Shrub Thy Neighbor(S)

As a gardener, I find great enjoyment in creating garden spaces that invite people (as well as Mother Nature’s other creatures) to enjoy beauty that transports them. A well-appointed garden can intoxicate you with smells of nostalgic memories, inspiring you with energy, and create happiness by spilling vibrant colors and textures for all to see.

I’m especially happy when I work on a type of gardening I like to call “Shrub Thy Neighbor.” Let me explain. Gardening is not just about tending to the spaces we alone can see but also those areas that are visible to others. Sometimes these are unexpected spaces: behind a garage, between properties, or even common areas along property boundaries, traditionally abandoned. All present a great opportunity to come together and share in the rewards of gardening.

It’s easy to garden in the obvious places in your own yard, but it takes a real trooper to go beyond and focus on areas that neighbors enjoy. This week I addressed just such an area: between my driveway and the one next door.  Although the space was not horrible, it was lacking that special something. It’s right in front of my Folly, so the area isn’t really visible from inside my house, but is visible to my neighbors. For a while it had been home to two large, groomed boxwoods and some simple Pachysandra ground cover. The boxwoods were fine, but I decided I wanted to up the ante and do something more inviting and beautiful.

I knew that it was the time of year when Grape Hyacinth and Vinca Minor—also known as Myrtle—would be in abundance at my local Home Depot. So I had a new mission: remove the carpet of Pachysandra and plant a dense collection of purple flowering perennials. The combination of the delicate myrtle flowers and the whimsical hyacinth flowers makes for a springtime splash that is both unique but will also be long-lasting.

So consider this: gardening makes great neighbors. Community mailboxes, walkways, and tucked-away spaces can all benefit from some form of plantings.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and Mother Earth will no doubt support your efforts.

Neighbors come together to create a shared vision of beauty—while pooling the expenses and effort. Do you this think this could be a great reality TV show? Would you be up to it? Well, I’m working it.

So loving thy neighbor is one thing, but shrub(ing) thy neighbor? Well that’s just being MARvelous to all! 

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