Monday, October 29, 2012

Introducing: Garden Interns!

Brittany & Shelby
Last Friday there was a very special workday scheduled especially for our interns, Brittany and Shelby, from San Francisco City College! These lovely ladies contacted me about earning their 16 hours of horticulture experience with us at Pennsylvania Garden. Our neighborhood is so lucky to have them pitching in! My mom, Debbie, was visiting for the day, so she helped as well.

After giving them a mini-tour we all set into to weeding the dog area. It has gotten pretty weedy up there, and we need to prepare the site in order to install some physical barrier under the mulch (carpet tiles? landscaping fabric?). Next task was to dispose of all the trash that has collected down at the Mariposa Center Garden. It was a productive workday, and I'll have to devise some fun gardening for us next week.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A few hours on a sunny Saturday

Yesterday Matt and I went to the garden to do a few quick tasks and noticed that the Aloe ferox (Bitter Aloe) is about to flower for the first time.

This was a tiny little 4" plant from Annie's Annuals less than 3 short years ago in April 2009 and it has grown magnificently.  It'll be an awesome sight when the flowers open - I can't wait to see how it looks. This is a tree Aloe meaning it'll grow into a 9' high tree eventually. Or maybe sooner than we thought at this rate!

After that I planted some Amaryllis belladonna (Naked Lady) bulbs in three spots in the brights bed. These were on the lower left bed path, and doing OK, but I think some pink flowers in the brights bed will be fab.

They like to be planted with the tips of the bulbs showing - as you can see in the photo the ones on the right are covered with dirt correctly, the ones on the left are about to be covered. I hope they like their new spots. Sometimes they get upset by being moved and won't flower the following year but hopefully I've moved them at a time when they're totally dormant and won't care.

There are a few more of these bulbs around the garden (in the left bed) that I want to consolidate into clumps in the brights bed - better do that soon.

Lastly Matt and I sat on the steps and started delicately weeding the grass and other weeds from the sides. This job takes quite some time to do correctly - there are a lot of little Sisyrinchium californicum (Yellow-eyed Grass) clumps that look like grass there, mixed with grass.

We want to keep the Yellow-eyed Grass, and not the boring grass. Tricky work, but oddly rewarding. In the pic you can see a before and after section.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunny Rainy Kind of Day

Kate pauses from weeding
Bonkers may be the word Annie would use to describe the weather on Monday, and I think it fits! Masses of rain clouds blew over the garden and were followed by bright sunshine, warm sunshine even, while Kate and I gardened.

Tasks of the day included weeding the walkway from the bench up and around the brights bed, weeding the bed along the pathway adjacent to the brights bed, and pruning back a Salvia that had overtaken a Leucadendron.

We weren't in the garden very long, but it was so beautiful out we couldn't help but get outside and do some work in the rain/sun! Be on the lookout of interesting mushrooms around the garden and remember to look but not touch, mushrooms can be some seriously bad stuff even when just touched.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rain's a-comin'

A Dahlia, earlier today
On Tuesday or so we're supposed to get 1/2" of rain, and I for one would be delighted. Especially if it rains from 10am to 4pm. Or from midnight to 8am, for example... as things are so dry and all.

Today Matt and I went to the garden for the first time in ages - we got married (!) and went on honeymoon to Thailand, so it was quite a treat to see how much the garden has grown under Emily's watchful eye since we were away.

We decided to fix up an area on the lower path side of the left bed, where a previously lush clump of Bulbine had failed to look good at all this year for reasons unknown.

Before and after
First we ripped out the Bulbine, then we rearranged the Agave attenuatas that were there (two) and added several more, including a large one from the middle front bed that was getting overgrown with Aloe.

Matt moved two large clumps of Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) up-slope, as they were encroaching on the pathway, and we took out a big clump of Naked Lady (Amaryllis belladonna) bulbs that need to go in the brights bed instead. Next we planted 16 small pots of Graptopetalum paraguayense "Pinky" around the base of the Agaves, and half a dozen cuttings of Finger Aloe (Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga) along the front slope to hopefully prevent it sliding downhill.

The whole lot got watered in heavily, and it was done!

The middle back, middle front, and left beds also got a load of water. I weeded the middle front bed, and Matt transplanted some volunteer Euphorbia characias from the middle front bed to the front border. Emily, Ryan and Bentley popped by, and all in all, it was a productive day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Plant profile: Philadephus (Mock Orange)

Latin name: Philadelphus ("fill-ah-DELL-fuss")
Common name: Mock Orange
Originally from: North America, Central America, Asia and southeast Europe.
Blooms: Sweet scented white flowers from Spring to mid Summer.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed, but enjoys a little.
Height x width: 5' tall x 6' wide
USDA Zones: 5-10
Where to find in P. Garden: When you're sitting on the bench, it's to your right, by the arch.

Talk about old fashioned plants! Our Philadelphus is "Belle Etoile," a hybrid of uncertain parentage from the 1900s, is one of the most fragrant in the bunch, and has a longer flowering period than others, as well as a more compact habit. That said, she's still a blowsy gal with loose arching branches. I will prune her annually to see if we can make the form a bit tighter. Since Philadelphus flowers best on second year wood, the time to prune is right after they're done flowering. Happily, this year's blooms were plentiful, very long lasting and very sweet smelling.

They are named "mock orange" in reference to their flowers, which in wild species look somewhat similar to those of oranges and lemons at first glance, and smell of orange flowers and jasmine. The scent is strong enough to waft on the breeze, which is why I planted this by the bench. We tend to get a lot of car fumes wafting in from the freeway, so I hope this counteracts that smell a bit.

Philadelphus californicus is the Mock Orange native to our state, and we'd like to get a specimen for the garden sometime.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

FUF & Stuff

Ok, first off I know everyone that reads this blog probably already has a street tree or wants one in front of their home or business. However, if you are needing more trees or know people that should have a tree, please contact Doug at Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). 

FUF is organizing a street tree planting day for our neighborhood - maybe you saw the signs - so this is your opportunity to get a new tree put in front of your home or business at a VERY low cost! You can also volunteer to help put in the trees - should be a fun day You know Annie and I will be there!

Contact: Doug Lybeck
Community Outreach Coordinator
Friends of the Urban Forest

Second, just did some tidying up around the garden which included weeding out from underneath the Agave in the middle bed, weeding and cutting back in the bed with the Linaria in it (among other lovely plants) and general well, you may have guessed.... more weeding. Cardoon is coming back in style also, and butterflies are everywhere! To summarize, get yourself to the garden!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bring it On Volunteer Workday

Paloma introduces Cleo
 So much was done on Saturday I am not even sure where to start! It was a beautiful day, perfect for getting work done in the garden. Almost everyone brought something special to the garden today- I brought my mom Debbie, and Mary brought herself there early with expert gardening skills (!). We all chatted while I hauled out all the supplies for the day. Then came Carlin, who brought a bundle of branches for making twig borders and on top of that, Jackie came and brought a flat of tomatoes from her garden to share with everyone. Paloma and Jim brought the littlest gardener, their baby Cleo. Whew! After a bit Elliot even showed up, and he brought a great attitude for getting stuff done.

Here is what we accomplished:
Elliot & Jackie's twig border 
- Front left bed mostly de-grassed and mulched; path swept
- Twig border repair
  - Weeding pathways and french drain
  - Watering terrace plants, aloe bed in dog area and lavenders
  - Cutback Crocosmia 'lucifer', Canna, Yarrow, general dead-heading around the garden

After all that hard work we drank some Izze's by the bench and watched a cute little mouse scampering back and forth from under the Tibouchina to the Agastache just inches away from all of us. The mouse resisted a good photograph, but we all agreed, it was cute and very outgoing to get so close to all of us humans!

Jackie and her tomato bounty

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