An Urban Patio Prairie of Ornamental Grasses

After we’d been living in the Harlem Laboratory for a while and gotten our bearings, we turned our atttention to the 50-square-foot patio that overlooks a glorious park in New York City. What to plant? Our friend-with-a-green-thumb Maria Robledo said simply: “Grasses”.  Grasses? “Yeah, plant ornamental grasses on one side of the terrace. They’ll form a screen from your neighbors, they wave in the wind so they’re like a kinetic sculpture, and come Fall, they send up wonderful flowers. Over winter, they’ll brown and still keep stand tall and windswept, so you can watch them through your window.
So we took trusty Maria’s advice planted grasses. We enjoyed them all summer…

Miscanthus grasses urban patio

Sally Schneider

…and then all winter long, watching them through the window. Even in our urban environment, we were reminded of country fields…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

Come spring, we cut the grasses down as we were advised to do to make new shoots appear. Sadly, most of the grasses didn’t make it through the winter….


Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

…A number of people kindly said it wasn’t our fault, that it had been a rough winter for a lot of plants. Maybe we’re just not that good at gardening….yet.
Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

So we took our big shopping cart down to Urban Garden Center under the railroad tracks on 116th Street and Park Avenue, which had also had a rough winter. They are directly across the street from two buildings that collapsed from a gas explosion last March. They were almost wiped out and we were worried for them. But THE’RE BACK!


Urban Garden Center
We were SO happy to buy three big pots of Miscanthus grasses from them. We hauled our plants home and planted them. The new grasses seem happy  in the terrace breezes and we’re hoping they’ll get nice and tall.


Sally Schneider

Maria Robledo was right. Ornamental grasses are swell, even on a tiny terrace. (Along with nasturtiums, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, sage and chives in the planters on the other side.)

2 Responses to An Urban Patio Prairie of Ornamental Grasses

  1. FCAM 06.01.2014 at 9:04pm #

    Can you give us any details about the planter? With such a narrow footprint, it looks ideal for decks. I am hoping it is one of your clever DIY projects…

  2. Sally 06.01.2014 at 11:04pm #

    YES. In fact, I will do a post about it and some others I found (it was amazing how difficult it is to find a sleek simple planter. They are a great narrow footprint, well-made and a good price. Stay tuned.
    UPDATE: Since it may take a couple of days to actually DO that post, here’s the link to the place I bought the sleek gray planter. Planter Resource in NYC. Just in case you want it NOW. (:

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