Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Plant profile: Impatiens sodenii (Impatiens)

Latin name: Impatiens sodenii (pronounced "im-PAY-shens so-DEN-ee-eye")
Common name: Shrub Balsam, Poor Man's Rhododendron
Originally from: Tropical East African highlands of Kenya and Tanzania.
Blooms: Pink, white, some varieties streaked.
Light: Shade, part sun
Water: Drought tolerant
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 5'+ tall and wide
USDA Zones: 10-11
Where to find in P. Garden: Under the cherry plum trees.

It has taken me a while to write a profile on this plant, but Matt suggested it this morning, and I thought "why not." Why has it taken a while?  Well, this was not one of my favorite plants when we were first given it, for several reasons. None of them particularly good reasons, I admit.

First, it was a bit of a scraggly specimen. Looking at it's tropical foliage I thought "uh-oh, this is a plant that wants lots of water and it going to die gradually and painfully and everyone will think I am a bad person..." Watching plants die is not in my game plan.

Second, it has pink flowers. Pale pink. And froofy. It is the 7 year old ballerina-wannabe of the plant world. Ugh. Speaking as an ex-pale pink loving 7 year old ballerina-wannabe I can safely say this is a phase most girls get past, and don't look back on. Unless they are reminded of it by such plants as this. *grit teeth*

Third, it's old fashioned. This ain't no cutting edge, hybrid Kelly Griffin aloe, impactfully-toothed hard-core agave of awe-inspiring proportions, or stylish, graceful and austere ornamental grass. It's an old lady shrub. WTF! NIMBY, OMG!!!!1! Blech!!!!!! >:x

Fourth, it is called the Poor Man's Rhododendron. If you absolutely love Rhodies and can't grow them are you really going to grow this? I think not - it looks nothing like a Rhodie! Impatiens sodenii is to Rhododendrons what KFC is to chickens, my friend. And friends don't let friends go to the KFC of plants.

However. Here I am writing a profile on it. Why, you ask? One reason.

It loves dry shade.

And if you know anything about gardening, you know that a plant who loves to grow with almost no light or water, and flowers almost all year round in that situation, the very death of normal plants, is a plant to get down on your knees and worship. That's right people, go out to the garden today and see that little bugger flowering in late December and think about it. It's a Christmas miracle. ;)

UPDATE: well as it turns out it does need SOME water - after 5 years of drought it was looking distinctly stringy... it does seed around and perk up with a watering, so we're not removing them.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shed, part 5!

This is it! The shed is done! OMG, I could cry. But I won't. Instead I'll let Matt take a bow for finishing up the shed today while I planted some really gorgeous plants in the garden.

Yeah, yeah, we still need to add shelves and so on inside the shed, but it's ready to rock and already housing the wheelbarrow and hose reel.

This is it, Emily: you now HAVE to remember the combination for the lock, or no tool access for you! ;)

Leucadendron "Jester"
The plants that went in today were:

1 Leucadendron "Jester"
1 Cordyline "Torbay Dazzler"
1 Cordyline "Electric Pink"
1 Asclepias curassavica "Silky Gold"
2 Epilobium californica (California Fuchsia)

Cordyline "Torbay Dazzler"
I also rearranged some Aloe arborescens to make room for all the mad Cordylines. I think the middle front and middle back beds are looking really great now, and we have a set of three Epilobiums near the bench - look out when they flower: it'll be awesome.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shed, part 4

Oh crikey - when will it ever end?
Today Matt and I headed out before work in a slight rain to work on the shed. We put on the roof frame and started adding roof panels when we discovered that we’d installed one of the roof frame beams upside down.

Rather than take it all apart, because that would have been So Annoying, we decided to drill extra holes in the beam to make it work. But did we have a suitable drill bit? We did not. So we had to pack up and quit after an hour.

Oh boy… at least the shed is looking pretty complete at this stage! Two more roof panels and the door and we are done.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shed, part 3

Knowing that the shed was not complete, and knowing we'll have some wet and windy weather coming, Matt and I got up early and went out to work on getting it finished today before work.

Happily everything was still in place, and we did a solid hour and a half of work before having to leave for our cubicles. We got three and a half walls completed, and the next step is to add the roof.

I am worried that some(crazy/drunk)one will try and stand on the roof at some point - and it feels like it's not going to be all that strong... I wonder if we should put barbed wire up there?
We are up to page 46 of the manual. I do not think we are over the worst. We'll be out there agin tomorow morning at least. Whose idea was this?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Plant shopping in Carmel

I was in Carmel Valley yesterday on an abortive horse shopping trip, and found myself with a little time to kill between discovering the horse seller was insane, and picking up Matt from the beach where he was surfing.

I happened upon Griggs Nursery and went in: what a great place! A huge area was stocked with very nice plants, and the person in charge helpful and knowledgeable. I quickly loaded up a few nice specimens for P. Garden:

1 Leucadendron "Jester"
1 Cordyline "Torbay Dazzler" in a hefty 3 gallon size.
1 Cordyline "Electric Pink" in a 2 gallon pot.

All these are for the middle front bed which is going to be pretty stunning (Outrageous? Garish? Yay!) I think.

Driving down the road I came across another nursery - Valley Hills. I found a few more items from the wishlist there:

1 Asclepias curassavica "Silky Gold"
2 Epilobium californica (California Fuchsia)
1 Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

After the car was loaded with plants I felt much better about the 6 hour round trip to Carmel. Fun times!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shed, part 2

OK today was an extra workday to try and get the shed completed. I had 2 yards of 3/4 crush gravel delivered yesterday and we needed to put it under the shed area to make a good, long-lasting foundation.

Happily, Matt, Jessica, Emily and Eliot showed up to help and yes, the gravel moving was a right heavy job... argh! We started at 11am and I just walked in the door half an hour ago, at 3pm. I am shattered!

Matt was busy sawing wood and screwing together the foundation while the rest of us carted gravel up the hill (of course it had to be uphill - why is it always uphill?!) in the wheelbarrow or in tubs until a little after 1pm. Darn cordless drill died (again!) but luckily Ryan dropped by with his for Matt to use.

Then Matt and I tried to put the shed on the (very sturdy and I hope long-lasting) foundation as quickly as possible, bearing in mind the instruction manual was over 25 pages long and the 250 pound package the shed came in contained something like a thousand parts...

However, the instructions did say the shed could be assembled by 2 people in 2 hours. So we were optimistic.

No chance.

The base rails went on, the roof frame was assembled, and the first wall went up. Every diagram required careful consideration due to the similarity of the pieces, and the tiny diagrams. It was complicated... we were tired...

Then Matt realized his baseball game was starting oh, about 5 minutes ago, and he dropped everything to make it there.

Leaving me with everything to put away.

I just ate a big slice of tiramisu. I feel better now.

Stay tuned for part 3 of the shed building, which I'm now going to have to try and fit in before the holidays. In all my spare time. HA!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Extra volunteer day!

Come on out tomorrow at 11am - we're having an extra volunteer day to finish up the shed.
2 yards of gravel were delivered today, so we'll move that to the shed base first, then get to the walls and doors fun. Hope you can make it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Plant profile: Glaucium (Horned Poppy)

Glaucium grandiflorum
(Orange Horned Poppy)
Here’s an interesting group of plants from the poppy family. Glaucium (Horned Poppy) is a genus of about 25 species of annual, biennial or perennial plants. They commonly grow in saline habitats, like along coasts and in salt pans. The name "Horned Poppy" comes from their seed pods, which are long, thin and curved like a horn, and can be up to a foot long in some species. The Latin name "Glaucium" comes from the Greek "Glaukos" which means "ashen" or "pale" due to the silvery stems and leaves of the plant

Latin name: Glaucium (pronounced "GLAW-kee-um")
Common name: Horned Poppy.
Originally from: Europe, North Africa and Southwest and Central Asia.
Blooms: Yellow, orange, or red.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant
Where to find in P. Garden: The brights bed has a group of each of the species mentioned.

We have two types at PG:
Glaucium grandiflorum (Orange Horned Poppy): Orange flowers cover it from spring through December, and the foliage is a silvery-blue, blowsy web of leaves. Native to Turkey and Iraq.

Glaucium flavum (Yellow Horned Poppy): Native of Western Europe. We saw these thriving on the beach in Crete, and knew right away they’re tough plants. They have clear yellow flowers and silvery fern-like foliage.

Glaucium grandiflorum
(Orange Horned Poppy)
The key to keeping Glaucium happy is awful, sandy soil; “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen” is the key here - they have more silvery foliage and tend to be perennial if grown in poor-quality soil. Great for your xeric or beach garden!

These plants contain a chemical called glaucine. According to Wikipedia, "Glaucine is the main alkaloid component in Glaucium flavum. Glaucine has bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, acting as a PDE4 inhibitor and calcium channel blocker, and is used medically as an antitussive in some countries. Glaucine may produce side effects such as sedation, fatigue, and a hallucinogenic effect characterized by colorful visual images, and has recently been detected as a recreational drug."

An oil obtained from the seed is used for as a fuel for lighting, it burns cleanly. It is also used in soap making. The yellow sap from the plant's stems is said to cure warts, and among the Bedouins Glaucium arabicum (known to them as "na'aman") is used as a treatment for conjunctivitis in livestock. It has also been used for cataracts in humans, and its use in treating viruses like herpes, flu and mumps, and various cancers, is being studied. However, due to very poisonous side effects home treatment with this plant is not recommended at all!

UPDATE June 2016: Due to too much "good" soil (ie not straight sand) ours got big and shrubby and blew out. None survived, but they put on a great show before they went!.

Monday, December 5, 2011

350 daffs planted

Yesterday the entire front edge of the brights bed got a border of mixed daffodil bulbs and a good weeding. I also put 4 bags of the daffodil "Cheerfulness" in the middle front bed. Only 60 bulbs left to plant!

I cut back a few plants for the winter too. Boom.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I (heart) Steve Broyles

Well lookee here: Steve Broyles stood by his word and fixed the hole in the fence opposite Center Hardware.

What a guy. And it doesn't look like anyone will be able to undo that repair job in a hurry. We'd better get out there and plant up the gap before something happens.

Plants needed:

1 Lavatera "Barnsley" (the lavender kind - for right end of left bed)
2 Dendromecon rigida (Bush Poppy) (for gap and left end next to current pink mallow)
1 Lavatera assurgentiflora (Island Mallow) (the pink one - for middle area)
6 Dietes clumps from PG min - could use more.

Looks like a shopping trip is on order...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Uh oh...

This just in: the 75% off bulbs at Home Despot sale is still going on. This time I succumbed to190 daffodil bulbs for under $15. Including 10 "Tahiti" bulbs. Squeee!

I think the front border is about to get the Welsh treatment...

Shed - part 1

Jessica, Matt, Paloma,
Patrick and Nate: digging it.
Today's volunteer day was, as usual, amazing. Although I'm pulled left and right with questions, and as a result feel like my contribution is minimal, I look around at the end of the day and see the results and I'm always deeply impressed by what everyone accomplished.

Today, we set out to get the new shed's foundation area set up. This involved a lot of digging - out came the digging bar, and Jessica, Matt, Patrick, Nate and Paloma set to work next to the composter levelling out an area for the new shed.

Patrick, Emily and
John: pruning it.
The footprint of the shed is 8' x 4' so there was a good amount of rock hard dirt to move away from the site to get it to fit on the sloped area. Several large rocks came out, and several cupcakes were consumed as energy boosters. The dirt was spread along the pathway, and Jessica and John added a plank there to prevent it all rolling downhill.

Emily, Jason, Eddy, Maile and Carlin showed up, and Matt and Eddy went to buy lumber for the foundation of the shed. This left everyone else at a loose end so I got them going on extra tasks.

How to prune a Euphorbia, by Jessica.
The Salvia gesnerifolia "Tequila" lost half it's height, as did the unknown Salvia next to it, thanks to Carlin.  The aster Symphyotrichum novi-belgii "Bill's Big Blue" was cut down to the ground and a Euphorbia "Excalibur"was cut back to just the right level by Jessica.

Neatly bordered by John.
The Verbena bonariensis was cut to the ground and the border rebuilt by John,  One clump of the Crocosmia "Lucifer" was cut back, and many weeds were eradicated by Paloma, Emily and Maile. And the white Watsonia bulbs that had been hanging around forever finally got planted by Patrick, thank goodness. Lastly, Jason, Emily and Jessica trimmed up and planted a whole lot of Calandrinia spectabilis cuttings given to us by Anna.

Matt and Eddy came back from their little lumber odyssey with the right stuff for the job, and quickly set about installing a 10' long, 12" tall terrace parallel to the composters, held in place with rebar.

Don't they look pleased?
They flattened the area and you can see from the pics that the 4' x 8' piece of plywood for the foundation fits perfectly. Great job team - if Matt and I get a "wild hare" to finish putting up the shed I'll send out an email so anyone interested can join in. Wild hares welcome ;)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday party

This just in from the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA):

Season's Greetings, Park and Open Space Advocates!
We at the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA) hope you're having a relaxing start to the holiday season.
In the spirit of celebrating, extend an invitation to you our park advocates and your families to join us for the SFPA Annual Holiday Open House.

Our staff will be providing desserts and drinks for our guests - we hope you consider bringing along a savory appetizer to share with other park advocates, volunteers, staff and board.

The Details...

Friday, December 2, 2011
5:30 - 7:30 pm
SFPA Hayes Street Office, 451 Hayes Street, 2nd Floor (b/w Gough and Octavia)
Please RSVP so we can be sure to have enough food and drinks for all of our attendees!

We're proud to be partnering with Community Partners United (CPU) and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA) for this special Friday evening event. Both CPU and the HVNA will be hosting choral performances in Patricia's Green, right next door to our building. Come and enjoy great music in our park and then join us at SFPA for community, light snacks and a warm beverage.

We hope that you will be able to join us. Please share this invitation to other park advocates and your list servs! – we want to celebrate this season with all of the amazing volunteers and stewards making San Francisco a beautiful, lush place to live.
For our parks,
PS: If the link above does not work, please feel free to contact Vickie Bell, Stewardship Manager via email or phone (victoria@sfparksalliance.org or 415-621-3260) to RSVP!

Victoria Bell
Stewardship Manager, Neighborhood Parks
San Francisco Parks Alliance
P.O. Box 170160
San Francisco, CA 94117-0160

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Amtrak at work

I was down at the Mariposa Center Garden today, opposite Center Hardware, when I saw Steve Anton of Regent's Cab Company walking down the street. We'd both just noticed Amtrak workers on the other side of the fence working feverishly to cut down the huge field of fennel and other weeds growing back there. You can see from the picture that they really cleared out that mess!

I investigated further, and asked a guy on the other side to stop his weed-whacking for a minute. Would they, I asked, please fix the hole in the fence along Mariposa that has been reopened repeatedly by homless people? (Shown in the pic too)

He said yes. He also said they'd evicted 6-8 people camped in the weeds the day before. Wow. I felt pretty happy, thanked him, and went back down the street. Then I thought to myself about how many times I'd asked them to fix that fence in the last year and a half, and how many times I've tried to do it myself, and failed. So, being a pitbull on the pant leg of opportunity, I stopped another guy a bit further down and asked him for the name and number of the Dude In Charge so I could ask him to please, for the love of dog, fix the fence.

He gave me the number of Steve Broyles. As I walked back to work I called Steve, and he asked if I had time to meet him at the spot. Turning on my heel I walked quickly back to Mariposa and met Steve, pointed out the hole, whined and wrung my hands pathetically and generally let him know we needed a Big, Strong, Hero to Save the Street! *blink rapidly*

I don't know whether or not he thought I was insane, but I do think he's gonna fix that fence. If not, I have his cell phone number, and I'm not afaid to use it...

Parking meters in Pennsylvania Ave?

According to neighbor Jim:

"SFMTA is proposing to install parking meters on Pennsylvania between 17th and 18th streets and along 17th street itself among other places in Potrero Hill as part of their "Mission Bay Parking Management
Strategy" (read revenue generation for the city with no regard for our neighborhood) (see figure 13 in the document linked to below). These meters, if installed, will be active between 9am and 11pm, effectively requiring residents to pay metered parking when they get home from work (if you drive). I don't know how you feel about it, but I am going to attend the public hearing at SFMTA. I do not yet know when it will be, but will keep you posted. To offer input on this "proposed plan" and find out more info, please email jay.primus@sfmta.com. Our supervisor is Mahlia Cohen. She can be reached at cohenstaff@sfgov.org. We need to get the word out to the rest of the neighborhood."

Here's the document: click here to read a PDF.

I have to say, if they put parking meters on Pennsylvania Ave a lot of people are going to be a lot angry...

UPDATE: Jim created a petition. Sign it, everyone!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

OK, I made it

Glaucium grandiflorum
Back from Mendo with lots of plants!

Matt's dad has been taking care of a load of plants for us up there, and this weekend we brought some back to plant in the garden. Some? "A whole load" is more like it. And we also brought a few items from our patio, currently undergoing a planty renovation. Here's what went in the ground:

In the middle front bed:
Aeonium "Kiwi" (3)
Aeonium canariensis (2)

In the middle back bed:
Lantana "Samantha"
Phormium "Alison Blackman"

On the terraces:
Aeonium arboreum "Zwartkop" (a dozen)
Agave americana "Lemon Lime"
Agave angustifolia variegata
Aloe "Goliath"
Aloe sp.
Graptoveria (a dozen)
Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi (3)
Kalanchoe pumila (3)
Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feather grass)
Yucca whipplei

In the meantime Matt was busy in the middle back bed, rearranging some plants. After planting the Phormium "Alison Blackman" and the Lantana "Samantha" behind the Agave filifera, he removed the Echium that was there. Another Echium bites the dust - a casualty of root rot. Gah!

Next Matt moved the Cordyline "Red Star" from the corner back to the other green Cordyline in that bed, making a nice grouping, and rearranged the Aloe arborescens too. I cut back the lavender and rosemary there, and I think once we add another Cordyline and sort out the crusty-looking Opuntia and a few other items we might have a nice look going on.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Cordyline "Sundance"
Well I'm off to Mendocino for Thanksgiving, and before I left I thought I'd better get that new Cordyline australis "Sundance" in the ground. A quick dig in the wet dirt and it's next to the bigger Cordyline "Red Sensation" in the middle front bed.

The plan is to add another type ("Torbay Dazzler"?) to make a group of three at varying heights and of varying colors, which I think will be a great tropical look in a bed that gets no water except rain. The "Red Sensation" is about 10' tall, and it was a tiny 4" pot size back in December 2008. Not a bad rate of growth!

After that I weeded a bit, and cut back some rosemary and the two Sedums in the middle back bed. Sedum telephium ssp. ruprechtii "Hab Gray" and Sedum spectabile "Neon" got cut back right to the ground, where you can see the new growth coming up in the "after"picture.

They ought to grow right back in and will be flowering again from about July onwards, but in the meantime they have yellow flags on them to stop them from being stepped on accidentally.

...and after.
These two Sedums have looked nice this year, but after seeing those of my aunt in Virginia this summer, I realized that Sedums need a lot more water than I thought to look spectacular, like hers. So should these two plants stay or go? I think I'll move them to a damper spot and give them another try.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Resistance is futile

Cheerfulness on a stick.
This year I have resisted buying more daffodil bulbs. We have enough - and they multiply easily. No need for more. Not even the nutrageous "Tahiti" with the orange and yellow double flowers. Nope.

But the Welsh person in me wants more (MOAR!) of our national flower... and last night I was at Lowes and as I walked in the sales assistant directed my attention to a rack laden with bulbs and told me "They're a dollar a bag..."

After I finished hyperventilating, picked myself up off the floor and managed to stop my eyes from rolling back in my head I started grabbing bags of daff bulbs. 8 or 12 bulbs for $1 - I mean, come on people! Normally they're $1 per bulb. They were mostly mixed bags, but also separate bags of the varieties "Cheerfulness" and "Golden Ducat."

The sales assistant went to find me a cart, and Matt shook his head and walked away...

222 bulbs: $21.
Knowing spring will be that much more cheerful: priceless.

We also got a big enough Cordyline australis "Sundance" for the middle front bed for a low, low price. Another item I've been shopping around for. Yeah!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We got some rain

Well it's fairly cold and wet in the Bay area right now as a strong cold front passes through. Nice for the garden though - a little rain, even though it didn't penetrate more than 3" into the bone dry dirt, is better than nothing.

Today Matt and I had planned to be out of town but due to an unforeseen set of circumstances, ended up coming home early. A spot of gardening was in order, so we popped out and accomplished a few tasks.

I weeded the steps area and planted a few specimens that had been waiting for a while:

4 Leucophyta brownii (Cushion Bush)
4 Euphorbia amygdaloides "Purpurea/Rubra"

I also sadly noted that almost all of the Sisyrinchium californica (Yellow-Eyed Grass) and Calla lilies by the steps are gone - probably weeded out by a volunteer who mistook the former for grass and the latter for...dead stuff? I also found three piles of dog poo in the steps area - disgusting. Come on people: keep an eye on your pets and pick it up! The majority of dog owners are cool - it's the one or two lazy ones...

I cut back the lamb's ears (Stachys) and the yellow Crocosmia in the left bed, and Matt transplanted a Verbascum from behind the wrong way sign to be with the other Verbascums in the left bed. He also weeded the area behind the wrong way sign, and moved two of the Asphodeline lutea to be next to the third one, as they were being engulfed by Artemisias.

Matt also moved an Agave filifera to the front of the middle back bed (digging up the remnants of the deceased yellowjacket colony) Lastly, he worked on flattening the new shed area, which is (slightly) easier to do when the ground is wet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Plant profile: Tulbaghia violacea

Got a snake problem? Cute little Society Garlic to the rescue!  It's a tough plant, growing in hot, sunny areas with very little water, and usually has plenty of pretty violet flowers.  It's low maintenance and reliable, and comes in a plain strappy green leaf, or a nice variegated, stripy leaf. It's like a miniature Agapanthus with pinker flowers. Each clump is about 2' tall and 1' around - they can be divided to make more clumps when they get large enough. But snakes? Read on.

Latin name: Tulbaghia violacea ("tool-BAG-ee-ah vye-oh-LACE-ee-ah")
Common name: Society Garlic
Originally from: Africa - the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, to as far north as Zimbabwe.
Blooms: Little violet trumpets wave 18" above the clump on thin stems almost all year round.
Light: Full sun, part sun.
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water!
Where to find in P. Garden: The middle back bed has a few clumps of the cultivar "Silver Lace"

How did this plant get it's name? Nothing to do with snakes. The slightly fleshy leaves and bulbous base smell like garlic when bruised (and both the leaves and flowers can be used in salads and other dishes) so that takes care of the "garlic" part, but "society"? Not many societies approve of the smell of garlic lingering about.

Oh wait - the snake problem? According to plantzafrica.com:

"The crushed leaves may be used to help cure sinus headaches and to discourage moles from the garden (by their strong smell). The smell repels fleas, ticks and mosquitoes when crushed on the skin.

The fresh bulbs are boiled in water and the decoctions are taken orally to clear up coughs and colds. The bulb has been used as a remedy for pulmonary tuberculosis and to destroy intestinal worms. Wild garlic may prove to have the same or similar antibacterial and antifungal activities as has been scientifically verified for real garlic. The leaves are used to treat cancer of the oesophagus.

The Zulus use the leaves and flowers as spinach and as a hot, peppery seasoning with meat and potatoes. They also use the bulb to make an aphrodisiac medicine. Wild garlic is a very good snake repellent and for this reason the Zulus plant it around their homes."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Garden variety bees

This just in:

"The Xerces Society is happy to announce the release of Garden Variety Native Bees of North America - a perpetual calendar. The calendar is produced by the same team that brought us the last two calendars, bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin and nature photographer Rollin Coville. Each month introduces you to a different bee genus, with a gorgeous full-page pin-up photo accompanied by notes on preferred plants, nesting needs, and guidance on how to identify the genus.  

Garden Variety Native Bees of North America is both a guide to some of our more common native bees and a gardening calendar that never goes out of date. The perpetual calendar includes the dates in each month, but not the days of the week. Use this calendar to keep month to month, and even year to year comparative garden notes. It's a great way to record your observations of the bloom times and other characteristics of the bee-friendly plants you include in your garden, along with the numbers and different types of bees that visit them.     

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this gardening calendar will be donated to the Xerces Society, but Xerces will not be directly selling the calendar, so please do not send calendar payments to Xerces.    
Click here for more information on how to order the calendar. Please note that you will be redirected to a website hosted by California Lithographers, the printer producing the calendar on behalf of Celeste Ets-Hokin and Rollin Coville. California Lithographers is solely responsible for calendar sales and shipping.   "

Monday, November 14, 2011

Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project

Our project has just received a Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project grant in the amount of $10,000!
We're delighted, needless to say. Thanks go to Emily for writing up that grant.

In the meantime, we have been hard at work, getting rounds of landscape architect drawings drawn and accompanying narratives written for PUC approval, and researching structural engineers and permits for DPW.

If anyone knows a structural engineer who can do a drawing for us, please let us know.

As those of you on the street will know, the area has never looked worse in terms of dumping and vandalism. Hopefully on day soon we can start work on cleaning it up for good.

SF community gardens

I recently found this list of community gardens in San Francisco. You might find it useful:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Another marathon day

Today Matt and I set out to plant as many plants on the terraces as we could, since we need to prove to the people who gave us grants that we've spent their money as we said we would by November 15th. Eeek!

We worked from 10am to about 3.30pm, and we planted a lot. Here's the list:

1 Aeonium arborescens "Atropurpureum"
3 Aeonium haworthii
5 Aeonium sp. 
1 Agave lechuguilla (Shin Dagger Agave)
4 Agave parryi
1 Agave sp. (smooth leaf edges and long apical spine - ideas?)
1 Agave vilmoriniana (Octopus Agave)
7 Aloe brevifolia
1 Aloe polyphylla
4 Calandrinia spectabilis (Rock Purslane)
1 Crassula lycopodioides (Watch Chain Crassula)
6 columnar cacti, unidentified
1 Echeveria rgida
3 Euphorbia characias
4 Euphorbia lambii
3 Euphorbia "Silver Swan"
1 Furcraea sp. (variegated)
3 Gasteria acinacifolia (Giant Gasteria)
1 Hesperaloe parviflora
2 Opuntia subulata
Lots of Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Chalk Sticks) cuttings
5 Yucca sp.

That's at least 60+ plants, and we probably have almost as many to plant where the shed is. When we remove the shed and landscape that area. Oh yes, another big job coming up!

Matt also worked on flattening the path to the composters and added rebar stakes to the steps too.

Later on we went by Home Depot, Flowercraft and Lowes looking for tall Cordylines for the middle front bed.  No luck, but I did find some nice Australian natives for the steps area - Leucophyta brownii. A silvery, mounding shrub that's supposed to be tough as nails, and has little yellow flowers.

All in all a pretty productive day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Planting the terraces

Agave ovatifolia
Now that this area is terraced, weeded, handrails installed, steps and paths almost finished, it's about ready for visitors. Except it doesn't really have any plants in it...

I've been collecting and propagating plants for this spot for over a year now, and I have a good long list of plants that need to go in. We're planning a planting day soon, but in the meantime I thought I'd get one or two in the ground as a head start.

Recently I planted four plants:
Maireana sedifolia (Pearl Bluebush) - a very cool silvery shrub.
Agave ovatifolia (Whale’s Tongue Agave)
Yucca “Garland’s Gold” – the one I rescued after a vandal uprooted it last spring.
Agave “Sharkskin” – just a little pup.
Aloe striata (Coral Aloe)

Agave "Sharkskin"
Hopefully the Agave ovatifolia will develop the lovely whitish look of the ones I've seen online... and the "Sharkskin" will grow into a nice specimen quickly too.

I watered them in, plus all the other recently planted plants, and worked on drawing up a diagram the rest of the plantings. I have a group of plants to bring up from my patio to add, as well as lots of plants that Matt's dad in Mendocino is looking after for us to add as well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Photos from Mulch-a-Palooza

Here are some really excellent pics of Weed'n'Woodchip Workday taken by Eddy:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm watching you...

Jess spotted a visitor to the garden last week and took this great shot - I think it's a female Red-Tailed Hawk, because the females are larger than the males, and she's quite big. Pretty awesome, and apparently she hung out on top of the trellis arch for quite a while as Jess crept closer to her. Click the image to see a bigger versions of this photo.

I also took a photo of the garden from neightbor Sage and Barbara's window at the weekend. I don't often get to see the garden from this angle - talk about perspective.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

After the storm...

Matt moves an Agave
Yesterday was bonkers, and today I went to look at the garden and wow - it really looks great. A fresh layer of mulch is like installing new carpet in your house - and it smells great, too!

Matt and I went out to do some weeding, and ended up planting up the middle front bed with stuff we've been collecting for a while now.

We moved three Agave attenuata to cover the stump at the front, and stop them encroaching on the path at the right.  I moved the Leonotus leonurus back a couple feet so it doesn't get too rowdy as well, and a Knifophia uvaria "Wayside Flame" out from under the giant Agave, so we can see it.

Before and after.
A few Echeveria secunda glauca were uncovered and put in a better spot, and several Aeoniums too: A. canariense, A. "Zwartkop" and several others I need to ID.

We added a few new plants to the bed: several  Nassella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass), Pennisetum setaceum "Rubrum", a spotted Aloe (need an ID), a nice big Agave parryi and a lot of Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Chalksticks) and Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga.

We also left room for three plants we'll need to buy: two Cordylines (I'd like an "Electric Pink" and a "Torbay Dazzler" and a nice variegated Leucadendron. They'll be fun to shop for.
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