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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Thursday, March 31, 2011

      NOW IN NYC

      Prune the roses. Done.
      Cut the Montauk daisies (above) back to the fresh green leaves. Done.
      Enjoy the pansies that have wintered over. Done.
      Watch the buds forming on the dwarf quince planted last spring. Done
      Admire the daffodils planted on the roof last fall. Done.
      Greet the biennial hollyhocks, planted indoors from seed last year, now reappearing in healthy green clumps. Done. I expect BIG FLOWERS this year.

      Must Do in the Next Two Days:

      Order pansies and plant them in treewells.(Here I'm vying with Other Ellen for most glamorous gardening pose.)
      Plant out chive seedlings, growing on my windowsill since early Feb.
      Nip tips of zinnia seedlings on my windowsill, planted for a demo in early Feb. and now much too big to wait for May frost date.
      Pull out last year's annuals.
      Watch for self-sown California poppies from last year's crop.Clean around the day lilies.
      Thin bachelor buttons which have self-seeded from two years ago.Cut back the cinqfoil, lavenders, hydrangea and butterfly bush.Clean out tool shed.
      Distribute homemade compost.
      Work on a new collage.Write two pages of my new book.

      Wednesday, March 23, 2011

      west coast window boxes

      No, this isn't NYC.

      I'm sorry you've been stuck with two out-of-town posts in a row, dear readers, but now is when professional gardeners travel...before the time comes for planting pansies and heavy lifting.

      I high-tailed it to the west coast last Sunday, where spring has most definitely already sprung. This morning, Cayce and I tweaked the window boxes in front of a truly wonderful restaurant in SanFran: Sons & Daughters. They have 25 feet of container display in front of the restaurant and Cayce keeps it beautiful all year long. She rotates plants in and out as needed, and I'm amazed it looks this good. In NYC I'm afraid passers-by would pluck from the boxes; street plantings everywhere have to be tough.

      That's not all Cayce does for Sons & Daughters. Twice a week she harvests edible flowers, microgreens, herbs, and delicacies like baby radishes and white alpine strawberries, and brings them into the restaurant.

      When we ate there on Monday night (a most memorable meal), she pointed out her visible (borage flowers) and invisible (agastache infused oil) contributions. The lamb, by the way, was superb and the tasting menu with wine pairing is a parade of deliciousness that won't break the bank.

      As we harvested calendula, pansies, arugula flowers, and cornflowers in the rain this morning, I realized how ready I am to get back to the gratifying work of planting. New York City, get ready. It's time.

      Saturday, March 19, 2011

      NYC IT AIN'T

      With daughter Jen, on our way to see the alligators,the birds,the rivers of saw-grass in the Shark River Slough,the Bromelia, all in Everglades National Park. But a person's got to eat, and we understood from the Park website that there is no food offered in the park. Not true but what's a park without a picnic?We ate at the Market Restaurant at the wholesale food market, but the real find in Homestead FL, between our historic hotel and the Park entrance is the Robert is Here fruit stand.
      So we buy an avocado, a ripe mango, little tomatoes, a grapefruit, a huge bag of shelled pecans, and more. The lovely woman at the checkout, asked when we were planning to eat the fruit and then exchanged our avocado for a perfectly ripe one. She also asked if she could cut the mango for us; I learned from the master how best to do that.
      How can one not come back each day to a market that's growing it's own sunflowers and cabbages adjoining the stand? And where they have the "southernmost purple martin houses in the USA".
      Robert's story is unforgettable. When he was six his father helped him set out a table by the road to sell extra cukes from the garden. Not one sold. Father guessed that perhaps Robert was too easy to miss from a speeding car, so he painted signs with large red letters annoucing "Robert is Here". He posted them before and aft. Robert sold out. Robert maintained the stand after school and weekends using an honor pay system during the times he was required to be in school. By age 9 he could afford to hire someone to run the stand during school hours and by age 14 bought his first land and planted an avocado grove. For the complete story visit Robertishere.com, and they ship everywhere.

      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      It's just wrong!

      I know, I know, we all love St. Paddy's Day. We get to wear green (best color EVER) and it signals the onset of spring (just ONE MORE WEEK)!

      But things have gone too far. Until now I've suffered in silence through green beer and "Kiss me, I'm Irish!" I've muscled my way through rowdy crowds and parade barriers on Fifth Avenue, trying to get to work. It was especially tough the year I worked in Chicago...the whole dying of the river thing had me scratching my head. Still, I didn't complain.

      But this?

      Just say no, people! The humiliation of the Chrysanthemum must stop! What did it ever do to you?

      Friday, March 11, 2011


      left, Burpee Greenhouse planted with zinnia seeds.

      SORRY. KITS ALL GONE. Nina got the last one; she's new to NYC, so we're glad we could welcome her. Read below to see what you missed.
      Courtesy of Burpee Gardening, we're offering FREE twelve Burpee Greenhouses so you can start your seeds indoors. RIGHT NOW is the right time for starting most seeds indoors in New York. This greenhouse fits on a windowsill and gets your seeds off to a nice start. It has 36 individual cells, a tray to catch the water run-off, a plastic dome, compressed soilless mix capsules, plus instructions on how to plant. You provide the seeds and water.
      We have twelve greenhouses to give away.
      Contact esp@ellenspectorplatt.com/ to insure you are one of the winners. Readers in the 5 boroughs will pick up their Burpee Greenhouse from my doorman. We'll ship free to readers in other parts of the U.S.above, when seedlings reach the roof, remove it.
      Although I had grown marigolds, zinnias and cosmos since childhood using Burpee seeds, it wasn't until I started my flower and herb farm in the mid-80's that I realized that if I wanted a plant that was even slightly unusual in height, color, or variety, I must start with seed. I couldn't begin to afford all the plants I needed for a farm even if I would have found the plants, so by necessity I learned that even perennials are easy to start.

      Go have yourself some fun.

      Wednesday, March 2, 2011


      On Feb. 18th, 2011 in NYC, it's too early for the 'onion snow', but snow it does, AGAIN. On my rooftop, remnants of last fall's decorations are partially buried.

      Indoors, my zinnia seedlings started on 1/23 in their Burpee Greenhouse have sprouted 3 sets of leaves, just the stage to nip off the newest set to encourage branching.
      Chive seedlings also look and smell encouraging.

      By Feb. 23 the snow has mostly melted. In Central Park I spy hellebore buds.

      And on my roof garden, these thrilling signs:

      Self-sown seedlings of bachelor button 'Blue Boy' magically appear in my containers. (O.K., had some planted there last year). They'll be the first annual to bloom in my garden, distributed to many containers by the wind and by my deadheading and leaving the spent flowers in the pot.

      Some euphorbia whose name is long gone from my memory are in full bud.

      A new hellebore I was sent to try last fall is actually in full bloom, although a little ragged. It's 'Hellebore Gold Collection Cinnamon Snow' and a very welcome sight despite that ungainly name.

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