Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Alan Klein Supervises Planting at Elle Decor’s 2012 Modern Life Concept House at the Dillon on West 53rd Street

NEW YORK, NY, May 11, 2012 – International design authority ELLE DÉCOR will produce the second annual Modern Life Concept House opening on May25th at The Dillon on West 53rd Street in one of the property’s exclusive townhouses.  Renowned international designer and judge of BBC’s ‘House of the Year’ Michael Tavano has tapped Jeffrey Erb, to design and install the plantings for the 600 sq. foot courtyard, the only outdoor space of the property.

“Green space and outdoor living are elements which have a profound impact on the quality of modern life in an urban environment.  We are thrilled to work with Michael Tavano to create a vision of innovative living and contemporary design concepts for this urban landscape,” said Jeffrey Erb. “A great landscape designer is to an outdoor space what a great architect is to a home,” added Michael Tavano.

Michael is an internationally renowned interior designer, product designer, home fashion stylist, visual merchandiser, table designer, judge of BBC’s House of the Year series.

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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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Ipomoea batatas on a Midtown Rooftop

Ipomoea batatas (AKA Sweet Potato Vine) is overused in today’s landscape. It is almost like the Hemerocallis of annual display. I see it everywhere walking down the sidewalk in New York. The people in charge of the 34th Street planters scattered about Herald Square plant it every single year.

We planted this Ipomoea in the beginning of July. Now, in mid August it has lept past the confines of its planter box and started to grow across the rooftop parapet and into the other planters. Rightly so, this creeping vine is in the same family as morning glories which seem to have no limits.

I have to say, though I am sick of seeing this plant used because it is an easy selection, it really is a work horse in the garden. It gave this planter color, texture, and a feeling of being lush and full without needing a lot of attention. It is resistant to a lot of common rooftop garden pests too. The moral of the story is use it for impact, but work it into a larger scheme in the garden that features more unique and unusual plants as a centerpiece.


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I often say that gardening is the best kind of therapy. It is cheap, and plants always listen. There is no prognosis, diagnosis, or prescription at the end of a day of gardening, and the mixture of aesthetic bliss mixed in with the honest sweat on your brow goes beyond the feeling of satisfaction.  

I  find that I take the most joy out of gardening by noticing the small details. When I worked on my gardens in Pennsylvania, my cat was my garden companion, and I was in such a relaxed state when I was pulling the thistles out of my perennial borders with my delightfully obese orange tabby by my side. In New York, my garden is now in the shape of a 50 square foot terrace, limited to several containers with room for a small grill and cafe seating for two.

While cleaning up the annuals for fall, I pulled out the Ipomoea batatas (Sweet Potato Vine) to find little sweet potato tubers growing in my containers. Of course I have had this happen in planting beds in the country, but I didn’t expect to find so many growing in my limited container space. I have never heard of anyone eating the tubers of the ornamental sweet potato vines, and don’t recommend it as these plants have been cultivated for their showy qualities as opposed to their agrarian counterparts. Regardless, it is fun to find these little surprises in the garden. Perhaps this spring I will try some actual veggies on the terrace in addition to my herbs.


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Since fall has progressed and the trees are already leafless in the New York, I thought I would put up a few of my favorite pictures of Villa Lante. This is one of my favorite gardens in Italy.  I have had the opportunity to visit gardens not only throughout the U.S., but throughout many countries.

The garden is composed of two main parts called the barchetto and the parterre. The barchetto is an essential component of the villa, but is left out in later drawings. A barchetto is a labyrinthine which represents free nature, and consists of intersecting random paths. The terraced parterre is composed axially and is very geometric. The slope of terrain is incorporated and formalized in this part of the garden. With a difference in height of 15m, the garden is composed of a series of terraces. Water is a crucial element of design in the garden, and it connects the terraces together to tell a wonderful story.

Check out more information on this garden at:


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