Gardens in the sky

The view from a rooftop garden high above New York's Central Park.
Norman McGrath

(CBS News) Well-designed gardens need not be confined to ground level. Erin Moriarty of "48 Hours" lifts our sights:

In cities like New York, where skyscrapers dominate the landscape, people have to go to great lengths -- or great HEIGHTS -- to create gardens.

Architect Carlos Aparicio designed what is believed to be the loftiest outdoor space in Manhattan -- on the 76th floor of the Time Warner Center.

"Have you ever designed a garden like this, this high?" asked Moriarty.

"No," he replied. "Initially when I saw it, I realized that it was a balcony to the city of New York, one of the most extraordinary spaces, open space, that I've seen in the city. . . . You can see the sun rise, and then you can see the sun setting on the other direction."

But to turn it into a garden, Aparicio needed help.

"When it came down to planting, I had no idea," he said. "And that's when Gresham came into place."

Gresham Lang may not be the landscape architect TO the stars, but he works right under them, creating unique gardens high in the sky.

"The greenery is what softens the architecture; without it, it's just a roof," he told Moriarty.

Lang says at more than 600 feet above the ground, he ran into obstacles he had never encountered, such as finding plants hardy enough to survive the harsh climate.

The view from a rooftop garden high above New York City, on the 76th floor of the Time Warner Center. Norman McGrath

He compared it to planting on the side of a mountain.

"This is like the unprotected side of the mountain, so that's why a lot of things don't grow, because they get desiccated. The wind just hits them and they dry out," he said.

And Lang discovered spring arrives much later way up here than it does on the streets below.

"When we planted bulbs, there was one inch of ice," Lang said. "We had to actually cut through with our trowels in one inch of ice to plant the bulbs. And down below, the bulbs were in bloom."