Liberty Lofts | Rooftop Terraces Inspire Green Thumbs

ANN ARBOR, MI –  Even a rooftop with full summer sun can bloom, as a Liberty Lofts penthouse owner recently learned in a consultation with an English Gardens specialist.

Liberty Lofts, at 315 Second Street, features generous balconies and terraces.  Of the four available lofts remaining in the development, one has a 950-square-foot terrace, as large as some urban back yards. Container plantings will lend a touch of color, if the materials and methods take into account the abundant sunlight that come with the terrace’s southwest exposure.

The experience of one current loft owner provides guidelines.  Connie Hagopian’s fifth-floor loft has a spiral staircase leading to a rooftop sunroom and a 160-square-foot terrace.  She bought it in November, 2006, leaving behind the suburban Ann Arbor home with a large yard where she’d lived for 40 years.

Maintenance-free loft condo living lets the 71-year-old widow spend winters in Florida and visit her children in Colorado, while the terrace lets her indulge her yen to putter with plants.  Seeking sun-tolerant supplements to her geraniums and palm tree, Hagopian recently discussed her gardening options with Erica Shearer, lead associate in the annuals department at English Gardens, with six locations, including one in Ann Arbor.  Shearer suggested materials and techniques to add and preserve color and greenery.

“You can really do a lot on decks and rooftops,” Shearer said.  “It does take time.  But if you want to enjoy a garden on your deck you certainly can.”  Shearer previously worked as a landscaper in New York City, creating green spaces in tiny courtyards and on rooftop terraces.

Shearer recommended portuloca (purslane), a drought- and heat-resistant tropical plant.  It has meaty leaves and abundant flowers in a variety of colors.  Other likely annuals or annualized perennials are acalypha (firetail), with its red, weeping, fuzzy tails; sunny yellow thymophylla (Dalberg daisy); pimpinella anisium (false licorice), well-suited for hanging baskets; the shrub-like scaevola aemula (fan flower), with its small purple flowers; jasmine, and gardenia.

Preparation and processes can protect plants and forestall the need for twice-a-day watering, Shearer said.  Pots should contain plenty of soil mixed with sphagnum moss to hold moisture, and be topped with moss to prevent evaporation.   A saucer full of water under plants adds humidity as it evaporates.   Grouping pots together minimizes air circulation and creates an aesthetic opportunity: “Think of an eclectic arrangement, varying heights and textures,” Shearer said.

For the time being, Shearer said Hagopian’s geraniums will continue to thrive if she deadheads them, removing spent flowers with their stems, and if she takes care not to wet the petals or buds when watering.

Founded in 1993, Morningside Group is a real estate development firm that specializes in creating premier mixed-use and multi-family developments in urban locations throughout the Midwest.  Long recognized as a leader in the design and construction of highly acclaimed buildings, Morningside Group has built an enviable track record of successful public-private partnerships.

Morningside’s incomparable work ensures that each new development will join a growing portfolio of prized buildings which includes, in Michigan, SkyLofts Royal Oak, and Liberty Lofts in Ann Arbor and, in Illinois, Arbor Court and Prairie Town Center in Oak Lawn, Crescent Court and Museum Square in Elmhurst, Morningside Square in Downers Grove, The Glen Astor in Glen Ellyn and buildings in Evanston and Skokie.

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