Sunday, August 29, 2010

Succession plantings and paying attention to plants

I attended a most interesting symposium 'Speaking of Plants' this weekend at the NC Arboretum.  The draws for me were Fergus Garrett (Head Gardener and CEO at Great Dixter, an amazing garden in the south of England developed by Christopher Lloyd) and Carol Reese, an Extension Agent from Tennessee, who has an excellent reputation as a speaker. Neither disappointed.

Fergus Garrett was remarkable. An excellent plantsman and gardener, to be sure, he articulated a continuing vision for Great Dixter in a way that brought it to life, and his second talk about plant combinations and succession planting was excellent -- I wanted to sign up immediately for a week-long course at Great Dixter, and I'm not really a practitioner of intensive gardening.   But I loved his focus on plants and their characters;  pay attention to their foliage, not just their flowers, he said, and how they look throughout the season.

It was an great symposium (even if way too heavy on the lectures; as an adult learner (and consumer of such programs), and a program organizer for adult programs myself, I think a MAXIMUM of presentations is 3 per day, and that's stretching it, even if they're 45 minute presentation.

We had 4 the first day, and 3 the second -- all for an hour and 15 minutes, with time for questions only with the final speaker!  Yikes!

You've got to provide some balance: interaction with other participants, garden walks with the speakers, garden study tours --- anything to get your audience of keen gardeners outside and refreshed a bit, before diving back into presentations.

entrance to the upper parking lot at the NC Arboretum
The NC Arboretum is looking great.  I particularly admired this planting at the entrance to one of the parking lots.

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