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

      Showing posts with label rose hips. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label rose hips. Show all posts

      Friday, January 10, 2014


       Mid-November, flowers on my 18th floor roof garden are fading away, and I want to capture the scene in a New York City garden collage.
      When Other Ellen sees the finished piece she asks about the view of the twin towers in lavender on the left. Straight out of my unconscious mind, totally unplanned, but now I can see nothing else.
      To start, I pick a few last blooms before Thanksgiving and bury them in the same silica sand I've used as a desiccant for 25 years. Clusters of hydrangea 'Endless Summer', marigolds I raised from seed on my windowsill, blooms and buds of the rose 'Knock Out' will be covered by an inch of the silica for about a week.

       On a piece of black foam core, cut to fit an old frame painted black, I lay out some pressed flowers and leaves, photos of plants in the garden, and papers with a lavender design.
      I want the elements to burst out of the frame and not be constrained by it. I move stuff around and try another version, with the image of 'New Dawn' roses at the top of the frame and some cut hydrangea pics at the bottom left.
      I add photos crumpled with glue for a 3D effect, then start looking for berries in the garden.
      Clusters of dark blue Virginia creeper berries, rose hips, and red Choke cherries will dry in the arid air of my apartment.
      Below, a detail showing dried rose hips, choke cherries and marigold  petals.


      Wednesday, April 17, 2013

      Backyard Foraging!

      This week Other Ellen asked me to tell you about my new book,
      Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat.

      So what makes this book different from all the other foraging books out there?  Well, I approach foraging from a slightly different point of view, perhaps because I'm a gardener by profession, but also perhaps because I'm a little sneaky.  See, I know some people aren't comfortable roaming the fields and mountains searching for wild plants to bring home to feed their families.  So I encourage you to start in your own backyard, where you (hopefully!) already know what's growing.

      Lots of our traditional ornamental plants are also delicious, but somewhere along the way, we've forgotten.  Have you eaten roasted hosta shoots, pickled daylily buds, or baked dahlia tuber bread?  Ever tasted wild ginger snaps or rose hip soup?
      Lest you fear you'll have to sacrifice aesthetics for deliciousness...don't worry.  As a gardener, I understand it's important to have your hosta and eat it, too.  To that end, I've included tips on how and when to harvest both for optimum taste and to maintain the beauty of your garden.

      This is a book I've wanted to write for years, and I had so much fun putting it together, it really didn't feel like work.  Rob Cardillo's photographs are gorgeous and illuminating and the design by Storey Publishing is everything I wished for.  I hope you like it.

      photo by Rob Cardillo

      Monday, August 31, 2009


      Jen in her NH garden. (Double click any image to enlarge.)
      When I lived and worked in the country, in a town of three thousand souls, I craved a city vacation: all noise and tumult, music and museums: Philadelphia, San Francisco, D.C., Boston, Barcelona, New York, Paris, St. Petersburg, Tokyo, it didn’t matter. Since I’ve been living and working in a great city, I crave the country and, of course, the gardens.

      Every summer, Daughter Jen generously allows me to weed her vast New Hampshire vegetable and cutting garden, pull the garlic, pick the beans, and encourages
      me to cut armfuls of her
      flowers and herbs for
      arrangements. She
      sends me home with
      samples of her blue-
      ribbon garlic, dried
      goldenrod and nigella
      pods among my dirty

      right, flowers & herbs from
      Jen's cutting garden, in-
      cluding dill seed heads and
      anise hyssop flowers.I love
      the way the bright orange
      of the cosmos flowers
      transforms a traditional
      pink/blue color scheme.

      Jen serves us beets picked ten minutes before roasting, Yukon Gold new potatoes, green and yellow beans, heirloom tomatoes, sweet tender carrots, patty pan squash. Her garden, fenced against deer, racoons, and to keep out her own playful dogs, was roto-tilled 8 years ago, and formed into raised beds, but never re-tilled. She top-dresses with compost, adds a couple inches of new wood chips to refresh the paths, and hand-weeds her pesticide free garden.(above, early broccoli a few weeds and spirea, coexisting happily together.)
      Vegetables are interspersed with annual and perennial flowers available for cutting all growing season, so there's always great a great play of sight, smell and taste. It's plain fun to walk in this garden.(above, cactus flowering zinnias, my favorite for cutting and showing off, no arranging skills necessary)

      Once upon a time Jen bought garlic to plant, and received seed garlic from friend Mary just down the dirt road, but over a few years saved her own best heads, and now plants only her own 'seed garlic', the biggest and best of her unblemished stock. Garlic adds fabulous flavor to almost any main course, but the stiff-neck species is also great in kitchen or dining room as a swag decoration with other dried flowers and herbs, here, chive flowers, orange calendula and sumac seed heads. Who's to stop you stealing a stalk when you need it and retying the swag to take up the slack?She's a consistent blue ribbon winner at the New Hampshire State Fair as she, like other garlic growers works her own survival of the fittest experiment, with garlic adapted to her own soil and climate conditions. My stash to take home to the City includes as many garlic heads as she allots me, and always a new treat like Red Chinese red noodle beans that she grew for the first time.

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