Thursday, July 28, 2016

More feralife

This little fluff nugget has been seen in the garden several times by me and neighbor Katherine. Another white animal - like the mice! What's going on?

She (?) appears to be less than a year old, has a crusty/infected eye and wears a broken harness. She's nervous and will run away when approached, down the back terraces and under the freeway where she seems to be camping with the people down there.

After Katherine alerted me to her presence today I popped out with a cat carrier and a can of wet food to see if she could be caught, but she's not interested. As I told Katherine, who sounds up for the task, she will likely need to get fed in the same place, and at the same time every day, for a week or two before she can be lured into a cat trap borrowed from the SPCA. At that stage she can be taken in for shots, eye care and spaying and to see if anyone has lost her.

Ferals can often be tamed nicely if you start young - we have a black cat who was born on Daggett Place and who likes being a house cat as long as no strangers visit. So this cat might make a pet. If she's not already someone's (lost? Free roaming?) pet...?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Special bricks

Way back when, Joan gave us some bricks to use in the garden and told us the "CH" imprinted on them meant "city hall." I used them under the bench and tried to arrange them artfully to show off the letters.

Now that we have moved the bench, the bricks too have been cleaned and re-laid in the new spot. I remembered about the city hall story, and started looking for more info online as the link in my 2009 post had expired. And lo, I found an article about these very bricks.

Years Brick Made: 1870s

Type: Red common duty

Comments: Bricks were made specially for the San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco, CA. Numerous brick manufacturers from San Francisco, San Rafael, San Jose, and Sacramento provided the bricks and stamped the bricks with CH, which stands for City Hall. This is unusual because most bricks are usually stamped with the maker's name, not its destination. However, the variations in these bricks demonstrate that they are not from a single maker when comparing them side by side. Local brick manufacturers who supplied the City Hall with brick as gathered from the records of San Francisco included G. Oliva, P.N. Carroll, D.S. McDonald, Clauss Witt, Theodore W. Peterson, G.D. Nagle, Thomas D. Tobin, Merrill & Black, Remillard Bros., Patent Brick Co., Diamond Brick Co., Hunter & Shackleford, E. Wilson & Co., William Sharon, J.S. Bellrude, Eli Bonnet, Philip Caduc, Michael J. Kelly, Thomas Boyle, and John Tuttle. Note that none of the maker's initials match C.H., which verifies the 1884 report written by State Geologist Henry Hanks, who wrote:

"The initials C.H. impressed in the brick of which our new City Hall is built, put there to denote that they were intended for that edifice, may (should they prove to possess the lasting properties claimed for them) become to the antiquary of the remote future a source of much worriment as he labors to decipher their probable meaning."

Source: Museum of the City of San Francisco, Cannery Shopping center, San Francisco; San Francisco Municipal Reports, 1871-1881; Hanks, 4th Report of the State Mineralogist, 1884, p. 144.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bench part five

After moving the temporarily placed bricks and bench today, we flattened the base, tamped and leveled it. Then we placed the benderboard retainer and staked it in. We added 400# of gravel and tamped that. Then 200# of sand. 

Next we sorted the bricks by type and quality, reserving the nicest ones for the most visible spots. We laid the bricks and Matt had to add sand to the gaps and replace the bench because I have a cold and suddenly needed a lie down


Still need to finish a few bricks, then sand and stain the wood. We'll save that for another day. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bench part four

Today Matt went off to his baseball game and I was bored so I went to Lowes and bought 700 pounds of rock and sand.

Eight 50# bags of gravel, six 50# bags of sand. And eight 2' long steel stakes. A lot cheaper than having it delivered, but as it turned out much more annoying.

I found the stakes which, being solid steel were about 20#, and carried them to the cashier, asked if I could pay, and then bring my truck around to have them place the bags in the back. Yes no problem was the reply, but after waiting 20 minutes and asking three more times, it became clear they didn't have anyone motivated to help. Finally I said well, I will go fetch the bags myself if I can get help loading them up. A small child was brought to assist me.

I'm not even kidding. I assume he was at least 16 but looked more like 13, and nothing like burly. When told what I needed he visibly blanched. I said alright, let's start with finding a flat bed hand truck and he pointed at one far off in the distance of the parking garage and indicated I should go and get it.

By this stage my patience had worn through, and understanding that children are not born knowing the finer points of customer service I dismissed the child in order to save him a painful education. I got on with it myself, balancing on three piled up concrete bags to get the 50# bags of gravel off a shelf. With 14 bags loaded on my hand truck, I dragged it slowly to the exit where an employee asked if I wanted any help. Why yes... I'd love some help...

After that I went and did something else. More bench work coming soon...

Sunday, July 10, 2016


We saw her last week, for a second, and wondered if it was a trick of the light.

Then, today, I saw her again - she scurried away but as I stood still, she came back. A white mouse! I took some photos quickly as she sniffed about, coming all the way up to my feet.

And then... another: two white mice!

Someone has clearly let these two mice loose in the garden. I'm sad - they won't live long as they don't have enough fear, foraging or coping skills, and might die of dehydration or poisoning.

Releasing domesticated animals into the wild is a cruel thing to do. Perhaps these were some mice that the owner's snake wouldn't eat, and if so they should have made some decent living accommodations for the mice. But for now they're a little magic in the garden.

Bench part three

Today I added a coat of primer and a coat top gloss black paint. I'll wait until this evening to add another coat of paint, then we can work on the wood next weekend.

Update: second coat of paint is on! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Bench part two

Today Matt and I sanded and taped the bench up, then applied two coats of rust converter. Tomorrow we'll do primer and paint coats. After that we will work on the wood. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Plant Profile: Euonymus

Latin name: Euonymus (pronounced "yew-ONNY-muss)
Common name: Japanese Spindle Tree, Euonymus
Originally from: Japan, Korea and China
Blooms: The flowers aren't the point here - they're usually yellow and insignificant.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 3-6'x3'6'
USDA Zones: 6-9
Where to find in P. Garden: In the left bed we have Euonymus japonicus "Microphylla Variegata" (Variegated Boxleaf Euonymus), Euonymus japonicus "Aureomarginatus" and Euonymus japonicus "Chollipo Gold"

Well here's a Home Depot wonder. Your basic shubbery, variegated so a bit trashy looking, and basically ours did, as they say in Ireland, "feck all" for a long time, so long in fact that I started to wonder if they were made of plastic. Actually I started calling them "... that plastic plant... what's it called? That thing over there..."

I came to feel that while I had initially been attracted to it's gaudy leaves like a magpie to a silver penny,  this was probably a sign that the plant was a bit of a tart. And lo, I am not alone in thinking that - Southern Living roundly despises this plant.

That said, they survived The Drought and also benign neglect like being planted in the left bed (zero water) or under something dense and shady, and basically being ignored for years.

And what happened? They carried on. I wouldn't say the one in shade throve per se, but it's alive for some reason despite no sun and no water. And the other one in full sun actually looks pretty smug. So I should probably be nicer to them!

With that in mind they deserve a Plant Profile so here it is.

They're compact, dense, evergreen, make a nice hedge, and come in colors that aren't plain green. I would say they are less tough than your average Coprosma, which is a similar plant format, especially the little boxleaf one that wants more water, but that's being picky. See if you can design a garden with one in it that doesn't make people sneer!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bench progress

Yesterday I tried out two brick patterns for the new bench area. I laid the bricks roughly in two designs. I prefer the "running bond" pattern at the top!

Today I set up a sprinkler and started sanding the graffiti and rust off the bench. Needs a lot more elbow grease but is a good start. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bench Extravaganza & More

Big shout out to everyone for getting a ton of work done today and having such a fun time! Thank you to Annie, Matt, Josh, John, Chris, Amanda, Aditi and Yanika! We were also visited by many neighbors, and their dogs, notably a stop by the always energetic Berkeley. Friends, neighbors, dogs and sunshine - does it get any better?

OK maybe... The bench was also moved (which involved hard labor), a ton of weeds and debris cleared, an urbanite retaining wall built in the dog area, and some needy trees at PRG lovingly watered. A full and beautiful workday! I'l let the photos speak for themselves and hope to see you all at the workday in August.

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