Say it out loud: “blizzard.” It’s one of those onomatopoeic words where you can hear the 60 MPH winds, see the snow flurries madly swirling in every direction and feel the tiny shards of ice scraping your face when you dare to step into its majesty (which you have to do when you have an 84-pound dog living in a small New York City apartment). Sunday, December 26, 2010, I experienced my first blizzard, accompanied by a tickly throat, some chest heaviness and a noticeably reduced energy level. The compulsive roof enthusiast part of my brain was obsessed, “START LOOKING UP, Get out on some roofs and photograph this amazing event!” However, the rest of my addled head and body conspired to keep me inside, napping, recovering and missing the opportunity to personally document the peak of this winter roofscape opportunity.
Gordon Hawkins is an avid roof gardener with a mind boggling collection of Brugmansia, more commonly known as Angel Trumpet Flowers. These resplendent blooms thrive on his Brooklyn roof during the spring, summer, and fall flowering seasons, but in winter they must be protected from the New York City cold.
This year, Gordon built an 8 x 10 foot cold room made entirely of 2-inch foam on his roof. He covered the entire floor space with earth and replanted his Brugmansia collection inside. Finally, he installed a heater with a thermostat set to keep his cold room at 45 degrees at all times. The Angel Trumpets are thriving and he reports that there is even a winter bloom. Come spring, Gordon will replant his collection in the outdoors and wait for the end of summer when the giant Angel Trumpet blossoms of so many colors explode in all their heavenly glory.
I’m just about fully recovered and very much looking forward to the next snow storm. Although I don’t think we’ll get one with the force of the December 2010 Blizzard for a while, there is promise of some snow this weekend. If that happens, I’m heading out to the High Line, New York’s favorite elevated garden, with my camera, LOOKING UP, and taking winter pictures to share with you.