Archive for the ‘Summer 2010’ Category

Soho Roof Garden with Swimming Pool and Fruit Trees

Check out this ninth floor 2,500 square foot roof garden escape on Broome St. I toured this garden last July and am so excited to share the photos.

Read more the Soho roof garden this city is threatening to pull down on The New York Times. Here’s a slide show of some of my photos:

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NYC Roof Garden MeetUp Gathers Tomorrow Night

I can’t make the NYC Roof Garden Meetup tomorrow night, but maybe you can go and tell me all about it? Here’s the details.

Flavor Paper’s Modern Meadow

I usually think of wild, dense plantings as looking oldy-worldy, but check out this punchy modern Brooklyn roof garden.  This garden is part of Flavor Paper’s new live-work space. Head to New York magazine for more (via Apartment Therapy).

David and Esme’s Bushwick Roof Garden

Fest your eyes on Esme and David’s amazing Bushwick, Brooklyn roof garden and visit their Flickr page to get the full tour. This is their first year as roof gardeners.

They live on the top floor of their building and run a hose up from their kitchen sink to water.  They use self-watering containers and built a wind barrier with plastic trellises from home depot and some pallets scavenged from a warehouse. This tall red flower is a Mexican Sunflower.

They are experimenting with a small part of the roof area, since the landlord is concerned about the weight and water damage. They are hoping to get more space to grow next summer.

Here’s the very ambitious list of all they are growing up there:
Morning Glories
Black-eyed Susans
Teddy Bear Sunflowers
Mexican Sunflowers
Corn (Esme reports: “not looking so hot – it was our most ambitious crop!”)
Serrano Peppers
Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, dill

I can’t wait to learn more about how the sunflowers are doing. I never even dared attempt growing them. And our rooftop moonvine met an early death, so I’m interested to hear how they are keeping them happy too.

Photos: Esme and David

Roof Report: Sneaking Up in Moscow, Fires in NYC

“A youth subculture that has taken shape around this low-slung city. Its adherents are called roofers, and they delight in gaining access to Moscow’s buildings not for criminal intent, but to scamper up to the roofs to gape at the surrounding landscape,” reports the NY Times.

The Times also reports on two roof deck fires in New York City: one caused by improper use of electrical wires, the other by smoking materials. “Recreational wooden decks could become dangerous tinder if not properly installed and maintained.” Be careful up there!

Our Roof Garden Daylilies Disappointed

We were excited for our daylilies in early June, but they were a let down this year. The flowers had a washed out look and were messy. I think it produced fewer flowers this year.

We weren’t too happy with this plant last year either. Maybe we’ll have to kick it out?

Our Sempervivum Is Blooming

In early June, our sempervivum — also called a houseleek or hen and chicks — seemed sleepy. We were told the sempervivium is excellent plant for a New York City roof garden — enduring the intense heat, the freezes and thaws of winter and the wind without complaint.

I realized last week that this plant was definitely up to something.

Now our sempervivium is blooming. I have to admit I almost threw this plant out this spring. I couldn’t really tell if it was alive or not. It was the pet rock our roof garden — just taking up space, space that I could use for flowers or something more showy. Now, after reading the sempervivums chapter in Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd’s excellent Our Life in Gardens, I am fascinated by our pot of “semps.” Turns out that these plants have a long history of growing on roofs. “In the ninth century, Charlemagne … issued an edict that sempervivums were to be established on every house roof,” says Our Life in Gardens (here’s a sample in Google Books).

I didn’t know why these plants were also called Houseleeks until I read Out Life in Gardens: “houseleek was also a pun, since the most decayed roofs of houses both supported the plants best and could be presumed to leak.” Leek, leak, get it?

“After flowering, the plant dies, usually leaving many offsets it has produced during its life,” says Wikipedia’s houseleek entry. With that in mind, I chopped off thee chicks. I’m trying to establish a new hen and chicks colony in the dry difficult conditions of the containers on our apartment buildings front stoop.

Paring Rooftop Trees with Euphorbia, Heuchera

We added small trees — some might call them shrubs — to our roof garden early this spring. We’ve been experimenting with plants we can grow with our trees without insulting the trees. How do you think we’re doing?

The first photo shows our Emerald Green Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald’) planted with Diamond Frost Euphorbia. The airy, bright, and always blooming Euphorbia lightens the heavy pot without taking attention away from our tallest tree. I wasn’t sure we’d like the euphorbia — some of our neighbors have it planted euphorbia their tree pits, where it looks scraggly and too diffuse to me.

R*’s close up photo shows a small arborvitae we bought last fall. We paired it with a dark purple drought tolerant Heuchera, named Dolce Blackcurrant.

How Do You Get A Water Supply Up To A Roof Garden?

Check out this great question:

We’ve been thinking about gardening on the roof for awhile now, but haven’t moved forward – I think because I was thinking “too grand”.  Looking at photos on this site, I see it’s as simple as putting some pots on the roof.  However, aside from carrying cans of water up there, how does one deal with getting a water supply to the roof? I have visions of a garden hose running up the side of the house to the roof.  Is this feasible?

Thanks for any suggestions.



Thanks for your message. The first consideration for all roof gardens — from a grouping of containers to a grand landscape — is the water.  The water supply will dictate what plants you select and how large a garden you can have.

Last year, we didn’t have a water supply on the roof. That meant R* and I had to carry four watering cans up three flights of stairs nearly every night in the summer, sometimes twice a day. We focused on growing plants that could do without too much water, including drought-resistant grasses, sedum, lantana, and woody Mediterranean herbs like sage and lavender.

This summer, we now have access to a hose on our roof. This easier access to water allows us add some trees and tender vines. We’re still heavy on the drought-tolerant plants. That gives us peace of mind, knowing one hot day won’t destroy our roof garden.

Since you mentioned that you’re looking for options beyond the watering can and the hose, you could try to find an adapter to connect your kitchen sink to a garden hose and then run a hose out your window and up to your roof garden. Seems perilous, but roof gardening often requires some eccentric behavior.

Finally, you’re so right: roof and balcony gardens do not have to be elaborate and expensive to be beautiful and fun! I hope you’ll send some pictures of your garden in process.