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

Friday, August 31, 2012


Above, "Waterlily Dreams"  incorporating hand painted paper and found papers, cut photos, and found Ailanthus pods.

Join me Thurs. 9/27/2012 in a workshop "Artful Collage from Found Objects" at the Horticultural Society of NY.
I (Ellen Spector Platt) will talk about my new book by that name, that incorporates plant and garden themes, stressing recycled, repurposed and reused materials. Following a brief discussion about gathering, designing, and manipulating found objects, I'll give a demonstration involving cutting and tearing, gluing and other attaching techniques.

Each participant will create her/his own collage of a striking garden memory to take home.
Participants will need to bring small garden treasures like photos, plant labels, pressed flowers and leaves, copies of old botanical prints, pods, seeds, seed packs, special papers, postage stamps with garden themes, floral fabric, pieces of other old craft work like embroidery.  The Hort will provide all other crafting materials.
 Above, "The Weaver",  incorporating paper, recycled bamboo skewers, and pressed black cotton and flowering plum leaves that I grew.
Techniques of collage were first used at the time of the invention of paper in China, around 200 BC. Originating from the French word "coller", meaning "to glue", the collage allows you to experiment with a wide range of materials  two and three dimensional materials to achieve amazing results.

Above, 'North of Santa Fe' the cover collage using colored tissue and other papers, pressed weeds.
Ellen's book will be available for sale at the workshop and also now at Amazon, by clicking the icon of the book cover to the left of this blog post, also at B&N online, and other book and craft stores around the country.
For more information about the workshop, more images, and to register:
Limited space available, preregistration required
Thurs, Sept. 27,  6:00pm-9pm
Hort members: $30 Non-members: $45
Register online or email programs@thehort.org

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Through the iron bars on Rue  Ste. Catherine, Nancy, France, we glimpsed bright, orderly color.  Weary after a day of travel from Paris to Nancy and strolling around the old town, we had just enough strength to explore one more place. Formally laid out, precise beds bordered by clipped boxwood and  immaculate lawns, my first thoughts were dismissive, then I looked closer.

The beds of annuals were laced with vegetables. Blue-leaved cabbages, beets, kale, and Swiss chard were all there.
I travel to make discoveries, see new sights,  learn something new. I pore over guidebooks before going, Google gardens in each town, but nothing is more exciting than finding a treasure for oneself. It felt as if no one else knew about this garden, though a few other visitors were also wandering about and I found out the town of Nancy in Lorraine, France has won European awards for being a floral city.
Here kohlrabi were treated like jewels and pristine herbs are part of the pallette.
This small garden in the heart of the town and bordering a school and the city aquarium is free and open to the public, but has few benches and obviously doesn't encourage lolling about. All varieties are well labeled and containers abound. Inspiration for city gardeners like us? I draw my own conclusions.
We discover that this is an historic garden, named Dominique Alexandre Godron, after the man who was Dean of the Faculty of Science and rescued the garden in 1854, re-creating a Botanical College on the site where, in 1758 Prince Stanislas founded a Botanical Garden attached to the Royal College of Medicine. The current designer obviously has a sense of humor as well as an interest in education.
Carrots are planted in long plexiglass tubes so the growing roots are somewhat visible, and strawberries in rain-gutter trees.
Here's to stumbling on more fascinating discoveries here and away.
What's your favorite?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


So there I was in Paris last week, with Ben and two friends from Wales, not at the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, or Notre Dame Cathedral. I had convinced the other three to stroll with me along the Promenade Plantee, a park which claims to be the first in the world on a rehabbed elevated train track. in a formerly seedy section of the city.
Arising from the Bastille metro station and finding the entrance to the Promenade Plantee, we walked up some concrete steps and I found my personal greeting in graffiti. ESP for sure on the left, (my initials) and does that say 'love' behind it?
Not seen in this serene image four loiterers who were not above greeting a woman of a certain age with some crude come-ons, as I had raced up the steps ahead of my companions .
Roses everywhere including the arches covered with canes. Shoulda been here in June.
Just like in New York, many are running or talking on cell phones, ignoring the huge plantings of lavender.

The buildings close by look a little different.
Not every plant is a rose bush, there are lots of large trees that look like they might have been part of the original plantings in 1986.

Visitors are strolling, but at least at 11 am on a Saturday morning, far fewer tourists than on The High Line in New York. Kids are on skates and scooters, not allowed in NYC and I had the feeling from seeing this guy and others that there's less attention to rules and security in general. Buildings that abut the Promenade Plantee are within spitting distance as in NYC, and the whole area has been revitalized by this park, which was opened in 1989. Some of the buildings display a mixture of old and new exterior walls.

We walked about half of the almost 3 mile Promenade because part was closed and John spied a likely looking cafe below on Ave. Daumesnil; I'm always ready to act agreeable where food or drink is concerned.
Missing in Paris is the brilliant diversity of plantings along The High Line in NYC and the inclusion of pieces of the track, railroads ties, and iron walls, all helping the visitor to understand what has been accomplished. But Paris has the pride of being first; future designers could build upon its successes and failures.
Under the walkway, the arcades were also redone and offer space to high-end shops below.

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