Around The 'Hood

A garden buddy and I went a'wanderin' through the neighborhood to see a couple of remodeled front yards.  

On the way to the remodels, we saw some bamboo abuse.
Do not try this at home!
 Imagine having this outside your living room window. 
 Next, some homeowners who did a truly meticulous job with a whole lotta rock.  
Huh.  It's a mulch, not a rock, guitar.

 It will be uncomfortably hot come summer.  Leaves will blow in from the neighborhood, and weeds will sprout. 

 But it is meticulous at the moment.  They did not do sloppy work.  Bravo, homeowners.  My companion spoke to the homeowner who arrived home as we were contemplating her landscape.  Her diesel truck engine was roaring and belching fumes so I retreated.

 At the other remodel, there were more plants and less rock.
 Some choice plants, too--though the 'Blue Glow' Agaves at extreme lower left will be hanging over the wall as they mature, into the path of passers by,  and Anigozanthos are not dry garden plants year round.  They like plentiful water during their active growth and bloom period.  It is when they are somewhat dormant, after blooming is finished, that dry conditions are acceptable. 

 An urn fountain near a sitting area under a pergola.  This home sits more than five feet above the sidewalk;  standing on the sidewalk my eyes were level with the bottom of the front door. 
 Oh those Anigozanthos!
 Hardscape had been reworked as well as plants.  A really big staircase to the front door...
When you need eight people to climb your stairs simultaneously:

This stone embedded into the wall continued the stones along the edge of the stairway.  Nice effect, but a fail for the sharp corner on the bottom stair tread.  A sharp corner right where a passerby can hit it and scrape the skin off their leg. 
The hellstrip looked like the repository for leftover plants and rocks.  The river rock could be a falling or tripping hazard for less agile people. Plus...why? 

Overall, pretty good, some of my favorite plants--with a few questionable choices.  

The "find" of the day was a garden I'd seen a couple of times in passing last fall, when it looked tired, dried out, struggling--the usual state of a lot of gardens here in mid-autumn.  We drove by it on our way elsewhere.  A glance showed that it was worth a look at winter's end.  It looked ab-fab.

 Even with the Lagerstroemia out front still dormant.
 It was a meadow-like sea of flowers filling a large section of a large corner lot.  White and purple Osteospermum,  purple Limonium perezii,  Dietes grandiflora... 
 Pelargonium,  California poppy... 
 Freesias here and there, a mostly dormant Canna,  a couple of Daylily clumps not yet blooming.  It all made for a marvelous song to Spring.
 Various yellow daisies...

  Nigella damascena

 What a fabulous hellstrip!
 I repeat:  what a hellstrip.  
If this is what hell looks like, I want to go there.

 Just lovely.  With some thought and not too much effort or water, they could add various plants to vastly improve the look of the area in summer and autumn.  For summer, Dahlias, Brodiaea laxa “Queen Fabiola”, perhaps a shrub rose or two, and more Daylilys.  Gallardia and Tagetes lemonii for early Autumn.  Hippeastrum for late spring--they do fine with a dry summer. 

Oddly, this inspired border and hellstrip enclosed a ho-hum conventional landscape that looked original to the 1960's home:  a bermuda lawn and a few foundation shrubs.
 So that's what we saw a'wanderin' in the 'hood. 


  1. I LOVE the meadow-like landscape - it sings to the flower freak that occupies the center of my soul. I haven't grown Dietes since I left my former garden behind but they do support the meadow look (at least when divided as necessary to keep them from getting scruffy). Your neighborhood gardens seem so much more interesting than mine but then I probably haven't wandered far enough afield. Frankly, the neighbors here get so freaked out when they see someone taking photos, I'm afraid I'd have a sheriff's deputy on my heels in no time.

    1. You like flowers, Kris? Really? ;^) Me, too.

      Dietes dead leaf build up makes it look bad. Perhaps planted in very very loose sandy soil it would be easily dividable. I tried it once long ago, what a nightmare that was. Whole beast went into the trash.

      I look strictly at the plants and ignore the house. Have never had a problem. Usually call "Just admiring your beautiful garden!" if someone appears and people are happy to talk, especially about a new landscape.

    2. That hellstrip is wonderful...more of those, everywhere!

    3. They must have been inspired by yours, Scott! :^)

  2. That's a gorgeous hellstrip! I want to go to whatever hell this is too. I realized last year that I have been denying the flower floozy in me since I moved here from Massachusetts. I bought into the whole "Foliage is the big thing, it lasts longer" hype, and this year I'm taking steps to rectify that. I gravitate toward flowers, I'm always wowed by gardens that are full of them, even simple annuals, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it any more.

    1. Time for the flower floozy to come out of the greenhouse? I'm a floweraholic myself. Easier to get away with it here, perhaps.

  3. All the pictures are beautiful but the meadow full of flowers takes the cake!

    1. It was quite wonderful to make such an accidental discovery. I lingered snapping photos much longer than expected.

  4. I haven't seen any new gardens here yet. We are still thawing out. I love the meadow garden. A little too much rock for my taste in the first one. Those types of gardens make me think that the people there don't really garden. It would drive me crazy.

    1. The homeowner was very proud of the work. Everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe the accomplishment will turn them into avid gardeners, and the site will evolve into a softer, more plant-centric place. That would be a good thing!

  5. Two extremes, bleak rock and lush flowers.
    Via the stairs to hell? They look too steep for mere people to use? Especially the final step to the road!

    1. That lowest step: yes indeed. The end of that nearest to the house rose about 3" (7 cm) from the pavement, and the opposite end, adjacent to the sidewalk, rose about 20" (50cm)!

      I did not get a photo of the house adjacent, but they had the same sort of stairway but not so wide, enough for two people to ascend side by side rather than eight. Seemed more balanced visually, not so overwhelming. (Not to mention leaving more space for plants, the important thing.)

  6. Like many of the commenters above, I loved the meadow. How can you not have a smile on your face as you walk or drive by? I prefer it to the grandiose hardscaping in the other front yard.

    1. We lingered quite a while, which tells you it was wonderful. The linger-factor is telling, isn't it?

      Well, at least the stone homeowners paid some attention to the outdoors. Lots of people don't even do that. And if they get hooked on plants,'s good!

      I would be itching to get that meadow to be a year-round beautiful thing, not just at this time of the year. I think it could be done. Once summer hits, the magic departs.

      So sad about the bot-copy of your blog. Hope you get that addressed. :(

  7. I love the meadow garden. The rock garden will look very nice after the plants begin to fill in.

  8. The meadow-y border and hellstrip are a brilliant example of lawn reduction, even if not full replacement (yet!). Just think how much more support there is now at that spot for pollinators and soil life. [Autocorrect tried to make that 'soul life'; that, too.].

  9. I've never heard the term hellstrip before. Sounds much more interesting than nature strip, especially when they are mostly dried out grass (which they mostly round here at this time of year). Very inspiring wildflower garden. Good choice of plants which are relatively tough and low maintenance like the African daisies and L. perezzi. The other garden makeovers were interesting, people have such different tastes and priorities.

    1. Lauren Springer's book The Undaunted Garden did a lot to popularize the term 'hellstrip' in the 1990s, and inspired many more urban gardeners to plant theirs. The vanilla name for it is 'parking strip'. [I recommend the book highly, btw; it's especially valuable for gardeners in Colorado and similar climates, but rewarding for any gardener.]


Post a Comment

Always interested in your thoughts.

Any comments containing a link to a commercial site with the intent to promote that site will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding on this matter.