Archive for the ‘Summer 2011’ Category

Why do people leave price tags on their plants?

This is the gardening equivalent of guys leaving the brand name tags on their suit jacket sleeves.

This tiny juniper is going all Minnie Pearl on us.

Four NYC Roof Gardener “Warriors” in Today’s Times

Thanks to Penelope Green for her honest, gracious look at New York City’s roof gardens in today’s New York Times. She doesn’t go gaga high-end gardens tended by a staff. Photographer Tony Cenicola doesn’t completely crop away the rough edges of roof gardens: rusting ventilation systems, mis-matched pots, and chain link fences. Instead, the Time’s celebrates the highs and lows of four “doughty survivors.” (I didn’t know the definition of ‘doughty’ and had to look it up. It means “marked by fearless resolution,” “like a warrior”).

The article ends with a look at Michael Goldstein’s extraordinary Soho garden. I visited there last summer and posted photos here.
Image: NY Times

Simple Petunias on a Brownstone Stoop



Love these brownstone steps. Doesn’t using real terra cotta pots and saucers make all the difference here?

Gardening snobs might shudder to see simple annuals repeated like this, but I dig it. Why doesn’t every brownstone in Brooklyn invest $100 and two hours to have something this great, eh?


Another Bummer of a Hanging Basket

Our quest for a hanging basket began when we started our roof garden in the spring of 2009. Our first attempt fried before the Fourth of July. We bought three or four more beautiful hanging baskets that summer, but none of them lasted more than a few weeks.

Last summer, I was determined to do much better. I sunk some serious money into a special self-watering hanging basket and even special self-watering planter soil (sheesh, I was such a sucker!). I bought some expensive mail order plants — including purple lantana — to grow in the basket. Well, that basket was a fail too. The lantana never really took off. The Dichondra argentea Silver Falls looked like strands of dirty paper towel whipping in the wind.

Never shying away from a roof gardening challenge, we’re trying it again. This year, it’s an ivy geranium from Lowe’s. I read they are supposed to be especially suited for hanging baskets. I re-potted it into our special self-watering planter. But as you can see in this picture, so far it isn’t thriving. What do you think? Should we abandon the the hanging basket vision? But without a hanging basket, how else can we camouflage this ugly pole?


Modern Sculptural Planters — Made in Brooklyn

Check out these graceful, edgy planters from Planterworx. Today, (yeah, you need to register before you can shop) has a special price on these recycled steel planters. They are handmade in Brooklyn and would be great for a modernist gardener who wants a lot of impact with a minimal amount of plants. Just watch the weight!

Round out the modern look with Zuo Outdoor, also at

Where Do City Gardeners Find Stones for the Garden?

How did your garden grow over the Memorial Day weekend? We got a ticked a pile of gardening chores off the list — but we’re still hunting for some stones for our tree pit gardens. I think a few stones give the tree pits a more finished look and they fill up some spots that don’t have plants. (I really like the stone border for this tree pit garden, but we won’t use this many since our tree pit is already protected by a new metal fence!)

I think stones also send a not-so-subtle message: stay off our plants! Buying stones like these doesn’t make much sense. So RP and I are planning to scout out some local construction sites and see what we can find, but we probably won’t find rounded stones like these.

Do you use stones in your garden? Where do you find them?

Lately, I’ve been trying to fast-forward gardens in my mind, trying to envision why they could like in late August. For this Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn garden, I’m wondering: are the petunias and coleus are tough enough for this  spot, will the sweet potato vines fill up the whole space? I also like the cheerful tone of this tiny stoop garden.