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

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The glum view from my office window this a.m. is anything but springy. But on my sill, Giant Zinnia seeds, planted 4 days ago, are sprouting in their 36 cell Burpee Greenhouse Kit. Next to the greenhouse, for comparison, a recycled salad container, covered with plastic wrap containing chive seeds.(above, greenhouse top removed for photo)
Burpee is sponsoring Ellen and my class in seed-starting on 3/28 and I wanted to try their system as I'm more frequently using something like this...which works fine but I must punch drainage holes in the bottom and steal a tray from my toaster-oven to catch the runoff. Also I need fresh seed starting soil-less mix and last Sunday when I wanted to plant, my only bag of mix was behind the frozen doors of my rooftop shed. I actually recycled some used mix I had in the apartment for the chives (BAD GIRL!), because I'm lazy and the Jets were playing the Steelers in the AFC final.

I've never used anything as complete as the Burpee Greenhouse Kit with the bottom watering try, seed tray, germination cover, plant marker and growing cubes (which are compressed round pellets until reconstituted with water). I was a little skeptical about the need, but I was ecstatic to have it ready to go with everything complete, instead of running around the city gathering supplies, and I'm thrilled with the speed of germination.

Below, Burpee's lavender, Lavandula 'Lavender Lady' grown from seed at my flower & herb farm. I learned that even when my seedlings don't look like the picture books, they'll catch up and be successful.

Friday, January 21, 2011


The scoop on growing roses sustainably in a new book of essays written by international rose experts, edited by Pat Shanley, Peter Kukielski and Gene Wearing from Newbury Books, a division of Casemate Pub. U.K. $34.95

Although an unschooled gardener myself, I've contributed "Memoirs of a Condo Rose Grower and Composter" to the book. above, 'All the Rage' blooming on my rooftop with drip irrigation

Always looking for the New York connection for Garden Bytes readers, of particular interest are pieces by Kukielski and Karl McKoy, curators of roses at the NYBG and Queens Botanic Garden respectively, and Stephen Scanniello, former curator of roses at the BBG, now President of the Heritage Rose Foundation. Other local gardeners Pat Shanley and Marjorie Marcallino have written pieces as well, but the book's crucial message of sustanablitiy applies to us wether the expert is from India or California.

John Starnes a rose hybridizer from Florida, contributed "Probiotic Rose Growing" and offers a recipe for Poop Soup for roses. A necessary ingredient is a gallon of fresh horse poop. My immediate thought is that since I no longer have my farm, this ingredient will be impossible to obtain in Manhattan; second thought crowding in on the first is an image of me shovel in hand, on Central Park South & Fifth Ave. where the horse carriages await their fares. Can I add horse pooper- scooper to my current title of trash scavenger?

This book of individual essays would be improved a thousandfold if there were an Index at the end.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Growing with Garden Bytes!

(photo by B. B. Platt)

Save the date(s)!

For the first time Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos are offering gardening classes in Manhattan. Between us we've written 13 books, hundreds of articles, and taught more than 50 certificate classes in gardening and floral design at both the NYBG and BBG. Join us for a line-up of hands-on workshops where you're guaranteed personal attention and a finished project to take home, not to mention groovy gardening goody bags.

Classes are centrally located at 22 E 30th Street (between Madison & Fifth) at the New York Open Center, convenient to the N, R, W, & 6 trains. Class size is limited and students will be accommodated on a first come, first serve basis. Enrollment closes one week before class.

The early bird gets the discount! Students who enroll for all 3 classes by 2/28/11 receive a 20% discount: only $120 marked down from $150. Students enrolling for all three classes between 2/28/11 & 3/28/11 get 10% off. There are no discounts for individual classes.

Et voila les details:

Monday, 3/28/11 (6 - 8 pm)

Get a jump on Spring by starting seeds at home. Learn how to plant and nurture your seedlings as you experiment with germination, thinning, hardening off, and transplanting. Students plant 2 trays in class: a 36 cell Burpee Greenhouse Kit w/multiple seed types, and a recycled container w/Ball pelletized salad seed. Students also take home 5 packets of seed to plant on their own. ($39)

Tuesday 4/12/11 (6 - 8pm)

Herb gardens don't need much space: a small window box (indoors or out) can provide kitchen herbs for the avid cook, and nothing beats the freshness of home grown. Students plant a window box with herb plants and seeds suitable for a sunny spot. ($47)

Monday 5/2/11 (6 - 8 pm)

The danger of frost is past and it's time to decorate your terrace, balcony, stoop, or porch. Students plant lined hanging baskets with annuals from the Southern Living Plant Collection to create a lush, flowering basket of beauty. We'll also review professional tips and tricks for maintaining hanging baskets (fertilizer, irrigation, grooming) all season long. ($54)

You may send a check payable to Acme Plant Stuff to POB 622, Milford, PA 18337; please include your contact information: telephone AND email. If you prefer paying via Paypal, email Ellen Zachos at acmeplant@gmail.com. Tell us how many classes you're enrolling for and we'll send you a Paypal Request with the correct amount. (Paypal charges a small fee which we must, regrettably, pass along to you.)

Please note: the above photographs are examples of the KINDS of things we'll be doing, not exact replicas! E.g., we may not be using nasturtiums in our hanging baskets, but we WILL be planting a basket from all sides. Questions? For more information, please call Ellen Spector Platt at 212-861-3913, or email her at esp@ellenspectorplatt.com. We hope we'll see you soon.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Edible Manhattan

So I'm standing on line at Grace's Marketplace, waiting to pay for my halloumi when a familiar image catches my eye.

We made the cover!

Back in October, Marie Viljoen (of 66 Square Feet Gardening fame) wrote an article about my wine making for The Alcohol Issue of Edible Manhattan. I'm thrilled and grateful to Marie for her interest and skill. And to think, we met through the blogosphere.

I'm told the magazine will be on line soon, but since I am pathetically impatient, I'm posting it below. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do this, and if it turns out I'm not, I'll take it down pronto. (Hopefully links to the article will be live by then!) To make the pages legible, double click, then move your cursor over the text and click again.

You can subscribe to Edible Manhattan here, or request a free issue. And it's available, free, at lots of high end grocery stores and food joints across Manhattan (Kitchen Arts & Letters, Eli's, Grace's Marketplace, to name a few).

P.S. (1/12/11) The mag is now online; to read the article, click here.

Monday, January 3, 2011


The images in this post are of my own work. All include recycled or re-purposed objects, some found on the streets of NY; many include plant materials. Click on any image to enlarge.

Above: "Water Towers NYC" by Ellen Spector Platt, digital images, painted and pasted paper, pressed Japanese maple and yarrow leaves, glue. The view from my living room window;in this collage I'm greening the rooftops.
Above: "Westside in Autumn" by Ellen Spector Platt, cut digital images, torn paper, mesh bag, pressed leaves. Here I'm greening the rooftops of the west side in autumn.

Above: "Building Bridges", cut digital images, torn paper, watercolor paints, gold pen.
Above: "Design/Build"cut blueprints, torn paper, acrylic paints, wood coffee stir sticks, parts from a wine box. The landscape here is made of found,torn green papers.

Above: "The Crown Jewels", from the streets of New York City, locust pods, acorn caps, and fir cones; also magnolia leaves, sorghum pieces, paper fasteners, legal seals, newspaper, gold and copper paint, glue. Above: "Grandma Roses", pressed roses and rose leaves, old fabric, old botanical and advertisement, on bamboo paper, paper, paint, glue. Above: "Temple of the Gods", found birch bark, Japanese maple twigs from my garden, cardboard wrapping from egg carton delivered by Fresh Direct, wooden yard-stick give-away, embroidered leaves, paper, paint, glue.Above: Night on the Town, cut digital images, paper, paint, glue, found metal and fabric.
Above:"Grandma's Sewing Box", old buttons, thread, bobbins and other findings, ribbon, name tapes all from my mother's sewing box; papers from a late 19th C. fashion newspaper; cotton boll I grew on a NYC rooftop in a container. Above, "Waterlilies", handpainted paper, cut photos, gold foil, gold wire, brass tacks, piece of file folder.
Above: "Black & White & Red All Over", cut and painted recycled papers, coffee filter, sanding disc, paper doily.
Above: "Historic Deco District", cut digital images, cut recycled paper, Florida beach sand.
Above: "Still Life in Black and White": cut and torn recycled papers, cancelled postage stamps, pressed home-grown elephant ear leaves and flowers of Montauk daisy.

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