Reliable Favorites

An inviting walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

An inviting walkway (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Each spring brings opportunities-and a little inspiration-to take on chores we put off over the winter. Perhaps it’s the sun’s warmth that inspires us after the long winter, or possibly just the change of seasons that makes us want to shed old “stuff” and reinvent ourselves in some small way. We might do a thorough house cleaning to refresh our spirits, paint one of our rooms a bright, cheerful color, or simply update some curtains. And for those of us whose spirits are longing to be outdoors, we may pick a few new plants to lift our spirits and celebrate the coming summer. If plant inspiration is something you’re thinking about this spring, here are a few of the long lived (in Zone 5 New England) beauties that give me great joy each year that they return. [Read more…]

Creative Containers

Lantana 'Samantha' with Coleus 'Dark Star' in A Garden For All by kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Dramatic contrast: Lantana ‘Samantha’ with Coleus ‘Dark Star’ and variegated plectranthus (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Depending on your climate, container time is nigh!  Dust off those pots, compost last year’s potting soil and round up some gorgeous new plants to adorn your doorstep, deck or driveway.  As always, plant growers have been working overtime to provide many enticing introductions, as well as improving upon the old reliables.  Let’s think outside the box and kick it up a notch with some dazzling flowers and fluorescent foliage.  Here’s a few tips and plant suggestions to do just that: [Read more…]

Fringe Benefits

Chionanthus virginicus in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Chionanthus virginicus’ fragrant tassels (Photo: Kathy Diemer)

Each spring is filled with great anticipation for the fragrant clusters of shredded coconut-like flowers that will soon adorn every branch of my fringe trees.  Sweetly honeysuckle scented, the delicate white tassels remind me of the streamers at the end of my first bicycle’s handle bars as they fluttered in the breeze. (I’m dating myself, but those of you that remember the streamers may also remember banana seats, sissy bars and playing cards attached to the spokes with clothes line pins). [Read more…]

Plants for Seasons of Fragrance

Casa Blanca Lily in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Fragrant Casa Blanca Lily (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Ornamental gardens are traditionally designed for visual impact; vivacious blossoms are chosen to display a bold array of colors while shapely shrubs and grasses enhance the landscape with complementary hues and textures. But there is an unseen aspect to the garden that can be as alluring as the view itself, like the enchanting song of a siren luring you closer to the source. In a word: fragrance.

A luscious bourbon rose in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

A luscious heirloom rose (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In 40BC, Cleopatra used sweetly scented rose petals to lure Mark Anthony to her bedchamber, and today our 21st century markets have followed suit with fragrant hygiene products and unique perfumes, all created to give us our own signature scent. People identify with fragrance, it has the power to soothe, entice or invigorate (think Aromatherapy) yet, it can also transport you in time. Think back to the fresh baked aroma of your grandmother’s apple pie or the first whiff of lilac blossoms in spring. Helen Keller said it best: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived”. [Read more…]

Darling Daffodils

Daffodils at Laurel Ridge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Daffodils at Laurel Ridge (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Growing bulbs can sometimes be a disheartening process.  We’ve all been there to witness the barren ground after painstakingly planting dozens of bulbs, finding them consumed before they even had a chance to greet the sun.  Or when our treasured tulips suddenly become remnants of the grand display they once were; a tattered mass of stems and leaves torn asunder.  But, don’t give up yet!  Coming to the rescue is a dependable, durable, deer resistant dynamo: the daffodil; a hardy bulb that will provide you with years of joy and pleasure. [Read more…]

Golden Opportunities

Golden Oriental Spruce in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Golden Oriental Spruce (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The buds of our deciduous trees are starting to swell and the leaves are gently unwinding after a long winter’s slumber.  Yes, spring has arrived and our trees and shrubs are starting to awaken.  But, they won’t be fully displayed until sometime in May, which leaves us with a landscape that still seems a bit colorless.  Enter, stage right, a few golden needled conifers and “Shazam“, problem solved! [Read more…]

Tropical Punch

Yucca with snow in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Yucca in the snow (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

If, like me, you crave a touch of adventure in your garden, then yucca could be the plant for you.  For those of us in colder zones, we can’t grow many of the desert dwellers such as agaves or cactus. But yucca is a different story. Quite cold hardy, not only do they add a spiky, prickly character to an otherwise oval leafed garden, they look good all year long.  Yes, that’s right. When other cold climate plants have gone below for the winter, yucca happily stands up to whatever mother nature can dish out. [Read more…]

Bayberry

Bayberry's Bronzed Foliage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Bayberry’s Bronzed Foliage (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

This is the time of year when we start taking stock of what looks good, what held up through the winter, and plants we might be composting come spring.  I tend to favor shrubs with the ability to add structure and interest in the border during the winter months, and bayberry is a shrub that easily fits the bill as a dependable native shrub that shines in the New England winter landscape. [Read more…]

Which Hazel?

Hamamelis Vernalis in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Hamamelis Vernalis’s Winter Fringe (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I’m confused.  There’s witch hazel and then there’s winter hazel . . . which is which, and what’s the difference? [Read more…]

Ice Capades

Frozen Kent Falls in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Frozen Kent Falls (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I remember colder winters, when snow was deeper and seemed to last longer.  And our lakes and streams froze over for months, allowing us to skate for hours at a time-day after day.  My mother would pack up a thermos of hot cocoa and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and off I would go until dinner time.  Sometimes sleigh riding down neighboring hills with friends, but more often exploring the nearby rivers, streams and ponds; gliding around enjoying the scenery, totally taking advantage of the frozen world.  It was an adventure to explore these otherwise inaccessible spots, stopping midstream to inspect a beaver chewed branch, looking through transparent spots in the ice hoping to see a fish, doing swirls and twirls pretending to be Dorothy Hamill. [Read more…]