Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Work Week

Lucky old me – I get a whole week off work at the holidays and I’m planning lots of gardening time! Which is great, because there is a LOT to do in the garden - I need some help.

If you would like to join me in the garden and work off some turkey, escape the relatives, or reduce your carbon footprint if you’re visiting SF for the holidays, please RSVP by emailing annie at and let me know what day(s) you’d like to come do some gardening. Available days are from December 26th to January 1st (our regularly scheduled monthly volunteer day) and we usually get started at 10am, though can start earlier or later.

Here’s a sampling of the sort of tasks we’ve got planned (and ones taken care of are crossed out):
  • Pruning Artemisia californicas, Romneya coulteri
  • Digging up Dahlia bulbs
  • Weeding the red bed, dog area, and pathways thoroughly
  • Mulching – trip to the mulch depot!
  • Potting up cacti that are being saved for the terraced slope project
  • Weeding the cactus wall
  • Planting some cool new plants we recently got
  • Removing diseased Cannas
  • Digging out old concrete on the back border and planting Calandrinias
  • Weeding the Mariposa Center Garden
  • Move Ceanothus from red bed, and Salvia mellifera from bench area, to dog area
  • Remove Vinca from back border
  • Plant lavenders in lavender hedge, and Clivias behind bench
  • Defoliating rose bushes, then pruning them
  • Severely edit the front border - naughty nasturtiums are back!
And here are the days that people have RSVP'd for so far (will be updated as we go):
  • December 26th (Annie, Nate)
  • December 29th (Annie, Jes)
  • December 30th (Annie, David, Emily, Riley) 
  • December 31st (Annie, Emily)
  • January 1st (Annie, Nate)
Update Dec 26th: Nate and I potted up loads of cacti, defoliated the roses, planted Clivias, rearranged the three Pericallis lanata by the bench, and weeded the paths.

Update Dec 29th: Jes and I thoroughly edited the front border, removing three wheelbarrows full of nasturtiums and corn marigolds and cutting back the floppy Gaillardias. I planted three Society Garlics (Tulbaghia violacea) in the middle back bed, deadheaded all the flowers there, and cut back the aster "Bill's Big Blue." I also planted a Hibbertia astera by the bench.

Update Dec 30th: Emily, Matt, David, Riley and I cut back the Romneya coulteri and Artemisia californica, planted Calandrinias on the back border, removed diseased Cannas, dug up all the Dahlias for storage, weeded some of the red bed, moved the Salvia mellifera to the dog area and various other tidying.

Update Dec 31st: I turned a Ceanothus "King Sipp" into a living hedge by tying it to a twig border with twine, and trimmed up the Agave americanas by the info sign at the front of the garden. Emily joined me and we planted a Phlomis purpurea by the top arch, weeded, and then went down to weed about half the Mariposa Center Garden.

Update January 1st: Nate and I weeded the paths quite a bit after successfully pruning all three roses. Later on I planted three Dudleyas and four Pelargoniums. I tied our Coprosma x Kirkii "Variegata" to the woven twig border next to it (hoping for living edging!) and found two rooted branches - moved them to the twig border too. Lastly I took a division of a Salvia leucantha and planted it in the front border.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    Batten down the hatches?

    This weekend was supposed to be the start of Mad Rain for California. We are supposed to get 10 inches between now and Christmas, so I went to the garden and prepared by organizing pots and potted plants, making sure the storm drain was clear, cleaning up the worm bin and adding new bedding, turning the compost bin, and doing some weeding.

    Matt planted some Calandrinias along the back border (coming along nicely) and I overseeded the area with multicolored California poppy (Thai Silk Mix) seeds to fill in until the Calandrinias take off.

    Then it started raining, so we buggered off home before we got soaked. But... it didn't really rain that hard!

    I wonder if the predicted rains will be all that bad?

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Street Parks Workshop

    This just in from lovely Julia at SFPT:

    Greetings! Please mark your calendars for our upcoming Street Parks Workshop, on Saturday, January 29th, 2011, from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm. Workshop location to be determined.

    Why attend? You’ll:

    • Get inspired by seeing innovative garden sites on our Street Parks Tour
    • Get the inside scoop on granting opportunities for your greening project
    • Engage and share ideas with other street parks stewards
    • Discover best practices for gaining and keeping community support for your street park
    This workshop is especially recommended if you have recently become involved in the Street Parks program. More information to follow in the new year.

    All best,

    Julia Brashares
    Program Manager - Land Stewardship
    San Francisco Parks Trust
    McLaren Lodge
    501 Stanyan Street
    San Francisco, CA 94117-1898
    Tel: (415) 750-5110
    julia at

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Garden neglected

    Emily's Ranunculus looking
    Last weekend I didn't set foot in the garden once. What with the short days and competing holiday-themed tasks to do, it was pretty sad for me not to check in with my little plants.

    I did, however, make it to the San Francisco Botanical Garden 2 for 1 sale. I was looking for two xeric shrubs. One to put near the bench to replace a black sage (Salvia mellifera) which I find a bit boring, and another to anchor the bed we cleared the week before.

    I had a list of potential candidates, and found none of them. I did however get a few plants that I hope will do instead. And a few others for various other spots in the garden. I got:

    Hibbertia astera
    Cussonia spicata
    Carpenteria californica
    Dianella tasmanica (variagated)
    Daphne odora

    I know all these guys will do fantastically in the garden, and I can't wait to plant them next weekend!

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Happy birthday!

    Happy birthday to Pennsylvania Garden - started on December 7th 2008!

    (Also happy December birthdays to Matt, John, Gary and Leah!)

    I'd like to extend a warm "thank you" to everyone who has helped make the garden what it is in the last two years.  It has been a lot of hard work and dirty fingernails, but what a fabulous result.

    Here's a (probably incomplete) list of all the people who have helped us this year - thank you all:

    Adam, Alison, Andrea, Andrew, Anna, Annelle, Arum, Ashley, Audrey, Barbara, Bill, Boj, Brandon, Bruce, Bruno, Carolyn, Carrie, Center Hardware, Channing, David, Deborah, Dino, Donna, Dorothy, Doug, Elliot, Emily, Flora Grubb Gardens, Gary, Gina, Hilla Hueber, Jamba Juice, James, Jamie, Janet, Jason, Jean, Jess, Jim, Joan, John, Josh, Juana, Julia, Katie, Kay, Kendrick, Kepa, Leah, Leanne, Matt, Max, Melissa, Michael, Michelle, Miyuki, Nataly, Nate, Nick, Phil, Rebecca, Rick, Rickshaw, Robert, Ron, Ryan, Sabrina, Sage, Sandra, Shanti, Sharon, Sheila, Shen, Steve, Tanya, Tony, Topher, Whole Foods and lots of others.

    Come celebrate on January 4th at the garden with a birthday potluck! We have a volunteer day at 10am, and at noon we'll eat cake made by Emily and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Hope you can come by!

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Rain held off

    Red bed weeding results
    On Saturday the rain started early, and I thought nobody would come to volunteer day. I was surprised and delighted to get to the garden and find Emily and Nate already there!

    We started out by redoing the twig border at the top of the steps, and weeding the bed behind it thoroughly to prepare for new plantings. Nate showed me a knot that can be used to hold the twigs in place better than the square knots I've been using - it only took me 17 tries to remember how to tie it!

    Now that the bed is prepared, we need one or two nice sized, evergreen shrubs to anchor that spot. It has to tolerate very dry conditions on that slope, and part shade. Bonus points for scented flowers! Since that area is next to the Yucca collection, I am leaning towards either a low Yucca, or some Aloes that need part shade, though something bushy to screen the view and sound of the freeway would be a good idea too.

    We weeded the red bed for quite some time... I don't know the name of the very successful weed that grows there, but it runs on long roots just under the surface and sprouts clumps very quickly. We removed several tubs full of it, and we'll be working on that bed and it's weeds quite extensively over the winter.

    Nate deadheaded Cannas in the red bed and also removed some diseased one entirely from behind the Wrong Way sign. Emily planted two Rudbeckias in the red bed.

    Matt's border work
    Matt also worked on the area behind the Wrong Way sign. He removed some broken concrete and planted some Calandrinias there. We have started enough cuttings of that plant to entirely edge that border in tough, succulent greenness, and we're looking forward to the bright prink flowers next summer.

    You can see the part he did a few months ago in the foreground of the picture here, and the newly completed part behind that.

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Volunteer day tomorrow!

    Hey you! Come on out to the volunteer day tomorrow at 10am. We'll have Jamba Juice cards for everyone (donates 10% to PSG instantly!) and some fun tasks to take care of, such as... weeding! Twig border maintenance! Deadheading a mighty forest of Cannas! Prying concrete off the edges of the back border and planting Calandrinias there!

    Every volunteer gets a free Agave americana pup too.  Whether they want one or not!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Good news

    From Donna: "The street light are fixed - they are on now - yeah!!!!"


    Street lights update

    After receiving calls from Jim, Annelle, Donna and me, seems like Caltrans have passed the buck to PG&E, stating that power was not getting to the light poles. Donna logged a ticket with PG&E and says:

    "I also provided PGE the actual numbers on the poles so hopefully they will fix it soon. They indicated that they will come out and look at it within 2 business days. If they can't fix it that day, then they have up to 7-14days to get it fixed.

    I will follow up with them again next week. In the meantime, I think Caltrans are now getting bombarded by calls.

    Someone put up a flyer on one of the poles encouraging people to call Caltrans, I have since taken that sign down.

    Can you post something on the blog just letting folks know that I will take responsibility for following up with PGE and folks can stop making service calls to Cal Trans?"

    Well, I think that covers it! Thanks Donna, Jim and Annelle :)

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Fix those lights!

    People have been asking me what's up with the street lights that are not working at the garden. Here's a message Jim posted last week about who to call - the more who do, the faster this problem wil be fixed, no doubt!

    "Some of you may have wondered about the street lamps next to the garden that have been inoperative for the past 2 weeks or so. I called CalTrans today to follow up on my earlier call to 311 in SF. I was assured that the maintenence people would get right on it. There have been two car break-ins in the last 2 weeks on the block (including my Rover which had a window broken out and radio stolen). Be careful! In case you want to contact CalTrans about this problem, it is MSR ticket 509347; CalTrans # 5102864444."
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