Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Nice Fall Pairing October 12, 2008

Some folks in my neighborhood have a wonderful garden which spills out onto the street and into their parking strip. All summer, I kept walking by it sans camera and had vowed to return and capture it in its full glory. Of course, the one time I remembered, the sunflowers had been downed by a recent windstorm and most of the blooming stuff had started winding down for the winter. Still, they had a really impressive bed full of purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and a heavily-bearing apple tree, the fruit of which actually looked quite healthy.

Coneflowers and apples in fall

The purple coneflower’s genus “echino” is from the Greek word for hedgehog, apparently referring to the spiny/bumpy surface at the flower’s center. This US native’s flowers are often used in teas and herbal supplements and are thought by some to boost the immune system. I haven’t had the greatest success in growing them, although they are supposed to be easy. I tried a white variety once but probably had it in a bad spot, as it struggled.

I get such a kick out of these sidewalk gardens, they provide so much enjoyment for anyone who bothers to notice as they pass by. I’m hoping that more and more folks decide to rip out their grass and try their hands at gardening at this very visible intersection of public and private space.