Everyday sights in Bernal Heights

Today's trip begins on the public land below the community garden on Bernal Heights Blvd. There is a lock on the gate to the community garden now! I remember when I arrived at my plot there one morning and found a plant missing and made a big stink about people stealing plants on my blog. One of you calmly told me it was most likely a squirrel. Duh!

Anyway, there is a rather large, unkempt succulent guerilla garden on this land. Garden is putting it loosely. A former garden. It has largely reverted to weeds, but the succulents are still there, living off rainwater alone (I assume). I have been tempted to take a piece of this variegated aeonium for many years.


Looks like I caught the tail end of an Agave attenuata bloom. Can you start new plants from the expired flowers, I wonder?


I guess those folks had a front-row seats.


Agave attenuata is a workhorse you see everywhere in southern California. But they are a treat for us. In general they do not grow as happily up here.


Agave americana is our workhorse agave. We had one in our front yard when I was a kid. (We have now moved south to another garden that may or may not be on public land.


A. vilmoriniana is a more recent arrival to our horticulture. The variegated form is rare, and expensive I imagine.


I don't remember seeing this small planting next to someone's garage before. Does it look familiar to you?


The pale Euphorbia is nice in front of the gray wall. Euphorbia ammak, a source tells me. From Yemen.


These pictures are all out of order now. It's so nice to get out and go for a walk. I only have one class spring quarter (and a big qualifying exam to study for), so I hope I can get out more. Rosemary is flowering now.


Echium fastuosum is just getting started in South Bernal Heights.



Pink-headed knotweed (Persicaria capitata), love it or hate it? It's invasive in the urban landscape, growing in any crack in the sidewalk.




I love that we still have dirt roads around here. Alabama Dead End. It's like a Lucinda Williams album cover.


What big citrus is this, and why is it growing in San Francisco?


Alyogyne huegelii. There are one or two pictures of this plant on my blog, but according to my SiteMeter stats more people seem to come here looking for it than any thing else. The Internets are funny, huh?


I ended up in a part of Bernal Heights this blog has never visited before. Lots of other blogs come down here a lot, so I don't have to.


But since I am here today, here we are.


Precita Park. In all the years I have lived in San Francisco (on and off since 1989) and in Bernal Heights particularly (continuously since 2003), I have never been here before. But I drive by a few times a month. This is sooo north side. I am very south side. We can be friends, but we can't be best friends.

Precita Park

Well, it's a dog park, and I don't have a dog.


More fun nearby...


All the schools in San Francisco have these hippy-dippy multi-culti murals. These are the kinds of things adults who make decisions wish they'd had for themselves when they were in school. Do the kids care? Sure they do.



I can tell you I would have been verrry jaded about this kind of stuff even as a very young teenager.


Back to plants.


California poppy. Just add sun. This is the iconic true orange form from the central valley and mountains. I am partial to the coastal form with the yellow-orange petals and orange throat. But it's all good.


More succulents. This time in front of a north-facing wall on a shady street. Is there anywhere they won't grow?


Intergraded with Asparagus densiflora, a fine, leafy companion for all succulents, imo.


We've bottomed out on Mission Street. El Rio is a popular old bar with a big backyard.


I know hipsters were buying Dickies and trucker hats at Arik's at least as far back as the 1980s. There was a different kind of hipster back then.



I have not eaten at Los Panchos, or visited the bar on the right although I've heard nice things about it.


We eat at Blue Plate once or twice a year. It's good. We'd go there more, but we have places closer to us in our own neighborhood.


I've been to the 3300 Club once or twice. It has an older crowd, but it's always been a friendly place.


I love the building above it. San Francisco has a finite number of these beauties and everytime we lose one in a fire a little piece of my soul dies with it.


Back in the neighborhood, on a stretch of Coleridge I have never walked before, I came across this delightful front yard.





What an inspiration this is for making a big impact in a small space. I have a planter like this and went big with the spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) and a ground cover of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana). It's nice, I like it, but this is fabulous. I had to back up to capture the whole thing for you.


So, they have all this color and over on the other side--ignore the Pieris--we have a palette in black, white and silver!


I love this! Who are you? I want to see the backyard. Invite me over.

Next to it all, a lovely kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium)...


covered in fragrant, dark purple flowers!


That's it. I'm going home to rip out my whole garden. Starting over!

That black, white and silver plant palette is hard to pull off. I've tried. I don't think you can even do it in full sun. Dappled light is best. Garden envy!

Now I'm stuck trying to end this blog post.

Here's a blue motorcycle!


Here's someone's big blue boat!


The last interesting thing I saw today was this topiary. And I had to trespass a little bit to take the picture. Please forgive me, homeowner. I love what you've done here.



Kaveh Maguire said...

Yay! I always love your neighborhood walks! For the record I would have loved those murals as a kid.

Les said...

Thanks for another fine walk. We have lots of murals here, but not so multi-culti, many relevant to the business on whose building they are painted, some extoll the virtues of commerce and some are just plain odd. I hope you get your invite, and if you do, bring your camera.

J said...

Wait, you must explain the differences between north side and south side Bernal Heights for those of us not in the know.

I played bridge once with a pair of ladies who lived "on a dirt road in Bernal Heights." I've always dreamed about the dirt roads of San Francisco.

chuck b. said...

Oh, haha. I was just stoking the fires of a rivalry that does not exist. There's no real difference between north and south Bernal Heights. The south side is a little bit more beautiful, charming, friendly, smart and witty. But other than that they are exactly the same.

Brent said...

"Dirt roads of San Francisco" seems like a good title for a book or blog. Probably a short but interesting one.

I wonder if the school murals were inspired by the line from the song - Where the deer and buffalo (antelope) play?

Christopher C. NC said...

Nice walk.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including our succulent garden in your travels!

chuck b. said...

Are you the garden between Gates and Ellsworth? I have mentioned you at greater length some other times on the blog. Thank you for coming by!

Anonymous said...

No difference between north and south Bernal Heights? You do know about the Alemany projects right? And the Highland projects that are right off of Holly Park right? South Bernal Heights is a little bit poorer and grittier than the north side. And it has shootings/murders every once in a while, which is not common whatsoever for the north side (remember, there are tow different housing projects).

But other than that, cool photo tour. Bernal Heights is a great place.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and love it!
Persicaria capitata: Hate it! It's actually escaped to wildlands as well as sidewalk cracks.

One of the treasures on that plot of DPW land is what is thought to be the last wild stand of Salvia spathacea in SF.
Just below that are the planted succulents and the craziest patch of Harding grass I know. I'm surprised the Harding grass stays where it is, but am so glad it does!