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

      Showing posts with label contractors. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label contractors. Show all posts

      Thursday, December 9, 2010


      In spring my view looks like this. Fall 2010 it looked like this, with a firethorn in berry, and small trees and vines sporting their autumn colors.It's my borrowed scenery, the view from my office, living room and bedroom windows. I love to see how the across-the-street gardeners are progressing. I know not their names, but their smoking and coffee drinking habits as they emerge onto their terraces in early morning.
      An avid reader of Garden Bytes, BBP, alerted me. Although I was well aware when the scaffolding went up, when the cranes and ladders arrived on the 18th floor terraces across the street, I didn't connect all that to losing my borrowed scenery. But as BBP pointed out, all the plants were gone.I go away for one day and all the plants and containers on the 16th floor are missing; the crew is now working to clear the terrace on #17.Down, down, down in a cart on a flimsy pulley ......... to the dumpster below. So you fans of dumpster diving, who knows what garden treasures you'll find if you can just wiggle under the tarp that covers the dumpster at night. (double click on image above to see some of the treasures you're missing)SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE GARDEN PROBLEMS?
      Today four men in hoodies are ripping out decking and repairing leaks on the terrace, then will re-surface. Come spring will I have new borrowed scenery to enjoy? Is the co-op owner responsible for totally redoing the garden on the terrace?

      Wednesday, March 31, 2010


      The roof needed resurfacing, the leaks around the fence needed to be fixed, the brickwork on the side of the building needed repointing and I was told last year by the Board of the builing that the garden I tend would need to be deconstructed last summer. They hired a gardening crew of five, to come with jacks and dollies and move all of the 80+ planters to one side.I'm glad I didn't have to do it.The roofing crew lifted the pavers, laid new insulation and waterproofing.They took down fences, added new copper gutters and wall caps. All supplies came up 18 stories by crane.I worried about my trees during summer and fall, parched without their usual drip irrigation.
      I placed an order of 31 new fiberglass containers in a faux lead finish to compliment the gray of the pavers. One man in a huge truck with gate-lift elevator delivered the containers on 8 pallets. Traffic on the street was blocked for 45 minutes. I learned the pleasures of being cursed at drivers who, though seeing the blockage, decided they needed to go a hundred yards down the street and sit there, honk and curse. My first order of potting soil was a modest 40 bags; I wasn't sure how much usable soil I'd find between the roots in the old containers. Not much, as it turns out. Two more orders, and today my total is 120 bags, and counting.I was assigned a crew of three hardworking men from the building who sawed the old containers apart; first the rotting wooden boxes, then the galvanized metal liners, then the pot-bound roots. They were able to lift plastic pots and pour in some old soil. They muscled the big shrubs into their new fiberglass containers. I did the easy stuff: pour in bags of new potting soil, divide and plant day lilies, lavender, peonies, and other perennials; deal with the roses.
      I have a new and undying respect for the 'Saws-All' which cuts through the toughest roots; the name says it all. The grasses I won't need will find a home with Other Ellen and her deer in PA.
      Although the job is 60% complete, we have another 12 big containers to go. Below, the sight on the roof today before clean-up. And oh yes, someone in the building doesn't like gray containers, and someone else doesn't like the metal chair that is the centerpiece of my xeric garden that will remain in the center of the roof.
      Ben waters the first pot containing my precious Rosa 'Harison's Yellow' given to me as a cutting by Stephen Scanniello. The rose survived radical pruning in preparation for the move, a summer without food or water, and it's now leafing out in spectacular fashion. I've placed it against the East wall where it will be the first thing any visitor will see throughout May. Container #1 also hosts newly replanted iris, pass-along plants from Other Ellen, and California poppy seeds, planted in cool weather as they prefer.

      Thursday, December 31, 2009

      I am not happy.

      The fence construction I mentioned in my last post began yesterday. The workers took great care protecting the inside of the house. They laid down paper in the hallway, moved furniture out of the way, and didn't leave a mark. Apparently their attention to detail ended at the door to the back yard.

      The flags I planted to mark the perennials were bent and stepped on. I spoke with contractor Jim (Blue Line Construction).

      Me: I'm not happy about this. Look where your guys are standing.

      Him: You may have to move this tree (a Cercis canadensis) in the spring. We had to dig pretty close to the root ball. We dug up a lot of roots.

      Me: Wow. I wish you'd told me about this; I would have moved the tree.

      Him: It'll be fine.

      Me: And you know this because...

      Him: I've dug a lot of post holes in a lot of gardens.

      Me: It may be fine or it may not be fine.

      Him: Whether it is or it isn't, it's not in MY contract.

      At that point I went to speak with the facilities manager (who hired the contractor). Of course what Jim said was 100% true. But how much better would it have been if he'd said, "I'm not sure if the tree will make it or not but I was as careful as I could be and I've done a lot of this kind of work and I really hope it will be ok."

      The facts remain the same, but the difference is enormous. Whether the tree comes back or not, his lousy attitude means I'll do my best to make sure he's never hired by any of my clients again.

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