Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The "Boulevard"

What is it called?  That space between the sidewalk and the street, sometimes filled with manicured lawn, more often filled with weeds (like mine), and sometimes a beautiful garden? Some call it a parking strip, some who try unsuccessfully to beautify it call it a "hell-strip".  I've seen a few garden blogs refer to it as a "boulevard".  That's a new term to me, but the nicest term I've seen; so let's go with it.  Welcome to my boulevard!

A previous owner must have had a never-ending supply of brick.  Brick retaining walls, brick patio, brick garden edging, and a bricked-in boulevard:

If only it actually looked like that.  Usually, it looks like this:

About once a year I go pull out all the weeds, fill in the gaps with sand, and end up with the first picture.  That lasts about two weeks.  I'd been wanting to pull out the bricks and plant something, and last fall I finally removed the bricks.

My trusty cart holds a lot of bricks, but it is hard to push when full.  I found the 28 bricks (four courses of brick) was the most efficient number to move at once.  It took me 15 loads, over several days, to remove all the brick.  For every two loads of brick removed, I brought back a load of leaf mulch.

No more bricks!

I've admired photos of other boulevards that have been planted like a garden.  My space isn't very wide (only 2.5 feet), so my options are more limited.  There aren't usually cars parked in front of my house, except when I have visitors, but I do have to leave the space car-door friendly.  (I think the city requires that.)  Some people solve this by using gravel or a walkable ground cover for the first foot or so, and then plant taller things next to the sidewalk.  But since I have such a narrow space to work with, I think the whole thing needs to be low.

Another necessity of this space is that whatever is planted needs to get by without attention or intervention from me.  My hose doesn't reach that far, and I'm not going to hand-water.  I think a lot of trial-and-error will be involved to find plantings that work.

So far I've put in some bulbs:  crocus, snowdrops, scilla, and anemone.  All low-growers.  They were a nice, colorful addition this spring.
 I also divided up some moss phlox that was growing in the back along the patio terrace, and plopped it in the boulevard.  By winter, the phlox looked to be a goner, mostly dried out and brown.  But it surprised me this month, when at least some part of each patch showed green leaves and flower buds.  This might just work.

Of course I have a lot more of the boulevard to plant.  I might try liriope:  I have quite a bit that can be divided.

And then there's the "other" boulevard.  The one around the corner that I never see, because it is hidden from my view by my ivy-covered fence.  People do park along that one every day.  And it gets a lot of shade (from my ivy).  Something to mull over while I admire my new view in the front.


  1. I applaud you hauling all those bricks. Looks like you're off to a good start on spring plants and bulbs. Check out hardy sedums for the summer. Many bloom and they stay low and love it hot!

  2. Thanks, GONSS! I do love sedum; maybe I can find some that will work here.

  3. We call it the tree belt in Western MASS