Nov 18, 2016

(cancelled) Next Workday: December 10

update 12/8: 
We've cancelled the workday due to the overwhelming rain forecast for Saturday morning.

Our next workday at the Panhandle Park is coming up:

Panhandle Park Community Workday
Meet near Oak @ Ashbury (next to the playground and restrooms)
Saturday, Dec 10 
9 am - 12 noon
All are welcome. Tools and gloves are provided. Wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers. 

Nov 13, 2016

November workday at the Panhandle

A super group of volunteers joined yesterday's workday at the Panhandle Park, joined by Liz (center in vest) a gardener newly-assigned to our sector of Golden Gate Park.

We took up the challenge of aggressively removing weeds and over-abundant native plants in the rain garden, in order to free up some space for a number of new plants and maximize the biodiversity there. 

With plants provided by the RPD nursery, we planted some additional primrose, cinquefoil, and currant into the garden, as well as one new species: sambucus racemosa. Looking forward to abundant rain, perhaps coming in the next few days, to give these plants a good long drink.  

Nov 3, 2016

Join us November 12 as we diversify the plants in the Panhandle Park

Our next community workday in the Panhandle is in a week and a half:

Panhandle Park Community Workday
Saturday, Nov 12
9 am - 12 noon
All are welcome. Tools and gloves are provided. Wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers. 

The rains have begun, and that means it's planting season! Our rain garden near the playground was planted in early 2013 with dozens of species native to California. It's time for updates to the garden so join us for the fun of planting new plants into the garden and move a few others around. We'll also have a variety of other tasks, like sweeping, raking and weeding.

a photo from 2013...

...and one from this fall

Oct 16, 2016

First rains of the season

The third rainfall in three days is soaking the park this morning. Before the rain started, I was out for a walk in the park and found that the storm had brought down a couple of big tree branches.
Next to the playground - thankfully doesn't seem to have done any damage

An even larger branch, also from a Monterey Cypress, near Shrader @ Oak
Meanwhile, I checked out the redwoods behind the McKinley Monument, which were pruned back earlier this month.

Seen from this angle, the pruning of the tall trees close to the monument looks pretty severe

The shorter redwoods located further back were also pruned but not as severely

Oct 10, 2016

October Workday at the Panhandle

At our workday Saturday, volunteers worked on an important project, the plantings on the mound next to the park restrooms. Adding another large group of blue-eyed grass from the park nursery helped make the planting on the mound fuller and more attractive.

Other projects for the morning were to remove a few weeds from the mound and from the nearby rain garden, while enjoying the terrific weather, chatting with friends, and checking out the progress on the capital improvement project that has started along the Panhandle's bike path.

Oct 3, 2016

MTA says that Fell and Oak streets can accomodate protected bikeways

Fell and Oak Street along the Panhandle can accommodate protected bikeways, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The memorandum by Ellen Robinson, an Associate Engineer with MTA, states that one-way, parking-protected bike lanes could be accommodated on Oak Street and/or Fell Street, which would involve removing one of the four travel lanes while maintaining the width of the existing lanes. Because the road feeds to/from segments with only three traffic lanes, reducing the travel lanes “would have relatively minor consequences in terms of travel delay and traffic operations.”

The cost of the project is increased by creating pedestrian refuge islands and relocating signal poles. With the design proposed, pedestrians traveling across Fell or Oak Street toward the park would get their walk signal and cross over to the refuge islands; then they would check for bikes and cross over to the park when clear. (Because cyclists riding in the protected bikeway would not stop at the signals, it would not be safe to leave the signals where they are, because they would give the pedestrians a walk symbol to cross the width of the entire street, including the bikeway.) Relocating traffic signals costs about $100,000 each. Thus, the low cost estimate for the project, including relocating the signals, is a total of $1,600,000.

The report describes a few concerning issues, such as the exact placement for the bikeway on Oak Street between Stanyan and Shrader (which has a narrow curb-to curb width, and no parking next to the park); and the high volume of left-turning cars from Oak onto northbound Masonic Avenue, which would require a decision between impacting traffic or reducing the quality of the bikeway. Keeping the bikeway next to the park, and replicate the traffic signal configuration at Fell/Masonic (where left-turning cars are held for an arrow), would result in “queues spilling back multiple blocks”; as an alternative, the design proposes to provide a “weave section” for cyclists to move to the right of drivers entering the left-turn pocket, which would mean that cyclists ride between lanes of moving cars for the block from Ashbury to Masonic. 

The report considered the potential for a two-way bicycle facility along Fell Street, with space from removing parking and a travel lane, but did not recommend it; disadvantages included the need to control the bikeway with traffic signals “to facilitate crossing of the protected bike lanes at the six minor streets 'T' intersections,” which reduces the efficiency and attractiveness of the bikeway.  

The MTA report includes this image from Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where a bikeway was installed between parking and a park and traffic signals were relocated

The report notes that the Panhandle multi-use path is a "high demand recreational and utilitarian transportation facility" with 500 bikes and 500 pedestrians per hour at peak times. The North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association reported the results of its survey on the issue, which found "a 72% positive opinion of reallocating one of the four traffic lanes as a parking protected bike lane."

Sep 30, 2016

October Workday is October 8

The next Panhandle Park community workday is coming up soon: 

Panhandle Park Community Workday
Saturday, October 8
9 am - 12 noon 
All are welcome! 
Meet at the bulletin board near the playground (Oak at Ashbury) 
Gloves and tools provided 

And it's looking to be a busy fall in the park. Construction for the Panhandle Pedestrian Safety Project starts Monday - see the Rec and Park page for Phase 2 description

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.   

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.

Feb 3, 2016

At our February Workday, crafty people will build a fence

Mark your calendars - a week from Saturday is the next Panhandle Community workday:

Panhandle Park workday
Saturday, February 13
9 am - 12 noon
Meet at the gardener's shed (near Oak @ Ashbury)
Gloves and tools provided. All ages welcome!

During the workday on February 13, there will be an option to take part in a special crafty project: to assemble and install a low fence around the rain garden next to the playground. The fence will be built from natural products - willow branches harvested from San Francisco parks. A fence like this will be attractive and durable. This project will require extra hands and patience. To help us plan for the project, please RSVP if you would like to be one of those involved in the project. That will help us plan for tools and materials.

Oh, to have a garden with weaving paths and succulent vegetables. A daily adventure through nature and the eternal hope of a glimpse of itty bitty flower fairies:

Headover to Pinterest and search Willow+wattle for an amazing array of ways to build these fences!

Jan 7, 2016

Get your raingear ready for Saturday's workday

The first community workday of the year is this Saturday. We'll be joined by special guests, students and families of San Francisco Day School.  

Panhandle Community Workday
Saturday, January 9
9 am - 12 noon
Meet by the bulletin board (near Oak @ Ashbury)
Gloves and tools are provided 

The workday is "Rain or Shine," so get your raingear ready! We cancel only due to hazardous conditions. A forecast calls for showers Friday night, tapering off early Saturday morning.