by Connie Oswald Stofko
People call it the “hellstrip.”
It’s that section between the sidewalk and street where people generally grow nothing but grass.
It’s where the plows deposit the heavy, salty snow from the street. Garbage cans get tossed there. Dogs do their business there.
What in the world could you grow there?
Flowers and herbs.
That’s what Elaine Clutterbuck of Buffalo grows in the three-season garden she has established in her hellstrip. This past summer her garden was on the Parkside Garden Tour and on Open Gardens.
She told me then that her hellstrip garden was in its third year and filling in nicely.
“Everything is very hardy and durable,” Clutterbuck said. “People can get in and out of their cars and trample it and it’s fine.”
If you like the look of grassless yards, you might want to try gardening in your hellstrip.
Clutterbuck’s hellstrip has interesting plants from spring through fall. In spring she has grape hyacinths, tulips and squill, a plant that gets little blue flowers.
These photos are from late June 2014. In bloom are Margaurite daisies and lavender.
What’s especially interesting to me is the golden oregano around the tree. It’s a low-growing groundcover, but it’s edible. I worried about things splashing on it from the street, but Clutterbuck pointed out that in summer there’s no problem with road salt, and she washes off the oregano before using it.
In July other perennials bloom, such as globe thistle and day lilies. There are three kinds of rudbeckia, including rudbeckia maxima, which gets five feet tall. Clutterbuck said the finches like the seeds.
In late fall, she has hummingbird vine or Zauschneria, which gets an orange tubular flower that attracts hummingbirds.
Ornamental grasses also add interest.
Adding a garden to your hellstrip can improve the looks of your front yard. And if you don’t have a large lot, it gives you more room for garden beds.