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

      Showing posts with label terrace. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label terrace. Show all posts

      Tuesday, August 13, 2013


      The Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are in bloom all over New York City, just when most flowering trees and shrubs have lost their color and green foliage abounds. (above, the Conservatory Garden and below near the Boat House, both in Central Park)...
       by the side of the General Theological Seminary in Chelsea, masquerading as a lilac...
      and welcoming us to the New Leaf Cafe, Fort Tryon Park, Upper Manhattan.
      I started my gardening life in Zones 5 and 6 and considered Crape myrtles as plants only for Southern Climes;now realize I must have one, two or three for 'my' NYC rooftop.
      Flowers range in color from white to red, pink, coral, purple and all shades in between. 

      I've just seen pictures of a potentially interesting new introduction with 'black' leaves, 'Black Diamond' t.m.. growing only 10-12 feet tall and 8' wide for smaller garden spaces. This cultivar is being introduced in five flower color choices. Hope to see it live at the Garden Writers symposium in Quebec starting this week.
      Crape myrtles look great in winter as well as summer, with incredably smooth but exfoliating bark, seen here in two specimen trees at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
      My last Crape myrtle sighting, just yesterday, on a terrace at the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, and me on the 31st floor of a nearby building caught without my telephoto lens. Look carefully for a splash of pink in the terrace garden.

      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      THE VIEW

      Double click on any image to see details.
      The view from the second section of The High Line is in many places as interesting as the park itself. Apartment buildings are as close as 6' from the railing of the elevated walk. It must be highly annoying to some residents; others have decided to make their own political and artistic statements. These pots seem to be resting in rope slings hung on the outside of the balcony. Safe?If you meant to get to church Sunday morning but didn't quite make it, you're only about 10' away from the Church of the Guardian Angel on 10th Ave and W. 23rd. St.And my favorite, a design of stripped branches to enclose a balcony, below. These are not telephoto images. Notice the railing of The High Line, bottom right. I'm leaning against the railing, about 6' from the balcony. Someone designed a fabulous privacy solution. Chairs and a table are just on the other side of the branches.

      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?

      Monday, February 1, 2010

      Chicago ain't the only windy city.

      I grew up when winters were winters and schools didn't close for a paltry few inches of snow. I'm not bragging...I just want you to understand that cold weather doesn't freak me out. I can take it.

      I'm not so sure about the trees. It's been a windy winter and terrace trees are super susceptible (I'm on an alliterative tear) to tipping. A tree tips over in the forest and chances are no one gets hurt. On a terrace over East 79th Street, it's an entirely different matter.

      I was over by the East River, looking down, when I noticed these arborvitae.

      Are they attached to anything? I hope so.

      Terraces are windy places, considerably windier than ground level gardens. Put two tall buildings next to each other and it gets worse: the wind funnels between them, intensifying and tunneling its way among the containers. Tree branches catch that wind like sails and something's gotta give. The tree may tip over or it may sail across the terrace, hopefully NOT into the great beyond. Here's what you can do to make your terrace trees more safe:

      1) Thinning a tree's canopy decreases the surface area of the sail enough to keep the tree from going mobile. Try pruning out 20-25% of the horizontal branches.

      2) Make sure your tree isn't too heavy for its container. Inadequate weight in the container makes it easier for the tree to tip. On rooftops we choose light weight containers and potting mixes, PLUS, winter soil is dry, and dry soil is light. This is a recipe for disaster. Keep an eye on the relative masses of your top growth and container. A big tree needs a heavy pot.

      3) Square and rectangular containers are more stable than circular pots. On an especially windy terrace, use a quadrilateral container.

      4) Tie it down! I use heavy gauge wire and pieces of garden hose to attach tree trunks to terrace railings. Cut the hose into 12' pieces and run the wire through it, then wire the tree in place, making sure the hose section is up against the tree trunk. The hose keeps the wire from cutting into the trunk when the wire becomes taut. Each tree should be wired at two or three points along the trunk, just in case.

      I walked by my windiest terrace last week and from 18 floors below I could see that several trees had tipped over (actual trees above). I have pruned them, I have wired them, but still they tip. The pots are wicked heavy. Definitely heavier than the top growth. And yet they tip. I've suggested square containers to replace the round pots but I've met with resistance. I've suggested my client donate the biggest trees to the building's garden and replace them with smaller shrubs. She'll think about it.

      Wednesday, November 18, 2009

      DON'T I GET A SAY?

      When I hung out of my office window clutching my Canon Rebel EOS, I could grab a shot of the climbing 'New Dawn' rose draping the balcony across the street. Granted 'New Dawn' blooms for about three weeks in June, then never again that year, but the sight was so lovely it inspired me to plant my own in my all container garden on our 18th floor. I intermingled it with
      a small bell-shaped
      Clematis integrifolia
      'Rooguchi' that used
      the rose canes for its
      personal trellis.(double
      click on the image to
      enlarge the Clematis)
      Then in spring of 2009
      I looked across 80th St.
      with great dismay. The
      owners of the terrace
      garden had removed
      the rose WITHOUT MY
      PERMISSION. It's my
      borrowed scenery, not
      just their garden. Don't
      I get a say? This spring
      their terrace had a few
      small trees and some
      splotches of crimson
      that looked like geran-
      iums. I DIDN'T VOTE
      FOR THAT. Isn't this a democracy? I propose that if I have to look at the garden daily and it's my only view, I should have a voice. Do you agree, or will this issue just go the way of term limits for Mayors in the city of New York?

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