuses flowering, left!), and the sun out more often than not, both Emily and I did a bit of plant shopping this weekend, albeit at different times and places.

I went to Sloat Garden Center with my 15% off coupon and got a Yucca linearifolia which was not especially cheap but is especially cute. I think when I move the Silver Leaf Yucca, aka Blue Yucca (Yucca rigida) out from under the plant that's smothering it in the middle back bed, and add the new Yucca there too, the area by the steps will make a great little Yucca bed with several varieties. Just need a variegated one or two to complete the collection!

Emily went to Flora Grubb who are having a 20% off sale and got an Erysimum menziesii (Menzies' wallflower) which she says "...is so cool, and smells wonderful" as well as a Cordyline "Torbay Dazzler" - it was nice of her to humor my obsession with variegated spiky things. What can I say - some girls like diamonds, I like variegated spiky plants. It could be worse! Anyway, I have a vision of a group of three Cordylines of various colors: Electric Pink, Red Sensation, and the Torbay Dazzler? Will people be blinded? I don't care!

She also got a yellow Leucadendron salignum "Golden Tip" for the middle back bed but I actually think the top of the steps is a better spot for this buttery yellow goodie!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Plant profile: Cynara cardunculus

I saw this plant growing in our neighbor David's garden a while back and was suitably awed. I went right out the next weekend and got one from Flora Grubb, the local plant-pusher. It started as a cute little 4" pot specimen in May (left), and by August the thing had crushed several nearby clumps of Dietes and eaten a small dog too I think... it's like a freaky monster thistle on steroids (below left).

Latin name: Cynara cardunculus ("sye-NAR-ah kar-DUNK-you-luss")
Common name: Cardoon, Artichoke Thistle
Originally from: the Mediterranean, where it was "domesticated" in ancient times.
Blooms: In summer, giant, purple-haired thistle-like flowers are covered in bees and smell like honey.
Light: Likes full sun
Water: Seems to be doing great with nothing but rain!
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed, near the arch.

Ancient plants, the earliest description of the cardoon comes from the fourth century BC Greek writer Theophrastus. The cardoon was popular in Greek and Roman cuisine. Cardoons remained popular in medieval and early modern Europe, and were common in the vegetable gardens of colonial America. They fell from fashion only in the late nineteenth century. In Europe, cardoon is still cultivated in Provence, Spain and Italy. In the Geneva region, where Huguenot refugees introduced it in about 1685, the local variety cardy is considered a culinary specialty. "Before Cardoons are sent to table, the stalks or ribs are blanched by tying them together and wrapping them round with straw, which is also tied up with cord, and left so for about three weeks". Mouldy stalks for dinner! Anyone?

Cardoon stalks can be covered with small, nearly invisible spines that can cause substantial pain if they become lodged in the skin. Several spineless cultivars (like ours) have been developed to overcome this, but don't suggle with them anyway - you never know.

While the flower buds (in November, left) can be eaten just like artichokes, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in liquid like stock etc. and they have an artichoke-like flavor. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph's altars in New Orleans. The main root can also be boiled and served cold. Cardoons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the Cocido madrileño, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth.

In the Abruzzi region of Italy, Christmas lunch is traditionally started with a soup of cardoons cooked in chicken broth with little meatballs (lamb or more rarely, beef), sometimes with egg (which scrambles in the hot soup - called stracciatella) or fried chopped liver and heart.

Cardoons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. In Portugal, traditional coagulation of the curd relies entirely on this vegetable rennet. This results in cheeses such as the Nisa (D.O.P.), with a peculiar earthy, herbaceous and a slightly citric flavour that bears affinity with full-bodied or fortified wines.

The cardoon has attracted recent attention as a possible source of biodiesel. The oil, extracted from the seeds of the cardoon, and called artichoke oil, is similar to safflower and sunflower oil in composition and use. It's quite an industrial-strength plant: In some places, including parts of the U.S., cardoon is so successful at escaping into the wild that it is legally listed as a "noxious weed".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SF False Pre-Spring

Over the weekend I noticed a ton of new growth in the garden! Much of the growth is just plants freaking out because of, what I like to call, 'False Pre-Spring.' You may call it by other names, like the 'Pre-Fog Season', but we really don't have what FEELS like Winter or Spring in SF, and the plants sense this too, and start doing all sorts of wonderful things in February, during the dead of Winter.

Here is my False Pre-Spring photo essay, exhibits 1-5.

1. Daffodil bloom
2. Flowering Trees (shown is Cherry Plum, Prunus Cerasifera)
3. Spring Tubers/Bulbs going like ganbusters (shown is an Anemone)
4. Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus) takeover of nearby trellis
5. Herbaceous Perennials in flower (shown is Knautia Macedonia, in non-whacky climates it flowers July-Sept)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another productive day, part deux.

Today Emily and I did a few tasks in the hot February sun (apologies to the non-Californians!):

- Watered various plants that were planted or moved this weekend.
- Planted Senecio cylindricus (Narrow-Leaf Chalksticks) by the octopus agave in the cactus wall bed.
- Moved 3 beautiful but unidentified spotted Aloes in the middle back bed, and added a large and also unidentified Aeonium and a Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) to the arrangement. Removed four common or garden Aeoniums that we are overrun with. (before and after pics, left)

- Chatted with Gary about the Maverick's surf competition
- Planted a Pennisetum setaceum rubrum (Purple Fountain Grass) "Red Riding Hood" in the left bed's grass area.
- Planted a Mangave "Macho Mocha" in the back middle bed.
- Brought lots of plants over from my house for the sale
- Talked about the best shrub/low tree for the center of the middle back bed.

It's been a crazy busy weekend, but we have lots still to do!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another productive day

Some days I look around at the garden and think "how am I ever going to get everything done?" Today, however, I had help from Emily. So we got a lot done ;)

I stared by visiting Joe at The Benches garden on 18th at San Bruno. he gave me a lot of Chasmanthe bulbs and some Bird of Paradise roots. Thanks Joe!

I then picked up Emily and we rushed off to get a rosemary, sage and avocado tree (potted) from Craigslister Ebbe. Sage and avocaodo for the plant sale, rosemary planted today (see below)

Then we went down to the new Mariposa Center Garden opposite Center Hardware, on Mariposa at Pennsylvania. Denise, Emily and I had been weeding the area and today Emily and I planted 10 clumps of Dietes (Fortnight lily) along the front, the rosemary and 4-5 clumps of Chasmanthe from Joe. The top photo shows Emily just as we were finishing up. It looks great!

We had lunch and went back to put up a sign so passing people could find out what was going on (directing them to the blog). Then we pruned and moved the Buddleja "Ellen's Blue" up to the red bed in P. Garden, watered, potted up some plants for the sale, and were completely exhausted by about 4pm. Hot, sunny day, too! Bottom photo shows sunny orange Arctotis and Calendulas.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gnashing of teeth!

Today we had lots to do in the garden. Weeds abound, and lots of plants needed to be rearranged, potted up, and otherwise fussed over.

First I went to see Jo, who gave me Aloe arborescens and Aeonium cuttings, and an Agave attenuata pup! I was almost late due to chatting with Alison, Rick and the world's most enthusiastic dog, Peekaboo.

I got back to the garden and met a lady called Jackie her dog. She made a point of telling me that she always picks up her dog poop, and often other people's too. I thought "how nice... and this is not the first time someone has impressed on my how responsible they are regarding dog poop..."

Max came by and asked to be put to work. I gave him a sharp tool and let him loose on the Cannas, which he cut down really quickly. Next he cleared the bed behind the Wrong Way sign of evil baby Nasturtiums. Thanks Max!

While he was doing that a really nice lady whose name is Juana asked what was up with the sign. What sign? Why this sign taped to the poop bag dispenser at the top! (left) Oh my. Someone is really annoyed by dog poop - a dog owner no less. Don't read it if you are sensitive! I pondered what to do with the sign. I do appreciate the sentiment (some people don't pick up - is is nasty) but worried people might think I put it there. And it's not very friendly.

I left it up til the afternoon, and speaking to Jim found out this is version 2 of the sign - another one was posted several days ago. OK, so I think by now everyone has seen it, so I removed it. Sign posting person, thanks for trying to make the garden nicer for everyone - I appreciate the effort.

In the meantime Matt was busy in the Aloe area of the succulent slope, having moved a specimen from the middle back bed. We added Aptenia cordifolia from Leah as groundcover all around, and weeded a lot. We also moved a Crassula erosula "Campfire", Aloe glauca (Blue Aloe), Sedum nevii "Silver Frost" and Aeonium around in the middle back bed (photo top), moved the Salvia "Anthony Parker" to the red bed, and a clump of Hemerocallis (Daylily) to where it was, and potted up about 20 Aster "Bill's Big Blue" for the sale, as well as two roses.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's get started

Rob, Matt and I (residents of 1025 17th st) met with several DPW people on February 10th to discuss the mess that is the Pennsylvania Ave/17th st area.
Main points:

1. This street is "unaccepted" (not maintained by the city) but may become "accepted" (and therefore cleaned and resurfaced) if we contact the right people and pressure them a bit. Not sure yet who to contact.

2. In the meantime Mohammed Nuru of DPW authorized removal of broken fence and guardrails, and a work crew to remove weeds. He will put in a kerb (an aspahlt one is free, a concrete one is $$$$) and fill potholes, then we can plant up the edge with noise reducing plants like trees.

Matt and I will create a scale drawing for him this weekend of our proposed planting areas, which he suggested should include "green islands" sticking out from the kerb every 12 cars' width, and the bottom corner too. This will provide visibility for law enforcement and neighbors to prevent further dumping. Rob has connections who may be able to expand on Matt's drawings at a later date.

3. They also agreed to place signs about illegal dumping, which they will provide. I'm afraid we didn't have time to discuss stop signs, speed bumps or Caltrain-horn-shushing ideas.

4. The side opposite the tracks is the responsibility of business owners there. Rob says the Dorsett Jackson people will help. We need to contact Fregosi, Angotti-Reilly and Hilti to ask for their support in improving this area with a proper sidewalk.

5. I have learned from my experiences working with DPW, Caltrans and SFPT that community involvement is vital. They will support a project if the community turns up and shows support and a commitment to see it through. When we have a work day to clean up weeds, we need to try and get as many of our neighbors and businesses involved as possible. Apparently the key to that is free doughnuts and coffee ;)

6. It costs $150 to get a permit for a block party. The Arts Commission will grant $2500 to pay for a party. I think we should have a block party! We could sell... food? and can use funds generated to landscape the green areas and pay for trees.

Any input or comments?

Plant profile: Cestrum fasciculatum

Closeup of the flowers
When we moved into our new house the previous owner left a potted plant behind. We had no idea what it was, but knowing the flowers were red, and disliking it’s constant need for watering (being potted is hard on both plant and owner) I moved it out to the garden. Still no idea what it was, despite asking around. Finally I recently stumbled upon it while browsing the web!

Latin name: Cestrum fasciculatum ("SES-trum fass-kik-yoo-LAH-tum")
Common name: Red Cestrum, Early Flowering Jessamine
Originally from: Mexico.
Blooms: Pretty much all the time. Flowers are deep red bunches of little tubes.
Light: Likes full sun to part shade
Water: Average.
Where to find in P. Garden: In the back of the red bed.

Nicely filled in.
It makes a gangly 10’ tall shrub, but to avoid excessive legginess one can prune all branches back to 4 to 6 buds. I didn’t know it would get this big but that’s OK. It’s a favorite of hummingbirds, but bees and butterflies like it too, and seems to flower all the time. Our specimen is looking a bit winter-ragged, but I'll update the photo later in the year so you can see it's progress. Update: new picture and it's looking much better!

UPDATE December 2015:
After 6 years in the ground and 4 years of drought, this plant grew to 10' tall but finally succumbed to the drought. It was pretty drought tolerant for a long time, but sadly it finally bit it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gary and Annelle tell me they often have lunch in the garden. So do I, and a few other people - pretty soon we're going to need another bench, Gary... ;) Anyway, when Gary and Annelle eat in the garden they leave a sign on their door to tell customers where to find them (left) which I thought was cute.

We don't have a trash can by the bench for the same reason you rarely find them in city-run parks: they require emptying, they attract wasps, they smell and they're just too much work. So far most people have been very good about taking their trash with them, although I think a nice sign reminding people to respect the area wouldn't go amiss.

Another thing that's cute right no is the Arctotis "Peachy Mango" by the Wrong Way sign (another mislabeled Arctotis? The colors seem dark!), as well as the Geraniums and Corn Marigolds that are filling in that area fast, making a nice lush green area and choking out the weeds. A few leftover Gaillardias add to the color quotient. It's a very hot, dry area with shallow dirt so if anyone can make a go of it there, these guys can. Good luck, kids!

Last night Matt and I went to eat at Goat Hill Pizza in support of the Starr King Openspace donation mentioned in the previous post. The place was packed! Hope they got lots of donations.

Oh, almost forgot to add - this morning there was a new mystery plant in the cactus wall bed. Very pretty succulent with silvery, heart-shaped leaves. Thanks, whoever left it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Eat pizza, protect open space.

Several people forwarded this to me and it's really a fundelicious way to support our local open space. So get down there on Wednesday and eat pizza, willya!

GOAT HILL PIZZA hosts STARR KING OPENSPACE DAY
-- A fundraising event to protect Starr King Openspace --

Wednesday February 10, 2010
Eat in or carry out only, ALL DAY -- 11 AM until 10:30 PM!
20% of your order benefits the SKOS


Help protect our neighborhood Openspace! Eat at Goat Hill Pizza (Connecticut at 18th) on Wednesday, February 10th, and mention Starr King Openspace and a generous 20% of your order will be donated to your local SKOS nonprofit help maintain and protect this Potrero Hill treasure.

Please share the word and invite your neighbors to this fun and yummy fundraiser! Meet your neighbors who serve on the SKOS Board of Directors for dinner at 7 PM -- or stop by anytime all day, any meal, and tell your server you'd like to support the Openspace with your order.

With help from our community, we can protect the Starr King Openspace as the only area of its kind in San Francisco -- a designated openspace owned and administrated by the people of the neighborhood where it resides. The folks at Goat Hill Pizza care about our neighborhood too, and offered this generous fundraising night -- and when it means enjoying their awesome pizza, how could we possibly say no?

Join board members and hear about the latest developments for the Openspace at this generous fundraising event at Goat Hill Pizza. We'll aim to seat around 7 PM with our families, and will place a sign on our table so you can come by and say hello, and hear about what's new at the Openspace. (And find how you can be involved in helping to protect it!)

Remember:
- Eat-in or carry out only - (sorry, delivery orders are not eligible to donate)
- You must mention Starr King Openspace

Skip doing dishes and bring the whole family to Wednesday dinner at Goat Hill Pizza, and enjoy supporting SKOS and eating our neighborhood' s most famous pizza, all at once.

The Starr King Openspace is a 501(c)3 organization. The SKOS Board thanks Michael, Ondrea and the staff of Goat Hill Pizza for their generous contribution. See you on the 10th!

Join us & meet your SKOS board members at 7 PM for dinner!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Further diggings

Today Matt and I set out to remove some conifers that I planted a year ago, and which didn't prove to be as drought tolerant as I'd hoped. I figure they can go in the plant sale and find better homes.

We removed them from the area by the Brugmansia (all 5 of them) and potted them. We replaced them with two ornamental grasses (what kind, you ask? Miscanthus.... um... can't remember. Time will tell!), moved 2 ivory-colored Gazanias from behind the Wrong Way sign, moved the Yucca "Garland's Gold" out from under the Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata," and brought John's deep burgundy Phormium to the front of the Brugmansia. The whole effect is a lot better, I think, and now, instead of having a conifer area we have an ornamental grass area - trendy!

We also moved a Hakea suaveolens (Sweet Hakea) a couple meters so it's not fighting with the Brugmansia.

We got an Aloe striata donated by Anita today - yippee! Got to find it a good spot. Also on the donations tip we got a watering can (yay!), and a bag of compost from Brad - thanks! Max and his friend-whose-name-might-have-been-Eric dropped by and we enjoyed the idea that it is Superbowl Sunday and the streets are nice and quiet. Sorry, I'm not good at names. I'm just not. Sorry.

I prepared three flats of the useful succulent ground cover Aptenia cordifolia from Leah. She gave us so much I could have made 15 flats, but I ran out of containers! We also moved an Opuntia from under the variagated Echium along with a lot of Sedum rubrotinctum ground cover. They went on the cactus wall, in a spot we made after removing a couple Agave americanas. I got covered in tiny glochids - the spines these Opuntias are covered in. Ouch!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Prep work

In order to prepare for the plant sale today I decided to organize the back area by the tool shed. Matt and I potted a load of plants donated to us, cleared out some old Euphorbia cacti that were not looking good and noticed that last night someone went through and stole a potted Aeonium/succulent garden, and tore an Agave parryi right out of the ground.

Must have happened while I was asleep, as I saw them there last night and stayed til dark, Lame.

Later:
Went out again to pot up some Cannas for the sale. Leah was there and on a pruning frenzy! Many plants are now looking a lot smaller than before ;)

I got the Cannas potted (photo bottom) and took a before and after shot of a Salvia that Leah pruned (photos top, middle).  I also planted a section of Tree Dahlia at the base of the original one - hope it creates a nice grove of them next year.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Organizational whatnot

Today I made an email list for the site - it's in the right column entitled "Subscribe to our email list!" if you'd like to receive very occasional emails about happenings at the garden (plant sales, tours etc) then please sign up! I promise not to SPAM you.

I also moved the list of P. Garden sponsors to their own page, clickable from the right hand menu at the top of the page. The list was getting rather long - how wonderful that so many people support the garden! Thanks guys!

Lastly in other housekeeping news I have decided to hold a plant sale to benefit the garden. DPW and SFPT support this so I consulted with a few of P. Garden's closest friends and we talked about a few ideas. Looks like this will happen in late April or early May, and we are already propagating plants and looking for plant donations for the sale. I very much hope that this will fund some upcoming projects and also pave the way for us to receive grants from various agencies to make the garden better than ever.

Pic above shows a view of downtown over Gary's wall, and some nice orange Calendulas flowering away, in february!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New tee-shirt design debuts!

Those of you out there on the intarwebnets who like to wear clothes (anyone?) will be fascinated to hear that I have recently created a new essential item of apparel that will appeal to a) gardeners, b) people who like trowels, c) people who feel guilty because they want to help P. Garden but they don't really like weeding and just can't make it to volunteer days, and d) people who either like clothes or are just a bit cold right now.

So - that's almost everyone in the world!

CafePress.com gives us $5 for every "trowel and error" item sold, and I hope this will fund the information kiosk I'd like to put up in the garden, or some other useful item. I think it's rather tasteful and sure to appeal to the stylish garden-liker, if I do say so myself. The idea for the text came from my mum, so thanks for that!

If you want to see the first design, it's still available: "runs with pruners" is pretty edgy. Wear at your own risk!

P.S. it comes in garden-appropriate mud tones too!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'd like to thank...

The sharp-eyed among you will notice that the banner at the top of the blog, which I change every few months whether it needs it or not, has been embellished with three new logos today. They are (top to bottom) the logos of Caltrans, San Francisco Parks Trust, and San Francisco Department of Public Works.

This mysterious tripartite accord of governmental agencies has come together to allow Pennsylvania Garden to remain in place. In fact, they seem to really like it! So I'm giving them some props by branding my blog with their stylish logos. Look out for sponsor logos on other brandable spots soon - the arch, the bench, the gap between my tee shirt and jeans when I am bent over pulling out a weed... (not!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plant profile: Prunus cerasifera

February 2010
Way back in the dawn of humanity, Caltrans planted some Monterey pines at P. Garden, along with a lot of ivy (boo, hiss). Many aeons passed, and one day Annelle went out and said “lo – these trees don’t look so hot” She told Caltrans who concurred, diagnosing a plague of malicious beetle that was killing the trees. So they came out the next day and chopped them down without so much as a how d’you do.
In order to mitigate the barren wasteland left over, they planted three Cherry Plum trees. By the time P. Garden was started the trees were well established. Leah came and pruned them into submission, and they have been fairly well behaved ever since.

Latin name: Prunus cerasifera ("PROO-nus ser-ass-IFF-er-ah")
Common name: Cherry Plum, Myrobalan Plum
Originally from: central and eastern Europe, southwest and central Asia.
Blooms: January-February finds this tree covered in fragrant pale pink flowers.
Light: Likes full sun
Water: Once established, no extra water is required.
Where to find in P. Garden: Three of them can be seen in a group at the top left of the garden.

February 2013
“As with all the purple-leaved plums, this tree has been used to the point of monotony in landscapes.” Well, as the author of that quote points out they are common, but if you head to the garden now they’re just beginning to flower and nobody can deny it’s a very pretty effect. Gardening clichés come about because the plants that fall foul of overuse are tough, easy to maintain, and pretty, so everyone wants them. Is that really a bad thing?

This reminds me of another saying I like to repeat from up on my high horse: “Always remember you’re unique. Just like everyone else.” Take that, hater of monotony! Anyway, if these trees do become seriously tiresome it’s worth noting that they only live about 20 years, and I estimate we’ve got about 10 to go.

There are a number of cultivars of this tree, and ours could easily be any of them – “Pissardii” “Thundercloud” and “Nigra” seem most likely. These purple-foliage forms (often called Purple leaf plum), also have dark purple fruit, which make an attractive, intensely colored jam.

February 2010
I haven’t tried the fruit – they’re hard to make out among the dark leaves and anyway, probably covered in freeway dirt. I let the birds have them!

Although the area below these trees looks a bit ratty now, the plants there which are slowly getting ready to become beautiful are ones that I hope will pick up on the pink/white/burgundy theme. White flowering Iberis sempervirens, dusty pink Alstroemerias, a ring of pink Amaryllis belladonna bulbs and some daffodils, a couple of pink-flowered Geranium macrorrhizumAchillea “Summer Pastels" and a pink bush Impatiens with variegated Glechoma hederacea as groundcover. Squint your eyes with me - it could be quite pretty in the summer!
 
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