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


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A REAL NEW YORKER


Who's a real New Yorker? When I moved here from Pennsylvania, I was advised not to call myself a New Yorker until I had survived the city for 7 years.
But I discovered two more meaningful criteria.
1. When, deciding to go car-less, I sold my Jeep with its Meadow Lark Flower & Herb Farm logo.
2. When I fully accepted mailorder gardening as a feature, not a bug, of living in the city.

On my farm, I had used my Jeep and GMC panel truck to haul bags of fertilizer, trees and shrubs, flats of herbs and annuals, and even as modified cold frames in emergencies. I had ordered specialty seeds for the hundreds of varieties I grew for drying (Nigella orientalis anyone?) ordered bulbs so I could get the exact shade and timing I required, but everything else I trucked from nurseries as much as 90 miles away. Below, the interior of my barn with dried harvest.©Alan & Linda Detrick, Ellen Spector Platt design, all rights reserved.

Now in Manhattan, too cheap to rent a truck, and not wanting to rely totally on the kindness of Other Ellen to buy things for me, I expanded my use of long distance ordering. From Klehm's I bought the lovely native wisteria 'Amethyst Falls' (above), three varieties of clematis and two peonies. Well-Sweep Herb Farm had the grand assortment of species I needed for a living herb wreath. Do you think the Home Depot at 59th St. would have the peanut seeds that I REQUIRED? No, but Henry Field's did and shipped them right out with great instructions printed on the pack. Racks of Renee's Seeds are often available in the city, but what I crave are the unusual, and for that I run right to the catalog, though Renee sometimes gives me free seeds to try. At High Country Gardens I found some great lavenders, yarrows and other xeric plants for those containers not on my drip system. A terrific bonus of a good catalog is the amount of valuable planting and growing information, so pay heed.

Seeds, roses, perennials, herbs, shrubs, containers, fertilizers, and bagged compost all showed up in my building lobby, trucked there by UPS, FedEx, or USPS. I paid attention to the pot size and shipping dates so I'd know just what to expect and be available to plant immediately.

Daughter Jen living in NH, tries to eat from her garden from April thought November, and has the luxurious choice of a car or her husband's truck. But she still buys seeds, bulbs, and even perennials and trees from her favorite mailorder houses like Fedco for starter trees and organic vegetables, Bluestone Perennials where she can find small size plants to fit her budget, knowing (three varieties of beets and other good stuff from Jen's garden)
that they'll catch up to landscape size in a year or two, Baker Creek Seeds for heirlooms, Pinetree for their mini-packs so she can try lots of new varieties before committing to a pack of 60-100 tomatoes, beets or carrots, and Johnny's from Maine where winter hardiness is a given.
If I need to ponder which one of 32 varieties of sunflower to choose, from the largest to the smallest, I go straight to Johnny's. (below, biggest and smallest at the Korn King produce stand, Canterbury NH)If you want to check out other mailorder sources visit the Mailorder Gardening Association which lists members selling all categories of plants and garden stuff, phone numbers for paper catalogs, direct links to online sites, updated USDA hardiness map from 2003, and tips on how to handle your plants if you can't put them right in the ground. As I was exploring this site for today's post, I ran across Moss Acres; I had been hearing good things about them, had been meaning to try their mosses and now will, if not in New York, then in the shady garden of one of my kids.

6 comments:

frank@new york city garden said...

My question, Ellen, is how do you receive your mail order plants? This is the biggest grief for me, because I cannot be home to receive the UPS package, and if you've never missed UPS in Brooklyn, the package ends up in a warehouse somewhere near JFK!

As much as I'd like to mail order plants, it's hard to receive them. What do you do?

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Frank, I'm lucky to have a doorman in my building who accepts packages and if I expect to be away for a few days, I beg him to open the box that says PLANTS:PERISHABLE and give them a drink. All of the mail order Cos. that I've spoken to say they only ship Mon. or Tues. so there won't be a warehouse holdover on the weekend.
Any friendly neighbors who will accept a package?

Jen said...

My Fedco veggie seed order just came in yesterday's mail! One of my major milestones as the winter season turns.

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Jen, We're eagerly awaiting your famous roasted beets!

Shady Gardener said...

Do you miss being in the country? Your post shows your resourcefulness! :-)

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Shady,The buyers of our farm house and property replaced my raised beds with LAWN. (Paved Paradise and put up a parking lot). The country still smells great but New York City- no better perfume. New things to learn, new places to go, see and be inspired by. esp

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