Thermally modified wood is even better than ipe? – Here’s why

We’re really impressed with the thermally modified ash pavers we just installed at the Durst Organization’s 4 Times Square and 1133 Avenue of the Americas.

Thermal modification relies on super heating wood, like ash, in a low oxygen environment to transform the wood into a much tougher, more durable product. Perfect for decking, outdoor furniture and pavers, the treated wood outperforms untreated ash, with a much longer life (25 years), better fire safety rating, and is far more resistant to decay, warping and splintering.

It’s a very eco-friendly product- Sustainably harvested from North American forests, some of the material being used today is reclaimed and repurposed timber felled to help combat blight endangering ash trees.

Heated to temperatures in excess of 180 C, moisture, resins and other extractives are removed from the wood. A low oxygen environment prevents combustion, and the finished product is stronger, better suited to exterior applications and will develop a lustrous, rich patina.

Thermally modified decking and pavers perform as exotic hardwoods, but are ecologically sound, sustainably grown, and a great alternative to depleted stocks of hardwoods like ipe. Available in a variety of sizes as pavers and decking in dimensional lumber sizes.

 

Pergola Design

Serving as a transition between interior space and outdoor landscape, a freestanding pergola serves as a focal point, centering the space and drawing attention to the best features the garden has to offer. When properly implemented, a pergola performs double duty, extending the living space while defining a distinct outdoor space.

The overhead framing also provides welcome shade. The design of the overhead slatted wood can be simple framing or set at a slant to create the dappled sunlight of a more shaded environment. Solid roofs, retractable fabric awnings and climbing plants can also be incorporated into the design and all contribute to the final look and feel of the space.

Blondie’s specializes in custom pergolas made from Ipe, Cedar, Teak, Aluminum, and Fiberglass. By incorporating a pergola into your landscape’s design you are creating a destination to relax, entertain, or dine as well as providing your garden with a dramatic focal point.  Offering privacy, shade and a beautiful space to gather, read or relax, a pergola is a sure way to bring style and substance to any garden space.

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/

Riverside Drive

Often times, the smallest of spaces prove to be the largest design challenge. Clients desire functional spaces which exude the lush, organic beauty they glimpse at spaces which tend to garner more of the press attention, which usually suggests they are greater in scale. In order for form and function to be joined in spiritual union, we can look to the context of the space in order to garner inspiration.
Introducing curved containers into the garden not only minimizes the angular impact of the space and its surrounding vertical neighbors, but borrows from the ebb and flow of the river passing by to the west. The containers vary in height so as to provide an accented and unimpeded view from the inside to the outside. The lush plantings reflect some of the leafy residents of nearby Riverside Park as well as reinforcing the movement of the Hudson as the grasses sway in the breezes high above the street.

Meatpacking District | Terrace

Located in New York’s Meatpacking district and adjacent to the High Line, this 3000 SF of exterior space offered a unique design opportunity. By combining two apartments, the clients created a wealth of exterior space, but it was a non-contiguous and unharmonious space. Blondie’s designers, Tina Dituri and Charles Casanova, sought to design spacious living and entertaining areas, while working around the confines of existing structural elements. On the list of the client’s must haves, were a spa area, a kitchen and a considerable amount of seating, without the added burden of storage. To accomplish the seating, 84 linear feet of deep concrete benches were custom fabricated and craned up to the site. Seat backs were angled and constructed of Ipe. This created seamless seating areas almost everywhere in the garden. The spa was created with multiple levels of steps that also act as benches. They surround the spa in what terminates at the top with spa level seating, creating an area that can be intimate, or also be the setting for a gathering. There is a shower just hidden from view adjacent to the spa. In the spa area, as well as wrapping to the long South seating area, a wall of lateral ipe fascia leads the eye from one side of the garden to the other. The crowning glory of the garden is a Jaume Plensa sculpture of a seated figure. It is placed reverently in a corner looking back toward the house. It is surrounded by upright Karl Foerster grasses, Vanderwolf Pine, Miscanthus, and various flowering perennials which make up the lovely frame for the entire garden.