A tiny garden blooms with big ideas

Imagine that you had to garden in a city where pollution, trash, rubble, and a lack of light combined to challenge you at every turn. Then imagine that your garden had no room to expand – not even a few more feet for a border or to add some flowering shrubs and vines. For nearly 22 years, Jon Rowen has accepted these givens in his 25-by-30-foot backyard in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. But in spite of all this – or perhaps because the space limitations so perfectly fit his meticulous personality – the results are exquisite.

Though Rowen has gardened in the city for nearly half his life, his passion for gardening began when he was a child in suburban New Jersey. His parents’ sunny yard, filled with roses and peonies, is his garden of memory. Even in those days, however, he gravitated toward sheltered places, planting hostas, columbines, and ferns in the small spaces beneath the climbing roses. Read more