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Amy Ziffer’s wealth of experience as a professional gardener and former garden magazine editor are at the root of her “real-world” approach, focusing on techniques the average home gardener can employ to create successful, beautiful outdoor spaces.
"Cottage Courageous: Adapting a Classic Garden Style to the Northeast"
"Structure and Ornament in the Garden"
"Shade Revealed: How to Have Success in Low Light (Really!)"
"Containers that Won’t Quit"
"Gardening Naturally with Northeast Natives"
"April to November: Designing a Sunny Border for Eight Months of Bloom"
Inquire for other topics; Amy is happy to create custom programs
Amy has experience speaking at arboreta, garden shows, symposia, libraries, and garden clubs. Her fee is $400 for in-person talks (plus expenses for travel outside the western Connecticut area) and $275 for Zoom presentations.
A typical reference: “Amy Ziffer presented a wonderful lecture…for the Berkshire Botanical Garden. The program was well attended and very well received…”
Amy Ziffer's experience includes 20 years of helping clients create beautiful gardens on their residential properties. She is a former staff editor at Fine Gardening magazine and has been a Master Gardener for nearly 30 years. Her freelance work as a garden writer and photographer has appeared in many publications.
Amy’s specialty is cold climate ornamental gardening in the Northeast U.S. Her newest program (Spring 2022) is "Structure and Ornament in the Garden." A hallmark of great garden design is spatial definition—the boundaries, vertical accents, focal points, and embellishments composed of non-living elements that shape both the garden and our experience of it. This talk examines the idea that the success of a garden is to a large extent not a function of the plants in it per se, but rather how we are compelled to interact with the space. It covers both functional and ornamental design details and especially the merger of the two.
“Cottage Courageous: Adapting a Classic Garden Style to the Northeast” is a very popular program that was the basis for a Horticulture magazine article. It showcases her own experimental cottage garden, which she built and maintained on a volunteer basis in the center of her small Connecticut town. She discusses how to adapt the classic cottage garden style inherited from the English gardening tradition to the Northeast’s more challenging climate and environment. She talks about the importance of matching plants to local conditions, using self-sowing plants to attain that “accidental on purpose” look so characteristic of cottage gardens, and also covers many design and upkeep questions.
Amy’s shade gardening program, “Shade Revealed: How to Have Success in Low Light (Really!)” is a comprehensive look at the best performing perennial plants for shade at northern latitudes. This presentation was the basis for Amy's 2014 book The Shady Lady's Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening. An expanded second edition is available to readers as of May 2022. The Guide is a regional book about ornamental shade gardening that offers a simple, proven method for bringing sunlight-deprived areas of your property to life. Amy shares a unique approach to garden design that's meant to ensure a high likelihood of success and a minimum of failure by basing choices on the relative performance potential of different plants. The second edition includes an expanded illustrated plant gallery with over forty new photos, an updated taxonomic classification of the plants, and an entirely new chapter placing shade gardening in the broader context of forest ecology. With your help, The Shady Lady's Guide to Northeast Shade Gardening will continue to be the definitive resource for all sun-challenged regional gardeners!
“Containers that Won’t Quit” draws on Amy's long experience creating container combinations for clients. If you’ve ever been disappointed with the performance of plants that fizzle in the heat or just don’t like container culture, this program is for you. It’s accompanied by lists of the best, readily obtainable plants for long season performance. An expanded version of this talk can serve as a great demonstration-based class covering container planting from A to Z.
In Spring 2022 Amy revamped her "Gardening Naturally with Northeast Natives" talk. It introduces gardeners to a large selection of readily obtainable natives that can be integrated easily into New England perennial gardens. She focuses on plants that offer utility, beauty, adaptability, and deer resistance and discusses basic design considerations to ensure success season after season.
Finally, "April to November: Designing a Sunny Border for Eight Months of Bloom" is a program filled with tips and techniques for ensuring continuous color over a long growing season.
Amy is always interested in creating custom shows, so if your group would like to hear a presentation about a subject not mentioned here, please ask!
Amy’s shows are PowerPoint presentations run from a laptop computer she provides. All shows are richly illustrated with dozens of color images. She requests that host facilities provide a digital projector, screen, lectern, and (ideally but optionally) hands-free voice amplification for large rooms. Fees for in-person talks begin at $400 and are based on the time commitment involved, including travel. Lower fees may be negotiated for small, local groups with limited budgets; inquire for details. Zoom presentations are $275.
native plant garden
New England/Northeast garden
cold climate garden