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

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Walking on E. 81st after the last snow, I stop in my tracks. Can it be? There's a stick-like thing in the compacted soil of a treewell across from Antonucci's Cafe. A close look confirms my diagnosis.
There are the thorns, the greenish colored stems and the sharp cuts that indicate careful pruning. It's a rose bush, under a tree, roots weighted down by stone pavers. Ugh!

Pat Shanley, Founding President of the Manhattan Rose Society, and now V.P. of the American Rose Society goes around the country lecturing about rose growing. She says that her most frequently asked question is where on earth roses grow in Manhattan. I've lent her a few of my images for her talks. Now I have a new one for her.

I go inside Antonucci's and even though it's early, the lone guy setting up responds to my rap on the window. Yes, it's a pink rose that drew lots of attention last spring, planted by the landlord or the restaurant owner, he doesn't know which. I'll be checking out it's progress this year.
Other Places in Manhattan to See Roses
Climbing up a typical brownstone facade...
In a community garden in Chelsea...
 at the Central Park Zoo...
  in the Historic Rose District of Upper Manhattan, a Rosa 'Harison's Yellow'...
 on Park Avenue, with Will Ryman's sculptures in 2011...
up on The High Line, Rosa 'Mutabilis' blooming in summer, later with hips...
on Ann Kugel's 12th floor terrace...
Hanging in the basement of my building where the super Super allows me to dry perfectly in the heat...
and on the rooftop garden which I plant for my building, and where Annabelle and Lucy Platt thought the deliciously scented 'Graham Thomas'  rose was named for their Grammy...
and where 'All the Rage' blooms freely all summer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


The latest blizzard forced me to flee Boston, abandon the New England Grows wholesale garden trade show, a Garden Writers meeting and my book-signing demo at the Andover Bookstore. All were cancelled because of this latest force of nature.
On my return to NYC I head out in the fresh snow to check on my own plants and those in a one block radius of my home (all I could manage before the sidewalks were shoveled).

I see my surroundings with fresh eyes.  It had been bitterly cold; above, the coral bark Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku') had turned, of all things, bright coral, something I wait for all year. Then the snow dust highlighted the color against the brick of my building where I had sited it.
The conifers in my roof garden looked particularly handsome,
while a block away, heavy snow on this yew tried to impede the progress of every passerby. I had never noticed this shrub before, yew being my least favorite evergreen. Now I was forced to pay attention.
And in the always serene garden of All Souls Unitarian Church, the snow highlighted a grouping of three wise men I hadn't seen before.
Leaving the garden, yet another enhanced site, the welcoming arch and gate, propped open even at 7am when I went out to photograph.
 And on my way home, more metal with snow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Where are we on a frigid Superbowl Sunday?
Need another clue?
Gardening New Yorkers will immediately recognize the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
We're at the Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery for the opening reception of the show "Visions of Nature". It's the annual showcase for adult students and instructors of the popular art classes at the BBG.
After  years of teaching gardening classes there, I led my first art workshop this fall, in conjunction with the publication of my new book, Artful Collage from Found Objects. Two of my students entered works in the show, as did I, their Garden Memories in Collage.
Above, Season Transition by Laura V. Osorio, collage with papers, bark, pressed plant materials.
 Above, Light in the Forest  and detail by Gail R. Levine, collage with papers, bark, cones, pressed plant materials.
Above, Greening the Westside Rooftops by Ellen Spector Platt, photo collage with found papers and netting, mixed media. I'm always trying to add roofgardens to the city, one way or another.

Also much admired was PD Packard's Wild Black Eyed Susan, ink and watercolor on Kozo Paper, from the Chinese brush painting class.

These guys and I admire the photos from Karen Bell's classes in nature photography at the Garden. In fact I'm scheming how I could take one of her classes myself.
For more information and a link to this show, see the article top left of this blog in the BYTE NOW
And if you need another excuse to visit the garden now, the important bonsai collection in the same conservatory building offers this cherry in bloom among the specimens.
Click on any image to enlarge.

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