Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Container Workshop and Guided Tour...

The HSNY has recently partnered with Gracious Home to expose the wonderful people of Manhattan to the world of horticulture. We will be offering a variety of workshops that will be of interest not only to our members, but to the customers of Gracious Home as well.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of bringing a group of guests on a guided tour of the Historic Flower District of New York, where I shared my secrets of how to successfully navigate the maize of store fronts. We then returned to Gracious Home Chelsea, located on 26th street, where I conducted a well-attended workshop on container gardening. We covered the basics of design and plant combinations, which was followed by a hands-on demonstration of designing and planting your own container garden.

Here we are at the Flower District, 28th street, discussing what to look for when you're shopping and purchasing plants at the market.

Some of the attentive audience at Gracious Home seemingly entranced by the lecture.

Discussing the importance of preparing a container and the selection of the proper soil mixture.

In the process of creating a wonderful container garden for a shady area.

Using a silver salad bowl to 'serve-up' a unique container garden of succulents

Check the HSNY or Gracious Home websites for information on the next available workshop .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Carol Bove "Plants & Mammals" at the HSNY

Artnet Magazine review:

BOVACIOUS by Charlie Finch

Carol Bove proves once again that the sexiest part of the body is the mind (especially hers) in her brilliant installation, "Plants & Mammals," on view Apr. 15-Sept. 10, 2009, at the New York Horticultural Society.

The society is an oasis on the 13th floor of a modest building on West 37th Street. It consists of a reading room bathed in morning light and a series of valuable books on plants, which Bove expertly uses as the matrix of her show. Like Borges, Bove is all about knowledge best expressed intuitively. Here she creates a sanctuary out of objects that appear to be found, but are in fact rigorously assembled and arranged.

Bove's altar consists of a piece of driftwood hanging like a rifle from a chain, a delicate netting made of silver, a metal vulvation which pulsates in the imagination like a feminine John Chamberlain and two peacock feathers arranged like a pair of spectacles. She has also produced an accordion book of 20th-century daffodil varieties chronicled by the horticulturist Janine Lariviere, some of whose live plants grace the rear of the show.

Finally, as a way of introducing the animal part of her meditation, Carol has produced a print memorial tribute to Marilyn Monroe, which reads in part, "Marilyn today has passed the dark barrier. . . . Farewell, perfect mammal." Bove's show presents her preoccupations as a throwback to the Byronic conceit that the world is alien from the pathetic fallacy of our romantic perceptions, and she has doubts about the safe harbor of the intellect as well.

What we find and cherish is arbitrary and is also art. She has suspended her doubts long enough to produce this wonderful little show, which you can visit after throwing your body into the new pedestrian spaces millimeters from the trucks and taxis in Times Square, another tendentious installation, but that is a separate story.

"Carol Bove with Janine Lariviere, Plants & Mammals, Apr. 15-Sept. 10, 2009, at the Horticultural Society of New York, 148 West 37th Street, New York, N.Y. 10018.

CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).

Photos by Chris Murtha

Visit artnet Magazine...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Edible Weeds

America's obsession in eradicating weeds from the landscape has become a full time job. Instead of spending so much money on chemicals and the time to apply them, we should start to re-direct our energies into harvesting these weeds for our consumption. Many weeds are not only edible, but they are turning up in our green markets being sold for a profit.

When you are frustrated with those patches of dandelions in your lawn or the ever present
clump of shotweed, instead of getting mad, get them! For centuries, plants we now refer to as 'weeds' were used for their nutritional value as well as medicinal properties. Many weeds attract beneficial insects and birds, while reducing insect predation on our desired plants.

The following list includes some of the tastiest intruders you'll encounter...

Taraxacum officinale, dandelion

This is probably the most identifiable weed on our list. All parts of the dandelion are edible, but the greens are high in vitamins A and C, and iron. Young leaves are delicious in a salad, while older leaves can be steamed or sauteed. My grandfather was fond of the wine made from the dandelion flowers.

Portulaca oleracea, purslane

In the heat of summer, purslane grows amazingly fast. It has one of the highest concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids, five times the amount of spinach. The stems are high in vitamin C. It is wonderful cold in salads and cooked, has the nutritional benefits of okra.

Chenopodium album, lamb's quarter

The European relative of spinach, lamb's quarter bears large quantities of edible leaves from mid-spring to early fall. It is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron. This annual can be cooked or used raw in salads.

Cardamine oligosperma, springcress or shotweed

Springcress, sometimes called bittercress, is a veracious grower. With spring-loaded seed pods, it throws seeds in a 10 foot radius. This plant is not only edible, but very nutritious. Young leaves can be added to salads, they have that familiar cress bite, or the plant can be cooked.

Tips on safe weed harvesting....
  • Always get permission before picking any plants on property that isn't yours
  • Never eat a plant unless you have a positive identification for it and know for sure which parts are edible. Some plants are poisonous; some plants have certain parts that are poisonous. Do your rersearch.
  • Never harvest plants that have been exposed to herbicides or pesticides, road salt, asphalt runoff or pet waste.
  • Resist the urge to immediately replace all the greens in your diet with weeds! Instead, gradually introduce weeds to your meals.
  • If you are on medication or pregnant, take the time to carefully research each plant so that you can ensure it is safe and compatable with any medications you may be taking. *

*Edible Weeds, Bobbi Gustafson & Corrina Marote