Wild Ginger Farm
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A hellstrip garden is often created in the neglected space between the sidewalk and curb but it can also be created along the edge of a driveway as we did at Wild Ginger Farm. We selected our toughest, most drought tolerant plants to create a colorful and attractive garden to welcome visitors to our nursery.
The Hellstrip Garden at Wild Ginger Farm
Hellstrip Gardens are often created in the least hospitable areas, hence the name hellstrip. We certainly had that problem when we moved to our new nursery site. The area along our driveway had been used as a gravel roadbed pile by the previous owners. We wanted to create a low maintenance garden in this hot, dry and unsightly area but found that we were unable to penetrate the rocky, compacted soil with our tiller or even with a handpick.
One of our goals at the nursery is to test the limits of our plants, so the first season we simply dug some leftover black basalt rocks into the edge of the bed and planted the plants directly into the rocky, soiless surface. As you can see below, the plants after a full season's growth survived but did not thrive.
Before pocket planting
The next year we replanted existing plants and added additional plants using a pocket planting method. Pocket planting is used when you are unable to rework the soil in an entire area. Instead, a hole is dug and additional soil is worked in along with the plant. I would guess we never added more than a gallon's volume of a well-draining soil blend to each planting hole, but what a difference that little bit of soil made! The photos below, taken a few months after replanting, show how the plants have been able to thrive when planted in a small amount of soil over our original impenetrable rocky area. Over time, their penetrating root systems will work their way down to the soil substrate below. Once this occurs they will become even more drought tolerant and will also be able to obtain any needed nutrients from the soil.
After pocket planting
Plants include Euphorbia characias at rear against shed, mounding Sedum ellacombianum
in the middle of the bed, and a combination of Creeping Thyme, Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum), pink and
white flowered perennial baby's breath (Gypsophila repens), Alpine Scullcap (Scutellaria alpina),
and Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum spp.) along the edge.
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