Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Still Shining November 10, 2009

This is one for the flower-lovers (you know who you are, and aren’t).

A year or so ago, a simple raised bed appeared in the parking strip a few blocks from my house. Good soil went in, things were planted, I didn’t go past for a while, but when I was out for a walk the other day, we’re talking almost-mid-November here, I almost fell over when I saw this.

Parking Strip Flower Explosion

What are they feeding those things? The good stuff, obviously.

My cosmos are long gone, at least I think they are – maybe I should look again! These ones are not only still blooming, they are forming new buds even as the evening temps dip toward freezing.

Cosmos and Zinnias

Massive orange dahlias abound:

Lion-ish Orange Dahlia

Guess I’m not the only one who plants stuff and forgets what it’s called (this was attached to one of the massive dahlia stalks):

Dahlia Tag

I loved this tattered but still-glowing zinnia, its charms a bit faded but still cheerful on a cold fall day:

Aging Zinnia

My sunflowers are long gone too, and yet here are these, still standing proud and topping out at probably 11 ft. How they survived the previous night’s wind storm, I have no idea.

Towering Sunflowers in Mid-November

Well, mostly survived:

Broken-necked Sunflower

This gardener chose not to rip up the entire parking strip, just a small patch of sod for the raised bed. But man, you can fit a lot of loveliness in a small space if you get it right. I can’t wait to see what they get up to next year!

Just one house over, strange things are growing in the lawn…

Skeleton in the grass


Dazzling Dahlias October 1, 2008

It’s foggy here today, so I thought I’d put up some pics of a couple of really impressive dahlias I saw in a street garden near my house recently, to chase the blahs away.

I will come straight out and say that I’m not much of a dahlia grower myself. I have a few dwarf annual ones that my mom gave me this year, but I think my garden lacks the proper combo of good soil, excellent drainage and regular watering to provide a good home for them. That’s just way too much cultivation for this lazy gardener! But for those interested in the basics of dahlia growing, one of the local dahlia groups near Seattle has this handy list of do’s and dont’s to get you on the right track.

Part of my resistance to this plant is that it’s one of those that has a “society” devoted to it, or many societies as it happens. I’ve seen entire home gardens devoted to dahlias, and while I admire the dedication of folks who specialize in one flower or kind of plant, it seems a little sad to me to pick one that is only in bloom for a few months and goes completely below ground for much of the year, leaving a bare patch of nothingness in its wake.

That said, I always enjoy seeing the really pretty ones my neighbor’s on-street garden produces every summer. This orange one had the shaggy look of Dorothy’s friend the Cowardly Lion:

Orange dahlia

I’m pretty hopeless with dahlia types. I know there are many, but I’m not up on them so won’t even try to categorize the ones shown here. If you really want to get into the minutae, this site has photos of all the different dahlia classifications.

I loved this one for its gentle lilac edging and lovely white and greenish-tinged underlayer.

Lavender dahlia

What about you? Love to grow dahlias or prefer to admire them in other people’s gardens? Or do they just leave you cold?