Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme . . .

Tricolor Sage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Tricolor Sage (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

. . . are fabulous herbs, all.  However, by November the parsley is history and rosemary is stored safely inside, leaving sage and thyme to endure whatever Old Man Winter dishes out. During the milder winters, my sage remains evergreen and the thyme doesn’t brown until February.  Every year is a toss up, but whatever happens, these two herbs remain dependably attractive for much longer than the most durable perennials.  They smell great, feel great and add a much needed touch of texture that foraging critters shun.  What could be better during the dormant months ahead? [Read more…]

For the Birds

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

No matter the animal, I love to feed them. Just look at my chubby horses, plump kitties and rubenesque dogs. And there’s no exception when it comes to my avian friends, either.  Although there are mixed messages about feeding during the summer months, I never miss a day year-round. But along with seeds, our native birds also need protein and fat to thrive. By planting berry producing trees and shrubs, we can provide additional sustenance for our feathered friends through the long winter months. I consulted the experts in my library, Stephen Kress (The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds) and Douglas Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home), to offer some of their recommended plantings as well as a few of my own favorites. [Read more…]

Mum’s Not the Word

Aster Alma Potchke in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Aster Alma Potchke (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

My horse’s coats are starting to thicken up, a sure sign that colder weather is approaching.  For those without horses, there are mums popping up at every nursery, grocery store, gas station and diner.  It’s just what everybody is programmed to do.  Like Stepford Wives, we obediently wander in a daze looking for mums to plant once fall arrives.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are so many alternatives . . .

I confess to giving in to the habit of purchasing a few mums each year, but once the blooming ceases, again I wonder why I didn’t get something more permanent.  And this is the dilemma.  The mum cultivators are producing more and more beautiful selections with hard to resist colors, using the term “hardy,” implying they can be planted and will come back again next year, which is rarely the case. [Read more…]

What Goes Up …

sClematis Praecox on stone wall in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Clematis Praecox on stone wall (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

… might go down instead!  That’s the case with the bountiful ‘non-vining’ Clematis jouiniana ‘Praecox’.  A Garden Merit award winner, this is a clematis that loves to meander around your garden, weave itself into smaller trees or float down a stone wall.  I choose the latter, allowing ‘Praecox’ to cover the walls with cascades of delicate sky blue flowers that buzz with bee activity from July through August.  This is a choice plant for those looking to fill a spot with something attractive and easy to maintain. [Read more…]

Autumn Bride

Heuchera in the border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Heuchera in the border (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Even though I’m petite, I tend to be attracted to big things.  That doesn’t just apply to plants, either.  I have a penchant for rescuing large animals, which has resulted in my husband limiting my pets by weight restriction, rather than quantity!  But, back to big plants: Most heuchera (coral bells) are attractive enough, with varied ranges of foliage from chartreuse to deep burgundy.  However, they usually prefer a lot of shade and most are quite small; limiting them to the front of the border or mixed with shorter perennials.  I do have several dainty coral bells sprinkled throughout my gardens, but the bigger, bolder leaves are really where I’m at.  And that’s where native Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ comes down the aisle. [Read more…]

The Wanderer

Red monarda pops up between day lilies in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Red monarda brightens up pink day lilies (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

They call me the wanderer, yeah, the wanderer, I roam around, around, around” ~ Dion (1961) ~

I remember planting a bright red bee balm, Monarda didyma, over twenty years ago because it was one of the first perennials introduced to my garden. And I remember anxiously awaiting its arrival the next spring, but something very mysterious happened. Instead of coming back in the spot I had planted it, the monarda popped up in other areas that were several feet from the original location. Hmmmmm. I wondered about this curious behavior, then decided I liked the plant enough to allow it some freedom. Many years later, that same plant continues to play hide and seek by showing up in different places between other plants and shrubs in my garden. What’s funny is that I have experimented with other bee balms since then and they don’t have the same wandering tendency, nor are they as long lived as this first specimen appears to be. [Read more…]

Juicy Fruit

Luscious thornless blackberries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Luscious thornless blackberries (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Summer isn’t only a time for gorgeous flowers and fun in the sun, it’s also a time to partake of some of the most luscious fruits grown in our climate. For those of us in colder zones (5-6), that list includes blackberries, blueberries and grapes; a few of the fruit producing shrubs/vines that any novice (myself included) can grow in their back yard. What makes these fruits so easy to grow is that they don’t require a lot of care. And what I mean by that is you don’t have to worry about pollinators (except for blueberries), spraying chemicals or excessive pruning. [Read more…]

Wickham Park

The Cabin at the top of Wickman Park in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Cabin sits at the highest point of Wickman Park (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Wickham Park, a private foundation whose property extends into both Manchester and East Hartford, Connecticut, was on my garden ‘Bucket List,’ and is well worth placement on your list as well. Easily accessible from I-84 (right off Exit 60), the 250 acre park is comprised of gardens, open fields, scenic woodlands (with trails), multiple ponds, numerous picnic areas, playgrounds and sports facilities. Originally designed by Olmsted Associates, Inc., (Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.), Wickham Park (opened to the public in 1961) is recognized today for its seven different themed gardens, ranging in size from one half to eight acres. [Read more…]

Orbs of Delight

A globe of petrified wood in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A globe of petrified wood celebrates an anniversary (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Some of my favorite ornamental objects are orbs of all dimensions and materials. I have rugged granite balls in three sizes, glass globes that are blown with swirls of color, and mirrored spheres reminiscent of old mercury glass.  Most glass pieces are safe outdoors as long as you keep them up from the ground, so my globes often remain outdoors to be enjoyed as they glisten against the lush foliage of summer or glow with a dusting of winter’s snow. Orb groupings are very attractive; especially when partnered with low growing perennials such as lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) or used to complement other round objects. I use granite balls near my circular bird bath to echo the soothing grey colors and textures of each, and recently celebrated my anniversary with a sphere of petrified wood. But what about living orbs . . . [Read more…]

The Days of Wine & Roses

An heirloom shrub rose in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A fragrant heirloom shrub rose (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I don’t know when you were last surprised with a bouquet of roses and a bottle of wine, as it sure has been a while for me. But don’t blame my husband; I always request that he give me plants in lieu of cut flowers. Although I adore fresh blooms, I simply can’t justify spending a significant amount of cash on something that needs constant tending, only to shrivel up within days, versus spending the same amount of money (or even less!) on something that can be enjoyed for decades . . . without constantly trimming stems and changing water. Well, you do the math. [Read more…]

A Garden for All