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

      Showing posts with label wildflowers. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label wildflowers. Show all posts

      Sunday, May 4, 2014


      By the edge of the woods, the spring ephemerals are coming into bloom. Last Wednesday, a solitary Trout Lily was closed in the rain. Three days later I spied masses in full bloom.
      Fiddleheads pop up everywhere.
      And Marsh Marigolds burst open in the wetlands.
      A few shy Wood Anemones enchant me.
      But oh, how I miss the bright lights of New York.

      Above, the start of my latest collage using pieces of photos I took at night in the City and found papers. Click on image to enlarge.

      Friday, August 19, 2011


      What does this New York City garden writer do on vacation? Visit gardens of course. Helen Dillon's garden in a residential section of Dublin, Ireland is open to the public for 5Euros a visit. Dillon is a garden writer, lecturer, TV person, and thoroughly opinionated gardener, the best kind. This is not an estate garden but a home with nice sized plots in back and front yards, all within sight of the neighbors homes. Rare and common plants are crowded in together,in soil amended with homemade compost. Ireland, an island nation, has a maritime climate with mild winters and summers, Dublin averaging 47 degrees F. in winter and 67F in summer. Above the tree poppy, (Romneya coulteri) native to southern CA and Mexico, and winner of the Royal Hort Society Award of Garden Merit. This woody sub-shrub is perennial in Dillon's garden but would not be for me here in NYC. To start from seed it requires wild fire, and The Tree of Life Nursery in Calif. lights pine needles atop planted seeds to get them to germinate.

      Examine the bright blue bachelor buttons below and double click on the image to look at the plants across the reflecting pond. Notice anything??? The bachelor buttons and many other annuals, perennials, and bulbs surrounding the pool are actually planted in unobtrusive pots, then moved around to fill in holes where certain plants have gone by. This garden is always lush. I've used the same technique in all of my gardens but never to this extent. Amazing. Below find my dear friend Dr. Diana W. from Wales amidst the pots and the flora.

      Saturday, March 19, 2011

      NYC IT AIN'T

      With daughter Jen, on our way to see the alligators,the birds,the rivers of saw-grass in the Shark River Slough,the Bromelia, all in Everglades National Park. But a person's got to eat, and we understood from the Park website that there is no food offered in the park. Not true but what's a park without a picnic?We ate at the Market Restaurant at the wholesale food market, but the real find in Homestead FL, between our historic hotel and the Park entrance is the Robert is Here fruit stand.
      So we buy an avocado, a ripe mango, little tomatoes, a grapefruit, a huge bag of shelled pecans, and more. The lovely woman at the checkout, asked when we were planning to eat the fruit and then exchanged our avocado for a perfectly ripe one. She also asked if she could cut the mango for us; I learned from the master how best to do that.
      How can one not come back each day to a market that's growing it's own sunflowers and cabbages adjoining the stand? And where they have the "southernmost purple martin houses in the USA".
      Robert's story is unforgettable. When he was six his father helped him set out a table by the road to sell extra cukes from the garden. Not one sold. Father guessed that perhaps Robert was too easy to miss from a speeding car, so he painted signs with large red letters annoucing "Robert is Here". He posted them before and aft. Robert sold out. Robert maintained the stand after school and weekends using an honor pay system during the times he was required to be in school. By age 9 he could afford to hire someone to run the stand during school hours and by age 14 bought his first land and planted an avocado grove. For the complete story visit Robertishere.com, and they ship everywhere.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010


      (double click on any image to enlarge)
      If you answered Queens NYC, you would be correct. Right off the Belt Parkway, four miles from JFK Airport, enter the other world of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. We walked an easy 2 mile trail, stayed on the gravel path as was demanded, managed to see Osprey chicks on their nesting platform, and a turtle energetically covering a clutch of eggs she had deposited in the middle of a dirt road. The orange flag warned Park staff not to drive vehicles over the area. Native species of reptiles and amphibians have been introduced and there is an active terrapin nesting area set aside.Because there are not a
      lot of trees on site there
      is an nesting box pro-
      gram. I saw boxes for
      bats,Tree Swallows,
      House Wrens, Kestrals,
      and this big one for
      Barn Owls. I was imagin-
      ing an owl peeking out
      but of course, no such

      The site is a paradise for
      local birders (325
      species have been
      recorded); shore birds
      like egrets, ibis, and
      herons as well as song
      birds find shelter here.

      I was mostly having fun
      with the wild flowers.
      Although I expected Rosa rugosa, seen in both flower and fruit stages in late June, butterfly weed, honeysuckle, milkweed,this is a managed park. Yuccas spike the landscape; many are newly planted. Buddlia and coreopsis attract butterflies. Another unexpected plant was the prickly Pear Cactus. I don't normally think of it as a New York City wildflower. I learned it grows wild from MA to FL and north to MN, but I never imagined cactus juxtaposed with JFK.
      To learn more, get directions, and a schedule of guided walks and nature programs visit: the National Parks site. Take your Deep Woods Off when you visit.

      Wednesday, June 3, 2009


      Above, volunteer bachelor buttons with the David Austin rose 'Crown Princess Margareta'
      I’m a casual gardener, always delighted to observe as nature has its way with my rooftop garden. Eighty plus containers to choose, but portulaca from last year have sown themselves among the paver cracks some 20 feet down wind of their former site in a stoneware bowl.

      Goldenrod, once dropped by a bird or brought in with purchased plants, runs rampant in one planter. It will look lovely blooming in August and September when I need a pop of late color. Why purchase quart pots of Solidago when I got it free.

      Cilantro has reseeded itself in one of the herb containers near where it grew two years ago. Today there are four plants, as many as I need for my pinch-an-inch herb garden.

      And all over the roof,
      bachelor buttons vol-
      unteer year after year.
      I started with one pack
      of Centaurea cyanus
      ‘Blue Boy’ and now have
      the original bright blue
      as well as pink and even
      a few white flowers.
      Right,Baptisia 'Midnight Prarie-
      blues' and volunteer 'Blue Boy'

      My biggest surprise was
      cherry tomato plants
      growing with my zinnias
      last summer. Hard press-
      ed to figure it out, I
      finally realized that the
      seeds came from my
      worm compost. Early in
      the spring I had treated
      those pots to a hearty meal of the precious stuff, product of my indoor
      worm bin. By late summer, kids on the roof were plucking the tomatoes
      as fast as they ripened up.

      Taking a tip from
      my plant volun-
      teers, Ben & I
      went to Central
      Park on Mother’s
      Day and volun-
      teered to pick up
      trash. Wouldn’t
      you go if you
      knew that the
      Central Park
      Conservancy was
      offering official badges, bags
      and GRABBERS,
      not to mention
      letting you
      choose your own
      territory? We opted for the Turtle Pond near Belvedere Castle. Don’t miss out on trash grabber fun. Visit the Central Park Conservancy or the park nearest you.

      Wednesday, May 13, 2009


      Instead of using chemical weed control, find a couple of kids who are plenty
      bored waiting for their dance class to begin,one who’s fidgeting while you
      get your tires rotated, or
      growing grumpy waiting
      for big brother to emerge
      from school. Pick a large

      Dandelions are in the park,
      in cracks between side-
      walks,in empty lots. I
      recently knocked on a door
      to ask the surprised home-
      owner if she minded if we
      picked dandelions from her
      yard. Dandelions are free for the taking, and twenty
      stems make a fabulous if ephemeral craft kit. People
      of a certain age learned to make these chains in childhood, but for today’s children the skill is likely to be a revelation.

      A lawn studded with golden
      dandelions is not ‘an ugly
      lawn’ as my TV just
      pronounced via Scott’s
      Weed & Feed. This is a
      lawn like a ‘jewelry store’
      according to my favorite
      8 year old, jewels ready to
      fashion into the rings and
      things she just learned.
      Bright yellow splotches
      in green grass can
      be charming when you re-label
      the view as a source of
      pleasure. Young greens
      for salads with hot bacon
      dressing? Flowers for cookies?

      How To Make Dandelion Jewelry
      1. Pick a bunch of dandelions, with longish stems. (Works with clover or wild daisies too.)
      2. With your thumbnail cut a slit about 1/2 inch long in the middle of the stem.
      3. Slip a second dandelion stem
      through the slit and pull gently
      until the second flower reaches
      as far as it can go.
      4. Make a slit in the second flower
      and keep going until your chain is long enough to make a crown for a King or Queen, a tiara for a
      princess, a necklace or a wrist band.
      5. To end off, make a final slit at the end of the last flower and loop the first flower back through it. Or tie the two ends carefully in a knot. Double click on any photo to enlarge.

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