Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rock on!

Last Friday morning before the successful Genentech volunteer day PRG got five new boulders delivered from Lyngso. Matt and I had gone out to choose these lovely Sonoma field stones individually, which is always fun, and the delivery took just half an hour to block off the street and place the stones roughly where they will live. 

Three of them will go on to form a two sided bench using some yet to be bought wood and hardware, and the whole thing is being paid for by our pals Eamonn and Richie who just built the apartments at 1001 17th st. Sweet!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Genentech Workday: A Whole Heap of Awesome!

There was so much that went on today it would be nearly impossible to chronicle all of it! First off, let me thank the team leads, John and Chris, for giving even more of their time to the gardens. They both did a fantastic job leading Genentech volunteers, and they deserve much more than the kind words, and literally worked for peanuts (salted and honey roasted!) today.

Annie also stopped by and did a big redo of the middle bed among other things, and had some rocks delivered for a project at PRG (I'm sure she will post about that later!) so a big thank-you to her as well. Also, we wouldn't have been nearly as successful if it wasn't for Nancy from DPW. She dropped off a bunch of supplies (thank you!) and even arranged for Recology to come by for a trash pickup (thanks Beto!).

Second, many thanks to the team of +20 Genentech Volunteers who spent their afternoon making both gardens look one hundred times better. I counted nearly two dozen lawn&leaf bags heaped with weeds, and I'm pretty sure we also filled SF Paint Source's dumpster (thanks again SF Paint Source!) with trash removed from the site. Trees were watered, pathways cleared, mulch spread, Salvia potted up, Calindrinia prepped, the list goes on and on! All of this work was possible because of good leadership, and so many motivated, tough, responsible people, that as Annie put it, "moved like locust" through the gardens whipping both of them into shape.You can find a link to all of the photos from today on google photos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Plant Profile: Coprosma

Coprosma australis (variegated)
I considered the Coprosmas we planted at PG to be insignificant filler plants initially. However, they've turned out to be lovely tough, evergreen shrubs, and I recommend them.

Latin name: Coprosma (pronounced "co-PROZ-mah)
Common name: Mirror plant
Originally from: New Zealand, Hawaii, Borneo, Java and Australia.
Blooms: The flowers aren't the point here - they're usually yellow and insignificant.
Light: Full sun!

Coprosma "Evening Glow"
Water: Drought tolerant and very tough
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: Various - from low growing creepers to large shrubs.
USDA Zones: x
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed we have Coprosma australis (variegated), Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata" and C. "Evening Glow" in the brights bed a couple C. "Sunset" and a C. "Evening Glow"

The name Coprosma means "smelling like dung" and refers to the smell (methanethiol) given out by the crushed leaves of a few species. I haven't smelled ours but don't let that put you off - the leaves are glossy and colorful. In fact they are so glossy that Coprosmas have been touted as a means of reducing over heating of the earth by reflecting sunshine away. I can't find the reference now but they are pretty shiny.

We have several Coprosmas in the garden:

Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata"
Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata" - this is a nice low growing ground cover. I buried several parts in the ground and it rooted, then I made border edging with them. A cute low hedge! Unfortunately it wants to revert to a non-variegated state so you have to cut those parts out.

Coprosma australis (variegated) is a wonderful bright shrub up to about 5' tall and wide with yellow and green shiny leaves.

C. "Evening Glow" and C. "Sunset" are beautiful smaller shrubs with the same shiny leaves but gorgeous red and orange shades.

Coprosma "Sunset
We'll look out for more Coprosmas for the gardens soon - they have been excellent and look great no matter how poorly you treat them. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Yesterday I was at the garden at 9am to meet the guys from Trees Company who were scheduled to come help remove some debris from the garden.

We started with two guys and a 12" chipper and they chipped or removed all three of the big piles at the top of the garden. They left us a huge pile of mulch too.

The top area is now cleared and ready to rehab!

After that, they moved on to the big pile of twigs behind the composters. This represents 7 years of twig collecting - well, twigs, branches, pinecones, phormium leaves and agave leaves that won't compost quickly enough to make nice rich compost in the bins. And this pile had got huge - about 6' tall at the back and 12'x12' square.

They managed to remove about 2' off the top which was a feat, then the truck was full and they had to go around 2.30pm. Still, big improvement and we can now excavate broken down twiggy mulch from the base and resolve NEVER to add more branches to that pile again! If we have that sort of waste we will "mulch in place" around the base of some of the bigger plants in the middle of the beds.

Today Matt and I went back out to weed, water and work. Matt cleared all the chips off the top edge of the garden and started to break up the ancient asphalt there so we can plant around the edge. We'll use the leftover asphalt to make a low terrace to the left of this area.

Then we started imagining the plants we can put in and it was all very fun :)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lavender no more

Ivy, lavender and weeds out!
The top of the garden has been bordered by lavender for years. And very tough drought resistant plants they are. However, they do have a shelf life and ours were starting to peter out.

Since we have hired help coming to remove piles of weeds on the 10th, we decided to remove the remaining lavenders at the volunteer day today. And a vast pile of weeds. John and Emily joined Matt and I in stripping the area bare. 

PRG looking lovely
We will replace them with a border of Calandrinia on the outer edge, and Agaves, Nassella and Euphorbias inside that. Then the plan is to flatten that top area by making a low retaining wall on the west side. We will make a small bed in the middle of that area and add steps going down past where the bench currently lives, through the brights bed. 

I spread a couple tubtrugs of compost and turned the remaining bins and we watered a few needy plants before calling it a day.

The next day Matt and I returned to weed some more. I cleared out the dead Hibbertia astera by the bench which succumbed to drought, along with lots of weeds. It's time to fix up that path and replant. What species like dry shade?
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