Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The mystery of the lost certificate

We had a lovely warm and sunny volunteer day on Saturday, and  welcomed some super volunteers who worked with gusto. Ahhh - always so satisfying!

Matt and Bill took the truck down to PRG and moved 5 smallish boulders up to PG to build edging around the Agave ovatifolias on the south end of the brights bed. They got smaller rocks we'd left at the top of the garden to place in between the big ones, and it all looks great.

I can't get enough of rock borders right now. So much so in fact that I am considering having some more big baskets of rocks delivered by Half Moon Bay Soil Farm. Watch out for that fun.

Meanwhile, Kunaal, Will and Leanne joined me in weeding the Agave bed behind the wrong way sign, and the front border. Oh boy are those weeds busy growing as fast as they can! We are going to need all hands on deck for weeding next month.

John set about turning the compost, a job which he claims to like. Yes, there is mindless enjoyment to be had in sweaty manual labor. I am glad John finds that task rewarding because I'm pretty sure my arms would disagree.

And the mystery of the lost certificate? Well, when we arrived at the garden we found a Clemson University degree certificate, framed and matted, left on top of the compost bins. Likely it got there thanks to some homeless person, but it was in good shape so I thought I'd see if I could reunite it with its owner.  

Her name is quite unusual, so thanks to some Googling and posting on NextDoor I was able to fire off Facebook, LinkedIn and email messages quite quickly, and a it turns out she now lives in North Carolina.

Happily I was able to mail the framed certificate back to her - and why not. I'm sure she worked hard to get it all those years ago!

Monday, January 25, 2021

OK, it's winter now

Today is so very windy, and we're due about an inch of rain tomorrow - cold rain, lashed at us with gusts up to 50mph! The winter so far has been warm and dry, so I'm glad Matt and I got our to the garden last weekend and... you guessed it! We planted some plants.

At the very front of PG at the sidewalk we had put in some Agave angustifolia in a slightly haphazard way. We decided to rearrange them, moving the plain green one to the top of the garden, weeding the area thoroughly, and placing the variegated agaves in a better design. we added two more small ones, as well as 5 Artemisia "Powis Castle" that I propagated last year. A few wood chips for mulch, et voila!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Planting continues

Today and yesterday Matt and I planted a slew of new plants at the gardens.

A total of 4 Aloe tomentosa went in at the bottom of the steps at PG. The biggest plant was one that was not doing well at PG years ago, and we swooped in and rescued it. We collected seed when it flowered, and the three smaller ones are the result. We will keep an eye on them to see how they do in this much shadier spot.

Similarly, a Yucca linearifolia from the steps had been rehabbed at home. It's replanted now, in much better condition. A really cool (but small) Yucca faxoniana went in the top bed, and an Echium gentianoides too.

We removed all the bearded iris that had stopped flowering for us, and I put them on NextDoor. Very shortly after a woman came to pick them up - good luck! In their place we planted six Leucophyta brownii, all around the Agave ovatifolias.

Yesterday we planted an Echium hybrid (Echium candicans x Echium pinninnata, a natural cross that happened in our garden) in the top bed, along with  Agave "Huastecta Giant (shown at the top in the image at left)," Agave americana striata (bottom left) and Agave americana "Lemon Lime" (bottom right.)  Agave "Mr Ripple" went in the left bed.

Overall that's six totally new species for us and the return of some nice ones. Hope they do really well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The weeds tho...

Matt and I headed to the garden to do some planting last weekend. For me it was more of a "point where I want it" as my knee is still iffy, but Matt was up for that.

We put in 6 Leucophyta brownii (syn. Calocephalus brownii)  "Silver Stone" which I grew on from plugs and 4" plants to this 1 gallon size over the last 6 months. I have 6 more at home that need to grow a bit more, too. This is a nice, super drought tolerant plant from Australia that we have had in the past - not very long lived but good for a few years.

We also put in two 15 gallon Yucca guatemalensis down at PRG which we grew from cuttings (on the right), and an Austrocylindropuntia subulata - the lovely Eve's Needle cactus that grows so well for us (on the left). More spines, less trouble, in my experience - at least, less trouble with theft, damage and destruction. More trouble with weeding, I must confess...

We watered the new Cussonias and pondered more planting. Loads more plants are waiting to go in at home, but lots of them need to get bigger before they can withstand life at the garden where people stand on them, let their dogs pee on them, and generally abuse them!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

African tree bonanza

Happy new year! We decided to kick off 2021 by planting some new trees from Africa from one our favorite genera, Cussonia. It was a bit of a soggy volunteer day but John, Chris and Bill helped Matt and I get the plants in and it was satisfying.

I had ordered 6 Cussonia paniculata from one of our favorite suppliers (Flora Grubb) a few months ago, expecting to receive six lovely blue-gray leaved plants described as "a large evergreen shrub or small tree" topping out around 10-15' in height and native to South Africa. We have one at home and it's lovely - one trunk, small poofball on top. Yep - we have lots of room for things like that.

However, what was delivered looked suspiciously different. Greener leaves, multi stemmed in some cases... and a trip to the Flora Grubb retail location caused more suspicion: they had the same 5 gallon plants but labelled Cussonia transvaalensis.

Nothing wrong with that. another blue-green leaves plant that tops out around 16'. A quick email to Flora Grubb's people and they confirmed the mixup - these are C. transvaalensis. Except... are they? The leaves are very green... and the multi-stemmed look is worryingly like Cussonia spicata, a bit sprawly monster going close to 50' tall!

Well, too late. They had to go in the ground so we will soon see what we get. Three went in at PRG (at the north corner, and two along the fenceline), three went in at PG  (in the middle back bed, on the terraces, and up at the very top of the garden by a loquat) And we also planted two Yucca filifera and two Yucca guatemalensis at PRG.

Matt fixed the tool chest with a new hasp from Chris (thank you!), and the new plants got some water (the ground is bone dry past the first 2" still...) and off we went home. Good job, chaps!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

More pics of our lovely rocks

 Check it out - so happy with how our new rocks look!

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Rock your socks off

We got rocks! Yep, our big order from Rice Trucking and Soil Farm in Half Moon Bay was delivered yesterday afternoon. We got 10 big boulders for PRG and two pallet baskets of smaller rocks for PG. About 7 tons total, I’m guessing?

I’d paid for temporary no parking permits and placed them on the street on Wednesday giving the required 72 hour notice that we would be using those 9 spots from 1pm to 3pm Friday. When we arrived on the street at 12.15pm we saw that not one spot was open...

I quickly posted on NextDoor and emailed 2 of the residential buildings to ask them to move their cars. Aditi had saved a spot for us with her car, as had Chris. The paint shop guys moved their van to allow another boulder in, and we scavenged 4 more spots as people came back for their cars. 

How did we get the rest installed? Let’s just say that Francisco the delivery truck driver was very handy with his forklift. So thanks Francisco, and no thanks to all those people who parked despite the signs... you’re lucky you didn’t get towed. 

Today’s volunteer day was great: luckily we had 4 strong guys! Matt, Bill, Josh and Chris got ALL the rocks in both baskets moved and wow - super happy with the results!

We lined the lower pathway, redid the bed at the bottom of the steps with rocks, and put the rest of the rocks up in the top bed (until we can build that properly)

We also cut back the Hakea that was leaning, pruned and propped up a similarly leaning Dodonea, moved a Furcraea, an Agave ghiesbreghtii, some Achilleas and some Puyas. And there’s room to plant some new plants. All in all an extremely  rewarding work day :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Plant Profile: Agave potatorum "Cameron's Blue"

Latin name: Agave potatorum "Cameron Blue" ("ah-GAH-vay pot-ah-TOR-um")
Common name: "Cameron Blue" agave, Butterfly Agave
Originally from: Puebla and Oaxaca
Blooms: A 10-20' tall spike with yellow flowers happens once in the plant's lifetime.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Winter rain is enough.
Height x width: 18" x 18"
Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: Three at the top of PG

A small to medium sized solitary agave (no pups, boo hoo) from the semi-arid highlands between 4,000 and 7,000 feet of Puebla and Oaxaca, with wide broad gray leaves that form in a lovely symmetrical rosette to 1 to 2 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide. The leaves have chestnut brown spines and a wavy 1" long terminal spine.

This cute little agave was appreciated by the Nahuatl Indians who called it "papalometl" meaning "Butterfly Agave", and it's now also known as maguey Tobalá locally, but the species name "potatorum" comes from the Latin word "potator"' meaning "of the drinkers" because the plant was used to make alcoholic drinks (mezcal brand Los Nahuales uses a. potatorum for example.) 

Like all (or most) agaves, this one wants full sun very little water - surprise! A great choice for water wise gardens. Plant a nice swath of these little spiky things.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Quick trip

Matt and I popped out to the garden today and moved some smaller rocks from PRG to PH in order to make room for the new rocks that we HOPE will be delivered on Friday of this week.

Yeah, getting a permit to block off 9 parking spots for a couple hours is proving very difficult, due to COVID. The SFPA is involved in trying to make it happen, but we might have to do it the following week.

Back to today. We moved 4 rocks to the upper area to start a terrace along the top of the garden. Then we planted 3 Beschorneria parmentieri. Well, that's what they were labeled as. But in fact there's no such species... there is a Furcraea parmentieri... but it doesn't look anything like these plants... which actually look like Agave vilmoriniana to me. Well, whatever they are, there are three of them planted at the garden now so good luck with that.

I trimmed up the front arch vine (again) and picked up the usual discarded clothing and rubbish from the garden, while noticing that 311 still hasn't come for the waste left last week. So I put it in the 311 app again.

The photo? That's Matt next to a Yucca faxoniana at Berkeley Botanic Gardens last week. I would DIE to have one of these! Total CHONK.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Superb day for EVERYONE!

Woke up, got a new president, the day was already SUPERB!

After that amazing start, Matt and I loaded up and headed to PG for the monthly volunteer day! Andrea, Chris, Josh and Hilary joined us and as usual we got a LOT done with help from our friends.

Hilary set up the hose and got to work watering. Despite a light sprinkling of rain in Pacifica last night, nothing fell in SF as far as I could tell and some plants still need help.

Andrea turned ALL the compost and she and Hilary removed and spread several tubs of good compost too. Before that, we had to remove a bunch of lavender clippings someone left in the composter, and bag them for city removal. 

Remember neighbors - if you're adding stuff to the compost bins, make sure sticks and dry stuff (like dead lavender) is not added. It takes 9+ months to compost down in our climate and that's a waste of space for us.

Meanwhile, Matt, Josh and Chris set about cleaning up the severely messy west end of the drainage ditch. Yep, we will get rain soon and that ditch is very function at those times so it need to be cleared of debris. Loads of Opuntia had fallen in, along with rocks, sticks and dirt. In about an hour they had it totally cleared and it looks fantastic.

Chris planted another Opuntia further up by the ditch, and Josh put on up at the top of the garden. Josh also planted a dozen pink ice plants (Delosperma) in our new bed on the lower path and it looks fantastic.

Lastly, the tool chest took a hit: someone broke in. It's been years since that has happened and this time it doesn't look like much was taken... mostly because we don't keep much in there anymore. But it's still annoying. 

Chris fetched his power drill and he and Matt fixed it right up. Oh well. Nothing can spoil this day.

Back to celebrating our new president!


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Rock shopping

Yesterday Matt and I went rock shopping at Rice Trucking and Soil Farm in Half Moon Bay. We picked out 10 large boulders for PRG and two pallets of smaller rocks for PG.

The plan is to replace smaller boulders at PRG with bigger ones. People tend to shove the little ones out of the way so they can park on the sidewalk which is so rude.

Then we will take the smaller rocks and use them to build up the downslope edges of some beds at PG. Mmm, rocks!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Rocks migration

Matt and I had another great garden day yesterday. We planted a large Agave tequilana “Sunrise” at the top of PG, as well as three variegated Yuccas that we had rooted this year. 

After that, we turned our attention to the lower path at PG. We have recently planted some aloes and agaves down there but the area was still looking pretty scruffy and as it’s fairly steeply sloped in the left bed it needed to be held up somehow.

After that, we turned our attention to the lower path at PG. We have recently planted some aloes and agaves down there but the area was still looking pretty scruffy and as it’s fairly steeply sloped in the left bed it needed to be held up somehow.

The solution was obviously to get some good sized rocks to hold the slope up. Knowing that some of the smaller boulders at PRG don’t really prevent cars from getting too close to the sidewalk we decided to re-purpose half a dozen of them. We went down and selected two and Matt put them on a dolly and drag them up the street. As you can imagine, they are extremely heavy and that was not a vast amount of fun.

Knowing that some of the smaller boulders at PRG don’t really prevent cars from getting too close to the sidewalk we decided to re-purpose half a dozen of them. We went down and selected two and Matt put them on a dolly and drag them up the street. As you can imagine, they are extremely heavy and that was not a vast amount of fun.

So I drove the truck down we loaded two more rocks on the dolly and then hooked the dolly onto the back of my trucks hitch…

Surprisingly, it stayed on as I drove extremely slowly up the hill two blocks and turned around. Genius redneck hack achieved!

We installed the six rocks and I think the result was really worth the huge amount of effort as you can see from the photos!

After that we did a little watering and packed up for the rest of the day.

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