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

      Showing posts with label berry and bough. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label berry and bough. Show all posts

      Monday, December 20, 2010


      My first boyfriend, age 10, went with me to empty lots to help me cut 'free' flowers to bring home. I loved him.
      Last week when the SunflowerGuy.com offered me a free bouquet of my choice in exchange for a review, I jumped. I've grown about 20 varieties of sunflowers from seed; used them for seed snacks, for drying, for cut arrangements and in the garden. Can you tell I love them?

      SunflowerGuy says that through their parent company Dos Gringos, they are the largest grower of ornamental sunflowers in the world; I'm the smallest, so it's a match.
      The overnight flower delivery from SunflowerGuy came on the date requested, in an ingenious shipping box that included a simple, tasteful container and the stems wrapped in rubber bands to keep the bouquet intact. See above.I followed all of the instructions for removing and discarding the wet flower foam that kept flowers healthy during shipping, cutting the bottom of the stems, adding the cut flower food. I smiled even without the instructions at the cleverness of the packaging and the cheery sunflowers within. Then I spied the red-painted seeded eucalyptus. The online catalog had said nothing about painted flowers. ugh! It was probably because the red pepperberry was still green and some designer thought the red element was necessary. Not for me.
      One Makes Four
      While many people, if not most, love an arrangement that is complete, fun for me is doing my own. In fact most florist designed arrangements have enough flowers & foliage for 4-6 arrangements, so I always divide them up and scatter them around the apartment, even the bathroom.
      Having fresh flowers wherever I turn is a wondrous thing. When you scroll to the bottom of the post you'll see how I handled the dreaded painted eucalyptus.The five sunflowers went in a collection of glass vases made from recycled soda bottles, one or two stems to a vase. How easy is that? The good looking container that came with the arrangement will not languish but will become part of my varied collection of useful vases.The St. John's wart and a tiny bit of pepper berry went in two small bud vases on a bathroom shelf.These three stems lean gracefully in a contemporary vase in the living room. They look like they'll last well beyond the guaranteed 8 days.In the tree wells in front on my building (this one where the dead tree was chopped down) I lay fresh greens, with additional prunings from the roof garden, including some stems of aronia berries, dried sorghum seed heads and the red painted eucalyptus that even I have to admit doesn't look half bad there. I hope The Sunflowerguy approves.
      As I write this post I'm on my seventh day and all flowers are still in excellent condition. If you need an overnight flower delivery, especially for sunflowers I think you'll be well satisfied.

      Sunday, November 22, 2009

      Happy Thanksgiving

      This afternoon I finished putting the last of my clients' gardens to bed for the season. It finally feels like November in NYC; I hurried to beat the rain that never came.

      Everyone is neatly cut back, well mulched, decked out with evergreen boughs and in some instances berries and gourds.

      Perhaps it was the knowledge that my season is done that made me wax sentimental (and sigh with relief), but as I walked home through the park I saw foliage colors and juxtapositions of needles and leaves that put my work to shame.

      It's all around us. At least till the first winter wind blows it away.

      Happy Thanksgiving, city gardeners.

      Sunday, November 23, 2008

      Goodnight, Garden(s)

      Putting the garden to bed for the winter might seem sad to some, but for me it's an appropriate end to a busy, productive, exhausting season. Along about Halloween I start looking forward to the week of Thanksgiving, which is when I say so long, farewell to all my gardens.

      Cutting Back
      I actually started doing this about a month ago. As soon as the annuals and perennials begin to look bedraggled, I cut them back, not only to make the garden look neater, but also to make my final clean up faster and easier. Yes, the gardens look a little bare with fewer flowers and less foliage, but I think that's appropriate for late fall. Subdued, serene, focus on the evergreens, the ornamental bark, the dried seed heads.

      Move it Around
      At the end of the season it's easy to see what's outgrown its place and needs to be moved, maybe even divided. Yes, it would be nicer to wait till the warmer days of spring, but will you really remember how big that Rudbeckia got, or will you convince yourself it couldn't possibly have been so huge and let it muscle out the elderflower yet another year? I thought so. Do it now.

      Drain the System
      Skip this part if you don't have an irrigation system. (But stay tuned for my "Why Everyone Should Have an Irrigation System" post, due out next Spring.) Truth is, your system should be drained before the first frost (or at least the first hard freeze), so keep an eye on the forecast. PVC piping can crack if water inside freezes and thaws, and this may lead to messy, wet insurance claims from that formerly pleasant downstairs neighbor.

      Mulch it Good (like Shanti, my lovely assistant)
      This is tricky, because here in NYC the leaves haven't always finished falling by Thanksgiving. And really, what's the point of mulching if a metric ton of small, yellow, locust leaves are going to fall the next day, messing up your mulch job? You definitely need to mulch, but you might have to wait until after Thanksgiving. The exception: I don't mulch rooftop containers. Why not? because I...

      Bough & Berry
      There's something about bare containers that is more depressing than bare, in-ground gardens. Maybe because the containers are positioned explicitly to be viewed, directly in front of the windows. Maybe because the railings and walls they once camouflaged are now exposed metal, brick, wood, or stone. So I decorate containers with evergreen boughs and decorative branches. These last for months and brighten up a bleak view. Notice the clever use of blue cedar boughs as mulch!

      Say Goodnight, Gracie
      Once your garden is neatly trimmed, mulched, and berried, you may survey your work with well-deserved satisfaction, knowing all will be well till spring. Unless a branch falls and crushes the hydrangea, or the Japanese maple tips over and breaks a limb, or the frost heaves up all the Heucheras. Or a thick blanket of protective snow gently covers the entire garden until the beginning of March...yeah, I pick that one!

      Saturday, November 1, 2008

      Container Art

      Without my realizing it, I’ve become a stalker. I go to visit the object of my affection about once a-week. I try to grab a peek as I’m going by on the bus and I take photos in all seasons. Of all the planters visible on the streets of NYC these are by far my favorites. They are redone completely three or four times a year; in the interim when they get sad looking, plant material is removed or added. There are two window boxes and some built-in concrete planters about 12” H x 12” W that flank the flight of stairs to the entrance of the building. I’m enthralled with the color and texture, individual plants that are slightly unusual, and combinations that surprise. I go to see what ideas I can steal for my own garden because these are truly inspirational.

      In a city where we may not have a garden of our own, why not enjoy the borrowed scenery of others’ gardens? As I stop each season to take pictures, passersby approach me to share their own delight.

      I finally walk up and open the imposing front door to the Orthodox Greek Archdiocese office on 79th St. between 5th and Madison to discover the name of the artist who designs and installs the plants. He is Evan Denis, a third generation florist, as he calls himself, who no longer has a shop but works for clients doing floral design, events, traditional florist stuff as well as designing terraces and containers.
      Visit Evan Denis at: www.evandenisflorist.com. or after you visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walk three and-a-half blocks south and see what another artist does with his palette.

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