You've heard that saying "Bloom where you are planted"? Well I turned it around to "Plant where you are bloomin' stuck". I've been stuck in limbo at my daughter's house in Birmingham waiting for the roads to melt...all the way to Minneapolis. So why not plant an herb garden in the mean time?
It's not a bad thing to be stuck in Birmingham, Hannah and I can go larking about, but in the end, I'm close to overstaying my welcome, she's a gal about town with things to do and places to be, without her mother tagging along. So to make myself useful I decided to plant herbs in the hellstrip by the back door at her parking space.
What's a hellstrip you ask? Coined by garden writer and designer Lauren Springer Ogden, the term refers that long, narrow seemingly unplantable space between sidewalks and streets, along garages, in parking lots. However hellstrips can be landscaped to take advantage of the location, whether they are hot and exposed or dank and shady; they're great for grasses (as long as they don't obstruct vision), xeriscaping, succulents, tough perennials and in this case heat-loving herbs.
Hannah moved some of her potted patio plants from Savannah but then came the polar vortex. It seemed like a good idea to do an in-ground herb planting for all of her culinary creations. Now she has new herbs; lavender, two types of thyme, rosemary, pineapple sage, spearmint, Greek oregano and Italian parsley. And a little bit of mama-love to brighten up that dreary spot by her back door.
It's a straightforward planting, almost boring at the moment, but with lots of room for herbs to spread and mature, as well space for a few annual flowers. Yet it was not without a little excitement. She had told me about seeing a small dead snake in that bed. And sure enough when I was gingerly cleaning out the leaves and debris, a small, slender, shiny thing appeared. After a leap backwards and some choice words, I managed to take a photo. Yes, it was only 5 inches long but hey, I don't do snakes. Don't bother to tell me about their benefits, I'm aware, but as I said I don't do snakes.
My daughter came home from work to find my gardening gear strewn around the parking space, abandoned, like a scene from ancient Pompeii. I was safely inside instagramming and googling Alabama snakes, hoping the little critter was an only child, better yet an orphan.
The beauty of crowdsourcing becomes evident when you can post a picture and minutes later get opinions and answers to your most urgent questions. These wise people saw something I didn't. Tiny little legs and toes. It was a skink. As it turns out skinks are helpful and cute creatures that eat troublesome bugs in the garden while not being the least bit creepy about it. And once I knew it wasn't a snake I resumed planting without a care and left plenty of old leaves for skink habitat.