Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome to the Hell Strip

What's a Hell Strip you ask? Does this have something to do with Halloween? Only if you are scared of aggressive garden plants! The Hell Strip is the patch of earth between a sidewalk and a street. In some areas homeowners are required to maintain this area as grass. Fortunately that isn't the case here (or if it is no one has come to arrest me yet, I'm sure if they do The Husband can be relied upon to bail me out, it's one of the jobs listed in his pre-nup). My section of Hell Strip contains a street tree that I can't do anything about (and that's a rant for another day. I do not recommend the American Linden or Basswood tree near paved areas) but is otherwise free gardening area.

So why is is called a Hell Strip? Because it can be hellish to try and garden there! The strip is narrow, the dirt is sometimes quite shallow and full of road rubble, people sometimes try to park there and, in my neck of the woods, road salt can accumulate in the soil. The ground usually drys out fast and because of the proximity to pavement it can be warmer than neighboring areas. Add to that the fact that everything growing there must stay short so it doesn't interfere with sight lines when pulling out of the driveway and you have a few limitations.

But where others see limitations I see opportunity! The perfect place for those aggressive garden plants!

Love fresh mint? If you put it in the ground it will take over your garden. Most people pot it up. I put it in the hell strip.

This Artemeisa schmidtiana 'nana' (Silver Mound) has been cut back a couple of times since it got planted in the spring. Good thing it's not near any other plants.

One of my favorite natives, Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), will act like a mint and try to take over so into the hell strip for the perfect growing spot.

Other plants that will hopefully do well in these conditions include plants that are frequently chosen for rock garden locations. These plants are hardy and drought tolerant (very important). Plants like Sea Pinks (Thrift or Armeria maritima).

Or Dianthus.
This thyme (Thymus sp.) is thriving.

Lavender Cotton (Santolia chamaecyarissus) is well known for it's liking of dry, hot situations.

I'm still waiting to see how the Lamb's Ear does (Stachys byzantina). I've heard mixed reviews about the plant but I thought it was worth a try.

Not shown but also thriving are my Sedum matronum (Autumn Fire), Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine), oregano and some pockets of hen-and-chicks.

And if the salt level gets too high? I'll keep adding compost and maybe add some more aggressive plants like catmint (Nepeta sp.)...

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