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Gardens

We've gone tree Aloe mad

Aloe sp.

At the last volunteer workday, Josh planted a tree Aloe in the brights bed. And last weekend, Matt and I planted more tree Aloes, bringing PG’s total up to five – almost. Kinda.

We have had one tree aloe for many years. Our Aloe ferox, was planted in 2009 and it’s now an impressive specimen in the cactus wall bed, although like all of them it’ll be another decade before it attains actual tree status. It flowers every year and puts on quite a show. You can read about it in the Plant Profile, here.

A. thraskii

The one Josh planted was a donation from Mat at Farallon Gardens. This big Aloe thraskii took a bit of a beating in transit sadly, but I expct it will go bananas soon. It will eventually hit 10′ tall, and they remain an unbranched columnar plant, instead of a wide branching tree – like Aloe ferox.

We used to have an Aloe “Goliath” at the garden, but had to move it twice as it wasn’t thriving – the last time, to a pot where it recovered very nicely at home.

A. “Goliath”

Now that we have a bit of water access, the time is right to replant it at PG and it’s in the left bed now.

This cross of the large South African tree aloe, Aloe barberae (aka A. bainesii), and Aloe vaombe from Madagascar usually grows really quickly to about 10′ tall, but they also tend to have spindly trunks and fall over. We will stake this one up safely.

John gave us a Craigslist rescue Aloe a while back too. Now that it’s grown lots of roots we put it in at the garden last weekend. The species is unknown though – it could be another ferox? But it certainly has a trunk so we shall see what it does. It’s in the middle back bed.

The last big guy hasn’t been planted yet. We have a 15 gallon Aloe barberae (aka A. bainesii) at home, and will plant it in the garden soon. This will be a massive tree in a couple decades, up to 30′ tall with loads of branches. It has salmon-pink flowers too – hope I get to see them one day!

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Gardens

The tree aloe madness continues

loidendron barberae

Matt and I got around to planting another tree aloe last weekend. This time we got a big 15 gallon Aloidendron barberae (formerly known as Aloe barberae or Aloe bainesii before it got reclassified recently) into the ground in the left bed, near the entrance to the garden.

This aloe will grow to be a serious tree – with branches, up to 60 feet high and 36 inches in stem diameter. Eventually. I’m just hoping to keep it alive until it gets established, and will do my best to stop the cardoon from flattening it…

Aloe ferox

I also noticed that our Aloe ferox is starting to flower and has an actual trunk under there. Yup, it’s also 10 years old (happy birthday!) and looking really good. One of my favorite plants in the garden.

We watered the new plants in and did some weeding, and called it a day. 

Don’t forget to come to the volunteer day on Saturday!

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Gardens

BRCs get beautified

Suzanne, Will and Bill

Sarah, Amanda, Josh, Chris, Matt, Gina, Janice, Bill, Will, and Suzanne – these are ten local (and visiting!) heroes who joined me at Pennsylvania Railroad Garden in the gorgeous November sun.

It was a real family affair!  Bill and Suzanne brought their son Will and dove in like experienced gardeners. Gina brought her mum Janice and well – they too know what they’re doing! It’s geat to see families working side by side like this – especially when they came to sort out our BRCs.

JOSH!!!

BRCs? Those are the bio-retention cells. Those four parking spot-sized bulb outs that catch storm water in the winter and divert it back to the water table.

The BRCs are full of extremely well-draining dirt which we added, and plants that love that type of lifestyle. So much, in fact, that they have enthusiastically overgrown the BRCs.

Janice and Gina

In case you’re looking for planting ideas for your own garden or street park project, the species we used that are total rockstars in this location (full sun, no water except rain, fast draining dirt) are Phlomis fruticosa, Salvia leucantha, Agave weberi “Arizona Star”, Agave americana variegata, Santolina chamaecyparissus, Cortaderia “Silver Comet” and Calandrinia spectabilis.

Sarah

And yes, each of those names are links to a Plant Profile I’ve written about each species so you know how to grow them. Read more Plant Profiles here.

The BRCs got completely weeded, cut back and trash picked in just two hours – thank you for making a big difference team! Your work is noticed and appreciated by everyone in the neighborhood!

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Gardens

Saw it, wanted it, got it, needed a nap

Wrapped and ready to dig up

Browsing craigslist the other night I saw someone offering up a 7′ wide Dasylirion longissimum free to anyone who would dig it up.

Actually, the ad described it as a “large yucca succulent like thing” but I knew right away it was one of my favorite plants – the Mexican Grass Tree – a species of flowering plant native to the Chihuahuan Desert and other xeric habitats in Northeastern Mexico.

I emailed the owner and he replied right away saying he’d love for lots of people to enjoy it at PG, so we arranged to head down to San Carlos today at 9am to dig it up. I was pretty sure he’d overestimated the size of the plant, as most people do, but brought along lots of tools and of course Matt to help.

Digging bar bouncy action

The owner and his wife watched as we wrapped the plant in plastic and started digging… and digging… they kindly brought us some water, and no doubt congratulated themselves on not having to DIY this task.

Eventually we had a moat dug through the rock hard clay dirt around the plant, and it was time to start using the 25# digging bar to pry the darn thing out of the earth. It did not want to come.

Three punishing hours later, it was out of the ground, wrapped in a tarp, and we had to get it down a dozen stairs and a log driveway and up into the truck. Less fun than it sounds – in other words, negative fun.

Body bag?

At last we got it in the car and drove home with the back door tied shut with a rope because the plant is too big to close it. It’s literally 7′ wide and a couple hundred pounds and we are both utterly shattered. Too tired, in fact to get it out of the car, so it’s just gonna stay there.

Tomorrow John and Josh have agreed to help us plant it at 10am, so if you’re around and want to help, PLEASE DO!

Thank you everyone who makes donation to the gardens – be it plants, time, or actual cash money: we are all making Potrero Hill a better place to be.

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Gardens

Dasy planted!

Digging another hole…

Matt and I woke up quite sore and stiff from the previous day of digging, but we knew we had to get that Dasylirion in the ground. And out of our truck, whose rear door wouldn’t shut.

Happily, both John and Josh volunteered to help us, so we met them at the garden at 10am and got to work…

A suitable location was found at the top of the garden, a good 8″ of wood chips removed, and a hole dug.

Dragging the giant plant…

The guys dragged the plant out of our truck, and hauled it up to the top of the garden on a tarp. I stood by and admired their efforts, smugly, while not sweating.

Then we filled the hole with water so the bone dry earth would not hurt the roots of the plant. After that, the plant was positioned in the hole and the hole back filled when the plant was upright. There was a bit of adjusting, but we got it straightened up.

Result!

I trimmed off the lower leaves that got damaged in transit, then watered it in thoroughly. After that, we all admired our gorgeous new giant koosh ball aka Dasylirion longissimum.

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Gardens

Plant Profile: Dasylirion longissimum

Latin name: Dasylirion longissimum (“daz-ee-LEER-ee-on lon-JISS-ee-mum”)
Common name: Mexican Grass Tree, Longleaf Sotol
Originally from: The Chihuahuan desert of northeastern Mexico
Blooms: A light yellow stalk of flowers grows 8-10′ above the plant in summer.
Light: Full sun.
Water: No watering, just rain – don’t let them get soggy or they will rot!
Height x width: 6-12′ tall x 6-8′ wide
Zones: 8b to 10b
Where to find in P. Garden: We have one up at the top of PG, and a clump of three small ones at PRG

You may have noticed our big new plant at the top of PG recently, and I blogged about how we got it from Craigslist and planted it too, which was a huge job. Why all the fuss? Well, for one it was hard work for the team and that deserves a mention, but it was worth it because this plant is unusual, and usually very expensive to get in a large size.

Long included in the Agave family (Agavaceae) this genus is now considered to be in the Nolinaceae family with Nolina and Beaucarnea. We have another in the same genus – D. wheeleri – in the garden too.

The name for the genus Dasylirion comes from the Greek words ‘dasys’, which means “dense” , “rough” or “shaggy” and ‘lirion’ meaning “lily” because of the long, rough leaves. However, D. longissimum doesn’t have rough leaves. They’re amazing – blue-green in color, 4-6′ long, fairly stiff but not rigid, and smooth, with a point at the end. They radiate out from the core symmetrically, and the effect is like a giant koosh ball or a fiber optic lamp.

Show off that trunk!

Eventually (over decades) the plant will grow a woody trunk and the whole thing can get to 12′ tall. In order to show off the trunk (and make it look longer) older, bottom leaves can be trimmed off to expose the trunk. Lots of ones for sale are trimmed so hard that no leaves are left on with an angle of less than about 60 degrees. It looks pretty unnatural but the plant appears older so probably commands more money.

The name for this plant in reference books has gone back and forth between Dasylirion longissimum and D. quadrangulatum. The reference books say D. longissimum is right, but other sources say it should be D. quadrangulatum. Either way, the name is as long as the leaves on this amazing plant!

We have a Dasylirion longissimum at PRG too, but this one was a much smaller plant when it arrived. Then it suffered damage by being crushed by someone, and I thought it would die. Nope, it grew back with multiple heads. It looks very scruffy, but perhaps one day it will recover fully and be as outstanding as the one at PG.

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Home tips

A Guide To Home Improvement Happiness

Nothing can compare to the feel of home that you have made your own. Because your home takes up so much of your time, the way you feel in your home affects the way you feel outside of your home. Your home should be something you enjoy, especially if you work from home. Try to find some nice DIY projects.

It’s important to make your home into a comfy haven. Look for imperfections that you can fix and do something about them. This can be done by taking care of the little issues in your home; fixing them will add to the pride you feel in your residence. You should give your own comfort serious consideration. It could be something as simple as replacing uncomfortable furniture, or having shelving moved to within reach.

Look into expanding the home space you already have. You will have a hard time trying to change things around if you have a lack of space. An expansion could be a solution to this dilemma. Adding just a little space can make a huge difference, making your room feel much more comfortable.

Add some fun, inviting additions. Some great recreational additions are swimming pools, hot tubs, and basketball hoops.

Investing in lighting solutions that are both functional and beautiful can up the enjoyment level of your home in spades. A great way to update the feel and look of your home is to change out your existing lights with more modern lighting fixtures. It is quite possible that this is something that you could do yourself, quickly and easily.

Do some green work around the yard, and make an organic garden. If you turn part of your yard into a garden, it can give you an incentive to stay at home. Consider hiring a gardener if you don’t have the time or skills to care for your garden. You can still enjoy its relaxing properties. Having a garden to tend to can make your mood better. You can grow your own fresh vegetables or flowers if you know how to do it.

Make the outside of your residence look different. Adding a new roof or even new windows can really help. Once you update the exterior of your home, you will be proud of what you have accomplished.

Having a beautiful home will help keep you happy, as most people do not realize how much time they spend there. So, home improvements aren’t only a good financial investment. They can also be a fantastic way to enhance your mood and well-being.

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Home tips

Improve Your Home The Most Effective Way

Most of your life is spent in your house or at work. This means that how you feel about your home directly impacts the way you feel every day. Having a comfy and safe home gives you a real haven in which to rest, prior to dealing with the world in general. This article will present you with many ways to create a relaxing home.

Don’t forget about the comfort aspect when you are going to improve your home. Every house has something that needs to fixed up, but flaws that take away the comfort from your home can adversely affect your enjoyment while there. Comfort is often thought to be less important than aesthetics, but quality of life is a key to happiness. Therefore the value of comfort should always be a primary consideration. Simply replacing a chair with one that is more comfy or lowering shelves that are too high for you to reach with ease, can make your life more pleasant, not to mention that it can reduce backaches. You may be surprised at the difference even a minor change can make.

Consider enlarging existing spaces in your home. Trying to reorganize is futile if you have too little space to begin with. This is easily solved by making an addition to the area. Simply expanding your living area by a few feet will help make your room feel more spacious and reduce any clutter.

By including more recreation areas in your house, you can increase its value quite a bit. These areas do not have to be excessive in terms of budget cost and can be added as afforded. A craft room or an outdoor play area for the kids could be considered, as well as a new barbecue deck, a swimming pool or a spa. The addition of these things will further assist in your enjoyment of time at home with the family.

The lighting in your home needs consideration. It may need changing. Different kinds of lights can be more simple to use and can make your home seem more bright. You may find that new lighting will even add a warmer atmosphere and richer colors to your home. Also, if you are “handy,” you may even find that you can install new lighting fixtures yourself.

Try planting some beautiful greenery. Change an area or the whole yard to have a beautiful garden. Whether you do the work or hire a professional landscaper to care for your plants, you can still enjoy the stress-relieving properties of the lush paradise surrounding your home. You can grow your own fresh foods, herbs and flowers and improve the air quality around your home too.

Change the outside of your house. Add a lick of paint and a new roof to brighten up your home’s exterior. You will be proud to drive up to a home that looks as good on the outside as it does on the inside.

Because you spend so much time in your home, having a residence you truly love can help keep your general satisfaction levels high. This means that home improvement projects that make you happy are a smart investment not just financially, but also emotionally.

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Home tips

Create Your Dream Home With These Simple Home Improvement Ideas

Most of your time is spent at home, so of course you want to make sure it’s well lit and meets all your needs, whether it be for work or play. Make your home into a paradise and you will be able to take on all the stress in the world. It gives you a personal sanctuary. This article will give you many tips for making your home your haven.

It’s important to consider how comfortable you are in your home. Although people can put up with minor imperfections, the most significant problems are ones that irritate us most. You may well consider home comfort a materialistic concern, but it’s important not to ignore these issues. You can easily update the furniture in your home. If the shelving in your home cannot be reached without a struggle, lower it to a level that is easily accessible. The change can even be as simple as switching a square coffee table with a circular table to avoid banging your knees on the corners.

Add to the area that you already have. Being confined in the living area will prevent you from adequately rearranging the space. Solve this with an expansion. Even if you only expand your room a few feet, it can really open up possibilities with your room.

Add for areas in your home where you can relax and have fun. While pools and hot tubs are seen as natural additions to your home for enjoyment purposes, you might want to consider adding things like basketball hoops or even an exercise room to enhance the enjoyment of your home. Even better, these additions can be improve the selling price of your residence.

Have you thought about the lighting in your home? By bringing light into a formerly dark corner of your home, you will brighten the space as well as make the room look more spacious and welcoming. One of the quickest and most inexpensive ways to improve your lighting is to switch out old bulbs with new ones. If you can handle a more difficult task, you can enhance the light fixtures themselves, which will make your home look new and fresh.

Surrounding your home with greenery can improve your attitude and overall level of happiness. Your yard can be your only personal getaway spot. A landscaper or gardener can design your oasis for you if you feel you do not have the proper skills. Try using house plants throughout the home to add a more relaxed feel and help with the air quality inside the home. You can lift your spirits by growing your own garden.

Look for ways to spruce up the outside of your home. A couple of small changes, like repainting or replacing an old roof, can make a big difference in refreshing the appearance of your home. You’ll enjoy just standing back and admiring your home when you are satisfied with its exterior appearance.

Home improvement projects can have a tremendously positive effect on your mood and the quality of your life by making all the time you spend within your home more pleasant. No matter how your decide to improve your home, your project will work to increase the value of the home and to improve your quality of life.

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Home tips

Making Your Life And Home Sparkle

Your happiness (or lack thereof) in your home can color the way you look at the rest of the world. All of us spend a good deal of time in our homes and people who work from home know better than the rest of us the impact your home environment can have on your life. If you turn your home into a dream space, you will feel much more relaxed. Below, please find some great tips to make your home a place you love even more.

Comfort should play a major part in your home improvements. While everyone has some imperfection in their home, when that imperfection causes discomfort, it can lower your enjoyment of life. In order for your home to have the largest value it can, it needs to be comfortable. Small improvements such as putting things within easier reach and replacing uncomfortable furniture improves your quality of life, as well as your comfort level. So, do not overlook small improvements that can make a big difference.

If there’s not enough space in a certain room, consider how you can make it more spacious. Organization can do wonders for a room, but it isn’t magic. Even a small expansion can completely transform the atmosphere of a room and make it a much more habitable space.

Be sure to make your house an enjoyable and fun place to be. The time you spend at home can be made much more enjoyable when you add recreational amenities, such as hot tubs or a swimming pool. However, the choices can be less expensive in nature, such as a home gym or a basketball hoop attached to a garage.

Your room will look and feel much different as a result of good lighting. If you illuminate every corner of the room, it could serve as a more effective workplace and also reduce strain on your eyes. Choosing new lamps or light bulbs with different watt totals can add a new look to your home. You can make these improvements by yourself, or you can hire a professional to help you.

Adding some green space to your home can liven things up. You can put your personal attention towards a tiny garden area or employ a professional to update your entire backyard! This will garner a great area for relaxation and comfort in which to pursue a hobby or visit with family or friends in an airy and healthy environment. Try planting a small herb or vegetable garden, and enjoy the benefits of growing your own produce, or grow your favorite flowers to fill your home with bouquets.

You should also consider home improvement projects that focus on the exterior of your house. Many simple projects, such as a fresh coat of paint, can add a great amount of value to your home as well, and make it look great. Not only will your home appear more inviting, it will also create a welcoming atmosphere for guests.

We spend a huge amount of time in our homes. You can really increase the value of your home by doing home improvements and also improve your mood at the same time.

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