Thanks to a couple of nice warm sunny days, I finally got to go to the nursery to purchase a few colorful plants for the terrace in preparation for the visit of out of town friends next week. Now let's hope the weather cooperates with my plans of having a pleasant brunch set up out there for their arrival.
There were several features that made us settle on our current apartment (which was the second one we saw on our first day of searching). It had almost all of the things on our wishlist and was one of those spaces that kept on surprising us at every turn with unexpected features that we would never ever fathomed of having in New York City - which made us instantly fall in love with the place. One of the first surprises was a nice sized balcony that greets you as you enter into the apartment right off the living room. Next, a beautiful architectural modern zigzag staircase that leads to the second floor. But, the last surprise that took the cake and the most unexpected, was the large terrace on the second floor right on the East river with city and bridge views. We both looked at each other instantly with excitement and I could not wait to turn the space into a calm, serene garden hideaway. A tranquil space high above the city streets with all the charm of a romantic English cottage garden that we could retreat into for respite from the turmoil of the relentless pace of the city.
For starters, I painted the unsightly bamboo fence white and opted for inexpensive large plastic containers* (for the borders) that are weatherproof and easy to move around, and painted them white as well. Grouping them side by side in the tight space in between the retaining wall and railing, instantly created this homey garden vibe.
* Tips: For my fellow Northeast dwellers who are only limited to container gardening, remember these two things:
1. Since containers don’t insulate a plant’s roots from winter temperatures, you can do what I normally do before the freezing weather hits - dress up your containers in thick layers of burlap, which I happen to like as it contrasts well in the background with my fall perennials.
2. For container plant survival through the winter, the general rule of thumb is to purchase plants that are hardy to two zones colder than your Hardiness Zone.
Although I do both things, as with many things in life, you learn through trial and error. I have found despite my best efforts of overwintering many of my plants, there have been some that should have made it that failed me and others that shouldn't have made it, but yet sprung back to life. I'd like to share ten of my several favorite fail-proof plants and trees that not only do well in containers but will keep your rooftop garden looking its best throughout the seasons. (I live in Zones 6-7).