Monday, January 31, 2011

Another weekend, but this time with added rain

First daffs are up!
After a couple weeks of dry, sunny weather we were reminded it's actually winter right now by a good rainstorm at the weekend. I think the garden appreciated it. I went out on Saturday and saw the first daffodils have opened, which is always a real treat. Lots more to come, and they'll be flowering through April so come and see 'em.

I was busy tidying up weeds and mulching, enjoying the new growth that's coming in thanks to the rain, when I was joined by Emily and we went down to weed the Mariposa Center Garden. This strip is really coming along nicely - all the plants we chose are excellent for a hot, dry site with nothing but seasonal rain, and we feel quite pleased with ourselves about it!

Before and after: MCG strip
The only big issue there is the hole in the fence. That fence, owned by Caltrain, has been broken through so many times that we planted around the hole, calling Caltrain frequently to ask them to fix the hole so we can complete the garden. No luck yet. If you can make a quick call, the number is 1.800.660.4287 and they will take your report on weekdays 7 am - 7 pm or weekends and holidays: 8 am - 5 pm.

Another sign of spring:
cherry plum trees flowering!
We had just about finished weeding when it started sprinkling with rain. Quite hungry, we figured we had 25 minutes until the SFPT were dropping by with a tour group to see the garden. We headed up the hill to Pepito (excellent tacos) with Matt and ended up being a few minutes late for the tour. Oops.

The tour group was enthusiastic to hear about how we started the garden and we took them down to the SPUR project to see what's happening there (nothing yet!). After they left I and managed to plant two of the lavenders we have been saving for the lavender hedge. Got to move a lot more mulch to make room for the rest though. Emily stapled Jamba Juice community appreciation cards into our leaflets available at the front of the garden (get one - 10% of your Jamba Juice purchase goes directly to us!) and we were done for the day.

Later that day I was delighted to get a call from John who invited me over for some plant donations. I am always astonished by his lovely garden, and he gave us some new Aeoniums and Aloes and a Nolina and all sorts of cool stuff. Can't wait to plant them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Last year I made a list of things to do in 2010. I just found it - let's see how we did:

1. Get a community challenge grant from SFPT. Done! Use that money to pay for materials for...
2. A handrail for the steps, Done! and
3. Shoring up the base of the steps area and storm drain, In progress... and
4. An information kiosk for the front of the garden,  Done! and
5. Some more solid edging/fencing/large end rocks for some of the beds that are prone to a lot of wear and tear from hoses, passers by and dogs. H'm, I am not sure we need this anymore - the plants are getting bigger... but a few big rocks would still really help.
6. Reorganize the back slope so that it has real terraces and you can walk on them, adding extra mileage to the pathways. Would be done if Caltrans would approve the plans!
7. Make real steps in the back area so access to the compost heaps is better. Would be done if Caltrans would approve the plans!
8. Set up the Pacific tree frog habitat with Gary and Jack's help. Not done :(
9.  Secure the tool cabinet better. Came up with a better plan to move it.
10. Swap out some of the more common species of plants for more unusual ones, where appropriate. In progress.
11. Encourage more people, pets and wildlife to visit the garden, join in, and feel they are a part of it all! Done!

So, what are the plans for 2011, you ask? I have a few ideas, but to start with how's this:

1. Finish the terracing and composting areas.
2. Have monthly field trips to gardens in the Bay area for volunteers.
3. Reorganize the red bed completely.
4. Don't water any plants for more then the weekly timed 30 minute sprinkle, and don't plant anything outside the rainy season. At. All.
5. Finish putting edging and aloes on the front area, and tidy away the large potted plants there.
6. Finish the fence in the dog area. Come on Caltrans - approve it!
7. Get Caltrain to fix the hole in the fence at the Mariposa Center Garden so we can finish planting there.
8. Encourage even more people, pets and wildlife to visit the garden, join in, and feel they are a part of it all!

Any more ideas? What do you think?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend roundup

Asclepias tuberosa
"Hello Yellow" seeds
It was a lovely 70+ degrees in the garden this weekend, and all the plants were growing away as if it wasn't January. I managed several hours on both Saturday and Sunday:

Echium crisis control. I don't know what the problem is with Echiums at PG, but ours like to fail spectacularly. This usually manifests itself as robust and speedy growth for a year or more, and then simply falling over in whole or in part and lying on the floor, dead, for no apparent reason. It's genus-specific, so I doubt foul play unless you believe in resistentialism.*

Anyway, our lovely variegated Echium fastuosum "Pride of Madeira" which suffered the loss of a couple branches last year (creating a hole in one side) lost a few more branches at the weekend. The hole is so big that I had to fill it. Happily I had a 1 gallon Leonotis leonurus (Lion's Tail) waiting in the wings, and planted that in the hole. Take that, pathetic Echium!

Matt mulched the Aloe nobilis hedge by the steps. I weeded the middle front bed and moved some Aeoniums around there. I also weeded by the steps, and found a number of baby Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears) and Nicotiana langsdorffii near their parents in that area. I transplanted that seedlings to various spots.

Early Jessamine
(Cestrum fasciculatum)
I also mulched parts of the left bed and moved a Pelargonium x domesticum (Geranium) "Martha Washington" to the Wrong Way sign area. Next I decided to propagate our Cortaderia selloana "Silver Comet" by division. Well let's just say the Cortaderia won. The name "Cortaderia" is derived from the Spanish word cortadura, meaning "cut" or "cutting." In the space of 10 minutes my bare right arm was slivered from wrist to bicep and I spent the evening wondering what sort of lotion would soothe the throbbing pain. Who would have thought a grass could do that? Resistentialists, that's who.

On Sunday as we were leaving Jim came up and offered his help. I felt like a cad leaving (we were hungry and tired) but Jim was happy to weed in the dog area without us. Thanks Jim!

* Resistentialism is a theory that states that "inanimate objects are out to get us."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do you have a street park?

If you're a San Francisco Street Park Steward, or just have a little guerrilla thing going ;) you may like to join an email list that helps get unwanted plants to street parks in SF and beyond.

Street Park Plant Swap is free to join of course; just visit this URL and send in a request to join stating the name and location of your street park:

Once you've joined, you will receive emails about plants, seeds, cuttings and garden equipment being given away (better hurry to get them!) or you can post emails about excess plants you have available to share.

Let's have a bit more jungle and a bit less concrete!

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Jr Day

Anemones Ranunculus are up!
Today I arrived at the garden to find 5 trash bags full of Agapanthus left by Anna! I got to work and planted two bags full to fill out the back border. I also planted a red Phormium and a Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) in the left bed, as well as a bag of mini daffodil bulbs by the steps.

Next I cut back the Crassula muscosa (Watch Chain Plant) which was threatening to engulf the plants near it.

Jess and Sophia came by and helped me by planting a bag of Shirley poppy seeds in the dog area. They also weeded and mulched one spot that really needed it! Later on, Emily, her mum and grandma came by for a tour of the garden.

It was a sunny and warm January weekend...

Matt's Aloe project
... yes! Sun and warmth! So off we went to the garden.

On Saturday I planted a Carpenteria californica (Bush Anemone) in the left bed and mulched it in. Moved some Gasterias and a Cotyledon orbiculata in the middle back bed. Weeded all sorts of things. Cut back a Salvia leucantha (Mexican Sage) and went around weeding and pruning and tidying all over.

Just when I was getting ready to go home for lunch, Emily showed up so I handed off my new knee pads to her and she went to work on weeding and mulching the red bed. Garden relay!

On Sunday Matt and I went out and I planted 12 Gazanias in the front border (poor front border, looking scruffy after it's weeding recently) and mulched them in. Then I weeded and mulched part of the front middle bed, and swept the sidewalk.

Matt decided to take on an awesome task: the removal of ivy from the bottom of the steps. Which led to the rediscovery of all the Aloe nobilis planted there back in May 2009 which had become overwhelmed by ivy and Aptenia. Poor things. He dug them all out, I trimmed off the rotten leaves, and Matt got rid of the ivy. Together we replanted the aloes. Looks fantastic: it was a major job! Matt also planted an Aloe nobilis at the front end of the handrail along the storm drain, and a big clump of yellow ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) that Jes gave us too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Warm Water Cove Park Neighborhood Event

This just in from Janet: if you're looking for gardening to do on January 22nd, here's an opportunity:

Warm Water Cove Park Neighborhood Event

When: Saturday, January 22, 9-noon: come for all or part of the morning

What: Gardening: Help get the Park gardens ready for spring/summer/fall blooming! Add California Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants to the gardens we started 2 years ago. Also new Wildflower Seeding, mulching and weeding.

Where: Warm Water Cove Park, East end of 24th St. at the Bay’s edge, Dogpatch neighborhood.

Who: GreenTrustSF, SF Port, Progress Park

Details: 2 blocks east of Third St. Light rail stop.
Free parking.
Blue Bottle Coffee/Juice at 9:00 am, snacks for energy.
Please bring your own drinking water.
Tools and gloves provided.

Donations thanks to our sponsors: The Good Life grocery, Piccino Café, Recology, Flowercraft Nursery, SF Port

-Central Waterfont,, 415-282-5516

Monday, January 10, 2011

Street gleaning

Got fruit trees or veggie patches? The Department of Public Works will come by and harvest your excess and donate the pickins' to local food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, and hot-meal delivery programs.

Seems like a win-win to me for those of you with loads of lemons, cartloads of courgettes, or shovefuls of squash!

Get more info here:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I never want to see a wood chip again

Adam dumps the chips... oh dear.
Today I was at the garden at 9 am weeding the dog area in preparation for 30 yard of wood chips being delivered by Bay View Green Waste. As I was working, Nate, Emily, Leslie, Julyanne, Matt and David arrived to help, then Adam driving the wood chip truck arrived. I dug up two lavender bushes to make room for the truck and put them aside.
Julyanne, Leslie and
Nate dig in

 Nate and I redirected traffic as Adam tried to  back the truck into the dog area but he was afraid itd'd tip over. We had to settle for dumping the entire load on the shoulder and the workday suddenly got a lot more strenuous: We had to move ALL the mulch off the street right away, instead of just wheelbarrowing some to the paths.

I felt really bad for everyone, but especially Leslie and Julyanne who were volunteering for the first time. I promise we don't usually make people work that hard!

Gina, Leah and Nate
Gina and Leah showed up later on and mucked right in, and amazingly we managed to move the entire load in about 3 hours AND cover all the pathways (except the one by the storm drain) with a thick layer of mulch.

Don't know about the rest of you guys but I have been nursing my blisters and aching muscles ever since ;)

Before and after!

After Matt and I left, Leah stayed on and pruned the cherry plum trees. I'll have ot get out there and use the branches to do up some of the twig borders soon. Got branches, anyone?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Volunteer Orientation Day this Saturday

Happy New Year supporters of Pennsylvania Garden!

As you know we're a volunteer-run nonprofit: we rely heavily on people like you to make the garden what it is. So we'd like to invite you to our New Volunteer Orientation Day this Saturday January 8th at 10am-12pm.

If you've never volunteered at the garden before, or even if you have, please come by: we will give a tour of the garden and explain our mission. After that you can tackle a small project from the list: weeding, pruning, planting and spreading wood chips (we're getting 30 yards of chips delivered Friday!). After that we will use all kinds of emotional blackmail to get you to come back and help us again! ;)

Wear sturdy shoes, and bring gloves, if you have them. We provide the tools, beverages and expertise! Rumor has it there may be cake too!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Seed bonanza!

Today I went up to the Sloat Garden Center on Sloat Boulevard and picked up a donation of seeds from them. A huge bag full of great, tough natives! I went straight out to the garden and planted 14 packets of various California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) - "Mission Bells" "White Linen" "Mikado" "Dairy Maid" and the regular old orange ones too.

The "White Linen" went by the steps, the "Dairy Maid" in the left bed, and the rest up in the dog area. Thanks Sloat for this wonderful donation!

Next I planted a few malingering plants left over from our sale - a red Phormium went in to the left bed, along with two Salvia gregii "Moonlight."

Next I weeded the cactus wall (scary work!) and trimmed up the Crocosmias in the red bed. Looking good!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter Work Week photos

Happy New Year everyone! Here are some pics from the last 5 work days:

Matt and Riley working on
the Calandrinia border

David is always cheery!
The rose "Whiskey Mac" gets defoliated
and pruned by Annie and Nate.

The paths got a pretty thorough weeding
in preparation for new wood chips.
Clivias behind the bench - hope
they enjoy the shade!

Aster "Bill's Big Blue" gets cut back for the winter.

Jes annihilated the
weeds in the front bed!
Aloe arborescens
starting to flower.
New Dudleyas - what species?
Not known... yet!
A lovely foliage shot.
Phormium, Salvia, Coprosma

and Arum italicum.

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