Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Cool Thoroughfare Planting June 24, 2009

Who says that major city thoroughfares and nice streetside plantings can’t mix? Someone in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood decided to buck the trend of boring parking strips along the busiest street in the sector, 45th Ave, and put in something really enjoyable to walk past. This strip is actually in two sections, separated by a crosswalk.

Wallingford parking strip

Even though cars, trucks, and buses thunder by regularly to and from the freeway, the neighborhood is actually very walkable and having some nice perennials to look at on the way distracts from the vehicular noise.

I kind of wish I could go back and start over in my own parking strip, choose plants more carefully and intelligently and have something harmonious like this. It does look like a designer was involved, but in a good way.

Epimediums and barberries

Epimediums, barberries, and small-leaf hebes are all tough, drought-tolerant plants that should need little or no care throughout the year. Grasses like the blue fescue below and a mass of Carex morowii ‘Ice Dance’ on the edge (guessing on that one) are also able to take the heat and keep looking good.

Blue fescue and epimediums

In the second part of the strip, purple spikes of Linaria harmonize with silvery groundcover and the brilliant orange of California poppies.

Linaria spikes in Wallingford parking strip

I missed the neighborhood garden tour, as it happened when I was on kid duty all day and I didn’t think she could hack it. Plus, $15 per person, maybe another year. Did any of you locals go?

Wallingford Garden Tour sign


14 Responses to “Cool Thoroughfare Planting”

  1. Georgia Says:

    This is a beautiful garden – colors, textures, scale, etc.

  2. Catherine Says:

    It does look really nice. I love Wallingford and I wish I would’ve known about the garden tour.

  3. Tatyana Says:

    Amazing what people can do! I go on our local garden tour this Saturday, can not wait!

  4. tina Says:

    Very nice planting. It does harmonize wonderfully, but the real key is the change and beauty it adds for the folks who frequent this area. It is not expected for sure.

  5. Megan Says:

    I love when someone goes to the effort of putting together a real garden with inspired plant choices. So much better than the typical planting in high traffic areas, where they install a row of something ubiquitous and call it done. I think the epimedium is an especially good choice.

  6. Thanks for sharing this with us. This little sidewalk garden was the perfect place for a sign advertising a garden tour, love it. Kind of like the ole “if you like this then you’ll love _____ (fill in the blank)”

  7. Jane Says:

    What a delight for all the people who walk, bike or drive by. I’d love going by this garden daily! And just think of all the pollution it’s helping to mitigate.
    I’m a sucker for garden tour, but this year I’m contenting myself with the free Metro (Portland) and conservation district tours. If you go with a friend, you can learn a lot and have fun while saving your money to buy all the plants you discover on the tour!

  8. Racquel Says:

    I love the Linaria combined with the California Poppies. But purple & yellow is always my favorite standby colors. 🙂

  9. Michael Says:

    What a fantastic a little garden. The use of drought tolerant plants is obviously very essential for it’s long term survival. Have you even looked at Australian native plants? There are some very ornamental varieties that have magnificent flowers. They are also very drought and ideal for street scapes.
    Happy Gardening

  10. Nice parking strip, it is inspiring. I saw a So Cal version when I was in LA recently, using succulents and natives in with a pebble mulch. It’s such a great idea to use these strips for some varied and climate-congenial plants, for everyone’s enjoyment and enlightenment.

  11. VP Says:

    Hi – another great find! Do you mind if I put a link into you for my public planting meme this month?

  12. Paula Says:

    Karen, in our disaster of a drive to the garden today, we went by a vegetable & other parking strip. We would have turned in to get a photo if the car wasn’t running so poorly. I know you would have stopped! We just tried to collected ideas as we slowly rolled by…

  13. What an extra bonus, when walking around, to be able to see all these plants. Wonderful job by the Wallingford garden people (or was it them?). I like the grasses and Californian poppies; they are so sunny and cheery – and spread themselves easily, which I think is a bonus in these hard environments, where you don’t want no difficult or fuzzy plants. Lovely to see that you are back blogging, too – I’m sorry to have missed Kruckeberg, it has been on my list for a long while and I really wanted to join the tour, but we had an earlier family commitment, that I could not cancel :-(.

  14. easygardener Says:

    Urban planting like that makes such a difference to the surroundings – and it looks well thought out and well cared for.

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