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

      Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts

      Tuesday, June 24, 2014


      The first day of summer finds me, Ben and Jen in my new all time favorite garden, Bedrock, in Lee NH. Turns out I'm not so jaded from 20 years of touring gardens with the Garden Writers Association that I can't be moved by this idiosyncratic wonderland. Mowed spaces and meadow intermingle.
      The creation of the wife and husband team Jill Nooney and Bob Unger,  Bedrock Gardens is on their home ground and open to the lucky public 5 weekends a year and by appointment to groups.
      Jill's garden art in combination with perfect plant selection makes the garden a joy to stroll.
      I restrain myself from peeling the paperbark maple to use in a collage, but just barely.
      In the White Garden allium wait to pop, look like 'White Giant' to me. This isn't a botanic garden but a pleasure garden, so no signs.
      The white fringed Papaver are at peak on this cool day.
       Nooney's sculpture 'Julia' looks exasperated; perhaps she's thinking of all the work to keep up this garden. Those cooking spoons will never do it.
      Munger, a retired physician, designs walkways, water features and other satisfying architectural elements.
       In the All-You-Need-is-Balls garden more giant allium are on the verge of popping.
      In the shed and barn, rusty metal elements await transformation.
      Just when you think 'I could never do that'...
      you spy the home patio with myriad containers featuring circles and foliage plants. Yes you can 'do that' even in a small space.

      Tuesday, August 7, 2012


      So there I was in Paris last week, with Ben and two friends from Wales, not at the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, or Notre Dame Cathedral. I had convinced the other three to stroll with me along the Promenade Plantee, a park which claims to be the first in the world on a rehabbed elevated train track. in a formerly seedy section of the city.
      Arising from the Bastille metro station and finding the entrance to the Promenade Plantee, we walked up some concrete steps and I found my personal greeting in graffiti. ESP for sure on the left, (my initials) and does that say 'love' behind it?
      Not seen in this serene image four loiterers who were not above greeting a woman of a certain age with some crude come-ons, as I had raced up the steps ahead of my companions .
      Roses everywhere including the arches covered with canes. Shoulda been here in June.
      Just like in New York, many are running or talking on cell phones, ignoring the huge plantings of lavender.

      The buildings close by look a little different.
      Not every plant is a rose bush, there are lots of large trees that look like they might have been part of the original plantings in 1986.

      Visitors are strolling, but at least at 11 am on a Saturday morning, far fewer tourists than on The High Line in New York. Kids are on skates and scooters, not allowed in NYC and I had the feeling from seeing this guy and others that there's less attention to rules and security in general. Buildings that abut the Promenade Plantee are within spitting distance as in NYC, and the whole area has been revitalized by this park, which was opened in 1989. Some of the buildings display a mixture of old and new exterior walls.

      We walked about half of the almost 3 mile Promenade because part was closed and John spied a likely looking cafe below on Ave. Daumesnil; I'm always ready to act agreeable where food or drink is concerned.
      Missing in Paris is the brilliant diversity of plantings along The High Line in NYC and the inclusion of pieces of the track, railroads ties, and iron walls, all helping the visitor to understand what has been accomplished. But Paris has the pride of being first; future designers could build upon its successes and failures.
      Under the walkway, the arcades were also redone and offer space to high-end shops below.

      Thursday, July 5, 2012


      O.K. this garden is not in NY which we usually write about but is less than 2 hours from Manhattan,  a beautiful ride up the Hudson to Washington CT, Litchfield County.  George Schoellkoph's  Hollister House is an eighteenth century historic home with newer additions. It's available for all to see on the Garden Conservancy Open Days.  Hollister House Garden is based on the English ideal of paths and rooms, places to meander among shrubs, perennials, self-sewn annuals, even some patches of vegetables. I visited on a brutally hot day last week. The bench above would have been perfect to sit with a tall iced tea and enjoy the scent of Nepeta with a book in hand. 
      But paths and arches led elsewhere, and the design forced me to explore the many rooms and admire the foliage color and texture. All seemed to be combined effortlessly, but every gardener knows how much effort that really takes. The eye and brain of an artist planned this garden, yet the feeling is casual, not  egotistical, not demanding credit.
      Containers are strewn everywhere, bordering paths and in the garden itself.
      By the pond is another seat that I must by-pass and move to where the bench color is the perfect foil for the flowers or is it the other way around?The property undulates offering glimpses of gardens above and below.
      Hollister House Garden is easy to visit on the Garden Conservancy Open Days program . (See information in our BYTE NOW column, top left of this blog). In addition Hollister House Garden is hosting a special Garden Study Weekend Aug. 24-26, 2012.
      Schoellkopf has signed an irrevocable agreement with the Conservancy for donation of house, out- buildings and garden, either during his lifetime or by will, along with not less than 2 million dollars in trust for maintenance in perpetuity. All gardeners can be grateful to him for his generosity and foresight.

      If you don't fall in love with this garden as I did, the yellow mulleins by the river at the bottom of the garden express my thoughts.

      Friday, February 11, 2011


      (Bainbridge Island, WA)
      Save the dates. The Garden Conservancy has released its 2011 calendar of when you can visit clusters of private gardens all over the U.S. This extraordinary treat comes to you for just $5 per garden visit, plus a modest cost for the directory with maps and locations. The funds are used to preserve and protect fabulous gardens that have been deeded to the Conservancy.
      stroll garden, Eastern PA
      The pictures here are from my own private garden visits around the country, NOT on Conservancy tours that I know of, but give you a range of what you might see: formal and informal, grand houses or not, historic sites. The only thing the gardens have in common is 'amazing'.Drehersville PA
      Plan ahead so you don't miss Open Days wherever you live. Thirteen counties in NY state, 7 in NJ and 6 in CN are part of the program. In all 17 states have tours, from California to Maine, starting in late March to December.
      (Santa Fe, NM)
      I went behind the castle walls in Dallas Texas. Yes, it's a private home. Not at all what I expected of Texas.Santa Fe NM
      Who knows what garden lies behind these adobe walls. Only a private garden tour will tell you.
      A personal favorite, my 'own' garden, NYC.

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010

      Garden Guide:New York City

      all photos © Joseph DeSciose

      If you live in New York City or visit New York City, you need this book. It will help you find engaging, interesting, beautiful, novel, important, or hidden gardens in the five boroughs. The authors Nancy Berner & Susan Lowry describe details of design and history with a dollop of NYC political wrangling, that will help you enjoy each space to the fullest. The writing is far more than the didactic prose of a typical tour guide. It's worth sitting down and reading this small book even if you have no immediate plans to visit a garden.

      I bought the first edition right after it was published in 2002, to help prepare me for living in New York. The first GardenGuide:New York City offered up the hidden gems and unknown garden riches of the city as well as describing the best features of the major botanic gardens. Since then, ten important new gardens have been added as well as smaller ones. There are also must-see features in existing gardens, like the new award-winning Visitor center in the Queens Botanic Garden, with its greenroof design.

      Photographer Joseph De Sciose has captured images of the gardens that opened my eyes to what's happening, and allowed me to view gardens I thought I knew in a whole different way. How could I have missed this water canal when I went to the QBG? I'll have to go back and look.

      Joe's Eye View
      I especially love the many images shot from on high, like this of The High Line, that fabulous new(ish) restoration project in Chelsea.

      I knew the tracks of the old railroad bed were still there but the pattern of the ties stands out in a way that doesn't happen when they're right at my feet. Now when I visit, I'll have a mental picture of both views.
      Who Knew
      that in Red Hook you can visit two waterfront gardens and a Community Farm and picnic in this industrial area while viewing New York Harbor.
      My only quibble with this valuable book is the cut- size. The original publishers decided to serve up a 4" X 6" book, that could be slipped into pocket or purse and carried along. The second edition maintains that size. I want the font bigger and the photos MUCH bigger so I can fully enjoy this book at home as the delightful record of the NYC gardens that it is, then plan my outing for the day without increasing the weight of my backpack.

      Garden Guide: New York City, revised ed. by Nancy Berner & Susan Lowry, photos by Joseph De Sciose, W.W. Norton & C0 2010.

      Monday, May 24, 2010


      All images were taken at the Peggy Rockefeller rose garden at the NYBG. Double click on any image to enlarge.

      If you you're lucky enough to live in, or visit New York City, you have a fabulous opportunity to learn about growing roses sustainably and meet world renowned rose experts who will tell and show you how. On Sat. June 12th the Great Rosarians of the World-East conference will be held at the NYBotanical garden; on Sun. June 13th the conference moves to the Queens Botanical Garden.
      (above, standard floribunda 'Brilliant Pink Iceberg' and hybrid tea 'Folklore')

      The Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the NYBG will be honored with the Rose Garden Hall of Fame award and its Curator, Peter Kukeilski will be part of a panel discussing sustainability.
      David Austin, hybridizer of delightful English roses like 'Pat Austin' below, will be presented with the Great Rosarian of the World award.Following the daylong lectures and panel discussions, enjoy a reception in the rose garden with a jazz trio Parlor Entertainment.

      The Sunday program in Queens includes a tour of the rose garden with Curator Karl McCoy. Karl will highlight his installation of more than 30 hybrid teas that he's testing for sustainability.
      Click here to learn all the details and to register at NYBG and/or at Queens. I'LL SEE YOU THERE.
      above, the climber 'Dortmund' at the NYBG.

      Wednesday, April 22, 2009


      Stop what you’ve been doing. Go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Stroll among the flowering cherry trees, the magnolias and flowering crab apples. Go home. Enjoy the rest of your day, week, month…Especially beautiful right now are the Weeping Japanese Cherry, Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’ around the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. A Cherry Watch Blossom Status Map on the BBG website shows you where each tree is and its stage of bloom from bud stage to post peak. The famous BBG Cherry Blossom Viewing Season (Hanami) runs from 4/4 to 5/10 this year, with over 50 Japanese cultural events planned for the Festival Weekend of May 2-3; everything from drumming, traditional kimono show, bonsai pruning, folk dance, manga and anime, origami, food. Go to BBG.org for program and directions.

      On the cherry esplanade 76 Prunus ‘Kanzan’ are in early bud. just starting to show a pinkish tinge and should be in full bloom for the main part of the festival. The torii, a vermilion wooden structure in the pond announces the presence of a Shinto shrine among the pine trees on the hill of the Japanese garden. Kids love to watch colorful koi swimming lazily and dozens of turtles sunning themselves on logs in the pond.BBG prolongs the display of bloom throughout the festival month by planting over 40 cultivars of flowering cherry. I went to BBG, taking three trains, to view the cherry blossoms, but found I was entranced by the Magnolia collection as well, including the magnificent yellow variety ‘Elizabeth’. Leaving the pond area I was startled to see a large camellia in full bloom. Just wait 'til I tell my sister in Oregon, who always brags about hers.Other Ellen went to Japan to view the cherry blossoms. I went to Brooklyn and D.C. So there!

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