The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Garden Talk: Succession Planting for New Englanders

Today I will giving a talk to the Garden Club of Amherst, Massachusetts called Succession Planting for New Englanders. I am particularly pleased to be speaking in Amherst because several of the members of this garden club were on The Best of English Gardens Tour in 2014, so I will be having a reunion of sorts.

I first learned about succession planting from an article Fergus Garrett wrote in the now defunct White Flower Farm periodical called The Gardener.  The article, written in 2002, was titled "Making a Mixed Border" and was the nucleus of Christopher Lloyd's 2005 book called Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure. Garrett's article had perfect timing because I read it just as I was designing the Boccelli Garden in Peterborough. The article had plant lists and a map of the garden Garrett and Lloyd were designing for a new Zone 5 garden at White Flower farm in Connecticut. 

I carefully studied the article making notes in the margins on plants I wanted to include in the Boccelli Garden. The next step was to procure these plants which I did from a variety of local and mail-order nurseries. Sadly, my three main sources of plants, Blue Meadow Farm in Montague, MA, Heronswood Nursery in Kingston, Washington, and Conway's Nursery in  Little Compton, Rhode Island are all now closed. Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on some top notch components of a mixed border: trees, shrubs, perennials, biennials, annuals and bulbs from these nurseries. My talk today will be about my successes and failures in trying to adapt a watered down and simplified version of the planting style at Great Dixter in the cold soil of New Hampshire.


  1. I've long envied the incredibly labor-intensive way that Great Dixter borders were put together for continuous bloom (despite never visiting in person), and I read Succession Planting with awe and trepidation. I'd love to watch a video of your talk if you make one. As I live in the midwest, I can't make your talk in person, sadly... Or if you summarize your points in your next blog post, that would be great too. Thanks! -Beth

    1. Hi Beth,
      That is a great idea. It might take em a while to do it, but I may give it a shot. I certainly don't do things at such a high level as Great Dixter but the design principles can be applied to a garden in almost any zone.



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