Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Knock-out Parking Strip Garden October 25, 2008

Early to pick up my daughter at school the other day and happening to have my camera along, I decided to amble around the nearby streets to see if I could find any parking strip gardens to photograph. It’s become sort of an obsession for me, and I get the same satisfaction when I spot one coming into view as I imagine a predator might when sighting its dinner.

I could tell this one was going to be a little out of the ordinary, especially for the neighborhood. This photo shows where the previous property ends (spindly tree and plain grass at right) and the amazing one begins (fully planted parking strip and banana trees next to the house, in Seattle!?!).

Garden is focus, not house

It was a bright day so these photos will not do the garden justice. It is a riot of colors, textures, and shapes, all harmonious and contrasting at once. It’s one of the most impressive parking strip gardens I’ve come across since I started looking for them, and I’ve seen a lot. It was either designed by a pro, or the person living there is a master landscaper. I might have to sneak a note onto their porch and ask if I can come back for more photos and an interview. I want to go back anyway, since my camera ran out of memory card space before I even got around the bend to look at the other stretch of plantings (it’s a corner lot, so twice the space for parking strip glory).

Walking down the sidewalk, it was like taking in a botanical garden on both sides:

Sidewalk "botanical garden"

I’m not good enough at plant ID to get even half of these, feel free to call out any you know and especially admire (or despise) for their looks or habit. What I found literally breath-taking was the amazing combinations and the sheer variety. Let’s see, just the ones that I know off-hand in this one small section: lavender, purple coral bells, senecio, penstemon, red-twig dogwood, bergenia, and at least a few others. None of those so amazing on their own, but the grouping seemed unique, and so densely planted.

Fabulous foliage

An apple tree provides scale (note the pest-protection footies!) but is under-planted with perennials such as lungwort, sedum and euphorbia.

Apple tree underplanted with perennials

I think I literally let out a gasp when I saw the grouping of variously colored pitcher plants:

PItcher plants

I grew this orgage-y coralbells variety in my previous garden but it was in the shade and always looked floppy. This one was really healthy-looking, and placed so that the striking color and wavy texture would stand out:

Orange coralbells

Zany green and yellow striped canna foliage contrasts well with bright red dahlias, pale cream-yellow phygelius, and what looks like a bamboo in the far background.

Dahlias and cannas

Garden art-haters (and I found out there are definitely some after my previous post!) will be happy to see that there is not a single non-plant item in this landscape. Well, with one exception:

Hiding hydrant

I have many more photos of this garden and may put up another post later to show the continued marvels of plant pairing creativity the designer has come up with. If even a square yard of my parking strip looked this good, I’d be a proud gardener. That they’ve got 60′ X 5′ and it all looks perfect… I’ll try to focus on being inspired rather than jealous!

Crazy good

(Bonus thanks to anyone who can ID the yellow-leafed plant with blue-purple flowers in the last photo – it’s crazy bold!)


8 Responses to “Knock-out Parking Strip Garden”

  1. Daphne Gould Says:

    Wow I would never have thought of putting pitcher plants in my garden. I’ve only seen them in bogs before, so assumed they needed tons of water. Though maybe they get that in Seattle.

  2. Kanak Says:

    Through your blog, I’m so glad to see a different aspect of gardening. What a beautiful blend. The one at the back, in the third picture is what I posted yesterday. Susie -Digging in the Dirt- identified it for me . The Jewels of Opar. Lovely, isn’t it?
    Will check again later to see if others can come up with more IDs. Worth knowing, the last one, especially.

  3. Wow! What a beautiful strip!

  4. Racquel Says:

    What a lovely full garden. They have texture, color & interest everywhere you look.

  5. Aerie-el Says:

    Nice photos, beauty of a garden design.

    Yellow plant with purple flowers looks like a Tradescantia x andersonia ‘Sweet Kate’, common name ‘Golden spiderwort’.

  6. Megan Says:

    So glad Aerie-el was able to name it. I had it on the tip of my tongue and it was driving me crazy.
    What a good find, I love to see exuberant gardening in action. From a distance, it looks like it could be a little bit wild, but it’s actually quite tidy and well tended once you get close up.

  7. Georgia Says:

    I love unexpected greenspaces and greenspace design like the one you have featured in this post.

  8. Curmudgeon Says:

    That’s a lovely Sweet Kate in your last photo. I’ve read on other blogs that they can be a bit invasive. We have some on our hillside garden and they are very well behaved.That is definitely a knock-out garden! –Curudgeon

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