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


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Stars

My Stars
I tend the 18th story roof garden as a volunteer for my building in NYC. I call it ‘my’ garden, even though the other 99 condo owners might disagree, because I do all the work. Never mind. I plant for three seasons because in winter’s cold and intense winds, only the smokers want to stay and sit for a while.
Every plant is containerized, trees, shrubs, vines, and cooking herbs. At last count there were 94 containers, big and small, including two hay bales that I’ve planted with succulents, in a miniaturized green-roof experiment. I rescued the bales from the building Halloween party last year. They were at curbside, waiting to be swallowed into the maw of the trash truck. I knew I could mulch or compost the materials, rather than pay to have them hauled away. They quickly found their way by elevator to the 18th floor garden.

Here’s what’s thrilling me in my garden now:
Coral bark Japanese maple, above, (Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’) If the Mayor can have one, so can I. I pass his house on the cross-town bus about six times a week experiencing acute Acer envy. As a former Psychologist I knew the cure. Bought one, plunked it in a pot. Just look at it now! As the weather gets more frigid, the bark gets more crimson, perfect in the snow. In spring the foliage is chartreuse with pink edges.

October onion (Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’), a decorative red/purple flower from bulbs that need little care, multiply, and are the last thing to burst into bloom on my roof before snow. Reason enough to love them.




Blue mist shrub
(Caryopteris ‘Sunshine Blue’). When it leafs out in the spring the foliage is pure gold, darkens slightly as the season progresses, then displays clouds of pale blue flowers starting in mid-September.
Lavender re-bloom (Lavandula species). The main lavender show is June through July but if I fight back against indolence and deadhead assiduously, I get a miniscule re-bloom in late fall, quite enough to flavor any recipe or decorate a dessert. Double click on photo to the right to see both flowers.


Firethorn (Pyracantha) that I keep well trimmed,
if not formally espaliered, so the thorns don’t attack children at play. The flame-colored berries hang around long enough to use for holiday décor.


Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum)
Tough, bright, cheery and rapidly growing, first
given to me by my friend Ann, then given by me to Bill, a chorus buddy of my husband Ben. There’s always some to dig and divide. The flower stems are shorter this year than last so I’ll have to seek out more friends to dump divisions on.

Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is a tender shrub with bright purple calices and white
flowers, perennial in zones 8-10. I took stem cuttings of the one I bought in ’07, wintered them
over on my office windowsill and set out in spring’08. Although the shrub is too puny to show you without intense embarrassment, I’m entirely pleased with my success in getting bloom under less than ideal conditions.





Chokeberry (Aronia). Other Ellen claims the berries are edible but I think it’s an acquired taste for all but the songbirds that come to call. The foliage will eventually turn almost as bright as the berries.












And The Annuals
Zinnia ‘Profusion’ self-seeded in the pot from last year and I am always thrilled to have such
colorful and easy volunteers.
Zinnia ‘Apricot Blush’ is a dazzling introduction from www.reneesgarden.com. I was sent a pack to try and I am shameless in both my love of zinnias and this variety in particular. Can it be because zinnias were the first flower I raised from seed as a girl, and my mother often had a copper bowlful of them on a table where the mail was piled?

1 comment:

Ellen Zachos said...

Aronia is definitely edible! Trader Joe's sells Aronia juice and touts it as an excellent source of antioxidents. Surely you don't doubt Trader Joes...

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