Derek Fell, publisher and editor-in-chief of Avant Gardener, starting with the 2012 August issue
Carolyn Fell, gardener and garden designer
Avant Gardener was founded by Tom and Betty Powell in 1964 as a way to keep gardeners informed about horticultural news that is unbiased, objective and accurate. Since then the newsletter has won awards for literary excellence from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the Garden Club of America, Bedding Plants Inc, and twice from the Garden Writers Association. Following Betty's death and his retirement, Tom transferred ownership to garden writer, Derek Fell, starting with the August 2012 issue.
A former director of the National Garden Bureau and winner of more awards from the Garden Writers Association than any other person, Derek has produced more than 100 garden books and garden calendars. With the transfer of ownership is a change of address. Previously edited from Tom's apartment in Manhattan, the newsletter is now edited from historic Cedaridge Farm, a 20-acre test garden in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (zone 6) which is used to conduct trials of plant varieties and garden products. A separate property, Cedaridge South on Sanibel Island, Florida (zone 10) is used to conduct tests on tropical plants and also temperate plants during the frost-free winter season.
In addition to providing news of noteworthy new varieties among edible and ornamental plant introductions, Avant Gardener tests new garden products and gardening techniques, imparts valuable how-to information, recognizes outstanding garden design and innovation, recommends gardens to visit, profiles garden experts, and – most importantly – exposes deception and inaccuracies in the garden industry. In order to be impartial in its reporting, the newsletter is tied to no institution or commercial concern, carries no advertising and does not sell its mailing list.
Born and educated in England, Derek Fell first gained writing experience as a reporter for the Shrewsbury Chronicle group of newspapers, then as a catalog manager for Europe's biggest seed house, Hurst Seeds. In 1964 he immigrated to the United States to work as catalog manager for Burpee Seeds and became a naturalized US citizen in 1970. After six years with Burpee he was invited by the American garden seed industry to head All-America Selections (the national seed trials) and the National Garden Bureau (an information office to promote the growing of plants from seed). He has written for numerous magazines, including Architectural Digest, Woman's Day, Horticulture, Garden Design and Gardens Illustrated. He owns a color photo library of 150,000 images and worked as a consultant on vegetable gardening to the White House during the Ford Administration. He founded and hosted Step-by-Step Gardening, a one and two-hour garden show for the QVC television shopping channel, and many of his books have won best book awards from the Garden Writers Association.
Notable among Derek's books are Renoir's Garden, The Magic of Monet's Garden, Cezanne's Garden, Van Gogh's Gardens, The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright and Vertical Gardening. Derek is married, with three grown children and lives with his wife, Carolyn – a landscape designer – at Cedaridge Farm..