Just beyond the glass doors of Reed Cordish’s sixth-floor Canton Cove penthouse is a series of planters that flow so gracefully and stylishly from one to the next that they might be performing a Hawaiian hula down the length of the 75-foot terrace and across the 40-foot southerly expanse.

The combination of evergreens, tropicals and annuals offers a variety of textures and colors. Ruffled coleus ‘pineapple’ and feathery purple passion plants mingle with lobed-leafed Buddha belly, blue-green cypress and red hibiscus. In winter, the tropicals and annuals are removed, leaving the evergreen ornamental shrubs to stand elegantly against the endless panorama of water and sky.

Backdrop: In every direction, the view is of the city’s rich maritime and industrial life, as well as its burgeoning real estate developments. “What I enjoy most about the garden is the juxtaposition of the industrial nature of the buildings and the exquisite natural beauty of the selections and plantings,” says owner Cordish, vice president of the Cordish Co., a real estate development firm.

Concept: “I’m not into pedestrian. I like my plantings to stand out so that people who walk by stop and say, ‘Wow!’” says 23-year veteran Devra Kitterman, owner of the horticultural firm He’ui, who designed the plantings. (He’ui is Hawaiian for “beautiful hands.”) On the Cordish balcony, the unusual tropicals include orchids, Buddha belly, black-stemmed alocasia and tetrastigma. The annuals include strobilanthes, solar series coleus and citronella geraniums- all placed under statuesque double-headed, poodled hibiscus and topiaried Boulevard cypress.
“Presentation is everything. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” says Kitterman. “I don’t like vinyl Quaaludes, I don’t like artistic Quaaludes and I especially don’t like horticultural Quaaludes- plants that are over-used such as cherry laurels and ornamental grasses, which do not work everywhere.” Kitterman’s mantras have served her well in her work with the regional film and television industry on projects such as John Waters’ film “A Dirty Shame” and the HBO series “The Wire.”

Biggest Challenge: “These plants are blasted by the heat and blasted by the wind,” says Kitterman. “We plant things that can take the exposure but not be boring and put everyone to sleep.” Kitterman and her crew visit the terrace three times each week to water, pinch, deadhead, snip and prune. “What is dominant when we first plant is not necessarily dominant by the end of the season,” says Kitterman. Lantana, for example, blooms profusely at summer’s end while surfinia petunias, though the most long-lasting and hardiest of all petunias, tend to fade as daylight shortens in autumn.
No matter the season, this Canton terrace feels like a quiet, island getaway above an exotic port.

Plantings Devra Kitterman, He’ui, 410-889-3900

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