At Root & Stalk we cultivate exuberant gardens
East Asian influence
Replacing struggling Ilex crenata with soaring black cane bamboo brought a distinctly east Asian feel to this modern village garden.
We paired outsized elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta) with the bamboo in the rear tiered terrace that receives only partial morning light. White cascading double begonias underplanting the bamboo continued to bloom into November tripling in size over two seasons. The dark purple and light theme continued on the upper terraces with white JFK and Honor roses, Spanish lavender, Miscanthus grass
and a row of white camelias.
Native plants and pollinators
With the nearby High line gardens as a source of inspiration, this rooftop was designed with textural interest using dynamic plantings and a succession of color as the seasons turn. A flourish of exotic annual cleome stands in the center of the garden mid-summer surrounded by Eupatorium, Helianthus, Aesclepias and later, Vernonia fasciculata. Guara grows wild and airy between tall and small plants while Imperata cylindrica, Nasella and Festuca add soft grass spikes of color. Delicately flowering Nepeta covers the foreground and Verbena bonariensis throws sculptural branches of lilac at the edges all summer long.
Black, white and sage
A modern renovation of a traditional brownstone set the tone for a dramatic black, white and sage perennial garden. We chose a sage green backdrop for the darkest foliage and blossoms offset by white accents throughout. The tallest additions were three crimson pointe plum trees at the back of the property whose fullness provide a buffer from street traffic. In the spring a stunning abundance of black parrot tulips intermixed with taller fritillaria persica herald the season followed by a sturdy mix of perennials including helleborus black diamond, black and white columbine, silver mound artemisia, blackout heuchera, black mondo grass, stachys byzantina, and chocolate cosmos. A row of white blooming hosta thrive under the trees and in the fall 'Honorine Jobert' anemones provide white flowers until first frost. Vining clematis Henryi will soon cover the northern fence mixing with silver vein Virginia creeper.
A slim sunny mid-town oasis
A long and narrow Ipe wood deck 9 floors up in the middle of Manhattan needed life, color and structure. The deck was resurfaced and treated before installing a mix of evergreens, perennials, vines and annuals. Bold red and white blossoms spill over white contemporary containers from spring to late fall. Thunderhead black pine, hollywood juniper, boxwood, viburnum and umbrella pine maintain a green presence year round.
A mix of sun and shade
With nearly 70 feet of planting space this garden was a dream project. We inventoried the existing plants and created a design to compliment that material including repositioning many of the shade perennials. Lots of hosta, ferns and astilbe provided low foliage while rhododendrons, hydrangeas, euonymous, azaleas and barberry gave it structure. The front center bed now features an array of perennial pink and purple flowers including anemones, geranium, buddleia, dwarf lilac, aconitum, phlox, salvia and sedum with a curved line of digitalis. A diamond shape in the center bed was made from existing hydrangeas and we filled in the edges with cimicifuga, sedum, hosta and digitalis while leaving abundant vinca as a thick ground cover. At the far end of the garden mature euonymous was framed by blue hosta, weigela and a pink Itoh peony with helebores just below it sending out the earliest blossoms.
A stately courtyard
This large T shaped courtyard in Jackson Heights had no formal structure nor enticing features to encourage residential use. An additional hardscape design challenge was to address the uneven concrete walkway sinking below the foundation line in the inner courtyard and lay more than 100 feet of pathway between two gated entrances. Working with Brooklyn general contractor MRS Incorporated, we replaced a drainage pipe and then the old concrete with an elevated and now level tinted concrete walkway and laid a herringbone brick pattern for the path. Two brick patios were also added to the outer courtyard. The inner courtyard design features two "X" patterns made from pea gravel with three planting beds. A Cornus kousa 'Venus' dogwood stands in the center on a mound underplanted with sweet woodruff and hellebores. Three evergreens at the far end include Hinoki cypress 'Well's Special' and andromeda. The shrubs in the front are limelight hydrangea with a crescent of green mountain boxwood in the foreground. The main garden features a line of existing evergreen laurel and a new line of Ilex 'Steeds' defining the edge of the property. Oakleaf and limelight hydrangea surrounded by ostrich fern, blue hosta and Japanese forest grass will provide layers of foliage through the seasons with pale pink and white daffodils announcing the arrival of spring.
South slope sanctuary
Working with both the landlord and tenant on this spacious rental we transformed the classic lot. We carved a gentle arch for a green lawn and bordered it with a mix of partial sun/shade tolerant perennials as the space demands. The existing stunning tri-color Beech leafs out to an electric pink in the spring then fades to allow a mainly white and red palette to emerge. Limelight hydrangeas anchor the foundation plantings on the sides and Boxleaf honeysuckle forms an evergreen border at the curved line. Two Magnolia grandiflora stand in the far corners with groupings of Monarda and Anemones in front. A few painted ferns are nestled under an existing red twig Dogwood and groupings of perennial Geranium make a strong showing in the spring along with a favorite, firefly Heuchera, whose tiny dancing flowers nearly match the electric pink beech leaves. Potted herbs on the patio are accessible for grilling, cocktails and mild aroma.
Annuals and accessories
This established rooftop terrace needed a refresh with accessories and a few more planters. We pruned the evergreen Ilex glabra to an even row behind the sofa, added Miscanthus grass and rearranged a few planters. Perennial lavender and agapanthus were added for the blue in the blue and yellow theme and coreopsis for the yellow. An abundance of annual calibrachoa in white and yellow cascade from white pots lasting far into cooler autumn weather and blue lobelia underplanted the largest shrubs. A blue and white paisley rug was added along with colorful throw pillows. And two white bowls of succulents thrived in one of the hottest summers on record.
An informal cottage garden
A Ditmas Park single-family home was an open canvas for an unconventional garden. The grey permastone facade provided the backdrop for an exuberant choice of plant material. Using dusty green with splashes of pink and lavender the empty landscape morphed into a wild informal cottage garden. Bright afternoon sun encouraged rapid growth for the perennial Miscanthus grass, Russian sage, artemesia, fescue and lavender with Verbena bonariensis and Gomphrena fireworks making a strong annual showing. Deep purple morning glory vines covered the railing and sunflowers grew along the driveway towering above a mix of kitchen herbs. In the back we added an Ipe wood deck with built-in seating and arbor creating a much needed lounge and landing for their main entrance. Wire trellises stretch across the back of the arbor where sweet Autumn and Henryi clematis weave a white floral privacy screen with lavender Wisteria vining overhead.
Two terraces for sale
A mid-winter request to spruce up two terraces for this motivated seller's new listing was a challenge we swiftly met. Within a week we removed old and added new fences on 3 perimeter walls. Gray and terra-cotta finish planters were added and prepared for a variety of evergreens including black pine, rhododendron, ilex, aucuba, azaelea, andromeda, juniper, cypress, boxwood and winter blooming perennial hellebore. Adding a few new lounge chairs, a table and a chaise made the terraces photo-ready quickly with the assistance of exceptionally mild weather and sunshine.
Ready for sale
A beautifully renovated brownstone on Washington Avenue featured a spectacular interior and a backyard, but, the yard was much less impressive. With the help of my team, a wet spring and well-positioned sprinklers, our sod installation was successful. Although growing grass can be a risky endeavor in most urban settings, in this case the proper soil preparation and a regular watering schedule yielded a modest green patch and a solid offer within three months of the property's listing.
A sunny cedar deck
A newly installed deck and custom planters needed greenery and style. This sunny location bordering an open school yard was prime for a bright yellow and white floral garden. We planted cannas, lilies, lavender, lambs ear, asclepias, and lantana adding Italian sunflowers along the back cedar fence. Fragrant white moonflowers climb an iron trellis, varieties of buddleia attract butterflies, and magnolia and dogwood trees anchor the design bringing early spring blossoms. Herbs and nasturtium provide seasonal scent, color and flavor.
A lovely village terrace featuring Dutch cobblestone and a custom fence with built-in benches needed a spring refresh to prepare for
sale. The location with partial sunlight was perfect for shade-loving ostrich ferns, caladium, foxtail fern and hosta growing in white self-watering planters. We varied the scale of the plantings by adding a Japanese maple and decorated with glass lanterns.
Half acre by the sea
This half acre property on a quiet lane near the bay had sustained hurricane damage when new owners purchased it. Several trees were removed creating an essentially open lot with bisecting fences. A deep shade of blue paint for accent and distinctive foundation plantings modernized the space. Rows of Miscanthus grass provide light airy movement throughout the seasons and the evergreen Mugo pine, Hinoki cypress and Atlas cedar add depth to the front of the house. In time Wisteria will climb the columns and drape the roof with cascading lavender blossoms.
High impact transformation
This garden was completely re-imagined with limited resources. Mulberry trees and English ivy were the main foliage in the decades-neglected space. Runners were tamed, ivy was cut back, and the largest mulberry tree was removed before laying sod. Flat stones were uncovered during excavation and set in an arc for a whimsical path. And the wood that defined old beds was re-used to make a new elevated bed for edibles and annuals in the sunniest part of the garden. Along with climbing roses, fragrant night-blooming moon flower vines were trellised on a new fence for quick exotic coverage.
An historic courtyard
This 1940s courtyard garden shared between two west village buildings has a formal brick structure with paths leading to a central circular raised bed. Heavy with ivy, Wisteria, and Virginia creeper, the long back fence is anchored by a raised planting bed built with flat stones which we filled with mature Hosta. A dwarf star Magnolia tree is the center point and a variety of Hydrangeas and Seedum fill in around it. The challenge was to bring plants that would survive drought and public use and thrive with minimal care.