Sunday, 11 March 2012

Roof Garden - Plant Selection, Part 1: Perennial Vines, Dwarf Trees and Large Shrubs

I know I haven't breathed a word on this blog in a very long time about the roof garden we were planning for the red brick building.  Well, it was supposed to go in last year, but the contractor we hired turned out to be a dud, so we fired him, then searched for, found and hired someone else.  We've been discussing the project with this new company since Christmas-time and it looks like everything is on track for the roof garden to be installed at the very end of March or in early April.  I've been afraid to actually make that statement in writing in case it jinxs everything again.  Fingers crossed.

I've been immersed in gardening websites, books and magazines and am putting the finishing touches on the roof garden plan over the next few days.  Everything is worked out except for the final plant varieties and a couple of furniture items.  I'm sure many ideas won't work and there will be changes as the garden evolves but it will be excellent to have a plan that looks complete on paper and to be able to place plant orders before everything good sells out.

The overall idea is of a secret, time-forgotten garden, full of highly fragrant white-flowering plants.  I want the plants to burst over the edge of the parapet and climb or drape down the two street-facing facades of the building, covering the red brick building in lush greenery and beautiful flowers.  The biggest constraint is of size and weight: the roof can only support so much weight but the look I want is of something extremely mature and long-established.  The garden is only about 750-800 square feet.  Everyone seems very skeptical that we can get the vines to drape down the facade (they like to grow upwards) and that we can keep them pruned and looking good given the height involved.  Maybe they're right, but I'm not abandoning my vision without trying it first.

Here are the perennial vines, dwarf trees and large shrubs I've penciled in.  Keep in mind that the garden plan is still subject to review by our structural engineer, who will likely need smelling salts when he seems the size of some of these.

Kentucky Wisteria 'Clara Mack", which is supposed to be much better behaved than the Asian wisterias:

Japanese Hydrangea Vine 'Moonlight, which has such interesting flowers, as well as lovely foliage':

Honeysuckle 'Mint Crisp', which has fantastic variegated leaves:

I chose several climbing and rambling roses and had a hard time even narrowing it down to half a dozen.  I tried to use as many old roses as possible, but I also wanted ones that flower repeatedly or continuously rather than just once and ones that are fragrant.  So it's Rose 'White Eden':

Rose 'Madame Alfred Carriere', whose flowers fade from blush pink to white:

Rose 'Climbing Iceberg':

Rose 'Lunar Mist:

Rose 'Darwin's Enigma', which I like because it's single-flowered, like a wild rose:

Rose 'White Dawn':

Moving on to clematis....I tried to take advantage of the amazing range of shapes and sizes that the flowers have.  I also favored varieties that bloom in the very late summer and autumn.  Lots of the flowers I like are summer-blooming, which is the time I will be able to enjoy the garden least, since we go to the beach when it's hottest.  I love the black eyes of Clematis viticella luxurians alba:

Clematis 'Huldine' seems classic and a healthy grower:

Sweet Autumn Clematis:

The extra ruffle-y Clematis 'Isago':

Clematis Macropetalia, whose petals are a lovely shape:

White-flowering Chocolate Vine is a plant I hadn't heard of before beginning my research, but I want to include so less common vines.  I read that it has a fragrance like white chocolate ice cream and I thought "Hey, I like white chocolate ice cream", so here goes:

Native White Passionflower:

Last summer I scored two of the largest size of these large planters for cheap at the Restoration Outlet sale:

In one, I'd like to plant a dwarf magnolia tree.  The two I'm considering are Magnolia 'Lyle's Legacy':

And Magnolia x Lobneri 'White Rose':

In the other Restoration Hardware planter, I'd like to plant a Sweet Mock Orange:

The other shrubs I've included on my garden plan are dwarf flowering quince 'O Yashima':

Lilac 'Angel White':

Or Lilac 'Betsy Ross':

Winter Honeysuckle, which is a shrub rather than a vine and flowers very early in the spring:

Another completely new discovery for me was sweetshrub (Calycanthus x Venus):

Also on my garden plan for the red brick building's roof garden are two espaliered fruit trees: a dwarf peach and a white currant.  I like the idea of adding a little structure to the garden but I've never tried formally pruning anything before so it might be something of a project.  More discussion of fruits - specifically, berries - coming up in my next post about the garden's smaller plants.

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