Good night from Brooklyn!


My Favorite Tree Pit: Begonias and Ferns

Tree pits are all about shade lovers. How smart to rely on foliage for texture and color.

I snapped this last summer in the West Village and just found the image on my phone today.

Elegant East Village Roof Garden

Looking for inspiration? Check out this New York City roof garden on Remodelista. This custom built fountain — created to serve as a bench too — is my favorite part.

Rooftop Radish Harvest

When we took a rooftop gardening class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this spring, the teacher warned that growing small amounts of vegetables on a roof top was unsustainable and probably silly. Too much water, too much time.

She was totally right. I could have bought this bunch of radishes this morning at the farmer’s market for $1.99. Plenty of trendy succulents could creep along in the sun where my Veg Trug is.

And yet, growing my small vegetable garden from seed has given me complete child-like glee. Faith and hope are hard to think about, but dropping a row of seeds in the ground in March and pulling out a bunch of radishes today is my good thing. Yes, I suppose I am the stereotypical yuppie gardener (don’t get me started about how much better MY rooftop arugula tastes!) but I hope I’m a little bit of a kid bringing home a gangly sprout rooting in a milk carton too.

Our Roof Garden in Spring

Here’s a look at our garden from this morning: Our first rose is blooming! See it just to the right of the Adirondack chair? As the trees leaf out, they hide a bit of our view.

RP built our potting bench early this spring and tricked it out with some hooks and lights.

Most of the seeds in our veg trug have sprouted. This is our first year trying to grow vegetables from seed. Arugula seems to be the fastest, easiest grower. Last night got cold and some of our seedlings looked bad this morning, but they recovered with a day in the sun.

I reluctantly ripped apart our herb planters today. They were one of the first things we planted on our original roof garden next door. They’d become overrun with clover weeds and mint. They needed to move to a bigger pot where they wouldn’t choke each other out.

Every summer we fight the wind and heat to keep a hanging basket alive. Lantana might not be the best looking plant out there (and a friend of ours says it is a weed), but its a survivor.

Reblooming Lilacs for Our Roof Garden

We went to Shannon Florist and Greenhouse for sea grass. We wanted something modern looking and dense to provide screen between our garden and our neighbors.

Instead, we ended up with three small lilacs (Bloomerang Purple, Syringa Penda) for the front of our garden. We added woolly, silver licorice plant (Helichrysumn petiloare) to fill in at the base of the lilacs and spill down the side of these tall containers. Had to drag six more big bags of soil up for these planters.

Add Dimension to Spring Tree Pits

Check out these tulips standing on their tiptoes in front of The James hotel in Chicago.

A bowl of white tulips with curly willow sits in a stand, expanding the growing space and adding height. The tulips are just outside your window when your cab pulls up to this hip hotel.

This could be a bit floristy feeling for our Brooklyn residential block, but it is fresh and eye-catching just off the Magnificent Mile.

Plant Light for Smaller Spaces: iPot Plant Factory

I’m in Chicago for work and found this iPot. I’ve been looking for a small tasteful grow light to start a few seeds and small plants inside. This might be a solution.

Cheers! Wall Mounted Outdoor Bar from Loll

It must be five o’clock somewhere.

Between tax day and starting the tomato plants and all the other spring chores, who wouldn’t want to take a martini break. I wish our co-op would allow us to anchor things to the walls. Sure, a trellis would be nice . . . but I really want this outdoor bar!

The Loll Wallbanger ($399, available in 8 colors) snaps closed with hinged door that doubles as a work surface. Magnets hold it closed when not in use. The interior will store bottles and a built in shelf will hold tools, glassware, and other bar tending equipment.

Aphids attacking our hibiscus tree

I noticed black spots all over the leaves of our hibiscus. Tiny black bugs – I think they are aphids – are crawling all over. There seem to be ants racing up and down the branches “farming” the aphids.

Confession: I don’t really like hibiscus and wouldn’t be overly sad if it went. They seem to tropical for Brooklyn and the flowers remind me of the Ocean Pacific tee shirts I wore in junior high. This tree was left by the precious owners of our apartment. This tree does have one cool trick: it blooms twice each season. It flowered to welcome us in September, just as we moved in.

We’ve never had a problem with roof garden pests before and I don’t want these aphids to spread to other plants. Luckily RP and I are taking a class at Brooklyn Botanic Garden tomorrow. I bet we’ll find some advice there.