Archive | September 2014

Hidden Garden Steps: Helping Our Gardens Grow

While the drought continues to take its toll, the gardens on either side of Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher’s 148-step ceramic-tile mosaic on the Hidden Garden Steps are thriving thanks to the love and attention they are receiving from Steps volunteers and donors.

Steps volunteer Barbara Meli planting succulents

Steps volunteer Barbara Meli planting succulents

Volunteers continue to meet for planting and maintenance on the second Saturday of each month from 1 – 3 pm onsite (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District)—the next gathering, open to new and returning volunteers, will take place on September 13, 2014. And when we convene this month, we’ll have plenty to celebrate, and plenty to do.

A large donation of succulents, arranged by project volunteer Barbara Meli, helped plug several gaps in the gardens earlier this week, and more plants from the same neighborhood donor are on the way.

Bill DiFrancisco amid plants on Harry Street Stairs

Bill DiFrancisco amid plants on Harry Street Stairs

Equally exciting is the continuing expansion of our Steps garden donor base through collaborations with volunteers in other parts of San Francisco. Former garden-shop owner Bill DiFrancisco, for example, has provided more than a dozen succulents taken from a site he helps maintain along the Harry Street Stairs, located between Laidley and Beacon in San Francisco’s Glen Park neighborhood. This donation came about when a couple of us involved with the Hidden Garden Steps met Bill on the Harry Steps recently and ended up comparing notes about plantings in these urban public settings. His need to thin some of his plants was a perfect match for the need for additional drought-tolerant plants on the Hidden Garden Steps site, so several bags of succulents made their way across town this morning for planting on Saturday.

To join the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps’ gardening efforts or for more information about the Hidden Garden Steps and the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit the project website at http://hiddengardensteps.org and the Friends blog at https://hiddengardensteps.wordpress.com.

 

 

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Hidden Garden Steps: Via and Visitors

September began with a noticeable increase in the number of people visiting the Hidden Garden Steps, thanks to a one-line mention in Kristina Malsberger’s “Secrets of San Francisco” article in the September-October 2014 issue of Via magazine in print and online.

HGS--Via_Cover--2014-09-11The article is a wonderful combination of brief write-ups of “superstar” sites (e.g., the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, and the Filbert Steps, with its set of gardens—the Grace Marchant Gardens—that indirectly influenced the gardens around the Hidden Garden Steps) accompanied by photographs and longer features about “don’t miss” sites around the city. Mount Sutro (along the edge of the Inner Sunset District), for example, is the “don’t miss” feature connected to the brief mention of Golden Gate Park, and the 16th Avenue Tiles Steps/Moraga Steps (on Moraga Street, between 15th and 16th avenues here in the Inner Sunset) is the “don’t-miss” feature connected to the mention of the Filbert Steps and the Grace Marchant Gardens.

Malsberger’s popular feature story and photograph of the original set of ceramic-tiled steps ends with a boost for the Hidden Garden Steps: “When you’re ready for your next stairway adventure, the nearby Hidden Garden Steps, at 16th Avenue and Kirkham Street, were completed in 2013 by the same artistic team [Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher] and offer their own gorgeous tile tapestry.”

HGS--Via_Article--2014-09-11A brief informal survey of visitors during the Labor Day holiday weekend showed that plenty of people from San Francisco Bay Area cities (e.g., Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa), from other parts of the United States (Florida, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania), and a few other countries (France, Mexico, and China) were attracted to the neighborhood by the article. They expressed a tremendous amount of appreciation for the numerous volunteers who helped bring the Hidden Garden Steps project to fruition and who continue to maintain the site. And, through their presence, they helped strengthen the sense of community that remains at the heart of the project.

For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps and the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit the project website at http://hiddengardensteps.org and the Friends blog at https://hiddengardensteps.wordpress.com.

Hidden Garden Steps: Good Sign

Post-installation work on the Hidden Garden Steps site (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District) continued in August as a formal plaque identifying the site was installed.

HGS--Plaque[1]--2014-08-18 The plaque reminds visitors that the project was completed through magnificent volunteer-driven, community-based collaborations between members of the Hidden Garden Steps organizing committee and the San Francisco Parks Alliance (formerly the San Francisco Parks Trust) and San Francisco Department of Public Works Street Parks Program.

Also included on the plaque are acknowledgments of the important role played by project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher, whose 148-step ceramic-tiled mosaic has transformed a drab staircase into a community gem that is increasingly attracting visitors from the neighborhood and far beyond.

Supporters noted on the plaque include Country Floors, which provided the beautiful tread tiles at a discounted rate; KZ Tile Company, Inc., which installed the artists’ mosaic and the tread tiles at a reduced rate; the San Francisco Community Challenge Grant program, which provided a $32,500 grant to support the overall project; the San Francisco Department of Public Works, which completed extensive repairs on the concrete steps that were originally installed in 1926, and which also built and installed the massive erosion-control woodwork that provides the foundations for the volunteer-maintained gardens still being added on either side of the Steps; Schluter Systems LP, which provided the DITRA material that is underneath the mosaic and tread tiles; and the more than 600 individuals and businesses contributing cash to support the project.

SF DPW colleagues positioning plaque for installation

SF DPW colleagues positioning plaque for installation

The plaque, prepared by EGO Enterprises here in San Francisco, is highly visible at the foot of the Steps (the intersection of 16th Avenue and Kirkham Street) directly above the bench that was provided by the Public Bench Project and painted by art students from Woodside International School.

For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps and the Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit the project website at http://hiddengardensteps.org and the Friends blog at https://hiddengardensteps.wordpress.com.