Hey Guys! So if you’ve been following along with the blog you may remember last year when I overhauled the boulevard garden. I had originally planted the garden in 2010, but I had no idea what I was getting into. The garden was not thriving and poorly organized. At the beginning of last summer I came up with a new boulevard plan and began ripping out the old garden, leaving what worked but adding a lot of new plants.
The boulevard garden has been my biggest gardening challenge – a definite exercise in trial and error. There are a lot of gardening obstacles when it comes to boulevard gardening. As common on many boulevards, we have a tree (maple) with a big root system, many of the roots hang out close to the surface of the garden making it difficult for plants to grow. In the winter our Minneapolis boulevards are piled high with snow and the salt used on the streets affects the acidity of the soil. Water is necessary for any garden but on the boulevard rain water repels off the boulevard making its way to sewer drains without having a chance to deeply soak the soil. It takes some foresight to consider irrigation and plan trenches to keep mulch and water inside the garden so it’s not spilling into the street and sewers. It sucks, but some people don’t give a shit about my garden, they throw trash and cigarettes butts in it, and they walk right over plants – it’s just the risk we have to take for a pretty boulevard. Lastly, boulevards and weeds are BFF’s, it’s a constant struggle to keep them looking tidy, neat, and dandelion free.
So I’ve learned a few things a long the way, and I thought I’d share a little of what has been working for me.
I was so happy and surprised this spring to see a lot of my garden returning and looking more hardy then I had ever seen it. I did have a few casualties but they were minor – I honestly expected most of the garden to be gone like had happened in the past. The Iris are very happy on the boulevard, I wish they bloomed all summer because I would fill the garden with them – as it is, I already have too many. All of my ground cover came back, I used Golden Money wort and Purple Lamium throughout the garden. The Sedum are thriving, and the Dianthus have doubled. The Phlox also survived the winter and I’m anticipating mid-summer blooms. In my experience Salvia is nearly indestructible and seems to be right at home on the boulevard. The Blue Fescue did pretty well, out of the six I planted, one of them is looking worse for wear. I’m gonna see if he can come around over the next few weeks, but if not, I will replace him. The biggest causality were a few Hostas that I had planted near the base of the tree. I replaced them with Lupine this spring and amended the soil with plenty of compost. I hope they are happy here, but am prepared to see them only for a season. This is the trickiest spot in the garden.
I waited a long while before I tidied up the garden this year. The boulevard maple was dropping all of it’s seeds and flowers, all lime green in color. I didn’t want to spent the time cleaning the garden just to have it littered with that tree’s filth – “How dare you, Tree!” I spent the last few days doing some intense weeding, pulling the weeds up from their roots. This is the key to weeding, you need to get the roots out of your garden or they will grow back within days. I also took my edger and dug a 3″ trench around the perimeter of the garden allowing a place for the mulch to collect when it rains so it doesn’t skim off into the street and sidewalks. I mulched well, covering a bit more than I do in my normal flower beds (about 2″). I really want the plants roots to be shaded and cool. The deep covering of mulch will allow for good water retention as well. I’ve also made a promise to this garden and tree that I will water it twice a week all summer long. I highly neglected it in the past, I’m going to do right by this garden this year. I’m going for an even prettier and happy boulevard garden in 2015!
The Iris and Salvia next to a stone pathway.
Blue Fescue in the foreground, Sedum, Dianthus and Iris towards the back.
Here’s to hoping this new Lupine is happy hear on the boulevard.
So I wanna know, what works best in your boulevard garden? What are your experiences – I’m sure readers who are wanting to try their hand at a boulevard garden would love to hear your take on it. I’m looking to add some late summer blooming plants – any recommendations on what would do well here?