Friday, April 30, 2010

Plant sale is tomorrow!

Oh crikey - my head is spinning! All the P. Garden volunteers are hard at work getting things ready for the sale tomorrow, and there's still loads to do. We have almost 400 plants to sell!

Please come down between 12pm and 4pm and buy some plants: 100% of proceeds go directly to the garden. It's a great way to support the cause!

Photo shows a native Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) flowering away in the garden. Cute!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Plant profile: Lampranthus spectabilis

One tends to think of groundcover as a bit boring really. I mean, it’s main job is just covering dirt – preventing weeds from getting a hold, doing a sort of menial job. And when you think of ice plants you usually picture that stuff that grows rampantly at the side of freeways – kind of a crass plant that nobody cares about.

Well have I got news for you. This ice plant is different.
Latin name: Lampranthus spectabilis ("lamp-RAN-thuss spek-TAB-ill-uss")
Common name: Trailing Ice Plant
Originally from: South Africa (Cape)
Blooms: When the sun comes out the plant is covered in little magenta flowers.
Light: Full sun please!
Water: Rain is plenty.
Where to find in P. Garden: Around the base of the Agaves at the front arch, and along the cactus wall.

The name is derived from the Greek words, lampros (bright) and anthos (flower), referring to the large showy flowers. I find this apt. Wear sunglasses, because as you can see from the pics these plants are covered in red-pink flowers so bright your eyes will bleed. And I mean covered – you can hardly see anything but flowers!

Catch ‘em now – later in the year they’ll flower occasionally but right now they’re utterly bonkers.

Street paved

DPW came by last week and repaved a 24' wide strip down the middle of the street. The pothole issue is solved!

I'm awaiting news on further work they may do.

Monday, April 26, 2010

GARDEN CITY workshop series!

Lovely Julia from SFPT sent me an email recently: check it out! This is an absolutely wonderful series of events for anyone interested in having their very own street park.

"I’m pleased to announce the GARDEN CITY workshop series, offered by the San Francisco Parks Trust and the Garden for the Environment. If you have any questions about this series, please contact me at 415-750-5110. Please help me spread the word by forwarding this email along to your networks!"

Here are the details:

Garden City
A Three Part Workshop Series
Have you been dreaming of starting your own urban oasis, a garden where you can grow you own food and find some piece of mind, but you don’t have any space and don’t know where to look to find some?  If so, this 3 part practical workshop series is for you.  Attend one workshop, or all three.   This workshop series is co-presented by the San Francisco Parks Trust and Garden for the Environment. Workshop speakers include: Kevin Bayuk of Urban Alliance for Sustainability, Suzi Palladino of Garden for the Environment, and Julia Brashares of SF Parks Trust, among others.
SPECIAL OFFER:  $70 for enrollment in all 3 workshop sessions, plus a San Francisco Parks Trust Membership for one year!  

Garden City Workshop I: Finding City Land for a Garden

Date: Sunday, May 2, 2010
10 AM – 3 PM
Location: Studio for Urban Projects, 3579 17th Street , San Francisco , CA   94110
$15-$30 sliding scale
Pre-registration is required, and space is limited, so sign-up soon.
To pre-register, please call (415)750-5110, or email

Even though San Francisco is a very dense city, there are more open parcels of land than one would think. In this session, learn how to identify possible spaces for gardens in San Francisco , including city property, privately owned lots, school gardens, sidewalks and backyards. The basic pros and cons of each option will be explored.  After a brief lunch break, workshop participants will venture out on a bicycle tour of gardens implemented in such spaces. All participants should bring a bag lunch, water, and a bicycle.

Garden City Workshop II: Navigating Permits, Procedures and Building Community Support for your Garden

Date: Sunday, May 9, 2010
10 AM – 2 PM
Location: Studio for Urban Projects, 3579 17th Street , San Francisco , CA   94110
$15- $30 sliding scale
Pre-registration is required, and space is limited, so sign-up soon.
To pre-register, please call (415)750-5110, or email

After you find a potential garden site, what’s next?  In this session, learn how to successfully navigate the procedures and permits relevant to your type of site. Learn how to effectively build community support for your garden project and cultivate a committed volunteer group to ensure your garden thrives.  A panel of successful garden-entrepreneurs will share how they launched their projects and lessons learned in the process. All participants should bring a bag lunch.

Garden City Workshop III: Digging In: Getting your Garden Started

Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010
10 AM – 2 PM
Location: Garden for the Environment, 7th Ave. at Lawton Street, San Francisco, CA 94122
$15- $30 sliding scale
Pre-registration is required, and space is limited, so sign-up soon.
To pre-register, please call (415)750-5110, or email

You’ve identified a site for your garden, you’ve completed all appropriate permits and built community support, now it’s time to dig in and create your dream garden.  The day will start with a tour of the GFE where we will begin to build our garden skills toolbox. We will assess potential challenges and gain techniques for over-coming those challenges through basic garden design practices, plant considerations, irrigation systems, soil, compost systems, and much more!  Don’t forget to bring a bag lunch

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jetlag begone!

Well today I was WIDE AWAKE at 5am (thank you very much Greece) so I went to the garden and watered the sale plants, and Matt helped me tidy the front bed. I also got some valuable assistance from Jess and Sophia which was great because it got hot and I was starting to become incoherent.

I swear I talked to some people in the garden today (Juana... Chris... John... Ummm...) but I am too sleepy to distinctly recall all the details of what I have no doubt were scintillating conversations on their parts.

After that I went home and drank tea, which was insufficient to perk me up... and now it's 6pm and I am READY for bed. Gah. Must stay awake and finish the labels for the plant sale on Saturday!

Pics show (above) Anemones - amazing color! And (below) the front strip, going bonkers.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'm back!

Got back from Greece yesterday and the garden looks great! What a treat to see that Emily and Josh have been working away, getting ready for the plant sale on May 1st and making the place look lovely!

I got an email from Eddy who sent me this link: he wondered if this effort was inspired by P. Garden! You never know...

Update: in an effort to stave off jetlag I went back to the garden this afternoon with Matt after putting up about 20 posters for the plant sale on 18th st. Matt trimmed some plants back, and when Gina showed up with Tank, she and I weeded the lavender hedge and sowed some multicolored California poppy seeds there.

A sign has appeared on the bench asking people to put their cigarette butts in the trash.  I had been wondering what to do about that nuisance, and someone took care of it. Thanks!

Next came John with 4 big old Agaves! Three are unknown, one is A. scabra. He also brought several sandwich boards from Channing for the sale - thanks guys! By the way, if anyone needs an exceptionally knowledgeable and charming garden guru and/or photography-meister John is available. I need a fat grant so I can commission him to come work at P. Garden!

Later on I met Jamie and her happy dogs Bubba and Freya -  they were enjoying the sights and smells of the garden. I also met another couple with their cute dog but you know the jetlag got the better of me and my brain just refused to remember their names. Shame on me!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Plant Sale Cometh

With so much going on at the garden it is hard to focus on just one thing!!! Roses, Columbine, Anemone, Ranunculus, Dianthus, Watsonia, Iris ... on and on... the list is practically endless of plants that are putting on a stellar spring flower show.

But enough about what the botanical members of the garden are doing, on to the volunteers! Over the weekend Josh pulled a ton weeds, including ivy and 'god-knows-what out of the aloes on the slope' and much of the ever present bindweed. He even watered the asters for the plant sale. Double gold star for you Josh!

After work today Ryan and I stopped by Janet's house to pick up a plethora of wonderful plants she has donated for the Plant Sale on May 1st. As a sneak peak, the photo is of two absolutely giant Amaryllis for the sale. Many thanks Janet! Tomorrow I will catalog the new plants, and do some additional weeding in the garden.

Plant Profile: Rosa

Roses. The Good. The blackspot covered with aphids (The Bad).
They are probably the most recognizable flower to the non-gardener, and there is even a convention to the 'meaning' behind what color and quantity of roses you receive as a gift.

For example, the yellow-orange rose pictured from our garden is said to symbolize 'modesty, sincerity and gratitude.' Go figure! That bee is obviously enjoying himself.

Throughout the ages there has been a lot of symbolism attached to roses. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Christians all gave religious meaning to the rose. Also, the rose is the national flower of both England the US. For full disclosure, the national flower of Wales is the daffodil.

Latin name: Rosa ("RO-sah")
Common name: Rose
Originally from: mostly Asia, a few from Europe, North America, and northwest Africa.
Blooms: In our climate from mid-Spring all the way through Fall. A final flush has occurred as late as early November!
Light: Full sun
Water: Plenty, thanks! Don't forget the fertilizer either. Or great air circulation.
Where to find in P. Garden: as you walk down the steps...

yellow standard: to your right
"Iceberg" standard: to your left
Hybrid tea "Whisky Mac" (see photos!): this one has been removed to a garden with more water available - good luck Whisky Mac!

Concerning the plethora of rose types, just Wikipedia roses and 2 hours later you may begin to understand how obsessed humanity has been with cultivating roses. One rose called "Peace" escaped from Nazi occupied France during WW2 and is now one of the most beloved roses of all time.

On the practical uses for roses, there is a lot to admire. Rose hips, the fleshy edible fruit of the rose, is high in vitamin C and quite tasty, as is rose water and rose syrup. Rose scented perfumes are made from a substance called "attar of rose," which is the steam-extracted oil from rose petals. You can also candy the petals.

UPDATE from Annie: Roses aren't the drought tolerant, low maintenance plant we're aiming for at PG. We've rehomed the yellow "Whisky Mac" and the two standard roses will be rehomed eventually too. We will miss their sweet fragrance, but not their constant demands for attention and water ;)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prunus cerasifera does not equal dog treats

As much as I love the photos, and to know that Annie and Matt haven't been killed by Cretan gypsies, enjoy your vacation no blogging!
Ok with that said, on to the work of the day. After work I moved a bunch of Canna from the left bed to the plant sale area, and made some nice compost mounds around plants that need extra help retaining water. I couldn't resist the Dahlia 'Arabian Night' tubers at Whole Foods, and 3 of them are now planted next to Salvia 'Anthony Parker' in the red bed by the dog run. The photo (courtesy of shows just how awesome the flowers are - I can't wait!

Also, word of caution to dog owners. My dog ate a bunch of the Prunus cerasifera fruit+seeds that had fallen around the bench (they are cherry-like), which the internet informed me is toxic. So be mindful if you have a scrounge hound!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Greetings from Crete

I'm in Crete on vacation! I'm here researching new and exotic species of plants for the garden (read: drinking in tavernas at night, hiking in the mountains during the day) and have already seen some really cool wildflowers that I think would work well. But how do I get them home? Seems like seeds would be the best way, but so far no luck finding a place that sells seeds. Haven't given up!

The plant at left is a wild orchid of some sort. Then below we have an unidentified plant, perhaps some sort of gladiolus?  The other plants Crete could apparently not function without are:

a) Olive trees
b) Orange trees (the smell of orange blossom is so thick it's almost too much!)
c) Geraniums (Pelargoniums) which grow on every rooftop patio and street planter.

Crete is lovely. The weather is about 5+ degrees warmer here, the ancient buildings are cool, and  we are getting a lot of mileage out of calling things "Cretan" because we are twelve years old, apparently ;)

It's also off season here, so our hotel room costs €40 a night (that's $0.12 or something equally tiny). Yes - off season, time of miserable weather? Not! So take my advice and visit Crete in early May.

Lovely Emily has taken on a laundry list of tasks while I am away so if you see her in the garden working away give her a wave. When I get home I am going to obtain some of her DNA and have her cloned somehow. OK that's weird, but you know what I mean!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Izze Powered Weeding Machines

Weeding and mulching extravaganza today at the Mariposa Center Garden. Brought to you by Izze, a delicious sparkling fruit drink. Gina and I had prearranged to meet at 2pm and mulch the strip garden with wood chips I had picked up for free from the great guys down at Bay View Green Waste. We're working away mulching and weeding, and Arum, a neighbor, stops by and asks if she can help. Not only does she stop to help, but she brought us drinks! So we had a mini break and drank delicious Izze Sparkling Apple Beverages. I also posted some No Dumping signs on the fence above the Mariposa Center Garden. We'll see how long that lasts.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Plant profile: Drosanthemum

I have recently been on an iceplant kick. You know, those little succulent groundcover plants with the amazingly bright, starry flowers? Well there are 135 genera of iceplants, and I've been collecting one or two here and there.

Annie's Annuals has quite a few, and last year that's where I bought what I thought were two of the same species  - Drosanthemum bicolor. However, when they flowered for the first time this year one of them turned out to have pinky-purple flowers and I think it's Drosanthemum striatum (middle). The D. bicolor is the one shown above (photo courtesy Boj Florido) with the bonkers red-orange-yelllow flowers all over it. The last species we have is one given to us by John and I think it's D. floribundum (photos left courtesy Boj Florido). This one grown on the cactus wall and has somewhat larger flowers and a flatter habit than D. striatum

Latin name: Drosanthemum ("dross-AN-them-um")
Common name: Dew Flower, Vygie (Afrikaans diminutive for "fig")
Originally from: Southern and western South Africa
Blooms: When the sun comes out the plant is covered in little flowers. Red/orange/yellow or purple.
Light: Full sun please!
Water: Rain is plenty.
Where to find in P. Garden: Two of the species we have live in the middle back bed. One is on the cactus wall.

There are about 100 species of Drosanthemum in southern and western South Africa. The genus name Drosanthemum, was derived from the Greek words drosos, meaning dew and anthos meaning flower, describing the glittering water cells on the leaves of many species that resemble drops of dew or tiny ice crystals. They only open when the sun comes out so head to the garden then to see 'em.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Meeting report

Last night's meeting was a great success - thank you all for coming out. We met representatives from DPW (Sandra Zuniga) and SF Parks Trust (Julia Brashares) who guided us through the process of creating a street park. They also shared information that DPW may be able to repave the street for us, which is truly fantastic news!

We also heard from:
Ed Patuto (accepted vs. unaccepted streets)
Matt Petty (preliminary garden layout)
Emily Gogol (grants available, and how to get them)

We developed a plan of action:

1. Post "no dumping" signs.
DPW may have these available. Annie has requested.

2. Survey the actual area that the garden would occupy.
Can DPW survey this officially? We do not wish to plant on non-DPW property for fear of loss at a later point. Annie has requested.

3. Discover who owns the rest of the land.
Caltrain or Farallon or UCSF? It's possible they might contribute.

4. Clean and repave the street
With help from DPW crews.

5. Plan, fund and execute the garden.
Grants, grants, grants... Emily G. is on the case.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Weeds: 0. Dog peeps: 1,000,000

Today was the first Dog Owner's Invitational event at P. Garden. In other words, I leaned on a few regulars to come help me weed the dog area ;) And I have to say, it was a massive success! Pic below shows (from left) Rick and Alison (with Peekaboo, who didn't stay for the pics sadly), Matt, Maile and Eddy, and Gina (with Tank) who all cheerfully joined me in completely obliterating the weeds up in the dog area.

You can see from the pics that the area looks completely different now - and much larger! Many piles of poop were picked up, and probably 10 wheelbarrow loads of weeds, including the impressive pile of weeds Ron made in the last couple weeks (thanks Ron!) went onto the compost heap. Amazing job everyone!

We also discussed plans for that spot, including:

a) Fresh woodchips (I'll look into getting them delivered)
b) Additional biodegradable dog bags and signage.
c) A bench (to be built by Gary with funds raised by us all)
d) A fence for the dog area to allow off-leash playtime (paid with funds from a grant probably)

Everyone seemed into those things. Got comments? Send 'em in!

Also happening in the garden today included Emily's work on the area behind the bench: planting many Florist's Cineraria (Pericallis cruenta), a donation from Leah. She also planted a Trachelium caeruleum (Perennial Blue Lace Flower) "Hamer Pandora" and moved a Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) into a sunnier spot.

Matt also did a number of jobs today:

1. Smelled the Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) - apparently it's pungent!
2. Moved an Aeonium "Sunburst" from the cactus wall to the Moby bed.
3. Pruned the outrageous cardoon
4. Moved a Mexican Feather Grass
5. Moved an Agave parryi out from under the Bladderpod

6. Pruned the Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)
7. Corralled some naughty Vinca major into submission
8. Pruned a Euphorbia rigida

All this in only 2 hours. As Eddy pointed out, the weeding alone would have taken me 8 hours to complete on my own. This is quite possibly the exact reason why it hasn't been done til today! ;)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Wonder twins power activate! Form of... a plant sale!

Last night the P. Garden volunteers had a meeting about our upcoming plant sale (May 1st!) and it was Very Productive. Lots of brilliant ideas. Lots of witty repartee. Lots of guacamole and chips. The perfect meeting! We have a lot of work to do to make the sale happen, but everyone is committed and ready.

Today, inspired by that, I got out to the garden and potted up 44 plants donated by Anna, Leah and Deborah. It was a bit drizzly but aside from that, fun times playing in the dirt. I also sorted out the compost bins. The worms got new bedding, and one layer of their palace cleaned out into the big compost bin. The latter is full of compost that's ready to use!

Pics, from top to bottom: One last new daffodil on display today - "Fragrant Rose" up by the bench. Lovely. Also shown is a pink geranium (Pelargonium) behind the wrong way sign that is doing very well. Lastly, the "Kool Aid Bush" (Psoralea pinnata) is flowering for the first time! And the flowers do indeed smell like grape Kool Aid. Huh!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dog day!

Do you walk your dog at P. garden? Come on out at 12pm this Saturday and meet other dog owners, help pull weeds, and discuss your thoughts about dog-friendly improvements for the dog area. There are a few cool ideas floating around - with your input perhaps they can become a reality!
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