Read This: Hellstrip Gardening book review and GIVEAWAY

I don’t know what people called the strip of grass between street and sidewalk before Lauren Springer Ogden coined the term “hellstrip” to describe it. But it can surely be hellish to maintain, drying to a crisp in hot climates, contaminated with road salt in northern climates, treated by passing dogs as a toilet, subject to utility company digging, with soil compacted by garbage bins, people exiting cars, and even the occasional errant vehicle. It’s really a wonder that anything will grow there.

Many homeowners spend way too much time and money trying to keep lawn alive in such inhospitable conditions. Others throw up their hands and spread a layer of river rock or gravel across the entire strip, hoping to reduce maintenance but often creating a weed-friendly or barren heat island along the curb — not the curb appeal most of us want.

Photo by Joshua McCullough

Less-lawn crusader Evelyn Hadden, an author and speaker from Minnesota who recently relocated to Boise, Idaho, takes on this nebulous public-private space in her new book, Hellstrip Gardening: Create a Paradise Between the Sidewalk and the Curb (2014, Timber Press). Considering that the hellstrip is only a small portion of the average yard, this is a meaty book. Part 1 offers in-depth looks at a dozen curbside gardens, and Hadden performs her usual magic trick of including images of gardens from a range of regions — which I know from experience is not easy unless you do a lot of garden-based travel or have a generous photo budget. Photographer Joshua McCullough is credited for providing most of the images, and they are lovely, as is the design of the book — i.e., plenty of eye candy.

Photo by Joshua McCullough

Part 2 addresses the challenges involved in gardening along the street, from tree roots and HOA rules to car damage and utility maintenance. In Part 3, Hadden offers design solutions specific to curbside gardening, including the types of plants to choose (non-precious and self-repairing) and using berms or rain gardens to address noise or drainage issues. The final section, Part 4, is a generous list of hellstrip-worthy plants organized usefully by showy flowers, showy foliage, culinary or medicinal uses, and four-season structure. As with any plant list geared to a country as geographically and climatically diverse as the U.S., only some of the plants will be applicable to central Texas gardeners, but it’ll get you thinking about the types of plants you might use.

Photo by Evelyn Hadden

Hadden’s emphasis throughout the book is on gardening sustainably, with less water and minimal or no chemicals, encouraging each of us to do our part to create more beautiful, runoff-absorbing, wildlife-friendly spaces. She’s realistic in her assessment that curbside gardens are generally more work to keep up than plain old lawn, but she points out the many benefits they provide in return: community beautification, crime reduction, wildlife waystations, runoff filtration, and more.

The only quibble I have is that many of the gardens covered are not, strictly speaking, hellstrip gardens between street and sidewalk but front-yard gardens as a whole. It often reads, therefore, more like a front-yard gardening book rather than one tightly focused on curbside conditions. Still, there’s plenty of hellstrip to go around, and the extra coverage of entire front yards is a bonus for those looking to garden up little-used lawns. This is, after all, a topic near and dear to my own heart!

I’m happy to be able to offer a copy of Hellstrip Gardening, courtesy of Timber Press, to one lucky reader. To be entered, simply leave a comment on this post. One comment per person only. Giveaway is limited to U.S. and Canada.

This giveaway runs through Monday, July 14, at 11:59 pm CT, and I’ll announce the winner here on Tuesday the 15th. Check back next Tuesday to see if you won, and good luck!

Update 7/15/14: Congratulations to #51 commenter Chris! He’s the lucky winner of Hellstrip Gardening. Chris, look for my email.

Disclosure: Timber Press sent me a copy of Hellstrip Gardening for review. I reviewed it at my own discretion and without any compensation. This post, as with everything at Digging, is my own personal opinion.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Book release party and giveaway: The 20-30 Something Garden Guide

It’s the season for garden book releases, and today I’m helping to celebrate my friend Dee Nash’s brand-new book, The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No Fuss, Down and Dirty Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff. I met Dee, an Oklahoma garden writer and blogger at Red Dirt Ramblings, six years ago at the first Garden Bloggers Fling. She’s an experienced gardener of both edibles and ornamentals in her own country garden.

Dee wrote this book for newbies, particularly those who want to grow edibles sustainably and organically. Her friendly, conversational voice offers plenty of can-do encouragement, and she’s quick to remind the reader that no one is born with a green thumb — or a black one, for that matter. Gardening, like anything else, is a skill that is honed with practice, mistakes, and failures.

But as she shows throughout the book, the rewards of success are sweet — and can be tasty too! If you’re ready to start growing your own food, or if you’re already doing that and want to add ornamental plants to your garden to make it more attractive to wildlife, and to yourself, Dee’s book will show you how.


Bee Preserver

And now, since this is a book-release party, on to the giveaways! Dee has rounded up some cool gardening prizes for each participating blogger to give away.

Here at Digging, I’m giving away a trio of small Bee Preservers from Glass Gardens NW. These colorful, textured glass floats for your pond or container water feature are designed to save thirsty bees — your garden’s valuable pollinators — from drowning. The textured surface gives bees a safe place to land and something to hold onto while they drink.

Bee Preservers

If you don’t have a water feature of your own, go ahead and enter anyway, and if you win you’ll have a nice gift to give to a water-gardening friend. Be bee-friendly!

To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Sunday, February 23. Check back here on Monday, February 24, to see if you won!

The fine print: One comment per person. Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open only to residents of the continental U.S.

Update 2/24/14: Congratulations to Sara B., whose comment #41 was chosen at random! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Visit the other bloggers in Dee’s book-release party to enter their giveaways too:

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was sent to me for free. Garden photographs courtesy of Dee Nash. Bee Preserver images courtesy of Robin Haglund.

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Lawn Gone! giveaway and gift for the holidays

The editors at Amazon have put Lawn Gone! on their list of best gardening books of 2013, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

LAWN GONE! The perfect holiday gift

I may be a little biased, but I do think Lawn Gone! would make a great Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holiday gift — for the non-gardener who wants to get rid of the lawn but isn’t sure what to put in its place; for the new gardener who needs ideas and how-to information to get started; for the devoted gardener who wants to be inspired by images of beautiful, lawnless gardens; for the environmentalist who wants to create an earth-friendly landscape; for the wildlife gardener who wants to attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other creatures to the garden; for the senior who wants simple groundcovers that require less maintenance than the lawn; for the family who wants to create a yard that’s alive and enticing to explore with the kids.

Therefore I’m giving away TWO copies of Lawn Gone! to ONE lucky reader: one for you and one to give away as a gift. Just leave a comment on this post telling me why Lawn Gone! would make a great gift for someone in your life. I look forward to hearing why you think your friends or family members would enjoy the book. And if you already have a copy, you can give them both away as gifts! Since they’ll be coming directly from me, I can also inscribe them however you’d like.

The giveaway will run through next Monday, Nov. 18, at 11:59 pm. I’ll randomly draw the winner’s name and announce it here next Tuesday. Good luck!

Note: Due to shipping costs, this giveaway is open only to residents of the continental U.S. Thanks for understanding.

UPDATE 11/19/13: WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations to Meredith H. Meredith, I hope Lawn Gone! inspires you and your dad in your gardening adventures! I’ve sent you an email with additional information.

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to enter and especially to each of you who shared your hopes and dreams for your gardens. Happy digging!

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.