Garden Design/Philosophy


I’ve been helping homeowners in western Connecticut with their gardening needs since 1998. My nickname is “The Shady Lady” because my business name is A Shady Lady Garden Design. I started the business intending to specialize in shade gardening, but in practice my work has had a much broader scope. Clients have asked me to design or care for gardens in both shade and sun, from foundation plantings to flower borders to vegetable gardens, and even the occasional pond. The one thing they’ve all had in common is their location in the Northeast.

Most professional gardeners develop some strong opinions about gardening over time, and I’m no exception. I advocate the use of native plants whenever and wherever possible and practical, although I continue to use non-native plants in my designs partly because of my own appreciation for their strengths and my clients’ needs and wishes. I am interested in finding ways for people to coexist with wild creatures instead of dominating or eradicating them. I seek to minimize the use of garden chemicals by such methods as careful selection of plants for disease resistance. Perhaps most importantly, I stress a practical approach to the whole process of making satisfying landscapes. What does that mean?

A long time ago, I observed that most gardens are minimally planned, overplanted and undermaintained. I believe it is part of my job to help clients (and readers of my garden writing, visitors to this website, and members of the audience at my garden lectures) develop realistic expectations, budgets and maintenance programs, and show them how to plan and prepare their gardens adequately and educate them about the long-term benefits of doing so. I think ordinary people will only remain enthusiastic about gardening if they get good results, and I’m dedicated to helping them get those results.

Although I do present myself as a gardening authority, I am always careful to acknowledge that my knowledge is limited. I know that there’s always more to learn. I’m always interested in having a dialogue with other gardeners, both professional and recreational, about all aspects of gardening and the broader ecological context in which all of our human activities take place. I welcome all constructive input, so please feel free to write me using the form on the Contact┬ápage.