The Selection Process

A young Pin Oak's ample canopy in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

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…]


Peperomia & Kalanchoe warm the livingroom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

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

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…]

New Year’s Resolutions?

A hawk waits out the storm in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A hawk waits out the storm (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Although it’s a common practice, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I never have. If inspired to go on a diet or revise an exercise routine, I don’t want to wait until January 1st to start. If I’m thinking about changing or starting something new; when it’s time, it’s time. Yet, in so many situations, we use the word time as an excuse. An excuse not to do something we want to do. An excuse not to do something we need to do. An excuse not to do something we’re afraid to do. Fill in the blank: I don’t have time to ____________.  Now, think about what you wrote and decide when it might be your time to make time. [Read more…]

Embraceable Pines

The smoky blue needles of White pine in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The smoky blue needles of White pine (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I grow a lot of evergreens; from shrubs right up to the big spruces, and let’s face it-some of those needles are downright nasty.  When I have to prune my blue spruce or low growing junipers, it’s ouch, ouch, ouch-even with gloves. So, when I find a pine that doesn’t prickle, I have to get a little closer to inspect and fondle it.  And one tree that welcomes caressing is our native white pine, Pinus strobus, a fast grower with stroke-able frosty grey-green needles that stand erect from the tips of multiple branches.  White pine is a dependably stalwart tree known to grow for hundreds of years (Syracuse, NY, has a tree dated over 450 years old) growing to heights exceeding 200 feet.  I planted one in 2002 and it has grown from 3 feet to over 20 feet with no special care or fertilizing. [Read more…]

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…]