Ginkgo trees line 2nd Avenue. The city plants them in 4 foot square tree wells every 25 feet or so. The trees look great and add a lot of warmth to the neighborhood. The city does not plant or cover the wells, so a lot of them are just dirt. It would be nice to have a unified look for the neighborhood, but in the meantime it gives us residents an opportunity to get creative and do some gardening.
Two weeks ago we dug up the old dirt around the ginkgoes in front of the Counts Bros building and added some soil conditioner. We surrounded the wells with a wood border to keep in the soil and discourage pedestrians from stepping on the plants. The wood fit with El Barrio's look, and the guys seemed pleased with it, although I think they were just happy to get rid of what had become 4 foot ashtrays.
Before I talk about the plants, I have to admit I know very little about gardening so I probably choose some items that won't work with the sun or whatever. I took some pictures and brought them to a local garden store and they did the best they could advising me on what to plant. We planted jasmine and clematis around the base of the trees to add some leafy greenery at ground level. At the corners of the wells we planted small perennial flowers for some color. I wasn't sure how vegetables would do, but it was hard to resist planting some cayenne and other hot peppers. Primarily we stuck to herbs: chives, oregano, and basil. We also commandeered a couple of rosemary shoots from a nearby bush that was overgrown.
Urban gardening presents some challenges that you wouldn't have with a yard. For example, I don't have a water faucet on the first floor, and lugging buckets didn't seem like a lot of fun, so I had to come up with a creative way to water the plants.