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The Shrub Queen: Hellstrip

The Shrub Queen:

Landscape Commentary from the Treasure Coast

I learned a new term this week: Hellstrip. Hellstrip refers to the baking hot area between the street and sidewalk or driveway. A book has been published about these gardens and there is a Facebook page. Hellstrip has hit social media! Usually narrow and not easily watered these areas require some special consideration and are difficult for gardeners to conquer.

I had not realized I even had a HELLSTRIP and the truth is I kind of like it. When my husband and I bought our house there was a Jacaranda in the strip that could literally be seen through. The top of the tree had been blown out and the crotch had rotted to the point you could catch glimpses of the house through the trunk from the street. Fearing an unstructurally sound tree, I had the Jacaranda removed. What grew under the tree might kindly be referred to as sand spurs. Gallons of vinegar later and with the construction of a new driveway, I had a blank palette.

With a bit of research and observation I determined the plant list and began to install.

First, a native and very drought tolerant tree, The Gumbo Limbo. Gumbo Limbos are wonderful Shade Trees but pretty basic. Then to the underplantings, I searched native beach plants and looked for extremely tolerant passalongs, here is what I found:

The Sunflowers and Muhly Grass are native, the rest are imports that are very drought tolerant. Worst comes to worst, I can make some tequila from the Agave..

Dune Sunflower Helianthus debilis

Painted Fingernail Bromeliad

Blue Agave

Martin Bromeliad

Muhly Grass

The composition might seem a bit weird, but I have color year round and throw some water around every now and again. All the plants are doing well, with no irrigation whatsoever and growing in the poorest excuse for soil I have ever encountered.

Now, the question, the attire for Hellstrip Gardening, I propose this:

Animal Print Bustiers

Maybe worn with Combat boots? I’ve been meaning to get a tattoo, maybe of my favorite Bromeliad….

Bio: Amelia Grant

A native of Atlanta, Georgia and extraordinarily well seasoned Landscape Architect/Designer/Writer. I began bouncing around South Florida in the late 1980’s selecting and buying plants for Shopping Mall Interiors I had designed.
Eventually my college roommate landed in Hobe Sound and I came to visit and fell in love with the Treasure Coast. My husband was on the verge of retiring from the practice of Architecture so we came down, bought a house near the Indian River and left the big city’s cold and the traffic far behind.
The blog began as an effort to fill what I considered a vacuum in good gardening information for the Treasure Coast. The Shrub Queen name is a nod to a long standing joke, my husband has called me this for years after one too many Architects asked me to “shrub something up”.
Amelia Grant
Freelance Writing
Blog address theshrubqueen.wordpress.com

 

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