ISSUE 25  |  Bath and Spa

High Wire Act: Floating Florals at Blue Hill Stone Barns

June 18, 2012 1:00 PM

BY Francesca Connolly

We notice floating, mid-air gardens everywhere these days—including the flying centerpieces created by Laureen Barber, an owner of the sustainable-food mecca Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Barber’s latest design feat manages to achieve the same exalted heights as the food.

Time to demystify the trend: How, exactly, do you keep plants happy when their root balls are suspended overhead instead of planted in the ground?

Above: Working with the restaurant’s general manager, Phillipe Gouze, Barber chose low-light and woodland plants that bloom continuously and can adjust to the sun-filled dining room. Root balls are wrapped in plastic, and then moss, to keep in moisture; they’re watered through an opening on top once or twice a week. Gouze changes the plants after they are done blooming and adjusts wires, depending on the size of the replacement, to ensure a balanced arrangement.

Above: The mix of plants includes: Rhododendron ‘English Roseum,’ Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Lace Leaf Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum), Weigela florida ‘Wine & Roses,’ Smoke Bush (Cotinus obovatus), and Showy Medinilla (Medinilla magnifica). For a selection of similar potted Lace Leaf Maples, from $30 to $70 depending on size, see East Fork Nursery.

Above: The harvest table, originally designed to be a service station, has become the centerpiece of the restaurant.