as written by Shaolin, Shih-tzu Extraordinare, and David, her guardian
It was an average day when I was out walking with Doris, my guardian. We bumped into Wimbledon, who was out with Darby, and we stopped to exchange our doggie sniffs and hellos. Darby and Doris whiled away the time talking about the ivy jungle that was the 20th and Noe hillside; and Darby introduced Doris to the DHIC and its work with open spaces in our neighborhood. As they say, the rest is history. David, Doris, and I got involved with our neighbors to beautify our open spaces.
Our hillside at 20th and Noe Streets had been abandoned for at least 25 years, taken over by wild fennel and oxalis plants, and homeless drifters. Somebody tried to beautify the slope, and we can thank this person for the Naked Ladies plants still producing beautiful pink flowers amidst the disarray. Anyway, the DHIC Green Gardens group came to the hillside and cleaned, pruned, and weeded — starting in 2015. DPW came and cut away the upper tree overgrowth. Then the potential of the hillside came through. I pictured a visually beautiful garden and decided to take this vision to another level.
Since I didn’t have a budget, I searched Craigslist garage and estate sale ads for landscaping materials and plantings. My efforts paid off with a half ton of SF cobblestones, 300 bricks, several truckloads of landscaping gravel, pavers and six queen size metal bed frames — all for free. Fellow enthusiasts and I carved three pathways into the hillside to help deal with a steep incline and to create gardening areas. The bed frames were cut into sections to help stabilize the pathways.
I was also able to get donations of large heads of Spanish Dagger yuccas and all sorts of succulents and agave plants.
The most memorable “gift” was an 80 pound, 15-year-old agave plant (cabbage head). Five strong neighbors hauled it up to its new home. If it had rolled down the hill, it would have taken out a car, or a person! It cost $50 for the Cabbage Head but several neighbors on 20th Street got agave “pups” from it. The new agave plants will be a sight to behold. Our block neighbors gave us lots of other plants, and my sister donated ten large plantings of African lilies.
Importantly, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy provided an important contact with DPW to help us restore full pressure water irrigation from an old plumbing system.
Come fall, I plan to acquire bee, butterfly and hummingbird-friendly plantings. We buy plants when we have to, but donations are always most welcome! (And write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have plants to offer.)
Our reward? A beautiful, revitalized garden in our neighborhood; and a greatly reduced trash collection (with no needles!) from our most recent DHIC visit to the hillside. Wonderful progress!
Your reward? Join us at a Green Gardens clean-up. We have coffee and breakfast treats. You’ll meet and work with your neighbors. After one and a half hours, you’ll stop and admire the beautiful stairs and gardens that we’ve helped to showcase.
The next Green Gardens will be held on Saturday, September 23 at 9am at 20th and Sanchez Streets. Walk on over and say hello!