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 hirsutum...so 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). 
Inline image 1

Feb 19, 2016

February Workday report

So our willow fence project was a no-go last weekend at the Panhandle workday, because not all of the necessary materials were ready. And it appears that it won't be until next year that the fence project can be initiated.

Anyway, the crew of volunteers last Saturday ready was ready to help out with a few projects including raking in the playground and trimming shrubs. The largest number of volunteers was busy planting a large number of new plants into the mound, an area next to the restroom that has been converted from grass to native perennial shrubs.

We also took time to admire a bit of new construction: a low retaining wall built with heavy lumber to surround a small patch of tree ferns and other plants that welcome families to the main gate of the children's playground.