Photo: Plants for Sale, NYC

New York City Plants

I was browsing through some of my old photos this morning and happened upon this one, taken on a trip to New York City back in May 2005 when I was promoting my first book. Looking at this image now, on a cold winter day, the soil long ago buried underneath snow, fills me with a longing for spring and the sudden urge to reach in and rub the leaves of the tomato transplants in the foreground of the shot.

Every winter I long to smell that pungent, warm tomato leaf scent, and by the middle of every summer I have taken it for granted again. I sometimes think that it is this longing that separates those of us who live in colder climates and experience all three seasons from those of us who live in more temperate climates where the winters are mild and (at least) somewhat green. When springtime comes we are like caged animals set free. The smells! It is the smell of warm soil and new life that gets me most.

It’s time to press some seeds into little pots of moist soil. I have approximately 45 plants sitting just behind my office desk. Despite my best effort at surrounding myself with greenery, I think I’ve hit that part of the winter when what I need is the optimism and anticipation that comes when seeds germinate into new life.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “Photo: Plants for Sale, NYC

  1. I have been feeling the same way! My raised beds are covered in snow and ice and I long for some pants in my windowsill. I live a little north of you in Peterborough, same situation…not enough green!

    What will you plant? Any suggestions!?!?!?

    • I need to go through my seed stock and see what I have… I bought a bunch of seeds in the desert that I may try now. Most years I start some of my hot peppers this early… usually the Capsicum chinense… so varieties related to habanero. Those varieties tend to require a much longer season.

      I also often take this time of year to try fun and strange plants such as lithops []… other succulents, etc. I started a bunch of aloe varieties last year. It’s just fun to see how these plants look in the seedling stages.

  2. My first seed project each winter is to sow Viola tricolor (aka Heartsease or Johnny Jump Ups), a childhood love. They like cold weather and can eventually go outside earlier than other annuals (possibly into coldframes first), freeing up precious space for my later seed trays. Violas also need 12 weeks of growth before blooming so it pays to begin soon. I have an uncommon blue and purple variety sustained through my own seeds for many years, especially gratifying. It is extra exciting to see them poking up from the seedling tray at this time of year.

    I also prepare an outside Winter Sowing project in plastic milk jugs using seeds needing stratification, nature’s freeze and thaw cycles. The empty jugs are gathering and 2013′s collected seeds will be sorted, filed and then various types chosen for the jugs. The best results in that set up came with Great Blue Lobelia and Primula japonica with seedlings in the dozens.

    I, too, have myself surrounded with houseplants in every room of my home, and now is their time to bask in my personal attention, whereas during the warm months they are neglected. There are some large and ancient specimens that positively glow in the winter sun coming through the windows – corn plants (Dracaena), Palm coming into bloom, Aeonium, Pittosporum, pink Angel Wing Begonias, red Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Stapelia, Jade. The smaller ones are just as loved…Pothos, Red and Goosefoot Philodendrons (pink, straight green and one variegated), Coleus, Streptocarpus, Polka Dot Plant, Oxalis triangularis, Peperomia, Wandering Jew, All of them help to fill a void left by the brown and graying garden beds, which have been turned white no less than 7 times since December 1st. Both shades equally depressing, although the white blanket is usually more appealing to the eye as it highlights the stone steps, tuteurs, arbors, trellises and statuary.

    It’s a hard time of year for gardeners. In our weakened states are highly vulnerable tempting catalogs which induce us to spend for items we’ll have little space for when everything wakes up. As it does. Reliably. Every spring. But it’s so hard to wait.

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