Four Seasons of Gardening

By Donald Partelow

Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County presented a special online program, entitled the Four Seasons of Gardening, for the Pawling Library on the evening of Tuesday, December 8th. The  program drew garden enthusiasts from far and wide.
Opening the program was Joyce Tomaselli, CCEDC Community Horticulture Resource Educator.  Ms. Tomaselli is responsible for running Community Horticulture Programs, as well as CCEDC’s Master Gardener Volunteer Program in which experts speak on topics that they’re especially interested in or passionate about.
Ms. Tomaselli introduced our guest speaker Master Gardener Volunteer Philomena Kiernan who is presenting gardening programs now in  her twelfth year.
Ms. Kiernan focused her program on the four season garden, also known as  succession planting or layering, and planning and design. “We’ll be spending a lot of time looking at two examples from my garden,” said Ms. Kiernan,  “and how the plants change through the course of the season.”
During this powerpoint presentation the audience was also treated to Philomena Kiernan’s photography. Her images of flowers, especially the close-up photos,  were as exceptional as her lecture. 
The reason for a four season garden, Ms. Kiernan explained, was to have something interesting, colorful and vibrant in the garden all year round.
She talked in detail about succession planting or layering, which means that while some plants in the garden are waning others are growing in to take their place. A four season garden does not happen overnight, and for many gardeners, it’s never completed as new plants are added to the design.  
To have a successful garden we learned, planning is key. A really important part is research, reading labels, and understanding what is meant by the bloom time. Ms. Kiernan stressed that you want to make sure the plants being placed in the garden  work well together.
“Gardening has taught me patience,” said Ms. Kiernan. She explained that in different garden conditions the plants can grow a little bit differently and recommended to just wait and see what will happen in your garden, and be patient.
There was a great deal more information that was provided by Ms. Kiernan in her lecture.  She recommended  two books at the end of  the program, Succession Planting for year-round pleasure, by Christopher Lloyd and The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage, by David Culp. At the close one of our participants said, “Philomena, your garden is absolutely beautiful. You’re really a lover of beauty.” This is most certainly true and we look forward to having more beautiful Master Gardening programs at our library.