Archive for the ‘Summer 2011’ Category

Lush Williamsburg, Brooklyn Roof Garden

Alejandro’s Williamsburg roof on Apartment Therapy is beyond inspiring! The garden jumps with green and loads of bright annual flowers.

I’m paranoid that my roof garden, despite all the time we put into it, could look just like a bunch of pots on a rooftop. Alejandro’s roof garden seems to have this consistency and lushness. I’d really like to achieve something like this. I wish I could see even more pictures of this garden.


Modern Gray Roof Garden

This garden looks simple, spare, and so relaxing. See how they planted driftwood with succulents? I found this garden on west elms’ new blog . . . for lots more photos head to the homeowner’s blog.





Struggling With Scale and Color in Our Garden

We landed back home last night after a great vacation in Rome, Barcelona and Nice. We snapped some photos from gardens around the Mediterranean that I’ll start sharing soon.

But, as soon as I saw Not Neutral’s tall orange lantern on sale for 40% off at (you have to register to shop, unfortunately), I wanted to ask for help with two roof garden challenges I want to focus on next spring: scale and color. I’ve loved these lanterns since I first saw them on Apartment Therapy, but I don’t want to buy something this big in such a bold unless I’m totally sure we’ll use it. (Of course, the black and white are not on sale!)

In our first three years of roof gardening, we’ve planted what we love, with an eye towards sturdy plants that survive dry, windy conditions. Last year we invested in some taller shrubs which improved the scale and made our garden feel more relaxing, a bit less windswept. We going for the cacophonous British garden look, but I think we can try to plan it out just a bit more.

Do you have any tall, bring accessories in your garden or do you let the plants do most of the talking?

A Modern Williamsburg Backyard

Head over to New York Magazine to tour a modern Williamsburg, Brooklyn backyard garden.

The Awl digs into Brooklyn gardens

RP and I felt like sentimental saps talking to the awesome if acidic Awl about the community-building power of Brooklyn gardens, but we love the post.  Thanks to The Awl for visiting some tiny Brooklyn gardens, including ours! Check out the whole post here.

(Photo: The Awl)

Jambox: Music for our roof garden

How did we go two and a half summers with no music up on the roof? Last night we finally started playing around with the Jawbone Jambox that I gave RP for Christmas.

We listened to some Buena Vista Social Club, some Ibiza chillout music as the sun set and of course, we totally listened Carol King’s 1962 “Up On The Roof” three or four times:

When this old world starts getting me down,
And people are just too much for me to face—
I climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space …

I think lots of people talk about Up on the Roof or allude to it, but have never truly listened to it . . .I never did. Check it out! Anyway, we tucked the Jambox into our umbrella, keeping it away from dinner and the free-flowing rose. RP has a plan for using a stocking(!!!) to tie it into place. We were worried a gust of wind could smash it back to the table.

The Jambox is easy to set, runs with no cords, and comes with a great case. We took turns sending music from our iPhones to the Jambox via Bluetooth.

Do you listen to music in your garden? While I really love the relative quiet of our roof space (and RP has just used headphones when he felt like listening to music) it did make for a special, party atmosphere.

Remodelista: Roof Garden Round Up

Head over to Remodelista for a treasure chest of roof garden photos, including this photo from Brooklyn’s Brook Landscape.

A Bowlful of Succulents

A guy on the roof next door shouted: “Nice plants. What’s your secret?”

“You have to water every day,” RP boomed back.

Yes, you totally need to water a roof garden every day in these hottest days. Even when it rains, we try to check and make sure all the pots got wet — remembering not to over-water the fussy geraniums.

Besides watering, we we do have one other way to keep our gardening going in the heat: succulents! Sempervivum (hens ‘n chicks), Portulaca grandiflora (moss rose) like a dry heat, so we sure have a spot for them right between our two Adirondack chairs on a small table right in the sun. I am surprised how few NYC gardeners plant sepmervivum and portulaca. Maybe that’s because these plants don’t look very fun in the garden center, when compared to annuals already in bloom.

Most of our plants are in plastic pots, which help to retain moisture, but we grow our succulents in low terra cotta bowls. This gives them the drainage they need and lets us highlight them on the tops of tables.

Last summer, my succulents sucked. This year I am having more luck. I figured out I could use portulaca, a faster growing annual, to fill in around my sempervivums (Hard-core gardening types call them “semps.”) The portulaca flowers add color too, but the flowers are only open during the day, so we don’t get to see them too often.


Colorful Modern Garden Trellis from, a new design-minded flash sale site, is wowing me with their modern garden items. First I fell for these planters and now this trellis from Terra Trellis. Would you put a sculpture-trellis in your garden? (Isn’t trellis a really strage sounding, ugly looking word. Especially if you say it over and over: trellis, trellis, trellises)

Would you harbor this big pink arbor? Now I’m hoping that Fab starts selling gardening tools, maybe a minimal fountain?

What’s The Story, Morning Glory?

It’s time to talk about Garden Lady. She plants ground cover in other people’s tree pits. She pounces off her stoop down the street to rescue mostly dead plants from trash cans. And she loves forwarding deals on bone meal to the block association email list. She wouldn’t give me any of the block association’s daffodil bulbs because she felt I didn’t dig deep enough trenches in our tree pit.

In early June, I caught Garden Lady kneeling in front of our tree pits. All day I wondered what she was up to. I was surprised when I got home that night and didn’t notice anything different in our tree pits. I couldn’t figure out what she did. Duh! Garden Lady slipped some seeds in there. Now we have morning glory vines climbing up the tree pit cage. They haven’t flowered yet. I’ve had to snap off some of their tendrils in valiant defense of my purple petunias and Autumn Joy sedum.

I was re-considering Garden Lady’s crimes this morning when I passed these morning glories and Black eyed Susan vines (Thunbergia) down the street. I wonder if Garden Lady planted these too? The Morning Glory stands for “love in vain” and is the flower for 11th anniversaries. I’m not so good on dates, but weirdly  I think this is my 11th summer in my apartment.

All of Garden Lady’s crimes seem so banal now, but at the time I was really ticked. July’s calmed my tree pit turf war. Now we’re hand-watering the tree pits almost every night and I’ve started rooting for her morning glories to bloom. All along it was the Tree Branch Breaker I should have been looking out for.

Black eyed susan vine Thunbergia