Through the interstices – thinly

Walking across any city you see many narrow spaces, often filled with trash or weeds, sometimes with a power pole, a transformer, or an access hatch. Some are planned landscape easements, but mainly they are the result of setback rules; boundary disagreements; areas set aside for ‘landscaping’ by people ignorant of plants, road medians, electric-cable envelopes, line-of-sight paths, air-rights corridors…

The thinnest garden in the South – appears to be a genuine aesthetic thin-scape – Invercargill


Really thin – about 600mm  / two feet

This wasted land is called interstitial space, a biological term from the space between cells where fluids and gases are exchanged, transported and regulated, cyclically and with great efficiency in terms of energy and space. Not a bad metaphor for how left-field thinkers might re-purpose these (often dead) non-places.

A deep back alley on Bellhill Dunedin – full of weedy vitality

These spaces have been lost from the city; while they move sewage, fresh water, electricity or data they are often unattractive and represent lost potential to regulate and heal the city; detaining rainfall, providing bird habitat, reducing heat-island effects, filtering and holding onto fumes and particles and providing essential visible nature in the city, these are all possible even on very narrow sites.

Repurposed kerb space as stormwater device – Libertia peregrinans


As nature abhors a vacuum weeds often invade these spaces, physically damaging walls and seeking out water pipes. Here are several more planned and less planned spaces that I call Thin Gardens.

Recent Christchurch raingarden – post-quake there is more room for plants, often exotic/native mixes but it’s really an ecological-engineering issue as you need plants to work all the year
One of my favourites – a factory garden – always something in flower here: Coleonema,  Brachyglottis, Hebe, Ceanothus and a nice Hydrangea in back
Sun never shines here  – Astelia nervosa mainly – seems to be whatever was left over after road-making


2 thoughts on “Through the interstices – thinly

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  1. A lot can be done in such small spaces. I work with them often. Even if the exposed soil is a small area, roots can disperse below pavement, and branches can disperse above. I actually purchased a tiny lot that is too narrow and too steep to put anything on (and because it has only one adjacent neighbor, probably can never be sold). I planted berries and fruit trees on it when I had to vacate my garden. It is like a storage parcel for the garden. There is a second one a few yards away, but I do not use it for anything yet.

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