Gardening for Neighbors

Much of my gardening is really done for my neighbors and passersby.  Don’t get me wrong – I love to garden, to design plantings, see how they’re growing, and tend to them in whatever way they seem to need tending.  But parts of my garden are really not visible to me except when I am actually out working on them – I can’t see them from my patio or windows, and I don’t even  go by them on my way into and out of my house, since I usually go out our “back” door.  So I try to think about these beds from the perspective of my neighbors, and how people walking by or driving by encounter these areas.  I love it when I find out that I’ve been successful, and my little gardens are providing enjoyment and maybe even a little inspiration.

Our front garden bordering the sidewalk is shady and dry most of the year, because of the large maple tree planted by the City of Cambridge in the sidewalk.  (You can see this in my blog’s header photo.) But in the early spring, before the maple tree leafs out,  it gets lots of sun from its south/southwest orientation, and produces flowering bulbs very early.  (The same bulbs, on the north side of the house, don’t come into bloom until several weeks later!)  I love this, and plant bulbs that flower in waves, so that people walking by see something new every few days.  In early April, the crocuses are long past, and the muscari and scilla are coming into bloom, with an occasional wandering daffodil or early tulip.

The west side of my townhouse offers another gardening opportunity/challenge.  There’s a small sloping garden next to the driveway used both by visitors to the condo association next to us, and by my cohousing neighbors, driving in and out of our underground garage.  And then there’s a tiny strip of dirt between the driveway curb and a retaining wall.  My neighbor got this strip going by planting some kind of daisy or perennial white mums (someday I’ll figure out exactly what this plant is) that have managed to find a toehold here. But that only gives us flowers in the fall, what to do for the rest of the year?  A couple years ago, I started planting daffodils in this strip, extending them all the way up along the driveway to the street.  I love the way they seem to greet people driving in and out, and am delighted when neighbors stop and tell me how much they enjoy them!


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