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How does your garden grow?
Humboldt Spotted Lily (Photo by Jon Siess)
Nearly as rare as a Humboldt Spotted Lily is the city dweller who doesn’t yearn for outside space.
More often than not, it is garden space that buyers crave, a chance to dig into friable earth, raise a crop of juicy tomatoes and impress neighbors with a postage stamp lush with fragrant iris, iridescent roses or plumes of ornamental grass.
Ah, but the price such buyers pay!  Not only do such places command a premium – there is only so much vacant land in Manhattan – but the tradeoff for a garden may be unequal to the accompanying interior, which often features an awkward layout and questionable condition.
It is the interiors that are the particular concern of this post.  (For a different perspective on gardens, you’ll want to see the long piece that led the New York Times real estate section recently and a subsequent article on outdoor space, each maddeningly published after I had the idea for and drafted this screed.)
The gardens I will focus on here are those that struggle in the shade behind most brownstones.  (Co-ops and condos on just one or two lowest floors present similar problems.)
Unsurprisingly, ... more

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