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

      Showing posts with label frost. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label frost. Show all posts

      Friday, September 21, 2012


      Make a simple poached or grilled salmon, decorate the plate with fresh herbs like basil and variegated sage, thin slices of cuke or zucchini, whatever you have at the moment; cantaloupe and lemon for more color and people think you're a genius. BUT......
       Whether your basil is one of the red varieties, or green, whether you grew it or will run out and buy it at the greenmarket,
      it will soon all be gone in the NYC area. Basil wilts and blackens at the slightest hint of cold weather so wait no longer; it's time to preserve basil and all annual herbs for winter. I usually cut some of my perennial herbs at the same time to give myself a head start. Pick off any yellow or damaged leaves, and rinse thoroughly. Shake off excess water.
      In the picture above clockwise from top left, basil, stevia, thyme and mint. Allow to air-dry on a clean towel for an hour or two. Put each herb in a separate freezer bag, press out excess air, seal and label with a pen. It's hard to grab the right bag of green stuff after it's frozen. Freeze. It will be perfect until spring if you have enough to last that long, far tastier than any dried herb I've ever had. It will however be limp and not too pretty, so don't expect to decorate your salmon filets with frozen herbs unless well chopped.

      Monday, March 26, 2012

      on tenterhooks

      Oh sure.

      You look good now.

      Now, after a week of warm weather and gentle breezes, you're all puffed up, fluffed out, ready to burst wide open and strut your stuff.

      But how will you feel tomorrow? Tattered? Mushy? Spent? After the hard freeze and gusty winds they're predicting for tonight. Which, btw, is as it should be in late March in NYC.

      I fear for the crops of crabapples,


      and Juneberries.

      Without flowers there can be no fruit.

      Put on your parkas, all you flowering trees. I'll check on you in the morning.

      Monday, January 4, 2010


      Viewed from across a frozen pond on an otherwise gray day, the torii (gateway) in the Japanese Garden is startling to behold. (Brooklyn Botanic Garden) Grass seed heads around the Central Park Reservoir provide refuge for birds and interest for runners.Also in Central Park at the Conservatory Garden life goes on.
      Kids in my building make snowmen on the roof garden using seedheads from blackeyed Susans for eyes and buttons, and grass stems for arms. At the Park Zoo I spy heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) which I vow to plant in my own garden this spring. In January 2008, the Japanese apricot ( Prunus mume 'Peggy Clarke') blossoms bloomed near the BBG Conservatory; I didn't know whether to rejoice at this early sign of spring or cry about climate change.

      Wednesday, December 9, 2009

      not so frosty

      Hey you!

      That's right, you, Begonia! Have you looked at a calendar lately? It's freakin' December, ok?

      And you, Impatiens?

      No one likes a show-off. Just give it a rest.

      Used to be annuals in NYC had quit blooming by Thanksgiving, but over the last few years the frost date keeps getting later. Truth is, we've already had a frost (or two), but with all the micro climates in the City, I'm still coming across clumps of annuals that haven't gotten the seasonal memo. Amazing. But there's no such thing as global warming.

      Now, on a serious note...take a look at these Actaea.

      I planted them five years ago in a brownstone backyard on the Upper East Side. I thought they were Actaea simplex, which usually blooms in September. Every year they produce buds and every year the buds just sit there through October and November, eventually turning brown in the cold. This year I thought about digging them up; in a small garden, plants need to deliver or else.

      However, perhaps because of our lack of frostiness the flowers had enough time to bloom this year. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles. Or perhaps they sensed the imminent threat of compost-ation.

      So here's where I need your help: please tell me, what species of Actaea blooms in December?

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