Garden Gatherings

Vine covered steps at Hollister in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Vine covered steps at Hollister House (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

This has been the most exciting month for me, as far as garden events go.  A few weeks back, I got to hear my favorite garden writer, Tovah Martin, speak for a local garden club.  She shared photos and experiences from gardens she visited all across the country.  And the lesson?  Why, to do what YOU want to do, break the rules, experiment and most of all-have fun!  I can’t think of a better person to spread the word, and I completely concur.  All our gardens should be a reflection of our choices and desires, and Tovah brought that front and center with great photos of various styles of gardens, structures, designs and unusual ornamentation.  Not only was everyone inspired by many of the ideas, but we all went home with plans to mix things up a bit and throw caution to the wind.  Tovah ended her talk with a quick course on terrariums, which was especially beneficial for someone like me that has a black thumb where indoor plants are concerned.  Minimal watering and no fertilizing, I’m there!  And great gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.  Check out her newest books, etc : .

Garden Intersection at Hollister House in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Garden Intersection at Hollister House (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I ended the month with the Hollister House Garden Study, featuring many great speakers: Stephen Orr, who should really be a stand-up comic, then Page Dickey, Marco Polo Stefano and Adam Wheeler (Broken Arrow Nursery) sharing some of their old favorites and new introductions.  Landscape designer Edwina von Gal educated us about aesthetically pleasing, yet environmentally conservative gardening, including the very interesting Azuero Earth Project in Panama to restore the endangered dry forests.  Executive director, Bill Thomas, discussed the evolution of the Chanticleer public gardens and what goes on behind the scenes.  But, my favorite speaker was Bill Cullina, whom I was so happy to finally get to meet.  I’m a huge fan of Bill’s, I love his writing style, the fact that he is very “hands-on” and gardens in difficult climates like many of us.  I use his book Native Trees, Shrubs and Vines like a bible.  Anyway, Bill spoke about pruning shrubs to keep them from overtaking your ornamental garden, something that really struck home for me.  I do prune most of my shrubs, but there are a lot that I wasn’t sure I could prune that hard without sacrificing the plant.  Not so, and he recommends pruning physocarpus, calycanthus, clethra, just to name a few, right down to 6″ in March.  March is a great month because not much else is going on yet, so to be able to get most of my shrubs in shape early, clean everything else up and mulch, why what a time saver from the chores later in the season!

Hollister's Standard Poodle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Hollister’s Standard Poodle (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Hollister's Pussycat in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Hollister’s Pussycat (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The finale was my first visit to Hollister House (I’m ashamed to admit), but I’m glad to say I’ve finally been there.  Hollister House gardens are an array of rooms so artistically designed that you slowly wander from one to another trying to take it all in.  There are multiple water features, stone walls and vine covered steps that lead you from one adventure to another.  Surprises are around every corner, some beautiful specimen trees like stewartia and purple beech that quietly wait for you to notice them, which is difficult with all the surrounding plant combinations vying for your attention.  The afternoon was lovely, warm but not hot (for a change), with lots of opportunities to chat with other garden visitors and snap a few photos.  It couldn’t have been a better ending to such a wonderful day.

Visit Hollister House Garden: for hours and directions.


  1. So Kathy, we need to hear the “black thumb” report now that it’s houseplant season. Hope you’re basking in the green for the holiday season and beyond. Thank you so much for all the kind words = and thank you for the gift of a wonderful blog!

    • The black thumb might be getting a little grey, actually . . . but you understand, I don’t want to jinx myself! I purchased what is labeled as a ‘Panda succulent’ from Pergola, that has survived over a month now-still looking good. Victoria took a chance and gave me a plant, as well. And, I’m up to page 80 in your book: The Unexpected Houseplant, which is giving me lots of other ideas . . . Things are looking up! Thanks again for reading, and for your kind words.

      • Terry Kaiser says:

        Kathy your sight is beautiful, you are a talented lady and a master gardner I wish my yard looked that beautiful. Stay well Merry Christmas looking forward to the spring

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