Streetscape adoption or ‘verge gardening’ is the practice of growing exotic, native or edible plants on the footpath. Verge gardening has gained momentum in recent years and is beginning to attract attention in design circles. There is an increased sense of community which arises through the adoption of verge gardens. Verge gardens are a way of interpreting public open space, and are an effective vehicle for council/resident interaction. Verge gardens serve 3 key functions; encouraging public engagement, boosting suburb character and allow for council interaction.
The importance of verge gardening lies not only with the clear link to returning food production to our cities, it represents a local residents care of their land and an awareness of landscape in our urban lives. This simple act of public engagement creates a stronger sense of community. With its roots firmly placed in the 50’s and mass immigration from Mediterranean countries, verge gardening is not complicated. A single well-loved tree, native groundcovers or a grouping of herbs are all easy additions to the streetscape and furthermore, add a green layer to the house behind.
The character of a suburb is made up of many differing attributes including but not limited to open space, demographics, built form, history and in turn, the streetscape. At its centre the eclectic nature of resident adopted council strips are a wonderfully haphazard delineation from the constrained design of our suburbs, our houses and our city lives. It is in many cases this green mix of foliage that not only boosts a suburb character, it defines it.
Some local councils recognise residents want to improve their local neighbourhood, and it this opportunity that has driven verge gardens into policy. Some residents expect too much from council’s regarding their streetscapes/verges/nature strips, and view public space as the responsibility of the council. Residents should adopt their verge gardens, take a sense of pride in their suburb and as a result enhance council/resident interaction in a very modern approach to community life.