The Greenest Thumb! Contest: Michele's Garden Getaway

Name: Michele
Location: Carroll Gardens
Size: 14x28 + 8x20
Favorite Resource: My favorite resources for perennial plants are Gowanus Nursery and the BBG plant sale. For annuals nothing beats the local farmers markets in Union Sq, Grand Army Plaza and Borough Hall.

Pitch:

"When we moved into our apartment in Carroll Gardens 4 years ago, the backyard had one bush, was overgrown with ivy and the side bed was filled with white marble chips and a 100 saplings growing from seeds blown in from a neighboring tree. But even then we could see the potential. ...." [more below]


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(The space is about 14x28 feet plus a side bed of 8x 20. It includes a small upper deck and a larger lower deck. )

It’s taken a lot of work to get the garden to where it is today. We did it ourselves and worked on a budget. We slowly accumulated plants and containers over the years. We built out the raised bed which involved pulling out all the saplings, digging out much of the white marble chips, bringing in two by fours through the apartment to build up the height of the side bed and dragging in more than 50 bags of dirt to amend the soil.

Design: In terms of design, there were several missteps but I found approaching it like designing a room worked well. I created two distinct spaces. On the upper deck, we have two retro metal chairs and a small table (not visible from the overhead view but seen in the view from the kitchen window), ideal for drinking coffee in the morning. On the lower deck, we have a larger dining area plus our BBQ which is great for entertaining.

I included focal points and structural elements – the large fern in the blue container against the back wall, a tall pot of impatiens in the far left shady corner to draw the eye into the corner and to make the space feel larger, the circular pot of pink annuals in the middle of the raised beds on top of some of the remains of the marble chips.

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I also included some elements of whimsy – the fountain on the upper deck, the wind mobile and the Brancusi sculpture along the back wall.

Plants: There are too many plants to list but some of my favorites are the pink spirea bushes, hostas, the pink Japanese climbing hydrangea vine along the back wall, salvia, catmint, and clematis. I also love the white heliotrope that I planted in the window boxes outside the kitchen.

On a warm day, when the wind blows in the right direction, I can smell the vanilla scent of the heliotrope while I’m in the kitchen.

We feel very fortunate to have a get away in the city that is right outside our door. And we are grateful to all our friends who have pitched in and taken care of the plants when we go away.

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.