Enduring Lilacs

Common Syringa vulgaris in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Common Syringa vulgaris (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The fragrant lavender blooms of heirloom lilacs are opening in abundance; a sure sign of spring and a promise of many wonderful events to come. Nothing compares to the beauty and perfume of the syringa family, and there are so many sizes and colors to choose from that no one needs to miss the opportunity to have at least one delicious specimen nearby.  [Read more…]

Singlefile for Doublefile

Doublefile Viburnum Ignites the Landscape in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Doublefile Viburnum Ignites the Landscape (photo: Kathy Diemer)

We plant trees for a variety of reasons, one being to provide privacy or camouflage of an obstacle that might otherwise be quite unsightly.  The trick is finding a specimen that will thrive under the conditions of that spot as well as fitting the bill for coverage.  For a gorgeous shrub that will grow to 10′ tall by 15′ wide, in sun or part shade within zones 5-8, it’s ‘Mission accomplished’ with a doublefile viburnum. [Read more…]

Not Your Grandmother’s Forsythia

Variegated Forsythia & Friend in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Variegated Forsythia & Friend (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Buttery yellow blossoms of the popular harbinger of spring are brightening landscapes all over New England, but forgive me if I am not thrilled.  For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong aversion to the traditional forsythia that dominates the countryside.  Although some property owners keep it in check with diligent pruning, for others it has bulldozed over everything in its path, leaving a large mass of brown ugliness it its wake.  The brutish personality of forsythia is the stuff of nightmares.  I envision the Jumanji jungles, waking up with a machete in hand to hack my way out of the house . . .  [Read more…]

The Variegation Sensation

Knautia 'Thunder & Lightening' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Knautia ‘Thunder & Lightening’ (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

It may not be time to plant yet, but it is the opportune time to start planning.  Are there a few bare spots you’re looking to fill?  Maybe an area that needs a little revamping? Or, perhaps there was a mole/vole party that has created a new vacancy. You can finally start perusing through those piles of plant catalogs with a vengeance, and compile your lists.  You know, the list categorized by the “must haves”, the “wish I could have” and the “if I win the lottery, I can have.” I always have at least a few dreamy wish plants and lottery picks, just in case of a windfall.  In the meantime, let’s narrow down your “must haves” to include some spicy foliaged specimens. [Read more…]

Fences

Fences separate gardens from walkways in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Fences separate gardens from walkways (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

It is often said that fences make good neighbors, yet fences offer much more than a friendly barrier between adjoining properties.  A lot more.  A fence can add another dimension to an existing garden bed.  A fence can create multiple rooms within a property.  A fence can add a dramatic backdrop or entryway.  A fence can separate a public area from a private one.  A fence can be practical or ornamental.  And, a fence can certainly be used to obstruct the view of prying eyes as well. [Read more…]

All Things Maple

Collection Tubes into Holding Tank in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Collection Tubes into Holding Tank (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Those in the Northeastern U.S. during February and March may be wondering: “What are those tubes winding through the woods from tree to tree?”  As part of a quintessential New England tradition, the tubes are collecting sap from maple trees to create a series of treats; such as maple syrup, maple candy and maple cream.  From February through March, if temperatures cooperate (freezing nights, warmer days), the clear liquid will flow freely, providing an ample supply for all of our local sugarmakers.  Our native sugar maple, Acer saccharum, is the tree of choice in New England, and they must have adequate girth (11 inch diameter, approximately a 40 year old tree) to be suitable for collecting.  Because the opportunity to collect sap is such a short period, efficiency is the key to receiving a good quantity of this precious liquid. [Read more…]

Sending Nature an Invitation

Bee resting on rudbeckia blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Bee resting on rudbeckia blossom (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Although we may not realize it, every time we step outside our doors during the summer season we are surrounded in an invisible cloak comprised of nature’s tiniest clan members. We take heed if a coyote (or a skunk, or a snake) crosses our path, but the minuscule little critters that flutter about our small back yard universe often go unnoticed.  Worse, we might think of some of these visitors to our yard as nothing but a nuisance, promptly hauling out the six pack of pest spray, ready to blast anything that gets in our way. Yet, if we look more carefully, the insects living in our landscape (with the exception of ticks and mosquitoes) are usually not harmful to us, rather they are incredibly beneficial to our environment as a whole.  [Read more…]

The Selection Process

A young Pin Oak's ample canopy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://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…]

Terrariums

Peperomia & Kalanchoe warm the livingroom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Peperomia & Kalanchoe warm the living room (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

A good portion of the country is still in the icy grip of the polar vortex, confining the most rugged outdoorsmen (and women) to indoor activities. Why, I hear tell that even the Abominable Snowman, illicit paramour of all things cold, has been seen doing a lot more “in cave” activities. So, what’s a nature loving person to do when outdoor temperatures are only conducive to thawing dry ice?  How about grabbing a few glass containers, some plants and dirt, and making a terrarium?  While it’s not quite that simple, sticking your hands in dirt (albeit potting soil) and getting long whiffs of plant matter might be just the ticket for lifting you out of the winter doldrums.  [Read more…]

Winter Bones

Weeping katsura, hemlock and grasses in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Weeping katsura, hemlock and grasses provide a variety of forms and colors (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those of us enduring long periods of dormancy in our seasonal landscapes, winter bones help to keep our outdoor environments lively and inviting.  Structures popping out of the snow and forms drizzled in frost create artistic objects that we may gaze upon and enjoy during the coldest days.  For no matter the season, and even without the benefit of green adornments, our gardens can be incredibly beautiful and interesting with the simple addition of living framework.  Andrew Wyeth said it best: “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape-something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”  [Read more…]