Assume the following:
- It's June 8th in Chicago, Zone 5.
- We'd like to have a lovely garden, full of pretty flowering things, by July 23rd, for our party, if possible.
- The space available is a 500 sq. ft. rooftop deck (four floors up), with a 8 ft. high south wall (the building), and three 4 ft. high walls on the other sides. Extremely sunny, though the bit near the south wall does get some shade. The deck is wood, and I think reasonably well-drained.
- I love roses, and jasmine, and other scented flowers. I love tall creeping things (like bougainvillea, which I don't think we can grow in this zone). I love rich colors.
- We'd like to add some shade to the roof, since while it's nicely breezy up there, you bake in the sun.
- We both adore Japanese maples.
- We need to leave enough space in the center for now to set up 4 long tables, so any gardening should happen near the four walls.
Long-term, we have ambitious plans to turn it into a serious garden, build an overhanging terrace, fill most of the space with tomatoes and peppers and flowers and an automated drip watering system and maybe even a little waterfall. (Kevin is dubious about the waterfall, but I have hope). But for right now, we'd just like it to look as pretty as possible for the party, while still leaving room for people to sit and eat and walk around.
We were tentatively thinking of covering a utility rack we currently have in our closet with pots and putting that against the tall s. wall, but the rack is black metal and kind of ugly. We're also thinking of long planter boxes, placed against the shorter walls, and a little Japanese maple in one corner.
I guess what I most need to know at this point is whether we can reasonably expect any flowers bought today to grow significantly in a month and a half. I remember the roses at the old house in Oakland growing like crazy from their little pruned stumps, but I can't remember over how much time, and I don't know how they're likely to behave at this time of year in Chicago in any case. I'd hate to put in a whole bunch of plants and then have them either die from the heat, or remain sad and stunted for months.
Supplemental question: We have west facing window boxes on the main floors, which we were tentatively thinking of filling with herbs and strawberries. Does that seem reasonable?
Supplemental question: We have north facing terraces on the main floors that get part sun; we'll probably put window boxes there; what colorful flowers would you recommend? I am a huge fan of lobelia, or anything else with super-saturated colors.
Supplemental question: Will all my green house plants die if I put them outside in 90 degree temperature? Will I have to water them every five minutes? Should I just plan to keep them inside? I have: pothos, madagascar dragon tree, christmas cacti, jasmine, bamboo, geranium, miniature rose, aloe (or something aloe-like), and the tree I can't remember the name of where the leaves tend to fall off like mad every time you make the slightest change to its environment -- oh wait, I just remembered, ficus. Also a couple more I have no idea how to describe or what they're called.
Supplemental question: Can you recommend a good gardening store in Chicago?
ANY help will be much appreciated. Also any random thoughts. Expertise not required.