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Garden Photo of the Day

Life on the Roof

By Kim Charles

Janet Cleveland from the "concrete jungle' of NYC gives us a peek into her stunning rooftop garden.

"The challenges of above ground level container gardening, might discourage even the most seasoned gardener from attempting anything more permanent than a 'cafe umbrella' and a few geraniums in pots on the deck. That's because, life on the roof is hard. The climate tends to be 2 to 3 times for powerful than whatever the atmospheric conditions are at street level, with the heat index coming seriously into play. If the concrete jungle of NYC is clocking in on the evening news at 95 degrees, it's 103 on the rooftop!

However, along with the noisy parade of never-ending harsh conditions; crazy wind, extreme heat, extreme cold and simply gobs of pollution, come some rather rare rewards. My favorite of them being the phenomena of the 'microclimate'.

In spring, my city garden is fully 3 weeks ahead of the 'in-earth' gardens. There is also the lack of pernicious weeds to contend with (although there's a neighborhood ash tree that bombards me with propeller seeds yearly) and the complete absence of chewing critters making a salad bar out of your plants (although, there has been a duo of raccoon's adventuring about on a couple of occasions?!)

What seems at first to be an attempt at making a lush botanical arena in a median strip on the highway, quickly begins to exhibit more nuance, as the plants grow and light changes. Of course the key to every container and every plant therein, is drainage. I didn't fully understand what that word meant, until I climbed up to the roof with my first bag of dirt!

Anyway, if you and your plants can survive the uphill battle and the bazillion flights of stairs (no elevator!) ahead of you, your elevated' eco-system' can do better than just 'work out', it can thrive. Take heart, enjoy the pictures and Good Luck Everybody!"

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View Comments


  1. user-7008656 06/15/2017

    Nice gardering ! :)

  2. 2bakeornot2bake 06/15/2017

    Great job! Looks beautiful. Do you have to handwater? Or are you allowed to have an irrigation system?

  3. Vespasian 06/15/2017

    Spectacular! Can only imagine all the hard work you have put into making your little bit of paradise. Just getting all the earth and stones up there must have been so difficult, kudos to you! You have such great variety and colour, I love it!

  4. Maggieat11 06/15/2017

    Nothing short of awesome! What a gorgeous accomplishment. Certainly Garden Magazine worthy. Interesting fish and nice containers also. Thanks so much for sharing your garden with us.

  5. user-3565112 06/15/2017

    Good morning Janet, Your gardens are a terrific accomplishment both physically & aesthetically. The 2nd. scene resembles gardens in Charleston S.C. courtyards.

  6. user-7007816 06/15/2017

    What an amazing job you have done. You have proven, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

  7. DeeinDe 06/15/2017

    Wow! Your garden is truly amazing! The diversity and combinations are stunning! What is the light pink vine in picture number 7, and the purple blue flower in picture number 8?
    I sure hope you have a hose hook up on the roof!
    What kind of soil do you use in the pots for proper drainage?

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      The dainty light pink vine is a perrenial Jasmine called 'Stephanes'. It's entwined around a Paper Birch stick that i mounted for the incredible handblown glass globe of some Solar String lights to dangle from. The super 'blue' flower pictured in #8, is my beloved 'Blue Eyed Oat Grass against 'Hakone' grass.

  8. tennisluv 06/15/2017

    Wow! It is amazing to realize that all your plants and trees are growing in pots, both large and small. And that you hand carried everything up multiple stairs by hand! What a unique and remarkable gardener you are. I have vowed to never, well almost never, complain about gardening on my 'Clay Hill' in the Georgia heat and humidity. Thanks for sharing your NYC beauty!

  9. Dvngardener 06/15/2017

    Truly a labor of love! How long did it take you to create the garden to this point? I feel like there's a pile of things at the bottom of the stairs, and every time somebody goes up the stairs they have to bring something up! It's a requirement! Truly gorgeous and truly inspirational thank you for sharing.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      It's truly had an effect on everyone in the Condo. Several others have also, caught the gardening bug and are delightfully helpful with bringing stuff up the stairs, when the need arises. In return, we go off in my truck to nurseries known and unknown, as often as possible! I am thankful, everyday for our little and brave community of roof top gardeners, here!

  10. user-7007498 06/15/2017

    Janet, this is amazing. I don't have time right now, but later today, I will be back for a full study of your garden. Wow. I am excited to look at this more closely.

  11. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 06/15/2017

    What an exceptional person you must be, Janet, to have created such a beautiful garden space out of what was, literally, nothing! Some of us might modestly mention that we started "from scratch" in our gardening efforts but you have given new meaning to the phrase. I am so impressed with everything (duh...that goes without saying). I love the variety of your plant selections which include pops of chartreuse and dark foliage. In your final picture picture, is that a 'Black Lace' elderberry? It looks so lovely topped out with its delicate white blooms. Congratulations on everything.

    1. NCYarden 06/15/2017

      So true on starting from nothing...at least we had lots of some kind of dirt in place.
      Granted I have brought plenty in additionally, but I'm a bit humbled.

    2. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Thank you ever so much! And yes...i am often heard saying, "that i want to circulate a petition, to elect the 'Black Lace' Elderberry, as one of the World's, 'TOP FIVE' most beautiful plants!"

      1. Dvngardener 06/15/2017

        I have one too, now blooming!

        1. user-7007942 06/15/2017

          There is a new variety called 'Black Tower' elderberry....it is wonderful for smaller spaces as it is fastigiate....same wonderful color and flowers

      2. user-7007140 06/17/2017

        One of my favorites, sadly did not thrive in snowy,cold clay!

        1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

          What's your zone?

    3. frankmount 06/16/2017

      Dear meander1, yes, you're right ! Janet is an exceptional person who is able to achieve whatever goal she sets in her sights! I've been fortunate enough to have spent time in her garden ...and it is great fun ! It's exciting and yet relaxing, stimulating and yet calming, colorful and serene . So much to enjoy. And too, as everybody has already mentioned, she has a great selection of so many interesting things going on! That fish is really big and great fun too! It's old and made out of wood! Subtle little knickknacks that you would normally find on the fireplace mantle are scattered about her garden . I hope to see more of her garden...in real life or even in more magazines! She should give tours !!!!!!!!! Happy gardening !!

      1. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 06/16/2017

        So nice to hear (read) a personal "testimonial"...everything she has written today in her warm, engaging and informative responses to comments is evidence that she is a very special person.

  12. user-4691082 06/15/2017

    Janet, I am amazed! You carried all of those rocks up to make that wall? You are superwoman! What is the white thing hanging from the birch? branch? I'm sure your sweet Kate tradescantia only blooms in the morning until it gets hot. Then she rests until the weather gets cooler. You also have great containers. Congrats on a job well done!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      As to the rocks...i hired 2 local college kids, for that task. They had a little business going for miscellaneous 'chore doing', for folks. I purposed the idea of the rock hauling craziness, and they accepted! I think it was 2 or sometimes 3 rocks at a time, they brought up. They were absolutely delightful young, hardworking, fellows! I also fed them an enormous luncheon, which they particularly liked!!! Twas memorable and fun!

  13. user-7007960 06/15/2017

    Absolutely amazing achievement!!! No need to run marathons or gymn workouts.....beautiful , all of the garden. And the general roof drainage? How did you get permission to make this Garden? The Sambuccas, black lace elderberry, can get quite large! I can imagine you plan to prune to shape.... I love these. Where is your Nursery to buy all these plants? Perhaps You take weekend sojourns to the suburbs? Thank you for sharing this labor of love! Garden of the Year!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      First off, it's a Condominium, of which, i am the president! I guess i gave myself permission! (Ha!) I remember telling the seller & the bank when i bought it, that i intended to build an giant garden on the roof. The seller/builder kept saying...yes, great and the Bank kept saying that the big 'deck' added very little value to the property??! (unbelievable, right?) The roof drainage is wonderfully good. I slowly crept up on this whole adventure, doing it little by little and studying the results. Here's an old picture! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f2766a7190fba29d74c747de9ace2db8a037b28e0221bb86ceff9a7591a506a1.png

      1. User avater
        Linda on Whidbey 06/15/2017

        Wow, that really shows how much you've accomplished. Bravo!

    2. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      As to the Sambuccas, here's the thing...stuff in planters, only get as big as pot that they're in. It's kind of a 'plus', as far as i'm concerned. If a plant really can't handle being 'root bound', it will 'crap out'. So i guess each plant, has a choice to make? It's amazing how adaptable nature can be, given these options! Fingers crossed!

    3. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      And also, yes, my other 'roof top' pals (i'm not the only one) and earth garden pals alike, and i, are constantly 'sojourning' about for plants! In fact, there's NO place that we won't go! Luckily, we exist next to the 'Garden State'!!! And, of course, we all worship the Internet!

  14. user-7008657 06/15/2017

    This is one of the most impressive gardens that I have seen on this site so far. The thought of all the lugging of everything up stairs and the necessary watering makes my head spin. The lovely oasis you have created must give you much pleasure. It certainly is a wonderful work of art.

  15. sithanthialfred 06/15/2017

    Awesome! That must been one hell of an effort on your part and it has paid off beautifully.

  16. rhea_smith 06/15/2017

    Stunning! A gargantuan project, you have definitely earned commando gardener status!

  17. Jay_Sifford 06/15/2017

    Very impressive, but what a difference your garden makes! I think the greatest gardens are usually the ones that are the most difficult to craft. Nice job!

  18. NCYarden 06/15/2017

    Bad ass!. This is a cool garden, and I can feel the work. Very impressed with the design and the wonderful array of plants. I really admire this challenge. Thank you for sharing.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      It's absolutely, my pleasure. to share this oasis with as many folks as possible.

  19. chelleisdiggin 06/15/2017

    Through all of the work to make this beautiful oasis in harsh conditions, I have to think it is a wonderful respite from (what would be, for me) the daily assaults of big city living. And, iwhat a benefit for your neighbors, to be able to look out and see an island of peace in the midst of chaos. Bravo!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      You've got it! Living here, is, in many ways, an 'assault'! I think, without this garden, i would go mad!

      1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

        O, and yes, the women above me recently brought a new life into the world (he's adorable beyond words!) and i LOVE thinking about him reaping the benefits of all of these plants! It's pure joy!!

    2. kathyenglish 06/15/2017

      Of all the gardens I see here all the time, yours is outstanding. Your pictures really made my day, thanks.

  20. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/15/2017

    The words 'gorgeous' or 'amazing' don't seem adequate. Totally awesome!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      i correlate the word 'awesome' with the Grand Canyon! Thank you for this comment! (and all of them!)

  21. wittyone 06/15/2017

    My goodness this has to be a true LABOR of love! How long has it taken to produce all this gorgeousness? I can only guess at how many bags of soil have been lugged up those stairs. I do hope you have had some help with the heavy lifting that inevitably comes along with even normal gardening. A great job which shows much tenacity!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      This has been 6, going on 7 years, in the making, roughly. And yes, many friends and random folks off the ever bustling streets of Brooklyn, have, from time to time, helped out. In the earlier days, i'd roll up to the front of the building with my truck stuffed with plants and dirt and all manner of things, just hoping someone would be around to help? And they did! Luckily!! There was, and is, a tangible brand of 'faith' involved here.

  22. hontell 06/15/2017


    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Everyday, i am thankful.

  23. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/15/2017

    Thanks for sharing your story, your encouragement and your amazing garden. I see lots of my favorite plants and everything looks so healthy. If I had not read or really looked closely, I could have fooled into thinking this as an in-ground garden with nice decking and lots of containers. The roof is obviously able to support a lot of weight! It's got to contribute a bit to urban cooling and cleaner air, too.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Ah...the 'weight' factor! Yes, yes...i have broken in out in a cold sweat, a time or two, imagining the whole thing crashing down! But it's a lovely 'New' and very well made building-by 'new' standards anyway, and i guess i just hope against hope that it continues to remain, all fine! Fingers Crossed, right?

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/15/2017

        Definitely 'fingers-crossed'!! :)

      2. User avater
        Linda on Whidbey 06/15/2017

        This was one of my thoughts, too. Our son just bought in Montreal and was cautioned about putting a deck on the roof because it makes repairs difficult but I'm sending him your photos anyway so that he can dream:)

        1. user-3565112 06/15/2017

          Linda, I was involved in quite a quite a few roof top & plaza garden projects in D.C. If your son follows thru No: 1 is a quality roof & flashing system with excellent slope to drain, a drainage course such as Miradrain, a layer of heavy duty styrofoam such as dow R.M. ,filter cloth & lightweight soil. Try to stay with shallow rooted plants because roots can do a lot of damage to roof systems. The key is to not stack anything directly on the roof system & protect the membrane & flashings from U.V. rays, ponded water & damage. In deep planters you can keep the weight down by stacking white Styrofoam, beadboard. Consult a structural engineer 1st. The products I mentioned are only available from roofing supply houses & not big box stores. mixes
          Good luck to you & your son, Joe

          1. user-7007140 06/17/2017

            Joe, you are invaluable. This advice we can all use.

          2. user-3565112 06/18/2017

            Good morning Eddi, If you want to see details of the system I described visit the American Hydrotech website. Their systems are designed for concrete roof decks but can be modified for other substrates by changing the roofing membrane. Good luck, Joe

          3. User avater
            Linda on Whidbey 06/19/2017

            Thanks, Joe. I will pass your advice on to my son. I'm curious about what you did for a living. Are you a structural engineer?

          4. user-3565112 06/19/2017

            Good morning Linda, I was an estimator,project manager etc. for a roofing & waterproofing construction co. in Washington D.C.I concentrated mainly on renovation work & had projects with the White House,Smithsonian,CIA, NIH etc.

  24. user-6861263 06/15/2017

    Stunning. Amazing. Wow. Love the vast selection of plants, colors and textures. Not being from "the city" I am curious as to how long the roof will last without needing replacement. Maybe this protects the roof from the excessive heat? (Sorry- my husband is an engineer and I've been trained to think this way ...) Hopefully for a very long time! It's absolutely beautiful.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Me too! These are certainly all things to worry about but as i previously mention, i am the first owner and the construction was really solid ( for NYC) plus this builder had been building this same floor plan of small 'boutique' condominiums with exceptionally large decks for 2 decades. I guess i placed my bet on that. However, There's definitely some amount of risk involved, you are not wrong. Fingers crossed, as always!

  25. cooksforfive 06/15/2017

    Oh my goodness! You have created a magnificent oasis in the middle of the city, Janet. All your hard work has certainly paid off. Thanks for sharing

  26. user-917537 06/15/2017

    WOW! Exceptional design. Great color combinations and accents.

  27. cynthiamccain 06/15/2017

    I'll be thinking of your garden as I'm pulling weeds in "tropical" heat today. Absolutely fantastic, Janet--thanks for sharing photos of your amazing rooftop garden!

  28. Annek 06/15/2017

    What a treat to see photos of your beautiful rooftop garden. You are devoted and committed, without a doubt, and the result is charming. Kudos to you for a an intimate, lush and interesting design

  29. User avater
    gringopeligroso 06/15/2017

    Ms. Cleveland!
    I did container-ized gardens in Dallas back in the day when I lived and worked in that city.
    I rented patios/lanais which just happened to have living quarters attached but my refuges did not look THIS good and I only had one or two flights of stairs to manage. In fact, I wish my in-ground (now-a-days) efforts looked this pleasing!! I bow to the Master!

  30. MNGardenGirl 06/15/2017

    Wow, this is so beautiful! It's hard to believe when looking at the pictures that it's actually a roof top garden. Awesome job and thanks for sharing.

  31. kathyenglish 06/15/2017

    Wow, so imaginative, so well designed, it seems huge. Beautiful. Is there a water source up there?

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      I installed a 'Drip Irrigation System' for sure! It's pretty much a requirement for the above ground environment. Everything the plants need, pretty much has to come from you as it is a created, extreme reality for them. There's no where for them to hide!

      1. kathyenglish 06/15/2017

        It must be a treat for your neighbors as well.

    2. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      It's 20' x 32'. Not too shabby, right?

  32. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 06/15/2017

    Good morning, Janet. My husband and I have been fascinated by roof gardens in
    cities and try to stay high up in hotels to get a glimpse of them so it's great to see yours close up. It must have been quite a feat to get those rocks up there for that raised bed and do I see a compost bin? Love your plant selections and I want your fish.
    Thanks for this great share. I'll be going over these photos several times.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Yep! A Compost Bin. I Make my own, rich & delicious dirt! One of my favorite passtime's in the World! Chopping up trimmings with scissors, wonderfully relaxing!

  33. user-7007496 06/15/2017

    You go ,girl. WOWWWWWW!!! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!!!!!!!!

  34. user-6536305 06/15/2017

    Your roof garden is enchanting! It is so stunning and spectacular and so organized and so clean. Love reading your insert, like the garden, it is a beautiful writing. Admire your dedication - talk about carrying all of this without an elevator. Your garden is a show case of hard work, commitment and enthusiasm. How do you manage to keep the weight down? Are you containers mostly plastic, resin containers? Saw couple of concrete and metal containers as well. You have collected very gorgeous containers. Thanks for sharing!

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Yup...it weighs a lot up there. I have a dizzying array of planters up there, including an old 'toilet tank'! But only 2 smallish Victorian metal urns that i dragged here from NJ. It was really hard to find a plant that could perrenialize in them due the the metal getting unbearably hot. The winner of the 'Metal Urn Survival Contest' was: Dianthus Early 'Chilli'! It also blooms all summer!

      1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

        1. user-6536305 06/15/2017

          Nice. You are a true winner in container garden!

    2. user-7008660 06/15/2017

      I was wondering about the weight too!

  35. user-7008660 06/15/2017

    Janet what about the hardscape? The raised bed, stone, etc. I too have a container garden and those specific foundation contributions to your garden take it out of the ordinary.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      The first little garden i planted up there was the one around the fountain ( which i've had most of my adult life! Interesting note: i bought it from one of the very first 'Pottery Barn' catalog's, which use to be mostly about plant and gardening related items!) i just picked up some old used bricks and stacked them, lined it with landscape fabric, added dirt and voilà! I'll include another photo of another stacked stone garden up there. It's pretty easy and the drainage is perfect , so the plants love it!

      1. user-7008660 06/15/2017


        And this other one that looks like it's been done with mortar?

        1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

          Yep. That one was done with mortar! My dear friend and i built it in 3 days, for my birthday! It was crazy and fun!

          1. user-7008660 06/15/2017

            You are amazing girl!! So inspiring!!

      2. User avater
        meander1 (Michaele ) 06/15/2017

        Looks like this one with have a lot of charm as those plants tucked between the rocks mature.

        1. janetcleveland 06/16/2017

          This is what the life that that little garden area supports now! Sadly, pictured above was one of many Camellia's that didn't make it (... a moment of silence, please...)

          1. User avater
            meander1 (Michaele ) 06/16/2017

            Doesn't look like it misses the camellia at all. Is the purple flower vining plant grown in the rock planter? It looks very cool softening the expanse of brick wall. What is it? A clematis?

          2. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

            yes it is. Cultivar: 'Galore'! Also, American Wisteria, Baptista, Cerastium ( the silvery stuff) , Bergamot, Veronica 'Goldwell' and Liatrus, oh and some Green and White Parrot Tulips in the late Spring! I'm a chronic 'over planter"!

          3. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

  36. user-7007942 06/15/2017

    What an amazing garden and so creative! I love your choice of plant material, and of course, the stone work is truly inspiring. What type of soil do you use in your pots? That is always a challenge for me.

    1. janetcleveland 06/15/2017

      Ah, the plants...prior to this garden, i gardened mostly in varying degrees of shade, in NJ, so on this one, i started out with all the things i could never have there: Alliums, Oxeye Daisies, Swamp Hibiscus, Asiatic Lillies, Cerastium, Asters etc. The trade off was my beloved Camellia's. Tried 3 times to establish one up there, to no avail. Didn't like it one bit!.
      But i now have perrenial Hybrid 'Cone Flowers' ( Mac & Cheese & Tomato Soup) and a glorous Rich purple Holly Hock! Love them all.

  37. tim_wallin 06/15/2017

    You are truly a special person to have such beauty on your rooftop. I am very happy I got to meet you. You inspire me to want to live healthier. And too slow down and enjoy life.

  38. Quiltingmamma 06/15/2017

    This is really prodigious (had to look for some alternative to all the similar adjectives on these remarks)! I am very much impressed and inspired. It is a beautiful haven whether airborne or earth bound.
    I will admit to having frequent 'what about the roof!' thoughts, but I read enough comments to see what you had done. It may be unfortunate for us who wish to replicate, as it may well be nearly impossible to find as solid a structure in other cities.
    How tremendously lucky you are to have managed (what I guess is an infill) that could accommodate your love.

    1. janetcleveland 06/16/2017

      well, i think any roof, anywhere, is a candidate for a garden. Some of my other friends live in older 'Brownstone' types of buildings (i.e. when they used 'Wood' for stud's and joists,etc!!), in NYC and have proceeded to build lush and burgeoning, tree filled, gardens up there. I guess it depends on the approach? They tend to have lighter, alternatives to concrete and ceramic, planters, for one. No Estate Fountain for two, they try to avoid weight in the very middle of the expanse, for three.

      1. janetcleveland 06/16/2017

        mine is a tiny bit unique, in the fact that, this whole building is also built over a 'subway' line, so it's foundation is rated for a 16 story building. Our little Condo, is only 6 stories! kind of like a 'Parking Garage'!!

  39. suzannebartow 06/15/2017

    Wow, really lovely thanks for sharing

  40. greengenes 06/16/2017

    Hello in New York! Janet... what a wonderful garden space you have created! It is so inviting and so full of interesting plantings! If i lived in the city i would definately have something like this. You are so inspiring! thank you for sharing with us!

  41. Sheila_Schultz 06/16/2017

    Gardening on the roof is an incredible challenge, but the photos of your beauties make it look so easy! You have 'risen' to the occasion of being both a creative gardener and an artist for designing such an incredible space! I know how physically taxing it is to haul and heave every single piece of material up the elevators without leaving a trail of soil... I have designed several balcony gardens over the years, your rooftop paradise is a delight!

  42. user-6870841 06/16/2017

    Is this actually on a rooftop, or a high balcony-type deck? You mentioned in one comment that your builder had experience in building quality decks. Whichever, it's absolutely beautiful and so inviting! I wish I knew somebody with your design style and talent to come help me decide what to plant and where! I love my plants and flowers, but I admit my flower beds and pots are sort of mish-mash! Here's a BIG gold star for you!

    1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

      yeah, a massive collection of pots & planters can start to resemble a 'thrift shop', i hear ya! There's a 'fine line', somewhere?
      By, 'Architectural Terms', my garden is actually on a 'Terrace'- which is a raised flat area, in my case, a deck made of 'Trex', on top of a roof. There's a gigantic Commercial Space below me.

  43. bsavage 06/16/2017

    So cool! Thank you for sharing, your garden is inspirational!

  44. thevioletfern 06/16/2017

    Applause! Applause! For bringing life to the rooftops. It is beautiful, a paradise, sanctuary. I can't imagine hauling soil upstairs! It's difficult to haul around at ground level. You must be in excellent physical shape and mental, too, with the garden to soothe.

  45. grannieannie1 06/17/2017

    It is a great inspiration always to see a garden built under adverse conditions. It proves there is no excuse to not garden in some manner or another if one wants to. But you've created a beautiful and tastefully done refuge for yourself despite the site problems. Congratulations on your efforts and thank you so much for sharing the ideas. May there be many more rooftop gardens in our cities. I saw one once on a hotel roof in Canada where they raised salads and bees. Have you given any thought to adding a bee hive??

    1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

      My neighbors would probably 'off' me! 4 or 5 'Mud Wasp' nests have taken root on the underside of some of their balconies. It's my fault, i'm guessing. Got the 'Hot Shot' ready to go, next chance i get! Plus i'm running out of, the most premium space, in all of NYC, as far as i'm concerned!

  46. user-5117752 06/17/2017

    Well!!! I really don't know what to say and I'm a born and bred NYC "girl". Moved to Asheville, NC 17 years ago and learned some humility - maybe that's why I now don't know what to say about your fabulous rooftop garden!!! You got the dirt up there, the plants, the decking but you never mentioned how you water everything and that MUST be a daily chore on 95 degree days!!! Can I assume you own the building and have put in all the necessities? You've got everything I have and more in a much smaller space and it's all just beautiful, colorful and tasteful!!!

    1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

      I put in a Drip Irrigation System. However, i also hand water the little stuff, before and after work, daily, if it's wicked hot. Impossible to thread them all together with the little hoses! Plus it gives me unparalleled joy, to check in on them all, dead head, etc. you know the drill...!

      1. user-5117752 06/18/2017

        A simple WOW!!! You're an amazing gal!!! Could bees be next?

  47. user-5117752 06/17/2017

    And......I forgot to ask, what did you do about drainage? Just can't get over what you accompished!!!

    1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

      Well the roof drainage, takes care of itself. (i open the thatch on a yearly basis and make sure they're clear ) There is 'Trex' decking up on 2" x 12" stringers, so the water just flows to the drains, underneath it all. Nothing actually sits, right on the roof surface. The more interesting part is the 'drainage' within the planters! That challenge, is not an easy one. I've always preferred to 'concoct' my own mix. Sphagnum, i like 'Sweet Peat' a lot, Compost, Espoma Potting Soil, Vermiculite, Perlite, Charcoal, and my new favorite is Organic Mechanics Seed Starter Mix-that contains Rice Hulls(!) etc...it depends on the plant. When a plant specie calls for 'good drainage', such as Gloxina, Tamarix, Dianthus etc. i even put in a chunkier fish tank type of sand!

      1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

        All of this 'concocting', enables them to survive the Winter. (Have i mentioned the 'WIND'? It's absurd, up here.) I had to learn all of this the 'hard' way. Believe me. Also 'Winter Watering'. That's a bit tricky , too. Luckily, i have a good guide! A fellow that's been 'roofing it', for decades!

  48. user-7008672 06/17/2017

    How GORGEOUS Janet!!!! What a dreamy oasis you've created- oh - I envy you that space even though we have what people call an enviable Chelsea loft! That is wonderful- truly an incredible accomplishment. I hope we can visit soon. Congratulations!😘🌸🌟

    1. janetcleveland 06/17/2017

      Come over here Jessie! We'll have Sun Tea and chat, like 'real people'!

  49. user-7007140 06/17/2017

    This is marvelous Janet. Some while go I read an article by an English lady who planned, planted and took care of a balcony garden on the top floor of a London Tower block. At the time I remember telling myself to never grumble again. Your roof garden is a wonderful place. Kudos to you for all the hard work. Enjoy every moment of your creation.

  50. akhilamadhavan 06/18/2017

    What a wonderful garden! But what do you do in the winter when it snows. How do you protect the plants from harsh weather conditions?

    1. janetcleveland 06/18/2017

      I do nothing special for Winter except buy perennials that are zoned for me. (They say it's 7a (coastal) here, these days, but i try to buy for 5 or 6) I get a kick out of reading the tags when they say 'hardy to -40' (like in Butte, Montana)! From time to time, i mulch with White Pine needles that i collect from a park in Queens but truthfully, most of that blows away?! The trickier part about Winter, is 'drainage'. And even trickier still are those wacky days where it warms up where you must water ( ...'Transpiration' ) and then takes another deep downward dive. You, simply put, must become an ace weather watcher- something like a boat Captain, i would imagine.

      1. akhilamadhavan 06/20/2017

        Wow! So covering them up with burlap or anything. Interesting, never thought about the drainage or transpiration aspect

  51. LaurelEm 06/19/2017

    You have built a true rooftop paradise. Good!!!

  52. janetcleveland 06/22/2017

  53. linnyg. 07/19/2017

    Just getting to the June GPOD posts so thought I wouldn't be interested in a roof garden - WAS I EVER WRONG! These photographs are absolutely marvelous! Each "view" amazed me more and more. What percentage of plants would you say you can overwinter in their pots on the roof?

    1. janetcleveland 07/23/2017

      All of them! They are perennials! I'm glad that you enjoyed my garden.

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