Thursday, June 30, 2011

A quiet picnic

After an afternoon and early evening of bustling activity on the terrace, the apartment filled with camera equipment, moved furniture, copious glasses of prosecco, the cat at last getting his 15 minutes of long-awaited fame, centre stage, everyone packed up, left and we carried a tray of leftovers and picnic to the roof for supper.

* Leftovers:

Chilled garlic scape soup (again)
Chicken breasts roasted with chopped bayberry leaves, lemon zest, black pepper and grated young garlic
Duck rillettes from Stinky
La Tur cheese

Now we must hold our collective breaths until early next spring, when I may crow about it  less cryptically. Nicer people could not have shot, assisted, or directed. A really happy experience.

Litter Mob 5, help wanted

Rubus occidentalis

Our 5th Litter Mob will take place on Tuesday, July 5th in Prospect Park. I can promise you wild black raspberries, possible mushrooms, bird song and...litter.

If that sounds agreeable please get in touch and meet us at 9am at the corner of East Drive and Center Drive in the park, just off the Flatbush Avenue entrance to the park. Take the B/Q to Prospect Park, or the 2/3 to Grand Army Plaza and walk about 12 minutes.


We will be fresh off a long weekend in Pennsylvania and feeling quite grumpy. Apparently this July 4th weekend is notorious for trash. Will the woods have been hopping?

We shall see.

The Rosarian

June roses at the BBG.

From my interview for ShelterPop with Sarah Owens, who curates the Cranford Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden...

In what USDA zone were you born?

I grew up in the same zone (as the BBG) - 7 - in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. But it would warm up two to three weeks earlier than in New York and stay warm for two or three weeks longer in autumn.

What is your favourite garden chore?  


What is your least favourite garden chore?

Using blowers and other gas powered machines.

Where would you like to garden?  

I would love to garden in the Mediterranean or really anywhere with a milder winter.

(Sarah sent some of her answers in from Morocco, where she was on vacation.)

Balcony gardener

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge Cyclists

Vince's photos and link to his story are up at Gothamist, where the usual take-no-prisoners fight about cyclists vs pedestrians rages in the comments.

Read the whole funny story here.

Fruit for roof gardens

The last of the black raspberries.


See-through currants...I think currants are constructed perfectly. They are like earrings. I'd wear them if I could. A cluster of pearls, please.

The second strawberry crop is far fatter than the first.

And the figs are on their way. The Gowanus Nursery has some very nice little fig trees at the moment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To do list


Make fishcakes from last night's leftover poached salmon
Pour myself a Kir
Do a blind tasting of flat prosecco and sauvignon blanc to see if I can tell the difference
Stroke the cat ( I had nightmares about him falling off the roof last night)
Wash and chop some cilantro for the aforesaid fishcakes
Drink a Kir
Clean the roof farm lettuce leaves for salad
Peel two mangoes for another salad, with chile and mint
Decide what to do with the currants I just picked
Roast and grind more spice for TWELVE lbs of boerewors
(I ordered 6 lbs but we're taking some to Pennsylvania and want some for us, too)
Water the terrace. Oh, I have. Nevermind.
(Can you tell I am drinking the Kir?)
Debone the bloody salmon
Make a date with some live Chinatown crabs
Invite Eric and Mimi to eat them

That's it.

Oh! Fix a picnic date and location with Michael and Co.
Write a proposal for a long story (long shot).
Assess the correlation between (infrequent) hard labour and euphoria.

Now that's it.

Cold supper

We don't eat enough fish - despite enjoying it I seldom feel like preparing it, and the question of farm-raised versus wild versus sustainable is complex. Perhaps if we had a stellar fish shop like The Lobster Place nearby (Bleecker Street, Chelsea Market), I'd be there more often. Our neighborhood store does not rock my world anymore. 

But tonight I bought and poached some salmon steaks (a contradiction in terms?) and we ate them simply, with salt, pepper and lime juice and potatoes soused in a good vinaigrette with an egg yolk added and new, tender white garlic grated into that. Preceeded by cold garlic scape soup.

We drank something odd. But after seeing the label I had to buy it in honour of my quest in search of the origin of South Africa's malva poeding. Sparkling Malvasia. Weird. usually a sweet wine, it was dry - tasting strongly of raisins and toasted wood. Not a good match. Maybe with smoked reindeer??

The rest of the salmon will be turned into SE Asia-oriented fishcakes. Which are really just an excuse to eat Mrs Balls' chutney.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Edible Pokeweed

How about a delicate pokeweed scramble for breakfast? The recipe is next door at 66 Square Feet (the Food).

...the rest of the Dead Horse Bay pokeweed adventure is on Edible Manhattan's blog.

Anyone got an Airstream?

Flowers in the house

I needed to dress the terrace a little today, but the flower seller on the corner did not really have seasonal flowers in stock. Carnations. Gerbera daisies. Chrysanthemums. Freesias? And countrified bouquets of small sunflowers, yarrow and...goose-necked loosestrife. Which always comes out of my mouth as loose-necked goosestrife. You try saying it. I love it, invasive tendencies and all.

So I bought one of those countrified efforts, despite my sunflower aversion, and when I got home I noticed all the chickweed, fluffing it out, which really made me laugh. It's very clever. Bunches and bunches of chickweed. The countrified flowers all gave up the ghost this morning, their whispy flowery spirits beating at the sliding door to be let out, all except the sunflower, of course, which stood predictably firm.

So I used the chickweed to relax this bunch of white...hmmm.


Today's post is part of a Monday floral chain spanning the globe, initiated by my friend Jane, who blogs and gardens at Small but Charming.


(Scratch and sniff?)

At the Borough Hall farmers' market.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Roof farm

This nasturtium is happy. Funny, up here the plants are tiny, stunted and packed with flowers. On the terrace below they are gangly, full of broad green leaves, with few flowers; the difference between full sun and much shade. I may prefer the lankier ones as I intend to eat many leaves. I still have an aversion to eating nasturtium blossoms. I am working on it, but it feels like chewing butterflies.

I used to eat the leaves against sore throats when I was a teenager and in my Margaret Roberts phase (the early, illustrated, out-of-print books about medicinal and edible plants, wild and cultivated, are so much better than the rather horrid website - the idea of "Fairy Ship" gives me the heebie jeebies).

The long shallow troughs have not done well this year.* Last year they were popping with mesclun.

I am still curious about the slow start on the roof farm. Only now, after feeding, have things started to perk up and green up (two weeks ago many leaves were yellow). Above the Sugar Baby watermelons clamber over the beaded sheep.

These are red pear tomatoes with volunteer nicotiana, which is interesting - I had one nicotiana plant on the terrace way below. How did the seeds get up and over here? I love the plants but may give them away. They make good gifts for new gardeners. I am nursing a dozen hardy begonias for the same purpose, all sprouted on the terrace floor. I had no idea they were so prolific or easy.

And suddenly I have lettuce, some of which overwintered. Really odd. I had thought it was too late.

* It occurs to me suddenly that my troughs may simply be too hot. Last year they were on the silvertop roof. This year they are on the bluestone-clad parapet wall between our roof and Raccoon House's roof and the hot bluestone must heat up the soil in the pots. Poor things. I will move them tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Juneberry syrup

Juneberry syrup, made from the juice that remained after I cooked the fruit for the pie. Topped with sparkling Viognier.

(It would appear that my stone table is not quite level...)

Silk Road

...has opened. During the day it holds its breath. At night the air on the terrace is heavy with its clove scent.


Us, 2008

Gay marriage is at last legal in New York. The vote in the Senate in Albany came in at 33-29, so almost half the votes remained opposed. WAKE UP! Meanwhile, the State Assembly, the lower house, had passed a marriage equality bill four times.

The right to marry the person you love (and then get divorced...sorry, couldn't resist) is one of the most basic of our human rights.

Can't think of better timing. Sunday's is going to be the gayest Gay Pride ever in New York City.


Friday, June 24, 2011

ShelterPop Gardening

Stewartia pseudocamellia

Rather than reposting a link to each as it appears, all my twice-weekly gardening pieces for ShelterPop can be seen here.

Once a week I post a super-short Plant of the Week, choosing something seasonally relevant - edible, ornamental, native or exotic - and every other week I alternate Green Spotlight, a short assessment of garden or planting that has caught my eye, with Growing Curiosity, where I interview gardeners local or foreign, big and small. For this last one I will always write a companion post on 66 Square Feet, with extra questions and answers for your reading pleasure (I hope)

The High Line in June

Roughly 3 miles after starting off at Battery Park, you arrive at the High Line. 

Persicaria amplexicaulis (I think) and grass.

Stunning, and very surprising (to me) Eremurus stenophyllus.

Planted again and again, with wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) in the part called the Chelsea Grasslands.

Vince employing his small camera for macro.

More wild quinine.

White echinacea in the new section.

Magnolia virginiana planted as a metal catwalk raises you to mid branch height. Smells sweet.

The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Battery Park, Hudson River Park. New York as she never was. Destinations for plant lovers. Absolutely breathtaking.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to get to the Highline

Start at the southern tip of Manhattan, just beside the ferries to Staten Island. You'll find yourself in a garden.

Technically The Battery Bosque is the part beneath the plane trees and The Gardens of Remembrance are along the water, but both blend rather seamlessly into one another. 

The plantings are memorable, the Bosque's benches are often empty, and flowers, tourists and hungry New Yorkers share the space.

I have never visited the monuments. They do not attract me.

Alliums attract me.

You must head north, along the Hudson, and you never leave the garden. It changes names all the way, and its character changes, too. You pass huge, open, sunny lawns, hidden crescents of grass, hedges of bayberry and walk under avenues of tall locust trees in the South Cove.

In June you will find ripe juneberries. In April you will find the trees in white bloom.

You can walk beside the water or thread you way through the greener shade.

Along the length of The Esplanade that stretches all the way to the North Cove, there are gorgeous shade plantings.

And by the time you do reach the yachts of the North Cove, you'll be thirsty. We thought about beer at one of the outdoor tables here, but as Vince said in his Frenchified English, It would cut our legs.

We're heading for the Highline, remember?

The World Financial Center Plaza, beside the, hot hot...the sun beating down, glass all around amplifying the heat. Yes, loud heat. Tantalizing water. Would a cold beer really be so bad?

Tilia (linden) blossoms hanging high over the hot pavers, their scent held tight in each flower. They only breath out at night, when the city near them becomes enveloped by their perfume.

Walk on, past the parks to the left, on the water, that we do not visit, past Tear Drop Park in its cocoon of highrises, ever north.

In the shade of a building lilies bloom.

Monarda grows against a backdrop of construction at Ground Zero.

Now beside the West Side Highway, sandwiched between the broad Hudson and the eight lane highway, the garden has not been interrupted.

And within the continuous garden which is now the Hudson River Park, there are three choices for walking: The highly trafficked running and bike path, which most people choose, beside the busy highway, the river promenade beside the water, or this raised and undulating boardwalk, flowing between grasses. Was it packed? No, it was empty. The bike lanes were packed. Lemmings.

Well, we're not there yet. Maybe tomorrow. Rest your feet. Bring a camera. Pack a cold beer.