Posts Tagged ‘NYC Townhouse Gardens’

The recent New York Times article  featuring Piet Oudolf’s philosophy on winter gardens was an interesting read.  Titled “A Landscape In Winter Dying Heroically,” the well written article by Sally McGrane captures his values and beliefs for what is important in Garden Design. Oudolf likes to give the idea of nature as opposed to trying to replicate it. Regarding winter gardens Oudolf feels “The skeletons of the plants are for me as important as the flowers” (NY Times) and likes to leave the brown and decaying plant material in place to give interest through the season. Cleverly, Oudolf comments on dying plant materials “You accept death. You don’t take the plants out, because they still look good. And brown is also a color” (NY Times).

On a design level I completely agree with Oudolf’s planting designs. The only catch to this idea is that brown perennials and leaves on small rooftop gardens with a limited amount of planting area don’t have the same effect as rolling hillsides of grasses in the breeze in the country. The question is, can we appreciate dead vegetation and make this work in a small urban garden?

Yes we can, and here’s how:

1. Pick one plant that you really love and repeat it in. Instead of 5 completely different plants, use that same species in clumps or in several key places in your garden. This will help draw your eye and lead you through the landscape. In fall and winter, this will help make things look more intentional as opposed to looking like you forgot to cut something back.

2. When you pull out the summer annuals, replace them with something for fall. Did you know that if you leave ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea) in the ground over winter it will send up whispy stems of delightful little yellow flowers in the spring? We get so used to yanking things out of the garden when we are “supposed” to and forget that plants might have something more to offer us.

3. Pick an accessory. I know it’s not engrained in our mentality that brown is a nice color to see in the garden, but it is part of the seasonal cycle. I agree with Oudolf that the life and death cycle we encounter in the garden is a beautiful and reflective thing. So let the garden do what it does best. In the meantime, pick out a colorful accessory to help accentuate your winter garden. It can be as simple as a colorful metal frame chair, a piece of pottery or a sculpture. If you want to take it to the next level, pull the colors out of the dead vegetation for inspiration for your accessories. Look closely and you will find all kinds of hues of blues, purples and rusty reds.

 Read the full NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/garden/31piet.html

Visit Oudolf’s Website:http://www.oudolf.com/


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Simplicity and usability make this side chair a winner. I walked past a showroom right here on 10th Avenue with this chair in the window. I immediately fell in love with it. The jury is out right now as to whether or not they can be used outdoors, but I love the clean simple design, the small scale of the piece  and  the hand-made feel. The company is Hendzel and Hunt and their website is: http://www.hendzelandhunt.com  The chair is the Kirkland Chair and it’s made from reclaimed floorboards….pretty smart if you asked me.


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Watch the newest episode of The Erb Garden as we explore rhythm another element of design you can apply to your own landscape. Rhythm isn’t only in the latest Justin Bieber hit, it is all around us. Learn how to use the techniques of repetition, alternation, inversion and gradation in your own garden!


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My brilliant red Amaryllis is in full bloom for Valentine’s Day. How perfect! Mental note for next year, plant your bulb in the beginning of January and yours should bloom right on cue. I have to say, that roses are nice for Valentine’s Day, but it’s much more fun to see the brown bulb grow into this gorgeous spectacle.



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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.

Interior Plant Display

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 you water too frequently you will encourage root rot making your plant susceptible to a host of diseases and pests.

Some of my favorite low maintenance interior plants include:

1. Monstera deliciosa (Split-Leaf Philodendron)http://houseplants-care.blogspot.com/2006/05/caring-for-split-leafed-philodendron.html

2. Ficus Lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig) http://tree-species.blogspot.com/2009/03/indoor-fiddle-leaf-fig-care-tips.html

3. Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant)http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Agavaceae/Sansevieria_trifasciata.html


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Start the new year on the right foot and watch the Erb Garden online to explore the elements of landscape design. You will see examples of how you can apply basic design principles to your own garden. Stay tuned for the first episode airing February 1st.


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  The Highline has quickly become a hotspot on the west side of Manhattan. With an array of native plant species and juxtaposition of old and new, this park provides a unique perspective of the industrial edge of the city. Section two, scheduled to open in spring of 2011 has a lot of amazing features including a grass lawn over 23rd street, more wildflower meadows and an elevated walkway that will give you the feeling of floating through the trees planted below. The coolest part of the Highline, in my opinion, is that it is a seamless example of a green roof installation. Green roofs can be aesthetically pleasing and functional while still being an environmentally conscious design solution. Watch the video and have a sneak peek at section 2 at the link below:


I attached some pictures from our private tour of the unfinished highline at 34th Street (section 3) this fall. This section is still not owned by the organization. It really gives perspective for how much they transformed the tracks.


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Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design is a proud member of the New York State Landscape and Nursery Association. As a company founded on sound horticultural practices, it is important for us to have a constant connection to changes and practices within the green industry. As information is modified for invasive plant species, integrated pest management techniques and nursery standards, we adjust our work accordingly.

 As read on the NYSNLA website:”The New York State Nursery and Landscape Association is a statewide professional trade association that is dedicated to advancing the interests of New York State’s nursery and landscape businesses and professionals by promoting sound business practices, expanding state and local markets, and exerting leadership in the development of sustainable communities.”

In addition to NYSNLA, Jeffrey Erb has completed training with Trees New York and is certified to prune street trees, has studied green roof construction with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, and is undergoing examination to become a certified nursery and landscape professional in New York State. The green industry is on the move and we have to keep up!

Check out these websites:





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Kim Lemon from WGAL News 8 in Lancaster PA put together a fantastic story ‘Penthouse Produce’ highlighting  fall decorations Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design did foron a rooftop garden in Chelsea, NYC. We select the best pumpkins and gourds every year from the Erb family farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to exhibit in city gardens.  Click on the link below to view the story:



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