My name is Amy Ziffer. I’ve been assisting clients 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 (but I always hasten to add that I am only nominally shady). 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 all have in common is their location in the Northeast. I and most of my clients have properties in USDA Zone 5.
I’m a lifelong gardener, having started out growing green beans and tomatoes in a little vegetable patch my parents allowed me to clear near the edge of a wooded buffer behind our house in upstate New York when I was a teenager. Although my specialty is gardening in the Northeast, my knowledge of plants and horticultural practices is considerably broader. I lived and gardened and got my Master Gardener training in Los Angeles, California. I spent a year in the U.K. visiting whatever gardens my meager income at the time would allow. I’ve lived in many places, and in every one of them I’ve made a point of learning something about the landscape, both natural and built.
I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others, so more than 15 years ago I started giving garden lectures, first in slide show format, now in PowerPoint. I present programs on a variety of gardening topics throughout southern New England and the lower Hudson Valley, speaking to flower show audiences, garden clubs, and at libraries and other venues where I can reach interested gardeners.
Along with gardening, I’ve had a dual career in publishing. A long time ago (don’t ask how long), I worked in the audio industry. I was editor-in-chief of Home & Studio Recording magazine, Los Angeles editor of Mix magazine, and a staff editor at Fine Gardening magazine. I made contributions to Reader’s Digest books and an eclectic assortment of publications including Fine Gardening, Yankee, Valley, Indoors & Out, Crisis, Camera & Darkroom, Car Audio, Audio/Video Interiors, Delta Sky, Mix, Music & Sound Retailer, Music Retailing, Electronic Musician, EQ and Recording Engineer/Producer. I proposed and then authored The Connecticut Guide (Fulcrum Publishing, 1998), a comprehensive 470-page travel resource for my home state, for which I also supplied nearly all the photographs. In 2014 my first gardening book, The Shady Lady’s Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening, was published by the University Press of New England, and I’m currently looking for a publisher for a book on North American cottage gardening. I have been a photographer for over two decades, and I maintain a large and constantly growing collection of plant and garden images. Nearly all of the photography at this website is my own.
In 2000 I had the opportunity to design and plant a cottage garden in the commercial center of the small town of Sherman, Connecticut. At the behest of a local business owner, and with his financial support, I created a public garden that also functioned as my display garden and experimental garden—my “sandbox” where I could play with plants and gardening techniques. I continued to maintain this garden entirely on a volunteer basis for more than a dozen years. In 2014, because of changing use of the commercial space in which the garden was located, it was “decommissioned.” Most of the plants found new homes at gardens around the area, but a few remain (primarily maiden grasses, lamb’s ears, and oxeye sunflower) and are looking for someone new to love them; get in touch with me using the link for my Contact form below if you’re interested.
Long as it is, this biography is just the tip of the iceberg. Please get in touch with me using the email form or phone number on the Contact page if you’d like to know more.