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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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Unclogging the Drains

San Francisco Department of Public Works colleague Mike Jason was onsite this morning as part of the final effort to clear long-plugged drains at the bottom of the Hidden Garden Steps, on 16th Avenue between Kirkham and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District.

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

Mike Jason working at the foot of the Steps

What should have been an easy project—removing dirt and leaves that accumulated over decades within the two drains at the bottom of the Steps—became unexpectedly complicated earlier this year when DPW and Public Utilities Commission employees discovered an additional impediment: concrete wedged into pipes so that water could not flow from the drains into the nearby sewer system. Initial responses from PUC hinted that an entire wall might have to be removed and entirely new connecting pipes installed to connect the onsite drains to the mid-street sewer system.

Coordinating their efforts, however, led to a different, less-complex solution. PUC and DPW staff recently managed to remove the hard-to-access concrete blockage. Mike and other DPW colleagues are now completing the final part of the effort—removing the remaining tree roots and other debris that have accumulated in the pipes. Completion of that effort should prevent further overflows of water during the rainy season and paves the way for adding colorful hand-made tiles to the wall at the foot of the Steps to spell out the name “Hidden Garden Steps.”

Join the Steps Community: Onsite Clean-up Saturday, July 12, 2014, 1-3 pm

Looking to meet your neighbors? Join the Hidden Garden Steps community, comprised of supporters from near and far.

Regis Moine (left) and Peter Cavanna, working on the Steps garden with Licia Wells during their recent visit from Paris

Regis Moine (left) and Peter Cavanna, working on the Steps garden with Licia Wells during their recent visit from Paris

With plenty of help from volunteers and generous donations of plants from Steps supporters—including Regis Moine and Peter Cavanna, who participated in the June 2014 clean-up during an extended visit to San Francisco (from Paris)—the gardens surrounding the Hidden Garden Steps mosaic are continuing to grow even in our driest months. California poppies, monkey flowers, yarrow, and other plants are in full bloom, and we’re continuing to expand the breadth and scope of those gardens that are becoming an increasingly attractive habitat to birds, butterflies, and bees.

Please join us—and bring any succulents that we can place in the garden as we continue working through the dry summer months:

  • Location: Hidden Garden Steps (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton, Inner Sunset District, San Francisco)
  • No reservations required
  • Gloves/tools provided

For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit our website (http://hiddengardensteps.org) and blog or contact site stewards Licia Wells and Paul Signorelli at hiddengardensteps@gmail.com.

Keeping the Hidden Garden Steps Clean

Our San Francisco Street Parks Program colleagues have just made it a bit easier to keep the Hidden Garden Steps clean: a new garbage can is now in place at the foot of the Steps (16th Avenue, at Kirkham, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District).

HGS--Garbage_Can--2014-06-21Jerad Weiner, Community Liaison, Community Programs with the San Francisco Department of Public Works, helped coordinate the effort to obtain and place the can in an area that has been subject to accumulations of paper cups, empty pizza boxes, and other litter left by visitors to the site. The availability of the trash receptacle has noticeably reduced the amount of onsite litter since installation was completed a couple of weeks ago.

Volunteers from our extended community of support continue to engage in a variety of activities including weekly sweeping, trash removal as needed, and monthly onsite planting/garden maintenance.

To become involved in Steps community efforts to keep the site attractive and inviting, please contact Steps stewards Paul Signorelli and Licia Wells at hiddengardensteps@gmail.com.

Hidden Garden Steps: Friends Welcome at Next Onsite Clean-up (Saturday, June 14, 2014)  

New and returning Friends of the Hidden Garden Steps are welcome to join the next monthly onsite clean-up, to be held on Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 1 – 3 pm. Participating volunteers will gather at the top of the Steps (16th Avenue, between Kirkham and Lawton streets, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset District).

HGS--2014-03-06--Maya_SweepingWork to be completed includes sweeping the Steps, tending the gardens, and painting out any graffiti that has appeared onsite.  Donations of succulents are, as always, appreciated, and onsite participants will continue to expand the gardens by adding new donations to the existing plantings. .

No reservations are required; tools, gloves, and any other items needed are provided through the Street Parks Program jointly managed by the San Francisco Parks Alliance and the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

The monthly clean-ups began in April 2011—long before the ceramic-tile mosaic created and completed by project artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher was installed and opened to the public in December 2013. They continue to be among the opportunities available to anyone interested in meeting and working with members of our extended community maintaining this community gem.

For more information about the event, please contact site stewards Paul Signorelli and Licia Wells at hiddengardensteps@gmail.com. For more information about the Hidden Garden Steps, please visit our website at http://hiddengardensteps.org.