Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some assembly required...

Due to a mutiny among the ranks (Emily, my back, Matt) it was decided that we should purchase a wheeled hose reel to control the evil, willful hoses, and reduce the amount of hatred we feel towards them to a dull hiss as we drag them around the garden. Ugh.

Being the risk-averse shopper that I am, I questioned the posters on the GardenWeb forums, and perused, reading many reviews. I finally settled on the Liberty Garden Products 880-2 Industrial 2 Wheel Solid Garden Hose Reel Cart, which comes in a color called "Bronze" but now that it has arrived can best be described as "darkish yuck."

Needless to say, it arrived in many pieces in a giant box, along with a detailed-ish instruction manual 8 pages long with dark and unrecognizable photos of the pertinent parts, and several additional pieces of paper amending the instructions with caveats and corrections.

I'm quite proud that I figured out that the plumber's tape on one threaded part was too long, and managed to Google correct application and use all on my own. And hey presto - the finished cart is sitting in the kitchen, only needing a few bolts to be wrenched tight and the tires inflated to 30 psi by some magic... (aka Matt)

Inspired by free supersaver shipping, I also got an additional 100' long hose (the highly rated Gilmour Flexogen Hose - long gone are the days when "cheap" and "hose" appear together in the "good" category in my mind) and a charming orange Dramm ColorStorm 9-Pattern Premium Turret Sprinkler With Heavy Duty Metal Base to create clever sprinkled water patterns in the beds. Last, but certainly not least, I got a three pack of Valterra Products, Inc. W1526VP Yellow Garden Hose Washer with Screen because if I have to take one more sprinkler/wand/other watering device home to disassemble because someone (not me, haha!) forgot to flush the hose or otherwise let dirt into them to clog up all the spraying parts, I will pitch a fit.

That is all!

Friday, July 30, 2010


OK folks, what Plant Profile would you like to see next? It can be any plant at Pennsylvania Garden - just submit a comment below and I'll write a post!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.

The second best time is now!

Chinese proverbs like that one are always useful to get you off your butt and make a change. And Friends of the Urban Forest are coming to the Potrero Hill/Dogpatch area soon! They'll be planting trees on the sidewalks this fall and you too can have one in front of your home or business - or you can sponsor a whole street of trees, or help another person out and buy them a tree!

Look around the streets in your area and see if there are empty tree "wells" or even entire blocks with no trees (the east side of the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue is bare, for example.) We can fix that!

FUF offers a subsidized planting package at $75 ($450 value) which includes:

- Utilities check
- Concrete removal and disposal
- Species recommendation by FUF's Arborists
- The TREE itself
- 18 months of tree care!

That's a steal. And all you have to do is tell them you’re interested.

To participate either contact Megan at 415-561-5890, ext. 114 or click here to visit the FUF site!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


John, Matt and I had procured some cactus cuttings recently, and I was looking for a spot to pot them where they wouldn't fall on someone and turn them into kebabs. The other day I met Steve from Regent's Cab on The Hill, and with almost clairvoyant perception, Steve offered his parking lot just down the street to stash the evil cacti just before I asked him for that exact favor!

Tonight, we took him up on that offer and loaded the couple dozen plus cactus parts into John's truck and drove them down to the parking lot, along with dirt and pots.

Moving cacti this big is like moving a body (I imagine!) - you do it quickly, gingerly, and constantly think "damn - this is heavy!"

Covered in 3" long spikes, they are pretty dangerous. One of them stabbed John in the leg! We did manage to get them sorted out in remarkably little time though, and I was very grateful for the help. Let's face it - this is not a job I could do alone!

I went back to the garden after that and finished up my watering, logging another 3 hours of gardening in total. Pics show the first set we tied to the fence, then the additional cuttings all potted and ready to go. And, of course, the guys!

Hands + hands + hands + hands = light work

Or... many hands makes light work! Once again this equation was proven when Leanne, Miyuki, Arum and I met at the Mariposa Center Garden last night to water it throughly, and plant 12 Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) and about 9 Echium candicans "Pride of Madeira."

Now, aside from the gap in the fence where the homeless people get down to the train tracks, we have everything planted. I've called Amtrak and Caltrain four times now in an effort to get that hole closed, and nothing ever comes of it. I'll keep trying though!

It took about an hour to plant everything, water three wheelbarrow loads of jugs, and put everything away after refilling the jugs again for the Wednesday night watering crew. And we weren't exactly rushing! If I was doing it alone it would have taken me hours, so thanks guys: much appreciated!

In the next three weeks we'll be watering this garden 2-3 times per week to get the newbies established. Luckily they are plants that love a hot, dry spot so they will no doubt fit right in and take off like rockets.

Photos show (top to bottom) Miyuki planting soem Echiums, Leanne wheeling water, and Miyuki, Leanne and Arum sitting on the bench-like coffee-table-ish thing that someone (thanks a lot whoever you are!) dumped in the garden recently. Got to dispose of that somehow...

After all that I went over to Emily's and we worked on some paperwork for two new grants for the SPUR (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) and P. Garden projects.  Busy busy busy...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gingers on the move

Last week I sent out a call for help watering the garden to our list of dedicated volunteers, and they responded! Today I had some great help in the garden: Gina, Miyuki and Matt spent several hours getting things watered and tidied.

Gina deadheaded a mountain of Cannas. Miyuki watered dozens of plants, Matt removed the ginger (too thirsty!) and made about 30 one gallon pots of it for the sale. I set up a soaker hose that Jim donated around the Brugmansia, Fuchsia and Dahlia imperialis (Tree Dahlia) with Miyuki's help.

After that, Gina, Miyuki and I watered the Mariposa Center Garden and then set up water jugs for the midweek watering.

All this watering! Came to find out that our sprinkler has only been on for 15 minutes a week the last 2 months. That explains a lot! Hopefully our pal Robert can set it for at least 45 minutes for us from now on.

I spent until 3.30 watering and trimming, moved some Thymus and had a nice chat with Juana about bees. She also gave me a good gardening book and some pruners! Thanks Juana!

Photos from top to bottom show lovely Rudbeckia hirta flowers from Matt's dad, gingers (Hedychium coronarium) all potted and ready to sell, and a nice combination of foliage in the Moby Dick bed with purple Cordyline, variegated Echium candicans, blue-green Euphorbia rigida and my favorite little Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum “Silver Lace Bush” that is doing so much better in the shade!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Minister of Propagation

Matt, the self-proclaimed Minister of Propagation, has been spending countless hours recently potting up plants for the next plant sale on October 16th (that's right - pick up a red pen and go striaght to your calendars, people!)  He's got dozens of 1 gallon pots of many of the garden's favorites cooking away already: various Aloes, Agaves, grasses, Clivias, Echeverias, Cotyledons, Sedums, Plectranthus, Aeoniums, Brugmansias, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, Sanseverias, Salvias and so on and on. And today he's taking them all up to Mendocino to his dad's massive greenhouse to grow on for the summer.Yay - less watering for us to do!

I have to say, I think the next plant sale is going to be really good. We propagated many of the plants people asked for at the last sale, and ones people always ask about in the garden. And they're going to all be bigger specimens too!

Many people donated plants for the last sale, which was a massive help. If you have plants for the next one, let us know now: we are accepting donations up to 2 weeks before the sale - after that we don't have enough time to inventory and label them.

While we were selecting plants for the Mendocino trip this morning, I took pics of a flowering cactus in the garden (above) - pretty cool! Apparently it's an Echinopsis spachiana (Golden Torch Cereus).

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I popped over to the garden at lunchtime today to eat my sandwich. Noticed a few new plants looking a bit wilty, so I watered them (mostly the Nicotiana and Scabiosas) and took a few photos.

We have an Arctotis "The Ravers: Unmellow Yellow" at the top. I planted three in the front border and they were a bit sprawly from the start, unlike the nice bushy one on the cactus wall. Still, you can't beat that color with a stick!

Next there is a very plush Verbascum (which one? I went on a Verbascum spree recently and now I don't remember who is who)  which looks like it's about to shoot up a massive flower spike. Hurrah! It means the end of this plant, but what a finale - well worth the loss. And perhaps we wil get some seedlings?

After that we have the orange-yellow rose, name unknown, but, for a rose, fairly well-behaved at Pennsylvania Garden.  In other words, it only requires water, deadheading, defoliation, spraying with chemicals, pruning and so on about once a month... It only gets infested with aphids and blackspot occasionally, and flowers almost all the time to make up for it.

Gah - now that I type all that out I realize what a pain in the butt roses are. And we have three! It's possible that one day I will take a mad fit and remove them... but when I think of that I remember their lovely scented flowers and I stop myself. *sigh*

I also noticed many large Yucca cuttings left in the garden. Channing donated them and John delivered them. Oh, thank you both! They are superb!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Donate? Yes, you can!

Donna, owner of two lovely "frequent flier" doggies at P. Garden emailed to ask how she could donate to the garden. Yeah! I sent her a reply, then updated our Donations page too. I even set up a PayPal button so you can donate with a credit card!

There are four ways to donate money now, as well as ways to donate plants, equipment, materials and buy a tee-shirt for the cause. Check it all out!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Planting session

Emily and I went out to plant our weekend haul this evening at 6pm. One of the things about weekday evening planting is that a lot of people walk their dogs and chat  at that time of night, so we enjoyed some idle banter with Gina and Tank, Jim, Carrie and Kelly, and Donna and her two dogs (thanks for the donation!)

We did manage to plant a few things too!

3 Scabiosa atropurpurea "Ace of Spades" - these are awesome! (Left, in front of the yellow lupine)
1 Crassula coccinea in the Moby Dick bed.
1 Agastache pallida x rugosa "Globetrotter" in the front border.
1 Aquilegia chyrsantha "Yellow Queen" in the left bed to replace the stolen one. Sniff. (Left, in front of a Mexican feather grass)
1 Nicotiana alata x sanderae "Crimson Bedder" in the red bed.
2 Knautia macedonica in the red bed - also moved another from the left bed to join them. Also awesome. (Below, on the corner by the bench that has been looking ratty for a while)
3 Pericallis lanata by the bench.

We watered too. Man, I am sick of hauling that hose around! In order to reduce hose time, I told Emily we are calling a moratorium on new plants and moving plants until the fall rains come, like sensible people. Of course we need new stuff for the front border but after THAT...! Nnnnngh!

Photos to make up for yesterday...

...when I didn't post any! I went to the garden at lunchtime yesterday and snapped a few pics with my new phone:

Left to right, top to bottom: Aeonium "Sunburst", Agapanthus, Achillea "Cerise Queen", Puya venusta

Monday, July 19, 2010

Third in the series of guest posts I wrote for the Neighborhood Empowerment Network, this little essay deals with volunteers. Where to find them, how to get them working, and how to get them to come back over and over!

How To Work Magic With Your Volunteers

(I have a secret weapon - you'll have to read the blog to find out what it is!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shopping spree

Today Emily, her mum and I went to Berkeley Horticultural Nursery and Annie's Annuals.

Annie's was having a 20% off sale. Berkeley Hort is darn expensive but they have loads of nice plants. Between the two places we bought a lot of stuff!

Berkeley Hort:
4 Convolvulus cneorum (Bush Morning Glory)
2 Asclepias curassavica (Butterfly Weed) "Silky Gold"

2 Knautia macedonia
1 Lupinus perennis (Sundial Lupine)
3 Scabiosa atropurpurea "Ace of Spades"
3 Pericallis lanata
1 Crassula coccinea
1 Aeonium nobile
1 Agastache pallida x rugosa "Globetrotter"
1 Aquilegia chyrsantha "Yellow Queen"
1 Nicotiana alta x sanderae "Crimson Bedder" (Emily's impulse buy)

We also got free pots at Berkeley Hort ;)

So we all retired to our homes to eat, then Matt and I went out to do some garden work. We did about 3 hours of work:

Deadheaded Gazanias, Arctotis, Nicotiana, Kniphofia, Aloe.
Watered as much as possible.
Planted 4 Convolvulus cneorum (Bush Morning Glory) by the steps.
Planted 3 Oenothera stricta and 2 Asclepias curassavica (Butterfly Weed) "Silky Gold" in the left bed.
Staked up the Verbascum olympicum.
Divided up an Aloe maculata.

Didn't get any photos cos it got pretty dark when we were done around 9pm.

Busy, busy, busy, work, work, work

Today Emily, Matt and I convened at ultra-fresh new spot Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous for ice cream and a meeting with Friends of the Urban Forest. They're planning to plant trees in our area, and they need to coordinate with the locals to get it done. Just so happens we need 30 trees planted on the 100 block of Penn Ave, so that's convenient! (Do you want a tree in front of your place? Let us know!)

After that we went to the garden. What did we get done? In 3+ hours we did the following:

Planted 4 Achillea "Red Velvet" and 6 Achillea "Feuerland" in the red bed.
Watered just about everything.
Replanted a Cordyline.
Planted a Salvia apiana (White Sage) and a Lupinus arboreus (Yellow Bush Lupine) and rearranged a Nassella tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass) and an Oenothera of unknown species in the left bed.
Removed two clumps of Dianella tasmanica.
Planted half a dozen Gazanias along the front border.
Planted three Achillea tomentosa (Woolly Yarrow) along the steps.
Deadheaded lots of Arctotis and Gazanias,
Pondered the red bed and it's deficiencies and how to remedy them.
Removed corn marigolds from the Wrong Way sign area, edged the spot in pavers, and planted half a dozen Calandrinia grandiflora (Rock Purslane) there.

Gosh that's a lot of work: 9 person hours of kicking ass! A glass of Belle Glos pinot noir from Monterey for me and a Corona for Matt, I think.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Give me Blue Steel! Errr, rusty steel?

Today Emily, Arum, Gary and I met Phil (left) from the San Francisco Chronicle to have our pictures taken for an upcoming edition of Home & Garden! We walked around the garden pretending to look busy, and posed awkwardly in front of various plants. Gary did his best "Blue Steel" and Phil took pics of lots of plants. It was fun!

Look out for the article in the Chronicle soon - I'll see if I can scan it for your viewing pleasure after it's published.

We also spent some time admiring the lovely rusty steel and copper sign post that Ron made - Gary installed the enclosed cork board we bought with money from the plant sale recently, so all we need is the dog poop sign and it's complete! Plant sale May 1st, sign built and cork board installed within 6 weeks: Not bad. Now all we have to do is fill it with information... I'd better get typing!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Busy weeks, but not in the garden

Arum, Emily and I have been hard at work for the last few weeks preparing two massive grant proposals. One is the Community Challenge Grant and the other is a PUC grant, and both will go to fund the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden), which we hope to break ground on in the fall.

We're all desperate to get back out into the garden though! It feels like we're missing the summer, stuck in countless meetings with contractors, landscapers, architects, sound engineers and representatives of the city and other agencies, as well as plant, tree, rock, gravel, lumber and compost suppliers... not to mention the hours of painstaking writing, editing, formatting, printing and collating.

The grants are due to be hand delivered by Arum today at 4pm. What an accomplishment: Go team! And thank you for your dedication to this pivotal task. :)

I'll leave you with a photo of the garden taken recently...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Out with the old

The corn marigolds (Chrysanthemum segetum) are done for the year, and I spent from 4pm-8pm yesterday ripping them out of the front border. 5 wheelbarrows full! Now we have a rather sparse look there (see pic.) - the Agapanthus are doing great, and the Gazanias and Artemisias are fine (pruned the latter) but in between them we need something compact, upright (about 18"-24" tall) and drought tolerant.

I had this same problem last year - the Gaillardias get all long and floppy and cover the Gazanias. I planted Salvia "Blue Victoria" and Achillea "Cerise Queen" but they both got crowded out by rampant corn marigolds, and only one Salvia survived. The Achilleas are there but looking wimpy. Both species get mildewed if they don't have a bit of air around them. The three Arctotis I planted acted a bit sprawly too. Gah!

I also watered with the new oscillating sprinkler I bought last week. It's great! You only need half water pressure to get a massive arc that covers most of the left bed in one go - and that's an area that doesn't get watered by the timed sprinklers, so it's great news.

Matt spent hours propagating new plants for the sale on October 16th. We have a great collection of succulents that'll be ready for that sale - they were very popular at the last sale so we have high hopes.

We also met a lady who was walking in the garden with her granddaughter. Carolyn visits SF from Pennsylvania (the actual state, not the street!) often, and enjoys the flowers. So much that she brought us a nice cash donation! Thank you Carolyn!

I got a new iPhone and it has a much better camera. I'm excited to post better pics. Take, for example, the photos shown here. A black ladybug on a cardoon bud with a red "comma" marking, and a closeup of cardoon flower.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pots galore!

Matt has been buying 1 gallon plant pots for $0.99 each recently, to propagate plants in for the next sale (October 16th people!) but that's way too much to spend. I sourced some online that came to about $0.33 with shipping for 100, but then our good friend John let us in to a secret: Berkely Horticultural Nursery sells them for $0.05 each, and 5 gallon pots for $0.20!

I drove over there today with Melissa and asked an employee where to find them. He pointed to the pots and then tipped me off that very often there's a pile of unwashed ones just outside their back gate. For FREE!

We nipped out there and came across a bonanza of pots! We loaded the car up and I've just spent an hour washing them. I think we have about 150 1 gallons, 100 4" pots, and several assorted large ones up to 15 gallons.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Cactus demolition team!

I have tasked John with the procurement of large, specimen cacti, agaves and yuccas for the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden). We both saw a Craigslist ad for some big columnar cacti this week, and went to see them and meet owner Doug on Wednesday night.

The four cacti turned out to be huge - one was about 15'+ tall, one probably weighed 500# (remember they're full of water!) and clearly these specimens had been growing in situ for a decade or more. Naturally, the only access to them was through a low, narrow passageway under the house whose back yard they grew in, and that meant there was no way to get them out whole - we'd literally have had to helicopter them out if we wanted 'em in one piece!

We explained this to Doug and he was philosophical about it. Then John hacked the cacti to bits with a saw! Well, OK, he came back yesterday and spent 4 hours removing two cacti in long pieces, and stacking the “logs” at P. Garden. Then at 7pm Matt and I met him there and we finished the job on the third one, carrying out the largest bits we could handle tied to a ladder that acted as a gurney.

Think about a 200# log covered in 3" flesh-skewering spines that wants to roll off your ladder and pin you to the floor in agony. Yes, you only ask good friends to help with a job like this...

This morning at 8am we met John at the garden and unloaded his truck at PG. I really don’t think anyone’s gonna steal those large, spiky bits of cactus, but dog owners be aware that they’re up by the bricks for now so take care of your dogs! I had planned to ask Steve who owns Regent’s Cab Co. at 17th x Pennsylvania if we could pot the cacti and stand them up against his fence over the summer so they can root up in peace. Serendipitously, after leaving the garden this morning we saw Steve at Hazel’s Kitchen, and he graciously agreed to allow us to stash the goods there. Thanks Steve!

And thanks Doug, John and Matt. Now how’s that for a team effort?

Pic shows John lowering a gigantic bit of cactus to the ground while Matt looks on. Spiky!

DIG IN SAN FRANCISCO Street Parks Workshop @ Visitacion Valley Greenway July 24th

SFPT's Julia Brashares announces another workshop for you urban horticulturalists:

Dear Street Parks Stewards,
You’re invited to attend DIG IN SAN FRANCISCO on Saturday, July 24th from 9:30am to 1:30pm at the Visitacion Valley Greenway! If you haven’t been to the Greenway before don’t miss this chance to check it out –we guarantee that you’ll be delighted and inspired by what you see!!
This free workshop on sustainable gardening is presented by San Francisco’s Department of Public Works & The San Francisco Parks Trust Street Parks Program in partnership with The American Community Gardening Association & Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Wineries.

Sessions include composting, planting, maintenance techniques, and demonstrations from a guest chef on how to cook fresh garden vegetables.

Garden gates open at 9:00am in the Visitacion Valley Greenway on Arleta Avenue in San Francisco between Alpha and Rutland Streets.
Pre-registration is required. Please contact Sandra Zuniga at (415) 695-2114 or Julia Brashares at (415) 750-5110 to register. Workshops are free and participants will receive lunch and a gift for attending.
Please feel free to send this along to everyone in your gardening group, friends, coworkers, & neighbors! For more information, map and directions:

All best wishes,

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Let's plant an urban forest!

Friends of the Urban Forest are coming to the 'hood! We hope to work with them on the 17th and Pennsylvania Urban Renewal (SPUR) project to line the 100 block of Penn Ave with trees. Our cost will be $75 per tree which we hope to fund with grants.

But what about the 200 block, you ask?

Currently there are Callery Pear trees (Pyrus calleryana) alongside the lofts on the west side, and a few other trees further south, up the block on the same side. But nothing on the east side of the block at all. In fact, it's rather awful over there... asphalt sidewalk, grafitti, yuck...

If you are interested in planting trees on that side of the street, the cost is $75 per tree. They bring a tree, cut the sidewalk for you, and help you plant it and stake it and give you all sorts of help. Believe me, this is a deal!

Want to know more? Contact FUF at the above link, or, better yet, come to the community meeting at Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous (the new ice cream shop on 3rd Street) at 4pm on Saturday July 17th.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Do you read the Chronicle?

Emily, Arum and I were interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday! The story of Pennsylvania Garden should appear in the Home & Garden section (my favorite!) in the next 4 weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July plant shopping!

I was up in Mendocino over the holiday weekend, and one of the places I usually visit while there is Digging Dog Nursery. Naturally this resulted in some purchases...

4 Santolina chamaecyparissus "Nana" (Gray Santolina, Lavender Cotton)
2 Helianthemum nummularium "Wisley Princess" (Sunrose)
2 Helianthemum nummularium "St Mary" (St. Mary's Sunrose)
Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake Master, Button Snakeroot)
Monarda didyma "Jacob Kline" (Beebalm)
3 Oenothera stricta (Chilean Evening Primrose)
I was on a mission to stabilize the slope by the steps, and I think the Santolinas with their cute yellow button flowers and the white and primrose Helianthemums will do a great job in the roasting heat there, filling in between the miniature thymes right by the steps, the yellow Sisyrinchium californicum (Yellow Eyed Grass) and the taller Achilleas further away. They will also be in keeping with the white/silver/yellow theme of the area!
When we got home we planted them right away, as you can see from the pics. I removed the four Alpine strawberries by the steps: they were looking ratty and water-hungry, and the area is so hot and dry that without a lot of babying they will never look lush again. Into pots they go, to be preened for the plant sale!
The whole area of the steps is quite fragile right now - feet and paws going off the steps can easily damage things there, and watering must be done ever so gently, using the sprinkler and not a wand, for fear of runoff and erosion.
The Oenotheras we got are a tall version from Chile which we'll plant in a group in the left bed. We have a nice collection of Oenotheras now. The Eryngium might have been a mistake - we came to find out later that it likes to stay moist. Oops! Might have to keep it in a pot at home. The Monarda can tolerate a bit of drought but I'll plant it by a sprinkler anyway - the red color was so awesome I just couldn't pass it up. This one will live in the red bed.

Edited to add: I noticed that someone has removed all the Vinca from the back border! Hurrah! They also watered anumber of beds nice and deeply. I later figured out it was Miyuki and Nick: thanks guys :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Plant profile: Verbena bonariensis

It has been said that this species of Verbena is named after one of my favorite cities in the world - Buenos Aires. Supposedly the plant was brought from that city in Argentina to the UK in the early 1700s.

John gave me a little bit of this in August '09. I planted it at the top of the garden and forgot about it. Suddenly it was 6' tall and flowering like mad!

Recently I got several seedlings from Shen too - we're planting them now at the top of the garden, and on the Mariposa Center Garden.

Latin name: Verbena bonariensis (pronounced "ver-BEE-nah bon-are-ee-EN-sis")
Common name: Tall Verbena, Purpletop Vervain, Tall Verbena, Clustertop Vervain, or Pretty Verbena
Blooms: Right now it's covered in tiny purple flowers in bunches on the end of very long stalks. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies, and provide nectar for native bees and many beneficial garden insects.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant.
Originally from: South America from Colombia and Brazil to Argentina and Chile.
Where to find in P. Garden: In the red bed, on the street end. Also at the very top of the garden we recently planted some seedlings.

A tender perennial hardy in USDA Zones 7-11, it's commonly grown from seed which germinate readily (all over your garden, in fact...), but also can be propagated from herbaceous stem cuttings anytime. It can be grown as an annual in areas where it is not winter hardy and it will bloom in the first year when grown from seed.

UPDATE June 2016:
Somehow these have disappeared. Did they get pruned too hard? Pass out from the heat? Not known. They were great and I'd try them again though!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

4th of July Flower Explosion

All I can say is that I watered a bit today, Annie watered a bit yesterday, so we hope the garden looks fresh and wonderful for the neigborhood when you're all out and about this 4th of July weekend enjoying the summer weather. As if you need convincing to get out to the garden, I've attached some flower photos.

Hmmm.. Mulch.

On Thursday Annie and I picked up a bunch of mulch and finished mulching the Mariposa Center Garden. Yes! Photo essay on left.
Finally only watering and weeding to do down there. If you pass by be sure to check out the yellow flowering Lupinus (pictured).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Aloe hedge in bloom

I'm away for the long weekend but I watered the garden today at lunchtime. I must say, the Aloe nobilis (Gold Toothed Aloe) hedge along the storm drain are flowering like crazy right now. Go check 'em out!

Inspirational quote of the day!

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

- Anne Frank

Book review: "Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It" by Billee Sharp

A friend of ours recently wrote an excellent little book about how to cut corners in style when the economy takes a nosedive into the compost heap. Talk about timely! It's called "Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It"  and the author Billee Sharp even gave us a mention on page 154!

The book contains loads of information on composting, as well as growing your own foods and herbs that can be used for skincare and cleaning the house.

There are sections on not only gardening, but also cooking, cleaning, decorating, beauty, health, recycling, money and all sorts of other tidbits that can really make a difference in everyday life for you and your family.

I recommend this book. It's thoughtfully written and you won't end up feeling like a penny-pinching miser in some hippie gulag, but rather an environmentally aware superstar who coincidentally has a very clean home, better skin, and the information a person needs to revive their cellphone if it takes an accidental swim.

Tip o'the trowel to Billee!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Late but not forgotten

Right off, just let me say that.......I was the flower stealer! I'm not as evil as Dr. Porkchop (see shameless promotion of Pixar to the left). Susie, who runs the Cutting Garden at Flora Grubb Gardens ( visited our garden with the innocent intent to clip a small bouquet that would be featured in her blog on about Pennsylvania Garden. It was totally Annie sanctioned for public relations purposes!

However, I did leave the garden hose in quite a tangle on Tuesday, so Annie, sorry about that. I am a bad person.

So that was Monday...on to the work of Tuesday. I was able to plant a new group of Dietes at the Mariposa Center Garden and watered all of the plants there and refilled the milk jugs. The Lupines and Eriogonum (Buckwheats) are just starting to flower, so look closely! I watered all of the special needs plants at the Pennsylvania Garden (think Dahlias, Knautia, Nicotiana, Rosa, the list goes on) and the left bed. I also put in a bunch of new Zinnia seedlings along the front of the red bed - so watch out, they are marked with yellow flags. I also attempted to stake up the giant lilies in the red bed.

There was also much pruning back of things (including the Canna) and general weeding while I moved the hose around.
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