Beautifying the nabe: JP Murphy community path

JP Murphy North Path and 8th Ave entrance Adjacent to 1934 9th Avenue and adjacent to 1935 8th Avenue

In 2015 the slope adjacent to the North Path was planted with Coffeeberry, Yerba Buena, Woodland Strawberry, Lonicera involucrata, Scrophularia californica… Plants that were available at the time from the park nursery that are suitable for dry shade.

The soil was so hydrophobic that all attempts to water would run off within minutes. Using a surfactant helped some. (There is no automatic irrigation here only hose hook-ups for hand watering.) It also was not fenced nor sheet mulched. Well, learn as you go, right?

Most plants were trampled and the (mostly grass) weeds soon took over. A fence was installed in an attempt to deter further trampling. The bed was replanted in January 2019 with Carpenteria and Heuchera. AND it was thoroughly cardboarded and mulched with wood chips. Success!

A year later it is full and thriving. Several of the Lonicera survived as well and are now blooming. The Scrophularia is super tough! It not only survived but kinda took over, so most were pulled out and potted up for replanting elsewhere.

At the 8th Avenue entrance the Ceanothus and Lavender were installed in the spring of 2016. Most other plants were installed in the winter of 2018/2019.

Favorite plant: Heracleum! It’s just so beautiful- the texture and form of the bud emerging, those massive leaves, and the flowers on the outer edge of each umbel are different than the ones in the center. AND it is a whole universe of tiny insects, most of which we can’t see even if we’re looking.

Wildlife: Ceanothus are the BEST for bees! There’s also nuthatches, hummingbirds, chickadees, juncos, scrub jays, salamanders, rolly-polys, centipedes, and of course all those little bugs we never notice.

Favorite thing: the evolution of the whole area from a wasted weedy space to a vibrant colorful garden, that is literally buzzing.

Biggest challenge: scofflaw dog owners

Advice: Persist! Persevere! If at first you don’t succeed, try something else. (Oh, and cardboard and wood chip mulch = No more hydrophobic soil.)


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Yerba Buena