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

Monday, May 21, 2012


What could they be?
Rings of pink puff balls 'round a neighborhood tree.
Doorman says they grew after pruning.
Could be from multiple trunk wounding?
Never saw such a sight in my life.
Moral: think twice before you go under the knife.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Stephen Scanniello, Pres. Heritage Rose Foundation with Rosa 'Harison's Yellow'

Just when I think I'm getting to know the gardens and plantings in New York City, I stumble upon surprises. A visit to the Historic Rose District last week introduced me to a massive undertaking by the Heritage Rose Foundation in Upper Manhattan where Harlem meets Washington Heights. Here in Trinity Church (Wall Street) Cemetery, Audubon Terrace, community gardens, and median strips, dedicated members of the Foundation from all over the U.S. are coming to plant and preserve old roses, all on a shoestring budget of donations and volunteers.
Rosa 'Parson's Pink China'
The Foundation defines heritage roses as Pre-1930 hybrids, varieties and species; members have scoured old homesteads, cemeteries and roadsides to make cuttings of roses which might disappear forever if not preserved. By their very nature, having existed for decades without spraying, fertilizing, or watering, heritage roses are highly suited for gardeners who care about sustainability.
When I visited it was planting day and dozens of rooted rose cuttings were scheduled to be dug in at the Church of the Intercession and other select spots. Within three years they'll be showing off fragrance and blooms, spilling over old stones and fences.
Not only roses, but donated bulbs, shrubs and perennials are added to compliment the roses
Why here in this spot in Upper Manhattan? It happens that rose breeder George Folliott Harison, he of 'Harison's Yellow' fame is buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery which surrounds the Church of the Intercession, and when these modern-day rose missionaries went to plant one of his namesake roses by his grave, it seems as if they just couldn't stop. Many well-know names appear on other headstones here, like family of John Jacob Astor, Clement Clarke Moore, Charles Dicken's son, J.J. Audubon, and Ralph Elison.
Just across Broadway from the Church is the massive Audubon Terrace, former site of Audubon estate, now housing the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Hispanic Society of American with its free museum and library, and Boricua College.
Entrance to Audubon Terrace
This complex of eight Beaux Arts buildings is on the National Register of Historic sites. Volunteers from the Heritage rose Foundation have placed large containers around the massive brick courtyard and are of course, planting roses.
Coming soon, a historic walking tour app for your smart phone, created by a H.S. student, Jacob Graff from Dallas TX .
GO! to learn more visit...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

terrific tree pits!

Tree pits are the quintessential NYC garden. Small, public, subject to regular abuse, and possessing the potential to delight or disgust. (We are, after all, a city of extremes.)

Next Tuesday (from 10 am - 1 pm) I'll be teaching a class called Terrific Tree Pits at the Manhattan campus of the NYBG at 20 W 44th Street. If you're interested in learning the do-s

(Ellen Spector Platt, both gardener & photographer)

and don't-s

of how to plant a tree pit, why don't you join me?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


In the easy and efficient Burpee Greenhouse Kit I planted seeds of Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) and Moon flower vine, imagining how stunning they would be in my roof garden. Splashes of brilliant orange in 15 containers, huge white flowers unfurling at dusk and climbing up the fences.

Using the little peat pellets included in the kit as my growing medium and adding liquid organic fertilizer at half strength after 2 pairs of real leaves appeared, the seedlings flourished.

Although I had warned gardening clients and friends not to be fooled by our Mid-march summer, I had the nerve, the gall, the chutzpah, to think I would be immune. So I put the tray on the roof, in a 'protected' location to harden off for transplanting. That was one and a half weeks ago. The garden gods punished my hubris, not with frost but 39 degree weather and strong winds.
Now I have this... back inside and trying to survive. Instead of 36 strong and healthy plants, I my be able to salvage five puny ones.
Have I learned my lesson? I'm ashamed to say, probably not.

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