Friday, December 23, 2016

Plant profile: Bulbine


Latin name: Bulbine frutescens ("BUHL-bin-ee froo-TESS-ens")
Common name: Bulbine, Cat's Tail, Jelly Burn Plant
Originally from: Southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland).
Blooms: Orange and yellow flowers are held above the foliage in late spring/early summer.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Although a succulent they seem to prefer occasional water over the summer.
Height x width: 18"x24"
Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have some dotted around the left bed and brights bed.

The genus Bulbine has about 80 species, which are found mostly in Southern Africa, with a few species extending into tropical Africa, about six in Australia and some in Yemen.

Bulbine frutescens is a nice little perennial with succulent, finger-shaped leaves and lovely delicate orange and yellow flowers. It's mostly dormant in summer, blooming in the spring, and then again somewhat in fall. It can be propagated easily by stem cuttings which can be planted immediately and kept in a shady area. They do not need any special attention or treatment, and build strong roots in a couple of months.

Bulbine in San Diego
Bulbine frutescens is sometimes commonly called Jelly Burn Plant as it contain glycoproteins, similar to many aloe species, and is touted for similar burn-healing properties as Aloe vera. These properties have also caused it to be called cape balsam (from the Africaans name balsem kopieva) - other common names include snake flower, cat's tail and and geelkatstert.

Plantzafrica.com says:
The fresh leaf produces a jelly-like juice that is wonderful for burns, rashes, blisters, insect bites, cracked lips, acne, cold sores, mouth ulcers and areas of cracked skin. This plant is ideal to grow and is a useful first-aid remedy for children's daily knocks and scrapes. The Rastafarians make an infusion of a few fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water. The strained drink is taken for coughs, colds and arthritis.

These plants prefer full sun, but they will also grow in semi-shade for part of the day. At PG it needs a bit of water - I wouldn't call it really xeric but rather "pretty drought tolerant," and I have to put it places where it will be somewhat damper for it to look good. It multiplies rapidly in the right conditions. Prune it when untidy, and deadhead for more flowers. For best results it should be planted in well-drained soil preferably enriched with compost.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Another garden anniversary

Aloe arborescens "Lutea"
It's December, and that means that Pennsylvania Garden is a year older. In fact, it's 8 years old!

Matt and I started the garden in early December 2008 when we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and rented a place on Pennsylvania Avenue. We planted the following plants:

4 Dietes - still doing great!
8 Agapanthus - a feature at the front of the garden to this day.
3 Hakea suaveolens - two out of the three are now solid trees - one fell over and we have to remove it.
3 Kunzea baxterii - no longer with us, their form was too large and floppy for the spots we planted them.
1 Coprosma australis (variegated) - while it's mostly reverted to plain green, this is a really tough border edging "hedge" we still have.
2 Geranium maderense - this seeded around and may pop back up.
3 Ceanothus "King Sip" (ground covering/low) - still doing great!
2 Geranium macrorhizum - not so drought tolerant... gone!
2 Dianella tasmanica - very drought tolerant but deemed too boring in color. We dug them up and gave them away, but did get a variegated version.
1 Aeonium - still doing great!

Since then, Matt and I have been married and bought a house, and Emily and a host of other volunteers joined us in beautifying the neighborhood. We have endured a few setbacks: severe drought meant we lost a lot of plants as a result, and we saw the Mariposa Center Garden accidentally razed by local developers. Our tools were stolen and plants defaced or stolen, but the overall net result of our efforts has been hugely positive I think.

Together we made the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden happen, and encouraged gardeners to use less water and plant things that like to be dry. We held monthly volunteer days like clockwork, and helped people understand how important gardens are to the mental health of a city - as well as creating a tiny oasis for wildlife!

I hope you'll join us in the garden in 2017. A few minutes spent picking up trash, or pulling weeds, is a gift to your neighbors and your neighborhood that everyone appreciates. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Clean & Green Team At Pennsylvania Garden

Visitors always welcome!
Many thanks to the Clean & Green team from SF Public Works for coming out to Pennsylvania Garden on Saturday. The sun was shining, the air was a bit crisp, and the weeds... so ready to be pulled!

The recent rains have been great for many plants, and a bevy of fluffy weeds is taking over certain parts (ok most...) of Pennsylvania Garden. While I was getting things ready for the crew, May came by with her two cute dogs, who were so excited to be sniffing around the garden. Welcome!

Part of the Clean & Green
Team from SF Public Works
The crew came at 9 am, and after a brief introduction about the garden and a tutorial on weeding, I set everyone to work in the dog area. Hoes and rakes beat back the weeds, and after a few hours, we made a good dent in the weed population.

A small group also weeded near the bench, leaving it looking a bit barren with just dirt, although that is preferred to weeds!


Quite the morning's work!

I will be placing a mulch order soon to get the garden in proper order. Let's all turn out in January to spread mulch!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Need You This Saturday

Everyone can help make
 the gardens look good!
It's a great time to get outside to clean up and beautify the gardens! Our monthly workday is coming up this Saturday, November 5th from 10am-12. Per usual please meet up at Pennsylvania Garden, and we’ll disperse from there. Volunteers will be on-hand to teach you everything you need to know. Gloves, tools and drinks will also be available to make it all happen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Stop, thief!

At the weekend Matt and I were transplanting Agaves when a neighbor stopped Matt to ask him why he was digging things up.

Thanks neighbor! It's great that people are looking out for the garden :)

If you see something, say something.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Plant profile: Lycianthes rantonnetii (Blue Potato Bush)

 Latin name: Lycianthes rantonnetii (pronounced "lie-see-AN-thees rat-oh-NETT-ee-eye")
Common name: Blue Potato Bush, Paraguay Nightshade
Originally from: Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay
Blooms: Absolutely covered in purple flowers that have a little yellow eye. Flowers a lot. Relentlessly? Shamelessly?
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Drought tolerant
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 4-6' x 4'-6'
USDA Zones: 8b-11
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed by the steps

Lycianthes rantonnetii is a species of flowering shrub in the family Solanaceae.  Cultivated as ornamental the world over, you might deem it boring and decide to pass it over. But you'd be wrong.

The blue potato bush is one of about 150 species in the genus Lycianthes, which are found mostly in tropical regions of the Americas, with others in the Asia-Pacific region.

The species is named after Barthélémy Victor Rantonnet, a 19th-century French horticulturalist, who thought at first that it should be lumped in with the nightshades (Solanum) - the same genus as potatoes, hence the frumpy common name: Blue Potato Bush.

Unfortunately, after that got sorted out and it was moved to the genus Lycianthes the Potato Bush name had stuck. Several other little-known Solanum species probably should be included with Lycianthes but there you go.

I got this plant as a freebie left on the street by a random Craigslister. It consisted of two twigs and a few rumpled leaves, so not much hope was given to it. However, tough as an old boot, it sprang to life and is now a handsome flower-covered shrub 6' tall. It looks ratty in the dog days of summer, but a quick sprinkle of rain and pow: loaded with flowers again.

You can train it into a little tree, or let it be shrubby. It's easy to prune an doesn't care much when you do it. The flowers don't have a scent but aside from that it's a great little plant that handles all sorts of abuse cheerfully.

Oh, and boring? More like dangerous. Like most nightshades all parts of this plant are poisonous so keep your kids and dogs out of the flower beds people. A source of psychoactive alkaloids, they will cause a nasty upset stomach and worse.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Volunteer Workday


Here's Matt and Chris moving a lovely big Agave attenuata from the front where it was blocking the path to the left bed's bottom path area. Just before this Matt had cut back all the Matilija poppies (Romneya coulteri) down to 6" in prep for winter.  I am sure they will spring right back up and fill in that whole area - they are a bit brutal.

I weeded all over, and planted some Rock Purslane (Calandrinia spectabilis) in the new border of the top area with Matt, and also moved some Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) to fill gaps.

Emily, Nathan, Bill and his dog Coco and John weeded at PRG and picked trash - it's time for a bit workday though as the weeds are gathering strength and taking over!

Chris also repaired the broken composter lid that had been hanging loose for a while.... it's time to move that composter back against the fence so we have more space to work there.

In order to do that we are gradually emptying it and placing weeds we've removed in piles in the middle of beds where they can rot down out of sight in their own time.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Yippee! Rain!!!

Well we've had some rain and things are starting to grow. Including weeds.

The to-do list at the garden is pretty long, but some have dependencies: task A needs to be done before we can do task B. And even task C.

An example of this was that there has been that the Agave americana by the front archway is too big to stay there. Chris started removing pups and lower leaves in prep for moving it down to the back fence as a fence-jumping deterrent.

But that fence has a hole in it that needs to be fixed by a yet-to-be-determined agency. Before that can be fixed, the Monterey pine tree above it needed to have a couple branches lopped off as they were dangling perilously.

Happily this week DPW took care of the tree, lopping off a few bad branches so it's good to go for a while.

Now we need to figure out who fixes the fence, so we can move the Agave.

In the meantime, here are some photos I took in San Diego last week of an awesome Dracaena draco (Dragon Tree). Hope ours gets this amazing one day!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Plant profile: Salvia leucantha (Mexican Sage)

Salvia leucantha
Latin name: Salvia leucantha (pronounced "SAL-vee-ah LOO-can-thah)
Common name: Mexican Sage
Originally from: Tropical and subtropical pine forests in central and eastern Mexico.
Blooms: Purple, purple and white, white, or white and pink.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought repellent
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 3' x 6'
USDA Zones: 8-10
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed, the brights bed, and the very top bed.

Salvia leucantha
"Danielle's Dream"
Salvia leucantha is a surefire winner in the San Francisco garden, producing flowers for almost 12 months of the year that hummingbirds love, staying evergreen in our climate, and only needing one satisfying and easy chop back to 6" in the winter for them to spring back up looking fabulous. And hey - if you forget to do that they don't look bad.

They even have a lovely round shape and grow nicely in between other plants too, creating a lovely purple accent in any garden. No wonder they're so popular!


Salvia leucantha
"Santa Barbara"
Oh, and did I mention they don't care about drought? You cannot kill them. In fact, they're even super easy to root from cuttings or layers on the ground.

We have three different types. The regular species has bi-colored, velvety-textured flowers consisting of white corollas and longer-lasting funnel-form purple calyxes that arch all over the plant nonstop.  You'll see these all over the Bay area.


Salvia leucantha
"Santa Barbara"
Then there's the slightly more compact all-violet colored "Santa Barbara" and a new one for us called "Danielle's Dream" that has which calyxes and pink flowers.

I have heard of an all white one called "White Mischief" and a deeper purple one called "Midnight" and if I see them for sale I'll be picking them up for sure.


Salvia "Anthony Parker"
Growers crossed Salvia leucantha with Salvia elegans to make another excellent plant we have: Salvia "Anthony Parker". This one has a shorter flower season but the color is a stunning deep purple and again the plant is super tough, so worth the wait. Can someone please breed a few more Salvia leucantha hybrids?

Monday, October 3, 2016

A getting ready for rain workday

Many thanks to Annie, Matt and Chris, who came to the October volunteer workday! You'll see from the first photo, of Chris holding a Leucadendron, that we are anticipating the winter rains. Chris is getting ready to plant it in the brights bed. As you probably already know, this is the best time of year to put in new plants, or move old ones to a new spot. We have been working hard to remodel the brights bed, filling it back out with lovely plants after loosing some of our taller, fuller, plants to the drought.

Per usual, our workday also included the cleaning up the garden by removing trash and weeding. We were visited by some doggie neighbors and their owners, and it was great to hear how much they enjoy the garden!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Theft... again.

Our community garden lock box got broken into, clearly by someone who had bolt cutters as the padlocks are gone. All our tools have been stolen - again. Very disappointing indeed.... this time a police report is needed I think. Here's a list of missing items in case you see any of them... please let me know: 

Hose reel - metal, 2 wheel, gray, large
2 hoses (one green, one grey)
3 pairs of pruners (Fiskars,
4 (?) trowels (wood handles, red handles)
1 heavy metal digging bar
2 shovels (one with green ended handle)
3 small and 4 large tubtrugs (blue, green, yellow, purple)
Tool box - gray and black
2 sprinklers (plastic)
2 brass sprayers
Brass “water key” for turning on city water
Tupperware box full of nitrile gloves (multicolored)
Clipboard and forms
Trash picker
4 (?) kneeling pads (green and purple)
First aid kit
Box of doggie bag rolls

Monday, September 26, 2016

Brambles

Before...
I had noticed recently that our resident bramble at the bottom of the steps has gotten a bit enthusiastic about life, and was attempting to jump over the drainage ditch and set up housekeeping on the cactus wall.

This is very bad news. On the one hand, prickly brambles (aka blackberries) are a great deterrent to the average vandal that likes to mess around in the drainage ditch, but on the other hand, brambles are unattractive, invasive, messy and quote painful to be around. So I had to get in that ditch and sort them out.

After!
It took a couple hours but I removed two tubtrugs of brambles and got pretty scratched up in the process. And it was not a second to early either - they were really running back in the cactus wall and about to be a real problem. There is still a lot of ivy to be removed, and a board down there needs to be re-pegged. But it's a good start. I should probably just dig up all the plants in that area and scour it clean of every scrap of weed... but the sun got too hot and I wilted.

This is not the first time I've had to do this - you'll notice I referred to them as "our resident bramble." This is because they are about impossible to kill - leave even the tiniest sliver of root and they come right back, so hacking at them is more of an annual haircut than eradication. If I was one for the herbicide Round Up these guys would be the ideal candidate...

I also watered several areas deeply as we're in a real heatwave the next few days. Hope everything survives.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Heat advisory

Then there were three
Today was hot and the weekend will be hotter, so Matt and I met my parents in the garden to do some tasks before it gets sweltering.

First off Matt dug up two Yucca "Silver Star" from PRG where they were buried in shrubs and looking ratty. We brought them up to PG and planted them with the one we put in a week or so ago - now there is a nice group of three!

I put the water on to sprinkle them.

Fuchsia whacked
My dad cut back some Artemisia that were overlapping the path at PRG, and then he and my mum cut back the Fuchsia boliviana "Alba" and one of the Leonotus leonurus in the brights bed.

I messed around trying to see if a Phlomis could be cut back hard too. Boom! Ready to grow back in a nice shape.

Later on I was driving by and saw Chris working on the Agaves at the front too - wonder what he's going to achieve today!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

More heat

Aloe, Doryanthes and Arctotis
Today Matt and I had less time for gardening, but we got a few things done anyway.

Matt cut some of the bottom leaves off the Agave americana variegata we call Moby Dick. It's flowering and sooner or later the big task of removing the dead plant will come... going to be a prickly job!

He stashed the removed leaves in the middle of the left bed, and I put the Salvia cuttings there too, so they can compost away slowly.

Salvia canariensis haircut
Oh yes - I pruned the Salvia canariensis (Canary Island Sage) quite hard - about half is gone so it should come back in a bit tidier.

This is a really nice tough Salvia with woolly silver leaves and lavender-pink flowers. It has taken a lot of abuse since we go it, and with zero water too, yet it always manages to look good. It is quite large though so needs space to grow - I think we put it a bit too close to the path.

Goliath rescue
 Matt also dug out the Aloe "Goliath" from the terraces where it was languishing. I have the same plant in a pot at home and it is huge compared to this one, so I planted the rescued one in the brights bed and gave it some water. It will get a bit of shade from the Cussonia and Salvia next to it, and better quality dirt there too. Hopefully one day it will grow into a nice tree.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hot September

3 Santolinas, 3 Teucriums
Nice hot day - Matt and I went out to plant a few things we picked up in Mendocino in the last week. Among them were:

3 Teucrium fruicans "compacta." This should be a solid drought tolerant plant, with silvery leaves and lavender flowers. They went in the new top area behind the yellow Santolina virens "Lemon Fizz" that we planted last week. I added in a fourth of the same  Santolina from the steps, but not sure it will make it as I was a bit blasé pulling it out and roots were traumatized...

3 Cistus and a Beschorneria
3 Cistus sp. "purple" - well, you know the one, magenta pink flowers, dark green leaves... I guess the nursery couldn't even be bothered labeling them with the right name, so neither will I!

These went in behind the group of Santolina chamaecyparissus at the other end of the bed. I hope they do well - they are a plant that should be a staple for us, but for some reason have never really gone for it. I moved a Beschorneria to the front of that and it should do well.

Agave angustifolia group
Matt next rearranged the variegated Yucca aloifolia at the top of the steps which had gotten floppy. They look smart now. Then we took all the Agave angustifolias scattered about the garden and arranged them in the front border in a group with the one that is already there. They should perk up soon.

I planted four more Achillea "Coronation Gold" on the steps as it's one of the few things that does well there - even Agaves sometimes start to look withered in that area. Hope they make it: they're the only Achillea, aside from the plain white and very invasive native one, that has survived.

Lamb
Lastly Matt planted a pretty cool Salvia leucantha "Danielle's Dream" which has white and pink flowers. That went in at the very top between some Agaves and will look pretty girly I admit.

With all these new plants it means a bit of watering, but rain soon... I can feel it... and so can this lamb which I found grazing on an Agave.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Plant profile: Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy)


Latin name: Romneya coulteri (pronounced "ROM-nee-ah KOOL-ter-eye)
Common name: Matilija poppy, Fried egg plant.
Originally from: Southern California and Northern Mexico
Blooms: Big old crinkly white flowers with a huge yellow center, all summer.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant and very tough
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 8' x 8'
USDA Zones: 5-9
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed along the bottom path.

What! It's a giant poppy? Stand back people. It's THE giant poppy. Named for the acclaimed Irish astronomer and physicist Rev. John Thomas Romney Robinson, this mega-poppy behaves the way the young Robinson looks in his portrait shown here. That is, tough, determined, handsome and zealous.

In fact, while Robinson went on to do great things in his career, like cataloging 5,345 stars, the Matilija poppy is similarly ambitious, if not actually invasive and slightly annoying at times. But when it flowers, all is forgiven: those bloody great big fried egg-looking flowers are so cheerful it's hard to hate the plant.

The largest flowers of the poppy family, they prefer a warm, sunny spot and fertile soil with good drainage. Wikipedia says that they are "not easily grown but once established are difficult to remove" and I would agree with the latter part of that sentence. We didn't have any trouble starting them though, and they survive with utter neglect and no water at PG, and I hack them down to stumps in the fall which barely puts a dent in them.

In the wild, they are known as "fire followers" as they can often be found in burned areas. In the garden, they are known as utter b@stards and you cannot kill them.

The common name "Matilija poppy" comes from a location they're found. Matilija was one of the Native American Chumash rancherias, which became the Matilija Wilderness, a space of 29,600 acres established 1992 by the Los Padres Condor Range and River Protection Act, 12 miles from the town of Ojai, in Ventura County near Los Angeles.

Although the original meaning of the word "matilija" is lost,  the name originates with the Chumash Indian Chief Matilija and his tribe, who lived in the hills and valleys of Ventura county during the early 1800s. Various legends can be read about here, and below.

Numerous legends from Old California tell of the story of his daughter Amatil and her lost love. In most versions, Amatil falls in love with a young brave, is kidnapped by Spaniards to work at Mission Buenaventura, longs to return to her tribal home, Ojai (the Nest), and finally flees the mission only to find her lover mortally wounded after a fierce battle with the Spaniards. The lovely Matilija flower is said to symbolize the tears of Amatil and her heart of gold.
Not sure such a romantic story is apt for such a brash plant, but OK. Plant them in a large area at your own risk. You probably won't regret it. Much.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Terrace planting

Matt and I decided the move some plants today, and give them a new lease on life. Several ratty looking plants had been planted at the bottom of the terraces to grow on a bit, and were starting to look pretty nice.

We dug them out and put them on the new top terraces and brights bed today:
1 Agave lechuguilla
8 Agave lophantha 
1 Agave salmiana
1 Agave tequiliana
2 Yucca aloifolia 
1 Yucca elephantipes (variegated)
1 Yucca "Silver Star"

This also involved moving several wheelbarrow loads of compost to the new terraces and amending that area a lot.

We also moved an Agave parryi to the middle border,  and planted a dozen Agave pups of various kinds in the "pup farm" we created for growing on small Agaves. I put several cuttings of Aloe striatula in the brights bed too, and several areas got a deep watering. Hope that tides the plants over for a while.



Saturday, September 3, 2016

Volunteer day projects

New terraces
Today Matt and I met Emily and John at the garden and knocked a few tasks out pretty quickly.

John got to work deadheading the Agapanthus right away. This year's flowering was not as impressive as other years - could be the drought, could be it's time to divide the Agapanthus, or give them some food aka compost.

While Emily got to work on the ever-important task of weeding, Matt finished up a project at the top of the garden: removing the asphalt he dug up last time and finishing up the terraces using the chunks he'd dug out. The two new areas are ready for some hardcore drought loving plants!
Before and after

Next we dug out some holes for the Agave americana pups Chris collected from the arch area for us last month. This is going to create a low Agave hedge, that replaces the old lavender hedge of yore, with Euphorbias, Calandrinias and feather grass in between.

I started a lot of Calandrinia cuttings, but we'll plant the Agaves now and the rest in winter when there's rain.  Spacing the Agaves 12' apart, it leaves room for other species between them. We gave them lots of compost and mulched them in, so they should be looking happier soon.

While all this was going on a few beds got water. The brights bed has some newish Cordylines that need a good start, and the middle border is just parched. Matt and I set up the sprinklers to also water the middle back bed and part of the left bed, then went for lunch.

We heard a shrieking bird as we set up one sprinkler, and I thought it was complaining about its nest getting wet. Then we saw it - a scrub jay who was REALLY enjoying the rain bath, and yelling for joy. Check out the video.
 


Friday, September 2, 2016

Plant profile: Limonium

Nearly always flowering!
Latin name: Limonium perezii ("lim-OH-nee-um per-EZ-ee-eye")
Common name: Statice, Sea Lavender, Marsh Rosemary
Originally from: Tenerife, The Canary Islands
Blooms: All. The. Time.
Light: Full sun
Water: Survived severe drought! Occasional summr water is appreciated.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 2-3' tall and wide
USDA Zones: 9a-11
Where to find in P. Garden: In the front border there are three.
Limonium is a genus of 120 flower species from many areas of the world - Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America; there's even a California native one - and several of them are popular in the garden. The majority though come from the Mediterranean, and the one we have is L. perezii and it's a tough, xeric plant!

Considered to be a rare and vulnerable species in its native habitat on one small part of the island of Tenerife, it's conversely very common in the garden trade and you can pick these up cheaply at Home Despot et al anytime.

Beautiful purple flowers
The name for the genus comes from the Latin word limonion used by Pliny for a wild plant which came from the Ancient Greek word "leimon" meaning "meadow". This plant was originally named Statice perezii by Otto Stapf, an Austrian botanist, presumably to honor Dr. George V. Perez, a medical doctor who sent seed of several different Statice species to Kew in 1902. These plants were changed to Limonium by Harvard University botanist Frederic Hubbard in 1916. 

They are grown both for their flowers and for the appearance of the calyx, which dries up and remains on the plant after the true flowers have fallen, and are known as "everlasting flowers."

This plant has been doing great in the very dry, hot front border. It also tolerates salt spray and desert heat so an excellent plant for seaside plantings and also in dry gardens. It will occasionally seed around but not much.

Little maintenance is required other than to remove dead flower stalks and to divide the plants every 2 to 3 years in the spring to freshen them up.

I recommend 'em!



Friday, August 12, 2016

Puppy snuggle with every workday*

Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the garden to say hello at the last workday - but a special snuggly thanks - to Zinny and her owner William! The workday was just getting started and they came by; who can resist a a puppy pug? We can not, as the photos tell the tale.

Also a big shout out to all of our volunteers: Chris, Aditi, Conor, Danielle, and Nate. We got a ton of work done at the garden and a puppy snuggle in. Oh, and Danielle found $20 in a shrub and donated it to the garden. This just might have been the best garden workday ever!

As for work done, numerous good things were accomplished. Compost was turned, much weeding of the left front bed and middle bed, Agapanthus dead-headed, and Chris took on the arduous task of managing the tangle of Agaves at the front entrance. It was looking pretty scary, but is now much more clean and elegant looking, ready for Annie or Matt to work their magic on the area with new plants.
*We can not guarantee puppies at every workday, but you are always welcome to bring your own. BYOP!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stranger danger!

Where did that come from?
We had a couple (three, four) volunteer trees of the same type pop up at PRG a while back and I pondered them cautiously as saplings, then grew somewhat alarmed as they quickly increased in size. Um, what are you and where did you come from?

When Friends of the Urban Forest were out for their final tree trimming jaunt I mentioned the new-tree sized things and while they didn't ID them they agreed to raise the canopies on the two larger ones to prevent that annoying disease Stick In My Eye which you get from walking past a tree that pokes into a pathway. 

Stop trying to hide.
I can see you.
Two of them are in actually OK spots but there a new baby and one that's too close to an extant tree, and another that's got pretty big behind an Acacia baileyana so they will need to go.

But what are they? Today I used Urban Tree Key to determine that they're probably Red-eyed wattle (Acacia cyclops) and basically the devil incarnate. Invasive beasts!

Leafy though...
It is TBD what their fate is... on the one hand they are invasive. Then again, what do we care about invasive species - we're in the middle of a city! (I kid.) On the other hand, how much do these trees love PRG with its zero water and hot, hot sun? They love it a lot. In fact they look better than the handful of tragic Tristaniopsis laurina "Elegant" (Small-Leafed Tristania) along the street which are not exactly thrilled with PRG life. So maybe we want them...

No surprise they are happy considering the other two Acacia species at PRG (A. baileyana and A. stenophylla) are also looking stunning and growing well.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Stylish bird

You can just about see him in this bad photo flitting around the Agave americana flower. A lovely yellow and black colored male hooded oriole. Sharp looking bird!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More feralife


This little fluff nugget has been seen in the garden several times by me and neighbor Katherine. Another white animal - like the mice! What's going on?

She (?) appears to be less than a year old, has a crusty/infected eye and wears a broken harness. She's nervous and will run away when approached, down the back terraces and under the freeway where she seems to be camping with the people down there.

After Katherine alerted me to her presence today I popped out with a cat carrier and a can of wet food to see if she could be caught, but she's not interested. As I told Katherine, who sounds up for the task, she will likely need to get fed in the same place, and at the same time every day, for a week or two before she can be lured into a cat trap borrowed from the SPCA. At that stage she can be taken in for shots, eye care and spaying and to see if anyone has lost her.

Ferals can often be tamed nicely if you start young - we have a black cat who was born on Daggett Place and who likes being a house cat as long as no strangers visit. So this cat might make a pet. If she's not already someone's (lost? Free roaming?) pet...?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Special bricks


Way back when, Joan gave us some bricks to use in the garden and told us the "CH" imprinted on them meant "city hall." I used them under the bench and tried to arrange them artfully to show off the letters.

Now that we have moved the bench, the bricks too have been cleaned and re-laid in the new spot. I remembered about the city hall story, and started looking for more info online as the link in my 2009 post had expired. And lo, I found an article about these very bricks.

Years Brick Made: 1870s

Type: Red common duty

Comments: Bricks were made specially for the San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, CA. Numerous brick manufacturers from San Francisco, San Rafael, San Jose, and Sacramento provided the bricks and stamped the bricks with CH, which stands for City Hall. This is unusual because most bricks are usually stamped with the maker's name, not its destination. However, the variations in these bricks demonstrate that they are not from a single maker when comparing them side by side. Local brick manufacturers who supplied the City Hall with brick as gathered from the records of San Francisco included G. Oliva, P.N. Carroll, D.S. McDonald, Clauss Witt, Theodore W. Peterson, G.D. Nagle, Thomas D. Tobin, Merrill & Black, Remillard Bros., Patent Brick Co., Diamond Brick Co., Hunter & Shackleford, E. Wilson & Co., William Sharon, J.S. Bellrude, Eli Bonnet, Philip Caduc, Michael J. Kelly, Thomas Boyle, and John Tuttle. Note that none of the maker's initials match C.H., which verifies the 1884 report written by State Geologist Henry Hanks, who wrote:

"The initials C.H. impressed in the brick of which our new City Hall is built, put there to denote that they were intended for that edifice, may (should they prove to possess the lasting properties claimed for them) become to the antiquary of the remote future a source of much worriment as he labors to decipher their probable meaning."


Source: Museum of the City of San Francisco, Cannery Shopping center, San Francisco; San Francisco Municipal Reports, 1871-1881; Hanks, 4th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1884, p. 144.
 
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