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

      Showing posts with label cactus. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label cactus. Show all posts

      Monday, October 29, 2012


      Walking in the desert near Tucson AZ, each time I clicked my camera I imagined the collage that I would make when I got home. Here it is and here's how I did it. (click on any image to enlarge)
      If you scroll down to the post just below this one, you'll recognize many images that I printed out on plain paper on my very ordinary home printer. Then I cut away all semblance of sky because I wanted to create that myself in my collage.
      On a desert path I, whose balance is problematic even on a straightaway, was super-aware to watch out for wayward thorns. But in my collage I wanted to exaggerate the prickliness of the cacti so I cut some of my images with spiked edges as seen above.
      Starting with the sky of torn papers, I glued my way down to the first cut image of the hills bathed by evening light. I added a swath of tan, textured paper for the ground,
      then layered the various cacti, smaller near the top of the collage, bigger images layered over them to create an illusion of distance. At the bottom, I cut an image of a huge rock at the Sonoran-Desert Museum and glued on some actual desert soil.  No color manipulation in Photoshop but I took great liberties with relative sizes and placement of the plants. Notice a little yellow sun added to the sky just at the end. Purchase price $275. Contact Ellen Spector Platt.

      Monday, October 22, 2012


      Other Ellen and I went to Tucson AZ last week to a national Garden Writers Symposium, tours of public and private gardens, lectures about the newest plants and newest media, networking.

      I showed my new book, "Artful Collage from Found Objects", in the Trade Show and found  columnists, bloggers, radio and TV hosts who promised to spread my fame, if not fortune. As luck would have it my book has a desert-inspired cover, albeit with dried green foxtail weeds, not cacti.
      Three Tucson garden hosts fed us lemonade made with prickly pear cactus fruit, all made much too sweet for my taste.
      We were too late for bloom in the Sonoran Desert but saw remnants of other fruits like that of the fishhook barrel cactus.

       and the teddybear cholla. (below)
      And as the sun set in the West, Other Ellen and I cut our afternoon lectures and drove with two other writer/photographers to the fabulous Saguaro National Park where we learned that cactus spines not only protect a plant from animals but offer some shade and shield it from drying winds.  The  saguaro cactus, icon of  old Westerns, may be 75 years old before it sprouts an 'arm' and lives 175-200 years.
      When it dies, the woody ribs inside were used by the local Tohono O'odham tribe for building shelters and fences.

      Sunday, February 8, 2009

      Who has less light than me?

      My guess is very few of you have as little light in your apartments (or houses) as I do. I live in a studio apartment with one window that looks at a brick wall about 10 feet away. I'm on the 3rd floor of an 11 story building and not much light works its way down to my dim windowsill.

      Being a plant-a-holic, I couldn't let lack of light stop me from having an indoor garden. With the help of a very handy friend (thank you Stephen Barnett!) I turned my dauntingly dark windowsill into a plant display. It was surprisingly simple (was that because Stephen did all the drilling?); perhaps a few of you with little or no natural light might give it a try.

      1) Screw 2 x 4s into your window frame, giving yourself a sturdy base for the light fixtures.

      2) Attach fluorescent fixtures to the wooden frame. I used double tube fixtures on top, but only had enough depth for single tube fixtures along the sides.

      3) Tuck the cords up behind the reflectors, run them along the top of the window, and down the side into a power strip. (I needed an extension cord to make everything reach.) Insert bulbs (half cool white and half warm white), then plug the power strip into a timer. Set the timer for approximately 16 hours of ON time and plug the timer into the wall.

      4) Hang lucite or plexiglass poles across the window. By using clear poles, you create an open display space, where nothing distracts from the plants themselves.

      5) Agonize for hours (or days) over the perfect arrangement for your plants. These are primarily Rhipsalis (although there's one Ceropegia in there). Rhipsalis are epiphytic cacti and very drought tolerant (aka low maintenance). In fact I just got back from a two week vacation and everyone looks just fine!

      The truth is these plants probably won't flower in the low intensity of fluorescent lights, but they DO put out new growth. I rotate them every week so each plant has time close to the gro-lights. It just goes to show you that if you really want an indoor garden...nothing can stand in your way.

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