I am trying to help a new gardener in NYC w/ a strange space..a big plot, totally empty, about 20 -30 feet wide and 50 to 70 feet long..a perfect rectangle …sun starts about 11 am in a small part of the SE corner, makes its way across the southern section, covering only about 20 -30 feet, lingers a bit on the SW corner and is gone by 5 or 6 pm at the moment.. the rest never sees sun as the plot is surrounded on all sides by tall buildings , making it an island patch so to speak, hence it sits in indirect or filtered light most of the time…i am scratching my head a bit on this one …he’d like to have some trees, some water, paths and stone, and vegetables and/or herbs ….any suggestions ?
Lots of buildings always make the sun thing so much more complicated. Don’t forget, that as the sun gets higher in the sky, the buildings to the south will make less of a difference. Veggies and most herbs will need to be in the sunny bit. Work the rest of the design around them. My favorite plant for patchy sun and bright shade is Geraniums; they are tough. There are many small ornamental trees that perfer a woodland edge habitat- which is the nearest natural habitat to the city in terms of light. Some suggesions: Stewartia koreana and psuedocamellia, Dogwoods (Cornus florida, C. kousa and hybrids), Magnolia (so many different species, hybrids and cultivars), Amelanchier arborea. I wonder what are some favorite plants of those who garden in the city?
I agree with Leslie…the light pattern will have to be observed as the seasons evolve to see how far you can push things. But I am also a lover of shady spaces; you might want to look on the blog under the shade topic for ideas for the “dark side”:
Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.