Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weeding - it's what we do

Lush bed
If you don't like weeding, you shouldn't get involved in gardening: it's 80% of the job! Luckily there's something wonderfully rewarding about all the parts of weeding: sitting in the sun, removing offending plants, beautifying the plants you like, and turning the fruits of your labor into compost. All stages are total win!

This evening I went out for an hour of weeding, and pulled three tubtrugs full out of various beds while noticing all the changes in the garden recently. The Kniphofias, Watsonias and Irises are flowering.

The vine on the entryway arch, Dipogon lignosus, is flowering too, and smells great. And the Echium simplex right behind it is flowering for the first time since we planted it in May 2009 - a tall tower of white flowers. At last.

I started getting bitten by mosquitoes so I left but it was a really nice quiet time in the garden.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

PRG receives an award

As many of you know we received an award from the Friends of the Urban Forest last week. The Most Greenified Block award for 2013!

We had a little event at PRG which FuF organized, and they brought coffee, pastries and lots of supporters. Plenty of PSG volunteers came too - as it was really an award for them, I was delighted people came to get recognition for their hard work.

PRG was looking lovely thanks to the cleanup efforts of the day before, the sun was shining brightly, and the mood was just as bright. Jay Murphy of FuF gave a speech, I gave a speech,  Mohammed Nuru of DPW gave a speech.

And as a special surprise for us Mohammed had a cleanup crew out there spiffing up the West side of the street as the celebration happened. They stripped all the trash and weeds and graffiti out of there in record time!

Lots more pictures can be see on FuF's photo stream, by clicking here.

I must say, the street has never looked better :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Like locusts, but in a good way

The weeds don't stand
a chance against this crew!
On Saturday we had an extra mid-month workday to prep both of the gardens for the FUF awards ceremony. Annie and Matt were already hard at work at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden with the watering setup and all the tools ready to go when Josh and I arrived. One of the 'Lucky 7' AP Biology teenagers needed additional volunteer hours, so despite having worked in the pouring rain to put in the street trees back in December, he decided it was still worthwhile and came back to volunteer again. what a trooper! Our immediate task at hand was to clear all of the weeds and trash, and we worked our way northward across the street park.

Like locusts, but in a good way, it took us a little over an hour to make a good clean pass of the street park. During that time - and I hope I have everyone's name right here - we were joined by DebbieBob, Janet, Jessica, Maulik, JackieAshley and Jennifer. Janet even brought a nifty tool for removing difficult weeds, sort of a trowel axe combo, that I wish I
A cleaned path is a beautiful thing
had a photo of! It is a great tool, I hope Center Hardware sells them. Buckets of weeds and trash were hauled away and the crew moved to Pennsylvania Garden.

Up in the dog area there were some odd make-shift structures someone (not us!) had made, which Matt and I removed along with a load of trash. In general much weeding, pruning, brooming and cleaning up was done by all. I've never seen the front walkway and entrances to the garden cleaned so quickly and with such energy, and it was done solely by Bob in just a short while.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mysteries Revealed and You're Invited

Who knew they also give out awards?
So that special event Annie wrote about a few postings ago... we can now confirm, drumroll please... Pennsylvania Street Gardens is getting an award!

Our organization, Pennsylvania Street Gardens, is being honored with an award from the Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) this Sunday at 11am at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden. So many people have come together as a community create PSG and you are all invited to attend the awards ceremony put on by FUF and enjoy a lovely morning in the garden. Annie and I will also be giving 'formal' tours of both gardens, a fairly rare but not unheard of occurrence!

You can read the full press release from FUF here;

To make the gardens extra-special for the event, we're having a volunteer workday on Saturday from 10-12 that you are invited to attend as well. Work one day party the next? Hope to see you all this weekend!

Plant profile: Geranium maderense

With an Echium behind
it, appropriately
Latin name: Geranium maderense ("jer-AY-nee-um mad-er-EN-see")
Common name: Madeira cranesbill
Originally from: the island of Madeira, where it is uncommon.
Blooms: Early spring is the time to see this plant go berserk, covered in pink flowers.
Light: Full sun to light shade
Water: Rain is plenty. No summer water needed.
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 3'-4' tall and wide
USDA Zones: 9-11
Where to find in P. Garden: One in the dog area - soon to be more I am sure as they self seed freely.

Pink! Pink! Pink!
This is not your grandma's geranium. In fact your grandma might find this one a little shocking due to its size and unseemly display of flowers! This plant hails from the island of Madeira which is located off the coast between Portugal and northern Africa - it's a remote and autonomous region of Portugal that's got quite a few interesting native plants - lots of Echiums, Dracaena draco and so on.

Technically a biennial, you can treat it as a perennial by cutting the plant back after it declines in late summer. And technically an understory plant, it might prefer light shade and less windy conditions than the spot it's living in at PG. We shall see!

With lovely fern-like foliage even when not in flower, and deep red stalks, this plant is nice looking even when not in bloom. The lower leaves on each stem gradually turn downwards and help to prop up the plant to protect it in high winds. And since it seeds freely you should be able to share it with friends.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Preparation for a special event

Alstroemeerias in the front bed
We are planning for a special event next weekend. On Sunday April 21st we invite all our volunteers to join us at PRG (Pennsylvania Railroad Garden at 100 Pennsylvania) and see what happens. We can't yet release the details but we think you'll enjoy it :)

With all that in mind, yesterday Matt and I weeded at PRG. Not too many weeds on the fence side, quite a few on the street side. Next weekend on Saturday the 20th we're having a special weeding party to get the block cleaned up for Sunday, so come on down!

Today Matt and I went out to tackle some of the weeds at PG. We did about 2.5 hours of weeding and I worked my way down one side of the left bed, removing a ton of weeds. I also noticed that the lavender Watsonias we transplanted there last year are flowering at last! There's a clump of white ones nearby that are getting ready to flower too.

Cardoon haircut
As I was cutting back the cardoon that's always flopping into the pathway (not to self: move it when it does back) I discovered the old leaves lying under it are a very effective weed barrier mulch. I added a few of the newly-cut leaves under the plant to suppress more weeds. The rest will make great compost.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ever expanding universe... of weeds!

Paulina carefully weeds
As usual the first Saturday of the month was our volunteer workday and a great group of neighbors came out to work together in the drizzle. Matt and Annie got started early and setup the water for Pennsylvania Railroad Garden. Unfortunately Annie had to leave to meet her horse's vet, but Matt was able to stay and was joined by Paulina, Anna, Nate and Paloma. We gathered up our supplies and walked across the Mariposa off-ramp to the 'triangle' garden that was previously created and maintained by the Potrero Hill Garden Club. Annie wrote about this in a previous post  and now the garden is officially part of Pennsylvania Street Gardens.

Nate and Paloma amongst a
newly weeded patch of color
The triangle garden is a lovely mix of many of the same plants we have at Pennsylvania Garden, including Calandrinia spectabilis, Yarrow millefolium and Buddleja (also known as butterfly bush). Also like Pennsylvania Garden, and now the newly created Pennsylvania Railroad Garden, it also has un-desireable population of of weeds like Malva neglecta and simply common grass that has escaped from a nearby lawn. Today our task was to get rid of those weeds, and how! We all worked diligently to remove the roots, and carefully picked through day lilies to extract the grasses lurking among the leaves.
Matt getting rid of some tricky weeds
at Pennsylvania Garden

A steady supply of weeds was carried back over to the compost bins at Pennsylvania Garden and layered alternatively with straw to hopefully ensure quicker composting. More weeding was done by Matt and Nate at Pennsylvania Garden as the workday finished up at noon and we all said good-bye and went about the rest of our day. Job well done everyone!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Hour at El Rio; it's for us!

Booze for Beautifulness?
Cocktails for Crocosmias?

What a good idea, go to a bar and have a drink, and money is donated to the gardens.

When: Friday April 5th
Where: El Rio   3158 Mission St @ Cesar Chavez
Time: Happy Hour 4-6pm

It's a great excuse to head out the neighborhood and grab a drink, hope to see you there!
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