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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label brownstone backyard. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label brownstone backyard. Show all posts

      Friday, August 6, 2010

      It's too darn hot

      Some days I think I have the best job in the world, others...not so much. This past month in NYC has been brutal (in case you didn't know) and I've usually restricted myself to half days on the rooftops, where the sun and heat are unrelenting. Despite my 70 SPF, I haven't been this brown since before we knew the sun was bad for us.

      So where does a gardener seek shade and solace on a hot August day? In a brownstone backyard garden, of course.

      Light is probably the most important variable when choosing plants for your location. Most people with shade gardens complain about not being able to grow enough flowers or vegetables or herbs, but there are times when I crave the relative serenity of a shade garden. True, Caladium and Impatiens aren't the most novel combination around, but they please me, and provide plenty of color in a low-light situation. So what if I can't grow roses, I can have climbing hydrangea. Not enough light for ornamental grasses? Use hostas instead.

      The fence here was replaced last December, in a careless way that convinced me I'd loose several trees. In fact, I did not, and the climbing hydrangea and Schizophragma are once again climbing the heights.

      And one bonus you rarely find in a rooftop garden: a little extra space in the back. I use it as a coleus nursery. Whenever I prune (at least once a month) I stick the cuttings in the back of the garden to fill in with some extra color.

      Please forgive the date stamps. I've been fiddling around with camera settings and I'm mortified to see that I left the date stamp on. It has since been remedied.

      Saturday, May 23, 2009

      a busy week

      It was a very busy week. No surprise there, since it's May and I'm a gardener. But between plant deliveries, runs to the Long Island nurseries, and planting, planting, planting, I haven't had time to think of a boffo blog post. So instead, I thought I'd walk you through a day in the life of a city gardener. (Warning, they're all cell phone photos; can't carry a big camera on these heavy work days.)

      8 am: This brownstone backyard garden is just 12 blocks from home, so I often make it my first call of the day. Since it's an office I like getting it done early, before everyone comes in to work. Bulb foliage is still dying back here so I haven't planted the summer annuals yet. Right now I'm tidying up foliage, feeding, and planting window boxes. The annuals go in next week.

      10:30 am: I walk between clients as much as possible. Since I wasn't carrying plants this morning, I walked through the park to the west side and admired the Aquilegia canadensis in the Ramble.

      2:30 pm: Forgot to put on sunblock. Stupid, stupid, stupid! It was the first hot/sunny day in a while and I just wasn't thinking. After 4 hours I'm exhausted (and a little sunburned), but the garden looks good. There are two large terraces here: the north side (approximately 500 square feet) includes only white flowers and is where my clients often eat dinner. I use lots of silver, gray, and white foliage here too; it shows up nicely in the gloaming. The south terrace (approximately 600 square feet) is chock full of color. This year I've focused on pinks and yellows with a few purple accents thrown in. I started the annuals here on Monday and finished today.

      3:00 pm: I walk back to the east side along the reservoir path. A moment of relaxation. I need to take this route more often. It's cooler by the water and the view can't be beat.

      Whenever possible I pass this building on 79th, between 5th and Madison. Other Ellen has written about it before and it never fails to make me smile, even when I'm hot, sweaty, and utterly exhausted. It's a reminder of how much can be done with very little space; a real gardener can make magic with a few containers and some imagination. Now all I need is a cool shower and an even cooler drink.

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