Sleeping Beauties

Spruce, heather and grasses in Winter Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Birdsnest spruce, heather and ornamental grasses (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those of us that are gardeners or caretakers of the land, the end of the growing season signals a time for reflection.  A time for looking back and remembering what our landscapes looked like only a few months ago.  When the leaves of the trees were lush with green foliage and flowers were abundantly sprinkled about, many adorned with bees and butterflies.  Streams were flowing with the gentle melody of water tumbling over moss covered stones, and frogs basked along the banks awaiting an insect snack.  All was peaceful and warm. [Read more…]

Strike a Pose

Praying Mantis posing on sage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Praying Mantis posing on sage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

People often ask me: “How do you do it all,” referring to how I maintain the yard, gardens, animals, home, job and blog.  And it’s a good question, one that I get tired just thinking about (especially now, with the added burden of holiday preparations). Organizational skills come into play, my husband certainly contributes to some yard work and household chores, but in the end I have a lot of physically demanding tasks to perform on a daily basis.  And, I’m not getting any younger. [Read more…]

A Natural Garden

Button bush and ironweed in a natural garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Button bush and ironweed in a natural setting (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Do you have a spot on your property that’s sort of “Blah”? Perhaps it’s a little wet or in a difficult place to mow, so it always tends to look messy and unkempt. Or, you may simply have an area that you would like to turn back over to nature, creating a place that you don’t have to spend much time tending but will look attractive and invite lots of birds, bees and butterflies. Over the years, I have slowly returned portions of my landscape to the wild, which has resulted in some of the most beautiful (and frequently visited) areas of my property. [Read more…]

Mysterious Webs

Spider Web in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Beautiful Spider Web (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

It’s Halloween and homes are decorated with spooky ghosts floating in the trees, gravestones erupting from the lawn and pumpkins with ghoulish grins glowing on the front porch.  And then there are spider webs; big ones that run the length of the porch, smaller ones woven through tree branches and the real ones, complete with spiders, in the corner of the front window. [Read more…]

American Cranberry

American Cranberry brightens the spring landscape in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

American Cranberry brightens the spring landscape (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If my back yard birds got to vote on which trees they favor most for habitat and berries, I know the American Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum, would be at the top of their list (it is certainly on the top of mine). American Cranberry is a large shrub capable of reaching over 15 feet tall-and it grows quickly-in my garden it grew over 10 feet within eight years. It has a rounded, dense form which is perfect for birds to nest, while providing a fabulous natural hedge. [Read more…]

Big Foot

Rodgersia in the perennial border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Rodgersia adds drama to the perennial border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Imagine Sasquatch thundering across your yard and feeling the earth move beneath you as he (she?) stomps off into the distance. That’s a close comparison to the thrill of having gargantuan feet in your landscape. In sun or shade, nothing makes more of an impact in the border than bold foliage. Just as the gigantic Godzilla made his unforgettable mark on the movie screen, big leaves will make an indelible foot print in your garden setting. And that’s an encounter worth considering. [Read more…]

Cone Heads

Echinacea purpurea and friend in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Echinacea purpurea and friend (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For beauty and durability, you couldn’t find an easier going, easier to grow perennial than the beloved purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. Native to the prairies of central and southeastern United States, this comely trooper thrives in average soil and lots of sun from zones 4-8. It has a long bloom period, from June through August, and sometimes longer if spent flowers are removed promptly. The purplish-pink daisy like flowers can reach 4-5 inches in diameter, and stand tall atop sturdy 3-4 foot stems that are lined with coarse green leaves. Plants will self sow and spread gently if seed heads are left, however local fauna also find the seeds to be quite tasty come winter. [Read more…]

The Other Stachys

Stachys and Friend in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Stachys and Friend (photo: Kathy Diemer)

We’re all familiar with the popular lamb’s ears or Stachys byzantina, but not as many know about its distant cousin, purple betony (or bishop’s wort) or Stachys officinalis.  Actually, other than the name, they look nothing alike.  Where byzantina has soft, frosty grey leaves (especially attractive with ‘Helen Von Stein’) officinalis has smaller, dark green oval shaped leaves with scalloped edges.  And it’s those interesting leaves, with rounded edges like an embroidered collar, that I find so attractive at the front of the border.  Of course, the rich pinkish purple spikes (in some ways similar to salvia) are an added bonus. [Read more…]

Sweet Clethra

Hummingbird Clethra & Smokebush in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Hummingbird Clethra & Smokebush (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Clethra alnifolia is a popular garden shrub for so many reasons.  You can grow this versatile shrub in sun or part-shade, and it will bloom beautifully either way.  There are tall cultivars, like the rosy pink spired ‘Ruby Spice’ that can reach 6′ in optimal conditions.  And there are shorter versions, like ‘Hummingbird’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’ that produce white blossoms and top out around 3′, just perfect for the smaller garden setting. By no means are these the only selections, but these are the clethras that I personally grow and have had great success with. [Read more…]

A Garden’s Evolution

The monarda and grass have since been replaced in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The monarda and grass have since been replaced (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

After decades of gardening there is one thing I can tell you with certainty; nothing stays the same. Gardens evolve in a number of ways for a number of reasons. Plants die, creating a vacancy for something new. Some plants outgrow their space while others simply don’t please us any more, ultimately forcing us to make changes. It is during the editing process that we can explore fresh ideas and experiment with different plant materials, which is part of what makes gardening so interesting and challenging. Evolution equals change, something that everything and everyone does every day, hopefully resulting in a more desirable outcome. In other words, when your garden is overrun with mint . . . make mojitos! As a self-taught gardener, I learned a lot from the evolution of my gardens and following are a few of my observations that may help you as you delve into the unpredictable world of gardening. [Read more…]