Street-adjacent sites like this experience some harsh environmental conditions, including road salt, two- and four-legged trampling, hot/dry conditions in summer, and snow piles in winter (this winter’s boulevard snow pile was nearly five feet tall). The boulevard is city property, and Saint Paul generously allows for residents to plant these areas with some restrictions imposed, including height limits and zero use of herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
As the plants grew and bloomed, we often sat on the retaining wall and watched as they attracted bees and butterflies, even occasional birds. We put out a water bowl for the dogs. My sister brought me some nice big rocks to add to the not-yet-filled-in spots, and made me a series of seasonally-changing fairy garden decorations. Neighbors walking by stopped to chat about the garden, just as I’d been doing around the city. Planting the garden was, in many ways, a joint project with our community, and I am very thankful.
A tree falls
I made a spreadsheet of our options, narrowed the list to a top three with the input of our immediate neighbors, and we went to buy a tree. We decided on a hackberry (celtis occidentalis), which is recommended by the U of MN Extension as tolerant of tough boulevard conditions.
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