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

      Showing posts with label sunflowers. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label sunflowers. Show all posts

      Monday, December 20, 2010


      My first boyfriend, age 10, went with me to empty lots to help me cut 'free' flowers to bring home. I loved him.
      Last week when the SunflowerGuy.com offered me a free bouquet of my choice in exchange for a review, I jumped. I've grown about 20 varieties of sunflowers from seed; used them for seed snacks, for drying, for cut arrangements and in the garden. Can you tell I love them?

      SunflowerGuy says that through their parent company Dos Gringos, they are the largest grower of ornamental sunflowers in the world; I'm the smallest, so it's a match.
      The overnight flower delivery from SunflowerGuy came on the date requested, in an ingenious shipping box that included a simple, tasteful container and the stems wrapped in rubber bands to keep the bouquet intact. See above.I followed all of the instructions for removing and discarding the wet flower foam that kept flowers healthy during shipping, cutting the bottom of the stems, adding the cut flower food. I smiled even without the instructions at the cleverness of the packaging and the cheery sunflowers within. Then I spied the red-painted seeded eucalyptus. The online catalog had said nothing about painted flowers. ugh! It was probably because the red pepperberry was still green and some designer thought the red element was necessary. Not for me.
      One Makes Four
      While many people, if not most, love an arrangement that is complete, fun for me is doing my own. In fact most florist designed arrangements have enough flowers & foliage for 4-6 arrangements, so I always divide them up and scatter them around the apartment, even the bathroom.
      Having fresh flowers wherever I turn is a wondrous thing. When you scroll to the bottom of the post you'll see how I handled the dreaded painted eucalyptus.The five sunflowers went in a collection of glass vases made from recycled soda bottles, one or two stems to a vase. How easy is that? The good looking container that came with the arrangement will not languish but will become part of my varied collection of useful vases.The St. John's wart and a tiny bit of pepper berry went in two small bud vases on a bathroom shelf.These three stems lean gracefully in a contemporary vase in the living room. They look like they'll last well beyond the guaranteed 8 days.In the tree wells in front on my building (this one where the dead tree was chopped down) I lay fresh greens, with additional prunings from the roof garden, including some stems of aronia berries, dried sorghum seed heads and the red painted eucalyptus that even I have to admit doesn't look half bad there. I hope The Sunflowerguy approves.
      As I write this post I'm on my seventh day and all flowers are still in excellent condition. If you need an overnight flower delivery, especially for sunflowers I think you'll be well satisfied.

      Saturday, January 16, 2010


      Who's a real New Yorker? When I moved here from Pennsylvania, I was advised not to call myself a New Yorker until I had survived the city for 7 years.
      But I discovered two more meaningful criteria.
      1. When, deciding to go car-less, I sold my Jeep with its Meadow Lark Flower & Herb Farm logo.
      2. When I fully accepted mailorder gardening as a feature, not a bug, of living in the city.

      On my farm, I had used my Jeep and GMC panel truck to haul bags of fertilizer, trees and shrubs, flats of herbs and annuals, and even as modified cold frames in emergencies. I had ordered specialty seeds for the hundreds of varieties I grew for drying (Nigella orientalis anyone?) ordered bulbs so I could get the exact shade and timing I required, but everything else I trucked from nurseries as much as 90 miles away. Below, the interior of my barn with dried harvest.©Alan & Linda Detrick, Ellen Spector Platt design, all rights reserved.

      Now in Manhattan, too cheap to rent a truck, and not wanting to rely totally on the kindness of Other Ellen to buy things for me, I expanded my use of long distance ordering. From Klehm's I bought the lovely native wisteria 'Amethyst Falls' (above), three varieties of clematis and two peonies. Well-Sweep Herb Farm had the grand assortment of species I needed for a living herb wreath. Do you think the Home Depot at 59th St. would have the peanut seeds that I REQUIRED? No, but Henry Field's did and shipped them right out with great instructions printed on the pack. Racks of Renee's Seeds are often available in the city, but what I crave are the unusual, and for that I run right to the catalog, though Renee sometimes gives me free seeds to try. At High Country Gardens I found some great lavenders, yarrows and other xeric plants for those containers not on my drip system. A terrific bonus of a good catalog is the amount of valuable planting and growing information, so pay heed.

      Seeds, roses, perennials, herbs, shrubs, containers, fertilizers, and bagged compost all showed up in my building lobby, trucked there by UPS, FedEx, or USPS. I paid attention to the pot size and shipping dates so I'd know just what to expect and be available to plant immediately.

      Daughter Jen living in NH, tries to eat from her garden from April thought November, and has the luxurious choice of a car or her husband's truck. But she still buys seeds, bulbs, and even perennials and trees from her favorite mailorder houses like Fedco for starter trees and organic vegetables, Bluestone Perennials where she can find small size plants to fit her budget, knowing (three varieties of beets and other good stuff from Jen's garden)
      that they'll catch up to landscape size in a year or two, Baker Creek Seeds for heirlooms, Pinetree for their mini-packs so she can try lots of new varieties before committing to a pack of 60-100 tomatoes, beets or carrots, and Johnny's from Maine where winter hardiness is a given.
      If I need to ponder which one of 32 varieties of sunflower to choose, from the largest to the smallest, I go straight to Johnny's. (below, biggest and smallest at the Korn King produce stand, Canterbury NH)If you want to check out other mailorder sources visit the Mailorder Gardening Association which lists members selling all categories of plants and garden stuff, phone numbers for paper catalogs, direct links to online sites, updated USDA hardiness map from 2003, and tips on how to handle your plants if you can't put them right in the ground. As I was exploring this site for today's post, I ran across Moss Acres; I had been hearing good things about them, had been meaning to try their mosses and now will, if not in New York, then in the shady garden of one of my kids.

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