Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Pink Petals in Parking Strips March 4, 2010

Filed under: flora,trees — greenwalks @ 9:03 pm
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Does such a profusion of plums become prosaic? Or does it produce perfection? Peruse at your pleasure!

(This post is dedicated to Grace, who perennially pines for pink.)

Okay, enough with the alliteration. Seattle in early spring (yeah, I know it’s technically winter still, but it hasn’t felt like it in a long time so I’m going to go ahead and just call it spring. The plants and animals sure think it is!) offers an almost overwhelming spectacle – entire streets lined with wildly blooming ornamental plum trees. Apricots, cherries, magnolias, cornelian cherries, and many others abound as well, but the plums are ubiquitous and seemingly the earliest, so when they arrive it feels like spring is really here. The pinkness is impossible to ignore and hard not to be cheered by.

My neighborhood has gone nuts for these trees. Many have deep purple leaves so a long line of them can be a little blah in the summer. But oh, for these few weeks, they shine. I have been crossing my fingers for no lashing storms to hasten the petals to an early demise, and so far we’ve been lucky. Standing under some of these, neighbors have stopped to comment and enjoy the spectacle together.

So, without further ado, the reigning queens of the blossom ball, all from parking strips!

Plum trees abloom

Ephermeral plum blossoms

Venerable plum tree

Pink plum blossoms on pavers

Plum tree bloom explosion

Parking strip pinkness

Mini plum branch

Blue skies and pink plum flowers

Pink confetti in the grass

Pale pink plum blossoms with purple leaves beginning to emerge


Cherry Trees in Planter Boxes December 6, 2008

Walking around my neighborhood the other week, I saw these relatively mature ornamental cherry trees in the parking strip.

Cherry tree planter boxes

I was curious about the planter boxes, which are a bit weathered and coming apart at some of the corners. I imagine the intention was to help the trees get a good initial start in an area where soil compaction is usually high. There is nothing (at least currently) planted underneath, so that doesn’t seem to have been the plan.

The trees, bare of their leaves, had been recently mulched and seemed to be tucked in snugly for their winter nap. Some of the claims to fame for mulching include insulation, nutrient supply, weed control, water conservation and disease suppression (per Linda Chalker-Scott’s “The Informed Gardener.”)

Cherry tree planter box with mulch

When mulching trees, I have read that it’s a good idea to keep the mulch away from the root crown. What do you think, did this gardener do it correctly or is it too close to the crown? I have to admit in advance that I don’t know the answer! Do you mulch your trees? If so, what material do you use? How have they fared?


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!?!


‘Pink panda’ Strawberry September 4, 2008

An ornamental strawberry sounds like a complete oxymoron, but I saw these once at a garden show and had to have them. They are a hybrid between a a wild strawberry and a potentilla, I think, and you can start with just a few plants and end up with a mat of groundcover if you want. It spreads via stolons and if you keep track of it, it’s easy to pull out the ones you don’t want. I just let mine ramble, since I need space-fillers anyway. The pink blooms are super cute and cheerful, and since my daughter loves pandas, I planted some in “her” garden (also in the parking strip). The berries are edible but not all that tasty, so we usually leave them for the birds.

'Pink panda' strawberry

(Sorry, kind of out of focus. I think I need a new camera. Any recommendations of good ones for garden photography without spending a huge bundle?)

Here is a link to what they look like when massed. And for more information on its history and growth habits, click here.