Magazine article Sunset

Heavenly "Hellstrips"

Magazine article Sunset

Heavenly "Hellstrips"

Article excerpt

Turn barren spaces into lush oases that need little care or water

Ironically, it is often the most visible part of your property that seems to offer the least hope for a successful garden planting. It might be an inhospitable area along the fence or by the driveway. Typically, it's the forsaken parkway strip-that trampled, parched ribbon of noman's-land between sidewalk and street.

Yet with the right palette of plants, you can transform this wasteland into a floral oasis. These plants should fill in quickly and, once established, remain low enough so that they don't block traffic views or run afoul of height ordinances.

This kind of transformation not only enhances the look of your home, it can change the habits of passersby within a season of planting. Dog-walkers, skateboarders, joggers, even the most distracted group of teenagers stop intruding into the strip and may even linger to look.

Choosing "hellstrip" plants

As you make selections, look fo plants that possess these traits.

* Unthirsty

* Unfussy about soil

* Persistent (bulbs, perennials, low shrubs)

* Compact height (under 3 feet)

* Attractive foliage

* Tidy growth (little pruning and primping needed)

* Variety of textures and shapes

* Flower colors to suit your taste

* Varied bloom times

Plant sampler

Unless noted, all do best in sun and are hardy in Sunset climate zones 2-9, 14-24, although many can survive in colder and hotter climates.



* Crocus species. Yellow, gold, white, purple, pale blue flowers.

* Iris reticulata (snow iris). Blue, purple. Hardy to zone 3.

* Tulipa species.

Evergreen perennials

* Alyssum montanum (mountain basket of gold). Yellow.

*Veronica pectinata, V x 'Blue Reflection'. Blue.



* Babiana species (baboon flower). Blue, lavender, purple, crimson, white. Hardy to zone 4.

* Brodiaea species. Blue. Zones vary.

* Iris species. All colors. Zones vary.


* Achillea species (yarrow). Some evergreen. All colors but blue and purple.

* Dianthus gratianopolitanus, D. 'Allwoodii' (pinks). Pink, crimson, white flowers.

* Nepeta x faassenii (catmint). Lavender blue; 'Snowflake' has white flowers.

* Papaver atlanticum. Orange.

* Penstemon species.

Low evergreen shrubs

* Cistus species (rockrose). White, pink, magenta. Choose compact species or hybrids. Hardy to zone 6. …

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