Posts Tagged ‘NYC Townhouse Gardens’

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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Line to Enter the Studio

Did you catch Martha Stewart’s garden episode on March 1st? If you did then hopefully you got to see yours truly in the question and answer section. I have to hand it to her, Martha makes gardening accessible for everyone. The episode was chock full of horticulture tips for starting seeds and planning a sustainable landscape and reviewed some of the newest outdoor gadgets and garden accessories. The entire experience from start to finish was terrific. In case you missed the episode, check out the clips here:

In the Audience Dressed in Garden Gear

The talented Stacey Hirvela (also featured in the episode), Senior Associate Garden Editor for Living, keeps a fantastic blog jam-packed with gardening ideas at:

Martha Stewart’s Studio and GreenhouseMartha Taking Pictures with Guests at the End of the Episode


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This sleek outdoor stool is perfectly suited for a rooftop or terrace garden. Swiss designer Nicolas Le Moigne created this Ecal stool among a smattering of other outdoor perching pieces, vases and accessories. The lines of his pieces are simple yet striking. My favorite part of this piece is the play on positive and negative space. Ecal has a lot of presence, yet the hollow inner gives it a real sense of playful whimsy.

You can feel good about sitting on this stool because it’s also 100% recyclable. It is constructed of cement, limestone and fibers.  The Ecal stool is available online from retailers in the U.S.  Check out Mr. Le Moigne’s website here: this window


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On my way to a late meeting Monday evening I stumbled across this tiny plaza located between 6th and 7th avenue and 29th and 30th street. This public space is the result of work by glass artist Tom Patti in collaboration with Lee Weintraub Landscape Architects.

Glass Wall by Tom Patti

The illuminated glass wall runs the entire length of the plaza. During daylight, the glass reflects the colors and natural sunlight and surrounding buildings, while providing enough light at night to make the space useable. Paired with careful placement of flush mounted uplights in the paving, the overall lighting effect is very sexy and alluring.

Glass Wall Detail by Tom Patti

It appears that the Gleditsia triacanthos var. Inermis (Honeylocust) and Fagus sylvatica (European Beech) trees are properly spaced and not clustered which is a typical oversight in a courtyard garden. I found the silhouettes of the branches against the lighting in the glass wall to be the biggest success of this urban garden.

Silhouette of Branches Against Glass Wall


The seating, elevations, and function of the plaza is well designed. My only critique is the jumbo-sized TV screen on the wall near the 29th street side of the park. It completely distracts and takes away from the patterns and visual repetition established by the glass wall.

TV Screen Detracts from the Glass Wall



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The Third episode of The Erb Garden is here! “In Unity There is Strength” shows you how to glue all of the pieces of your landscape together. Check it out here:


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Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love) isn’t just about Rocky or Independence Hall. The annual spectacle we know as the Philadelphia Flower Show is open from March 6-13. This year’s theme is “Springtime in Paris.” With floriferous arrangements and topiaries everywhere you look, the event is completely oversaturated with stamens and pistils.


Previous Exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show

The miniature garden display boxes are my favorite exhibit and should be the first thing on your list to see when you arrive. The line for it gets quite long as the day progresses. Basically the artist must compose a scene in a 24×36″ box and use a certain amount of live plant materials. It’s all about scale, realism and ingenuity. 


Previous Exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Also make sure to see the Pennsylvania Bonsai Society exhibit. They have some of the most gorgeous bonsai on display I have ever seen. The marketplace has some interesting horticulture-related objects for sale but they tend to be the same from year to year. My recommendation is to focus on the above exhibits and then head downtown to Jim’s Steaks on South Street for the only thing in town cheesier than the flower show.

For full details and information about the show, visit:


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Is it possible to grow a successful garden without really trying? The science of horticulture is intricate and complex. Do you wonder if your soil acidity  is optimal for  nutrient uptake through plant roots? Are your light levels in balance with available moisture levels in the soil? Are you experiencing nutrient deficiency, pests, fungal diseases, bacteria, viruses or problems with plant hardiness?

Trial Garden at Longwood Gardens

All of these things can  weigh you down and blind you from what gardening is really about. The key to a successful garden is simple: enjoy it. That’s it. That’s all it takes. It doesn’t matter if a portion of your Arborvitae hedge doesn’t make it through the winter or if the new type of Caladium didn’t like your shade garden. It’s all about trial and error. Gardening is about learning step by step. The beauty of the seasons (at least for us here in zone 6) is that we get to try something new each season.

Trial Garden Structure and Sunflower at Longwood Gardens

Each time we experience a planting triumph in the garden, we become more intimately attached to that understanding, and thus connected to the garden experience as a whole. As a gardener of 15 years, I assure you that the enjoyment I get from my garden is just as  much about the “failures” as it is the “positives.” As for the science of it all, that’s why we have professional horticulturists.


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