A tour of the Lloyd Border at White Flower Farm


A tour of the Lloyd Border at White Flower Farm Transcript

Hi. I’m Cheryl, the Head Gardener at White Flower Farm. Welcome to the Lloyd Border. First, a little bit of history and then we can go for a stroll. Back in the year 2000, the area that you see behind me was nothing more than a large expanse of lawn that ran alongside a split rail fence. Eliot Wadsworth, the owner of White Flower Farm, envisioned a substantial-sized garden in this site. A primary goal of this garden was to demonstrate that it is possible to create a border with a very long season of interest here in New England. Eliot employed the creative mind and garden design savvy of Fergus Garrett the head gardener at Great Dixter, which is the English home of Christopher Lloyd, gardener and garden writer extraordinaire. Influenced by the long border at Great Dixter, Fergus created the very first planting plan for our own long border.

The site work for the new garden took place in the spring of 2001 and by fall I was putting into place and planting the first trees, shrubs, and perennials. The garden has been a work in progress ever since. The garden plan has changed and evolved over the years…after all what works well in an English garden doesn’t necessarily work well in a New England garden as I have learned through trial and error. Although some of the original cast has moved on, the bones of the garden remain the same as does the garden’s purpose.

Let’s go for a stroll….The garden itself is 280 feet long and 20 feet wide. It’s backed by an 8 foot high European beech hedge that provides a neutral green backdrop for the border. The garden as a whole demonstrates the principles of good garden design plus a few surprises. One planting concept that I learned from Fergus is succession planting. The idea is to get as much interest as possible out of a given garden space by combining two or more plants in that area. Here is a simple example of succession planting. The corner of the Lloyd garden is anchored by the perennial Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ which is a superb, late summer blooming garden plant all on its own. Here I have interplanted the Sedum with Browallia americana, which is a great blue flowering annual in its own right. Since June, the star-like blue blossoms of the browallia have been dancing above the fleshy sedum which has been busy evolving on its own growing in girth and starting to set flower buds. In a few weeks the Sedum flowers will open and overlap with the browallia creating yet another scene in this one garden space. In this one spot of garden real estate, there has been a succession of garden scenes unfolding throughout the garden season.

The original garden plan incorporated the creation of open spaces in the garden that were specifically earmarked for summer bedding plants to be added into the garden amidst the more permanent perennials and shrubs. Planning in this way allows for creativity and new bedding plant schemes from one year to the next so the border is never the same two years in a row. I still happily cling to this garden concept today.

The big bedding-out time happens in June and takes nearly a week to accomplish. I like to play with color, both that of leaves and flowers. I like to mix up the cool color harmonies with jolting color contrasts. In this garden section, shades of soothing lilacs and purples rule the scene. The ornamental and edible Kale ‘Redbor’ provides a perfect backdrop for the cool, light tones of Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’ and the celestial flowers of the perennial Kalimeris incisa ‘Blue Star.’ The purple spires of the hummingbird magnet, Salvia ‘Amistad’ stand tall while purple clusters of Verbena bonariensis hover over the relaxing scene. And then, right at the feet of the kale, I like to add in a contrasting zing of Zinnia ‘Profusion Orange’ to spice things up and not let you get too comfortable. As we make our way down the border, clusters of Cannas catch the eye. Cannas have always held a position of prominence in the garden. The broad leaf texture of these statuesque plants is the perfect backdrop for the busy, finer textured annuals and perennials. It’s also fun to bounce bold and pastel flower colors off of these lovely large leaves. The cannas are not winter hardy here in Northwest CT. Each fall, after the first light frost, the cannas are cut back, dug, and overwintered indoors. The next spring they find their way back to the border.

I hope this glimpse of the Lloyd border inspires you to try something new and grand in your garden!