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…]

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…]

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…]

Habitat for Wildlife

Silky Dogwood Berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Silky Dogwood Berries (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I’ve been growing native twig dogwoods for decades and they never cease to amaze me.  Though not as showy as the glowing red and yellow twigs, for growth habit and minimal care, there is no better shrub to fill in a large area effortlessly.  Grey twig dogwood, Cornus racemosa, and silky dogwood, Cornus amomum, are native to Eastern North America, where they happily thrive in marshes or wooded areas.  Because they are a suckering type of shrub, they can spread (over a decade) to form a 10′ to 15′ tall and wide mound.  They grow in sun or part shade and tolerate a great range of soils from wet to dry, making them the perfect option for a problem spot. [Read more…]

Burn the Burning Bush!

Fall Fothergilla in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Fothergilla’s range of fall colors (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I travel on a lot of country roads during my ride to work, and enjoy the scenery along the way. Especially in the fall, as leaves start turning flashy shades of gold, orange and red.  Alas, there is a putrid, pinkish-red leaved villain littering the native landscape, a shrub that is non-native, highly invasive and virtually mundane and uninteresting except for its fall foliage.  It has taken over our native woods with reckless abandon and continues to dominate further and further every year.  Most will only notice it for those few weeks in autumn when it turns an almost freakish, faded red; a color resembling one of Santa’s suits after a few too many washes. Humdrum summer foliage, unnatural fall color, boring architecture, and a bully to boot, why, burning bush should be just that-burned! [Read more…]

Hydrangea Highlights

Hydrangea ' Limelight' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Huge blooms of Hydrangea ‘ Limelight’ (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Fall is the time to celebrate hydrangeas, a versatile shrub with many assets. Hydrangeas typically produce lush, prolific blooms, that dramatically illuminate a yard or garden setting throughout the summer and well into autumn. Yes, I grow several hydrangeas for their easy care, but more importantly, because they decorate my gardens with beautiful, textural blooms that add superb ornamental value even as they brown in winter. Hardy in zones 4-8, some prefer shady sites and some love the sun, so no matter what your exposure, there is a hydrangea just waiting to light up your landscape! [Read more…]

Spring Fling

The deliciously fragrant viburnum flower in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The deliciously fragrant viburnum flower (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Spring is the time of year when Mother Nature turns her switch to “ON” and all the dreary browns evaporate into a sea of green. Seemingly overnight, blades of grass sprout up, leaves metamorphose from buds to butterfly wings, even the air is electrified with the sounds and smells that only spring can broadcast. And speaking of scents reminiscent of spring, here a few of my favorite harbingers of fragrance: [Read more…]

A Cast of Seedy Characters

Clusters of seed heads adorn this Cephalanthus occidentalis in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Clusters of seed heads adorn this Cephalanthus occidentalis (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those of us in seasonal climates where flowers only bloom about six months of the year, plants and shrubs with interest during the dormant months are crucial.  When limbs are bare and brown is the primary color of the landscape, evergreens can provide some form and color to an otherwise drab environment. But there’s another option for livening up your surroundings: shrubs and small trees with ornamental seed heads.  By sprinkling a few seedy characters around your property, the nearby plantings will be enhanced while often providing snacks for the local fauna through the difficult winter months as well.  Here are a few of my favorites to consider: [Read more…]

Miss Congeniality

Cotoneaster's Exposed Bones in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Cotoneaster’s exposed bones (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

For versatility, functionality and season long interest, the cotoneaster is a shrub that receives accolades in my book.  Coming in a range of shapes and sizes, from compact dwarf to sprawling and gnarly, cotoneaster can fit any space or design scheme you have in mind.  This sun worshipper is a pretty fast grower in most soil types, as well as deer resistant for those with four legged visitors. [Read more…]