Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Godmother payback

Last week I got an email from Sharon, one of The Godmothers who helped Emily out with a donation for the Mariposa Center Garden. Sharon was looking for two freaky plants for planters at her school.  I thought Agave americanas would be good in that warm, dry spot, but didn't have a matching pair that was ready yet.
On a whim, I asked John if he had any lying around doing nothing... being John, he went and dug some up! Sharon planted them at the weekend, and you can see the results above!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Berkeley Arboretum Sale trip

Yesterday John and I went to the Berkeley Arboretum sale and silent auction. We got there 15 minutes before the members-only time opened, and the line was already huge. When the gates opened it was mayhem!

We scurried in and picked out some plants (Agave ovatifolia, Aloe speciosa and a Dudleya for me), then looked at the silent aution items. They had several impressive, rare specimens up for bid,a nd it was very hard for me to stop myself bidding on a Yucca "Bright Star" that ended up going for $85 and a Dendroseris litoralis (Cabbage Tree - photo above) that went for $63... but I managed to stay sane.

I felt the prices on most plants were comparable to retail - some a good bit higher though. On the whole I think it's good to support the Arboretum though, so that's OK with me.

After the sale we drove to the CVS Pharmacy in Oakland that John said had some nice plants... and he was right! Oddly labelled, oddly priced, and many of them looking like they'd been dropped on their heads, but I got an Aloe polyphylla and another Dudleya (unnamed). I somewhat regret leaving behind some nice Agaves there though...

Next we went in search of some Aloe "Goliath" plants reputed to be at the Piedmont ACE hardware. They ended up only having the more-desireable (to me) Aloe "Hercules" but it was a 10 gallon plant in poor shape, for $80... so I skipped it (think about it - coulda had a much rarer plant for less at Berkeley Arboretum!).

We went home via Berkeley Horticultural Nursery (grabbed some large pots for the garden) and so ended our plant shopping odyssey. Good times. Second pic shows the middle back bed this morning, looking lovely with all the flowers.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Neighborhood Getting Greener All the Time

The Mission Bay neighborhood may be getting a new public green space in the future. I met with Bekah and Julie about their plans to get a new community garden going somewhere (maybe you can help them secure a spot?) in Mission Bay. Here's their official blurb and call to action:

Online petition available now for signature
There is a grassroots movement to get a community garden going at Mission Bay, and UCSF student/staff/faculty support is really needed. If you want dirt under your nails or just think this is an idea worth doing, add your name to the online petition at http://tiny.cc/xaodd . It won’t add you to any listserves or involve more participation. More info: mbcommunitygarden@gmail.com

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Power corrupts (me!)

I was asked to be a judge at a plant competition that happened today at the inaugural planting of the Indiana Street "Progress Park." Naturally this brought every officious, power-hungry, judgemental fiber of my being to attention. Fun times ahead!

I asked John to join me and he arrived at P. Garden with some plants for me. This never gets old! To my delight, he had 2 Yucca aloifolia cuttings (Spanish Bayonet - awesome. As in, awe-inspiringly pointy!) as well as 2 Agave americanas for Sharon (special request) and 2 leetle pups of a very special variegated Agave that I will be hiding on my patio until they are ready for their debut at PG. Pictures at bottom of this post.

My pals Bill, Bruce, Katie and all their crew were there today with a massive selection of gorgeous plants from (where else?) Flora Grubb. Katie had arranged the plants ready for planting, and my co-judge, John and I enjoyed overthinking such categories as "Most Dog Friendly" (friendly to dogs, or dog-proof?), "Greenest Plant" (in hue, or ecological terms?)  and "Tallest Plant" (current height? Eventual height?)

Eventually, after much deliberation, we decided on our first-through-third selections, consulting the iPhone to determine which plants were least toxic to pets and so on. Ribbons were awarded and the planting began. John and I hadn't realized there'd be planting (could it be I did not read the emails carefully enough?) so were no dressed for the task, but what the heck! We put a few in the ground anyway.

So it's nearing noon, and it's hotter than a dutch oven in the city this week (I want a dutch oven. But I don't want to be in a dutch oven). John and I had to go, so we took the pots the Indiana Street gang were going to throw out, and scarpered.

Later on, I went to P Garden and watered for about 4 hours. I happened upon Nate who was passing by in the street, and he offered me his help for an hour. We propagated a flat of Calandrinia cuttings from Deborah. I also deadheaded the Scabiosas, and tied the Mexican Fan Palm to it's stake. Need another stake. H'm. Then I potted up half a dozen Aloe brevifolia and inventoried the sale plants.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Plant profile: Crassula capitella "Campfire"

This Crassula is one member of that large genus you won't forget. Words used to describe this plant include: Incendiary! Glowing! Hot! Wow! And as you can see from the photo, they're quite apt.

Latin name: Crassula erosula. ("KRASS-you-lah er-oz-YOU-lah")

Common name: Crassula, Campfire Plant
Originally from: Coastal southeastern South Africa.
Blooms: In the fall this plant has inconspicuous white flowers. Ignore them. It's the foliage that really wows!
Sun: Full sun to light shade.
Water: Rain is enough - the more stressed the plant is, the redder it gets!
Where to find in P. Garden: In the middle back bed.

This lovely plant is another xeric garden winner, requiring little to no water and looking stunning all the time. The leaves color up best in bright light, drought or cold temperatures. The plant offsets fairly quickly to form wide mats, and actually give off significant heat to warm your hands on a cold day (OK, that last bit is not true)

The only downside is that it gets a bit burned in frosty weather. Luckily this year it sprang right back,

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Today I got to the garden around 3pm, and stayed til 7pm. Matt propagated 3+ flats of Calandrinias donated by Deborah for the back border, while I hand watered the cactus wall, left bed, lavender hedge, sale plants and bamboo.

The Gazanas in the red bed are looking lovely - the colors fade in an interesting way. Shame the flowers only open in full sun. (left)

I also trimmed up the last of the Watsonias in the red bed. Youc an see from the photo, left, that they are growing in all nice and green and the dried up brown parts had to go. Which meant carefully nipping them out... quite tedious work! This clump is mixed red and white Watsonias that I need to separate out when they next flower - I think I'll have to put tags on the white corms and dig them up when they're done flowering, to move to the left bed.

Lastly I went along the cactus wall deadheading and tidying. The Puya venusta (left) is looking quite lovely in a twirly, serrated way - I wonder when it'll flower?

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Last night it rained a bit. Not in any meaningful way - just enough to make the patio wet - but the garden felt "fresh" when Matt and I went out there this morning.

Between 10am and 3pm we took care of quite a few things:

- Watered the left bed, Canna area, front border, back border, steps, sale plants, and the back half of the middle back bed.
- Deadheaded Cannas, daylilies
- Trimmed up the Watsonias
- Noticed that the Aster "Bill's Big Blue" is starting to flower (left)
- Tied the Mexican fan palm fronds together as they had a case of the flops.
- Planted two Artemisias donated by a neighbor (photo above), and potted two lavenders (ditto) to save for the lavender hedge in fall. Hate to plant anything now, but it was plant and water, or pot up and water... neither is ideal!
- Visited with our little orange cat friend (left), who was hunting mice in the borders. Also chatted with Arum, Ron, Nate and Tanya!

Tomorrow afternoon I hope to water the cactus wall and bamboo areas.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Come to the Pennsylvania Garden Plant Sale on Saturday, October 16th!

We are raising funds to fence the dog area of the garden, so our fuzzy pals can romp in safety. Come on down and buy some plants for your garden, enter a raffle for a fantastic plant prize, and support our volunteer-driven community garden in sunny Potrero Hill.

Items for sale will include:
* Pumpkins donated by Whole Foods!
* Hundreds of cacti, succulents and other water-wise plants ideally suited to SF gardening!
* Native species, and those from the Mediterranean, Africa and Australia featured!
* Fresh, organic herb plants donated by Whole Foods!
* Organic beverages and a shady place to sit will also be available!

Walk through the garden and see many of the species of sale live, in action! Knowledgeable volunteers will be there to help you choose plants, and strong-backed young men will wheelbarrow them to your car (or home, if you live close by). Our prices cannot be beat, and your donation is hugely appreciated.

Please help us make Pennsylvania Garden beautiful for the whole community. Mark your calendars now: it's the same day as the Potrero Hill Festival so this is a great day out for everyone!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Plant profile: Amaryllis belladonna

You might think you know the genus Amaryllis already - those big bulbs you get around the holidays that produce huge red or white flowers? Well, those are actually Hippeastrums, from South America. The real Amaryllis looks similar, but comes from Africa. And there's only one species in the genus!

Latin name: Amaryllis belladonna ("amma-RILL-iss bella-DON-ah")
Common name: Belladonna Lily (UK), Naked Ladies (US), March Lily (S. Africa)
Originally from: Africa
Blooms: Clear pink (some ranging from white to reddish) blooms appear in late summer. They also come in white and deeper purplish/reddish shades.
Light: Full sun
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water!
Where to find in P. Garden: We have quite a few clumps in the left bed.

This is a funny plant, which grows from a huge bulb. The leaves are produced in the autumn or early spring in warm climates depending on the onset of rain and eventually die down by late spring. The bulb is then dormant until late summer - they require a dry resting period between leaf growth and flower spike production. Just when you have forgotten about them and the leaves are long gone, the bulbs shoot up a deep burgundy spike topped with a cluster of 2 to 12 funnel-shaped clear pink trumpet-shaped flowers, and no leaves at all - hence the common name "Naked Ladies."

The species was introduced into cultivation at the beginning of the eighteenth century, having been discovered growing wild on the Cape of Good Hope by a few Dutch growers who emigrated to South Africa. The plants reproduce slowly either by bulb division or seeds and have gradually naturalized from gardens throughout much of the West Coast since these environments are like their native South African habitat. Driving around the parched California hills in late summer you'll often see big clumps of Naked Ladies by the roadside.

As tough as they are, these bulbs don't like to be moved. I've planted quite a few in the garden but only a couple have flowered in the first year. In 2011 we got a flower spike from every bulb - about 25 scattered through the garden.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tropical addition

This morning, at the crack of 8.40 am, I was at the garden to meet John and Channing who had apparently got there earlier than I expected and planted a Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)! This is an extremely slow-growing palm, but the one we have is already 6' tall. It looks simply gorgeous in the left bed!

After the guys left I watered it in, and set about removing the Evening Primroses from the left bed that were done flowering and looking quite scruffy. I planted some daffodil bulbs along the edge and tidied up - that area is ready for some new plantings as soon as the rains start.

I also tidied up the tool cabinet, labeling various boxes of items and making it a lot neater, and collected trash. Then I planted some Evening Primroses in pots, and a few pieces of Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) too. I watered the front border a little, especially the  Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) John planted there yesterday, and deadheaded the Daylilies there. Matt showed up and watered a bit too.

All done by 1pm - I'm hungry!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kickass volunteer day!

Today's volunteer day was excellent. We had loads of great volunteers, and we all got down to business and got so much accomplished: you'll notice the difference!

Arum, Emily and Leanne deadheaded ALL the Agapanthus in the garden (first pic), among many other tasks. Matt chopped up the waste and composted it. The front border is transformed!

Nataly and Arum potted up over 100 succulent cuttings for the plant sale (second pic), all donated by Nataly's family, and planted in pots that Leanne got for us. The plant sale inventory just skyrocketed!

Nate weeded out Vinca from the borders (third pic), and rebuilt the twig border they had infiltrated.  It warms the cockles of my heart to see someone twig weaving, and Nate is really good at that particular job. We did miss his other half, Tanya though!

Matt pruned the variegated Echium and watered all the sale plants thoroughly. He also helped John and I to pot up many large Yucca branches and take them down to the Regent's Cab lot to root (thanks Steve, Bruno and co. for letting us use your space!)

You won't believe how awesome the new Yuccas are going to look on the street: to give a sneak peek, that's John demonstrating the size as they lie on the dog area wood chips (John is a playful guy!) and then we have Matt (also playful!) showing them after potting. (fourth and fifth pics)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Grant news coming soon

We're supposed to hear about whether or not the grants are approved after September 20th. Everyone cross your fingers! I had a phone call from the PUC last week and they had a number of questions: this is a large grant for them. I hope that the worst case scenario is we get only part of the grant and apply again next year....

GreenTrust 22nd Street Greening supporters

  • I got a message from Janet at GreenTrust - can you help her with this project?

  • GreenTrust is applying for a San Francisco Parks Trust grant (request due Sept 10) and we are required to have individuals pledge some volunteer hours to help complete the project. Can you pledge 2-6 hours (or more!) over the months of Oct., Nov. Dec. 2010 to help coordinate volunteers, solicit pledges/in-kind services, open sidewalks, move dirt, plant trees and small plants, install bike rack, or pledge $ money for this project? If so, please email back today or asap to jc at jcarpinelli.com or call 415 282-5516 with your name and contact information. You may give your email address or phone number as contact info. We will contact you as the project gets closer to actual dates when we will need volunteer help. For more information and updates on this project see  http://www.gtsfcw.org/projects.htm  and http://mydogpatch.org/group/gtsfcw

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pet profile: Unknown Orange Cat

A week ago we had a new visitor in the garden, and he was back last Thursday night, and this morning! He was seen lounging in the left bed and the front border, and we got a photo of him (left). He's very sweet - I think he may be assiting with the rodent problem. He ran across the street (without looking both ways!!!) to go home... I wonder what his name is? Perhaps I'll tape a note to his collar and ask his owners what his name is. Uh oh, no I won't - he doesn't wear a collar!

Name/Nickname: Unknown - International Cat of Mystery aka Rodent Patrol, Mouse Elimination Division
Breed: Domestic Shorthair
Age: Young - maybe 1 or 2?
Owner: Unknown
Loves: Lying in the left bed, hunting mice, sharpening my claws on the tree dahlia, chin scratches
Dislikes: Dogs, sprinklers
How long have you been visiting P. Garden? Just a couple of weeks now...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Return of the Ranunculus

Despite someone ripping out a few of the beautiful red Ranunculus that I put in the garden last spring, the tubers left behind are determined and making a second go of it (see photo). I am super stoked. My twin Sabrina is visiting from Portland this week, and she was eager to help me water the plant sale plants and deadhead the Dahlias (see photo). I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day as much as we did!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

District 10 City Parks Forum

Neighborhood Parks Council Presents:
District 10 City Parks Forum

Join your district supervisor candidates for a public forum on parks, recreation, and open spaces issues. Forum questions will be collected from attendees at the event. Questions can also be sent to supervisordebates@sfnpc.org.

Wednesday, October 13th, 6-8pm, Joe Lee Rec Center (Oakdale Ave @ Mendell St)

About Our City Parks Forums
Since 1996, Neighborhood Parks Council (NPC) has established itself as San Francisco's premier park advocacy authority, representing more than 100 park groups, over 50 strategic partner organizations, and 4,000+ park volunteers. Each election year, NPC hosts supervisorial candidate forums that focus specifically on park, recreation, and open space issues. Our goal is to give you the opportunity to learn more about each candidate's knowledge of and positions on these subjects.

While we do not endorse candidates, we do give them "park-friendly" ratings based on a questionnaire that we ask them to complete. Candidate responses will be posted on our website (www.sfnpc.org) in September. Learn more at www.sfnpc.org or call (415) 621-3260

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Date change!

Dear volunteers, old and new, please note that we're all out of town this weekend, as are most of you, I bet! As a result, this weekend's volunteer day is being moved to September 11th.

We hope to see you there!

Thanks :)
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