Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring 2010

Beds newly planted last summer are really coming into their own. Here I transplanted several Cana Lily corms from the western and southern planters after thay languished and never bloomed. Here in the northern planter they are multiplying.
This past weekend we finally removed the Jasmin 'humilis' or Italian Jasmine after it could not be kept under control. The process dulled a chain saw blade and broke a spade. I replaced it with an orange clock vine (Thunbergia gregorii).
After pulling out grasses from the bed to the west of these cana's, I transplanted the red cestrum from the south planter and also the monkey's paw that wasn't getting enough sun. We'll see if these can take in a sunnier spot, or need to be dumped. All the Abutilon I've moved into the ground are flourishing now. But the most spectacular is the Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' which just won't quit.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cold, Cold June

Our terribly cold spring has finally warmed up, but the results are long, slow blooms and miserable tomatoes, eggplant and cucumbers. The northern wall might someday recover, or be tranformed into a vertical garden.

The fortnight flowers have finally succumbed, and after three weeks of wrestling the corms out of the ground, they are no longer a part of the garden. In their place I have just transplanted six previously failed-to-bloom cana lily rhizomes as well as a wind-blown tomato from the upstairs deck. Sun may still be an issue, but hopefully we will see some blooms against the white-washed wall by the end of summer.

The white cherry tomato is blooming, but won't set fruit. Lissa and Hiro are having the same problem. They think it is the lack of bees.

Aeoneum are taking over both the front planter, and the rear garden--so easy to grow, it might be time to stop transplanting broken-off limbs...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

On Growing Children II

School budgets and the future of the world as we know it: How lack of funding for education is dooming the future of our society, and why it may be related to predjudices against what is percieved as women and women's work.

Clarendon Elementary School PTA raises $400,000 a year to benefit their K-8 programs. Alvarado ES PTA raises $140,000. Monroe ES PTA raises $50,000. Daniel Webster ES doesn't have a PTA, but it might get one this year, but by the time the PTA is formed and on its feet, will have little time left to raise any funds.

Friends of Potrero Hill Preschool parents raise $20,000 a year in a school auction.

How many hours of volunteer time does it take to raise this kind of money? This is not for 'extras' this money is for the basics. From the tours I have attended, I have learned that these schools spend their money on the following:
1. lowering class sizes in the upper grades, which are legally allowed a 30-1 ratio, but are reduced closer to the kindergarten ratio of 20-1.

2. Enrichment educators to teach children while giving classroom teachers one period a week for planning and meeting with other teachers.

3. Classroom supplies

4. Enrichment programs like dance, sports4kids (PE-like games), art, music.

5. Tutoring

6. Afterschool enrichment programs

7. Healthy snacks

How I see it is that we have come to a place in our society where we are expecting parents (but mostly women) to spend their "free time" asking for their community for money to pay for the basics elements of their children's education. Because the PTA's of this city have so easily acquiesced, and gone out and essentially BEGGED merchants, businesses, family and other parents to pony up hundreds of dollars to augment the measily amount California allots to each child (we are currently 38th lowest in the nation for $/child spent on education), the state has said, if they can raise the money, why should we get more?

What is wrong with this picture? First of all, it is mostly women doing the begging, organizing and PTA labor. Just as it is usually women who do the work of two people in an office, while they cannot figure out why they can't hire someone to assist them. Why would the government pony up more money, when the women are out their raising it from the community for them? The precedent has been set.

Is educating children women's work? I know two families personally who appeared to be equal partners in raising their children until the question of schools came up, and in both cases the men just shrugged and said 'what's the big deal'? or 'You decide, I can't bothered'. It is this attitude that led me to wonder if the underlying reason education is not funded is that it is essentially not valued, and as most educators are women (like a mother's or caregiver's role at home during the first 3 years, teacher's work too is not valued, nor renumerated based on the true impact of a successful education or the cost of a failed education).

The line often proffered from non-funders for education in California is that we spend 40% of our state budget on education, and that is too much. Then why are we 38th lowest spender and why are our schools failing? What is the single difference in our schools between now and before Prop 13 lead to the financial starvation and steady decline of our schools, where middle-class parents are pitted against socio-economically disadvantaged children because they are both fighting for the same very small amount of funding for BASIC educational programs. Why are our school building in a state of decrepitude that would make anyone wonder where a societiy's priorities lie. And children do notice. They don't need a room filled with fancy computers, but they do need rooms without rotting floors, and bathrooms that don't reek of urine from rotted-out floor boards.

Just as shocking as having the police tell you that they really can't do much when your car is stolen as they have much bigger issues to deal with, and you do live in the city...this attitude is just not acceptible anymore. We have become so psychologically deformed by accepting what is unacceptible as a society, a community, and as parents. It is time to rise up and say WE AREN'T going to BEG anymore. Our children are our future, and we need to start planning for the future.

The government has no problem bailing out our failing banks, our failing auto industry, and mortagaging the next 100 years for a war we started. It is time to bail out our future and spend the money needed to fix our schools and our educational system so we can have a future worth looking forward to. This is not asking too much. It is what our society has to have to move forward and survive.

Backup of Blog Topics

As usual, I am behind. Not on thoughts, but on recording them. I don't know how some people keep their blogs updated, but I'm going to try here to do a "topic dump" once again so perhaps I can address each in the coming weeks, once the election is over, and now that the rains have set in (hence the fresly washed garden shown here to the right...)
I. On Growing Children II
1. School budgets and the future of the world as we know it: How lack of funding for education is dooming the future of our society, and why it may be related to predjudices against what is percieved as women and women's work.
2. Why it is that closing the acheivement gap has nothing to do with our schools, but is current efforts to do so are sucking our schools dry of desperately needed resources.
II. Vertical gardening, is it feasible, is it plausible, and can you grow food this way?
III. How a shrinking world population could be the best thing that ever happened to a little town in Germany.
IV. Why blogging may be the next best thing to having your own personal cultural attache
V. Plastic, which are dangerous, and which are okay, so I can remember
VI: Oliver Sachs and the religion of nature and how the study and knowledge of science can give life context and meaning
VII. Does having a 5-year plan destroy any hope of being present in the here and now?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Taste3 Copia 2008

Free association based on speakers and their topics at this three-day food, wine, art and more conference in the Napa Valley. Featured here with some art i like my munkasi.

Patricia Allen says double digging, I think John Jeavons; she says biodynamic, I think Rudolph Steiner, well he's dead, so maybe David Kinch of Manresa or John Petersen of Angelic Organics, also known as Farmer John, in "The Real Dirt on Farmer John"

Dickson Despomier and vertical farming, I say Patrick Blanc and vertical gardening.

TB continued...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Late Spring still feels like Winter

Despite the warming that has gripped the Northeast, it seems to remain unseasonably cold and windy here in the Bay area. Even though its June 1st, we still are just barely breaking 60 degrees, and the wind is something fierce. The garden seems a bit stunted as a result It's either the cold or soil depletion, despite my attempts at ammending the soil organically with blood meal and a compost top dressing. This Clivia Miniata notwithstanding, it lasted forever in the shady cold against the south wall.

Further down are two images of the north wall. The Italian Jasmine (j. humilis) came down crashing through the redwood trellis, it's weighty branches snapping through finally after years of climbing with only minimum pruning.
We installed new trellis, and pruned the jasmine back, but are now wondering if the whole thing, roots and all, needs to go. A true garden quandry I have not yet resolved. On the one hand, the Jasmine grows like a weed, so it will fill the trellis quickly, but it shades all that is below and behind it, changing the climate of this bed completely. In fact the plants that were the understory here, helleborus, another Clivia and a Heuchera hybrid, I've moved to below the Antarctic fern on the East wall to protect from the sun (after first pulling out a giant red-flowered Abutilon 'nabob').

Here is the Clematis I've planted. I liked the dark red leaves and dark pink flowers. It seems to be thriving, though has a lot of die back that I think might be due to transplant shock. To the east of the Jasmine h. stump, I've crammed in a espaliered Meyer lemon. It looks pretty bad, and I have yet to sort out the composition.

I have also finally decided to remove the white jasmine in the west corner because despite the lovely fragrance when in bloom, most of the time the plant just looks like a bad hair day. Removing it will completely denude the entire trellissed North wall, at which point I may have a better idea about what to do--tabla rasa and all that.

Other troubles that plague me are the lack of citrus on my lemon and orange trees, both seen here with the orange on the left. Sometimes I think I should haul the blood orange out, but it is such a lovely tree, despite being soley decorative, that I don't have the guts yet to do it.
Despite all of my indecision and other various garden woes, I still get endless pleasure from the assortment of plants in the planter that seem to thrive despite the general neglect the receive. I think we got the dimensions just right and the depth has provided the roots of these plants, despite being very crowded and probably overplanted, with enough room to grow and thrive. I did pull out a Kangaroo paw that was hiding, not blooming, behind a euphorbia. Transplanted to under the cut jasmine, but it got fried in the 3-day heat wave we had in the middle of May.

Other new plants include two tomatoes in pots with cages, which is a first. All of these photos were taken on May 5th.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Autumn Colors

I just have to note that despite the often too consitent look of my garden, there are changes afoot worth noting. Of course I don't get an autumn like those of my youth back East, but here are three notable plants with painted folliage worth viewing that mark the change of seasons to a degree.

Of course the endless string of 70 degree days makes you sometimes forget that it is mid-November, but the raking and deep afternoon shadows quickly remind us that the days are really very short and there isn't much sun reaching down into my magic garden this time of year.

Another note, the neighbors 'peppermint tree' a type of Eucalyptus, has grown another 3 feet over the past few months and now provides a nice screen between the gardens, and more privacy for both families. It's shocking how fast it's grown. It's also a treat to watch it dance in the wind. The branches sway back and forth in the breeze like arms.

I love it now. Let's hope it doesn't get too dense in the future and cast a hard shadow where now it is soft and dappled.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Autumn (headaches) in the garden

Well, at least there is some good news, this Ricinusor Castor Bean plant is just thriving. The Cana I inadvertantly co-planted next to it is also doing well, though did not flower this year.

On a more interesting but not so happy note, the entire North bed has literally become a hot bed of infestation. I've lost 3 Helleborus to a combination of aphids and sooty mildew fungus. Then I noticed that the Euphorbia myrsinites I'd transplanted from the front bed was languishing. When I pulled it out, completely fed up, I realized it was covered in scale. AHHHH.

This is the first scale I've had in the garden since I had a potted tangerine tree years ago. I've never seen it in the beds before. This is next to the massive aphids, sooty mold, and a struggling Altissimo rose that has some major die back. Then while pruning another Euphorbia in the north west corner, I was suddenly covered in ants. Not a good sign. Time for some boric acid and molasses, chili powder and layer of freshly harvested vermiculite from the worm farm.