ISSUE 43  |  Spring Forward 2016

Garden Visit: At Home with Designer Julie Weiss in Manhattan

October 29, 2015 9:00 AM

BY Stacey Lindsay

After more than 10 years of living with a shared rooftop garden in lower Manhattan, designer Julie Weiss decided to let the plants win.

“I love the wild, overgrown feel,” says Weiss, who was Vanity Fair’s art director from 2004 to 2014. “It’s a contrast to the city.”

Weiss, an LA native, lets the garden take on a life of its own. Wavy grasses and lavender look billowy and soft against the city backdrop, with all those sharp right angles on the Woolworth Building and the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance.

During an early autumn visit, we enjoyed the panoramic views that stretch to both the Hudson and East rivers:

Photography by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

manhattan-roof-garden-decking-potted-plants-gardenista

Above: Weiss anchors the garden with hardy herbaceous perennials that bloom deep into October. Purple agastaches and lavenders mix with wild grasses, hydrangeas, and roses. And there’s the white nicotiana (at left) that she plants by the door for its “beautiful, tropical scent.”

manhattan-roof-garden-outdoor-furniture-perennials-gardenista

Above: Divided into four outdoor “rooms,” the space has lent itself to countless dinners, intimate drinks and summer soirées.

Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_137

Above: Weiss likes how each of the four outdoor “rooms” can accommodate several of the building’s occupants simultaneously but privately.

manhattan-roof-garden-water-tanks-gardenista

Above: Water tower as rooftop sculpture; a common New York City sight.

manhattan-roof-garden-dahlias-gardenista

Above: Keen on planting abundant and “tough” perennials, Weiss anchors the space with roses, lavenders, and late-flowering tardiva hydrangeas. Annuals including zinnias, cosmos, and dahlias (Shown) add color and late-season interest.

manhattan-roof-garden-hydrangea-gardenista

Above: Weiss lines the perimeter with lacy tardiva hydrangeas, “a great white hydrangea that does well with the wind on the roof.”

Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_124

Above: Secret garden: a pergola and chairs.

Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_131_0

Above: Two chaises amid the pots. At eye level, all you see are pots of lavender, grasses, and hydrangeas.

Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_049

Above: A spot to contemplate the city (preferably while drinking a glass of wine).

Wed - res Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_084_0

Above: The Jane Watson Irwin fall perennial garden at the New York Botanical Garden inspired the overall look and feel of Weiss’ rooftop space.

Gardenista_Weiss_Garden_158

Above: With the rooftops of lower Manhattan spread out like a velvety quilt, “the setting is spectacular,” says Weiss. Couldn’t agree more. Can we come back in the spring?