by Cris Blackstone, NHCLP
Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise Between the Sidewalk and the Curb by Evelyn J. Hadden, (Timber Press) is a problem-solver of a book. With solutions offered through site visits to these garden areas from San Francisco, Idaho, North Carolina, and many destinations punctuating the US, this book will certainly trigger your imagination to consider these types of areas you may be dealing with. For margins between driveways, to small islands in parking lots, this book can help you think of the situations in more than strictly the defined “hellstrips” in urban areas between the sidewalk and street.
The book poses the question, “Why does curbside landscape matter,” and continues to answer itself, “. . . to create pleasant, walkable neighborhoods.” Doug Tallamy, in his research and newest book, Nature’s Best Hope, also cites the raw number of acres of lost land in these so-called hellstrips, and under power lines and other places overlooked and neglected, as being rich with opportunities to plant for our pollinators, to help preserve our food sources! Which ever way you want to look at it, aesthetic or practical, this is a book that is rich with Joshua McCollough’s photos to help you imagine your takeaway from the book.
Organized in a particularly easy-to-use manner, I highly recommend this for an enticing read as well as a handy, beneficial reference book. The first section is by geography, gardens across the states were selected and featured with brief descriptions and with particular problems identified and solved. Then, segments in the book include: Challenges to Address, including water challenges, tree challenges, vehicle challenges, and so on. The important thing to notice that Hadden continually adheres to is that those are only “challenges” and not barriers! There are clearly outlined solutions to the challenges and recommendations you can readily learn from or modify for your particular situational challenge.
Other sections include plant recommendations for specific types of hellstrips and sun/water/shade/drought considerations as well as ultimate plant form and size considerations referred to at various points during the hellstrip travels.
Timber Press has nailed it again, identifying this book and author as beneficial to the Green Industry, gardeners, land stewards, and people interested in sustainability and rejuvenation of garden trends and ideas. Evelyn Hadden’s website is content rich and gives a terrific introduction to this talented woman. An author of several books, radio show host, and songwriter, she is multifaceted and a well-respected speaker at garden conferences and symposia as well as performer of blues style songs! She offers, through her lifestyle, a strong reminder that we should all enjoy what we can through ecological garden and landscape practices, and then, enjoy what we can through creative outlets such as music and arts. Whether performing or as an audience member, keep that work/life balance and let your creative energy flow through your most tedious client tasks – then stay healthy and chillax! Get hold of Hellstrip and see how you can help make a big difference!