Monday, August 6, 2012

Random Acts of Selfish Kindness

The house next door to me, which shares my driveway, is vacant.  It is leased, so I'm assuming the new tenants will be in any day now, but as of last weekend, VACANT.  After several years of looking at what is a 3 foot by 12 ft strip of dirt, which has sat empty and forlorn, except for the random bits of detritus that rental tenants tend to leave behind, or park in the blank space (old cooler for instance), I am doing some flash mob gardening. Sure its only me, but one second awful dirt strip, next second, beginnings of a planting bed.

So yes, my good deed for the day is definitely done.  I have improved my neighbors property, which surely will make the tenants appreciate it that much more.  Not only that, but I paid for dirt and a few plants to go in there!

Why yes, I am that nice... okay, truthfully, this is all about me.  I wanted it to stop looking like hell, and start looking like something I want to look at every day when I walk out of my garden gate.

So, now that we have my ethical and moral values squared, there is another good question.   I obviously don't want to spend a lot of time on this bed, (I have my own to worry about), so what does one plant in this situation?  I can tell you, something pretty, not water needy, not picky about frying in the sun.  A weed, basically.  And we here in SC have just the thing: Mexican Petunia (ruellia brittoniana).  It is invasive, and in this instance we are talking PERFECT.  Fill in, multiply, have at it.   I actually have it growing up these tiny strips along the driveway between the houses now, and it works perfectly. And basic maintenance equals go out there once a year in January and chop them back.  Period. Thats it.

Oh the things you can accomplish when nobody's looking! Now, lets let mother Time take over and within a year I'm thinking there will be a bounteous cascade of purple blooming tall grass in the wind.



31 comments:

  1. Jess, I had been thinking of my version of this kind of action as 'garden imperialism" -- colonizing a planting area that's not actually on my property but that no one else is doing anything productive with. But I like the sound of "random acts of selfish kindness" so much better. :-) Good job!

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    1. Oh, I don't know, Garden Imperialism has a certain ring to it too...

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  2. LOVE IT!!! Love the plant and the take-over-gardening aspect of it. I have a smaller, much less invasive form of ruellia that pops up around my garden. I hope your new neighbors are appreciative.

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    1. It is my favorite of the invasive... I'd really rather like for someone to come up with a short non-invasive form of it. It blooms for like 8 months fo the year here.

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  3. That is awesome!!! Good for you for taking matters in to your own hands!!! Sounds like something I would do...found myself weeding my neighbors and our shared side yard...helping them out and improving the view!

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    1. I find myself sneakily pulling weeds from anybody's garden that I happen to be walking by... all I can think about is how much worse its gonna get if left by itself even one more second!

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  4. That looks SO much better! I would do the same thing and have been contemplating it on our road where one neighbour has let their little verge go to rack and ruin ... just weeds. I'm itching to rip ythem out and plant something pretty. I'd love to see this in a few months time. When do you cut the Mexican Petunias? Spring?

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    1. I cut mine back in the heart of winter, (they are evergreen), but I honestly think you could cut them back whenever, it doesn't set them back that much. They get 5+ feet tall if you don't chop them here. At 36 inches or so they are self supporting and fabulous, so thats what I aim for. They bloom here pretty much daily from June to Decemberish.

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  5. Good for you! I didn't know weeds could be so beautiful :). I hope you get good neighbors who appreciate your good deeds.

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    1. I know, its a little nerve racking, because you never know what might move in next door. (dum dum da dummmm)

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  6. I have heard not to plant this stuff (too invasive) - but should be perfect for your means. SOOOO much prettier to look at! And I bet the new tenants will love "their" garden!

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    1. I have the added benefit when gardening with invasives of being concrete bound. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't put it in my garden proper. It is invasive. To the tune of it you cut a piece and throw it on the ground, it will sprout roots. Its a perfect hellstrip plant too, if you don't mind it getting tall.

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  7. Jess what a wonderful thing to be able to do. I have given plants to neighbors and shared veggie seedlings, but never had the chance to commit random acts of gardening.

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  8. Excellent! Even if the motivation was somewhat selfish, I think everybody wins with this. I've been known to spruce up a neighboring property on occasion, disguised as an act of kindness, but affording me relief in the process ;) Can't wait to see these fill in! If they're invasive, they should do great in a challenging spot like this!

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  10. You certainly won't have to worry about that one. Or you might when it grows under the concrete and comes up through the toilet in the guest bathroom......enjoy the view.

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  11. What a ninja move. You jumped at the opportunity and made the best of it. Hopefully the new neighbors will be appreciative and caring. The Mexican petunia is rather pretty for a weed.

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  12. Very sneaky! Funny if your new neighbours are gardeners and look at these invasive weeds in horror before immediately ripping them out, though.

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  13. Awesome job taking over the spot and making it pretty, if anyone asks you can always blame it on the previous renters!

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  14. How clever. Now you need to add the Pink Mexican Petunia in there!

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  15. It might be all about you but your neighbors and any other self respecting passerby is going to appreciate your "selfishness." Gardeners are really selfish people. It's all about us. :)

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  16. I mentioned you in my Garden Love column. :o)

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  17. Much better view ... how could they not like it?! I 'Guerrilla Gardened' a small verge across the way from my house last year: this year two neighbours further up the lane have joined in. Gardening is infectious!

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  18. Have new neighbors moved in yet? Surely they will appreciate what you have done. It does seem to be the perfect plant in the perfect place!

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  19. Great article thanks for sharing, love your writing style.

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  20. That's an excellent bit of guerrilla gardening! And that mexican petunia is perfect. It'll spread and fill up that space quick.

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  21. I love it--stealth plantings with benefits for both your new neighbors...and you! I've just found your site, and I'm so excited to read more about your Charleston home and garden. My hubby and I were married at The Boardwalk Inn on Isle of Palms, live in the Upstate, and adore Charleston. Can't wait to spend some time exploring your site! Cheers!

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