curb garden purple flowers

Scabiosa ‘Vivid Violet‘

a state of happiness and satisfaction
The gardener spent a lovely 45 minutes working in the curb garden today.”

Gardening brings about a unique contentment: The work is satisfying, the results are rewarding, and the time spent with my face towards the earth grounds me like nothing else.

We had a nice breeze today, keeping the temperatures manageable.  Once finished with my appointments for the day, I spent ‘drop-in’ garden time at the curb. I love working the curb  garden. I can take care of the entire box in about an hour, then continue to enjoy the fruits of my labor from my kitchen window.

curb garden snap dragons, freesia

Snapdragons, Freesia, Cilantro and a self-seeded yellow annual

curb garden love in the mist, gravel

Love in a mist volunteering around the edges. Wooly thyme slowly filling in over the gravel.

curb garden yellow pest

Can you spot the visitor on this yellow flower?

The last of the daffodil foliage looked tired and spent, so I trimmed the bunches down to a few inches and tidied up the rest of the bed.

I spotted one or two lady bugs visiting the aphids. The ‘ladies in red’ generally consume a lot of aphids in one sitting, but they are currently outnumbered. I snipped off a few of the heavily infested branches and hope the ladybugs will tell their friends to return at dusk and take care of the rest.

curb garden pests aphids


My son pointed out a small wasp’s nest inside the hollow ceramic bird perched in the center of the garden. The ‘bird’ used to be part of a ‘self watering’ system but it broke off at the base. I put it at the top of the small trellis over the winter for a bit of color. Since wasps eat garden pests too, I’m going to leave the nest undisturbed. I know many people have aggressive wasps that chase them around the garden, but the ones that nest near our house are fairly mellow. Case in point: I lifted the ceramic bird, spotted the nest and one adult who simply hovered nearby till I replaced her nest. I guess she’s content too.

curb garden yellow bird

Ceramic bird housing a wasp’s nest

Did you find contentment today?

curb garden mint and daffodils

Chocolate mint escaping the confines of the box

Curb Garden Anniversary

After a few fits and starts last year our curb garden finally took root. It makes me happy.

curb garden collage august

Clockwise: Snapdragons, Scabiosa going to seed, surprise gladiola, Cosmos, Penstemon, and yarrow

When we bought this house 18 years ago, the sidewalk strip was nothing but lawn. We planted a tree, but otherwise left it as is.  We had plenty of projects to keep us busy. Within a few years, we had two boys under the age of five.

About a year ago I considered removing the lawn and planting a vegetable garden in the mostly sunny strip. A handful of friends and readers cautioned against it.  A few had bad experiences with people stealing flowers or fruit. Others warned of cats using it as a litter box. Others suggested I plant on the house side of the strip, but my husband wasn’t ready to remove all of the lawn. Removing the grassy strip was a two-fold experiment: could he tolerate less grass, and would my garden thrive and survive. The answer to both is yes.

Sidewalk strip before and after

Sidewalk strip before and after

I posed the question to my readers via a blog poll and the results were split down the middle: plant the strip and you’ll regret it or go for it!  My friend Liz suggested a raised bed and that made the most sense.

I’m happy to say that nothing but positives emerged from my curb garden. Here are just a few:

  • I ordered potting mix from a supplier but they delivered topsoil by mistake.  I didn’t realize the significance but the garden failed to thrive. They apologized and offered a refund, but said they couldn’t take it back. Once sorted out, I had to figure out a way to get rid of 1 cubic feet of topsoil and begin again. I joined a Freecycle network in our community, and made a new friend in the process.  Serendipity!
  • My friend and neighbor’s daycare children planted carrots in the curb garden last fall. She made labels for each of the carrots and we all had fun watching the wee gardeners grow and harvest carrots.
  • I grew a beautiful crop of garden peas. Though cut short by an early and particularly harsh frost, they were beautiful and sweet in their day.
  • Late in the year I planted fifty daffodils ‘Narcissus’ broadcast style. They opened up in February and flowered for a month. What a glorious sight.
  • Most of the perennials did well, and doubled or tripled in size. I scattered a packet of wildflowers seeds to fill in bare spots, and a few of those have come up as well.  Two weeks ago I found a single, pink gladiola growing in the corner. I must have found an unidentified bulb in my garden stash and added it to the mix, but I have no memory of doing so.  What a fun surprise.

As I’ve educated myself on the pros and cons of different plantings, I’ve learned how little a manicured lawn does for the environment.  Lawns require a lot of water, as well as aeration and fertilizer.  They have nothing to offer the birds or the bees, so critical to the health of our ecosystem. My husband doesn’t want to let go of the lawn so it’s an ongoing debate. So far the compromise includes replacing the sidewalk strip and cutting back on watering the lawn.

Brown is the New Green’ is the motto of a $500K campaign launched by the Santa Clara Valley District. Water use is typically up to 60% higher during the summer months. Lawns are the worst offenders. Even a small lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons of water per year. We simply can’t waste water. – CBS Local News

Happy anniversary, little curb garden. Here’s to many more.

curb garden grass removal

Removing the lawn

daffodils curb garden

Spring daffodils

curb garden

Nick takes over, soft gravel and stepping-stones surround the garden


Up Pop the ‘Daffies

Things are popping up all over the garden.  Don’t you love this time of year?

With plenty of evidence of a squirrel invasion and the later-than-recommended planting date, I tried to keep my expectations low.  I’d seen daffodils in full bloom throughout the neighborhood,but mine were still a no-show.

A watched pot never boils, so I feigned indifference. Up popped the ‘Daffies. I planted fifty of them in the curb garden, interspersed with last year’s perennials.  I lost count due to feline distractions, but I’m pretty sure most of them came up.

daffodils break ground

Daffodils break ground

chocolate mint

Chocolate mint

Mint is a bit like ivy. It will rule the garden if left undisturbed. So with a watchful eye, I hope to encourage the mint to trail over the edges of the garden bed, to leave plenty of room for everything else. It’s beautiful and fragrant and super easy to grow.


I think this is Thyme

I think this is Thyme, but don’t remember planting it.I looked at my planting list, and thyme wasn’t included. That’s okay, though. I like a little mystery in a garden.

feline border control

Feline border patrol

Mighty Mouse, my feline adviser wouldn’t take no for an answer. He hounded me throughout my rounds, insisting I pick him up. I rested my foot on the support of the box and he made his move. His special party trick involves springing from the ground on to my shoulder or my back. It’s fine in the winter months when I’m wearing a jacket, but summer shoulder-hopping is strongly discouraged.  Ouch!

curb garden

Curb Garden

That’s the long view of the curb garden. We’re just ten days away from the Northern Hemisphere’s first day of spring. I. Can’t. Wait!