Aug 17, 2016

The August workday at the Panhandle

At our workday on Saturday, August 13, volunteers from the community joined Rec and Park staff to help out with ongoing projects: tending to our rain garden full of diverse California native plants (planted about three and a half years ago) and to the nearby mound covered in a patchwork of drought tolerant perennials, planted just within the past year. There was a lot of weeding, raking, sweeping, pruning and deadheading, resulting in a truck full of trimmings heading to the park's compost yard. 

Jul 10, 2016

Report from the July workday at the Panhandle

At yesterday's Panhandle workday, volunteers from the community turned out to work with Rec and Park staff to take care of the park's gardens, focusing on the area near the playground.

A few of yesterday's accomplishments -

  • Removing sand from the south pathway next to the playground 
  • Tending the rain garden by removing trash, raking leaves, and pulling weeds, and
  • Thoroughly removing weeds from the mound next to the restroom (planted this past winter, in part by volunteers in February and in part by city workers), and 
  • Most impressively: installing a sturdier, and more attractive rope fence around the planting on the mound. 
See the pictures below for more - 

On the mound, clipping expired blooms from yarrow can result in new growth 
Installing the sturdy new posts required a stake pounder and a lot of work
The new fence was strung at the end of the morning
Since planting at the beginning of 2016, the sticky monkey, coyote brush, and other plants have grown and bloomed. Volunteers have fertilized the plants and also keep on top of the weeds that inevitably sprout. 
A large portion of the yarrow in the rain garden looked black and blighted. Yesterday's solution: remove to the ground level, watch for new growth, and replant the area if necessary. This coast buckwheat will enjoy the space to grow. 
The community volunteer program at the Panhandle continues on the second Saturday of each month, from 9 am - 12 noon. 

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.