Monday, April 8, 2013

My Garden is Growing

Spring is well under way here in North Texas, and my garden is growing.

The wildflowers and ornamental grasses are growing, 
and more perennials are emerging every day.

Buds are turning into leaves.

Ferns are unfurling.

The lawn has gotten its annual topdressing of compost,
so it is growing and greening.

 My veggie garden is growing like gangbusters, and I've already had my first harvest of carrots and asparagus :-)

But my garden is growing in another way.   The front perennial bed is expanding.  That patch of grass between the sidewalk and the street, commonly known among gardeners as the "hellstrip," is on its way to becoming a heavenly patch of perennials.

I have been wanting to rip out this section of lawn for a couple years now, but with other projects going on and having my garden on tour last spring, I put my plans on hold.

In January of this year we had a drain repaired in another part of the front yard, so the underground utilities were marked across the whole front yard, including the hellstrip area. I thought, as long as the utilities are marked so that we can see where we need to be careful, now sure seems like a great time to start the hellstrip project.

Unfortunately, some of those utilities are just inches below the surface, so the grass removal could not be as thorough as I would have liked.  I am going to have to resort to spraying with Roundup to kill any remaining grass because I am not going to battle Bermuda for the rest of my life.   I consider myself an organic gardener, but I do have my limitations.  If there were ever a reason to cross over the line for a bit, it is for the eradication of Bermuda.  Believe me, if I could dig without either cutting phone service to the neighborhood, electrocuting myself, or causing a gas explosion, I would be digging to my heart's content, but that is just not an option.  So, my fellow organic gardening friends, please forgive me, but I will be nuking the Bermuda as soon as it starts to rear its invasive little head.

I got online to look for inspiration and ideas for designing my hellstrip plantings, and I came across a blog called the Art of Gardening.  Jim's post called Living Hellstrips shows a collection of beautiful hellstrip planting designs.

When I came upon this picture, I knew I had found what I was looking for.   Adding the cobblestones will hopefully allow me to raise the planting areas enough to be out of the zone of the utility lines.    My plan is to use low-growing perennials (no taller than 1 foot tall) so that the perennials in the beds on the other side of the sidewalk can still be seen from the street. 

So at this point the initial grass removal has been done.

Complete eradication of the Bermuda roots now lurking below the surface will just take some time, so I am trying to be patient.  I need to wait until the temperatures are warm enough and the Bermuda is actively growing in order for the glyphosate applications to be effective.

Here's the list of plant options I'm considering:

Lamb's Ear - Stachys byzantina 'Helen von Stein'
Pink Skullcap - Scuttellaria suffrutescens
Sedum (various)
Katie's Ruellia - Dwarf Mexican Petunia
'Azure Skies' Heliotrope
Creeping Phlox - Phlox subulata
'Bath's Pink' Dianthus
'May Night' Salvia - Salvia nemorosa
Four-Nerve Daisy - Tetraneuris scaposa
Catmint 'Walker's Low' - Nepeta
'Hameln' Fountaingrass or Mexican Feathergrass

Stay tuned for further updates on my latest garden project; I can't wait to get it growing!

Toni :-)

P.S. Check out Rhone Street Gardens to see the beautiful transformation of the parking strip in front of Scott's Portland home.