Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Volunteer Days This Saturday & Sunday

Join us this weekend and plant out the new street park!
If you're reading this blog you know how special Pennsylvania Garden is to the neighborhood. This Saturday and Sunday we are planting out the new street park on Pennsylvania Avenue between 17th and Mariposa. This is rapidly becoming a spectacular new park and we need your help to make it a beautiful garden!

Please join us on Saturday and Sunday; 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm both days. We will meetup at Pennsylvania Ave @ 17th and we will provide all the necessary gloves, tools and lunch at 1pm. Come ready to plant! Even if you can only come for an hour, your help is greatly appreciated and needed.

Delivery Day Extravaganza Photo Essay

It was an extravaganza today because of all the work that was done! Over 400 plants delivered, many bags of mulch well bagged and then moved to Pennsylvania Garden, and Jackie single handedly removed all the graffiti from the fence. They said it couldn't be done - well she did it! Many thanks to John, Carlin and Jackie who volunteered today, and the drivers from Village Nursery who helped too.

Jackie & Carlin
Driver extraordinaire John

lovely non-graffiti wall!

Regent's Cab-Nursery

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plant update: tons! ok hundreds...

Super volunteer group!
We had over a hundred plants delivered today, and a few hundred more are coming tomorrow! All of this could not be possible without many great people pitching in with a lending hand - and today it was Pat (SF Scrap Metal), Randy (SF Scrap Metal), Steve (Regent's Cab), and Jackie, John K. and John P.

Catch up on all the news at the street park by heading over to the Seventeenth and Pennsylvania blog:

Best Neighborhood EVER

John, John, & John moving plants
I'm going to keep this post short, because I want the main point to come across really clearly. Our neighborhood is the best neighborhood, ever. I'm including Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, residents, renters, owners, and the local businesses. Even passerby have had thoughtful, supportive things to say about the gardens. I have never met so many kind, dedicated and overwhelmingly knowledgeable people.

Many thanks to Randy from
SF Scrap Metal
Pat & Steve: part of the way
way better business bureau!
Jackie is always lending a hand!
It is a very long list of people I need to thank for helping make Pennsylvania Street Gardens what it is, but today I have to thank our volunteers Jackie, John K. and John P. for coming to help unload plants. A huge thanks also goes to Steve, owner of Regent's Cab, who has been incredibly helpful throughout this entire street park installation. Steve has been very gracious and not only has he let us store plants on his lot, he has rearranged the lot so we can easily move plants in and out. Today Steve was a major help in connecting us with Pat at SF Scap Metal. Pat generously donated the time of her forklift driver Randy and equipment so that we could safely and quickly unload very large Agaves. These are the wonderful people that are making the beautiful street park happen, and I am incredibly grateful to them!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Preparation for next week

Next Saturday and Sunday Feb 2 and 3 are BIG days for us. We have two solid days of volunteer workdays at the SPUR garden (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) down the street. Are you coming? We need ALL the help we can get - no joke.

We'll be planting 800 plants, give or take, and working from 10am to 5pm. If you can come even for an hour it'll help so much! Please please please sign up by clicking here!

So with that in mind, Matt and I cancelled our plans to go out of town today and worked on getting some Agaves ready for the new street park.

We removed 4 large Agaves from the cactus wall area, a whole lot of pups, and weeded and tidied up there too.

Then we moved on to weeding and rebuilding the tip of the left bed, right in front of the arch. We placed boulders there instead of the twig border that was old and falling apart.

Next I planted some Sword Ferns (Polystichum munitum) donated by Michele behind the bench and under the trees near the bench, and also pruned the Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) back for the year.

After that was all done, we took a break for lunch, then took the wheelbarrow and forks down to the mulch pile at 17th and Pennsylvania. We spent a while moving mulch and spreading it along the street - backbreaking stuff, but we have to do it to make room for all the plants going in. If only I didn't have a job - I could do so much with more free time!

As we worked Mohammed from DPW stopped by to see how the project was going. Said he's come to the volunteer days next weekend - that'd be great!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Things large and small

Today the San Francisco Parks Alliance tour was coming to PG, and I was there to meet them, give them a guided tour, explain our mission and answer all their questions. We've done this for them before and it's always a lot of fun.

As usual they were an energetic group of about 20 people who were taking this SFPA workshop to learn how to start a street park. A number of familiar faces were in the mix (Ken! Blade! Julia! Lanita! Steve! Jerad!) and the atmosphere was jovial. We walked down to the site of the new street park on the 100 block of Pennsylvania Ave afterwards and I filled them in on the rapid progress there. Everyone was very interested, and asked great questions.

Before all that happened though I was at the garden weeding for an hour, and completely cleared an area in the left bed that always gets one little weed absolutely carpeting it. The nice soft dirt smelled great, and the weeds popped out easily. Very satisfying work - before and after pic above :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Double fun workdays

Wendy & Masashi
 expert Salvia pruners!
There is so much going on at the street park and at Pennsylvania Garden, it's hard to know where to begin! On Sunday we had a momentus workday; we installed 3 out of the 4 BRCs with the help of many wonderful volunteers. I'm listing there names here, but be sure to check out the entire story on the 17th and Pennsylvania Avenue blog too.

A big thank you to: Wendy, Jackie, Eliot, Luke, Jenny, Carlin, John, Matt, Annie, Anna, Mary, Debbie and David!

The finished product;
fresh growth uncovered
Today we had another workday to take care of things at Pennsylvania Garden. Wendy came back for more gardening, and brought along Masashi too. I taught them how to prune back some Salvia leucanthus and they clipped back one in the dog area and another on the way to the bench. JT came a bit later, and helped get branches ready for the compost heap before setting off to deadhead and otherwise tidy up the Agapanthus. Nice! Meanwhile, I rearranged some Helleborus orientalis into a nicer configuration and moved two Glaucium flavum to create a grouping with the Glaucium already in the brights bed; they will be much happier there with more sun. To finish up the workday we weeded the bed at the top of the dog area and the bed by the kiosk in the front of the garden. Ryan came by to bring us some cold drinks (and walk our dog Bentley in the process) and we called it a day.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BRC installation workday

BRC ready for plants
John demonstrated expert
fennel removing technique
With the help of many volunteers we were able to get a great number of things done today! The first order of business was to plant 57 plants in 3 BRCs (bio-retention cells; just think planting bed in the shape of a parking spot). Annie, Matt, John and my mom Debbie arrived at the street park at 9am to get things in order for the workday. Plants were loaded into John's pickup truck and unloaded at the corresponding BRC site, all according to Annie's wonderful planting diagrams. After we hauled all shovels, gloves, buckets, and whatever else was needed for the workday down from Pennsylvania Garden we got to work putting in the plants. Did I mention we were being filmed during all of this? Peter from the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA), our fiscal sponsor, was there to document our work for the SFPA website.

A gorgeous donated
 Yucca from David
Around 10am Anna, Mary, Jackie, Wendy and Carlin arrived, and got to work planting out the last BRC. Holes were dug, plants lovingly placed, dirt patted down and mulch spread. By 11am we were wrapping up with the BRCs and moving on to the next task. With fresh recruits Jenny and Luke, a crew started digging out the fennel from the planting beds. Luckily Anna brought a great tool for the job, and John gave everyone a quick tutorial on how to get rid of that nasty fennel. The remainder of volunteers worked to distribute the mulch pile at the North end around the garden. By covering the path with a burlap cloth we were able to keep from spilling mulch onto the path in order to keep it nice looking.

A finished product!
At some point David came by with news of a gorgeous Yucca that was available for us to plant. John and Matt dashed off in the pickup truck to retrieve the plant, which has made a lovely addition to the park. Meanwhile, Eliot had arrived and he worked with Jackie to water the BRCs and some of the street trees at the north end. Anna and Mary also put in the last of the cacti that had remained in pots from the previous workday. It was after 1pm when we broke for lunch, and we all celebrated a job well done will we lounged on the yet to be placed boulders eating pizza from Goat Hill and drinking Naked Juice. Many thanks to Jessica who was able to arrange for Naked Juice to be donated for our workdays!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boulder Delivery

Previously we had rocks delivered to create the wheel stops along the pathway. Today we had another delivery, and these were definitely in the boulder category! Mike drove all the way from Red Bluff with these boulders, and I chatted with him while we waited for the remainder of the boulders to be delivered by a landscape supply company, Lyngso, from South San Francisco. Some of these new boulders will go into the BRCs on Sunday, and others will be added as additional wheel stops along the pathway. Lovely!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Plants delivered!

Yesterday Emily took delivery of the plants for the bioretention cells on the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden). Thanks to Steve at Regent's Cab we were able to store them in the cab parking lot of a couple days before planting. Read more about it here.

The workday for planting them is this Sunday January 20th from 10am to 5pm. Can you make it? Sign up here. It's going to be really fun, and you won't believe how different the street will look when we're done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our First Wholesale Plant Delivery!

Wholesale plants yay!
There are many milestones in a gardener's life. Milestones like learning how to properly dig and plant, harvesting the rewards of your hard work as fresh vegetables, fruit or flowers, and loosing a favorite plant to disease, age or weather. Ok, and sometimes neglect. Or maybe a dog stomping it to bits, but hey, that is urban gardening! Back to the point about milestones.

About 100 plants
Today we received our first delivery of plants from a wholesale supplier, called Village Nurseries. Steve at Regent's Cab was kind enough to let us store the plants there until our Planting Party this Sunday January 20th from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. SF scrap metal was also nice enough to let me borrow a platform dolly to move all the plants, as the truck was too big to back into Regent's parking lot. What great neighbors!

I talked with a bunch of other neighbors today too. Many people stopped to chat as I waited for the delivery to show up, and all had great supportive things to say about the park. Fregosi Paint & Co. donated paint so that I could cover up graffiti on our message board, and by the time I had picked up the trash onsite, repainted the message board and talked with neighbors, the delivery truck arrived. What a great morning!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Weekday Volunteers

Full, Empty, and Almost Ready!
One of our awesome behind the scenes volunteers, Alison, passed the word along to a family friend named Emily that the garden could always use more regular volunteers. Emily not only came out to garden with me on Friday, but also brought her friend Renee to help too! I met them at 1pm at the garden, and after giving them a detailed tour of the garden we setup the hose to water the trees at the new street park  and got to work at Pennsylvania Garden.

Grow little plants grow!
First order of business was pulling out a lot of the various weeds around the garden, especially those in the left and middle beds. After our buckets were nice and full, we then divided up a few tasks. While one person was turning the compost, another would be potting up plants, and the third person would do a miscellaneous task like pruning, sweeping, or picking up trash. We went through this rotation so that no one person was stuck turning the compost for an entire hour. It worked out well, and by 3pm all of our work was completed. Job well done Emily and Renee!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Workday Wonderland at the new street park

First tree ever planted by Wendy!
For the full scoop please check out the blog posting on the new street park's website: click here

Many many thanks to all that volunteered today:

AnnaAnnie, Carl, Carlin, Eddy, Emily, Linda, Masashi, Matt, Matt (of Annie and Matt), Patrick, Sophia and Wendy

and everyone who stopped by to say thank you and tell a story!

Yucca is not Yucky

Wendy's first tree!
One of our youngest volunteers today, Sophia, asked me 'Why are they called Yuccas? Are they yucky?' They are anything but yucky! For starters, they come in a variety of colors and some are variegated. You can uproot them, leave them behind a shed for months, practically forgotten, and they will re-root when you plant them again*. They also thrive in our environment with almost no additional water after their first rainy season. All winning qualities in my book!

*not that I endorse this type of (non)care, but I'm just saying they will live and don't go looking behind our shed at the garden...

Today we had a mighty team assembled to put in Yuccas, Cacti, move mulch, and clear the site of trash. There is always trash to be cleared! Our mighty team in alphabetical order: AnnaAnnie, Carl, Carlin, Eddy, Emily (ok that's me), Linda, Masashi, Matt, Matt (of Annie and Matt), Patrick, Sophia and Wendy. Everyone picked up trash, and then divided up into work groups. Eddy and Matt brought a ton of Cacti and Yucca that we had been storing at Pennsylvania Garden down to the site, the rest of us hand carried a few Yuccas, and everyone got to work digging holes and placing plants. Annie had to leave early to go to work, but she did a great job instructing everyone on where things went and why. Hopefully we put everything in the right place!

Mighty cactus tamed by Eddy, Carl, Matt and Matt
We also had numerous, like almost a dozen, people stop by and say hello and thank you. Everyone had a story to tell about the site, and say how impressed they were with how things were changing for the better. Becky stopped and told us a story of how she used to come to this block and watch the jack rabbits race the train as it went by, back when she was a little girl. Martin, seeing us working across the way as he shopped at Center Hardware with his family, even came over and made a large donation in the form of a credit at Center Hardware. What a great guy!

At the end of the +2 hour workday almost everything was planted, picked up and put away. Did I mentioned the trees were also watered using our new irrigation system? Love it! Can't wait to make all the arrangements for the upcoming plantings on January 20th and 21st. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Graffiti No More?

Ryan showing the fence before
after finishing for the day
It would be great if the new, beautiful redwood fence on top of the retaining wall never saw another blemish of graffiti. This is of course very unlikely, but to try and make things a little less inviting Ryan and I went out on the Saturday before Christmas to work on the fence. While Ryan prepared the boards for installation I crawled around to the backside of the fence, and with paint donated by Fregosi & Co., I painted over the graffiti facing the train tracks. Hopefully it will look OK from 18th street, as I can see the backside of the fence as I walk to the garden from my house. Next, I helped Ryan install bracing and boards so that the fence would effectively be closed off, and no longer allow anyone to crawl behind it. By the time we were finished it was dark, so we used the headlights from our car to get the final photo. Ta da! Next up is to sand the graffiti off the face of the fence and then plan the entire fence up with spiky things. Graffiti no more TBD...

Winter chores

Miscanthus moved
Today Matt and I went out to the garden for the first time in weeks to get some chores done.

First I coppiced the Cotinus coggygria (Purple Smokebush) which is something I've been dying to do for ages.  Coppicing is a nice way to say "cut completely down to the ground" and you do it to some shrubs to get them to grow back vigorously from the base and show off their beautiful new foliage.

Our Cotinus had been grown into a standard when we got it - a 3' tall trunk with branches growing out of that, like a little tree. It looked weird in the border, and various shoots tried to grow from the base too, making it look weirder. So I cut it to the ground. Fingers crossed it comes right back!

Matt moved an ornamental grass from the left bed to the middle back bed. No idea what it is - probably a Miscanthus - but one thing's for sure: the Fuchsia boliviana was crushing it.

Then he removed a grass that wasn't great from the brights bed and replaced it with four Aloe maculatas from the middle front bed, where they were being crushed by an Aeonium.

I cut back the Dahlia imperialis, weeded a whole lot of weeds out, trimmed a Plectranthus argentatus, and tried to decide what species of Agave to plant in the dog area where someone keeps crashing into the Salvias to use the border as a bathroom. Yuck. Hopefully a sharp spine to the nether regions will stop that nasty habit ;)
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