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

      Showing posts with label succulents. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label succulents. Show all posts

      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, March 21, 2010

      a roving reporter visits Austin, TX

      If I say Austin, do you think blue bonnets? Chances are if you're a garden fanatic, you know Austin, TX as the home of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. This time of year is when the blue bonnets (aka Lupinus texensis) bloom, and despite the fact that the last few days in Austin have been colder than NYC, the flowers are starting to pop. It's a few weeks away from peak, but I still enjoyed the show.

      Also at the Wildflower Center was a spectacular yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) climbing up a galvanized water tank; what a great juxtaposition of color and texture. But they should really do something about the fire ant problem. Cayce's screams were heard for miles as she was dragged back to the colony.

      Downtown the streets are full of music lovers enjoying SXSW. (For more about the weekend in general, click here.) Street horticulture in Austin is predictably different from NYC; the plant palette tends toward the succulent, and galvanized is definitely in.

      Flying home tomorrow, and this preview of spring has got me psyched to start planting! I wonder if bottle trees are hardy in New York City.

      Tuesday, August 18, 2009


      three appliances above designed by J. Franklin Styer Nursery

      Drill, cut, poke or burn drainage holes, or take advantage of the openings already there. Add potting soil. You have a container for garden plants.At the end of last summer, Other Ellen had a Cotoneaster that she had dug up and needed to discard. I grabbed it but it was too late for me to plant so I shoved it in a heavy plastic garbage bag, cut some holes, in the bottom for drainage. You see it this spring in full bloom. I learned this trick from OE's book, where she planted a tomato directly in a bag of Pro-Mix and grew it on, with the bag full of dirt as container. Pretty, no: effective, yes.The commercial form of a black plastic bag filled with potting soil is covered by the impatiens above.When I needed a colorful container for these Torenia, I grabbed one from my set of plastic trugs, and poked drainage holes in the bottom. Since Torenia are annuals, at the end of the season I reclaimed my trug for its original use of lugging stuff.
      Just a little soil in a crevasse and you have a natural container, at least until the heat destroys the pansies.

      Oy vez! These stiletto heels and pointy toes will destroy my feet no more. (Nancy Goldman design)

      Tuesday, May 26, 2009

      HAY THERE!

      My goal was to create an inexpensive garden play space for children where I could also try hay-bale gardening. Actually straw bales meant for animal bedding are better than hay; straw is all stem and with no grain seed, at least in theory, and straw bales are cheaper.
      What I got was an architecture competition. Using 20 bales, my son, son-in-law, daughter, step-grandson-in-law and I vied for designing the best space. The three little girls didn’t care about the form, they climbed, scrambled, chased and hid no matter what the features, but they were particularly intrigued by the designs that included windows.When the party
      disbanded for
      the day, I re-
      formed bales
      into my own
      favorite, then
      planted the
      top with low-
      growing sedums
      and semper-
      vivums. First I
      added about an inch of good garden soil to the tops of the bales, inserted the roots in the soil and watered them in. The plants were left to their own devices from then on, making it through the cold New Hampshire winter in Zone 4.This spring the plants are still growing strong and the girls now older and wiser will be coming back to play. The idea is that as the hay disintegrates, it turns into compost that will feed the plants. When the whole thing falls apart, the bales will be used for mulch between the rows of Jen’s fabulous veggie/cutting garden.

      Note: If you’re
      the kind who
      worries that
      the child might
      fall off, don’t
      try this at
      home and
      don’t try it
      with toddlers
      who might not
      be able to
      withstand the
      slippage of a hay-bale. Above, the house last winter.

      On the right, the house this spring: sedums and semps still viable.

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