Monday, October 21, 2013

A new garden


Here it is, photographed from two floors up. The cable guy's visit the other day, slinging cable from the roof for our Internet, inspired me to pop the hatch for a contextual picture.

So here are the bones, with the accessories we brought from Brooklyn, as well as a couple of planters that were already on site.

I spent yesterday evening gardening without direction, but cleaning and turning the existing soil in the built-in wooden planters on the southern (top of picture ) side, and dividing the overgrown irises in a couple of them. I looked up as a small movement caught my eye. Two tiny songbirds were looking at me from the branches of the cherry.

I felt a lot better.

I love iris, but they need more space - so I have replanted some, and perhaps the others can be put up for adoption. The soil is like dust, and I have no idea where to came from, originally. It is probably not too bad. I added some Garden Tone (Espoma, and organic), which comes with its own list of soil microbes, and watered everything, even though there were virtually no plants. I want soil life to return, and that requires moisture.

I will order some extra bags of good potting soil from the Urban Garden Center (whose Dimitri Gatanas has sent me a kind email recently, offering me a tour of the hood) to top up the level of the wooden planters, which is low.


Our landlord's garden is below, with the sour cherry on the right, and many grapes. And a black cat. Not ours. This block has lots of feral cats.

I have been tempted by suggestions of a hedge, for privacy, but despite their impressive depth, at 10.5" across, the southern planters aren't wide enough to support a healthy hedge (low boxwood, perhaps - but slow-growing and expensive). So I think it's going to be a collection of perennials, occasional boxwood, perhaps another squeezed-in blueberry, and shade grasses. I have not figured the herbs out, yet. Currently they are still in their own pots on the western (right hand) side. In summer the sun may be high enough for them. But I must decide whether to keep them on the deck, or to plant them out in the wooden planters. The fig will be planted in the sunniest corner, in a bigger pot.

There are the siren songs of shade-tolerant flowering shrubs, for medium-sized pots. 'Mohawk' viburnum - sweetly scented in early spring; hydrangeas, paniculata and macrophylla - late-blooming but long-lasting; cammelias, daphne, witch hazel. Maybe even serviceberry. I wish that roses had semi-shade counterparts that re-bloomed every three weeks. I am jealous of space, and a shrub that blooms for just two weeks better have some other seasons of interest.

I will be taking on a new garden design client: Me.

There will be sketches and plant lists. I sense that my new client is both high maintenance and opinionated and in possession of a very thin skin. I know how to pick them.

But I hear she likes flowers and does not mind watering. Silver lining.

I may be able to help her.

36 comments:

  1. You can't keep a good woman down! Gefeliciteerd en veel succes met je nieuwe tuin.

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  2. How about a unique trellis with climbing plants for a little privacy?

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  3. At last we see the bones of the new place, and you have so much to work with! After the last homesick post it is refreshing to read this hopeful one and to hear that you have taken on yourself as a new client.

    I agree with the commenter above -- add a structure to the planter and put a lovely kiwi vine on it. They grow fast after the first year, and they'll take shade. Actinidia kolomikta (not arguta, that's too big) Or Jackmaii clematis which will also take some shade. I'm getting excited to see what you do with this big and open deck space.

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  4. Nice to see the gardener in you is already coming to the fore - I quite like that you have put your pots in the planters. You certainly have room now to expand your repertoire, looking forward to seeing what your garden designer comes up with!

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  5. What a nice space you have there !! It reminds me some backyards of the old buildings in Lisbon !

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  6. Ah, the sheep has migrated too!

    Have you considered pots on wheels to move your privacy plantings around to be where you need them when you need them?

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  7. I agree, you can't keep a good woman down. So nice to see your resilience. Is there sun on this deck most of the day or a short part? I had a space with big sun/deep shade over the span of the day. Tricky. Congratulations, thanks for the never ending inspiration.

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  8. That's a beautiful space! I'm looking forward to reading all about your plans and progress.

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  9. Mmm, sorry I was meaning to comment on your blog, but I think I sent you an email instead. Just wanted to tell you I bought your book and I LOVE it!! It has pride of place in my kitchen now. I knew absolutely nothing about gardening couldn't even keep herbs alive and now I have a lovely little garden outside my house in the ghetto in centre city Philly. I basically planted everything you spoke about as I knew you would tell us/me how to keep it alive. My garden doesn't actually have that much sun at all and it did very well- roses included! Good luck with your new space, don't stop writing please otherwise I will have no idea how to keep anything alive anymore. BTW I have had three hydrangeas in pots for 5 years now and they are as happy as clams and pretty low maintenance.

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  10. the new space looks lovely. i think your garden designer will have fun and take her time planting it:)
    btw i love the book, it is beautiful.

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  11. Lovely client. We might compete for her. :-)

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  12. Good to hear you are feeling better. Best cure for worries is to go poke around in the garden and make plans!

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  14. Ooh! Love the pots-on-wheels idea (an 'Anonymous' sheep-spotter, above) and very pleased that you have a new 'client' as it were. You have the skills, after all.... Seriously, though, I was much relieved to read today's post.

    Alison xx

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  15. Renewed hope :) :) I think your new client is going to be nothing short of bowled over ;)

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  16. Glad to see your spirit rallying.

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  17. "It seems impossible until its done" remember Mandela ?
    Your revival is admirable.

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  18. This looks like FUN! I can't wait to see the progress!

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  19. Marie, do you know the rose 'Souvenir du Dr. Jamain?' It grows well in the north west corner of my father's yard. The smell is enchanting..

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  20. Happy to see you are feeling better today-moving is one of the most stressful events, ranking up there with death and divorce. But as you say, inch by inch, you will move along!

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  21. It looks very much like my second floor deck in Maine. I really covet those planter boxes though, I think I might fill them up with some tall perennials and lots of ornamental grasses for privacy. Potential!

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  22. So glad you are feeling better ... things usually have a way of working out ... and it's not forever right?
    On a completly different note, you wrote that your bed is white and I know your kitty cat is black. Is he still wanting to sleep with you? My boy is a 12 year old orange tabby, so all our bedding all apricot and russet out of necessity. Love my old boy, they get so cool when they reach their 70's.

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  23. Your terrace space looks pretty good to me, Marie, and although I do understand how important sunlight is, may be you´ll be able to brighten your apartment if you paint your walls with some colours that simulate sunlight- something between yellow and apricot? Sometimes white is not warm enough!

    Although I´m a Spaniard I´ve always looked for sunny apartments in NYC and that was always one of my top priorities, so I sympathize with you.

    My terrace nowadays in Spain faces South-East, so it´s sunny until around 4 p.m in the fall and around 6 in the summer; I´d like to grow Japanese maples but it´s too sunny for them. Would they survive NY winters? If so, that could be an option if you like them. I love their leaves colours. In the shadier spots of my terrace I grow hydrangeas, camellias, rhododendrom and some clematis and they seem to enjoy it. I´m pretty sure that your terrace will look great and at the end of the year if you still miss the sun, you can try another area, although I know how overwhelming apartment hunting and moving can be in New York City!
    As for privacy, how about some kind of folding screen on wheels you could move around? You are very bright, so I´m sure you´ll come up with something that will serve your purpose!
    Best wishes!
    Carmen, from Spain

    Best wishes from Spain

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  24. I see the beady sheep!
    I'm sure you will have arguments/discussions with your new client. :-) we think our garden advisor is about to be fired...

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  25. It's wonderful! No wonder you grabbed this terrific space!! What fun it will be to fix this one up. Visit Pinterest for cleverness and Wyman's has four pages of shade plants.....I'm so envious!

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  26. Three or four multi-stemmed Amelanchiers in 5 gal cans will obscure all potential spectators....

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  27. One of my favorite plants for shade is evergreen huckleberry. It looks good all seasons and has fruit for the birds or for you. It's hardy to zone 7. A bit slow growing, but mine are now 7 foot tall in the shade in Seattle. http://www.greatplantpicks.org/plantlists/view/1611.

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  28. You will work your magic and it will be beautiful - I have no doubt!

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  29. Wow! I can't wait to see the oasis you'll create here. What about a strategically placed trellis with either clematis, runner beans or some other climber?

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  30. What about bamboo for screening? I've seen it used in similar narrow planters. I know very little about the different types but with all of the options available, there has to be something in the right height and vigor range. Glad you are feeling better :)

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  31. oh my goodness my imaginations are already running wild! only imagine how you must've felt! congrats on the new space, it looks wonderful :)

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    1. Hello: As I look at the photo of your new terrace I wonder, could you encourage your neighbors to "green" their own space. There seems an abundance of it all around you....I don't have a garden of my own here,
      I do have the Hudson River and the unspoiled N.J. Palisades view, but for how long......see https://www.change.org/petitions/help-protect-the-hudson-river-palisades. Best regards Gabriela , an 'Uptown' neighbor

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  33. What a lovely amount of space- I am looking forward to the plants and design you have planned. I am so curious about the grapes growing down below- do they get enough sun to be ripe?

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  34. Hi Marie, I've been following your blog for a while now and I've just thought that this book might interest you, it's in french but I'm sure someone will help you translate some passages :-) It's "Carnet de travail d'un jardinier paysagiste" by Hugues Peuvergne. The author is a french landscape designer who has specialized in terraces, balconies and small gardens and I find his work really interesting. Maybe it will give you some food for thought for your new terrace or your work. Best, Philippe.

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