Now here’s plant porn on an apartment rooftop that achieves a people migration from the tele-sofa to the outside, with new water-proofing, brick beds and best fit planting.
It’s a pleasant task to be writing again in this occasional series on Garden Design that might interest you around making closest fit of plants to the growing conditions of your client’s garden or for your own home garden, for the best possible integration of the floor plan with proposed garden space.
I find ‘before & afters’ useful in getting across what I’m presented with at the outset when my clients and I are standing on site, looking at what the best changes might be to make garden space better match their current needs.
So, as you can see in the before shot looking to the northern horizon with my distant client Ian Dawes marching towards us, any garden changes had to be retro fitted over the first floor slab of the original 1981 construction. Beneath this is another apartment, so it was clear during demolition that the entire original fiberglass slab seal had lifted completely away from the slab by extensive tree roots over more than 30 years and had to be replaced.
Taken from inside this shot shows how the inside floor plan now merges more successfully with new garden space. Plant filled, rebuilt low single bagged brick planters support an inviting plant palette that impel most visitors irresistibly outside …. so owners Ian & Noelene have told me. Why this should be the case and showing you how I achieved that “people migration” off the tele sofa and outside, is what I’m writing about today in case there are adaptations you might like to use for your home garden or work.
“SUN BLING” ORNAMENT
The central living room sight line viewed so strongly, diversion to a point other than the northern perimeter rail seemed unnecessary as the eye landed here regardless. Temptation to place a big “O” ornament here was discouraged as a distraction from a dominating northern horizon and the need to have the right piece blend more with its companion planting. This way, it would remain more a “discovery” rather than an overbearing influence across the garden.
Humorous block mounted stainless & coloured glass Fun Fish sculptures from Ulrich Steiner, set on curved stems, capitalise on the breezy aspect when prevailing wind turns them to catch the eye with to rather charming sun bling effect.
It would have been nice (& more convenient..) to think some of the existing planter brick work could have been re-used. Unfortunately the need to reseal the slab was the imperative and consequently the space had to be a complete scrape off so that new Parchem part painted and heat treated seal could go down …
New construction had to be kept “light on the eye” so the shorter walls were kept single and taller ones had double brick for the first two thirds of their height and finished in single bagged brick to finished heights, sealed throughout with drainage cell floors and storm water pipes connected to existing slab wastes off the roof, following original falls.
Now I would be lying to you if I said following the “best-fit” string with a lot of non-general line planting tied to the end of it was an easy path and had the same availability as production grown plants have … But I’ve NEVER let a little thing like that blight the path to planting that was a “best-fit” to the growing conditions I was dealing with at the garden in question.
Consequently, I used nine of my Designer Growers Network growers for this rooftop for two reasons -
High Ornamental Appeal – I knew if the planting was visually compelling enough, no-one would stay seated inside if they could get out for a closer look at it, regardless of their interest in gardens, so it had to be “kooky high sci-fi” or bust.
Harsh Conditions – being an open sky aspect exposure is high with no irrigation. This, combined with slab load bearing limitations eliminated the possibility of any significant increase in soil depth than was pre-existing. All the plants would have to happy with planter walls less than a meter tall of medium and half of these in less than 300mm .. !!
Sticking strictly to these requirements drove plant choices to include for a good third of them as epiphytic, like sun hardy bromeliads alcantarea, tillandsia, aechmea, neoregelia, bromelia, dykia, ornithogalum and vriesea with companions that also favoured very fast draining medium like epidendron hybrids with well behaved compact habits at the northern end forming an Epiphytic Tray beneath the view and around the Fun Fish sculptures.
This patch at the far north-western corner shows from bottom left clockwise – Tillandsia jalisco ‘Monte Carlo’, Aechmea pineliana red form, Tillandsia secunda (red stemmed inflorescence with silver pups), Tillandsia fasciculata Mexican hybrid (multi fanned red inflorescence), Neoregelia ampullacae tigrina, Epidendron ‘Cosmo Dream Colour’ MOMO No. 2 hybrid, Tillandsia capitata, Tillandsia bergerii and Epidenron ‘Joseph Glow’ with Ornithogalum saxicola as its companion.
Tillandsia secunda, rather than producing its pups around the mother plants base, sprouts them through the spent inflorescence ….. Possibly evolving in locations of high wind that would jerk them clean off from the highest point from the plant, to establish a new clump at distance from the “mother” to reduce encroachment.
For maximum “curiosity pull” to satisfy the high ornamental part of the brief, shown here are non-epiphytic plants that either store their own water or can adapt to low water use in view of a match with conditions to no more than rain water, from closest to camera – Tillandsia fasciculata Mexican hybrid, Ruellia brevifolia, Aloe ‘Always Red’, Salvia semiatrata, Bromelia sp. Euphorbia Poysean Hybrid, Aloe ‘Super Red’ with Euphorbia tirucalli making a screen behind.
Placed in its own setting viewed from the master B/room sight line, this is the first impression of a new day that Noelene & Ian get every morning. After an Art Nouveau leaf motif design, this carved stone Water Block by Chris Bennetts at Ishi Buki Stone Sculpture suits the more intimate scale, surrounded by variegated mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus variegata), Rhipsalis sp. backed by Aspidistra elatior ‘Variegata’ and Selenocerius crysocardium, the Fern Leaf Epiphyllum.
Peter Nixon Paradisus
[phone 61 (0)2 9698 1547 & mob 61 2 (0)418 161513]