December in the Hudson Valley, time to sip hot chocolate and look at the snow outside. Chocolate… got me thinking about Lucky Chocolates an artisanal chocolate store. This summer (it seems like a long time ago now) I was on my way to Lucky Chocolates when I glanced up and noticed some large planters at roof level; the owner Rae, explained there is a roof garden above the store and she obligingly let me take a peek.
The roof garden is connected to a spacious rental apartment on the second floor of the 19th century building and was built three years ago when Rae lived in the apartment and wanted some outdoor space. At the entrance to the roof garden there is a raised deck area which provides privacy and shade.
The deck was built by Nick Gugliametti who also constructed the bamboo screens.
Boston Ivy Parthenocissus tricuspidata grows up the screens from the alley below, stems are attached to vertical surfaces by sticky pads at the ends of tendrils.
In summer, tiny green flowers bloom followed by small black berries (food for birds).
Mint flourishes, growing in a reclaimed drinks cooler.
These vintage white pots contain various Sedum plants.
Stepping down from the deck, the terrace is covered in pea gravel, a lightweight material that weighs less than soil and grass.
However there is a small lawn in a raised bed, usually kept neat by hand-trimming with scissors! The sides of the deck are enclosed by metal railings which are integrated with wooden box planters, custom built by carpenter, John Malloy.
The box planters have an 8″ layer of soil and are suitable for heat tolerant annuals such as marigolds, cosmos and zinnias.
Rae explains “It’s been a good year for the annuals and there are lots bees up here. It’s nice to have lots of flowers because the bees are dying out and we need bees for pollination.”
Rae especially likes the Lantana “Lovely small blooms and leaves, exotic unusual fragrance.” Like many gardeners, Rae is concerned about the natural environment and the roof garden does have several environmental benefits.
- Provides wildlife habitat
- Storm water runoff is reduced (rain water is absorbed by plant material)
- The roof temperature is lower (sunny roofs may be heat traps)
- The roof surface is protected which increases the longevity of the roof
Larger box planters contain 2′ of soil and are lined with rigid foam with foil on one side, this insulates the soil from temperature extremes. The Japanese maple tree is thriving in one of these planters. Rae uses store bought lightweight organic soil and adds seaweed emulsion or organic plant food once a year, also Miracle Grow as needed.
Rae has seen hummingbirds and squirrels on the roof garden and would like to add a water fountain for the birds. Future plans include a drip irrigation system. This roof garden is a private place to relax and enjoy nature and at the same time, provides a habitat for wildlife.
Lucky Chocolates is located in the village of Saugerties historic district at the top of Partition Street.