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I’m In HELL!!!

by germinatrix | May 10th, 2010

There is a strip -

A place between the sidewalk and the street. It is a BAD place. It has been dubbed “The Hellstrip” ( Word has it that author Laurel Springer was the first to call it that – what a genius. So appropriate!)

Mine has been empty, full of crabgrass, forever. But inspired by ESP (Mr. East Side Patch himself), I tackled the hellstrip – but instead of just grasses and succulents, like I’d planned, I threw a curveball. Temporary raised edible beds, right out there in the most public of places, for all the world to see!

corrugated metal, steel posts, rivets, and moxie!

I did this as an experiment. I live one block away from a big public highschool full of bad-ass teenagers. I live on a corner of a busy street – lots of cars pass by, and on weekends troublemakers have been known to park right here next to my hellstrip and drink their 40 oz of whatever (I usually find the evidence of this marauding on Sunday morning). So these edible beds are NOT expected to be respected – BUT, I am hoping for the best.

the long view of the round beds

The response from neighbors has been astounding. I thought people would hate the look of the corrugated beds. I wanted something easy to put together, and that could be quickly taken apart should the city “powers-that-be” decide I am being too subversive ( well, more like I’m getting in the way of some tree trimming or something). so I chose this humble metal building material. I wanted it to look somewhere between country and modern – I think they do that! My neighbors have been stopping me and asking so many questions – and they have been pledging vigilance. I feel like they are all taking ownership of these edible beds! And that makes me determined to share whatever bounty the varmints, both critter AND human, allow these beds to give.

lots of spillers to soften the edges - grow little ones!

I’ve put agaves and nasella in between the beds – right now they are tiny … the kids going to school and people getting out of their cars can easily walk in the hellstrip right now – but by next year, they will find it a little harder. I’m planning on putting in more grasses and then finishing with a layer of decomposed granite – I DO have to think about this as an access as well as a planting. Otherwise I would have planted the HELL out of  this strip!

You have to use what you have - school zone sign as bean pole

This is one of my favorite things – using the existing sign, which I’ve always HATED because I see it from inside my back garden and it ruins the illusion of Shangri-La. Now I love the sign, because I’ve turned it into a bean pole and incorporated it into my scheme of “world domination”! Or at least “neighborhood domination”! If half of the people who have told me that they want to utilize their hellstrips for the same purpose actually do something like this, I will be so THRILLED!

So cross your fingers for me, everybody! It is just a baby, and it needs to grow, but if it works out and the marauders take it easy on me – then my faith in mankind will be re-solidified. I can’t wait to see what happens, and as usual, I will keep you posted!

vulnerable little beds need best wishes!

XOXO your Germinatrix!!!

30 Responses to “I’m In HELL!!!”

  1. Awesome!! If I was finding 40 oz containers in such a place, I’d be tempted to plant something more offensive (like agaves… only, more of them!) but I doubt that would get as much support as you’ve gotten from the neighbors. Take back the hellstrip!!

  2. Very cool Ms. G.. Settin’ a good example for the neighbors and the holligans at the same time. Nice use of inexpensive building materials too. Well done.

  3. Well certainly keep us updated on the status of your hellstrip! Looks great!

  4. Not many hellstrips in neighborhoods here, which is too bad. You’ve inspired me to be a hopeful subversive…now where to direct this energy?

    Christine in Alaska

  5. Oh, Summer – I held back! All I did was plant 4 Agave americana in between the raised beds … but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that they are going to get HUGE!!! What will my happy happy neighbors say then? That is my nature, sweet and spiky in one fell swoop.

    Thanks for the thumbs up, Matt! I am pleased with how they look, and can’t WAIT until we get some heat here in cold LA so things will finally GROW!!!

    KATIE KATIE KATIE!!! I will be keeping you SO updated, you MIRACLE you! Are you sick of people being all up at you all the time? Cuz you gave us quite a scare. When I look at my borage flowers I think of your beautiful big blue eyes…

    Christine … no hellstrips? Hmmmm… maybe a median? Or guerilla gardening the side of a road? There are MANY outlets for gardening subversion… and i am SO PROUD to be one to push you down that path! Run! Run to plant anything ANYWHERE!!!

  6. I keep trying to get a closer look at how you constructed them. Can you give us a play-by-play?

  7. Looks great! And very Portland (I mean that as a compliment!). I adore your use of the ugly sign…pure genius!

  8. Hellstrip! Yes! My hellstrip “lawn” is overrun with gophers. I love this idea of turning it into an edible (and/or spiky agave) garden! I live between a 7-11 and a high school, so every day we come home to lots o’ litter (gross cheesy nacho wrappers, etc) from litterbug students. Enjoy your hell. Looking forward to updates.

  9. Looks FAB!! So much better and tasty than crabgrass :)

  10. I wish your hellstrip planters the best of luck. Many times people surprise me. I’ve been impressed at how people have respected some front yard food around here, so I’ve been working on a front yard veg garden takeover in my neighbor’s sunny front yard.
    If we ignore the guy I saw peeing on the side of another neighbor’s house the other day, I’d have to say the entire neighborhood has been excited and supportive of the endeavor. Someone even came by and stuck some solar lanterns in the yard. Guerrilla lighting.

  11. Good luck with your project. I hope your neighborhood hoodlums surprise you. I do have a question about the corrugated metal. Did you purchase it at that height or have it cut? Are the edges sharp? I think they look pretty cool and with a bit of rust they’ll be even cooler.

  12. Thank you!

    Great post.

    I’m glad you mentioned this: “I DO have to think about this as an access as well as a planting. ” and are keeping an eye on this aspect. This will be what you can use if the powers do come down. That you’ve provided it…

    I too hope to see developments as they arrive. Will the food disappear? Will some savvy HS kid freak the hell out of his peers by eating the nasturtiums? Could be educational and fun!

  13. Oh, my! You are fantastic! Love your planters and your moxie. Best wishes for the planters, neighbors, kids, and you! xox

  14. what fun! High Country Gardens has a category of plants that are good for what they call, “the inferno strip”. Perfect for us Sacramento folk who have garden areas fully exposed to the west setting sun.

  15. I love the idea of high schoolers getting wasted on your parkway and then picking some chard to bring home!

  16. Cool. They look like big ol’ cupcakes.

    I’ll be attacking my hellstrip in the near future (after having had the dying tree taken down by the city two years ago, they have yet to grind down the stump!). I like your attempt to incorporate the “hellstrip signage” as a beanpole. I don’t think I’ll be planting vegetables. The flowers get stolen occasionally as it is, I can’t see putting food out there for folks to take.

  17. Wow, this is a great idea. I’m sure you will inspire others to try to improve their own hellstrips.

  18. Love the idea! I wonder if the city will give you a hard time over a vine growing up the pole? They can be so “beauraucratic!”
    The neighborhood kids kept riding their bikes along my “hell strip.” Our neighborhood doesn’t have side walks. I planted some agave and will be adding a river rock design on the granite to change the surface and discourage the demolition of my struggling desert marigolds.

  19. I hope the neighbors help you out, and keep them moist. It’s so hard to know what to do with those kinds of road strips other than throwing grass or pachysandra down. I like the variety of what you have much better!

  20. HEY ALL!!!
    I’m traveling the world designing gardens right now – but as soon as I get back and have recuperated from this torturous life I will address all these awesome comments! Thank you all for being SO positive about my baby beds – I am so SAD to be away from them – I’m so nervous! I’m sure the neighborhood, the husband, and the Minion will be watching them with loving eyes, however. Lovely world!
    XOXO Ivette (Your Germinatrix!)

  21. I love it! I don’t have a Hell strip, but if I did it would have edibles. What a great sense of community it brings. Even to the young punks. You can’t help but enjoy your landscape!


  22. Hi, well thats neat and all, but I was curious..
    Usually that spot, you worked. is City/county/state/ Gov! property..

    Although you didn’t vandalize it, I laugh at the Irony of the Sign.
    And it not technically being your ‘property’ so you broke the law.

    (I don’t give two shits, I’m just pointing out)
    Looks great, would hate to see what it looked like previously.
    As far as the Kids, you said it was a Highschool.

    Start teaching those stupid punks a lesson.

    Minor in Possession…
    Minors, drinking, hanging out, littering, probably also using Weed(Woo!) , Meth… Coke, more.

    As much as I’d hate to say this.. Start calling the Authorities.

    YOU are making your city and streets and World a nicer, cleaner better place.
    Taking your hard work and time to do so, and only seeing it all for nothing to have people ruin it.

    Good luck in what your doing. I’m going to bookmark this site.

  23. Hey another idea, plant fruits and vegetables there..
    or any other public area.

    You’ll feed people and animals.
    this isn’t well thought out, but I’m sure with planning it would be amazing.
    Start making Public, low maintenance fruits and vegetable gardens. in many places.
    You could keep animals out of specifics… but it’s a nice though to help start feeding more people.

    Especially if kids/school zone most people don’t eat right, let alone kids going and coming from schools.

    take care!

  24. Top Notch scheme / concept G!

    I have read a lot about how a front hell-strip / edible garden stimulates local (and attracts) dialogue from street walking “locals” recently…What a great idea you had with those metal edible planters! Also it must be great fodder for your up-coming book publication, you horticultural superstar you!

    Thanks for the post mention. This is totally Germi – awesomeness… (Like we would expect anything less from the Gothic princess of American / global contemporary planting schemes)…

    Fantastic design work G,

  25. Okay I’m BACK, and the beds are looking good! No vandals yet, and some nasturtium flowers are brightening up the joint! RIGHT ON!!!

    and ESP – it would have been nice if I’d LINKED to you – where is my head? Silly Gothic Germi! I’ll remedy that RIGHT NOW!

  26. You’re such a radical! I love it! It’s crazy that planting food in the front yard (or take it even further, as you’ve done, to the hell strip) is so subversive, but your babies are making people THINK. I hope you inspire your neighbours – and all your readers – to plant the hell out their strips, too!

    Love ya,

  27. Love it! I’ve been wanting to do something with my hell strip too. It’s the only turf I have and I irrigate it with shower water. It gets full sun and I could always use more veg planting space. Great job girlfriend!

  28. aloha,

    i like your front strip beds and what a nice thing to share with the neighbors especially if they are need just a bit of basil or some other spice…how nice of you to share

    i think you may know some of the mystery plants on my last post, would you care to guess on the ones i’m not sure of?

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