Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Hellstrip Garden in Spring

There's something about the challenge of hellstrip gardening that just calls to me.


The hellstrip is that piece of land between the street and the sidewalk that is so named by gardeners due to its difficulty in growing plants in it, thanks to factors such as glaring heat from the asphalt, poor soil, and winter saltings.  Normally they are just weedy strips of grass, which is why I think hellstrip gardening appeals to me so - those poor weedy patches are just screaming out for a makeover!


When we first moved into our house, the strip between the street and the sidewalk was an uneven and unsightly mess of weeds.  To one side of the driveway, the hellstrip was also the place where our mailbox was situated.  I adore mailbox gardens (so homey, don't you think?), so I just had to make it my mission to turn that section into a garden bed, despite Mr. Red House's misgivings about how poor, dry, and gravelly the dirt was there.


I dug up the weeds and grass, added lots of compost, and planted the hardiest plants I could find.  Mr. Red House was unsure about the results even last summer, as my perennials were still small and the weeds often outpaced me, but after this Spring's display, he's finally come around!

hellstrip in bloom
Most of the plants survived through the winter, and all the bulbs appear to have come up.  Between the last two years, I've planted dozens of Daffodils, some little Grape Hyacinth, and - the pièce de résistance - bright red and gold 'Flair' Tulips.

'Flair' Tulip
I bought some 'Flair' Tulip bulbs a couple years ago on one of those impulses we gardeners get, and after they bloomed, I just fell in love with them.  After a long, very white winter, it is so thrilling to see such a blazing color in the garden.  I have to spray them as soon as they come up with a deer deterrent so that they don't get eaten, but they're worth the little extra hassle.

another bloom of the variable 'Flair' Tulip
This year I'd like to start turning the hellstrip on the other side of my driveway, which is an even longer strip than this one, into a matching garden bed.  Mr. Red House is still rather unsure, since we also just extended the front garden beds quite a bit, which means there will be a lot of garden that will need attending to.  But at the moment it seems like such a fun project that I am quite excited about it. We'll see how I feel about it later this summer when I am weeding everything...


But right now I'm just thrilled to be able to enjoy such a beautiful spring show from my previously weedy and ugly hellstrip!

33 comments:

  1. Yowza! 'Flair' and her companion spring beauties are dramatic and absolutely stunning! Congrats on the success with your hell-strip. I don't have a hell-strip, so believe it or not, I have hell-strip envy. Great job!

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    1. Thanks! You might be unique in having hellstrip envy, as most people would probably rather not have them! The challenge is quite fun, though, and thankfully I don't have city traffic or anything harder to contend with.

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  2. Now that is a beautiful bright and cheerful hellstrip. I don't think we have hellstrips over here.

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    1. No sidewalks there, or do they just put them next to the road? Putting the sidewalks right next to the road does seem like it would make more sense than having all these narrow strips of ground. It makes me wonder how the idea of parking strips/hellstrips got started!

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    2. the sidewalks are right next to the road

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  3. You did a wonderful job transforming your hellstrip into a delightful curbside garden. Lucky drivers that pass and get to enjoy the sight.

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    1. Thank you! Our mailman has commented how much he enjoys the spring bulbs, so I know at least one person enjoys it other than myself!

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  4. Just spent 4 days planting our new front garden. Started with our hell strip.
    Mine is just green, Your tulips are enviable!

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    1. I look forward to seeing pictures of how it turned out! I've been working on new beds in our front garden, too. It always takes awhile to fill up the beds nicely.

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  5. Wow... It is beautiful and in such a tough location.... Michelle

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    1. I feel lucky, though, that it doesn't get too awfully hot up here. While we deal with plows and salt, we don't have such terrible heat there. Down south, I'd assume I'd have to use many more drought tolerant plants!

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  6. I swear, if Buffalo gardeners can do this so well with all the winter salt, heavy clay, construction debris, oil and pollution from vehicles, retrictive city ordinances, and high pH from the limestone road base, it can be done absolutely anywhere. Your bulbs look lovely there. May summer bring you beautiful flower too.

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    1. I am always in awe over the pictures of hellstrips in Buffalo! They are my inspiration!

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  7. Your gonna have to change the name to Paradise Strip... it's gorgeous!

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  8. Gorgeous tulips, etc! Happy Spring!

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    1. Happy Spring! I am so enjoying this season after all the snow!

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  9. Not familiar with the term hellstrip, certainly doesn't look hellish now, that's for sure.

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  10. A wonderful project and very well done. What's on the cards for summer I wonder.

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    1. We've extended a lot of the flower beds, so I will be quite busy planting this summer! Always lots to do :)

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  11. Your hellstrip will put a smile on any mailman! It would be wonderful if the cheery colors would inspire your neighbors to do the same!

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    1. Thanks! I have a couple neighbors with a small planting around their mailboxes, but nothing too extensive. It sure would be nice to have a whole neighborhood full of gardens along the sidewalk!

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  12. Indie, your hellstrip garden is just beautiful! I'm not normally a fan of orange flowers, but these tulips are so striking and perfect for an area where you want bold colors that will catch the eye of passersby. I'm sure anyone driving by slows down just a little to enjoy this cheery display.

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    1. I had planned to make my front gardens in pastel colors, with lots of pinks. However, with all the yellow daffodils and those amazing bright tulips, I've just decided that the spring garden will have to be bright, and then later blooms can be more in the pink/purple/blue family!

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  13. The Hellstrip is looking fabulous! I am forever puttering and trying to improve my mailbox garden...I agree with you...plant more and mow less....

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  14. Love, love, love these orangey tulips. You'll be redesigning the whole street soon 😀

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    1. Ha, thanks! It will take me a good bit just to plant the other section of hellstrip I have!

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  15. I love it! Those tulips are stunning! What a fabulous way to welcome spring. :o) There's a book from Timber Press called Hell Strip Gardening. :o)

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    1. I've seen reviews of that book and want it! It sounds fabulous! :)

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  16. I've never heard that term before, but it is a perfect way to describe that strip. Here it used to be called 'nature strip' which is a bad joke because usually it's just grass. Those bright spring flowers look fabulous.

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    1. Mine wasn't even grass, just weeds! This is much better, I think!

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