Plant Selection + Terrace Gardens

 

The climate in the northeastern United States has always challenged residential gardeners and professional landscapers alike. For most people the chill of fall means pulling out fun collections of sweaters and coats.  For the gardener it’s time to shut down the garden. Pulling weeds, shutting down irrigation and covering furnishings are all part and parcel of landscape maintenance.  However, a temperature and weather shift associated with climate change has really changed the timetable for many.

While many people still debate climate change and it’s impact, surely we have noticed the effects.  A white Christmas is becoming harder and harder to come across. February is dipping lower and lower on the thermometer.  We’ve noticed a lot of loss amongst shrubs and perennials that used to be quite hardy and resistant to cold snaps.  Colder winters are also compounded when your garden might be on a 22nd story roof deck.  Strong winds wick away ambient moisture and temperatures dip even lower than they do at ground level. So your hardiness zone might not be what you think.

Our general rule at J. Mendoza Gardens (a division of blondies treehouse), after the first ten stories, for every ten stories you ascend, your garden steps back a hardiness zone. New York City is considered to be zone 7 city-wide,  but when we design for terraces that are 15 or 20 stories high, we’ll pick plants that are more common to a zone 5 to ensure hardiness.  One commercial client of ours has their office on the 34th floor.  We went with plants that could handle zone 4 hardiness.

For the urban gardener, a Property Manager responsible for a large common roof deck or a hobbyist with a few planters on a terrace, the lesson we’d like to share is that if you’ve lost some perennials, do not replace in kind.  Our recommendation is to transition to plants with higher tolerance to the cold.

Suggested Plants (by Genera)

  • Amsonia
  • Aster
  • Actaea
  • Brunnera
  • Coreopsis
  • Calamagrostis
  • Carex
  • Chasmanthium
  • Dryopteris
  • Echinacea
  • Eryngium (select species)
  • Euphorbia
  • Festuca
  • Gaillardia
  • Hakonechloa
  • Heuchera
  • Helleborus
  • Hemerocallis
  • Hylotelephium
  • Ligularia (select species)
  • Lobelia
  • Monarda
  • Phlox (select species)
  • Schizachyrium
  • Sedum
  • Sporobolus
  • Tiarella
  • Yarrow
  • Yucca

 Additional Resources:

 Good place to search for plants – “MBG – Plant Finder”

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/plantfinder/plantfindersearch.aspx

 University of Minnesota – “The best plants for 30 tough sites”

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/best-plants-for-tough-sites/

building BIG in brooklyn

Trump Tower Transformation

The Trump Tower New York, located at 725 5th Avenue, is a 58-story mixed-use skyscraper in the heart of midtown Manhattan. As part of its public space atrium, Blondie’s renovated the exterior gardens on the 4th floor brick terrace to include additional Japanese Maples and entirely new planting beds. Located primarily in shadow, a plant palette was assembled that best suites the site conditions to provide color and texture. A layering of Japanese Maples, Ilex and Hydrangea provide the back drop for perennials of heuchera, astilbe and variegated hostas. Annual seasonal color was added to the summertime palette to provide additional color. While renovating the garden beds, particular care was given to reconstructing a healthy soil body. The key restoration features that will enable these planting beds to thrive are, amended soil with topdressing, a monitored irrigation system, appropriate plant material and an on-going, routine maintenance program. When taking on a landscape renovation, these factors are the major considerations that will determine the success of your garden project.

Rooftop Meadow in SoHo

Hovering 7 stories above Spring Street is a rooftop garden that is more than just a green roof. Featuring a variety of grasses and a seasonal rotation of blooming plants, this rooftop is transformed into an urban meadow. The distinction between the meadow in the forefront and the city’s skyline as a backdrop plays off of the urban vs wild contrast that lives within each of us. The blooming color is planted in large swaths to increase its intensity and rolls through the season adding a constant shift in color. Flowering chives present soft purple tufts and fresh greens beginning in early spring until the coreopsis take over in the summer with their electric orange hue and wild flower nature. Later, the hydrangeas begin to take bloom and their moppy heads create a late summer watercolor that leads the way into autumn red and golden grasses. As part of the common space of a private office, this rooftop retreat provides respite from the bustle of the surrounding city and is the setting for meetings and gatherings from spring through fall.