Friday, June 29, 2012

Overcast day

Weeping Yucca
(Yucca recurvifolia)
Today is a bit overcast and a good one to water the new plants. I spent about two hours with various sprinklers on various areas of the garden.

While they did their work I trimmed, deadheaded and weeded. The cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is blooming, which means the leaves are going to die off shortly after and then it'll be cut back. That always leaves a big hole in the left bed for a month or two but it's worth it for the spectacular foliage the rest of the year.

The Weeping Yucca (Yucca recurvifolia) by the steps is flowering nicely for the first time - a very healthy plant. Another plant that's about to flower is the Agave parryi by the arch that I posted a photo of last week. Sadly this spells doom for that Agave - they die after flowering.  However, the flower spike is about 12' tall and very impressive, and should be there for many months. It's certainly going out with a bang!

Matilija poppy
(Romneya coulteri)
The fourth plant I noticed in bloom is the California native Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri) in the left bed, with it's fried egg style flowers on very tall stalks. It's a bit of a rascal in that it likes to spread and pop up in odd places, but it hasn't been too annoying yet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Water infiltration test

Yesterday Emily, Matt and I dug a 3' x 3' x 3.5" hole at the site of the proposed rain garden at the north end of the project.

This is the latest request from the PUC in order for them to release our grant funds and get started on the project.

It took 2 hours to dig the hole in the very rocky ground, then we soaked the entire are with a sprinkler for an hour or so to saturate the ground before the test.

After that Andrea, our landscape architect from DPW came by the help us perform the test.

We filled the hole and timed the draining - every 60 seconds we took a reading until it was empty. This is supposed to be repeated three times.

With a bit of luck this is the final hurdle from PUC.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For the love of....!

Matt and Annie assess the digging site
Hello Dear Readers,
Today Annie, Matt and I dug a 3ft x 3ft x 3ft hole. It wasn't impossible, we had the right tools, and the ground wasn't horribly hard. Did we enjoy it? No. Do we love our neighborhood? Yes!!!

In addition to creating, building up and managing Pennsylvania Garden over the last few years, we have also been working with the city to put in a brand new street park along Pennsylvania Avenue before it hits 17th.
The pit: fill with water!
The hole was part of that - the city namely PUC (yeah, I name names) has been moving the goal-posts on this project for over two years now. Digging this hole in itself isn't hard, but having the grant requirements change constantly is maddening and makes it hard to push on. Luckily Andrea from DPW has been helping us, and was there today to measure the infiltration rate of the water.

Andrea measures the water height
We love the neighborhood and want to make it an even more enjoyable, livable and beautiful place as best we know how. I know that you all feel more or less the same about the neighborhood, and if we ask for help in the future, digging holes or whatever the project will be, we know there is a community willing to pitch in.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another heatwave

Matt and the
flowering Agave parryi
Hot again today, and I went out to set a low sprinkler on the terrace pots at 9.30am, then went back out a little later to do some work.

The compost heap got a thorough soaking, as did all the new plantings in the garden. I plan to water them twice a week for the next couple weeks only. I also took care of some plants that needed to be potted up - at long last.

I potted up 24 Aloe veras, a Euphorbia cactus of some sort that Michele gave us, 4 Aeoniums of various sorts and 4 large Yucca cuttings that John gave us.

My temporary potting station
I also planted two Aeonium undulatum cuttings John gave us - hurrah! I have wanted that species for ages.

Lastly I did a little weeding, tidied up masses of pots and trash, and thought about how long it'll take to finish planting the terraces (forever.) That took 4 hours and I am totally exhausted. Phew!

Monday, June 11, 2012


"Third Harmonic"
More thefts at the garden yesterday. I had heard that the thief was taking the plants to a Mission flea market so I went down to the Alemany flea market as it was on my way elsewhere. I did have a good time browsing, but none of my plants showed up...

Today I went out to water - we have a number of potted plants and newly planted plants that need a little drink. I rearranged all the potted ones so they're easier to water, gave the compost heap a water too (compost needs to be damp) and did a little trimming and weeding too.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A little work while waiting

Today I was waiting around the garden to give a tour to friends and thought, why just sit here? After a nice stroll around I did some weeding and trimmed up a shrub that was blocking the path along the cactus wall. Some lambs ear (Stachys byzantina) is starting to take over the path closer to the steps, but it is a nice cover for what is a dying down Verbascum and already gone Chasmanthe so I let it be. Lots of police were in the area due to President Obama's drive down 280S, but that was the extent of his impact on the garden.

Just as my friends showed up Mimi came by the garden with her two lovely dogs. Always nice to see them!

There is always lots to do around the garden, but it is looking quite beautiful so if you haven't been by lately do stop by and take it in.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Volunteers make dent in compost heap

Emily, Debbie and Jackie
Our compost heap, where we throw sticks, branches, Phormium, Agave and Yucca leaves, pinecones and other items that compost very slowly, was getting a bit big. We were adding faster than Ma Nature could compost things down! We decided we needed to remove some of it to... somewhere else.

Today Emily arranged for a huge green waste debris box to be dropped off at 8.30am by Recology, and picked up at 11am. She specified carefully that it should NOT block Gary's business entrance. Naturally they delivered it at 7.30am, parked it right across his roll up door, and tried to come take it away at about 10am.


Much smaller!
A bit of wrangling and they agreed to come back at 1am to remove it, and luckily it seems Gary wasn't affected, since he was out of town.

Jackie, Sara and Debbie weeded the dog area thoroughly.  Nate, Emily, Josh, Carlin and I ferried wheelbarrow loads to the debris box all morning, removing about 2-3' off the top. What's left on the heap is well on the way to composting, though quite dry, so I set up a sprinkler and wet it down for an hour while we all went for lunch.

I came back later and watered all the new plants, deadheaded some Kniphofias, weeded some more and put away the watering equipment.

Great job team!
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