The alley can be a place forgotten. The shadow of the garden psyche. Trash cans, debris, weeds ... sometimes nothing but the raw edge of a fence line. However, we have realized in the nine years of living in this space that our alley is the only reliable full sun in our yard. We've grown veggies in the alley (cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, and eggplant have all done well) but the neighborhood dogs show no discernment between the edible and non-edible in their criteria for "plants on which to pee and poop."
Therefore the veggies were moved just inside the fence and now our alley is home to ...
Two baby dwarf Arkansas Black apple trees, lavender, sun flowers, stargazer lilies, gladiolas, nicotiana, two large compost bins that are overflowing with pumpkin vines, and two new raspberry bushes.
Aren't the pumpkin vines out of control? I weeded out so many but had to leave some. We get such a kick out of seeing the "trash" of last year becoming the bounty of this year!
We frequently enter our yard from the alley - upon returning home from a bike ride, dog walk, or stroll to the library - so I wanted some fragrant flowers to welcome us.
The lavender bed is new as of this spring and seems to be thriving. The nicotiana (that's what it looks like, right?) are volunteers - they may or may not bloom, I'm not sure at this point.
The lilies have gone by and the glads are about to begin.
And the sunflowers! There is a constant commute of goldfinches to these unnamed sunflowers which are grown from seed saved from year to year.
I know the apples and raspberries violate our "nothing edible" rule for the alley, but the apples will be raised off the ground and the raspberries should be fairly well protected. All the same, next summer when we harvest our first raspberries, we will make sure to wash them!
In a small city space, simply ignoring the alley is not an option. Every inch of possible garden space must be exploited. It's taken us quite a bit of time to find the best way to use this space, but I think we're finally on the right track.