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

Friday, April 5, 2013


Pieris japonica, a.k.a, Japanese andromeda, or lily-of-the-valley bush. I needed a pair of shrubs to flank the entrance to my condo building. Dead-set against the boredom of yet another upright conifer I decided on Pieris. My heart was set on P.j. 'Mountain Fire', but I have no car, and when I need big trees or shrubs it's a struggle to find the varieties I want.
       One call to my friend Linda Yang, former garden columnist of the NYTimes, led me to this beautiful Pieris 'Dorothy Wyckoff'. Linda works part time at the Chelsea Garden Center in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, there to answer customer questions and make informed suggestions. As she was extolling the virtues of this Dorothy, I was madly googling images on the web.
I persuaded a condo board member and husband with car to drive out with me and view the plants.
         Chelsea manager Rose Di Costanzo couldn't have been more helpful in holding the plants in my name and answering all questions. As our committee of three were delighted with the shrubs she had them packed carefully for travel, branches wrapped up with tape to prevent breakage, then bagged to protect the car from dirt. Who cares if I'm crushed into the backseat along with the plants?
         While I was at Chelsea, of course I HAD to buy 4 flats of well-tended pansies for the treepits in front of the building, along with a roll of landscape cloth and Holly-tone acidic organic fertilizer for the shrubs.
In it's new home, the Pieris sits happily in its cast stone container, in a lightly shaded area. Within 40 mniutes of planting, the doorman logged two complaints from residents, both about water leaking from the bottom of the pot, possibly staining the sidewalk.

Was one of these the person who complained that I shouldn't plant roses on the roof because her child might get stuck by a thorn? Or maybe it was the one who told me that all of the flowers on the roof garden were attracting bees and her child might get stung. It's a good thing two small springs broke off during planting and I could console myself with a lovely miniature display in my living room.
Chelsea Garden Center Brooklyn has a sister center in Manhattan as well. Visit http://chelseagardencenter.com


BFF Nana said...

How glorious. I look forward to coming to see the entrance way soon. I'm sure the pansies will look grand surrounding the trees.

debra said...

Ellen, I love every word you write. It's like having a conversation with you in your wonderfully sunny kitchen. You have transported me to a day in the life of a Manhattan gardener ~ to what lengths she goes to obtain beautiful shrubs, pansies and more. . . not to mention the sweet little sprigs for her bud vases~ A smile is on my face~ Debra

Shady Gardener said...

What a beautiful shrub! I'll have to do a bit of research, too! Wonder if I could keep it alive here?

Ellen Spector Platt said...

My money's on you, Shady. But the only way to really tell is to try it. We've all experimented with plants we want but are recommended for slightly different conditions than what we have. Part of the fun of gardening is doing our own experiments and collecting our own data.

Frank said...

I have no patience for those who can't stand plants. Lovely pieris.

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