May 2, 2016

Walkway rebuild at the east end of the Panhandle

Work began last week on the paved walkway on the eastern edge of the Panhandle. As of Friday, Bauman Landscape, a go-to company for construction in San Francisco's parks, had removed the portion of the path that was previously asphalt. During the construction, car parking along Baker Street is suspended and a wall of bright orange barriers is in place so that people are able to walk in the street.

Midblock at the eastern edge of the Panhandle

A smaller portion near Fell is also excavated
The walkway along the eastern edge of the Panhandle has long had inconsistent design, part asphalt and part cement.
From the archives - prior to re-orientation of parking on Baker St
The area next to this path, between Baker Street and the McKinley Monument, has seen improvement, starting about seven years ago when the city planted an orderly, symmetrical arc of cherry trees and horse chestnuts. The parks department's tree crew and volunteers from Panhandle Park Stewards have put a considerable effort into helping those trees grow tall and strong.

From the archives: 2011 workday
2014 workday

Apr 21, 2016

Spring at the Panhandle rain garden

This picture was taken on a very rainy day just about two years ago. It's a great reminder of the beginnings of our rain garden, located in the Panhandle next to the children's playground. 

The garden has been hugely helped by the abundant seasonal rains this year. A large number of volunteers have also worked to keep weeds at bay - and they've been largely successful. While there are several kinds of weedy grasses in the garden, they are just a small portion on the vegetation, and they are outmatched by several species of native grass, including Nasella pulchra (Purple needlegrass)

Last fall, a native plant called Spreading Rush proved to be spreading too much, so we pulled the smaller sprouts and moved around the juvenile plants. Now, that area is more diverse with ferns, heucheras, tellimas, and a number of Heracleum giganteum (Cow parsnip) with their white flowers on tall stalks.

The red-stem dogwoods have grown quickly, and this spring after putting out leaves they are now beginning to display their small white flowers. Many species of birds visit the protective thicket.

The yarrow forms a solid border on the north side of the garden, and is setting up for a long bloom in late spring/early summer. 

Meanwhile on the opposite side, a more delicate plant called Potentilla gracilis (Graceful cinquefoil) is prolific. Its bright yellow flowers bloom in summer-fall. These three plants - the dogwood, yarrow, and cinquefoil - are some of the plants in the garden that, in the future, we may choose to cut back, in order to increase the diversity within the rain garden. Pruning back native plants takes effort, but it's a great situation for this project to be in.  

The willowherb - growing profusely on the side of the garden near the basketball courts - may call for slightly different measures. We have discussed the willowherb at workdays and have puzzled over whether to remove it. We did not plant it; even the exact species is elusive ... I guess it is Epilobium parviflorum or ciliatum or maybe it's native, maybe not. There will be a summer bloom of thousands of tiny bright purple-pink flowers. I leaned toward leaving them in place, preferring them to more intrusive grasses that wash into the garden with each rainfall. By mid summer, though, many of them may need to go. After blooming, their seeds quickly emerge, attached to long white fibers and hanging on to the tops of the plants a bit like spiderwebs..and then the whole plant dies. It might be a good idea to remove some of them this summer, both for appearance and to keep it from extending its reach around the garden.   

Mar 23, 2016

Workday report for March 2016

Saturday morning was the only time during the weekend that it didn't rain, so the Panhandle Community workday on March 12 was the perfect time to spend a couple of hours outside with friends experiencing early springtime.

Thank you, regular volunteers, for braving the weather to show up for some raking, weeding, and planting.

Guillermo took care of blowing the pathways after the storm to provide a safe place to walk and ride.

The yellow blooms on Coast Live Oak
Spring blooms: Fairchild's kohuhu

Magnolias in bloom
White flowering horse chestnut

Mar 9, 2016

Upcoming volunteer workday on Saturday, March 12

The next Panhandle Community workday is this Saturday: 

Panhandle Workday
Saturday, March 12
9 am - 12 noon
Meet at the bulletin board (near Oak @ Ashbury) 
Tools & gloves provided 

The event is "rain or shine." Heavy rain is forecast for Thursday into Friday, and then there's hope for clearing until late Saturday. We'll be out there with Rec and Park, unless conditions are not safe. 

We'll likely have some real clean-up to do, as a number of large branches have come down throughout the park (though no trees, to my knowledge). 
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