General Question

unacornea's avatar

What should i plant in an alley garden?

Asked by unacornea (314 points ) February 28th, 2008

i live in san francisco and there’s a gallery down the street that has an alley garden where people can plant things, more for ornamental than practical purposes. the dirt is only about six inches (or less) deep because it’s just laid down on top of asphalt, but lots of things seem to be happily growing. i’d like to plant some herbs or flowers, preferably from seed. any suggestions?

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13 Answers

gooch's avatar

thyme, basil, oragno and mint

PupnTaco's avatar

Be careful of mint, it will take over the whole garden and beyond.

kelly's avatar

carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes if sun, celery

gooch's avatar

@ pupntaco then he can rule the garden
@ Kelly carrots won’t do well in less the 6 inches of dirt with asphalt underneath.

gailcalled's avatar

gooch’s ideas very good. There are many different and pretty subspecies of thyme, oregano, basil and mints….different kinds of varigated leaves and colours, but they all have root systems that will grow horizontally rather than vertically. Creeping Jenny, myrtle, wild violets, forget-me-nots (both annual from seed and perennial), lilies-of-the-valley also need little soil. Dill and chives, maybe?

deepseas72's avatar

marvelous answer, gailcalled!

gailcalled's avatar

Thanks. I have a walk made of bluestone pieces, many of which have cracked. I plant the herbs in the cracks (in crappy sand); they run amok after a few years and need a serious hair cut. But when you step on them, they release an aromatic aroma. (And Creeping Jenny aka moneywort aka Lysimachia nummularia isn’t called Creeping Jenny for nothing. Beware)

The myrtle, violets, forget-me-nots, lilies-of-the-valley, marsh marigolds, wild buttercups, sweet woodruff and small spring bulbs (snow drops, mini-daffs, chionodoxia) I grow in the acid and moist soil in my woods. It is a splendid sight for three weeks in the spring and miraculously the deer and rodents leave it all alone – unlike crocusus, tulips and hyacinths.

W. annual forget-me-nots, once you get them started, they reseed. Or walk among them in your socks and then plant socks.

unacornea's avatar

i’m so excited, thank you! i’m going to the garden store tomorrow to get lots of seeds. wish me luck!

susanc's avatar

Nasturtiums are easy from seed and have shallow roots. Another
beautiful flower that has an easy root system, and will self-seed so that you’ll get some
next year too, is Shirley poppies – many colos of red and pink, blowing in the breeze. Also Cosmos. Tall but fragile in effect. Lots of motion. Will not shade out the shorter things underneath. Gail’s right about forget-me-not. Fabulous is huge swathes.

gooch's avatar

Also don’t forget Nasturtiums are good to eat. They add a peppery taste to salads!

gailcalled's avatar

And you can dip wild violets in sugar or candy them..pretty on desserts. Shirley poppies are annuals in my neck of the woods -zone 4 B. Isn’t there also a short early-blooming phlox that will naturalize if it is happy?

gailcalled's avatar

BTW, I snipped some forsythia branches a few days ago during some typical blustery, cold and rainy weather and put them in a vase inside. Bare branches burst into bloom this AM. So cheerful w. all the downed limbs and mud everywhere.

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