The Lessons of Spring

 

The vernal equinox marks the beginning of longer, brighter days. Spring’s extra daylight has the power to change us in positive ways. We feel more optimistic and resilient; just as plants turn to capture the light of the sun, we humans also depend upon and crave sunlight for our mental and physical well-being.

As light begins to shine brightly once more and birds, insects and animals emerge, and plants and flowers begin to bloom, it is indeed a time of renewal. Spring is a time for us to embark on new journeys and start new projects with fresh ideas. As we ponder the tiny leaflets on each tree, let us also allow that optimism to guide our own re-emergence, resilience and growth.

Brilliance Lighting Award !

325 Kent Ave is a residential building that is part of the larger Domino Sugar site being developed by Two Trees Management, Inc. The building has a noticeable ‘hole’ in the center- a playful nod to the ubiquitous ‘Sugar’ donut. The building was designed by Ismael Levya Architects, while the interiors were developed by Leeser Architecture. Blondie’s Treehouse, Inc built all three main exterior amenity spaces.

The Courtyard is 9900 SF. A central, rectilinear dry-bed leads through a random planting of large Shade trees, ferns and perennials and ends at a blackened steel water feature. The water spills into a reflecting pool that features a 12’ tall sandstone sculpture by Lluis Lleo. Two thirty foot built-in benches flank the deck that surrounds the end of the reflecting pool.

The 16th Floor has two terraces that are nearly mirror images. At roughly 3000 SF, one of the terraces functions as an entertainment space with a built in kitchen and seating, while the other features a flush deck that acts as an outdoor yoga classroom.

The 17th Floor Roof deck is approximately 5000 SF and comprises distinct usage areas, including a 40’ long kitchen and bar area, picnic spaces, North and South lounges, conversational clusters and a raised garden of steppable plants and lounge chairs under shade trees. Blondie’s Treehouse, Inc. fabricated all of the architecture above the waterproofing membrane- including the custom kitchen, planters, edging, stairs, decking, lounges and benches.

Blackened Steel, ipe, rectangular pavers and linear lighting appear throughout the spaces.

 

BTH | Preferred Installer

Sempergreen® Vertical Systems is the creator and supplier of SemperGreenwalls, a unique vertical garden system. With a global reach and a mission to improve the quality of life through innovations in sustainable design, Sempergreen is the leading source of green living wall systems for indoor and outdoor use. Blondie’s Treehouse Inc. is a Preferred SemperGreenwall Installer. Companies with this distinction are recognized by Sempergreen for their proven installation skills and deep knowledge of the product, with an emphasis on quality, execution and client happiness. The SemperGreenwall is composed of modular Flexipanels, which arrive fully planted with lush, fully-grown plants. Flexipanels employ a generous 2” thick mineral wool based profile designed to nourish the plants by promoting and protecting robust, healthy root systems. The SemperGreenwall is truly a modular system, in that neighboring Flexipanels allow each plant’s roots to roam freely between panels, keeping plants healthier and creating a 3-dimensional vertical garden. A key innovation is the electronic sensory system that monitors the irrigation and distribution of fertilizer and nutrients. This cutting edge technology allows for remote monitoring and pinpoint accuracy, creating a highly efficient maintenance program with unmatched results.

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/

National Accounts Program Project Spotlight

Blondie’s National Program has recently installed a interiorscape design at an upscale shopping mall located in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. 44 new Fiberglass Decorative Tapered Square Planters were placed throughout the mall, all with a coordinating bronze finish and 175 live plants in such varieties as Dracaena Limelight, Dracaena Lemon-Lime and Aglaonema Silver-Bay were brought in and placed in groupings for a cohesive and streamlined design. 21 custom planter inserts for the Food Court were fitted with over 215 Square Feet of 18″ Preserved Prairie Grass. The grasses were selectively hand-pruned after the installation to insure that the grasses did not flop over or impede on diners. The overall effect is a simple, clean design that unifies the food court, providing both privacy and aesthetic appeal.