Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Apartment Garden Makeover January 3, 2010

Filed under: grasses,neighborhood gardens — greenwalks @ 10:10 am
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This small, formerly nondescript one-story brick apartment complex underwent a totally fab makeover since the last time I happened by it, including a pretty trendy-looking landscaping overhaul. I didn’t think I had a “before” picture, but then I remembered the marvels of Google Earth.

Have you seen one of the Google Priuses cruising by your house, photographing it for posterity? I have, and it’s kind of creepy. Then again, I enjoy going for virtual “walks” and checking out street gardens via this technology, so I guess I will have to make my peace with it. Still, it’s pretty Big Brother, no?

Anyway, back to the makeover! Here is the “before”:

Apartment building/garden "before" (by GoogleEarth)

Grass, concrete, and clipped box hedges. Yawn. Then, a year later, this!

Apartment garden makeover I

I imagine these look a little better in a month other than January, but you get the minimalist drift:

Apartment garden makeover III

Large poured concrete pavers and shiny black rock mulch, kind of a zen garden look:

Apartment garden makeover II

Love these green tufts but can’t recall their name:

Apartment garden makeover IV

Trust me, this look is completely novel for my rather traditional, Craftsman-home-favoring neighborhood. It’s not my style but I love it when people break the mold. I’ll be curious to see how it holds up. One question – how do they keep the “negative spaces” weed-free? Hope it’s not with Round-up!


Volunteer Grass: Friend or Thug? March 5, 2009

Filed under: grasses,my garden,weeds — greenwalks @ 9:38 pm
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This breezy little grass showed up in my parking strip a couple of years ago. I don’t know where it came from, since I haven’t seen it in any neighbor’s gardens.

It’s in a silly spot, right at the edge of the sidewalk, but at least it flops over the other direction. I should probably move it, but first I’d like to know if it’s something I should keep around. I love the way grasses look, but I’m allergic to them so have not really welcomed too many into my garden. Any guesses on what it might be? Looks kind of like some stipas I’ve seen, but I’m certainly no expert.

Unknown volunteer floppy grass

One possible clue – it’s having babies!

Unknown volunteer grass 'babies'

Hm, maybe that means it’s likely to want to take over. I didn’t notice these sprouts in previous years – maybe the hard winter did something to put the plant into a frenzy of spring replication??

It’s funny how the definition of a weed is just a plant in a place we don’t want it. Since I tend to be a cheap and disorganized type of gardener, I usually welcome self-sowers with open arms. But I don’t want to let a real thug get established! I’ll be curious to see if anyone has an ID.Thanks!


Japanese Blood Grass September 12, 2008

Halloween decorations are taking over the stores already, so maybe it’s not too early to start looking at the spooky side of the garden. I saw this gorgeous specimen of Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica) happily growing in a neighbor’s parking strip the other day:

Japanese blood grass

I love the deep red against the lime green in the foliage. It likes full sun or light shade, might need a bit of mulch to overwinter in colder climates (my plant book says it’s okay for Zones 4-9), and prefers moist/well-drained soil. Some areas consider it to be aggressive, but at least in Seattle I don’t think I’ve ever seen one take over. Perhaps it is best grown in a setting and climate where you can keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t cause trouble.

To round things out before Oct. 31, maybe I need to track down and photograph some of the other “blood” themed plants – Bleeding heart (I know, it’s a spring thing), Blood flower, Bloodroot and Bloody butcher!?!