Fall is a magical time in Bruce Lockhart’s garden in Petersham, Massachusetts. Bruce’s garden is actually a collection of smaller themed gardens, including a shaded woodland area, a meadow garden, a xeric alpine environment, and more formal spaces with hedges and planting beds. Over the years Bruce has added, removed, and transplanted trees, shrubs, and perennials to create stunning plant pairings that wow all year long, but especially in autumn. In Fine Gardening issue 214, Bruce described a few of these dynamic fall combinations. Now he will explain the history and design behind three of his favorite spots in the garden.
A Fall Garden Tour
First, Bruce takes us to his meadow garden, which started as a series of Piet Oudolf–style matrix plantings. Over the years certain plants thrived and took over while others died off, unable to compete with nearby grasses. Now the meadow garden is full of tough wildflowers that can grow together with very little maintenance. In the spring the meadow gets mowed down completely but is otherwise largely left alone.
Second, Bruce takes us to his pond garden, where a gazebo looks over a charming water feature surrounded by swaying grasses that provide privacy. Along with the running water, they help set a calming, contemplative mood. These light tan grasses contrast well with the plants with purple foliage that surround the gazebo.
Last, Bruce explains the design behind one of his perennial and shrub borders. This area used to be dominated by willow (Salix spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9) trees, but these died and were replaced with tall ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grasses (Calamagrostis × acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, Zones 5–9) to add structure to the beds. In fall this area is dominated by plants with colorful faded foliage, along with bright blue aster flowers (Aster spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8, and Symphyotrichum spp. and cvs., Zones 4–8).
One might think that a garden with so many different sections would look disjointed, but instead, every area works together to create a spectacular late-season show.
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