Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy holidays!

Agave xylonacantha
Things have been pretty quiet at the garden recently - we're all pretty busy with work and family obligations, but today Matt and I wandered up to PG for an hour to make sure everything is cool. I noticed right away that once again someone had broken into the shed - this time by crawling along the side wall by the loquat tree and pulling out a side panel.

We retrieved all the stuff pulled through the gap, and placed a lot of Agaves and Yuccas back there. Anyone who tries that again will have to be very determined. Agaves to the rescue again ;)

Puya sp.
After that I did some trimming and pruning, and found that Scabiosa "Ace of spades" had rotted out, so I removed it and put in.... an Agave lophantha! (Nope - John corrected me it's A. xylonacantha)

Opposite that in the middle front bed our poor Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum “Silver Lace Bush” that was such a favorite of mine had died. Someone pruned it back to stubs, and that killed it - so sad! In its place we put a Puya of some sort - TBD!

We have tons of Puyas, Bromeliads, Yuccas, Agaves and so on to plant - better get 'em in the ground soon.

Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

5 year anniversary

Today is the 5 year anniversary of Pennsylvania Garden, the day that Matt and I went out and planted the very first plants on that nasty lot of land. Awww.

I looked back, and here's what we planted that day, with status update:
  • 4 Dietes - they rule; they're everywhere now
  • 8 Agapanthus - ditto 
  • 3 Hakea suaveolens - flowering as I type
  • 3 Kunzea baxterii - never a dull moment
  • 1 Coprosma australis (variegated) - kicks major butt
  • 2 Geranium maderense - um, not all that prolific...
  • 3 Ceanothus "King Sip" (ground covering/low) - superb border edging plant - trimmed some today in fact
  • 2 Geranium macrorhizum - bopping around int he left bed somewhere I think...
  • 2 Dianella Tasmanica - much too excitable, yet mostly dull looking. I removed and sold them.
  • 1 Aeonium - can't even remember where the original plant went, but we have dozens of them.

So yeah. Not bad for the very first selection.

Today we had a volunteer day too, and I should have brought cake except I only remembered it's the 5 year anniversary just now... oh well!

Emily, Matt, Eliot, Mary and Carlin came to help me weed the front border, turn the compost, weed and trash pick Pennsylvania Railroad Garden, cut back Stachys and Plectranthus, and generally get some biz done in the chilly December weather.

John also cam by with a truckload (literally) of Furcraea (some sort of species) which he and Matt went right ahead and planted at PRG, filling in some empty spots instantly.

Later on Matt moved an Agave parryi that had flowered by the arch up to the compost area, pulled out an Agave americana from the same spot and put it up in the dog area, and replaced the original A. parryi with a nice new one.

Good job folks - and happy birthday PG!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Volunteer Workday: Green Saturday?

Get in the holiday spirit by
coming to the workday this Saturday

Our monthly workday is coming up this Saturday, December 7th from 10am-12; come get in the holiday spirit with a little digging in the crisp winter air! Please meetup at Pennsylvania Garden, and we’ll disperse from there. We have the necessary tools and gloves, and like always, whether you're a new or returning volunteer, all are welcome.

With the commencement of the 'shopping season' I've noted a few monikers for the days:
Black Friday
Plaid Friday
Small Business Saturday
Cyber Monday

I think we should add 'Green Saturday' 
noun Day of volunteer gardening in Potrero Hill

You wouldn't have to buy anything, or wait in a line, but I can almost guarantee that you'll have a great feeling of satisfaction after the workday!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Good Gardening

Can you identify this caterpillar for us?
What does it mean to be a good gardener? The idea of what it means to be a person that 'cultivates the land' runs the gamut from those who engage in habitat restoration to the blue-ribbon flower grower. At the very beginning of our workday yesterday it was just Annie and I picking up trash along PRG. This pause gave me a few minutes to think about this spectrum of what it means to 'cultivate the land', and it made me really proud to be a part of Pennsylvania Street Gardens. All of our volunteers bring a different perspective and energy to the gardens, and it is a privilege to work with them to cultivate our little corner of San Francisco. Many thanks to everyone who makes these gardens possible!

After a little bit we were joined by Jackie, Nate, Eliot and Jenny, so I organized the group for different tasks as the workday continued. After Annie was done weeding at PRG, she joined Matt for the remainder of the workday on a special project of putting in some additional Agaves in at the northern end of PRG. Meanwhile, the rest of the group set about to rid the southern end of PRG of fennel, and Jackie came across a really cool caterpillar. If you know its proper name please comment or send me a note ( Jenny patiently hand watered from the corner to the start of the redwood fence, giving the Salvias and other non-cactus/agave plants in the garden a well deserved drink; they've made it through the dry summer, and are ready and waiting for some real rain.

Nate, Eliot and Jackie making the triangle
garden look extra nice
After a brief discussion about how we feel like we've neglected the triangle garden a bit lately, we walked up the hill and weeded there, and then our roving band of weeders moved to PSG. Nate and I tackled some massive Malva neglecta and cleared leftover brush from the dog area while Jackie and Elliot weeded by the french drain. After cleaning up a nasty mess by the shed of shoes and unmentionables, I went to PRG and Jenny and I packed up the hose and thanked everyone at Fregosi for letting us use their water. Meanwhile the rest of the crew made sure everything was put away at PSG. We definitely had a full workday and then some, so we finally called it quits and went to lunch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Summery Post-Summer Workday

Leslie and Amanda in position to reclaim
the path from the Helichrysum
The temperature gauge on my car read 72F when I left the house for the garden workday today with no wind and bright sunshine. Annie was out and about this weekend on horse business so it was my turn to setup the watering for the trees.   Leslie was the first to arrive for the workday and we started by weeding out the blackberry and some of the ivy along the pathway  - and were soon joined by Amanda and Mary! We worked our way along the path, mostly weeding, and also pruning the dry and dead Helichrysum petiolare. The path was now much easier to navigate and the Helichrysum will fluff out again after the first good rain.

Mary and Amandy tidy the border
Next, we weeded the front border and cleaned up the Gaillardia, sweeping the sidewalk and keeping everything fairly neat and tidy. Keyvan joined us and set about picking out all the tricky grass from in among the plants in the border and then made quick work of the variegated Mint that always takes over in front of the middle back bed. The ladies fanned out in the garden, giving the Glaucium flavum a much needed cutting back and taking out the dried up annual Marigolds from along the pathway.

Pull weeds like pesky sorrel
 now before the rains hit!
The temperature was climbing above 80F now and the time was nearing noon, the end of the workday. Amanda and I went down to PRG to pickup trash and put away the watering. I made a note to spend more time at the next workday at PRG to keep it looking good. After putting away the gardening supplies we enjoyed the shade by the bench at PG and called it a day. What a lovely post-summer summery workday!
Mint in the pathway begone,
 Keyvan is here!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The many gardens of our organization

Everyone's busy
 at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden
Given the recent press coverage by NBC Bay Area, I thought it would be good to post a quick overview and hopefully answer any questions our reads may have.

We are very fortunate to be able to garden in San Francisco and have created a few public gardens that we invite you to visit. All of the gardens are publicly accessible, open all hours, and are collectively managed by volunteers from the community. Our mission is to create beautiful, accessible public green spaces in our neighborhood, Potrero Hill, in San Francisco.

Volunteer Team from The Presidio Group
at Pennsylvania Garden
We'd love to see you at our next workday, which is always held the first Saturday of the month from 10am to noon, and our next workday is Saturday  here. We've also held workdays for interested community groups and businesses, so if you have a large group that would like to volunteer many hands make light work and there is always plenty to do!
October 5th. You can find more information about workdays

You can also donate directly to the garden and don't hesitate to contact us if you have some exciting plants or other things to donate.

Here is a quick overview of the gardens
Pennsylvania Garden - the first garden,
Dogs are welcome to visit all of the gardens
started by Annie in 2008, is now a lush collection of beautiful plants that thrive on this sunny hill. This garden is in partnership with SFPA, DPW and Caltrans and is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 18th.
Pennsylvania Railroad Garden - the newest garden, which runs the entire 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, and features exceptionally drought-tolerant plantings and 23 street trees. This garden is in partnership with SFPA, CCG, PUC and DPW.
Mariposa Center Garden - What was once an illicit entrance to the railroad tracks is now a cute garden featuring mostly
Nate and Paloma tidy up
 the Pennsylvania Triangle Garden
native plants across from Center Hardware.
Triangle Garden - this lovely triangular shaped garden was designed and installed by the Potrero Hill Garden Club, and it is now maintained by us - it's just across the street from Pennsylvania Garden.

Hope to see you around the garden soon!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tags begone!

Christian zaps tags
In the last week one huge black grafitti tag on the redwood fence at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden turned into a dozen - the entire length of the fence was covered. So disappointing... though not unexpected of course.

Today after I set up the hoses to water the trees and picked up all the trash on the street I was joined by the wonderful Jackie and her husband Christian and all their power tools. Together we spent a couple hours buffing the tags out. Presto - magically clean fence!

Jackie and Christian
The next step is to plant some of the millions of Agaves John and Matt got in Healdsburg this week, all along that fence. There's nothing quite like getting stabbed in the shins to make the average tagger give up, in my experience at PG. Natural urban blight repellant, thy name is Agave.

So, dear taggers - take note: we're going to be removing your tags; why not come to a workday and contribute something meaningful instead?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

NBC Bay Area, volunteers and lots of agaves

Yesterday's volunteer day was hot hot hot - what a weekend of roasting weather!

Some of our core volunteers came out to play: Emily, Nate, Carlin, Keyvan, Anna, Mary, John, Eliot, Amanda and I worked up quite a sweat doing lots of tasks.

The Amaryllis belladonna and Chasmanthes were cut back by Carlin, Nate did some twig border work, Anna sprayed vinegar on weeds to kill them, Mary deadheaded Agapanthus, John turned the compost and lots of weeds were pulled garden-wide. I cut back some Watsonias and Agapanthus too.

Oh yeah - and NBC Bay area was there to film it all! I got miked up for the workday and had to try not to swear as much as I usually do (!) while being followed around by the lovely Garvin and Claire from NBC. It was sort of fun!

The spot airs a week on Tuesday and I'll post a link when it's online. They came down to my house after the workday to do an interview too - as a result of preparing for that our house is now nice and clean, so at least there's that...

In the meantime John and Matt were in Healdsburg collecting Agaves and all sorts of goodies from a garden that was being demolished - how tragic. They came back around 3pm with carloads of amazing things. Huge Agaves, stunning Puyas, gorgeous Yuccas - such cool stuff. Among them:

Dyckia - a ground cover type
Agave americana "Lemon Lime"
Agave angustifolia 
Agave pachycentra (mislabeled?)
Agave "Rosa Gorda"
Agave salmiana "Butterfingers"
Agave weberi (maybe)
Puya alpestris (maybe)
Puya - some kind of giant, silvery one
Yucca aloifolia "Marginata"
Yucca elephantipes "Variegata"

Mental! We planted a few right away and today Matt planted some more. Awesome haul guys!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Taking pity on the extremely dry garden today, Matt and I set up sprinklers on a few spots for a couple hours. While the parched soil soaked up the dampness, we went around trimming, pruning, weeding and deadheading.

The Philadelphus got pruned, some Cotyledon orbiculata and Achillea got deadheaded, some Chasmanthe and Crocosmia got cut back. All good in the hood. Except that the shed's lock was melted off and clearly someone had been rummaging in there... not much taken that I could see, but we need a new lock. Sigh.

Random Verbascum

Salvia "Limelight"

Aloe ferox

Aeonium blushing

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Midsummer trim

Aloe tomentosa
Today's volunteer day attracted a core crew of people: Matt, Carlin, Nathan, Jackie, Anna, Mary and Keyvan.

Matt turned and watered the compost, and spread aged compost in the garden. Keyvan weeded and trimmed, which he has been doing a lot of recently, and Anna and Mary planted a whole tubtrug of the bromeliad Fascicularia pitcairnifolia on the Triangle garden, deadheading the yarrow "Coronation Gold" too.

Jackie shears
Nathan cut back the monstrous Salvia gesneriifolia "Tequila" which is done flowering and needed a haircut. That thing is about 15' wide and almost as tall. Golden Gate Park Arboretum, where I bought it,  weren't kidding when they said it was big... anyway, it seems very happy with zero water, so if you have a large area to fill with drama, I'll give you a cutting.

Santolina before/after
Jackie and I went down to PRG and Jackie ably buffed out the graffiti tag left on the fence, once again leaving it pristine. I pulled weeds and picked up all the trash, and started shearing all the Santolinas along there, since they are done flowering now and need a trim to stay compact. After a while Jackie took over and pretty soon the whole lot were done. Nice.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

False alarm

Sad Ficus
This morning Matt and I were up early to connect the hose from Fregosi Paints to water the trees at PRG.

We went about our business while the trees got water on this very hot weekend, then came back to weed and deadhead the plants on the street. Noticed a Ficus benjamina (house plant) that's been planted at PRG, randomly enough - it might not survive the transition from indoor plant to outdoor plant in this heatwave, but good luck...

Happy cactus
I also noticed that some of the cacti down there are sprouting new tips - a good sign! Some of the cacti took the transition poorly, but many are doing well, just as we'd helped. This one came from a giant cactus in the Haight that John helped Matt and I dismantle and relocate way back in July 2010 - a really tough, prickly, painful job but worth it in the end.

Later on, as I was about to go switch off the water, Alert Neighbor Adolfo sent me an email about a man at the garden, apparently tidying up. naturally I was up there in a matter of minutes and say Keyvan (hope I spelled that right!) weeding. He's a keen local gardener so of course I was delighted to show him what needs to be weeded and give him a pair of pruners. And some cuttings :)

Tough Santolina
On the way back down to PRG I decided to water as many of the plants as possible, and while doing that I noticed butterflies at the garden. A cabbage white, a swallowtail and then one I've never seen; all silvery blue-gray with a bight orange spot at the base of each wing. Google says it's a Gray Hairstreak and fairly common, but very pretty nonetheless. I also noticed that the Santolinas that someone apparently stood on, or sat on, are rejuvenating from the base. Hurrah for tough old Santolinas :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Volunteer Workday Next Saturday

A happy group of volunteers
with a fluffy dog too!
Next week is the 4th of July holiday and if you are in town you are invited to come to our monthly volunteer workday! As usual it's on the first Saturday of the month from 10-12 and we meet at Pennsylvania Garden by the bench. All of the necessary tools and training are provided, with cold drinks afterwards. Annie and I will be there and it is always a lot of fun.

We get stuff done
During the June volunteer day we had a great group of co-workers from The Presidio Group that chose to spend their volunteer time with us, and we chronicled their amazing work in the workday post. They sent over some great photos so I've included them in this post. Come to the next workday and you can  make the front page of the blog too.

Hope to see you all at the workday next Saturday and be sure to visit the gardens and enjoy this heat wave

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A little bit of work goes a long way

Santolina going for broke in yellow
and the dry grass Nasella winding down 
Both gardens are looking great, with some plants like the Santolina Annie just profiled going like crazy for Summer, while other plants like the Nassella tenuissima, a grass, going into the dormant part of its cycle. It's a beautiful mix, exactly how we like it!

Annie is away on vacation so I watered the trees, and overall had a lovely time talking with neighbors and doing chores around both gardens. Right as I was getting started with the trees, two of my neighbors came by that were using the route down along PRG to get a coffee from Front and walk their dog - one of my favorite activities (!) - and we chatted while I setup everything.

Nate powering the sound system by bike
On Thursday we were invited to the SF Parks Alliance Love Your Parks Party, where Ryan and I met up with Nate. Nate agreed to take a turn on the bicycle powering the speakers, and garden on Saturday (Ryan agreed to neither). So while waiting for Nate I updated our kiosk with new flyers and doggie bags, weeded the beds by the benches, cut back Centranthus by the arch and transplanted a Knautia macedonia out from under a Ceanothus to the middle back bed by the Plectranthus. I've had the Knautia in other gardens and it goes like crazy with flowers for most of the year, but we haven't quite found a place it enjoys at PSG yet. This new spot was still very wet from the brief run of automatic sprinklers on Friday night, so I know it will get more water in the new location and by not being buried under a Ceanothus more sunlight, so maybe third times the charm?
Hard to imagine this was full of weeds!

Meanwhile Debbie and Nels were taking a walk throughout the garden checking out plants that may work well in their garden and we chatted about a few lovely candidates, including the Agave attenuata, they are posing with in their photo. I made sure to point them to the great plant profiles that Annie writes for information, and they were glad to have the garden and our website as a resource. Yay!

Savvy gardeners Nels & Debbie
Once Nate arrived at the garden we started by cleaning up the cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, removing all the dead leaves still attached to the plant and the large dead ones that had already fallen. We did crinkle the leaves to make a 'mulch' of sorts, which looks more like 'mulch' then dead branches fortunately -  so we'll see how that works out in a few weeks! After some more weeding it was time to stop the water at PRG, so we went down to weed a bit more and pickup all the trash... there is always so much trash! I hand watered a few plants that are having a hard time making it (a few Stachys and Convulvus) which out of 700 plants is only a small handful, so I'm grateful, and we packed up the hose and headed out to a late lunch.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Plant profile: Santolina (Lavender Cotton)

S. chamaecyparissus
Latin name: Santolina ("sant-oh-LEE-nah")
Common name: Lavender Cotton, Holy Herb, Ground Cypress
Originally from: the Mediterranean
Blooms: From early spring through summer, hundreds of cream to bright yellow balls appear on thin stems above the plant.
Light: Full sun
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed unless very dry.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 1-2' high and wide.
USDA Zones: 5-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have a couple on the steps, and one in the brights bed. The real stars are the many groupings of these at PRG down the street.

S . rosmarinifolia

Santolina was a genus first mentioned in 1550, and became all the rage during the Elizabethan era in their formal knot gardens. They're still a great plant for edging your herb gardens.

I didn't think too hard about for a while, but I've come to appreciate them for their truly drought tolerant nature, silvery foliage, compact form and cute little sulphur-yellow flowers. Their foliage also smells great.

Holy Herb is one of the common names for this plant, derived from sanctum linum, or holy flax - an old name for the plant.  In the past it was used to cure round worm in Scotland, thanks probably to the alkaloids it contains.  Another common name is Ground Cypress, from the species S. chamaecyparissus, from the Greek chamai (ground) and kuparissos (cypress.)

S . rosmarinifolia
The first one we got was an S . rosmarinifolia -  aka S. virens (Green Santolina) which is very happy in the brights bed. We planted 8 more at PRG and I think it prefers things slightly less xeric than PRG so far. 

We got four S. chamaecyparissus var. nana (Dwarf Lavender Cotton) from Digging Dog in Mendocino, and they are planted on the steps area. The regular S. chamaecyparissus (Gray Lavender Cotton) is one we planted a ton of down at PRG and they look amazing so far.

S. chamaecyparissus "Lemon Queen" lives down on PRG in a group of 8. So far we have lost 3 and I think they need more water in that spot.

Lastly the two S. virens "Lemon Fizz" we have on the steps aren't doing quite as well - I think they need a tiny bit more water to look good.

Santolinas need little care - a quick shear when they're done flowering to tidy them up - perhaps a shear in very early spring if they are looking scraggly too. A great plant for your dry garden!

UPDATE June 2016:
What a tough, drought-proof plant! The  S. virens "Lemon Fizz" and S. chamaecyparissus "Lemon Queen" are less rugged, but so lovely - just pick a less arid spot for them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Grassy weeds

Cotyledon orbiculata
var. oblonga
I like weeding as a rule. You pick a spot, clear out all the weeds, and generally there's a clear reward for your work. You can do it for 5 minutes - no need to commit to hours. You can sit down to do it. At the end you have a bucket of compost fixins' to add to the pile. It's all good!

One thing I dislike weeding out though is grass, when removing it from an ornamental grass, or grass-like plant. That's a pain.

Today I weeded the front of the middle back bed which has several grass-like plants infested with actual grass. URGHHH!!! Well not anymore.

I also did some weeding in the left bed and futzed with the compost a bit. Deadheaded all the Kniphofias down at PRG. It was a pottering around sort of day. Then the weather suddenly turned windy and overcast and that was my signal to leave.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Michael Coleman, you're not welcome at PG.

Alert neighbor took this pic...
This evening I got an email from an alert neighbor with a capital A that a man was hacking at the cacti at the front of PG right that moment. I threw on a coat and we jogged up to the garden to see a man doing just that, and he was pretty nasty when I confronted him.

He said he'd been poked by a cactus when he went by, but was wearing new heavy gardening gloves and carrying a hook knife... not the sort of thing you just happen to have on you when you're out for an evening's perambulation. I'd already removed all the spines from the tips of the Agave by the arch anyway... so...? Getting ready to steal the nopales from the prickly pear if you ask me. Just like the guy a couple weeks ago.

Since he was so unpleasant, I called 911 and Matt and I followed him as he lumbered off. Three cop cars caught up with him on 18th St after a brisk walking "chase" and they handcuffed him and took a statement from me. We'll be going down to 400 McAllister to get a stay away order, but if you see one Michael Coleman at the garden feel free to call 911, or indeed anyone vandalizing or stealing from the garden. Yes indeed friends, it is against the law to destroy plants in a public place.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Plant profile: Malacothamnus fremontii (Frémont's Bushmallow)

Latin name: Malacothamnus fremontii ("mala-coth-AM-nus free-MONT-ee-eye")
Common name: Frémont's Bushmallow
Originally from: California
Blooms: From May to July it's covered in pretty pinkish-lavender flowers.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed.
Drainage: Excellent, but tolerates clay.
Height x width: up to 7'x7'
USDA Zones: 8b-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have 7 of these at PRG down the street.

Endemic to California, I first took note of this shrub when contractors came in and mowed one down on the empty lot on Texas street near our house. That plant had been living in poor, shallow dirt for years with nothing but rain to keep it going - impressive. When they chopped it down, I thought "oh well - sad to see it go." But no. It popped right back up. A light bulb lit up in my head!

Native to the woodlands and chaparral of California, it has silvery, felty leaves and a nice upright shape. It's a fast grower too hitting 4' in the first year.  The species was named for John C. Frémont (January 21, 1813 – July 13, 1890), a Republican from Georgia with a fondness for bushwhacking who is rather scathingly described as follows:

"Historians portray Frémont as controversial, impetuous, and contradictory. Some scholars regard him as a military hero of significant accomplishment, while others view him as a failure who repeatedly defeated his own best purposes. The keys to Frémont's character and personality may lie in his being born out of wedlock, ambitious drive for success, self-justification, and passive-aggressive behavior."

Bummer. Despite his many alleged character flaws he chummed up with the very interesting Kit Carson and they took off on expeditions in a Westerly direction, checking out the Oregon Trail, the Sierra Nevadas and Lake Tahoe among other sights.

Along the way he named a couple dozen plants after himself, not to mention dozens of cities, towns, counties mountains and rivers. All a bit egotistical if you ask me, but hey - if I had ridden a horse across the Sierra Nevadas while being shot at by native Americans I'd probably be feeling pretty smug too.

Anyway, just like Mr Frémont this shrub is tough as nails, and I recommend it for your sunny, dry patch of land that needs something shapely.  Give it a good hard prune in late autumn or early spring to keep it growing in a nice form, and it'll flower from April through October.

UPDATE: we have two left of the original seven, and they look fantastic. Not sure why some died - possibly not enough sun or lack of water in those particular spots.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Another outstanding volunteer day

Today we had a bunch of volunteers from The Presidio Group who, as it turns out, are a hard working bunch! With their help, and that of several other marvelous volunteers, we completed a number of tasks - some that have been lingering for way, way too long.

First we got not one but two compost heaps turned over by a pair of enthusiastic volunteers.

Next a whole gang went up to the dog area with Emily and weeded it clean, then buried a long section of carpet under the wood chips as weed suppressant. They also sorted through a pile of twigs to prepare for twig border manufacture at some later date.

Matt led a group down at the arch. He removed an area of bricks that were being pushed up by a root, and had created a tripping hazard. He flattened it and redid the brickwork, while his team pruned back the Dipogon lignosus (Cape Sweet Pea) on the arch, prevented it spreading into nearby beds, and cut back the Salvia leucantha there too.

After that was done he took his team into the storm drain area - a land populated with dangerous things (cacti) that have been left in post there for Much Too Long. They removed all the cacti - risking life and limb I might add - and sorted them into three groups: Store in the dog area for later, throw on the compost pile and plant now.

In the meantime, I took a team to the bottom of the steps and we eradicated all the ivy (evil, and something we've battled in the spot since May 2009) and Aptenia cordifolia (useful groundcover planted in January 2011 and since then gone berserk) from a good-sized area, and cut back all the Chasmanthe that are done flowering. When the area was cleared, we were ready to plant some new stuff - always fun.

We moved an Agave americana and some Aloe nobilis to better sites, and added an Aloe cameronii (Red Aloe), an Echinopsis pachanoi (San Pedro Cactus) from the storm drain and a gorgeous Agave salmiana "Butterfingers" bought for PG recently. Huge improvement!

Patrick weeded and swept the entrances and Keyvan weeded the pathways very carefully, Anna separated out a huge clump of the bromeliad Fascicularia pitcairnifolia recently donated by Josh into separate plants ready for planting, and at the end of the volunteer day the whole garden was looking really great. Go check it out!

Who did all this work? Nate, Patrick, Anna, Vitalia, Tom, Tony, Lilly, Nora, Julianna, Keyvan, Annie B., Victor, Susie, Carrie, Susan B., William, Susan S., and Anthony. Please take a bow!

Thanks to all the volunteers and to The Presidio Group for encouraging volunteer activities among their staff: what a productive, sunny day it was :)
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