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


      Friday, February 24, 2012

      THE FLOWER SHOW

      In Philadelphia if it's the first week of March, get ye to the Convention Center. The latest trends in garden design, like green roofs and vertical gardens.
      Ideas for planting an herb garden in a window box. (all photos from previous shows;I won't be in Philly for another week yet.)

      My gardening year has revolved around the Philadelphia Flower Show since I was 5. First as an awed child being taken to the old Civic Center; then as a young adult desperate for the first breath of spring, as a Mother with children in tow begging for a plant or seeds, still later as farmer with a booth in the Market Place hoping to sell my crop of dried flowers and herbs and my own books, many times as a speaker or book promoter.
      Admire prize-winning specimen plants like the lemon scented geranium, Pelargonium 'Prince Rupert'
      Lounge on a chair if you're tired.
      Hundreds of thousands of people go home with bunches of fresh pussy willow, the favorite crop of the Market Place.

      The Flower Show is an inspiration, a place to learn from fabulous speakers, listen to live music, disagree with the judges, taste food at the Reading Terminal Market.
      The end of the show means spring is officially come; it's a calendar marker for me to plant seeds. My sweet peas will go in the soil the day after I come home from the show, and I'll plant zinnia seeds in a tray on the window sill during the week after that.

      The show runs from Sunday March 4 through Sunday March 11. For times, speakers and a schedule of special events go to the Penna. Hort. Society site.
      Look for a 15% discount on Amtrak, the best way to get to the Convention Center.
      The time when it's least crowded: after three p.m. any weekday.

      the plant fanatic


      Some of you may have noticed that Other Ellen has been carrying extra weight around here lately. I've been travelling (and still am), and I've also been working on a new project: a short weekly segment for NPR station WJFF.

      WJFF operates out of Jeffersonville, NY, in the Catskills. It has the distinction of being the only hydroelectrically powered radio station in the country, and it's close to my house in Shohola, PA.

      My segment is called The Plant Fanatic, and it's part of the Farm & Country show, which airs every Saturday morning at 7:30. If you're in the neighborhood, you can tune in at 90.5 FM. It's also available on Time Warner Cable Digital Channel 541 or streaming online from the WJFF website. You can listen anytime by going to the and downloading an episode or signing up for a podcast. I'd love to be able to post my pieces here, but Blogger doesn't allow posting of mp3s. Why, Blogger, why?

      The Plant Fanatic is just a small portion of this 30 minutes show. I get two minutes per show and Oh! My! God! it is REALLY hard to keep it to two minutes. I edit my copy like a maniac, then talk exceedingly fast to fit everything in.

      I've been an NPR addict for years, and I'm thrilled to now be a contributor.

      (If anyone has a suggestion for how to post mp3s, WITHOUT creating another account somewhere on the cloud or turning the audio into a video, please let me know!)

      Thursday, February 16, 2012

      ART, SEEDS and DRINK

      Plant-o-Rama at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the midwinter extravaganza for serious gardeners. This year I had the pleasure of meeting folks from The Hudson Valley Seed library. Initially attracted by the art on their seed packs, I met Doug Muller who with Ken Greene is the force behind the program. I heard their story and was delighted to know that they'll have an Art Exhibit at the Hort. Society of NY, with the opening reception this Friday 2/17 from 6-8 PM. The exhibit itself runs until March 2, 2012 with a pop-up shop to buy the seeds.
      Hudson Valley Seed Library grows, collects, and sells over 200 varieties of heirloom flower, herb, and vegetable seeds in packs decorated by artists submitting to an annual competition.The seeds are open-pollinated, no hybrids or genetically modified seeds, saved by members of the Seed Library. To join the on-line community, see the catalog, and learn more about planting and saving seeds, visit seedlibrary.org.For more information on the gallery opening and buying seeds locally, visit the Hort. Society of NY.

      Saturday, February 11, 2012

      FEBRUARY LETTUCE, NYC

      On May 30, 2011, I had the pleasure of cutting some small leaves for a salad. I enjoyed the irony of 'Wine Country Mesclun' advertised as "straight from the Napa Valley" growing in a container on my roof in Manhattan. I once lived in California 30 miles from the Napa Valley and I know that Third Ave. it ain't.
      That same spring I planted 'Monet's Garden Mesclun' from seeds I'd also been given to try by Renee's Garden Seeds.I don't use any dressing on my salads so I taste the flavor of the pure ingredients. Both of these mescluns were DELICIOUS and ridiculously easy to grow by just broadcasting seeds in containers and covering with 1/4 in. of soil.
      By mid-summer, the lettuces had gone to seed, as they do in full sun and high heat.
      Partly because I'm the laziest gardener extant, partly because I'm thrilled with nature's ability to replant without needing a gardener, I left the old stalks where they were. Ugly, right?By Sept. 30 new seedlings had emerged from the soil and I had visions of a second crop before winter. But these guys didn't seem to grow, just muddled along though the holiday season and our extraordinarily warm winter. Today in a light dusting of snow they're slightly bigger, and I hope to have a harvest in March.I keep watching; better than a Broadway show. Of course not so beautiful as lettuces in the Louise Loeb Vegetable Garden at the NYBG, laid out in neat rows, but MINE, ALL MINE. (O.K., not all mine, I must share with others in the building, but you know what I mean.)
      This season I'll be trying Renee's Wasabi Arugula for it's spicy leaves and edible white blossoms. Visit: Reneesgarden.com for their selection of 20 lettuce varieties with planting instructions for each.

      Saturday, February 4, 2012

      A GEM OF A SHOW

      Back, back, back in the day, every florist sold dish gardens to give as gifts, a miniature garden in a bowl with three or more small house plants crammed together with a cheap ceramic figurine.
      The plant choices where never well thought out, each having different sun/shade and water requirements. Within a month one plant usually took over and the others died. I HATED dish gardens as a kid.
      But I was enchanted by the Terrarium Exhibit at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery through Feb. 26. Though they reminded me of dish gardens, they were both simpler and more sophisticated. Many are planted in lidded glass, but some in open containers, even fish tanks.Designed by Jennifer Williams, a staff designer for the BBG, each seemed like a private world to inhabit, and one made for city apartments.click on the sign above to enlarge for reading.
      We need all the help with survival we can get.On seeing this exhibit, I thought that any kid I know would beg to plant a terrarium for his own, and I yearned to have my granddaughters with me.

      Shall we dance? Just a little moss with branches and bracken.
      For more information visit the bbg blog.

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