Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

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.


.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.”


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.


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.


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).


Solomon’s seal with its sweet bell shaped flower.

This planting caught my eye on the Greenwich Ave side:


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.


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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Memorial day is a time to remember the lives given by those who served our country in the line of duty. At the onset of summer, as festivities and patriotic spirits are lifted, we gather with family and loved ones we are thankful to have in our lives. There is no doubt in my mind that Central Park is swamped with picnics and gatherings on this gorgeous day.

I want to take a moment to remember Frederick Law Olmsted and his contribution to our city. Central Park (and Prospect Park) is an inconic landmark of New York City which continues to make a significant impact on the lives of Manhattanites and visitors alike. The sea of green which Olmsted approached with the viewpoint of creating a public space equally accessible for all classes was truly visionary at the time.

A stunning penthouse on Central Park West overlooks the classic landscape that Olmsted left behind. Our task was to channel Olmsted’s vision to create a terrace that complements the views and surrounding landscape. The result is a timeless garden full of understated textures and greenery to produce a calm place for the homeowners to entertain and relax. Watch the video to see the transformation!

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For all of you wondering how you can join us to get your hands dirty and get your garden on….this is for you! In the end of August 2011 New York City was girding for an evacuation of low-lying areas from fear of flooding due to Hurricane Irene.  For most of us city dwellers the storm was relatively anticlimactic, bringing only a bit of rain and wind.

The Courtyard of Hartley House in Hell's Kitchen

Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design provided a pro bono consultation to our neighborhood community center, Hartley House, one week before Irene’s visit. During that meeting, one of our chief concerns was for a pair of Ailanthus trees growing in the courtyard which had never been pruned properly.  This invasive species, known for being unstable, raised fears for the wellbeing of surrounding historic buildings of Hartley House, and for the children attending afterschool and summer programs in the courtyard.

If you are already a reader of Erbology, you know how this story (and storm) ended, as chronicled in When Heaven Came Crashing Down on September 7, 2011.  Thankfully no one was hurt, and the property damage was minimal.  The courtyard plantings suffered the worst with multiple beds and plantings being demolished and requiring removal.

We are ready to start the next chapter for the courtyard. Alan Klein has taken the initiative as chairman of the newly formed Hartley House Garden Committee. This group is tasked with a fundraising effort to help restore and replant the courtyard between the main building of Hartley House and the original 1800’s carriage house hidden behind.  Jeffrey Erb Landscape Design is donating a new design and installation materials while Alan works closely with Hartley House staff members on fundraising for this effort.

We welcome contributions and support of all shapes and sizes. Volunteers will be needed for our June planting (check back soon for dates and times) and contributions of any amount will be greatly appreciated. Don’t miss this chance to be involved and to give back to an amazing community organization.

The Carriage House Stairway and West Planting Bed

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Gardens can only be as successful as the amount of effort and care that is put into maintaining them. We installed planters and plantings for a lovely couple renting an apartment in the West Village in the beginning of July. Under the tutelage of Jeffrey, the clients set out to care for the plants themselves. Since they are renting the space and there is no hose bib or external water source, the only cost effective option was to hand water the plants. As you can see from the pictures snapped in September, they are doing a phenomenal job. This terrace which once used to feature more dead plants than alive has been revitalized. Now it’s a place to snuggle on a warm autumn evening or gather with friends for an after work drink.

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One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to see so much of New York City every single day. Now that it is a little cooler out I love to walk extra blocks instead of going to the nearest train station. The result is I get to see more of the good, the bad and the ugly landscaping. I came across a literal sidewalk sensation on 23rd Street between 8th and 7th Avenues. I found this portrait and immediately thought about the NY Times article featuring the chewing gum art by Ben Wilson . Any New Yorker will tell you that walking down the sidewalk consists of watching out for holes, dog crap and other obstructions. I found this little piece of art by Paul Richard to be a pleasant surprise.

Chelsea Street Art on 23rd Street by Paul Richard

As I continued on my trek today I found this lovely planting on the Broadway Mall at West 66th Street. It seems that the plantings on this narrow strip in the center of Broadway have never looked quite this good. It really stood out to me today with a lovely mixture of Cleome, Salvia, Geraniums, Begonias and Coleus. None of these annuals are necessarily showstoppers, but the arrangement was very cheerful on this pleasant fall day. Perhaps the influx of fashionistas and nearby fashion week events influenced the level of attention given to this particular landscape.

Plantings on Broadway and West 66th Street

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Tropical Depression Eight

Hurricane Irene's Projected Path From

Hurricane Irene stubbornly continues on her path barreling towards all of the major Northeastern metropolitan areas. New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia are all included on her coastal tour. As you may have guessed hurricanes and roof gardens don’t exactly make for a party. For those of you with exposed outdoor spaces, here are some tips to consider as you batten down your hatches and prepare your roof garden for a storm.

1. Bring all lightweight furniture, cushions and accessories inside. Anything that you can lift and fit through the door should be brought in.

2.  Prune prune prune. Okay, so it may not be the ideal time of season to prune your containerized trees, but any extra branches or leaves you can remove will help reduce the impact of wind on the plants.

3. Cluster planters against the sides of buildings. Small pots that can be grouped together against building walls will generally be more secure than those left on the middle of an exposed rooftop. Of course each roof has its own specific conditions, but this is a general rule of thumb.

4. Turn dining tables upside down (assuming it doesn’t fit through your patio door). They can get caught by strong winds if left in their normal position. Place a protective surface on the floor, turn it upside down and place something on top of it to weigh it down. Extra concrete pavers or small planters could do the trick.

5. Fill some buckets of water and leave them on the terrace. Just in case the electricity goes out you are still going to want to water your plants after the storm dissipates.

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Two levels of gardens compose the inner space between 54th and 53rd Street at Griffin Court. There is a lawn for dogs, covered pergolas for lounging or dining, lighting, mounded planting beds with grasses and everything you could hope for in a courtyard. The building was constructed in such a way that this garden has a decent amount of space and light which are very hard things to find in New York City. Walking in the courtyard felt very comfortable. It’s very easy to visualize spending time there. Everything about the garden makes it feel like a success, but I found a glitch from the view above.

The overall effect of the garden from the upper level apartments was boring. It felt artificial and stagnant. The view from the apartments facing this interior courtyard left me longing for a view to the street and real NYC sights and sounds. From an aerial perspective the space looks very contrived and has a textbook-design kind of feel. Landscape elements are spaced in such a way as to diverge and reconnect in a very structured manner. In fact, it feels too structured. If certain elements were more organic and free flowing, the garden would be more effective.

This garden needs more time to grow in since it was recently planted (it appears this was done the end of summer in 2010). Perhaps when the plants mature, the rigidity of the courtyard will fade. For me, having a view of a garden should be mesmerizing and take your mind to another world free of cell phones, emails and responsibilities.

The building on a whole was really well done. According to local real estate agents, Alchemy  Properties (the developer) completed construction of over 20 residential buildings and do quality work. I can attest that the layouts of the apartments and fixtures were very nice and well worth seeing. Small things like windows and murals in the hallways make it stand out from other buildings where developers have short-ended the halls making them dark and cramped. Read more about Griffiin Court here:

Also check out their facebook page for more images of the space:

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