Pennsylvania Garden

That's Pennsylvania Street. Although it's just called Pennsylvania Garden. We're still in San Francisco.

This little bit of public land, rounded by a freeway exit at 18th Street and Pennsylvania, is featured in the current edition of Pacific Horticulture, which is how I found out about it. This is the Potrero Hill neighborhood; we rarely visit.


According to Pacific Horticulture, this was public land assigned to CalTrans (our state highway department) when guerrilla gardening began in 2008. Neighborhood interest quickly grew to the point that CalTrans updated the irrigation system and signed over some rights to San Francisco's Department of Public Works. The garden is maintained by volunteers and the water will be turned off in 2 years. Plants and labor came from all over via Craigslist. Bay View Green Waste delivered 30 yards of mulch to help improve the soil.


Shall we?



Love the recycled entry way.


All these plants will surely naturalize in San Francisco without supplemental water once they get established.













The land backs up to a drainage backed by an autobody shop and planted with succulents and cacti.



You know I'm generally not in to variegated foliage, but this Coprosma repens was lovely

Myoporum laetum?

backing up to a black phormium


threaded through with a limey green Helichrysum petiolare.




Very nice. Thank you Potrero Hill people!



Dirty Girl Gardening said...

Yep, gotta love potrero hill. If you are still in sf you should check out the residential gardens around Queen Anne Hotel... and in Seacrest.

Matti said...

It is one of those magical spots to seek out amongst the other neighbors of the neighborhood. Love your photo journal if this site. Matti

Christopher C. NC said...

I'll have to come back when my stupid satellite ISP is in a better mood, but I am liking the twig edging around the beds. I have twigs.

Ronnie said...

How inspiring! I'll have to take a stroll over soon. Thanks for illuminating this for us!

Tira said...

Many lovely plants, especially the agaves. It looks a a bit unplanned though, and when it grows out it might have an overgrown, jumbled look-as I have seen in another piece plot of guerrilla planted public land in SF.

chuck b. said...

You could be right about that Nicole. The paths are wide and the beds are very well-defined, but the the plants are distributed rather randomly and some were clearly planted too close together.

Julie said...

How lovely! I was really struck by the twig border as well. So sweet!!!

chuck b. said...

Although even an overgrown jumbled look may still be an improvement over nothing at all.

Brad said...

Wow. What a beautiful impromptu park. Hooray for guerrilla gardeners. Cool that they turned on the water for a little while to help it get established.

Noelle Johnson said...

This garden is not just beautiful, but educational as well. Hopefully people will be inspired to recreate gardens that can survive on natural rainfall as well :^)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Chuck, this is just what I needed to perk up a dour mood as it begins snowing here yet again. This garden spot is fabulous, and those metal entrances are serendipitous to say the least. The phormiums planted there remind me that I just planted a packet of seeds of them, what was I thinking!!!, if and when they germinate, I will send them to you, if that is okay. Phormium 'Rainbow Stripe', if you want them, if they even come up. Again, what was I thinking?

Commonweeder said...

What a fantastic post. I weep when I think of all the bittersweet invading our highway meridians and side plantings.

Jenn said...

Did you just post canna lilies and daffodils blooming/budding at the same time?

Serious garden envy.

Anonymous said...

an overgrown jumbled garden is great for birds and critters, and besides, i like the look.
thanks for sharing your visit.

Nicole said...

I almost never prune my plants and hate shorn shrubs-I much prefer plants to grow the way they were intended to. I just feel there is a need to add some element of design to this, in nature plants aren't distributed like this, and if what is desired is a naturalistic self sustaining garden I feel a little effort could go into that. I think just some thoughtful editing could turn that garden into a thing of real beauty. Also some further thought could go into complementing with plants for birds and bees.

Aubree Cherie said...

This is such a beautiful space! Although I have to admit I opened up the post because it said Pennsylvania (which is where I'm currently living).

I love your blog, I'll definitely be back!

~Aubree Cherie

Anonymous said...

Great use of materials -- the twigs bordering the beds and the recycled pipes for the entryway. I like the haphazard "non-design" of the plants, since I think it reflects how the garden came to be, evolving spontaneously, using donated materials, catch as catch can, in a group effort, not a single designer's vision. I'm sure over time that some plants will die, others will take over, some of the volunteers may edit as they go. It will continue to evolve on its own terms. I think its a great success story for a neglected piece of land. I had read the article in Pacific Horticulture and am so happy to see Chuck's photos. Would love to see it for myself, the next time I get up there.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

How cheerful and exuberant! I love the idea of putting so much effort into a space that you don't "own."