A Secret Garden Hidden in the Rooftops of NYC...

secret garden carnegie hill house nelson byrd woltz

Imagine a busy street in NYC, a few blocks from Central Park.

Now imagine a secret garden, woven into courtyards amongst the 7 stories of a townhouse, filled with birds and bees and butterflies.

A place where Ginko trees, those ancient plants from the age of dinosaurs, wave their graceful leaves over a hidden, oversized, woven seat, beckoning like a cocoon, the floor carpeted with lush ferns.

And the only way in to this secret space is to hop across split sleepers of black locust, their sides twisted and turned from years of growth.

urban rooftop garden plan with secret seating by nelson byrd woltz

This is part of a garden designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architects, whose work ranges from zoos to public parks, as well as residential work like this family townhouse in NYC.

secret lush garden on a nyc rooftop nelson byrd woltz landscape architects

There are 7 stories, with different gardens on 4 of the levels, but it is this secret garden, on the ground floor, with a verdantly lush woodland theme, which has utterly captured my imagination.

The ferns which form the ground story of planting were found on the site during the building works, and carefully transplanted into their new home, creating a shady retreat from the busy city outside these walls.

wild grasses in nyc nelson byrd woltz

And it all goes to show how it is so very possible to create a secret garden in the most unlikely spaces, whether high in the rooftops, or discretely hidden from urbanity, and just how charming such a secret garden can be.

This garden won an Honor Award at the American Society of Landscape Architects Awards 2011. You can read more about it here. The project was designed and constructed by Nelson Byrd Woltz.
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