What Our Plants Teach Us

Burned rhododendron in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The charred remains of foundation plantings (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The durability of plants never ceases to amaze me. A seed is planted, occasionally sprinkled with water, and bears luscious fruit within a few months. A forest decimated in a raging fire quickly produces new growth, emerging victorious. Monstrous trees grow from the seemingly impervious rock walls of a mountainside. Plants are simply amazing. And if I’ve learned anything from gardening these many decades, it is that plants have a lesson for us. A lesson about persevering, no matter the odds.

A rainbow of colors displayed in iris petals in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

The colors of the rainbow are displayed in the petals of this iris (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Look closely and you will witness plant miracles every day. The miracle of a gorgeous coneflower blossom in hues that challenge the color wheel. The marvel of a lobelia’s scarlet flower providing nourishing nectar for a visiting hummingbird. Or the intricate petals of a bearded iris, laid out like a hand of cards displaying all the shades of the rainbow. Our landscape plants withstand winter’s horrendous cold and summer’s intense heat and drought without succumbing. Sure, they may wilt a bit, or even turn brown under extreme conditions, but give them a little love, and they’re right back to status quo. [Read more…]

Saving Sweetgum

Variegated Liquidambar creates a focal point in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Variegated Liquidambar creates a vibrant focal point (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Trials and tribulations are many when you loose your home, and sometimes the least little thing can create extreme joy . . . or extreme angst.  Though it may sound silly, I had this sort of situation with a sweetgum tree.  Yes, a sweetgum tree.  Besides the entire house and contents, we also lost a lot of trees and shrubs from the fire and its incredible heat, so finding any plants that survived became cause for great celebration.  When we discovered that another tree would have to be sacrificed to make room for the relocated septic system, I almost had a nervous breakdown.  Not my beautiful sweetgum (American native Liquidambar styraciflua), a tree we had lovingly placed and nurtured for many years.  A tree that had grown and flourished in its happy location.  Yet, it came down to the fact that sweetgum had to be moved, as there was no other “zoning approved” place for the septic fields.

[Read more…]

The Selection Process

A young Pin Oak's ample canopy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

A young Pin Oak’s ample canopy (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

With the landscape in hibernation mode, there’s no time like the present to view your blank palette and think about ways to kick it up a notch.  In a recent article, Winter Bones, I shared some of my favorite trees and shrubs for long season interest.  But there is another consideration when it comes to selecting a tree for your property, one that requires a little more thought and research.  In this case, size does matter, and surprisingly even the most knowledgeable gardeners (myself included) often neglect to determine exactly how big a tree might become over time.  If you observe landscapes as you drive around, I’m sure you’ve witnessed dozens of trees planted too close to a residence or under power lines, resulting in unnecessary tree massacres.  But it doesn’t have to be this way . . . [Read more…]

Savory Sweetgum

Liquidambar Variegata's medley of colors in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer http://agardenforall.com

Liquidambar Variegata’s medley of foliage colors (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Once upon a time there was a girl that absolutely adored all things multicolored.  She loved calico cats and tie dye shirts, rainbows and zebra prints.  So, it was a natural transition for this girl to grow into a gardener with the same relish for multicolored foliage.  Luckily, she was born in a century brimming with innovative plant introductions, such as echinacea in unheard of shades like fluorescent orange and eye-popping pink, and dwarf lilacs that were not only intensely fragrant, but bloomed from spring to fall.  But what intrigued this damsel most of all were the many creations complemented with variegated foliage.  She simply could not get enough.  A few years ago, she stumbled upon a variegated sweetgum, and the rest as they say is history . . . [Read more…]