Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Alley Flowers July 20, 2009

Filed under: neighborhood gardens — greenwalks @ 9:21 am
Tags: , , , ,

The back alley is our usual access point for biking or walking up to the local school playground for some running-off-energy time for my daughter. On the way lately, we have seen more than the usual bindweed and overgrown honeysuckle that usually are visible.

This clematis (Jackmanii? or something similar) was putting on a big show the other week.  I just planted a related vine on a small metal trellis, and now I wonder if I’m going to have to rethink the structure if it’s ever going to get this big (6 feet high at least):

Purple clematis (Jackmanii?)

These pink campanula were so showy, it’s too bad they only lasted a few days. I enjoyed them a lot while they were around. Not sure of the variety, maybe C. medium, ‘Bells of Holland’? They are so sweet and cottage-gardeny, they really evoke England to me. Oh, you can see some bindweed crawling up to strangle the campanula, I think these neighbors don’t know what a bane it is. Or maybe they do and have given up, who can blame them?

Pink campanulas

In my part of the alley, I have a neglected but seemingly carefree ceanothus which has now reverted to its boring phase (the 50 weeks of the year without blue bee-magnet fragrant blooms), one struggling Spanish lavender, some osmanthus that always scrapes the car when I drive by it, and a bunch of scary weeds. I will spare you a photo here.

Do you have a back alley? If so, what’s growing in it? Is it the last spot you think of when deciding to work on or plant anything in your garden? It is for me, for sure, but I do appreciate when a little beauty creeps over the fence or is otherwise out there for we back-alley travelers to enjoy.


11 Responses to “Alley Flowers”

  1. Tessa Says:

    That pink Campanula is the perfect shade of pink! Happy gardening to you 🙂

  2. Grace Says:

    Hi~~ No allies here. I’m in a neighborhood but a weird neighborhood that is surrounded by country on the outskirts of Albany. However I do have a couple of “dead zones,” places I rarely see and are not too plant friendly anyway. One is at the far corner abutting the street and gets blazing hot. Barkdust is about all that will grow there. The other is the north side of the house shrouded in shadow from a bunch of trees.

    I think if you wait a few weeks [or months] the Campanula will have seed for you to take and sow in your own garden. It’s a biennial so the sooner the better. [Sorry. You probably already know this.] I for one think that Bindweed is awfully pretty. Too bad it has roots that burrow to China. 🙂

  3. I guess we used to have an alley here at our house, years ago. Not any more. I love walking down alleys though, you see the most interesting things. When in Tucson my brother and I were walking around and found the paddles from a prickly pear cactus that someone was throwing away. he took a bunch home (he lives in Phoenix) and they are thriving in his yard.

  4. Catherine Says:

    My jackmanii is on a trellis about 6 feet tall and I have another that looks very similar ‘Etoile violette’ they just climb up and over themselves and look really pretty just loaded with flowers.
    No back alley here, just a big elementary school playground that’s mostly sand.

  5. Tyra Says:

    Hi Karen, your Jackmanii is lovely, love the intense color. Well I have got a real alley but the only thing that I have in my alley are wild strawberries…though I’m planning to grow different kinds of ferns there.
    Greatings from Waxholm / Tyra

  6. Jane Says:

    No alley at my house. If I had one I think I’d plant vines and climbers to help separate the backyard from the roadway of the alley. A friend with an alley planted ceanothus too: it was the sunniest place in her (then) shady backyard. Since then she got rid of the shade producing hazelnut tree but the ceanothus is still thriving!

  7. Cynthia Says:

    No alley here but I sure like the image of a garden filled one. I just love that campanula. They look like perfect little bells. Campanula always makes me think of fairies- they must use them as hats don’t you think? 🙂

  8. Jen Says:

    If only there were some way to show off your alley, Karen! It really deserves to be seen. I don’t have an alley, but I do have a neglected barren path on the side of the house that I need to somehow landscape. I may have to plant some campanula there.

  9. Aerie-el Says:

    Hi Karen,
    Your clematis is beautiful. I planted Nelly Moser this year and she only produced one bloom :(.
    No alley here, but we still have plenty of ‘travelers’…the raccoons, opossums, deer…
    Have a great weekend!

  10. b kinch Says:

    bindweed is such a thorn in my side. ugh. I have seriously neglected the side of the house that is bordered by the driveway. It’s hot over there, gets a lot of afternoon sun, the trashcans are over there, and it’s gravely. But I’ve been rethinking my approach there. After all, it is the first thing I see every time I come home. I wonder what I could do to make it a more welcoming and inviting area…

  11. Megan Says:

    I’ve always liked Ceanothus when it’s not in bloom, in fact I prefer it not blooming. My grandparents had an alley, I always thought it was so charming, they seem very old fashioned to me. I love that people are out there gardening in them more and more these days.

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