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

      Showing posts with label witch hazel. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label witch hazel. Show all posts

      Thursday, March 25, 2010


      At the top of my peeve list must be neighborhood stores, garden centers, and even the vaunted Greenmarket at Union Square where vendors sell tender crops like tomatoes and basil weeks before the last frost date.(double-click on any image to enlarge) What are they thinking? Where will these plants languish before they're planted by the gardener? Surely people aren't buying for their windowsill herb garden or their indoor hydroponic farm.
      OK, I admit
      that I planted
      my pansies
      March 15th this
      year, but I
      know that a
      little frost,
      even snow
      won't hurt
      them too
      much. Plant
      your sage,
      chives and
      thyme if you
      want to, any-
      thing peren-
      nial, but the
      vendors pictured top and below are complicit in garden failure. I can only think it's a way to get a second sale when the first plant fails in the cold weather. The Channel 1 meteorologist is predicting possible frost tonight. It's still March folks. Don't sell basil yet! (above right, ESP and her pansy 'hangover')2. For a consulting project, I've been thinking a lot about failure lately, and the roll it plays in the life of the novice gardener. I used to read some of those gorgeous gardening books by famous British writers, thinking I should be able to produce a similar garden. Well, the heat and humidity of a Philadelphia summer, not to mention the freezing winters, didn't exactly match a climate like Gloucestershire, England, and no publisher exactly made that clear. In fact the opposite. Gardeners from England and their publishers often imply that we could and should be doing what they do; another opportunity for failure, when a novice gardener doesn't know enough to even ask the climate questions.
      3. A third opportunity for failure is offered by garden catalogs showing macro photos of tiny blossoms without showing the flower in a larger context. A buyer purchases a plant like the one above expecting it to be loaded with 6" blossoms, then must face the reality of 1/2" blossoms. It happened to with witch hazel. I read the description, saw the huge blossoms, and was later astounded by the discrepancies with what I got: small blossom on a shrub that held over its dead leaves from fall. (see above) Whose failure is that? Certainly not the novice gardener?

      4. My fourth and last peeve (at least for now) are the plantings in the islands of upper Park Ave. I've heard that a special trust exists to support these plantings. Season after season there's a stage set of one type of flower, tulips in spring, begonias in summer for example. While I admit that the taxis and traffic lights make excellent foils for the color of the tulips, could we have some imagination please? An actual garden instead of floral theater?Now that I've confessed my current top four peeves, please write in your pet gardening peeves. You'll feel better for it.

      Below, mid spring as I like it, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 4/19/09.

      Friday, February 13, 2009

      Any day now...

      I confess, as much as I seem to be endlessly patient and at one with the universe, I am chomping at the bit for spring.

      Honestly, I love winter. Having grown up in NH, I crave banks of snow, ice storms, dark afternoons, and a wood stove to keep me warm. But along about Ground Hog Day I'm done. Which would be fine if I lived in the kinder, gentler part of Zone 6. In NYC winter lingers. Sometimes till March, sometimes till April. Frosts in May are not unheard of.

      But like I said, I'm done. So I start looking. Prowling about for the smallest sign that underground something senses the days are getting longer and that on a sunny afternoon you can actually take off your jacket in Central Park.

      Here's what's out today:
      Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops)

      Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witchhazel)

      Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite)

      Helleborus orientalis (lenten rose)

      What's poking its head up in your garden? Go ahead...make me jealous.

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