Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gotham Gardens in the Clouds

Herbal Heights

The New York City Chapter of the Garden Writers (GWA) held a meeting last night in Manhattan in one of those glorious rooftop gardens that inspire movies and poetry among artists and envy in gardeners – especially the urban gardener.  

Ellen Spector Platt hosted the meeting cum dinner party at her building’s rooftop on the Upper East Side. 
What's better than sitting in a garden in the sky, eating and drinking and talking about gardens?

Ellen explained she nurtures this garden solo.  
I remarked how lucky her neighbors are that she takes care of the entire garden.
Without hesitation she asserted, “How lucky am I that I get to work in this garden every day?!”

The world of gardening took on a decidedly selfless and inclusive perspective from this height…

The rooftop garden with the view

Just like any proud gardener, Ellen couldn’t wait to take us on a garden tour – showing off her herbal and vegetable garden. 

Ellen Spector with her herbs 

Ellen and me (and the basil)

She told us about a quaint tradition she started a few years ago, encouraging neighbors to come to the garden and “Pinch an Inch” of the herbs to use in their cooking. 
It’s like having your own private garden estate a mile up!

For those of you not in the neighborhood, enjoy the garden from the blog, “Garden Bytes From The Big Apple”
that is written and maintained by “The Two Ellens” as I heard them referred to.
That would be Ellen Spector and Ellen Zachos. 

Zachos is an energized talent that is in constant motion. She is a singer, writer, gardener and also is the Garden Coordinator for The New York Botanical Garden’s Continuing Education program in Gardening. 
Not to mention a wonderful supportive garden goddess. Whew!

                                          Pictured is Ellen Zachos, Left talking it up with author Cindy Krezel

It was a Pot Luck Dinner. The buffet table laid out with fabulous food fare. 

I brought the spicy wild arugula and mache from Satur Farms. 
Eberhard Muller and his spectacular wife, Paulette Satur, own and manage Satur Farms.
Chef  Eberhard is a legendary master chef and he will be featured in my book:
The Long Island Homegrown Cookbook” about Master Chefs and the gardens that inspire them.

Satur Farms is an amazing operation.  Beautiful, flavorful, clean vegetables and herbs picked and delivered fresh every day.

You can find Satur produce in all the best restaurants and in Whole Foods and Fairway.

Eberhard showing how the produce is cleaned and admiring a fresh-picked leek below

To top off the greens, I brought the edible flowers from Windfall Farms, from their stand at the Union Square Greenmarket. Pretty and colorful confetti of nasturtiums, violets, chamomile and johnny jump ups.

Just saw the talented and dreamy farmer, Kevin Caplicki there at Windfall Farms today. 
We first met farmer Kevin and owner Morris Pitts last fall when we visited Windfall Farms for Savoy Restaurant’s Chef Peter Hoffman’s location of choice photo shoot for the book.  It was the garden/farm that helps inspire his culinary art. 
One look at their luscious vegetables and herbs and there is not doubt how the colors and textures seduce chefs and cooks…

HSNY Penthouse Perch

Great Rosarians of the World Lecture Series

Tomorrow, be sure to attend The Horticultural Society of New York event featuring Sarah Owens, Curator of the Cranford Rose Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 
A horticulturist and ceramic artist, Sarah will speak about the beloved Rose and its ability to inspire artists. 
I worked with Sarah at BBG and she contributed to the Fine Gardening team for Duchess Designs, LLC, my landscape design firm.  She possesses an artist’s soul – and a Hollywood style that she makes her own!  (People often say she looks like Julia Roberts) 

But whether discussing roses with Martha Stewart on air or explaining best hort practices with a client, she is utterly charming. 
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see and hear Sarah.

Thursday, June 17th
Celebrating Forgotten Treasures: The Use of Uncommon Roses in Today’s Landscape with Sarah Owens

Register Online or call 212-757-0915 x 100

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In The Garden

The past two days of glorious cool June weather almost makes up for the weekend’s crushing, blistering heat and tornado-like winds (the last came with a warning at least.)

Back to seasonal garden highlights.  
Here’s what I’ve been up to in the garden and you can borrow a tip if you’ve not done so already in your garden….

I sheared the ever-blooming red roses along the Arbor Rouge in order to stimulate the blossoms for a repeat display later this month. The arbor composition has Coral Bark trees as the mainstay draping languidly around the arbor’s “model-svelte” frame that is subtly sparkly at night- lit from within by solar powered soft white lights, and is fronted by red-twigged dogwoods.  It’s so vivid in the winter with the white snow striking a contrast with the red barks of trees and shrubs.
In the summer, the Lady in Red Hydrangea and Red Knock Out ever-blooming Roses makes for borders that are rich and colorful. 

It’s very romantic to walk the arbor – day or night – in any season and it concludes just as you step into the herb garden terrace area with the dramatic backdrop of the New York City skyline like a string of diamonds, just beyond the blue, blue bay.

I am hoping the blooms will be dressed out in time for a sweet engagement party at the end of this month and the Independence Day party that we host to celebrate the spectacular fireworks display the town sets off from the marina right in front of our eyes!  As an added gift this year, we are hosting my wonderful cousins, Missy and Teri and her daughter – the gorgeous, Margo. Well, all three of the girls are all pretty gorgeous, actually!

*  Yikes, as I was writing this, the bloody groundhog practically joined me for coffee here on the garden terrace!  Shoosh!  I do not find him attractive at all - and a bit too zaftig for eating plants I think...
He likes my herbs too.  But I can assure you - not on my watch...

We planted the rest of the tomatoes started from seed in the lower garden – or as we’ve come to call it the “Back Forty” or simply “The Farm.”

The Black Krim tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes I received from Hort Couture ( have done splendid from day one! 

 See the yellow blossoms popping out all over the plant. 

The Hemigraphis ‘Blackberry Waffle’ tri-colored ivy has had mixed results. 
You can see here that several of them are fantastic – dripping from the urns. But two others haven't grown at all.  I'm hopeful though. (Aren't all gardeners blessed with too much hope?!)

Quick aside as I read some of my fellow bloggers writing about other breeders and how their lack of attention to packing plants for shipment resulted in DOA plants.

Hort Couture’s test plants came to the door in top shape, being carefully wrapped and packaged. 
They also provided comprehensive background information for the test plants and their full line. 
Great attention to detail.

In what Hort Couture - who offers self-described "... High Fashion Plants" includes whimsical yet helpful plant care labels with every plant.  So glamorous...

The plant label for the ‘Blackberry Waffle“ notes
“Why: Awesome cupped purple leaves with cream and pink highlights”
I placed them with purple heliotrope and dracena and next to pink guara or Dancing Butterflies and it’s pure poetry J
“Where: Likes full to part sun & great for mixed containers.
  This all so true and it’s in a perfect environment – setting off the containers and their companion plants brilliantly.
“With:  Super with flowers of pale and hot pink and silver foliage.” 
See above – and oh, they are next to silver lyschimia too and also set off the grey of the blue stone and terrace. 
These waffles are a very glamorous addition to the ornamental herb garden.

In addition to general decorative guidelines, the Hort Couture team puts care icons on the plant label so you can see at a glance where to site the plant, how tall and wide it gets, how much water and fertilizer and what zone. 

If only all relationships came with such care tips!

We keep eating the incredible, sweet, crisp peas – cooked or in salads -- remarkably, this also helps to keep them around longer.  
Talk about a win/win!  
Same is true for the lettuces and the arugula (although that’s almost all gone – too hot – plus we enjoyed eating it and sharing almost too much.)

My hollyhocks have re-bloomed from their original early spring fashion display in front of the Compost Cabana.
I will stake up shortly to help these top models sustain their glamorous posture.


And of course, all the beds got a “Basic Black” top dressing of shredded mulch. 
Can never have too much of that little black outfit!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Garden Conservancy Hosts Patrick Chasse

The Garden Conservancy presented a lecture last evenining
by esteemed landscape architect and historian
Patrick Chassé
Choices: Honoring, Restoring,
and Adapting Historic Landscapes
Thursday, June 3, 2010 at the 
New York School of Interior Design 
New York City

Patrick Chassé talked about the aesthetic, economic, and ethical challenges of restoring and adapting historical landscapes by the Olmsted Brothers, Beatrix Farrand, Jens Jensen, among others, and how those conservation lessons learned have implications for the creation of new landscapes.

For more information, visit

Also this weekend: At Bellefield in Hyde Park, New York, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 6, Patrick Chassé will speak on The Maine Work of Beatrix Farrand.

Missed the lecture?  (shame!) But buy the books to see why these gardens are so important to save and visit as part of our cultural landscape: