As a novice gardener, there are gardening concepts we all struggle with (dappled shade vs light shade, free draining but water retentive etc). Once you ‘get it’ you get it, until then the answer can elude you, like walking a maze in heavy fog. You know the solution is obvious but damned if you can find it.
Trying to maintain a plant scheme that looks good from spring to autumn – succession planting – was one such mystery to me. A mystery solved by the late Christopher Lloyd in his thoroughly brilliant and enjoyable book, Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners.
I used to think succession planting meant planting things in spring, then ripping everything out and replanting at some point in summer. I.e mainly for annuals, or wasting perennials. Christopher Lloyd explains in this book that that kind of is true with annuals, but you need to mix things up with shrubs, evergreens, short and long season plants and perennials. All at the same time. It’s not easy (though also not hard) but it will be a hell of a lot of fun.
What I love about this book, is that it explains a single concept clearly and expertly at the start, then shows you how in glorious detail with example after example. Using photos from all seasons of the same planting spaces at Christopher’s spectacular garden, Great Dixter, to prove how it is possible. Listing plants you can use in all kinds of situations. It’s hugely inspiring and gives you the knowledge to give it a go.
It is adventurous gardening, and it’s not for the “low maintenance” gardener – but then, I very much doubt you’d read this if you are that kind of person.
Summary: Succession Planting for Adventuruous Gardeners
Succession Planting for Adventuruous Gardeners is another book I really recommend. It’s practical, but written with a zest and humour that kept me gripped like the best novel (and I read a lot of those). I’d go far as to say it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, in fact.
The minute you start reading, you’ll want to rejig your garden to time one plant’s end of season with the start of another’s emerging leaves.
I could wax lyrical for longer, but the Galanthus nivalis bulbs I ordered to start the succession in spring, beneath summer flowering shrubs, arrived today and I need to plant them…