Thursday, May 10, 2012

Steep hillside installation Diamond Heights San Francisco

This steep hillside was dominated by cotoneaster, lorapetalum, salvias and agapanthus.   Before installation photos are center right, installation photos are center left.

Now it has a mosaic of Mediterranean plants, phormium, chondrapetalum, armeria, digitalis, douglas iris, feather grass, lavender, arctotis, ceonothus, fever few, cinneria, euphorbia, salvia, sage, carex, daffodils, thyme, gravelia, lobelia, mimulus, rosemary and ribes speciosum (fuchsia flowering goosebery) are the major contributors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Azara dentata / oka (oxalis tuberosa)

These are some potatos and Oka tubers (oxalis tuberosa) I harvested from my patio planters this month. I chopped and baked them with garlic and olive oil, delicious! The oka is crunchier but otherwise similar to potatos and remains a staple food for Andean peoples.

Azara is in the family Salicaceae, native to temperate to sub-tropical Chile. I believe the 4 trees I have in the community garden are Azara dentata.

They are large evergreen shrubs to small trees growing to 8 m tall. If left un-pruned the trees would have a vase shape, but I like to keep them open and not too tall. They are great trees for pruning. The leaves are alternate, but may look paired in some species, they are simple rounded and short 1-9 cm long and 0.5-5 cm broad. The flowers are small and look like yellow puff balls, reminds me superficially of acacia, they are very fragrant. The flowers has a 4-5-lobed calyx with no petals, but conspicuous long, brightly colored, stamens. It flowers in the San Francisco in late January through February. The fruit is a red to black berry 3-10 mm diameter and sparse.

Monday, February 7, 2011

On my visit to the SF Arboretum today I was able to find four California quail where I had found a pair last spring. These quail are almost locally extinct in San Francisco due to feral cat predation and degradation of suitable habitat. To my knowledge there are only 1-3 hens left in the entire city. I felt very fortunate to see this female with three males in tow. Hopefully they will hatch and raise many young birds this spring.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gardening with chickens

In 2009 I started gardening with a companion chicken named Cinnamon. I borrowed her from a good friend in Fairfield who identified her as not fitting in with the rest of the flock. I was unable to keep her over the summer but received a different Cochin this January. Elizabeth named her Sugar.

Sugar stays in a large rabbit cage when at at home and travels in a cat carrier in my car to my gardening jobs. I like gardening with cochin chickens because they are quiet and calm birds with determined yet friendly dispositions.

She love to eat weeds and gets the occasional worm for her efforts. The forage she gets from a days work helps to enrich her lovely brown eggs. In my family we view Sugar as a pet and treat her as kindly as our family dogs.

Having Sugar work with me helps to encourage my colleagues and clients to consider keeping chickens and fosters a better understanding of perma culture and the need to treat farm animals humanely.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Salvia conferiflora (red-velvet salvia)

A native from Brazil that will reach 4-6 feet in height and width in one season. It has large dark green leaves, with a yellow undertone, with serrated edges, and with velvety red-brown hairs on the petiole and stem of the new leaves.

Flower inflorescences reach up to 2 feet long and are covered with velvety red-brown

hairs, with the stems of the inflorescence and the calyx also having a red-brown color. The .5 inch flowers are orange-red, and very profuse, explaining the epithet confertiflora, or "crowded with flowers". The plant grows so large that it needs staking and protection from wind in gardens.

Hummingbirds love it and it blooms year around in San Francisco.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pink flowering currant, ribes sanguineum v. glutinosum "Claremont"
This is a california native that has beautiful spring flowers, maturing in to purple/bluish berries with a silvery sheen.

Humming birds and native bees love the flowers and the berries attract grossbeaks, thrushes, waxwings and other birds.

This shrubby small tree has multiple trunks and does not get too large 10-15 feet at most. Making it a great addition to any garden.