Patients receiving infusions gaze through windows at the foliage of a four-season garden growing on the roof of the Upstate Cancer Center’s second floor. Visitors may rest on its benches. The space feels like a courtyard, with the cancer center on one side, a computer warehouse behind, and Upstate University Hospital on the other.
One challenge was to choose plants that will be ornamental, even through Central New York winters. Add to that the challenge of planting on a roof. “The weight of everything and the cultural conditions are different on a roof,” says project designer Diane Burkard, also of EDR. “The growing conditions are more challenging and more severe, and the extremes of heat and cold are greater.”
She says that evergreens of various colors are included, along with plants that have interesting bark. “We have river birch and red twig dogwood, and we have different junipers. We have some Japanese maple in there. Those have a beautiful outline. The form of the tree is graceful.”
Around the trees are plants that do not grow tall and that offer variety in color and texture, says Carr.
“There are seasonal changes from early spring vegetative growth, to flowering, to colorful fall foliage. With the grasses and the perennials, there is movement. A gentle breeze will move things around so it’s not static.”
Such a peaceful space will appeal to those seeking respite — plus the birds that are part of nature.
Plant your own
Planting a seasonal Central New York garden means finding plants that provide interest throughout the year. This list–from Environmental Design & Research’s Diane Burkard, who designed the rooftop healing garden for the Upstate Cancer Center –includes spring bulbs, summer flowering perennials, fall blooming grasses and evergreens that provide structure and a backdrop for other plants during their growing season.
Anemone blanda (Windflower)
Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ (Spring Beauty Wood Squill)
Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite)
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (Cranesbill)
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Goldsturm Black-eyed Susan)
Hemerocallis ‘Pardon Me’ (Pardon Me Daylily)
Amsonia hibrichtii (Threadleaf Blue Star)
Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama Grass)
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (Shenandoah Switch Grass)
Juniperus sabina ‘Buffalo’ (Buffalo Savin Juniper)
Cornus stolonifera ‘Farrow’ (Arctic Fire Red-twig Dogwood)
Betula nigra ‘Heritage’ (Heritage River Birch)
Listen to a radio program about the Upstate Cancer Center
Read the new publication, Cancer Care