Archive | 28 August 2012

Staged to Sell: Upper West Side Penthouse Garden


Staging your outdoor space can be one of the best ways to set your property apart when listing it for sale. In my experience, exterior spaces often get the short end of the stick when it comes to staging, and it’s a missed opportunity. Especially in cities and urban environments, buyers want the exterior of their home to look and feel just as fabulous as the interior.

We recently staged a penthouse terrace where we maximized the appeal and visual interest of the space. Of course, if you already have existing elements, it is best to incorporate them into the final design whenever possible. We added to existing furniture and brought in coordinating pieces, planters and accessories to warm up the space.

We focused on plantings that had the most impact and color for this time of the season. Many deciduous plants are still pushing leaves and we used a combination of evergreens and deciduous shrubs to get the best results. The…

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Gardens are For Renters Too: Views that Top the Top of the Rock


The Top of the Rock has phenomenal views of Midtown Manhattan, the Hudson River and Central Park. However, these twin terraces situated on Central Park South have views which top even those. Situated in the middle of Central Park, you can see all the way from 59th Street to the far end of the park at 110th Street. It takes a lot to make the heart of a New Yorker skip a beat, but this perspective does the trick.

The off-white parapet wall really stuck out against the green backdrop provided by the park. Our intent for using tall planters was to hide most of the parapet wall. Using tall planters also makes the terrace feel larger because it stretches the  lines of the space vertically. Crepe Myrtles, deciduous shrubs and ornamental grasses were carefully selected based on light and wind conditions.

The terraces were accessorized with rugs, pillows, low voltage lighting and lanterns to make them feel complete and lived in. Since…

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Curbside Catastrophe: Paramount Plaza


This plaza serves as an entry to the stately 48 story building at 1633 Broadway. Located in the heart of the theater district, Paramount Plaza gets tons of foot traffic which is all the more reason for my disappointment when I saw their fall planting.

One large Chrysanthemum was plunked in the middle of each planter. The plantings don’t have any imagination or whimsy and because of the intermixed colors it looks like an afterthought.  There are so many better options for fall annuals and foliage displays that Chrysanthemums are obsolete from a design perspective.

This planting was a missed opportunity to wow visitors and draw attention to Paramount Plaza’s real estate. The planters are screaming for something with height to match the scale of the surrounding street trees. What if they used Pennisetum rubrum for its tall deep red leaves, or even ‘Purple Majesty’ Ornamental Millet. That would set the stage for…

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Curbside Catastrophe: Successful Fall Planters


The best way to bring fall color and interest into your garden is through your planting containers. New York City landscapes are all about the container garden. Containers come in hundreds of different materials, colors, finishes ,and textures. Selecting the right plants for the right container to match the right setting can be overwhelming (check back for an upcoming article on rules of thumb for planter selection). This past week, I observed two different planters. One is located in Midtown Manhattan, and the second is located in Manhattan’s Financial District.



 The Midtown planter lacks fall interest. Observe the Begonias, Sweet Potato Vine, and Boxwood thrown together without attention to the season. The color scheme is better for Valentine’s day, and though I am a believer of color blocking, the red and pink flowers are a cheap shot at creating a colorful planter. The plant combination of the…

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Sidewalk Sensations: Ménage à Palms


In my travels over the course of this weekend, I found this simple  tropical planting combination outside of a new condo building. It follows basic rules of design and is simple enough that anyone can do it.  Placing the containers at the corner of the building helps soften hard edges of the structure while providing visual interest at the same time.  The main entrance to the lobby was located outside of the picture to the right, so the large scale of the planting keeps things in balance.

The container choice itself is brilliant in its subtlety.  The neutral dark charcoal color keeps the focus off the containers and allows the plants to make the statement. By using a lighter gray beach stone, the installer of these containers kept the palette similar but still interesting.  The stone size is also in correct proportion to the containers and plants. They all lend a tropical…

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Rooftop Garden with a Magnificent Midtown View


This rooftop garden was planted just in time for the fourth of July. With sweeping views from the Empire State Building all the way to the Hudson River, this rooftop has full light and wind exposure. Featuring lots of grasses, small deciduous trees and sun-loving perennials, we can’t wait to see this garden grow in!

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The Best House Guests Ever


Houseplants are the guests that never leave shoe marks on the floor or dirty dishes in the sink. In return for their invitation, plants offer mental and physical relief from the chaos of daily life. I’ve written before how gardening is therapy, and working with interior plants is no exception.  With a winter as blustery and dreary as this one, there is no better way to “think spring” than getting a beautiful houseplant for your home.

Plant a couple small foliage plants together in one container to create a mini garden.This display includes Asplenium nidum (Bird’s Nest Fern), Codiaeum variegatum ‘Pictum’ (Garden Croton) and Begonia sp. If you are adventurous add some natural decorations like feathers, branches or pebbles to give it a unique look. Remember DO NOT OVERWATER. The soil should dry out between waterings. Stick your finger an inch into the soil to feel the moisture level. If…

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In My Garden

 Upper pot Foxtail Fern - lower pot sun annuals

Since this weekend is the first weekend past the “official last frost day”,

 I’m guessing that many of you will head to the greenhouse to buy annuals this weekend.

So…I’m trying to get this off a bit early this weekend.

I’m writing on Friday night and it’s well….almost freezing. 

But…tomorrow will be in the 70’s so we’ll all be itching to get going. 

Let’s talk pots.

First a disclaimer. 

I have a lot of opinions on pots.  But they are just that – my opinions.

So take them as that and go forward into the world of pots and annuals.

My theory is bigger pots and fewer of them is the way to go. 

In all my yard I have 10 pots.

And they are big pots. 

The smallest is 18″ in diameter.

The largest is 30″.

Frankly 18″ is a bit small but it holds an asparagus fern.

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Save Your Garden Seeds

Country & Victorian Times

How to Save Seeds

There are two categories of plants in terms of seed saving, those with wet seeds and those with dry seeds. When you save wet seeds, you need to wash them to separate them from the surrounding pulp of the fruit. This can be accomplished by putting the pulp in a bowl of water. The seeds will sink while pulp and any dead seeds will rise to the top. The seeds will then need to dry thoroughly before storage. Some wet seeds will also need to be fermented before saving, such as tomato seeds. Fermenting removes substances from the seed that inhibit germination.

Dry seeds are harvested from the plant when their husks or pods have dried. The seeds then have to be separated from the chaff. When the seeds are dry, you can crumble them up and place them in a dish. Swirling the dish will…

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Alternative Ideas For Planters

Country & Victorian Times

The first picture shows a planter made from old gutters that have been capped on each side and planted with herbs. Each is attached to another to create a hanging planter which is a good way for small areas or balconies. The second picture is a planter made from a hollowed out log (made with a chainsaw) and planted with lots of color which is great against the earthy tones of the log itself.

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