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In the seven years I’ve lived in New York City, this is by far the worst winter I have ever seen. The snow is relentless and is clearly overstaying its welcome. While stuck inside today I am sorting through spring plantings from past seasons. If you have spring fever like me, it’s never too early to treat your symptoms and begin planning your first seasonal planting of the year. Check out these ideas and tips to create a fresh look once warmer weather rolls around!

Hellebore, Heather, Pansies and Grape Hyacinth Create a Sophisticated Spring Planting

Hellebore, Heather, Pansies and Grape Hyacinth Create a Sophisticated Spring Planting

Restrain Your Color Palette to Create an Understated Spring Planting

Restrain Your Color Palette to Create an Understated Spring Planting

Instead of using every available color in your planting try picking one or two hues and stick with them. We used Heather and Hellebore in the above planting as neutrals to balance out the yellow and purple in the Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) and Grape Hyacinth (Muscari). I feel plantings that have flower colors of the same value or saturation are more pleasing than those of high contrast. The more contrast there is between light and dark colors the more attention the planting draws. More often than not I prefer plantings that are easy on the eye, not ones that scream “look at me!”

Torenia and Pansies Grace this NYC Rooftop Garden

Torenia and Pansies Grace this NYC Rooftop Garden

Spring Planting with Flowers at Different Heights Draws Your Eye Through the Garden

Spring Planting with Flowers at Different Heights Draws Your Eye Through the Garden

In spring, when deciduous trees and shrubs are just beginning to leaf out and the landscape is just waking up, a spring planting can add a ton of visual interest. Use plantings of different heights, or in planters of different heights to draw your eye through the landscape. Your eye will follow the spots of color and if repeated throughout a garden, the color will create movement in an otherwise dull space.

Transitional Late Spring Early Summer Planting with Caladium and Columbine

Transitional Late Spring Early Summer Planting with Caladium and Columbine

Classic White Hydrangeas, a Simple Spring Planting

Classic White Hydrangeas, a Simple Spring Planting

If in doubt, keep your planting simple. White Hydrangeas create a very clean and soothing look for spring. However, it’s my job as a landscape designer to create unique planting combinations. Don’t be afraid to use perennials in a planter for a seasonal planting. You can always replant the perennials into a planting bed once the display is changed out. Columbine (Aquilegia), Caladiums and Alyssum were combined to create a muted look for this late spring/early summer transitional planting. The texture of the broad heart-shaped Caladium leaves against the tiny white flowing flowers of the Alyssum is divine.

I hope some of these pictures help you look past the current blizzard and start dreaming of spring. There is no better cure for spring fever than planning your garden and picking out plants that inspire you!

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I am attaching some photos from the 2013 Jackson Heights Garden Tour Here. Show your support and give us a vote! Happy New Year.

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Jackson Heights Coop Gardens Private Tour in June 2013

Jackson Heights Coop Gardens Private Tour in June 2013

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A Lightweight Deck Solution is Removable Should the Renter Decide to Move

A Lightweight Deck Solution is Removable Should the Renter Decide to Move

This renter wanted to take advantage of killer financial district and Wall Street views…. and I don’t blame them. With a terrace like this, you want to be able to use every square inch! We added lightweight fiberglass planters with specimen Japanese Maples for height.

 
Specimen Japanese Maples add Height to This Garden

Specimen Japanese Maples add Height to This Garden

A lightweight decking solution was installed over the existing concrete pavers. That goes for the synthetic lawn as well. Should the renter decide to move, they get to take their deck and  grass with them (if they so choose).

Killer Views of Wall Street and the Financial District as Seen from this Terrace Garden

Killer Views of Wall Street and the Financial District as Seen from this Terrace Garden

The renter added their funky flare with bold furniture pieces and textiles. Low voltage lighting sets the mood at night, and creates a fabulous place to soak in the scenery.

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Sidewalk sadness

I walked by this narrow raised planter on E. 17th Street the other day and was shocked by the missed opportunity for creating curb appeal for the building. After all, first impressions go a long way! Needless to say, the scattered garbage, orphan Hostas and overgrown weeds aren’t doing any favors to define the value of this real estate.

It wouldn’t take much to spruce this planter up and give residents and passersby something to smile at. Check out some plant ideas below for easy ways to overhaul this planting.

Pieris japonica is a broadleaf evergreen shrub with dark green glossy leaves (bronze color when young) that produces white flowers in spring. It is relatively slow-growing but can reach a height of 6-8′ tall. A bonus is the flowers carry a sweet fragrance which can help mask various odors sometimes present on NYC streets.

Pieris japonica

Pieris japonica

Adding Euonymus alatus (common name: Burning Bush) which has bright red autumnal foliage, could increase visual interest and add a pop of color. Euonymus ‘Compactus’ may be a better suited cultivar for smaller sites since it does not grow as large as the straight species.

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Euonymous alatus with Stunning Fall Color

Viburnum plicatum, commonly referred to as Doublefile Viburnum,  is a great shrub which can grow to 8-10′ tall. Deciduous, dark green leaves turn reddish-purple in the autumn while large white flowers cover the plant in late spring/early summer.

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Viburnum plicatum with Spring Flowers

Utilize evergreens towards the back of the planter to add green year round and provide a solid foundation for the planting. Think Ilex, Taxus or Buxus. Junipers love sunnier locations and stand up to the abuse that sidewalks dish out.

Once the larger shrubs are in place, add some smaller perennials in the middle section such as: Anemone (spring flowers), Astilbe (blooms in summer/fall depending on cultivar), Spiraea (blooms in summer) and ferns (Ostrich and Painted Ferns are nice varieties) which leaf out in early summer.

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Astilbe in Full Bloom

Don’t forget to leave some open pockets towards the front of the planting area for seasonal annuals. Spring bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils or Snowdrops could be planted in the late Fall in the same area that the annuals are planted in. With a little sweat and a few tears (hopefully of joy) this planter could go from neglected to stunning in no time.

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I am always on the look out for noteworthy small parks, community gardens and respites from the concrete jungle. Just below 14th Street on 8th Avenue where Greenwich Avenue begins, there is a triangular park called Jackson Square bordered on the south end by Horatio Street.

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.23 acre NYC Park

A little history for you from the NYC Parks Department’s site: “The triangular shape of the park is a result of the diagonal route of Greenwich Avenue, the oldest known road in Greenwich Village. Greenwich Avenue originated as an Indian trail and was called the Strand Road by Dutch colonists. Forming the other two sides of the triangle, Eighth Avenue and Horatio Street date to 1811, when the New York legislature approved the Manhattan street grid, known as the Commissioner’s Plan. When and why the site came to be called Jackson Square is unclear. Most likely it was named after Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), the seventh President of the United States.”

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A dogwood tree in blossom (foreground). Boxwoods surround the cast iron fountain.

The ironwork at the entrances and the perimeter fencing is original to the park’s beginnings, circa 1872. There are several pin oaks that are recorded as having been planted in 1930’s. The cast iron fountain was installed in a renovation finished in 1990.

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8th Avenue Entrance to Jackson Square

There are many nice plantings in this .23 acre park. There are several groupings of variegated Solomon’s seal, a perennial plant that is wonderful in shade gardens. It’s easy to grow and will slowly spread throughout the years.

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Solomon’s seal grouping

The structure of Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum) is delicate with its arches and hanging bell shaped flowers. It will bloom from early spring until autumn (when foliage will turn golden).

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Solomon’s seal with its sweet bell shaped flower.

This planting caught my eye on the Greenwich Ave side:

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This grouping has Cherry Laurel (Otto Luyken) in the back left blooming with its white bushy flowers. The leaves are a lush dark green with a nice luster to them; it is an evergreen shrub and looks fantastic in the background of this planting. The evergreen shrub in the lower left is a Pieris Japonica (Forest Flame), with its white spring flowers in bloom, its new foliage is flame red and then fades to green as it matures.

On the right side are Hostas (Garden Treasure) with their green middle and yellow edges. A shade-loving perennial, they are a great way to add color to your garden. Hostas come in a wide range of colors from an avocado green to a light blue-green with many types of variegated options. The blooms that appear in late-summer are white or lilac colored. Mixed throughout the planting there are also spring bulbs: daffodils, tulips and muscari.

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Hostas, Boxwoods, Ferns near the fountain

Several coffee shops flank Jackson Square so grab a cup to go and go relax on one of several benches!

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I am excited to introduce Eva, a talented gardener  who is working closely with Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design. She has gardened across the country from upstate NY to Chicago and now joins us back in NYC. Eva is contributing to our blog and helping to capture plant life on the streets of New York City. Please give her a warm welcome and without any further ado…..

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Jeffrey had the opportunity to work with garden photographer Jerry Pavia for a spread in the April 2013 edition of Container Gardens Magazine. Check out our work on an upper west side NYC penthouse. If you want to see more photos of this stunning garden, visit our online portfolio!

Container Gardens April 2013 Magazine Available Now

Container Gardens Magazine April 2013 Issue Available Now

Check out Jeffrey's Work Photographed by Jerry Pavia

Check out Jeffrey’s Work Photographed by Jerry Pavia

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