Show your curb some enthusiasm

I’ve no idea what these city-owned strips of (sometimes) grass or (too often) weeds between the sidewalk and the street are called: swales? easements? Anyone know? [Ed: Technically, they’re called “boulevards” but the common name for them is “hellstrips.”]

All I know is that more and more gardeners in our neighbourhood have started to cultivate these narrow bits of land – and that I approve.

This option doesn’t exist on our street, sad to say. However, I appreciate the efforts on other streets, roads and avenues.

These images were taken last spring, a couple of weeks later in the season. I love the way you can get a really close look at the plants in these situations, without that feeling of trespass. Tulips, particularly, have surprising insides that warrant closer inspection.

Think I’ll swing by soon to see what else has been established here to fill in the space as the tulips ripen – always the challenge when planting tulips: what to do to disguise the necessary yellowing foliage. Will these gardens still have curb appeal?


  1. Hi Helen, in the US we call them hellstrips. Maybe curbside gardens would be more appropriate for those you have shown.

    Thanks for identifying the veronica in my post. I appreciate your efforts. 🙂

    Frances at Fairegarden

  2. Wow, Frances, you’ve got some stunning photos on your blog. Love those Salvias, what a great combination.
    And that collection of Bohemian Waxwings lounging around the pool is To Die For!!!

  3. Hubby thinks they are called boulevards, just like those islands between the lanes of the street.

    I think they are lovely when planted. Somehow, it feels like it was done for the pleasure of the passersby and I do appreciate it.

  4. “Hell strip” really is an apt name for the space between the sidewalk and street in front of our house. Dry shade and dog and human traffic conspire to make it difficult for even weeds to survive there…

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