Now Showing: California Poppies on Bernal Hill

Bernal Hill 5

Bernal Hill 4

Tis the season for wild California Poppies, and Julie captured several beautiful specimens during a walk on Bernal Hill last weekend:

The California State flower is the Eschscholzia californica. Known as the California Poppy or Golden Poppy, it is springing up everywhere. Here in San Francisco, it grows in the cracks of sidewalks and roads and can be found in all the parks. It varies in color from white to dark orange.

UPDATE: Ed Brownson added this gem to the Bernalwood Group on Flickr:

Poppy on Bernal Heights 2  (30 March 12)

PHOTOS: Julie aka Rudha-an, Ed Brownson

Unmoved Vehicle Generates New Life on Folsom

Neighbor Regina lives on a section of Folsom Street that does not have weekly street-cleaning parking requirements. Sometimes vehicles park on her street for a long time… so long, in fact, that enough time elapses for new forms of life to enter the world. Regina captions:

A “tree” grows in Bernalwood, in the back of truck that hasn’t moved for a month. With a life preserver.

PHOTO: Neighbor Regina

Walk (or Sing) Among the Wildflowers on Bernal Hill, Saturday

Spring has sprung, Bernal Hill is alive with the sound of music, and in conjunction with the Bernal History Project, Neighbor Rachel is leading a wildflower walk tomorrow morning:

Wildflower Walk this Saturday, March 17th at 11:30 AM, Bernal Hill

Join us for a wildflower walk on the Hill. We’ll look at early wildflowers, including a locally rare population of star lilies (Zigadenus fremontii). Other current blooms include footsteps-of-spring, lomatium, shooting star, blue eyed grass, and checkerbloom.

Terry Milne will talk about some history on the hill and ways to conserve this grassland and the wildlife it supports.

We’ll meet at 11:30AM at the Ellsworth steps (intersection of Ellsworth and Bernal Heights Blvd).

This walk follows the monthly volunteer work party with Rec and Park, which begins at 10AM in the same location on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

Showers ok, steady rain cancels.

For more information you can email rachel.kesel [AT] sfgov [DOT] org or call 415-831-6332.

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Wildflowers, Rachel Kesel

Tis the Season for Plum Blossoms in Bernal Heights

Neighbor Edward writes:

I offer this view of the hill and plum blossoms for your consideration to do with as you will.

Upon due consideration, the Bernalwood Curatorial Working Group has decided to publish your photo, sir, with gratitude and compliments. Lovely.

UPDATE: Robogeoff also added a nice snap of some blossoms to the Bernalwood Flickr group:

cherry blossoms in bernal heights

PHOTOS: Neighbor Edward and Robogeoff

Get Help Planting a Sidewalk Garden in North Bernal

Neighbor Kim writes that Friends of the Urban Forest is offering assistance to North Bernalistas who want to install sidewalk gardens in front of their homes:

Friends of the Urban Forest is doing two sidewalk plantings in Bernal in Feb/Mar and May. If people are interested they should contact Karla Nagy ( or 268-0788), the FUF project coordinator.

Here’s how Friends of the Urban Forest can help:

Improve your block and meet your neighbors by installing a sidewalk garden with Friends of the Urban Forest. Dealing with the permit process, designing a garden and coordinating all the materials can be expensive and overwhelming on your own. Friends of the Urban Forest coordinates neighborhood plantings, brining neighbors together to share materials and work together to install sidewalk gardens on your block on a Saturday morning.

What does FUF do?

  • Review the sidewalk to determine the best location for a sidewalk garden
  • Locate underground utilities
  • Garden design and site plan
  • File permit paperwork and act as a liaison between the city and the homeowner
  • Arrange for the removal of concrete
  • Coordinate the delivery of all materials, including soil amendment, mulch, plants & trees
  • Provide volunteer support and tools for planting day
  • And most importantly, we help secure funding to subsidize the cost of concrete removal, planting materials and the cost of the permit.

If you’re interested, you might want to attend the meeting at Charlie’s Cafe on Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm:

PHOTO: Friends of the Urban Forest

Slimy Succulent Thieves Strike Again

It’s been a while since the last reported instance of residential succulent theft. But someone swiped some succulents from Neighbor Ashley’s sidewalk planter recently, and she’s hopping mad about it:

Unfortunately I’m writing with some crappy news from our neighborhood. Last summer we planted a fuf tree in front of our house to green up our street. Then, to help protect the tree and add a little more green and pretty the neighborhood, we also built a two-sided flower bed around the tree. I planted the flower beds with a variety of succulent and cati, and over the last six or so months we have watched it flourish and grow! But last weekend my heart broke a little when I came outside to find that two of our little guys had been stolen!

As seen in the photos, the holes were perfectly clean and the plants were pulled straight out and taken. It is obvious that it was not an animal, as there was no mess at all anywhere. One of the two plants that I adored had grown the biggest and tallest out of all our other plants; that one got stolen. It had turned a beautiful red color with small white flowers, and it brought tears to my eyes that it was gone.

It hurts in particular to know that we’ve worked so hard and put so much love into it our little sidewalk garden, hoping it would add a little beauty and maybe even happiness to our fellow neighbors. It’s a shame that someone would be so unkind. I worry for the rest of our plants, and I wonder what I can or should do to prevent the thief from stealing again!?

PHOTO: Neighbor Ashley

More Bernal Love in the New York Times

Dogpatch/Miller Memorial Garden

While you were resting and relaxing and not really paying attention to the media over the holiday, Bernalwood’s glamour-obsessed editorial team kept a vigilant eye on the news wire. Here’s one mention you may have missed.

In the Bay Area print edition of the New York Times on Christmas Day, Bernal Heights got another shout out, this time for the semi-secret Dogpatch-Miller Garden on the east side.

The Times sayeth:

The east slope of Bernal Hill, which was settled in the 1860s by Irish farmers and dairy ranchers, has stayed true to its roots and now has an abundance of community gardens utilizing the steep hillsides, including this 8,750-square-foot spot. There are 35 city-owned community gardens in San Francisco, overseen by the Parks and Recreation Department and run by volunteers. 

The garden’s official name comes from the streets it lies between, but locals know it by other names. It is most commonly referred to as Miller Memorial Grove, named for Roosevelt Miller, a friendly old-timer who is now deceased. The green space is also known as Dogpatch, a local nickname that preceded the Miller moniker and refers to its former life hosting neighborhood dogs.

Snaking below the garden, narrow Brewster Street was developed in the mid-1990s after residents complained about fire trucks not being able to get through. Residents agreed to sweep the newly paved street themselves to avoid parking hassles.

Flowers, fruit trees, vegetables and succulents cover the 20 plots of this hillside garden. A rustic sign at the top announces: “This is a nice neighborhood garden.” A six-tiered wooden beehive also shares the land.

More where that came from, right here.

PHOTO: Dogpatch-Miller Garden Sign by Steve Bowles

Help Plant Green Things on Bernal Hill, Saturday

Bernal in Winter 2   (March 09)

If you’re green thumb is itching, wander up to Bernal Hill on Saturday morning to participate in a volunteer planting organized by the City’s Recreation and Park Department. Rachel Kesel, your Bernal neighbor and the Rec and Park gardener assigned to Bernal Hill, says:

The Recreation and Parks Department’s December work party on Bernal Hill is all about planting grasses and wildflowers. We will bring gloves, tools, and light refreshments. Volunteers should dress in layers and because the hill is pretty steep so closed-toed, sturdy shoes are recommended. The event will take place rain or shine.

Saturday, December 17th
10AM to Noon
Meet at the south gate off of Bernal Heights Blvd, on the uphill side, near the only water fountain on the hill. Anderson Street is the closest thru street to this entrance.

For more information, contact Joe Grey at or 415-831-6328

PHOTO: Ed Brownson

Alemany Farmer’s Market Report: New Neighbor Edition

SF Farmers Market 028

SF Farmers Market 006

SF Farmers Market 020

SF Farmers Market 008Our new neighbor, photojournalist Adrian Mendoza, explored the Alemany Farmer’s Market last weekend:

Made my first walk down to the farmers market – which was easy – the walk back up was the hard part (haha, I’d better get used to it).

Yeah, that walk back up the hill is a beast. But because Adrian is a newbie in our neighborhood, I’m glad he brought his camera during his trip to Alemany, since its always great to see familiar sights through fresh eyes. That helps explain how you get amazing photos like this:

SF Farmers Market 010

Or like this:

SF Farmers Market 005

Or like this:

SF Farmers Market 029

Oh, and by the way, the 2011 peppers have come in:

SF Farmers Market 003

PHOTOS: All photos by Adrian Mendoza

2011 Bernal Hill Blackberry Crop a Sorry Sight

For months we’ve been hungrily eyeing that prodigious patch of blackberry bushes near the parking lot at the entrance of Bernal Hill Park. After all, what says “It’s summer on Bernal Hill” more than picking and munching your own blackberries while admiring the view of the bay?

But alas, it’s been the same thing since June: lots of unripe red berries, plus a smattering of still-unripe black ones. A recent visit revealed that a considerable percentage of the fruits have shriveled up. We’ve been hoping against hope that for some wacky reason, this year’s crop is simply taking its own sweet time. But the above shot was taken on Labor Day, so our hope is withering on the vine. Whither shall we go?

PHOTO: Aaron Ximm

Bernal’s Celebrity Succulent Expert Opens Show in Oakland

Here’s a welcome change of pace: A story about succulents that has nothing to do with crime.

Ken Shelf is the co-owner of Four Star Video on Cortland, as well as the Succulence plant store that occupies the rear of the space. From 6 – 9 pm on Thursday night, August 18, Ken will open a show of his plant art at The Rare Bird in (gasp!) Oakland, where he is the featured artist-of-the-month.  As the store’s website explains:

Ken Shelf is the co-owner (with his wife, Amy) and lead cultivator at Succulence – a life and garden store in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco that sells supplies for a succulent lifestyle.  Ken also lives in Bernal with Amy and their children, Huck and Trudy. Ken’s plant art began with the creative camouflaging of marijuana plants in his tomato garden and continues with his exploration of the disintegration and reintegration of nature with itself. In his endless quest for interesting planting vessels, he has planted teapots, popcorn poppers, electrical boxes, watering cans, shoes, bicycle rims, bird-feeders, sea shells, grain mill belts, coal cans, potato and onion baskets, and a metal Hoosier flour bin for his wife’s 40th birthday.

Photos of Finches (and That Mysterious Giant Shrub)

House finches closeup  (11 Aug 11)

I love this photo, which was taken by Ed Brownson and submitted via (hint! hint! hint!) the Bernalwood Flickr group. The birds are house finches, the place was Bernal Hill, the date was August 11, and the weather was — surprise! — kind of foggy.

Meanwhile, in another one of his shots, Ed snapped a wider angle on the woody shrub where the finches were hanging out. Perhaps you’ll recognize the location; it sits on the eastern slope of Bernal Heights Park, facing downtown to the north. I’ve always wondered about that shrub/tree thingy… it’s so distinctive. Any of Bernalwood’s armchair botanists know more about it? What kind of tree/shrub thingy is it??

UPDATE: For ye plant-sleuths, here’s a more clear perspective on the mystery shrub, showing both its full shape and location.

Lone Tree

PHOTOS: Finches, Ed Brownson. Mysterious shrub, Telstar Logistics