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

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I went to Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston MA yesterday to hear Other Ellen (EZ) speak about Back Yard Foraging, her latest book.  (see book cover on left) She is a fantastic speaker!

And I went  craving spring color. My raised bed in Exeter NH is still covered with a snow pile . I NEEDED  spring. Tower Hill provided plenty.
Of course Crocuses...
and Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis),
and in the bark of the birch in morning light.  I'll remind all you doubters that although an image of this trunk will appear in my next collage, I gathered my actual bark locally and didn't spirit any away from this fabulous garden.
Of the several Witch hazels in bloom, my favorite, Hamamelis x intermedia c.v.Orange Peel; the flowers are big, and dramatic.
I've no idea what this bold structure is for, but I didn't ask. I'm creating my own designs in my head until I return and see what the Tower Hill designers actually do.

Not much color yet on this flowering cherry tree, but plenty of bird song throughout the garden.
Much easier to spy nests for novices like me before the leaves appear.

When can I come again, tomorrow?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Ben Platt, height 6'1, stands in front of my garden bed in Exeter NH on 2/20/15. I live and garden here.

 Ben Platt, still 6'1, on the fourth day of spring. Will I ever garden here?
While I wait to garden, I make this photo collage called Icicles 2015. I've used parts of 12 images I captured, cut and pasted.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


My article 'Preserve your Garden Memories' just debuted in 'Country Gardens' magazine on newsstands, early spring 2015 edition. The article describes four of my garden collages and how I made them.
Above, 'New York Memories', which includes cut and torn photos of plants in 'my' rooftop garden in NYC; dried rose hips, pressed hydrangea and marigold petals, Aronia and Virginia creeper berries, and other assorted goodies in a found frame. Except for the ginko leaves, all  plant material was borrowed from the  garden I tended for my condo building.
'Traditional Canterbury' above honors the town in NH where my daughter and son-in-law live and where I go to scratch my itch to weed a big garden.  The town center encompasses one white steepled church with parish house, one white bandstand, a town hall, library, and country store. The Shaker village is sited a few miles away from the town center. Traditional as it is, the townspeople approved a solar collector farm to power the public buildings. See photo near top right. In this collage, I combined parts of photos with birch bark and twigs.
One of my fave NYC garden spaces and one of my fave collages (now in the collection of Diane and Gary Hitzemann).
Like the other two collages above, I combined pieces of many images I captured on and around the High Line with real dried plant material. In the case of public gardens I never borrow plant material; but I did cut leaves of northern sea oats which grow on the High Line, from the garden I tended on my roof top.
Since March 2014 I live in Exeter NH near the coast. My latest collages reflect my own change of venue.
No photos here; but torn paper, fabric, wool and discarded paper I found in the recyling bins of my NYC condo and actually paid to move to Exeter. My interest in trash has no bounds.

Friday, October 24, 2014


The tourists flock to New Hampshire, where I now live, to admire fall color.
They bump along this gravel road.
Every pond reflects a story.
Sometimes the reflection is more interesting than the original.
But back in the city, the colors aren't shabby either,
and the Boat Pond in Central Park reflects its own glory.
The Great Lawn attracts lovers in every season.
Climb to the top of Belvedere Castle in Central Park to admire the views.
or admire the Bow Bridge. Every bit as good as New Hampshire.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


The front entrance to my new apartment building in Exeter NH was flanked by an arbor with 10 huge climbing hydrangea vines, about 20 years old. Gorgeous in full bloom, a home for nesting birds all year, it was welcoming even in winter when the strong trunks had a presence.
Then management in its wisdom decided to redo the entrance to improve drainage, and some landscape architect decided the vines must go.
What's a devastated artist to do except make a collage? Fortunately I had taken many photos of the arbor in both winter and spring, even pressed a few of the leaves and cut some seed heads when I knew it would disappear forever.
 I printed out my best images on  thin, matte, photo paper; then cut out elements from about 20 images and laid some out on a board the way I thought they should go. Notice stone wall on the bottom right.
Then I changed things; one big image that was on the left is now on the right. I also reversed the stone wall...
and glued small bits of real shale scavenged from the construction site to the image of the wall. Parts of the arbor appear in likely places, as do a few pressed leaves.
The wall is almost complete and lo, a flock of birds have returned, singing near the top of the arbor, on bits of dried hydrangea umbels. (click on image to enlarge)
Am I finished? Knowing when to stop is always an art in itself. Maybe I am, or....

Sunday, July 27, 2014


The High Line in Chelsea is a victim of it's own success. What once was a quiet oasis above the traffic where Ellen Z. and Ellen S. P. could hear birds singing in the birches, is now a hub of frenzied construction. Buildings on both sides of the garden walkway are springing up, only a few feet on each side of the plantings. (above)
But on a rooftop of a co-op on W. 26th,  two women are making the most of their rooftop space.
They've planted a few veggies and herbs, some ornamentals and vines to soften the industrial look of the walls.
 On the 13th floor, residents can go to relax and view OPG (that's text talk for Other People's Gardens).
What used to be strictly 'tar beach' now has a mix of greenery scattered throughout.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The first day of summer finds me, Ben and Jen in my new all time favorite garden, Bedrock, in Lee NH. Turns out I'm not so jaded from 20 years of touring gardens with the Garden Writers Association that I can't be moved by this idiosyncratic wonderland. Mowed spaces and meadow intermingle.
The creation of the wife and husband team Jill Nooney and Bob Unger,  Bedrock Gardens is on their home ground and open to the lucky public 5 weekends a year and by appointment to groups.
Jill's garden art in combination with perfect plant selection makes the garden a joy to stroll.
I restrain myself from peeling the paperbark maple to use in a collage, but just barely.
In the White Garden allium wait to pop, look like 'White Giant' to me. This isn't a botanic garden but a pleasure garden, so no signs.
The white fringed Papaver are at peak on this cool day.
 Nooney's sculpture 'Julia' looks exasperated; perhaps she's thinking of all the work to keep up this garden. Those cooking spoons will never do it.
Munger, a retired physician, designs walkways, water features and other satisfying architectural elements.
 In the All-You-Need-is-Balls garden more giant allium are on the verge of popping.
In the shed and barn, rusty metal elements await transformation.
Just when you think 'I could never do that'...
you spy the home patio with myriad containers featuring circles and foliage plants. Yes you can 'do that' even in a small space.

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