Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Plants for sale!

We have a number of left over plants prepped for the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden project that need to go to new homes. I swore I'd never do a plant sale again due to the months of work, so this one is off the cuff: come on down and see what we have!

I've made a list and posted them on Craigslist; we're inviting folks down to the garden on Saturday March 2nd from 9.30am to noon to pick up what they want.  This is also a volunteer day so if you're coming and can help in the garden we can hook you up with freebies at the end of the workday.

Here's what we have to sell - very cheaply I might add! All proceeds to the garden, of course :)

Salvia "Anthony Parker" 5g x 3, 1g x 8
Echium "Pride of Madeira" 1g x 13
Euphorbia lambii 1g x 3, 2-5g x 9
Euphorbia characias 1g x 18
Calandrinia spectabilis 1g x 10
Aloe maculata 1g x 13
Aloe glauca 1g x 11
Aloe vera 1g x 8
Nassella tenuissima 1g x 14
Agave americana - lots of sizes!
Agave parryi - lots of sizes!
Aptenia cordifolia - 5 large flats
A lot of smaller potted, bare root or recently potted pups of other Agaves (A. filifera, A. atenuata, A. tequiliana "Sunrise", A. desmettiana, A. scabra I think - I'll have to look)
Aeonium - we have tons - some in pots but we can also sell cuttings (A. nobile, A. canariense, A. arborescens/rubrescens/Zwartkop, A. haworthii, and a few others (leucoblepharum? percarneum?)
Aloe striatula, Aloe congolensis, Aloe arborescens, Aloe nobilis, Aloe brevifolia - cuttings or pups.

1 gallon pots are $4, 2-5 gallon pots are $8, flats are $6 and cuttings/pups are $1-4 depending on species. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Scents and sensibility

Arctotis power activate!
Today I popped out to do a few hours of gardening in the calm, winter sunshine and noticed a lot of great smells in the garden. Used to be that the only smell was dog poop and freeway fumes...

Now, it's more like perfume! The cherry-plum tree blossoms smell like cherries. The hyacinths and narcissus scents are wafting around. And the Psoralea pinnata will be flowering soon - watch out for the smell of grape Kool-Aid!

Determined to get more plants out of their pots and planted, I went back to the terraces and weeded a lot of pots, pulling out a few items that could go in the ground right away.

Hesperoyucca whipplei
First up was a Yucca whipplei (syn. Hesperoyucca whipplei) also known as the chaparral yucca, or our Lord's candle.

That went in on the steps (damn Achillea roots everywhere... curse them!) and I also popped in an Agave parrasana (or some hybrid thereof, if you're an Agave expert) on the opposite side of the steps - a cute little clumping agave about the size of a softball.

I weeded the terraces as I sorted, and planted two Aloe brevifolia, a clump of Senecio kleiniiformis and four cuttings of Cotyledon barbeyi maybe? Not sure - Josh gave it to us.

Agave parrasana and hyacinth
I cut back the Salvia canariensis up by the dog area - that wooly monster grew really quickly, fell over and tripped. So it's back to stumps now though I expect it'll zoom right back up in no time.

I weeded out about 3 massive tubtrugs full of weeds.... time to move those pots in the back area so we can turn the compost! It is piling the heck up again. I have an idea to put almost-done compost in back bags in the sun for a week or two to kill weed seeds (our compost doesn't appear to get hot enough - lack of "brown" stuff in it I think)

Aloe speciosa - small...
I planted a Dendromecon harfordii (Bush Poppy) in the left bed, but am not convinced it'll do well as it was a bit stressed. Also getting to spread its roots today is an Aloe speciosa that's been waiting around forever. It went in behind the wrong way sign - I hope it grows nicely there.

Lastly I sorted out all the cuttings and Agave pups for the sale next weekend. Lots of plants have GOT TO GO so come on down Saturday 9.30am-12pm and buy some lovely, tough, xeric but cheap plants to support PSG!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Nature abhors a vacuum

Euphorbia characias
According to the ancient philosopher Aristotle, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Aristotle based his conclusion on the observation that nature requires every space to be filled with something, even if that something is weeds.

According to my philosophy, weeds must go. And then nature once again takes over and requires the newly empty space to be filled with a plant I perceive to be a non-weed.

Nutshell version: today we weeded and planted.

Agave salmiana on the way out
After Emily set up the hose to water the PRG trees today (Thank you Fregosi Paints for donating water!) Matt and I went up to PG and set about our tasks.  First order of business: clean out the terraces, by planting lots of plants.

Naturally this resulted in minor despair, as we have a lot of plants. So we started by taking 6 Agaves down to the PRG/MCG area and planting them. Two Agave parryi, an Agave lophantha and two Agave americanas. I also popped in a Dendromecon harfordii.

I pruned the Salvias and cataloged many of the leftover plants on the terrace so we can sell them on Craigslist. Matt planted an Agave desmetiana and an A. "Sharkskin" down at the bottom of the terrace.

Agave salmiana rehomed
Next Matt moved to the cactus wall. There we had several large plants in one area competing for attention, with nobody winning. At least one had to go, so Matt selected an Agave salmiana - out it came, and into the front border. "The front border!?" you ask, shocked as this has long been an area filled with fluffy flowers and constant weeding and annoyance. Yes. We are going to add Agaves to the front border. And lo, it will be awesome.

While Matt was busy I ripped out the last lavender in the middle back bed, cut back the Plectranthus argentea there, moved a Tulbaghia violacea (Society Garlic) and weeded a lot of grass out from around things. I planted another clump of Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) from Michele there and yes, it all looks a bit sad but it'll perk up before you know it.

I also planted some sort of wavy-leafed Yucca that John gave me ages ago that had 2 Verbascums in the pot too (or somesuch) in the left bed, an Agave bracteosa and an Agave attenuata "Ray Of Light." Phew.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Plant profile: Leucadendron

Leucadendron "Jester"
Latin name: Leucadendron ("luke-ah-DEN-dron")
Common name: Cone-bush
Originally from: South Africa
Blooms: Early spring is the time to see these guys show off their cream/yellow/orange/red flowers.
Light: Full sun
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 3'-9' tall and wide - some are up to moderate sized trees.
USDA Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: One in almost every bed!

Leucadendron salignum
"Golden Tip"
Leucadendrons are in the protea family, and are a great choice for a full sun, low water spot. They can manage in poor soil, appreciate some compost, but are easily killed by phosphorus-based fertilizers.

Their flowers are great cut and dried too, and are produced in dense inflorescences surrounded by colorful bracts, with separate male and female plants.

The seed heads of Leucadendron are woody and cone-like - hence the common name cone-bush. About half the species store the seeds in fire-proof cones and release them only after a fire has killed the plant or at least the branch holding  the cone, so many of these species never seed "in captivity."

Here are the species and cultivars we currently grow:

Leucadendron salignum "Red Tulip" Up in the brights bed this one's growing in a bit of shade - I might need to move it to a sunnier spot. 4-5 feet high and wide, with deep red bracts surrounding the cones on the branch tips.

Leucadendron salignum "Golden Tip" - Sitting at the top of the steps, this cultivar has cream and lemon yellow bracts and grows 3-4 feet high and wide.

"Safari Goldstrike"
Leucadendron "Safari Goldstrike" - A specimen of this hybrid sits in the middle back bed. A hybrid between Leucadendron strobolinum x Leucadendron laureolum developed in New Zealand, it'll grow to about 6' high and wide and has yellow bracts.

Leucadendron "Jester" - This variegated stunner sits in the middle front bed, and sports showy variegated leaves in shades of red, cream and yellow. It'll grow to about 4' high and wide.

Leucadendron argenteum
Leucadendron argenteum - An endangered species endemic to a small area called Table Mountain on the Cape Peninsula, around the city of Cape Town, South Africa, this silvery, silky-leaved plant grows eventually into a 15-20' tall tree.

Common names for this plant are Silver tree, Silver leaf tree, Witteboom, or Silwerboom.

UPDATE: No thanks to the drought we lost a few of these, sadly:  L. argenteum,
"Safari Goldstrike" and "Red Tulip" all bit it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Not winter

Daffodil and Convulvulus
Once again a gorgeous hot day and out we went to water. Matt and I started around 10am and finished around 2pm, and watered the rest of the plants at PRG that we started watering yesterday. Emily came to help too and everything got a good soaking and a health check.

Matt dug out the new rain garden at the north end of PRG and moved a lot of rocks. Then he replanted several Agaves that were in poorly draining soil so they won't rot. The dirt installed at the north end of the street has a lot of clay and so is very different to what we're used to - and not ideal for Agaves!

Prunus cerasifera in bloom
I planted 5 Nasella tenuissima, an Agave parryi and moved a few plants that went in at odd spots during our planting marathon recently. Then Sara and Mary dropped by for a tour of PG and PRG since they're in the process of starting their own street park and needed a few tips. We're always happy to oblige!

Worth checking out this week at PG: the Prunus cerasifera (cherry plum trees) are flowering and the scent is awesome. And the daffodils are coming up. It's all go at PG!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It is summer.

OK well it feels like summer. Wacky weather.

Today Matt and I met Emily, Maulik and Jessica at the Mariposa Center Garden - now really a part of the SPUR project (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden)? Yeah, we'll explain it all later ;)

We set to work weeding, removing trash, removing the dead plants (so much for Lupines!) and finally removing the fence installed to protect the plants.

...and after!
In just about an hour and 40 minutes we had the area stripped clean, and even added three Agave americanas, a Malacothamnus fremontii and some Dietes bicolor. The three Lavatera "Barnsley" got a good prune too.

Not bad for a Saturday morning. After that Emily and I traded off watering the PRG plants and were joined by Enrique and his son Carlos who picked up trash on the entire PRG site and did some weeding. They came because they saw us out working, and wanted to help. Thanks guys! Ray, an owner of Pawtrero also came by to thank us for all our hard work, and even wanted see how Pawtrero could help out. The goodwill was overflowing...

Ray and Tuesday
 from Pawtrero support the garden
Lastly as I was watering a guy came up and berated me for 20 minutes straight for wasting money on such a horrible and pointless project as ours.  As he talked a group of people passing down the path paused to thank me for this garden, coincidentally.

It amused me to hear him out and try to engage him in conversation, because hey - there's always going to be some old white geezer complaining at you, and all they really need is to feel heard, like the rest of us, plus I am a firm believer in Hanlon's Razor. Over the course of the last 4+ years of gardening the only trouble I have had is with three middle aged or older white guys who at various times have tried to put a dent in my hat. Bless them.

Thankfully my lovely old white husband came out to rescue me and the conversation ended. There's always next time!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new

Leucadendron "Safari Goldstrike"
Matt and I did our usual Sunday morning garden trip today in the lovely warm sun, with clear skies above and a mockingbird warbling in the Monterey pine tree at the garden. Ah!

I decided to plant a Yucca rigida (Blue Yucca) by the steps. I cleared out a load more yarrow (Achillea) and carved a hole in the steepish slope, uncovering several daffodils just sprouting, as well as some hyacinths going for their third year "in the wild" and still flowering!

Yucca rigida gets planted
The Yucca should get great drainage in that area - we had a small Y. rigida specimen near there years ago that died but I'm hopeful this one will make a go of it.  That spot is also where we have the rest of our small Yucca collection, with a Y. recurvifolia, a Y. linearifolia and a Y. elephantipes "Silver Star."

While I was admiring that scene Matt cut back a Salvia leucantha, some grasses, an Artemisia, and the Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri). Whack!

I wanted to plant some Calla lilies (Zantedeschia) donated recently by Michele so decided to take a look at the three lavenders in the middle back bed. Those were some of the first plants we ever put in, back in early 2009, and they're not long-lived. These three now have a distinctly dried-up look to them and I decided their time had come. Before I knew it I was enthusiastically ripping two of them out completely.

Entwined in them are a couple of Plectranthus argenteas so it was a bit of work to cut those back appropriately too, as well as the neighboring rosemary plant. I put the Callas in, looking a bit rough - with a bit of luck they'll bounce back - and decided to leave the third lavender for another day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feels like spring!

Morning shadows in SF can be chilly and dank, but the warm sun came out this morning and Matt and I gardened in the freshly rained-on dirt.

First we went by Regent's Cab lot. They have graciously been storing all our plants for the 100 block of Penn Ave, and we had a few Agaves left over to pick up today. Thanks to Steve for being so kind!

Agave tequiliana "Sunrise"
Next we needed to plant some of those plants, so we removed some dead Echiums in the dog area (what is up with Echiums? They're all hat and no cattle at PG!) and hauled up a gigantic and gorgeous Agave tequiliana "Sunrise" to plant there. The thing had half a dozen big pups on it that we removed, and into the bed it went. Fab.

Matt then spent some time planting various small Agave pups in a line behind the Calandrinias on the outer edge of the garden.  Such small pups will do better there and can grow on to be transplanted later without adding to the mess of pots near the shed.

Agave weberi "Arizona Star"
I decided to plant an Agave weberi "Arizona Star" a the bottom of the steps. This meant removing a lot of Achilleas (Yarrow) and other weeds from the area. Those darn things have quite the root system - great for stabilizing a xeric slope but also pretty annoying when you'd prefer something else there.

I popped 6 or 8 Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga cuttings around the base of the Agave and they can duke it out with the Achillea.

Cherry-plum blossoms
The cherry-plum trees are just starting to bloom now, as well as the daffodils so I took some pics. It al feels very spring-like at the garden!

Lastly I weeded the Calandrinias a bit and tidied up. I also found a small glass bottle containing two crack rocks so if that's yours please let me know and I'll.... hah. Oh dear.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Warm Water Cove Garden Day

For those in need of some gardening fun this weekend, our friends at Warm Water Cove Garden are having one of their quarterly workdays. Here's their message:

"Please join us and your neighbors for the first 2013 Gardening Day at Warm Water Cove Park. It will be sunny and cool and no wind. Perfect for gardening! Planting, mulching, weeding. And a couple of door prizes!

Wear sturdy shoes, bring your water/drink. We will provide gloves, tools, snacks.

Sunday Feb.10
2 blocks east of Illinois St. on 24th St. at Warm Water Cove Park
Third St. Light rail stop at 23rd or free parking, easy walk or bike from Dogpatch

And the park should be clean! Sea Scavenger will be cleaning the park on Sat. Feb. 9, 10am-12pm. So if you cannot make the gardening on Sunday but want to clean up on Saturday, please do!"
Find out more here: www.gtsfcw.org

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Close the exit!

SFGate reports today that the Mariposa exit off 280S is a hot mess. We already knew that. Drivers have two options there:  stay in the left lane that ends in a T junction at Mariposa, and forget to stop (several cars have gone over the barrier and fallen 25' onto the freeway below) or stay in the right lane that curls around Pennsylvania Garden to spit speeding drivers onto Penn Ave, where customers of Center Hardware are backing in and out of spaces, and pedestrians are crossing the road, often with kids and dogs in tow. Oh, and then those drivers realize they should have gone the other way, so they often do a U turn on Penn Ave and risk lives again.

Our fab neighbor Sage is reported in the article, and did you know several other neighbors have discussed this point over the years too? Ideally I think adding speed bumps and signage to the off ramp to prevent the cars flying over the end of the T junction is great, and then closing the 180 degree right lane curve around Pennsylvania Garden completely.

We'd get more gardening room, and no cars speeding down the street. Win-win! I even talked ot the owner of a semi truck delivering boulders to the 100 block of Penn Ave in recently weeks, and he said the curved lane is not necessary for a big, long truck to exit the freeway - the T junction alone is just fine.

So.... what are we waiting for?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

They said it couldn't be done...

Ryan, John, Anna and Matt
...but they didn't say it to my face! I could tell by the raised eyebrows though. But HAH! We did it - 800 plants planted. PSG FTW.

Here's how it went down. Around 4am I woke up. Going to bed at 8.30pm due to sheer exhaustion will do that to a person.  Lying in the dark I looked at every app on an iPhone that a person could stand for three hours, then got up, overworked muscles complaining loudly.

The mulch pile, decimated
At the leisurely hour of 10am Matt and I went to PG and got 40 shovels and a dozen pitchforks, several tubtrugs, clipboards, boxes of drinks, gloves, waivers, a wheelbarrow and all the other things you need to run a three ring circus like ours.  

Bryce, and our three major genera
Emily and Ryan joined us at the SPUR site (now known as the Pennsylvania Railroad Garden) and we started pulling the remaining 200 or so plants out of the Regent's Cab parking lot, and arranging them on the pathway in groupings.

Pretty soon the volunteers started arriving, and we knew what we had to do: move mulch.  The 30 or so yards of mulch left on the site just had to go - you can't plant on top of a pile of mulch. Believe me - I've tried.

They can dig it
Today we had about 25 volunteers, and the mulch pile evaporated under their enthusiastic pitchforking incredibly quickly. We moved a lot to PG in John's truck, and piled the rest on the street. Bruce is coming for some this week - anyone else want some? Help yourself!

With a smile, no less!
While that was happening, I was placing plants in the spots they should be planted, and a team followed behind me, tucking the plants in. The hose was set up and anytime I noticed a mulch-mover starting to look a little glassy-eyed I pulled them off the pile and asked them if they wanted to stand relatively still in the sun, watering plants instead. The reply was always 100% enthusiastically affirmative.

Matt, Maulik and Eddy with pizzas
By about 1pm the pizzas arrived and the tired workers stopped and ate. After a nice chat in the sun, we got back to it again and the remaining plants went in very quickly. Cleanup time!

All the pots were picked up, trash collected, tools returned to the shed, water hose put away and finally, in the afternoon sun around 3pm, streets deserted (apparently there is a popular sporting event today...?) I found myself alone, marveling at what we all accomplished this weekend.
Ken rocks a Euphorbia lambii

Matt, Ryan, Emily, Carlin, John, Gina, Chris, Alex, David, Filippo, Angela, Ashley, Dee, Daniel, Bryce, Eric, Tara, William, Maile, Eddy, Maulik, Jessica, Anna, and Ken. You are all amazing. Thank you so much for all your hard work. You should be very proud of everything you did today :)

Want to see more pics? Click here!


Plants in place
Today was Day 1 of the 2 day Planting Party marathon we devised to get all 800 plants that were delivered this week in the ground, safe and sound.

I woke up at 5.30am with a very uneasy feeling that it might be asking a bit much from everyone to make his happen. Matt and I were up at the garden shed picking up tools by 7.45am and met Emily and Ryan for 2 hours of plant placement from 8am to 10am. Nate and John came at 9am to join us.

Nate fixing the fence
A relentless stream of plants left the Regent's parking lot, Emily and Ryan coordinating sets of about 35 plants per grouping. With 4 groupings designed by me, and each grouping being repeated 7 times down the street, it was a straightforward though hectic task to drop them off on the path for me to place in the exact spot they were to be planted. Randy from SF Scrap metal generously donated his time and equipment again to use a forklift to move pallet loads of plants for us.

Tina from Baked dropped off some delicious pastries in the middle of all this - what a treat! Everyone really enjoyed those. Especially the lemon bars!

Heads down...
At 10am the volunteers were supposed to arrive, and Emily and I had calculated we'd get about 5 hours of work out of them before they dropped from exhaustion. The initial trickle of helpers was slow, but by 11am a band of people led by Carlin were planting their way down from the top of the street, almost faster than I could place plants ahead of them!

Matt coordinated moving the large Agaves into place, and removing pups from them for later use, with Ryan. Everyone worked quickly and cheerfully and by 1:30pm we'd done about 20 of the 28 groupings!  Jim and Paloma coordinated pizza for everyone from Goat Hill Pizza, and we ate and drank heartily.

Matt and Ryan on Agave duty
After lunch we plowed on, managing to complete all but 4 groupings. Fresh and enthusiastic volunteers showed up to invigorate the crew, and people jumped right into moving mulch into bags to take up to Pennsylvania Garden. Emily coordinated a team spreading mulch there - and guess what? Now we don't need to set up a mulch delivery in spring! Miracle.

Finally by 4:30pm we'd pretty much had enough, and started waving goodbye to people. We picked up all the trash and empty pots, put away all the un-planted plants for tomorrow's session, and took all the tools back to the shed.

Jackie and I collected up and labeled the saved Agave pups, and I took the trash and recycling home. (Almost) DONE!


A million thanks to all the volunteers from today - Bruno, Mary, Jan, Bette, Mary, Angela, Lissette, Joshua, Dominic, Rich, Luke, Jennifer H., Jennifer L., Diane, Cath, Mike, Matt, Rob, Roxanne, Ian, Tanya, Nate, Ross, Ashley, Trina, John, Carlin, Jackie, Randy, Eliot, Gillian, Heather, Riley, Anna, Bruce, Maulik, Jessica, Janet, Paloma, Jim, Bonnie, Beth  - you are all amazing!  Hope we didn't miss anyone here!

More photos by Emily can be seen by clicking here.

Now, who has any energy left for finishing this job on Sunday? :)
page counter
Free Hit Counter