Monday, April 29, 2019

Plant profile: Beschorneria albiflora


Latin name: Beschorneria albiflora ("beh-SHORN-ah-ree-ah ahl-bee-FLOR-ah")
Common name: Mexican Lily, Amole
Originally from: Southern Mexico - Cerro Azul in Oaxaca and Chiapas, also found in Guatemala and Honduras. Found on very steep, rocky slopes in moist, mossy oak forest at high altitude (2000 m / 6600 ft.) 
Blooms: Green to creamy white flowers are held above the foliage in late spring/early summer.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: They are said to like a bit of summer water if they are in full sun, but we don't give them any.
Height x width: 2-6' x 3-4'
Zones: 9b-11b
Where to find in P. Garden: One at the very top of PG, a couple dotted around PRG.

Is it a Yucca? Is it an Agave? Is it even a Furcraea? At first glance you might think any one of those.  Yes, it's an Agave relative - it grows dense wide rosettes of 2-3 foot long medium green leaves, but they are softer to the touch and a bit floppy towards the tips.

Then it grows a trunk up to 6' tall and flowers annually with the most crazy, 5' long pink and red branching infloresence with cream to lime green flower bells. And when you see that you say "uh, wait... what?"

(You and the hummingbirds, who are all over this stuff and are the plant's pollinators in the wild.)

There are 10 species in the genus, but this is the only Beschorneria that forms an above-ground stem.  The name Beschorneria was given to the plant in honor of Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Beschorner (1806-1873), a German botanist.

Dr. Dennis Breedlove, Curator Emeritus of the California Academy of Sciences started cultivating the plant and it has been grown in the Berkeley Botanic Garden and Strybing Arboretum for many years. It's pretty rare in cultivation, so come and check out ours.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Weekend weed-whacking

Beschorneria!
Matt and I headed out to the gardens this weekend to kill some weeds. Matt attacked part of the path at PRG with our string trimmer and I pulled weeds from the beds.

Later on we headed up to PG and cleared paths - from the arch into the garden, and up in the back from the top of the steps to the very top area were almost impassable, but not anymore!

Go check out the flowering Beschorneria albiflora at the top of the garden - it's got an insane 10' tall pink and green flower stalk.

Also did you know we have TWO volunteer days this week you can join? Friday from 2-4pm we're weeding with GoodData at PRG, and Saturday 10am-12pm we're at PRG for our regular monthly volunteer day. Join us!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Recurly's Earth Day Work Day

Yesterday was Earth Day and what better day to have a volunteer event?

We were contacted by the team at Recurly who were looking to make a difference in the neighborhood. We set up the perfect day and time for their team to get out and enjoy the sun.

Did you know? A lot of companies are encouraging volunteering now, and we benefit greatly from that. It's being called VTO - Volunteer Time Off - and a bit like PTO more and more employees are asking if they can help their communities with their employer's blessing in this way. Recurly stepped up to the plate!

John and Josh joined me for the two hour workday and the small but mighty team of 10 met at the north end of PRG and set about clearing weeds from around the rocks on the street side.

Let me  tell you, without any recent rain, the weeds were clinging in there tightly, so the job was pretty tough - and dusty! The sun was also beating down and it felt like mid summer. Staying hydrated was the key.

Despite the challenges, the team was enthusiastic and cheerful to the end! We managed to fill six bags with green waste, and made a huge pile of trash from the now abandoned encampment that's been at the corner for over six months now.

I put in three 311 app requests for pickup: one for green waste, one for loose trash from the encampment, and one for the three bags of trash dumped at the middle of the garden too (seriously people who live at 503 Potrero Ave according to the mail in the trash... along with three bags of used diapers... does your building not have trash cans?)

I also put in a text request for needle pickup to the SFAF Needle Pickup Crew at (415) 810-1337 after finding half a dozen of them at the encampment in the corner. The needle pickup team texted me back a couple of hours later to say they had disposed of the problem already! Love these guys.

Thank you Recurly for all your hard work - I hope you'll enjoy the gardens for years to come, and join us again one day :)

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Yuccathon!

Yucca "Silver Star"
Today's volunteer day was wonderful. The crew planted a dozen new yuccas at PRG and PG, the weather was great, and we welcomed some new faces to the mix.

Matt started off at PRG, planting lovely big specimens. He put in an Agave malpisaga "Lisa" which is one of the biggest Agaves in the world. This beauty will reach 15' wide eventually. He gave it plenty of room to grow.

He also planted 3 more Yucca aloifolias, and moved 3 Yucca  guatemalensis as well, to better spots.

Yucca rigida (Blue Yucca)
At PG, I was joined by John, Aditi, Chris, Josh, Katsura, Leslie, Marie and Katerina. The plan was to plant all the remaining large Yuccas, and weed as much as possible.

Marie, Katerina and Katsura started on the area by the bench, and carefully stripped weeds from the whole area. We added wood chips when that was done, and the result is absolutely lovely now.

Bench cleared, courtesy of these guys!
Meanwhile, John and Josh were busy planting three lovely and quite large Yucca "Silver Star" up in the top bed. The ground there is pretty rocky, but they made it happen - not without expending quite a lot of sweat I have to say. Well done chaps!

Chris and I
Chris worked on planting three stunning Yucca rigida (Blue Yucca) up at the top area too. This is a new Yucca for us, and quite gorgeous. 

A vast quantity of wood chips had to be moved to make it happen though, and Josh was called in for reinforcements after a while. The weather was pretty warm and the work was nonstop!


Leslie
Leslie worked away deep in the brights bed, clearing weeds around our Cussonia, which will really help it thrive, and I moved between projects hauling weeds and wood chips.

Whew - a lot of work done. Well done team!




Monday, April 1, 2019

Spring has sprung!

Echium fastuosum
Last weekend Matt and I headed to the garden to get some plants planted and assess the weed situation. The Echiums are flowering in their gorgeous blue now - go check 'em out! The bees love them.

Wow - have the weeds gone crazy at PG! Some of the pathways are really tricky to get through because weeds have almost cut them off.

Lomandra longifolia
"Platinum Beauty"
We got to work and cleared one particularly bad area, removing 8 huge tubtrugs of weeds there alone. You can see the difference in the before and after picture.

Matt planted three Lomandra longifolia "Platinum Beauty" in the middle front bed, and as very drought tolerant plants, I'm hopeful they will do well there. This is a new genus for us, and while it looks like a grass it's actually not. Hm, how does that work?

According to San Marcos Growers, "Matt Rush is a common name for Lomandra, a genus with 50 species of tufted dioecious perennial herbs with long narrow blade-like leaves that arise from a central stemless base (acaulescent) and have thick woody rhizomes and fibrous roots. Flower inflorescences are cymes, panicles or spikes with male and female flowers on separate plants with both sexes of flowers looking fairly similar."

Check out the before an after pics, and join us next weekend for our monthly volunteer day: let's get rid of some weeds!
 
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