Friday, September 19, 2014

Moving a garden

Wednesday evening, above. Vince and Estorbo waiting for hummingbirds. Both of their mouths open.

Yesterday afternoon, above - plants in transit.

Yesterday evening. Roof exposed, with stone slab for our table - the lighter rectangle. I was out all afternoon (cat, cab, vet, $600 later), and, regardless of the upheaval, this was a lot of work for our landlord and his helper. Really heavy work. It may sound perverse, but I like the exposed look, because it interests the roof garden designer in me. This is excellent support for a roof garden: steel I-beams, laid on supporting walls, well off the delicate membrane - the real deal. It takes and distributes weight so well, with deck above the beams. The roof membrane below must have been very dirty/ I am sorry I didn't see it before it was hosed off. Years of debris would have collected - the spaces between deck boards are a little wide and a lot can drift down. Another rule of roof gardens is that you must have access to that under deck area for periodic cleaning, and also to the roof drain, for clearing. I lay awake at night in Cobble Hill during downpours. The deck was nailed down over the roof drain. Terrible idea.

The pots are now in our landlord's front yard, below our front windows, right on 127th Street. I hope none of the plants walk. I don't think they will. The white tarp is covering his woodpile, which materialized this summer. For the freezing winter to come. 

Today work on the leaky roof is set to start. Hopefully it does. Hopefully we'll be back out there to enjoy what's left of the very lovely weather New York is enjoying.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Harlem hummingbird

It happened. A hummingbird came to the terrace. It buzzed once, disappeared up a dark building shaft, an impossible green speck, then reappeared a few minutes later, from the other side of the terrace. It visited the jewelweed, flew off, and came back a third time. Long enough to allow Vince to take some really good pictures with an appropriate lens. I was frozen in place with my 50mm, which I had been using to shoot pictures of garlic and fennel, for a food story. But I snapped away, anyway.

The cat was sitting nearby and at one point I saw his eyes light up:

I took his picture. I thought he must be looking at a bee. But minutes later the hummingbird hovered into my field of vision.

Don't worry -  he doesn't eat birds. But he likes to watch.

I was transfixed by the sweet creature. Very, very happy.

It stayed longest at the jewelweed, which is in full bloom. I planted a few seedlings that I had brought from Inwood in the spring, in case of poison ivy contact (it's reputed to prevent the rash), and I also thought it might do well in this difficult, shady corner (it has). Little did I suspect that hummers are drawn to it. It touched on the cardinal vine several times, and on the scarlet runner beans, too. All winter  - the long winter of my discontent -  I dreamed of a summer terrace, to stay sane (it was touch and go) and ordered seeds of plants I thought might attract these tiny birds.

I hope it makes it all the way home. Wherever that is.


                  September Botanical Walk Schedule

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Terrace pleasures

Alpine strawberries, Greek yogurt, and maple syrup.

Tasted better than it looks.


September Botanical Walk Schedule

Monday, September 15, 2014

Brooklyn Bridge Park - wild edibles window shopping

Brooklyn Bridge Park, Piers 1 - 6
20 September 2014, 2pm - 4pm

Over the last six years the former wharfs of the formerly shut-off  East River waterway have been transformed into an accessible edible indigenous plant playground. Bayberry, sassafras, sweetfern, elderberry, bee balm, sumac, beach plums, pickerel weed, cattails...the list is long.

We don't collect plants in such a high profile and carefully designed setting, but I find this lovely series of waterside parks is an ideal outdoor edible classroom.

Walking ten steps reveals a new plant whose culinary qualities are under-explored or simply unknown to most cooks and eaters. We learn to ID, scratch-and-sniff, and talk about eating possibilities.

We meet at 2pm at Pier 1, at the entrance to the (hidden) wine bar and cafe near the pond (straight in line with Doughty Street), off Furman Street - see map link: look for red markers.

The closest subways are the 2/3 at Clark Street, from where it is a 10 minute walk downhill to the park, or the F to York Street.

The walk will end at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. There is plenty of good shopping upstream, and at Sahadi's you can purchase foraging-related items for the kitchen, such as powdered sumac, and mahlab (wild cherry kernels)...

Adjusted expectations

The full sun, Brooklyn days of the exuberant Clematis viticella "Etoile Viloette" are over. I mean, it tried its best. And it gave us flowers in June and again, a sprinkling, in August. It is tangled in amongst the asters I transplanted - the only plant I kept when we moved in, last October. But you could tell it was just going through the motions. It wanted sun. From dawn to dusk. Sun, sun, sun. Not just overhead for four-minus hours.

Instead, we have the Westervelt gift of the shy and lovely solitary Clematis "Roguchi" (a hybrid of the species C. integrifolia and C. reticulata), who would also flower much more prolifically in full sun, but whose beautifully formed flowers warrant individual interest.

I'm interested to see if the David Austin roses come back for a fall showing. Also gifts, this time from Michael Marriott, the rosarian for David Austin, they were very pretty in late spring and into June. Summer hit them hard and for the first time I have seen thrips as a New York City rose pest. Sun, more sun. please. This is Boscobel, a few days ago.

I am getting some pots ready for fava beans and peas, just as the cardinal vine has come into bloom. That was wishful thinking: hummingbirds, I hoped. Hm.

For all I know, it and the jewelweed have been besieged by hummingbirds. They just take off the minute I step outside.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vining vegetable


Any guesses?

Hint: it takes off in warm weather.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beautiful garlic

My bundle of Hudson Clove garlic arrived two days ago, beautifully packaged, tied, and each bulb individually labeled. There was a little bonus bunch of shallots, too.

My friend Frank grew this garlic - it was pulled in July and has been curing till now. I have seen none more beautiful. It will be employed soon in various ways: definitely in the creamy garlic soup (in my book, and a cool weather staple in my house), definitely roasted, and spread on toast - with a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper, and definitely kicking the rear of the summer sniffle I have managed to acquire.

If there is still some garlic left (it's a small-scale New York production) treat yourself or a friend to this wonderful bouquet.

I can't think of a lovelier gift. It teaches you what garlic really should be.
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