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

      Showing posts with label city gardens. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label city gardens. Show all posts

      Tuesday, July 31, 2012

      moving day

      Who wouldn't want to have their own terrace? You'd sit there, perched above the Avenues, gazing down on the matchbox taxis with a cool glass of Pinot Grigio on a hot summer night. Sigh.

      But just so you know...it's not all white wine and spectacular views. Most buildings have clauses written into their shareholder agreements that stipulate the building can access your terrace at will, to fix a leak, to build a scaffold, to make a little extra scratch by skimming a percentage off the top of unnecessary construction. That last one isn't in the building rules, but you better believe it happens.

      And when it does, it's the terrace owner's obligation to prepare the terrace for occupation.

      Large trees must be moved, furniture stored, irrigation interrupted and re-laid. It can be hair-raising, especially if old containers are involved. Old containers that might have rotted underneath. No way to know till you lift it, at which point the weeping cherry may or may not push through the rotted wood, leaving you with a naked root ball and no place to put it.

      Fortunately, that was not the case this morning. Well-prepared terrace owners, a helpful building staff, and me (basically pointing and saying, move this here, move that there). It all went as smooth as silk. Sigh.

      Thursday, July 12, 2012


      In the Queens Botanical Garden, under the massive blue spruce, a wedding party gathers while members of the community walk by unperturbed. The bride must have selected the shade of yellow for the gowns knowing they would look spectacular with the spruce.
      While at Brooklyn's East River Park a girl poses in her quinceanera dress for a posse of photographers.
      In the Manhattan's Conservatory Garden, I capture a bride and groom awaiting  instructions from their photographer. Behind the quince and barberry hedges, there's no knowing the groom is wearing flip-flops. 
      Near the Harlem Meer in Central Park, these women  pose in yoga suits as I huddle in my down park 4/8 to snap the shot.
      And nearby a group attracts attention as they await the instructions of their photographer to start strolling.
       Animation makes the shot.

      A girl dressed in her prom gown selects the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden of the NYBG for her mother's official pictures.  Where's her date?
      Just across the path from the rose garden another bride and groom get ready for their photo op.
      This guy at The High Line isn't posing, he's just reading in the most comfortable spot he knows.


      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      THE VIEW

      Double click on any image to see details.
      The view from the second section of The High Line is in many places as interesting as the park itself. Apartment buildings are as close as 6' from the railing of the elevated walk. It must be highly annoying to some residents; others have decided to make their own political and artistic statements. These pots seem to be resting in rope slings hung on the outside of the balcony. Safe?If you meant to get to church Sunday morning but didn't quite make it, you're only about 10' away from the Church of the Guardian Angel on 10th Ave and W. 23rd. St.And my favorite, a design of stripped branches to enclose a balcony, below. These are not telephoto images. Notice the railing of The High Line, bottom right. I'm leaning against the railing, about 6' from the balcony. Someone designed a fabulous privacy solution. Chairs and a table are just on the other side of the branches.

      Friday, August 26, 2011


      The second section of the High Line opened in mid-June extending the length ten more blocks, all the way to 30th St. I was there 7:30 am today eager to explore. There are new places to run,to meditate,
      to view,and to contemplate.The cone flowers are departing and the goldenrods waiting to make their entrances.A brilliant garden designer placed coreopsis and blackeyed Susans in a site where, in the morning, the sun shines between buildings directly on them, while the surroundings are in shade.The Joe Pye and orange butterfly weed must be attracting butterflies, but I missed them.
      My favorite feature in the new section is designed by Susan Sze a startling, delicate but arresting structure on either side of the path that is partly wildlife feeder, partly bird house village, and partly an abstraction of the cityscape. My photos can't do it justice, go see for yourself.
      The last section of the High Line, the spur, running west from 30th St and curving into the Rail Yards, is still to be constructed, but you can see the path if you peek through the chain link fence.I've saved the topic of the dreaded High Line LAWN for a whole separate diatribe.

      Friday, August 19, 2011


      What does this New York City garden writer do on vacation? Visit gardens of course. Helen Dillon's garden in a residential section of Dublin, Ireland is open to the public for 5Euros a visit. Dillon is a garden writer, lecturer, TV person, and thoroughly opinionated gardener, the best kind. This is not an estate garden but a home with nice sized plots in back and front yards, all within sight of the neighbors homes. Rare and common plants are crowded in together,in soil amended with homemade compost. Ireland, an island nation, has a maritime climate with mild winters and summers, Dublin averaging 47 degrees F. in winter and 67F in summer. Above the tree poppy, (Romneya coulteri) native to southern CA and Mexico, and winner of the Royal Hort Society Award of Garden Merit. This woody sub-shrub is perennial in Dillon's garden but would not be for me here in NYC. To start from seed it requires wild fire, and The Tree of Life Nursery in Calif. lights pine needles atop planted seeds to get them to germinate.

      Examine the bright blue bachelor buttons below and double click on the image to look at the plants across the reflecting pond. Notice anything??? The bachelor buttons and many other annuals, perennials, and bulbs surrounding the pool are actually planted in unobtrusive pots, then moved around to fill in holes where certain plants have gone by. This garden is always lush. I've used the same technique in all of my gardens but never to this extent. Amazing. Below find my dear friend Dr. Diana W. from Wales amidst the pots and the flora.

      Wednesday, July 13, 2011


      Some years my herb garden looks splendid, some years pretty pathetic, but regardless of the esthetics, it supplies me with enough fresh herbs for cooking dinner (almost) every night and for showing off at parties. Above, guacamole with avocado pit that's supposed to keep the flesh from turning brown, a starling contrast in color and texture to the creamy green spread. Sage, dill flowers and self-sown calendula from my all-container garden decorate the plate, transforming this store-bought staple. (Double or triple click on any image to enlarge.) Fresh corn and mango salsa receives a decoration of cilantro flowers which I needed to pick to keep the plant producing leaves. If you allow the plant to form and drop seeds, it's work is done and it dies. I'm multitasking here, pruning the plant and making the salsa look more enticing.
      Below, more of my herb garden.
      Top and bottom photos © Alan & Linda Detrick all rights reserved, Ellen Spector Platt design.

      Thursday, December 9, 2010


      In spring my view looks like this. Fall 2010 it looked like this, with a firethorn in berry, and small trees and vines sporting their autumn colors.It's my borrowed scenery, the view from my office, living room and bedroom windows. I love to see how the across-the-street gardeners are progressing. I know not their names, but their smoking and coffee drinking habits as they emerge onto their terraces in early morning.
      An avid reader of Garden Bytes, BBP, alerted me. Although I was well aware when the scaffolding went up, when the cranes and ladders arrived on the 18th floor terraces across the street, I didn't connect all that to losing my borrowed scenery. But as BBP pointed out, all the plants were gone.I go away for one day and all the plants and containers on the 16th floor are missing; the crew is now working to clear the terrace on #17.Down, down, down in a cart on a flimsy pulley ......... to the dumpster below. So you fans of dumpster diving, who knows what garden treasures you'll find if you can just wiggle under the tarp that covers the dumpster at night. (double click on image above to see some of the treasures you're missing)SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE GARDEN PROBLEMS?
      Today four men in hoodies are ripping out decking and repairing leaks on the terrace, then will re-surface. Come spring will I have new borrowed scenery to enjoy? Is the co-op owner responsible for totally redoing the garden on the terrace?

      Thursday, July 15, 2010


      This post is especially for our readers with iPhones and iPads. Not because we want to play favorites, but because we've come across a new app that deserves your attention: GardenSpaceNYC: Manhattan.

      GardenSpace NYC: Manhattan is an interactive field guide to the gardens of Manhattan created by Kate Belski and Will Pollard (owners of Green Sky Designs, a garden design/installation business in NYC). For 7 months Kate and Will biked all over Manhattan, combing the streets and investigating aerial photos, locating green spaces. The hardest part of the process was defining their criteria for what to include in the app: what makes one space a worthy garden and another an unremarkable patch of green? Kate and Will looked for human involvement. Was the garden regularly tended and visited by people? Was there a true connection in the garden between people and nature or was it just a bunch of pretty flowers?

      GardenSpace NYC offers photographs, a brief history, and a description of each featured garden as well as information about access and facilities at each site. You can browse gardens by neighborhood or let the maps function show you which gardens are closest to your current location. Early for your dentist appointment? Use GardenSpace to find a nearby green spot and chill out before that root canal.

      Whether you're a tourist or a New Yorker with time to spare (is this an oxymoron?), GardenSpace will introduce you to neighborhood community gardens, out of the way green spaces, and exceptional public gardens throughout Manhattan. A few of the highlights include the Jefferson Market Garden, the Heather Garden in Fort Tryon Park, and the Morris Jumel Mansion. Never heard of them? Get the details (and inspiration) from GardenSpace.

      At $1.99 it's a hell of a deal and a great way to discover some of the lesser known garden gems in The Big Apple.

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