Since I was ripping out the ugliest and most boring groundcover on earth (St. John’s Wort), I felt compelled to replace it with a variety of plants that would be more interesting to cultivate and would provide passers-by with a more enjoyable experience. It changes somewhat every year, and of course seasonally (I really need to work on winter/early spring interest) but here are some things that are growing out there at the moment (mid August):
Purple beans! My daughter requested these and she sprouted them from seed with my mom. I think they came from Seeds of Change – their catalog has lots of pretty pictures to ogle during the winter. We grew these beans last year too – oddly, they change color to a slightly sick-ish green when cooked. Very cool-looking when raw, though!
Red shiso, otherwise known as perilla. I bought this as a plant from the Seattle Tilth spring plant sale, always a mandatory stop for my summer garden. I haven’t used the leaves too much yet, mostly used in Japanese cooking and sushi-making, but I just like how it looks. It tastes kind of spicy, like mustard leaves. It’s planted next to a red marigold, and some bulbing fennel (also purchased at the Tilth sale) which I hope will be ready to harvest before the cold weather arrives.
Gardening in the parking strip is a test of faith sometimes. What if I plant something that looks too tasty to resist for someone walking by? I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but I don’t know if I’d take a chance on something as irresistible as raspberries or blueberries. These Alpine strawberries are so low to the ground and mostly hidden by their leaves that I don’t think anyone even notices them. I try to plant them on the street side just to be safe. My daughter loves to pick and eat them, they’re like little gems. Also purchased from the Tilth sale, two years running. One variety is called Pineapple Crush (not pictured) and stays green, plus tastes at least a little like pineapple. Adorable and delicious!