Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Just Ordered Crocuses for Our Roof Garden

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Last night I bought Our Life in Gardens by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd. This morning, after reading this passage from the end of the first chapter, I ordered 75 crocus bulbs:

“Our first autumn in Pepperell, we also planted bulbs, daffodils of course and crocus and tulips and hyacinths. The day in March when the hundred or so species of crocus we had planted near the doorstep bloomed was then, and remains, a curiously blessed moment in our life together. It was something we vowed would happen each year we were together, forever.”

I love how this couple is able to talk about their garden and their relationship with such tenderness without turning treacly. I’d been wondering if I could grow bulbs on our roof for a while and this book was just the kick I needed.

An experienced gardener I found on the New York City Roofgarden Meetup message board told me “the rule of thumb is that anything in containers on a roof or deck needs to be 2 zones hardier than the growing area.” We’re in zone 7, so I’d need bulbs that were hardy to zone 5 . . . and these crocuses are all good to zone 4, so let’s hope this works.

Thanks to Band of Thebes where I first heard about this terrific book. The New York Times also reviewed the book.

Image: White Flower Farm

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Best Roof Garden Plant: Portulaca

roof-garden-portulaca

Our pansies are past their prime and the lantana languished in the heat . . . but our portulaca is still perfect.

Portulaca is low maintenance (no dead-heading required!) fast growing drought-tolerant annual. As fall approaches, the portulaca is still pumping out flowers so we’ve moved this container to a high visibility perch on our roof garden. See how the portulaca is taking on a burgundy tint with lots of small red flowers? The only down side of portulaca, also called moss rose, is that the flowers are not open in the evening.

Portulaca seems to be out of style? I don’t see it sold often and I don’t see it growing in other NYC gardens. I’m wondering why … maybe because it is related to the weed purslane?

Here’s more information about growing portulaca.

Growing Bulbs in Rooftop Containers

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I’m looking for some advice on growing spring bulbs in rooftop containers. Can you help? We want to play some bulbs this fall and let them sleep up on the roof all winter and then bursting with some early color up there.

Since our pots are 12-16″, there’s not much soil there to insulate bulbs over the winter. We plan on keeping out pots right along a white wall on our roof, which will provide a bit of insulation, but still it will be cold.

And then if the bulbs survive the winter, it can get windy on our roof. It seems like we will need bulbs with sturdy flowers and short stems. Does this mean French tulips, a favorite of mine, are out? Seems like we’ll need hardy, short stemmed flowers.

I’m planning on using the bulbs only once and then discarding them. This is not the most frugal way to garden, we realize, but we don’t have the space to keep the bulbs in our pots and there’s no cool dark place in our apartment to store them.

I really like the varieties of tulips that ColorBlends puts together, though their site seems to be down right now.

crocus_whiteflowerfarm

I also remember loving crocuses when I was a young child, so I think these would be fun. I was originally thinking of a pink and white color scheme, but I couldn’t find any short stemmed pink tulips . . . then I started liking these orange Orcas.  They’d be great to cut and bring in the apartment and the color is great with purple crocuses.

Best Roof Garden Plants: Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret

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Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret wins the most valuable player award in our Brooklyn roof garden. As first year roof gardeners, we didn’t want to sink a lot of money on trees. We were also worried that trees might be too heavy for the roof or need too much water.So we’re using this grass to play a tree like role.

This large pots of a tall grass anchor the corners of our garden space, similar to what a tree would do. Earlier this season the Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret grass was a gracious background for perennials and some sedum. Now it is anchoring the corner with our petunias and geraniums.

This Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret doesn’t mind being whipped around by the wind and it makes a great sound as it shimmies in the wind. It’s our version of a wind chime. Also, this variegated grass has been most tolerant of roof garden’s extreme weather: the super rainy June and steamy July days haven’t bothered this plant. A few blades get brown and we trim them out in a quick monthly haircut.

We bought this beachy grass at the Liberty Sunset Garden Center after hearing that it wouldn’t need too much water and  it is “great for containers.” It has more than doubled in height since we bought it and is now about five feet tall. It is supposed to “send up coppery pink flower plumes in fall.” Something to look forward to.

We’re planning to overwinter this plant right on the roof. Come spring, we’ll cut off last years growth and fertilize it. We haven’t decided if we’ll try to split it into two 16″ pots or leave it as is. We want to do all we can to make sure this grass is with us again next summer.

More on Miscanthus sinensis Cabaret:
Grasses With Attitude – This Old House

Our Favorite Brownstone Stoop Container Garden

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We finally snapped a picture of my favorite Brooklyn brownstone stoop gardens this afternoon.

This brownstone planter is simple — just two plants — and elegant. The plants take advantage of their location; passers buy look up into the grass and little blue flowers. If this planting was viewed at ground level, the little flowers might get lost, but here their lacy best can be appreciated at eye level. The plants manage to show off the container without making the container the star.

Unlike some containers that peek and then loose their appeal, this planter has looked great since spring. It breaks the “thriller, spiller, filler rule” with much success. Does anyone recognize the plants in this container?

For another great container garden in the same neighborhood, check out this Brooklyn window box overflowing with petunias.

Butterfly Stops By Our Lantana

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My mom visited us this weekend and got the chance to check out our roof garden. Mom noticed this butterfly enjoying our lantana hanging basket and we snapped a quick picture.

Early this summer, butterflies enjoyed our sedum. Since then, butterflies have become regulars at our roof garden and we’re hoping to plant more next year to attract them. This Butterfly’s Delight collection looks great for bringing on the butterflies.

The lantana has worked well as a hanging basket. It takes a beating from the wind and more than full sun conditions and barely wilts, thought it does require daily watering.

Roof Garden Plant: Daylilies

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We planted a pot of daylilies in our Brooklyn roof garden at the recommendation of the helpful team over at Liberty Sunset Garden Center. In the spring and early summer, the lilies gave us a big punch of green. And the daylily started flowering during the first week in July, just as our Ameria maritima and a few other perennials stopped flowering.It was great to have the daylily bursting into flower for our 4th of July party.

Each flower doesn’t last long (hence the “day” part of the name!), but the plant keeps pushing out more flowers.

The daylily is presenting a few problems too. When it rains, the dead flowers from the daylilly fall off and get stuck to the roof surface. The flowers aren’t as attractive as we were hoping. Did all the June rain do something to the flowers? Or should we experiment with putting it in an even sunnier spot next summer? Or is it just that this particular variety (we can’t find the tag from this plant so we don’t know the exact name of it) doesn’t produce especially beautiful flowers?

By the way, daylilies are also grown in the roof garden on Chicago’s City Hall. And here’s the daylily collection at White Flower Farm. We’re wondering if other rooftop and container gardeners have any daylily advice for us.