Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Antidote April 14, 2010

Filed under: spring — greenwalks @ 6:30 pm
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I was in a venomous mood the other day, blacker than black. Mostly it was just tiredness, but the cloudy skies and life challenges were combining to send me to Grumptown. I managed to pick my kid up from school, got her to do her homework in the car, and then took her to her one and only after-school activity. Usually I hang out there, but was not in the frame of mind to tolerate cell-phone-yakking parents and screaming siblings. I noticed the sun starting to peek out and opted for a walk instead. I started out feeling like this (loon-y):

Loony

(I had neglected to bring my camera, so this is another attempt at a post with phone photos.)

The sunny, plant-filled stroll cleared my head and elevated my mood so much that it made the grouchy day seem like a remote dream. Spring, it’s better than an Rx!

Japanese maples leafing out and almost meeting over the sidewalk:

Meeting of the maples

Golden hops and grape hyacinth look great together, why didn’t I think of that?!

Hops & muscari

Incredible huge fuzzy leaves in a parking strip planting (could this be Verbascum?)

Fuzzy foliage

Easter remnant:

Tree egg

Slightly flawed dogwood blossom:

Dogwood blossoms

Didn’t the Dutch pay fortunes for “broken” tulips like this one, back in the day?

Stripy tulip

I want to go back to some of these blocks again because I missed a lot, including some super fab parking strip planter boxes filled with fresh black-gold compost and veggie seeds/starts. Thanks to all of the creative gardeners whose efforts helped to banish the blues!

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Fence Art November 2, 2009

Filed under: edibles,flora,garden art — greenwalks @ 2:45 pm
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Want to dress up your fence or gate? Just hang a glass jar or tin can as an impromptu flower vase, as this Seattle gardener did, fill it with flowers and greens, and give the passers-by a lift:

Gate vase (olive jar)

Bonus points for a carefully balanced pile of perfectly lusciously rounded apples (maybe they became “art” due to those telltale critter holes).

Fencepost apple pile

 

A Furry Visitor May 26, 2009

Filed under: fauna,my garden — greenwalks @ 10:03 am
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One of the reasons I like gardening in the parking strip area is that I get to meet the friendlier of my neighbors. I live in kind of a funny neighborhood, where a lot of people will walk right past without a glace or a word, which is fine by me. But when someone stops to say hello or says something nice about the garden, it makes my day.

Sometimes, the visitors are not of the human variety. I have watched many jays, flickers, crows and hummingbirds out there, so much so that I feel like their daily dramas (must find food! must protect babies!) are a vital part of my life. Finding a ladybug on a leaf, surprising two flies in an act of, um, love as I did the other day, or observing the flight path of a lazy bumblebee can all make me feel like all the work and labor of struggling with the soil conditions, baking heat in the summer, and challenges of getting everything the water it needs worthwhile.

Here is someone who stops by now and again. He doesn’t usually come over for a chat, but he does flop down and roll around on the sidewalk and stay awhile if I leave him be.

Feline visitor to parking strip garden

Who is visiting your garden these days?

 

Raised Beds Sprouting in the Parking Strip May 23, 2009

I saw this while driving home from the school run last week. I had to stop and take photos, the sight warmed my heart so much.

Parking strip raised beds with fresh soil

This is a corner lot on a fairly busy thoroughfare, but the beds are located on the side street. Five of them! No idea what’s going in but I’m going to be keeping a close eye on them to see how they are planted.

Looks like the sod was maybe smothered with cardboard and then stripped and turned over in the spring.

Parking strip raised bed with busted sod

Then, in with the black gold!

Shovel in fresh soil

The guy who made them was in his garage, headphones on and table saw blazing. I didn’t have the nerve or heart to hover and stop him to ask about the raised beds, but it looks like either he or someone else there is already an avid structure-builder and gardener, judging from the house-side street garden.

Streetside trellis and Mexican feather grass

Pot of coleus, black mondo grass and ?

Spirea &  hydrangea?

Purple flowered vine

Forget-me-nots & ?

Golden perennial

A little leftover good soil, dumped into the arterial side of the parking strip. Guess maybe something’s going in there too!

Compost piles on parking strip

Extra wood, board ends or fodder for the next garden building project?

Extra wood

I know, I’m a freak, but stuff like this just sends me over the moon. There are so many folks in my neighborhood adding raised beds, ripping up sod, and otherwise making more space for gardens right now. It’s a revolution!

 

Streetberries, Winter Edition January 27, 2009

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,winter — greenwalks @ 9:41 am
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These bright red berries, still clinging to their vine in mid-winter, were hanging over a retaining wall near my house when I walked by the other day. Does anyone know what they are?

dscn5544

It seems odd that they would have been left by hungry birds and animals – maybe they can’t reach them (they’re halfway down a very high and otherwise bare cement wall). Or are they poisonous? I hope they’re not Deadly Nightshade berries – this garden is quite close to both a preschool and an elementary school which many kids walk to and from every day. Eek.

In any case, I did enjoy seeing a bit of color on an otherwise gray and frigid morning. It’s snowing here again today for the umpteenth time this winter – I guess we’re just going to have to get used to it (or move back to California!)

 

SF’s Mission High Garden December 2, 2008

During our visit to San Francisco, I was keeping my eye out for sidewalk gardens. On a rainy day, walking down to the packed-to-the-gills Bi-Rite Market (independent fancy food store) the day before Thanksgiving, we passed by Mission High School. Located on the beautiful palm-lined boulevard of Dolores Street, Mission High is the oldest high school in SF, dedicated as it was in 1897. In fact, it’s the oldest comprehensive high school west of the Rockies, something I didn’t know until looking at the school’s web site just now.

As we walked along, I noticed that a tiny (maybe 18 inch) width of the sidewalk adjoining the school had been planted with a somewhat sparse but tidy array of perennials, underneath the otherwise prison-esque gray wall and chainlink fence that encloses the school’s parking lot.

Mission High Gardens

Then I saw this sign:

Mission High Gardens sign

Seems like it’s a partnership between the community and the school. Nice!

There was not a single piece of trash or wad of gum to be seen, which is a real marvel outside ANY high school. Maybe signs like this help remind people to be kind to the garden (if not necessarily to the sign):

Litter me not

I’m going to have to take a complete pass on plant ID, these are not familiar to me. Anyone want to take a gander?

Mission High Gardens II

Quite a variety of leaf shapes and sizes, lots of nifty bright colors to jazz up the street.

Mission High Gardens III

All in all, a delightful find and one I hope to return and see again as the plants fill in.

Rainy day at Mission High Gardens

 

San Francisco Street Plantings November 30, 2008

Part of our recent vacation to the Bay Area of California was spent in our old stomping grounds of San Francisco. We lived there from 1992-2000 in a never-quite-gentrified part of the city that was equal parts noisy, diverse, crazy and wonderful. We are lucky to have family members who live just a few blocks from our old apartment, so when we come to visit, it feels like coming home. Surprisingly little has changed in the past eight years, and the grocery store folks even remember us!

We were only there for about 48 hours this trip, much of it spent shopping for Thanksgiving fixings and then making the various dishes we were bringing to the feast (two kinds of stuffing, a sweet potato puree with pecan/brown sugar crust, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin ravioli in sage butter sauce for the vegetarians), but I tried to take a few photos of street gardens in the neighborhood. There aren’t really parking strips, at least not in that part of SF, so trees and any other greenery are forced to live in small containers or other gaps in the concrete. This row of trees in small, square planter boxes was installed by the builders of a spiffy condo complex a few years ago:

San Francisco street trees

I’m sorry not to know the tree variety. Any guesses? They have been nicely underplanted with succulents:

Box o' succulents

Further down the same short block is a thriving bottle brush (Callistemon), in full bloom here in the last days of November:

Bottle brush tree

That tree really says California to me (even though technically it’s from Australia), as does this one, Angel’s trumpets or brugmansia, located directly across the street:

Trumpet flower tree

There were Bougainvillea vines in full bloom everywhere in the city right now – I didn’t get a good shot of any but a purple one is visible peeking out from under the spectacular tree in this next shot (I should know what the tree is but have forgotten – again, any guesses?):

SF streetscape

I love that their pumpkins are still out and spiffy – ours all had to be dumped due to gigantic black rotten spots and/or squirrel destruction. The only wildlife we saw on the street was pigeons, and I guess they are not interested in eating squash.

Ah, SF… we love and miss you, but it was good to come home to Seattle too.