Wickham Park

The Cabin at the top of Wickman Park in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The Cabin sits at the highest point of Wickman Park (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Wickham Park, a private foundation whose property extends into both Manchester and East Hartford, Connecticut, was on my garden bucket list for 2014, and you’ll see why it is well worth placement on your list for 2014 as well. Easily accessible from I-84 (right off Exit 60), the 250 acre park is comprised of gardens, open fields, scenic woodlands (with trails), multiple ponds, numerous picnic areas, playgrounds and sports facilities. Originally designed by Olmsted Associates, Inc., (Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.), Wickham Park (opened to the public in 1961) is recognized today for its seven different themed gardens, ranging in size from one half to eight acres. [Read more…]

Happy Trails

Jenny & The Rock in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Trail guide Jenny stands near a glacial rock (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Upon meeting Jenny Benner, the first thing you’ll notice is her face, as it absolutely glows with enthusiasm. Among her many talents, Jenny is an author, speaker and photographer (see the book she wrote with Stephanie Cohen, The Nonstop Garden), but first and foremost she is a wife and mother, which has only served to heighten her loving, protective attitude for all things pertaining to the environment as well. Like the most diligent watch dog, she sinks her teeth into a mission and doesn’t let go. It was this passion and sincerity that led her to become involved with the non-profit Connecticut Forest & Park Association (www.ctwoodlands.org) in 2008, and not surprisingly she’s still going strong with the organization. [Read more…]

Hollister House Garden Revisited

The Grey Garden at Hollister House in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The Grey Garden at Hollister House (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those that think New England gardens really don’t hit their stride until June or July, you haven’t been to Hollister House Garden (in Washington, CT) in May.  Allow me to be the first to dispel the myth that May gardens are boring, because right now that place is rockin’ with vibrant tulips, dazzling daffodils, and cornflower blue forget-me-nots (Myosotis) sprinkled about as if a piece of the sky dropped down to frolic amongst the plants.  And don’t be fooled into thinking that bulbs are the only thing happening in this “informal and rather wild” garden, oh no.  Instead, let me take you on a little stroll and show you exactly what’s going on during this prime time in mid-spring. [Read more…]

Great Local Destinations

The water garden at Wave Hill in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The water garden at Wave Hill (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Life is crazy busy for so many of us these days.  Between careers, family, (animals & gardens!) and home, it’s a wonder we ever have time to relax.  Although many of us can take the time to travel around the world, for a variety of reasons, some of us can not.  I have traveled a little; within the U.S. I’ve hiked the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, visited the red hills of Sedona and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, lounged on the beaches of Southern California, even going as far as the Virgin Island of St. John where I swam with sea turtles (and barracudas).  But honestly, as Dorothy discovered when she ventured off to see the Wizard of Oz, to me there is no place like home.  And no matter where you live, with a little research you will find lots of great places nearby to spend a day relaxing and rejuvenating.  Here are a few places close to me where I easily recharge my batteries: [Read more…]

The Boardwalk

Tall grasses line the boardwalk in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Tall grasses line the White Memorial boardwalk (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Located on a 4,000 acre nature preserve in the hills of northwestern Connecticut, the White Memorial Conservation Center is proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.  Established in 1964 in the former homestead of Alain and May White, this public center is dedicated to conservation, research, education and recreation.  More than 35 miles of trails through a variety of terrains offer opportunities for anything from a casual stroll to mountain biking, cross country skiing and horseback riding.  But it’s the boardwalk that does it for me. [Read more…]

The High Line

Beautiful grasses line the walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Beautiful grasses line the High Line walkway (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

All I wanted for my 55th birthday was a trip to New York City, to walk the High Line and to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.  This may sound like a simple enough endeavor, but for my self-employed husband and a household full of animals, taking a day off is serious business.  Once you factor in erratic train schedules and somewhat unreliable weather patterns, you’re left with the potential for either a fabulous day or a disappointing one.  However, my husband addressed the whole conundrum with one solution: LIMO.  One that picked us up in the morning, drove us everywhere our hearts desired throughout the day, and brought us safely home in time to tend to the herd.  What a way to celebrate! [Read more…]

Mine Hill Preserve

Mine Hill granite cliff in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Mine Hill granite cliff (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A huge piece of granite sits comfortably in front of the fireplace of a home built in Roxbury,  Connecticut in the late 1800’s.  This stone is worn from the feet that stood upon it while cooking food, and blackened by embers that fell onto its surface throughout the decades.  Though you can see this is an old piece of stone, and imagine by its size that the weight was somewhat unwieldy when originally placed there, what the granite can’t tell you is its history.  But I can. [Read more…]

Walkway Over the Hudson

View of the Mid Hudson Bridge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

View of the Mid-Hudson Bridge (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The first train crossed what was considered an engineering marvel of its day, the Poughkeepsie Bridge, on December 29, 1888.  At a length of 6,768 feet and height of 212 feet, this multispanned cantilever truss bridge was constructed of steel, with the two approach viaducts made from iron; together forming one of the most direct rail routes between the northern and mid-western states. The Poughkeepsie Bridge remained the only Hudson River crossing between Albany and New York City until 1924, and was a vital link for World War II war freight traffic, diligently guarded 24 hours a day.  Due to the competitiveness of other railways such as Erie and Penn, by the late 60’s Poughkeepsie Bridge became a far less important access way, and a severe fire in the spring of 1974 signaled the bridge’s final demise.  Abandoned and left to deteriorate, Conrail sold the bridge for $1.00 to a private party in 1984, and with years of back taxes left unpaid, the bridge was finally deeded to a nonprofit organization called Walkway Over the Hudson (www.walkway.org) in 1998. [Read more…]

A Quarry Visit

First level of Quarry in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

First level of the Quarry (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In the small town of Patterson, NY, about 30 minutes from my home, is a mine still in use for producing crushed stone, gravel and sand.  This limestone quarry has been owned by Peckham Industries (www.peckham.com) since the 70’s, but was actively mined since the 1940’s.  Thanks to the generosity of Peckham Industries, their kind and informative Vice President, Gary Metcalf, and the coordinating efforts of our local Naromi Land Trust (www.naromi.org), I was able to hike down into the spot where everything happens.  What a blast . . . literally. [Read more…]

Wave Hill

Entering Wave Hill garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Entering Wave Hill garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

My family and friends know that when it comes to driving into New York City and the surrounding areas, I’d rather take a train than deal with the crazy traffic.  But last week I took a day off and braved it, driving (no GPS-just printed Google directions) into the Bronx to visit one of my favorite gardens, Wave Hill (www.WaveHill.org).  I had a knot in my stomach from the moment I got on Interstate 6-84 until I reached the West 249th Street and Independence Avenue parking lot.  Once I entered the grounds, my troubles completely melted away.  Even though the sky was cloudy (perfect weather for photographing, however) and I was underdressed with a sleeveless shirt, the garden warmly embraced me as it always does and I walked around in a pleasant state of euphoria clicking away without a care in the world. The atmosphere surrounding me was sheer perfection, the best gift of a day off I could have asked for. [Read more…]