Take a tour through a magical pollinator garden located atop a multistory apartment building in the middle of Chicago. Featured in Fine Gardening #213, this garden is an oasis within a concrete jungle. But does it really attract beneficial insects? Garden owner and designer Hayden Regina insists that the answer is yes.
The feat of building such a unique space did not occur without sacrifices and challenges, as Hayden writes in his article. He had to give up his ideal color palette, which is generally much more austere. And there was the practical challenge of lugging every plant, bag of soil, and piece of lumber up to the roof on foot. But Hayden is quick to point out all that he did not have to give up in the pursuit of an eco-friendly landscape. He kept two reasonably sized seating areas, placing them at either end of the roof so that the humans didn’t interrupt the pollinators’ activities and vice versa. From the very end of the roof one can even capture pristine views of the historic Hancock Tower, the fifth tallest building in the city. He was also still able to have a multiseason design that looks good year-round—an important factor when you live in the Midwest. Hayden finds joy in tending the space throughout the year, just like any other garden.
“I am as much of a collector as I am a gardener, and the two personality traits created quite a dilemma when I faced a limited footprint of 611 square feet,” Hayden says. “My ultimate goal was to make the human spaces as efficient as possible by minimizing the hardscape footprint and maximizing the planting area.” With a colorful matrix of native and ornamental plants, a few structural multistem trees, and neutral-toned furnishings, this garden is a gorgeous example of how an outdoor living space can be a haven for humans and insects alike.