Thursday, January 26, 2017

Weekday Garden Love

Chris weeding in the dog area
Big thank you to Chris and April for coming out to the gardens on Thursday. There is always something that needs to be done, and they both dug in clearing weeds and making things a bit better!

If you ever want to join in on a special weekday, please contact me at

April hamming it up
In addition to lots of weeding, pathways were swept and cleared of some over enthusiastic Agapanthus that we potted up. Chris gave the arch a nice trimming too. Robert, a botanical enthusiast that works nearby, was on a walk in the garden and we had a good conversation about South American sub-tropicals and herbs. Was also glad to hear he enjoys the garden!

Chris insisted on taking my photo
Hope to see you all at our big Saturday workday, February 4th from 10-12!

Storm damage

Unfortunate Acacia
A couple of trees at the gardens got damaged in the recent storms - be careful out there! You can see from the pics Emily sent that they are somewhat horizontal...

At top is an Acacia stenophylla which has bent all the way over. Friends of the Urban Forest are coming out to straighten it and reattach to stakes.

Tragic Hakea
Then at bottom we have the second of the three Hakea suaveolens we planted which great up to be gorgeous but doomed. With a heavy canopy of evergreen, water-catching needles, they seem to get laden with water and then easily blown over in strong winds.

There's one left, leaning at quite an angle.... I wonder how long it will last?

Matt has cleared some of the Hakea away and we will complete that this weekend.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Live Oak School Digs In

A super volunteer crew from Live Oak
Many thanks to Nick and Minerva, teachers from Live Oak, and John, volunteer extraordinaire, for leading the special Martin Luther King day of service for Live Oak at the gardens. The kids (17 of them!) and their adult mentors made a big difference at the garden, picking up trash and making a dent in the fluffy weeds that seem to be everywhere this time of year.

A huge thank you to Live Oak for supporting the gardens!

Way to go!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Plant profile: Peritoma arboria (Bladderpod)

Latin name: Peritoma arboria (pronounced "perry-TOE-ma are-BORE-ee-ah") (formerly Isomeris arborea, syn. Cleome isomeris)
Common name: Bladderpod, Burro Fat, Spider Flower
Originally from: California and the Baja California Peninsula
Blooms: Bright yellow and delicate, the shrub can often be covered in them.
Light: Full sun!
Water: Drought tolerant and very tough
Drainage: Excellent
Height x width: 5' x 5'
USDA Zones: 7-10
Where to find in P. Garden: Along the cactus wall at PG, and a couple of them live along PRG too.

Well this plant is a solid California native that does ever so well at PG and PRG. Despite the annoying number of Latin names it's endured,  good ol' bladderpod is what we call it.

Covered in unusual and delicate yellow flowers and dangly fruits that, when dry, rattle, the plant has a strange odor, when the leaves are crushed, from which the name "burro fat" comes. Resiny, musky, sort of sulfurous, dry and burnt smelling - you either love it or hate it. I like it, Matt hates it.

Found in the western Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert, all the way to Baja California Peninsula in the wild, ours are on the cactus wall (essentially fried) and along PRG (where the percolation rate of the dirt was impossible to gauge because even with a hose going full blast we could not fill the required 3'x3' hole up with water in order to test the rate it drained out. Um, drought tolerant much?

An evergreen shrub with glaucous (bluish green) leaves, it grows about 4-5' tall and wide and is great for really rocky, gravelly soil, hot, dry areas, alkaline soil, salty coastal bluffs and probably would do just as well planted on top of a burning subterranean coal fire at the end of the world when only this plant, a few yuccas, and some cockroaches remain. It hates overwatering, and is hated by deer. Give it a shot!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Reasons to be outside before a storm

Annie and Sarah ham it up
 for a quick photo
Big thank you to Sarah, Chris, Annie and Matt who all came out to the gardens today. We were able to get a lot of work done during a mostly dry, if a bit blustery break, before the storm. We've had such little actual rainy weather in the last fews years that I had forgotten how fun it is to be outdoors as a storm is coming in. 

Lots of extra energy in the air and a feeling of let's get this done now made for a fun and productive workday! Matt and Annie potted up a bunch of echiums for later planting in the dog area, and Sarah, Chris and I made a good dent in the fluffy weeds that are popping up everywhere. After getting a good workday in outdoors we can now justify finishing up those holiday cookies with hot cocoa, right? 

Friday, January 6, 2017

You're Invited: Quick Weekday Weed-A-Thon

Chris, volunteering during the week
and making a huge dent in the weeds!
It doesn't take long for a little hard work to turn into big rewards in a garden! Two hours later and weeds are piled high and the garden is on its way to looking good.

Chris and I are meeting up during the week to get some extra work done at the gardens, and could use an extra hand. If you're interested in volunteering during the week please send me a note so we can coordinate.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Changemaker Lecture & Visit

2nd Graders from Live Oak School
I had the privilege today of showing a gaggle of 2nd graders from Live Oak School around the gardens, and giving a lecture at their school. What a nice bunch of kiddos! Tons of great questions and they were very respectful, and fairly appreciative, of the gardens. We were able to corral them near the front entrance for a group photo - super cute!

As I was putting together my power point presentation for the 'at school' portion of the visit, I realized I had been giving this lecture since 2013. So much has happened at the gardens since then, including competing Pennsylvania Railroad Garden! Literally thousands of volunteer hours later (I keep track!) and the gardens are going strong. Many thanks to everyone who has lent a hand to Pennsylvania Street Gardens, and a Happy New Year!

Looking forward to seeing you all around this garden, and especially this Saturday January 7th at 10am for a workday. We are hoping the rain will come in later in the day, so 10am is a great time to get a little outdoor time in and make the gardens shine!
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