Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New York roof garden being planted long last, starting yesterday. In this nice, cool 90' weather.

Carrying on from where we left off on July 9th:

Here the Japanese ribbon grass, picked up from Glover Perennials on the North Fork of Long Island, waits on the sidewalk for its turn in the elevator to the top floor.

The tied-up maples ride up one by one with some perennials at their feet in the service elevator, which doubles as the moving office of the building's superintendant who has to operate the elevator for every ride to the top and back again.

Below, a convenient hole in the top allows our trees to stretch a little. Once on the top floor there is a winding staircase to climb, with several hundred pound trees, before the terraces are reached.

And there they are. Dan is steering.

Looking down at the level where the maple just arrived onto the area under the water tower, for the Japanese grass. That will happen tomorrow. We need more soil, and no deliveries are allowed on Wednesdays.

Top level, below.

Planters prepped with soil and drip irrigation leads.

The stately neighbour to the south...Ivy will be trained onto the screen. The shrubs here are hydrangeas quercifolia and paniculata, with deutzia, spirea and boxwoods. Also a small stewartia tree. All white and green.

Down below there's still a little way to go after adjustments were made to meet engineering requirements for the fence - which had to be removable in sections. This will be planted with bamboo.

More later in the week.


  1. Absolutely fascinating. I have so many questions!

  2. I would love to sit down with the designers/gardeners and fire questions! Heck! I'd love to be involved. (At least the sidewalk-level thieves can't get at these!)

  3. Rachel and Dinah mow...well, I designed it, ask away :-)

  4. Nice job. Glad you did this.

  5. Wow! Your blog, garden, work, photography is awesome. Got here via the New York Times article and clicked through a bunch of your posts. Very beautiful.

  6. this is have the best job. and i love that second photo, all on it's own but the unfolding of how it all goes down is wonderful...absotively...

  7. dis fassinerend. ek neem aan jy't geen sin van hoogtevrees nie?

  8. Thank you Frank...I guess to me it's normal,everyday stuff; but one forgets that for most ain't!

    Thank you, Flowers. What a good name you have :-)

    Thank you, Deb, now go and renovate :-)

    Arcadia: Jislaaik, jy't g'n idee nie. Poepbang vir hoogtes. Ek sit dikwels op Seinheuwel vas. Kannie roer nie.

  9. I think the elevator is still giggling...

  10. I guess my big question is: how often do owners give you carte blanche? And, tied to that one, how often are they wide of the mark in their selections? Especially in tree choices!
    (I'm not a professional designer, but have once or twice been asked to "design me a garden like yours, please." )

  11. Beence, fonny, berber' fonny!

    Dinahmow...this owner did give me carte blanche, which was very nice and also intimidating. His very nice architects had already done a layout for him, but they asked me to start from scratch, and at the presentation, he liked one of the two options I offered.

    Most of the projects develop, for me, from conversations with clients, and from gut feelings when I'm in the space. Budget considerations dictate a great deal. Most of the money goes into floors, fences, pergolas, structures/hardscape. So 65% of my budget is there and the plants and planting make up the rest. The most interesting ideas don't always go through. Greenroofs are still a very tough sell. Lifestyle dictates a lot.

    This place will have beech hedge, and will probably be one of the very few NY roof gardens to have one. That I like. I like the greenroof under the water tank.

    Most of the time the ideas come from me, but I try to offer options, so that something appeals. But not too many options, because that becomes confusing. I think that my passion for a certain sort of garden might communicate itself, and steer the choice in a particular direction.

    In this garden I might have preferred cool, grey metal planters, but the owner preferred ipe...that was one of the options.

    As far as selecting trees/plants, that is (almost)always left up to us/me, as the case may be. Most people don't know what can survive, and look to us for answers. That said, an awful lot of people want Japanese maples, which are a good, but predictable choice. I've just designed a garden in Tribeca where I'm working some unusual trees into the mix, like parrotia and fringe tree. Unusual for roof gardens, anyway.

    It is very difficult when people insist on certain plants (roses in deep shade) and I try to be as practical as possible. Tell them what I know and say if they'd like to experiment great, but the outcome is unpredictable...

    The End.


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