Rooftop Gardens

It is the typical lament of the garden worker that spring is just nuts.  As much as anyone else I am prone to the insanity of the sudden onset of additional work.  I am already craving simplicity and quiet again — this garden brought me right there.

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I think:

Who says we need more than a couple chairs, some grass, a hedge and a few treesWe try to work so much in to our limited areas, but this reminds me that maybe we just don’t need to.  This doesn’t need weeding, and so much of the rest of the maintenance we ascribe to our gardens.  And  it just makes me feel like breathing easy.

Immagine 16 How about you — does the simplicity of this appeal?

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Images:  Rees Roberts + Partners LLC

Garden  House by Ryue Nishizawa
How about this little slice of inspiration for monday morning.  Landscapers are always trying to get architects, homeowners and builders  to involve them earlier and more holistically into the process of site design and construction….and it often doesn’t happen.  So this notion of integrating gardens and greenery to an even greater level seems particularly  remarkable. I do hope we start building more homes like this — if you were a green-starved city dweller — wouldn’t you like to live here?
Garden House Tokyo japan

This Tokyo townhouse was designed by Japanese architect Ryue Nishizawa.

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Luke Dixon is an apiarist, an apiculturist, a caretaker for bees – I call him a B-man.  His new book, Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities, published by Timber Press, is all about urban beekeeping and not only is it full of helpful advice for urban beekeepers but there are case studies of beekeepers (including me!) all around the world.  Luke is here to share with us a little about what it is like to be in the garden with him. 

luke dixon beekeeping book

How would you define your style?

I build little gardens to provide inner city oases for bee hives. Plenty for the bees to forage on and plenty for the city dweller to look at.

Do you have a garden of your own?

I have over a dozen hive sites in London, and each reflects the limitations and possibilities of its individual location. Many are on rooftops and terraces, where space is restricted and and wind can be a problem.
bee garden by luke dixon

Do you have any favorite or sentimental plants or flowers?

Buddleia is wonderful for the bees and will grow anywhere, but as my chimney sweep says, they have destroyed more of London than the Luftwaffe did in World War 2.  Lavender is always a favourite – the bees love the colour and the smell, as do the office workers nearby.

What is your earliest or favorite gardening related memory?

Picking cherries from the tree in my parents’ garden.

What are three cardinal design rules that you apply to outdoor projects?

Low maintainance, year-round flowering, highly scented plants.

Luke Recommends….

Thanks Luke! – R

images: Top: Provided by Timber Press, Middle and image of Luke Dixon by Daan Verhoeven and bottom by Liz Turner

greenwich roof garden

Have you ever considered giving your deck a twist – literally?  The idea of changing up the edge, putting some plants beneath and making the whole thing more exciting seems like it might have application beyond the top of a building in Greenwich Village, NYC.

greenwich roof garden

I would perhaps try this for a ground level deck or a deck that had or could have irregular edges.  Perhaps in a prairie style garden?  Would you consider this in a design?

designed by and images from graftworks


I have been pondering how to bring you the wealth of garden inspiration that I am finding here at Chelsea.   The gardens are, as usual, filled with design inspiration, back stories, pretty plants, and modern ideas.   While I continue to organize my images and my thoughts, I think I simply need to stick with the obvious….go garden by garden.

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The two most talked about gardens in the show are those by Cleve West and Diarmuid Gavin.  Cleve was again the winner of the best in show garden with his Brewin Dolphin Garden and Diarmuid Gavin has taken the gardening world’s breath away again with his towering Westland Magic Garden.

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Always controversial, some people simply hated Diarmuid’s Garden, but I think that at 7 stories tall (the tallest thing ever built at an RHS show) and with it’s overwhelming enormity and surprise at every turn, I couldn’t help but enjoy wandering through it.   It was a nerve-wracking experience that required climbing many tall, open and sometimes quite rickety seeming ladders. I was forced to leave my bag at one point because I was convinced it would literally be the death of me (causing me to fall off the giant contraption).

diarmuid gavin westland magic garden map

But the interesting thing about this was the relatively simple construction.  It was, in essence, just scaffolding with lots of rooms and spaces carved out of it.  It is not possible that is could never be a literal model of modern urban gardening (it was quite dark in the inner depths) but with some refinement, it certainly gives some thought to ways that small growing and living spaces can be maximized.

Personally, I couldn’t help but feel like I was somewhere around 10 years old visiting a modern take on Disneyland’s defunct Swiss Family Robinson house.  (remember that?)  And I don’t think I was the only one.  The 3+ story, rapid way out, slide had plenty of adult enthusiasts (little kids aren’t allowed at Chelsea).   After hearing many a scream as the descent was made, I opted to try and temper my ride with a little rubber sole foot braking….that was until my shoes came flying off and dropped fast.

The Westland Magical Garden was designed by Diarmuid Gavin.

All images by rochelle greayer (with the exception of the one where I am coming out the slide — shoeless….that gem was captured by Justine over at Notcot.  See her full post about the garden)

NYC roof top garden

I just discovered reen’s article titled On City Roof Tops, Scrappy Green Spaces in Bloom in the New York Times.  (It is from last summer…so I guess I am a bit behind).  I wanted to point it out to you, because I love how it shares spaces that were created long before it was cool to create roof gardens.   The problems of gardening in the harsh rough and tumble climate that exists on the tops of buildings have been solved by real people (not the pros) –  the pioneers of resourceful gardening.
It’s worth a read — and a flick through the gallery of great and gritty gardens.

Image by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Adrianna Lopez LA house tour garden

Have you taken down your holiday decorations?   Mine are long gone, but I can’t help but post this front landscape and accompanying roof garden (resplendant with pre-holiday decor) because not only is the garden just so cool, but I kind of love the way the pointsettias and the pretty stars play to the landscape in such a charming way (even after the season!).  It is place appropriate holiday decor at it’s finest.

adrianna lopez house tour roof garden

This home belongs to Adrianna Lopez (who is clearly my ‘orange door’ soul sister) of Long Beach California, and was featured today on Apartment Therapy (see the whole house tour here).

(images Marcia Prentice via Apartment Therapy).