FIVE STORIES above Pacific Street, there’s a colorful meadow designed by Cynthia Gillis for the rooftop of the Boerum Hill townhouse she shares with her husband, architect John Gillis. “A roof deck is a kind of meadow,” she says, “because it’s open and expansive, and you are looking across a distance to the sky” — and, in this case, the buildings of downtown Brooklyn.
Since a roof is windy and exposed, and soil in containers is limited, Gillis chooses drought-tolerant plants to begin with, and uses drip irrigation, with hoses running to each individual container, as well as polymer crystals in each pot to retain water and help prevent flooding in heavy rains.
In keeping with the ‘meadow’ concept, Gillis rarely uses annuals. Among the perennials in wooden containers and pots made of resin or fiberglass (lightweight and frost-resistant, they look just like terracotta):
- calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass)
- purple salvia
- verbena bonariensis (a tender, self-seeding perennial)
- achillea ‘Paprika’
- coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’
A wind-tolerant Japanese black pine frames the view and provides screening (there’s a small ‘contemplation bench’ behind it).
You can see more pictures of Gillis’s work on her website, including the park-like garden behind this townhouse, shared with the building next door.