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Hellstrip Gardening

Articles: Hellstrip Gardening

“Hellstrip” in the title of this book refers to the land between the sidewalk and the curb where everything “looks like hell” because it is so hard to garden there. The term started being bandied about a number of years ago by designers and 
garden gurus and the author of this book, Evelyn J. Hadden, uses it to draw our attention to this often misused and abused part of the landscape. It makes for a catchy title as well.

The first section of the book shows a number of inspiring gardens across the United States and explains how each gardener handled the challenges of their particular site. A variety of styles and some unexpected plant material make for a great introduction to the topic. However, with the exception of a rather distinctive garden in San Francisco (pgs. 40-45), I couldn’t help but notice that many of the gardens depicted are remarkably spacious compared to typical “hellstrips” one sees every day. The second part of the book deals with obstacles and challenges. The topics of street trees, too much or too little water, slopes, and poor soil, are all addressed. Hadden’s good advice shows she understands the complexities—it is easier to work with a problem armed with kn...

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