Posts Tagged ‘next year’

The Hanging Basket Report: Better Luck Next Year


We went through two hanging baskets this summer. We had this pink, perfect mini-petunia in June. Once the petunia baked on our roof garden, we swapped it out for this yellow lantana. By the end of August, the lantana fell to the dry windy heat too. (A neighbor criticized us for growing lantana, a plant he considered a weed.)

We’re thinking about new ideas for the hanging basket/pole for next summer.

The plant in this picture, living on a light pole high above 34th Street, near the midtown Manhattan flagship Macy’s made me think more about our hanging basket problem. If a  hanging basket can make it there, seems like a hanging basket could make it anywhere. I wonder how often these pots are watered.


Growing Bulbs in Rooftop Containers


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.


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.

Butterfly Stops By Our Lantana


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.

Best Roof Garden Plants: Armeria maritima ‘Duesseldorf Pride’

Armeria maritima

We have an Ameria maritima ‘Duesseldorf Pride’ growing in a small container up on our roof garden. It looks like a mound of grass. The green is nice, but quiet. Easy to miss when it isn’t flowering.

But . . . look at that same grassy mound a few days … and there’s stems with bright pink flowers boing-ing around like antlers. We were just up on the roof watering and found two new flowers. We swear those weren’t there on Friday. We been researching more about this plant tonight, and we read that the game may be over — it stops blooming in late June to early July, so it sounds like the show may be over for this year.

We bought our Armeria maritima, also called “sea pinks”, at Liberty Sunset Nursery, Red Hook, Brooklyn. The guy working there said the plant would work well since it can tolerate the wind and pollution on an urban roof garden.

Next year, we need to grow something in the middle of the table. I think we should transplant the Armeria maritima to an umbrella planter. It seems like if we sat around our patio table long enough we could just about watch the flowers pop up.


I found out sea pinks are also grown on the roof garden at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library.

Images: SD State, HydrotechUSA

Best Roof Garden Plants: Sedum


If you’re a first time roof gardener like me, I recommend trying some sedum. Sedum, also called stonecrop and sometimes mis-spelled as “sedom”, is a succulent — a chubby look plant that stores up water and can grow in hot spots with poor soil. You can see my sedum in the front left of this picture.

Sedums are great New York City plants because they don’t mind the intense heat. Most sedum should be able to manage a cold winter, stored right on the roof, and then come back strong in the spring.

White Flower Farm and Blue Stone Perennials sell a bunch of different sedums. I’m considering buying another one. Next year, I’d love to grow a mixed succulent container like this one.

We’re in the middle of a super rainy patch of weather here in Brooklyn. It is too much water for my sedums. Fine Gardening’s primer on creeping sedums explains: “While even the poorest soil can nourish sedums—and poor or little soil is actually their preferred medium—good drainage is the key to growing them. Too much moisture, especially standing water, will do what no drought can: It will quickly kill a sedum.”


Its looking like at least three more rainy days this week, so we’re going to either bring the sedum inside or find a way to cover them. Plant umbrellas perhaps?

I’m considering re-potting our sedums in a different soil mix — with some sand and gravel — to create the dry well drained soil they enjoy.

Wall Gardening: A Small Space Solution


We’ve got just enough room for people, plants, and patio table in our Brooklyn roof garden, but I’m wondering if we could squeeze in a wall garden? If we could push everything out 10 inches, we could turn the stairwell shed into a wall garden using this stackable wall garden from Lee Valley. Too bad the large wall garden unit is sold out.

You Grow Girl says gardeners must be wary of strawberry pots: “They have poor water distribution and tend to dry out quickly. Sometimes they’re ugly. Or the pockets are too small.” I wonder if that warning would apply to this wall garden container, with strawberry pot style pockets, too?


Smith & Hawken sells a wall garden too. And this wall garden from Oregon is just the inspiration I need to try it out next year:


Images: Lee Valley, Smith & Hawken,

The Stack and Grow Planter

Evergreen Container Gardening in Brooklyn


Check out this inspiring new Brooklyn brownstone front garden. This planting just went in a few weeks ago and I stop to admire it on my walk to work every morning.

It looks to be all bushes and low-maintenance plants in many shades of green. Does anyone know the botanical names for these plants? I only recognize the rhododendrons.

What an elegant solution for the small garden space in front of many Brooklyn brownstones. This is a container garden space, really. Next year I’d like to try a small wind-loving tree in our roof garden.

Umbrella Planter Puts a Centerpiece on the Patio Table


The only place in our roof garden that isn’t stuffed with plants is the patio table. That’s the opposite of how we live inside, where we almost always have a plant or flowers on our dining table.


Next year, we could add one of these umbrella planters to the center of the table. The more gardening books I read, the more curious I’m getting. This could be a fun place to plant a tiny alpine container garden or a crazy scene full of sedums and hens and chicks.

HGUMBRELLAPLANTER__1But would it leak and splash in the rain, leaving mud all over the table? I know that’s what R* would ask me. The bird crap on the table is enough to scrub off as it is.

Shopping for an Umbrella Planter:
eBay: Inexpensive and goes with everything, but terra cotta breaks easily

Grandin Road: $99 is pretty steep for something seasonal, but for someone going copper, it could be great.

Simply Planters: Too expensive and too dramatic.

Back Yard City: Out of stock.

I can’t figure out why large stores and brands like Martha Stewart, Target, and Home Depot don’t sell these. And why are these out of stock at so many online retailers? I’m looking for umbrella planter gossip. Does it have something to do with these patents?

If You Spend a Lot of Time in Your Roof Garden at Night . . .

containergardening06Plant white flowers!

Duh, why didn’t I think of that before we bought so many plants. I’m reading Container Gardening 2009 and picking up a lot of advice, but this is my favorite tip so far.

“I like to slip in white flowers whenever possible because they are the ones you notice at night,” wrote Kimbery Crane from EarthArt. She was talking about window boxes, but this is especially relevant for rooftop gardens since the light there can be limited.

R* and I were up on our Brooklyn rooftop at 12:30 a.m. this morning, watering and checking in on our ailing rose bush. White flowers would definately be more visable.

Here’s more pondering on white flowers at night: “As I think of white-blooming plants, I envision flocks of white geese flying in the night sky. They are like reflectors, mirrors that toss back to the earth all the available light.”