Gardening in the City

I really enjoy gardening and I could spend many hours happily moving plants around and weeding. My husband smiles knowingly  when I say I’m only going out for a minute to fix something and I don’t return to our apartment until three hours later. The time spent gardening flies by. Sometimes I’m disappointed when I see the perfect spot for a plant only to discover when I start digging that there is a service pipe there or a hose for the sprinkler system or a large root.  Then there is the joy when a plant does well despite the heavy rain and drought. Last Winter in New York there was snow in the garden for many weeks but despite that the Hellebore kept blooming unlike the poor Rhododendron which died. Then there is the frustration when a plant doesn’t thrive despite the reviews saying it will grow anywhere and even when I try moving it to different spots and it’s still not happy. I have only introduced perennials to the garden as our flower beds are long, almost the full length of a city block which is a lot of weeding and upkeep for one person.

Some before photographs; myself and my sometimes assistant gardener/supervisor. Nowadays he prefers to make mud and rock sculptures to gardening. The clipped hedges and laurels were the only plants in the garden before I began adding the colourful perennials and flowering shrubs.

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Then there are the nice people you meet at garden centres who answer ones queries about the best plants to grow. Recently a keen gardener from another building was passing one hot Sunday morning as I was out doing some weeding and we started chatting about plants and she offered to share some grasses she’d got from a gardener at another building who she’d recently befriended too. On another occasion we were on our way to a wedding in New Jersey and we stopped to stretch our legs along a scenic part of the Delaware River and there was a house surrounded by LilyTurf {a plant which I had just discovered} and the owner Mr Purcell invited us into his garden and offered me some Lily Turf plants which he was just dividing as were walking by. He proceeded to give me lots of helpful tips about growing them such as adding some bonemeal to the soil before planting.

Below left was an empty patch so I added Lily Turf and some Daffodils, then last year I transplanted some Nepata Six Hills Giant from another part of the garden to here and it spread very quickly.

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There was scaffolding outside our building two years ago for several months and as a result the small hedge that was growing by our service entrance died. So I replanted the area with Silver Dragon grasses, they have lilac flowers in the summer which then change to berries, they are a little more delicate than the LilyTurf grasses that I planted in other parts of the garden.

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The garden around the holly trees which are located at each of the three buildings’ entrances were bare and not as bright so they have been a good spot to plant some shade loving plants such as Hostas, Astilbes and Bleeding  Hearts Hhearts.  The shape and size of the garden at each entrance is slightly different too so where possible I have grouped the same or similar plants to give continuity to the garden.

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What to plant in front of the laundry room was tricky as there is an extractor fan in the window so it is very windy and the soil as a result is dry and sandy. First I planted some grasses Elijah Blue as I thought they wound’t mind those conditions but they did, next I planted some Ajuga which is low and it survived. Then our building’s Super added a small plastic fence which provided some protection from the fan’s hot air. However when he added the wooden structure that was so much better as it meant I could plant taller plants such as Pachysandra, Lily Turf and Daffodils.


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There is another patch of garden with a window fan nearby however this fan doesn’t operate as frequently or intensely so I recently planted a Sedum there think it is called Autumn Joy and some new Yarrow plants Achillea Heidi which don’t mind windy, dry conditions, so far they are doing well despite all the heavy rain we’ve had lately.


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Below is the area near the building’s entrance that we live in and in the middle is another large Holly Tree. I did remove the tree below it was scraggly and was blocking light in that part of the garden. I started with some Lilyturf and a Bleeding Heart which I later moved further back. I slowly added other plants such as Jack Frost, Astilbe  and then the ground cover White Nancy which really took off this year, I even transplanted some patches of it to other parts of the garden not that you can tell as it grew back so quickly. Flanking the railings is a row of  Lily Turf  and in the Spring they are joined by Daffodils.

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Plants such as Montauk Daisies, Coral Bells,  Anemone, Hydrangea and Bleeding Hearts are wonderful for spreading out and have filled in lots of the spaces between the green shrubs that we had throughout the garden as can be seen in the the first photograph below left.

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This entry was published on July 6, 2015 at 9:05 pm. It’s filed under gardening and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Gardening in the City

  1. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous!! So happy you found my “Lush July” post, because seeing your work is inspiring. Wonderful photos and text … I can totally relate to the challenges and joy of gardening in such unlikely spaces, the great experiences of people who share their plantings, and the bliss of “only a minute” turning into hours. Thank you for posting this delightful urban-gardening story.

    Liked by 1 person

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