Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A moment of silence please

Kniphofia "Dwarf Yellow"
Today I have confirmed that our little Western Mockingbird baby is dead.

Yesterday there were no parents flitting about with meals for baby, and no squeaky noises coming from the nest - baby crying for food. Today, the same. So I stood on an upturned pot and had a look in the nest. Sadly, a nestling about a week or two from fledging was lying in there, lifeless.

It's possible the nest got infested with mites, or something else killed the baby and it died - birds in general are very delicate and sensitive, and baby birds can kick the bucket mere hours after becoming sick. As far as I know nobody else knew the location of the nest, and since the parents chose the middle of the garden to build the nest it's unlikely stress from humans made them abandon it.

Hopefully the parents will have another go and there'll be a Mockingbird family again soon. Still, it's a bit sad. :(

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Mexican Evening Primrose
(Oenothera speciosa)
Today I sold three items on Craigslist on behalf of the garden. The two wine barrels went to Juliana and Austin, the old composter went to Freesia.

In between talking to them, I weeded the top of the steps quite thoroughly, and planted two Euphorbia characias there. The Achilleas were taking over, and tend to be on the floppy-weedy end of the spectrum anyway, so too many of them = a mess.

I also watered in all the recent plantings thoroughly. That'll be an every-other-day task for a week or two.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vote to get $2,000 for the garden... that simple!

GOOD is offering up another award, this time $2000 (big money!) to the project that gets the most votes. 

Please visit the website and vote; you only need to do it once. Easy $2000, if you vote!

It's easy to vote:
1. Click 'Vote for this Idea'
2. Use your Facebook account or email to quickly register a free GOOD account.
3. Once you've voted, you'll get a notification at the top of the screen verifying that your vote has been counted.

Remember, you can only vote once during the voting period, so please let your friends know and spread the word!

Thanks for supporting the garden!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Angry Birds and solar flower

BYOC (bring your own cup) this evening was preceded by about an hour of weeding and planting of cherry-red ice plants in the new bed we made yesterday.

I forgot to take a picture of that. Trust me, it'll look nice when it's grown in.

We had 14 BYOC guests. I will not name them to prevent their reputations being tarnished by such a display of wantonness in the garden, but let's just say everyone was "cheerful" until the wind got too cold.

Turns out it wasn't one of the two warm SF evenings per year after all, but we did accomplish two things: a) we saw the eclipse of the sun (turns out iPhone pics of that don't turn out so great) and b) Paloma & Jim (oops!) offered to really think about giving us Paloma's placenta when she has her baby next month, which we will plant under some exotic Australian plant. It was Paloma's idea, I swear. I am telling you right now, that'll be quite the event at PG. I shall blog about it in detail! Haha!

In other news the Mockingbirds are still Angry. See other picture.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fields of Aloe

Today Matt and I went to do a little tidying in the garden, and ended up overhauling a bed.

Matt moved all the branches piled up at the last volunteer day and cleared weeds, then planted a big Phormium from the brights bed that had been hidden from sight for quite some time. Then we added the Kniphofia thomsonii I'd been saving, a Coreposis gigantea, a Beschorneria yuccodies and about 8 good sized Aloe veras from the middle back bed.

Result: instant bed makeover, with room for lots of ice plants as ground cover, which we have stashed and ready to plant.

In the meantime I watered all the recent plantings, cut back a Chasmanthe and pruned some branches from various trees.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Even sunnier

California poppies with
Lamb's Ears in the background
Today I had to get out and water the plants that went in the last few days, so I made an early start. I wanted to plant the remaining plants, but somehow got side tracked in weeding. I did identify a spot for the Kniphofia thomsonii though, so that's saved for later.

Several large loads of plants went in the compost bin, and woody or fibrous stuff got piled on the side as we're expecting a green waste debris box to be delivered for the next volunteer day, which we hope will reduce the big compost heap a lot.

I did cut back a Euryops (Bush Daisy) on the bottom path that was encroaching a bit, and planted a Brachyglottis "Silver Dormouse" by the steps.

A pink Cordyline and
silvery Cotyledon orbiculata
var. oblonga
I also discovered why the Western Mockingbirds were so upset yesterday. I was working underneath a Cordyline all day yesterday, and today I noticed a nest in it's crown: they were scolding me to get away from their babies! They were very busy ferrying food to their squeaking babies while I worked today. More Mockingbirds for the neighborhood, and less insects for me to worry about ;)

Winners announced!

Yesterday I dropped off the prizes from our raffle at the Wellness Block Party.

We had a lot of entries, and I did a "ticketless" raffle - by taking down all the email addresses from the people who signed up and placing them on an Excel spreadsheet once for every ticket they bought. I was able to enter the total number of entries into an internet number randomizer and pick 2 winners. Drumroll please:

Denise won the Rickshaw Bagworks messenger bag - a super cute Small Zero Messenger Bag in Graphite Performance Tweed™ with hot pink trim that we really didn't want to give away! She's interested in starting her own street park so it was nice to chat with her when delivering the prize. Go for it Denise!

Cris won the Pennsylvania Street Parks organic cotton tee made by Eco Imprints, our very local earth-friendly promotional goods supplier. I dropped it off to him and his lovely wife Rebecca at their home across from the garden. Huzzah!

Hope you guys both enjoy your prizes - see you in the garden!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More plantings...

Before and after: Aloes and fescues
Since I had to go out and water yesterday's plantings today, I added more plantings. And there are more plants waiting to go in. It's a spiral of insanity, I tell you.

After setting up the sprinkler I planted a Cape Rush (Chondropetalum tectorum) in the middle back bed. I think it might be in a too-shady spot, but we'll see. I added more loam, and removed the large and unhappy Aloe vera that was there in the very beginning of the garden, in the same bed. I'll put it somewhere it'll be happier. Next I added 5 clumps of Festuca glauca (Blue Fescue) and two Aloe maculata (a species that's very happy in that bed.)

Leucadendron agrenteum
While those were watering in, I planted a Leucadendron argenteum in the left bed, surrounded by five yellow Osteospermums. That'll be a nice display. That area got watered heavily too. Does that planting spot look familiar? Yes, just a couple weeks ago I planted a Dendromecon rigida in that exact spot, and in typical Dendromecon fashion it rejected life right away.... I guess you just have to plant them in the winter or don't bother. Sigh.

I also popped two lavenders into the lavender hedge where there are holes, and watered them a lot as it's very dry up there.

The entire time I worked I was surrounded by three Western Mockingbirds who were having a turf war of some sort. No musical tweeting from them as usual, but lots of angry chiding. Birds!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Somewhat overcast

Phormium "Guardsman"
Last week's blazing sunshine gave way to some breezy and overcast mornings and today was perfect for planting. Well, OK, if it was November it'd be really perfect, but relatively speaking... when things have to go in the ground, an overcast day is better for the plants.

I deadheaded the Kniphofias around the garden that are looking great right now, and planted a Phormium "Guardsman" in the back border (to match the other one that's doing well there), then moved on to the middle back bed.

I removed a scraggly looking Opuntia from that bed, as well as the large Agave filifera. Sadly, that Agave had the yellow jacket nest under it last year, and the exterminator guy sprayed the whole plant with poison to kill the yellow jackets... the Agave was trashed and on close inspection the center was rotted out, so I took the plant out of the bed. A real shame - it was a good 20 year old specimen, but Agaves grow so slowly that the plant would likely never look pristine again.

Before and after
I moved an Aeonium haworthii and a Nassella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) to the side, added some dirt and planted two Mediterranean plants: a Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) behind the Phormium "Alison Blackman" and a Cistus salvifolius (Sage Leaf Rockrose) to it's right.  I replaced the Aeonium and the Nassella, popped in a few other Aeonium cuttings, and called it good. There's still a good space behind those plants for a 4' high and wide plant, or a small tree. Leucadendron argenteum, perhaps?

Signs in progress

Another project I worked on was making some signs for the garden. Following the theft of many plants (Aeoniums) by what is likely the same person,  the best thing I could think of to protect the plants immediately was signs.

This person cuts all the heads off the plants and cuts anything spiky nearby as well (they come with pruners, clearly, and know what they are doing) - one Agave on the cactus wall has had all the nearby leaf ends lopped off, so this person could reach the Aeonium behind it without being hurt.

Sign at the scene of the crime
Yesterday I printed out my sign, took it to Office Depot to laminate, and today attached them to paint stirrers. Will it help? Maybe, maybe not. But at least I feel like I'm doing something. And yes, when I say "please call 911" if you see someone stealing from the garden, I mean it. It is theft.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

One grumpy cocker spaniel

Hi everyone! A brief interruption in your garden blog programming to visit a website for a very worthy cause: Muttville! Muttville is an organization in our neighborhood that cares for senior dogs; taking care of them and finding them new homes. I already have one grumpy cocker spaniel in my life (he's in our brochure!) and would love more, but my dog is destined to be an only child for the rest of his life. Anyhow, I am sure you're like me and desperately want to help Muttville, and here is your opportunity!

If Muttville wins the vote, Tim Lincecum will host a special fundraiser event for them - WOW.

Please go to this website and vote for Muttville
If you want to foster or adopt a dog, volunteer, or donate, go to their main page here, which also contains a link to the voting website:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Another new street park steps up

Adequate substitute
for photo of Ken?
Oh I'm so punny... On Wednesday evening I met Ken who is an interesting bloke He wants to do up the plantings around a stairway in Noe Valley. His team's mission is on their website, and can be summed up thusly:

"22nd street Jungle Stairs is on a mission to rehab, beautify & maintain the steps on 22nd between Diamond & Castro. "

He dropped by the garden for a minute to see what advice I could give on the process of starting a garden. Since I like to hear the sound of my own voice I rambled on for hours, dragging him all over the garden and wagging my finger at him about the Best Way To Do Everything, a subject I am very fond of.

Eventually he escaped and today I got word that he's written up a post about my Strongly Worded Advice and The Doom That Comes From Not Following It. Apparently he was taking notes! Actually I know he was taking notes - I saw him take them. Well it's all rather gratifying. Have a look.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Party, Wellness, Sunshine!

For everyone that made it out to the Wellness Block Party yesterday, all I have to say is IZZE and you'll remember all the fun. Adults wildly hula hooping, local businesses sharing information and an amazing variety of delicious treats.

Oh the treats! Gluten Free Grocery (who knew gluten free cookies could be so good!!!), Alter-Eco (amazing variety of chocolates for tasting) Plum Organics (baby and toddler fare) and other treats provided by us at PSG.

Then of course, there was the bright pink IZZE truck with two of the cutest white fluffy dogs ever, Mr. Peppermint and Snowball. They also were giving out a variety of free drinks, and generally making everyone exceedingly happy!

Besides food and drink, there were lots of other things to get excited about. UCSF brought an ambulance onsite and was giving out cute UCSF stuffed animals and giving tours of their unique vehicle. Rickshaw was there in style, as was Third Street Gym, Centered Body Pilates, Giggling Lotus, ACTCM and SF Natural Medicine.  If you weren't watching a yoga demo, getting your face painted or stuffed with treats, you were probably relaxing in the garden.

We were lucky to have two awesome photographers donating their services at the event; Joel of Hyperfocal Studios and Maile of Missmith! You can see a full gallery of all the photos taken at the event by clicking to visit gallery 1 and gallery 2.

This event couldn't have happened without this amazing team of volunteers:

Annie, Matt, Debbie, Paloma, Jim, Nate, Ryan, Susan, Miriam & her daughter, Heather, Joel, Leah, Shan, Matt, Elliot and Maile.

You all rock!

For those who couldn't make it please consider making a donation via the San Francisco Parks Alliance to the garden by clicking here. Please note "Pennsylvania Street Garden" in the comments section, so SFPA knows where the money should go.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Volunteer Workday

Beautiful sunny day in Potrero Hill leads to massive amounts of weeding, planting and a general good time by all. The dog area had some serious bind weed and old branch trash building up but Carlin, Josh, Debbie, Annie, Nate and Jackie made short work of it. Matt was on special projects dealing with the compost and so on. Elliot came a bit later to help out, and after the dog area was all cleared everyone dispersed around the garden doing miscellaneous weeding and making the garden look awesome. Well, more awesome than it already is! Toddler Miya made her first volunteer appearance at the garden, supervising Debbie and Carlin while they weeded the french drain.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cleanup continues

Agave attenuata
Today I went out to the garden to work on some projects ahead of our fab Wellness Block Party on Sunday - are you coming?

I planted a bunch of plants that have been waiting around.

6 little Aloes or Haworthias (what are they?) went around the base of the Pittosporum on the terraces. I'd placed another one there a few months back and it seems to be happy, so now there's a mini swath of them there. I'll post a pic later and try and get a positive ID.

Dendromecon rigida
1 Agave attenuata went next to the other one I'd placed in the left bed back in February.

1 Dendromecon rigida (Bush Poppy) - a CA native - went in the spot I cleared this week where we had a Lupinus arboreus. The latter was misbehaving (going dormant, looking dead, coming back to life and being extremely sprawly - disaster!) due to the soil conditions there - hopefully the Dendromecon will shine.

There was also the inevitable weeding and watering of the latest plants to be done. Lots to do this week - come to the volunteer day on Saturday and help us prep for the party!
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