On the Brooklyn waterfront nestled between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges is 45 Main Street, a 475,000 square-foot office building and one of the signature properties of the neighborhood known as DUMBO. Here, developer Two Trees Management has converted the former factory building to create a mix of private and co-working spaces with incredible views a short walk to the waterfront. With the ground floor dedicated to retailers and the arts, the rooftop is a 9,500 square-foot shared space designed by Landscape Architect James Corner Field Operations and built by Blondie’s Treehouse Inc. We retrofitted the rooftop on this historic building with a mix of stone and wood surfaces. A herringbone pattern of grey and white granite creates a distinct area for blue bistro tables. In the south section of the rooftop an elevated ipe platform introduces an additional level for more casual lounging. Large planters of weathered Corten Steel feature Gleditsia, Amalenchier, Dogwood and Witchhazel as well as perennials and grasses. Custom ipe benches create privacy seating and serve as space dividers along the north and east walls. To install this project on time, Blondie’s brought in a 140-ton crane and secured permits allowing the closure of Washington Street. In a single morning, we lifted 250 cubic yards of soil and drainage stone, twenty-five 15’ trees, each with 30” root balls, 1,600 one gallon perennials as well as pavers and a variety of construction materials. Without the crane, this material would have required the freight elevators for a solid week, a difficult prospect in a busy building at full occupancy. Over a period of nearly four weeks, Blondie’s craftsmen and gardeners fabricated custom woodwork and planters and carefully planted thousands of perennials, shrubs and trees, transforming this rooftop from an empty and unutilized space into a fully realized, functional and quite gorgeous urban landscape.
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.
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)
- Eryngium (select species)
- Ligularia (select species)
- Phlox (select species)
Good place to search for plants – “MBG – Plant Finder”
University of Minnesota – “The best plants for 30 tough sites”
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.