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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Rhubarb in my new raised bed in New Hampshire today on April 16th; it also snowed in the NYC overnight I hear tell, a record snow fall in both places for the date. 
The rhubarb crop, one of my faves, was planted by a previous gardener who had been using this plot. I've had legal opinions from a retired judge in Mass, a former lawyer in NH, and a highly opinionated gardener in NYC, Other Ellen by name, who are unanimous. 
 None of the three recused herself, despite two being dear friends and one being a dear daughter. This year's harvest belongs to me, ESP. As are the flowers of the evening primrose, emerging on the right.
As are this year's cuttings of chives. Greedy, greedy me

Friday, April 11, 2014


above, view of the Exeter River from a trail behind my apartment

 NEWS FLASH: Ellen Spector Platt, now living in an apartment complex in Exeter NH,  with favorite guy Ben Platt.  Still gardening in a limited space. Now instead of 85 containers on an 18th story roof garden in NYC, I've been allotted a barely raised 3' X 6' bed, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH SPACE for one who once farmed three acres of flowers and herbs.
I'll have to find ways to expand. I'll try in order: asking for more space, wheedling, begging, maybe not bribing, but certainly surreptitious planting if I have to.
In the meanwhile, the woods are full of emerging sights very un-NYC-like.
 The pussywillow stems that I cut from my rooftop garden in the city and schlepped here well wrapped are happily rooting in water in NH  awaiting their new homes. Down by the Exeter river in the lead picture? It's only about 2 blocks down the trail from my home.... oops, they don't measure distance in blocks here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


On E. 86th St in Manhattan, a new yoga studio Pure, with the first vertical garden I spied in the city. Astounding in 2008.
But within a year, the dreaded scaffolding went up to allow workers to check the mortar of the brick building above, as required by law. Not surprisingly, within three months of all shade, most of the plants had died.
Two years after planting, this sign still gave me hope of a resurrection.

But yesterday...

6 1/2 years after initial planting, same building, same Pure Yoga Studio, more scaffolding.  I was told by the guy at the desk that a permanent wood sign would be going up, it's too cold in NYC for outdoor plants. Ya think?

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Around NYC we're desperate for a sign of spring. Yes, there have been sightings of witch hazel blooms at the NY Botanical Garden and snowdrops on Abbie Zabar's terrace but I want my own signs, closer to home. On my 18th floor roof garden I seek and find.
Above, real flower buds of  Hellebores, the lenten rose, tucked deep in a container, preparing for the start of Lent next week.
Buds are starting to form on the pussy willow tree propagated from one stick, rooted in water six years ago and shoved in a container outdoors. The tree is ready for its spring pruning.
 In my apartment, the new prunings stand in a vase of warm water, giving me pleasure as the buds enlarge and mature. These  stems will root and be ready for transplanting anywhere I chose, the grandchildren of my first NYC grocery store bunch of pussy willow.
Spring is on its way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I went looking for Spring at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Sure I had to deliver my collage to their art show, Visions of Nature, hanging until March 8th in the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery.
But I NEEDED signs of SPRING and went searching for them at the BBG.


 Nandina provides a shot of color but no feeling of spring.
 A hint of a promise, a slight swelling of the magnolia buds.


The paths are perfectly plowed, black ice coated with sand. I have the garden almost to myself.
I'm starting to appreciate this winter thing.

Lurking in the background of this image of crab apples remaindered from fall, is the Brooklyn Museum of Art which adjoins the Garden. As I attempt to take photos with my smart phone, messages pop up three separate times begging me to come to the museum. THE NERVE! I have to stop paying attention to the garden and photography and three times delete their messages. I should have marched right in, demanded to speak to the PR director and ranted. But my feet were cold.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


On the 18th floor of my building, the garden I've tended for 10 years is dressed in snow. A bird perches atop the center of the iron fence.  Plenty of fruits and seeds are begging to be eaten: rose hips, Aronia and Virginia creeper berries, grasses and annuals seeds still clinging.
City kids make forts just as well as country kids; the materials may differ slightly.
Any signs of spring where you live?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


For my January birthday every year, my very frugal Mother always splurged on a bunch of daffodils from a real florist. The sunny color was the perfect antidote for the short frigid days of a Philadelphia winter, and made me feel special.
This year for $8 I bought 10 fresh tulips from my corner grocer and plunked them in a glass jar with water, inside a birch basket I've had for years. Somewhere in my many moves the basket had lost its clusters of green moss and appeared rather grim.
My niece from Philadelphia made a quick visit after her day at the annual knitting expo in New York, surprise gift in hand: a small bag of dyed wool locks. What's a collage artist to do when confronted with the perfect substitute, when its so hard to gather moss in January in NYC?
She gets out her glue of course and glues wool locks on the birch, where it should look fine for many more years. Thank you Ruth. You must have gotten my unconscious ESP message.

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