Thriller Fothergilla

Fothergilla gardenii's spring bouquet in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Fothergilla gardenii’s spring bouquet (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

One of my favorite shrubs for sounding the arrival of spring is fothergilla, a southeastern U.S. native that thrives in sunny, moist (but well drained) locations in zones 5-8.  Like a woman with a full head of rollers in preparation for her big date, fothergilla makes a stunning debut in your spring garden as it unfurls dozens of bright, cylindrical blossoms atop its crown.  These white, bottle brush shaped flowers are sparklers at the tips of fothergilla’s branches, and for our winter weary senses, they are a sight to behold.  Did I mention the blooms also possess a delicate fragrance? Ahhhh, how can you resist this cheerful shrub? But wait, there’s more! [Read more…]


Nepeta 'Cool Cat' purrs in the garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Nepeta ‘Cool Cat’ purrs in the garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Nepeta is a plant with cattitude.  That is to say, you can love it to pieces and it can take-you-or-leave-you, thriving wonderfully just the same.  Nepeta is a genus of approximately 250 species of perennials, and is native to a variety of habitats throughout Europe and Asia.  Generally speaking, nepeta species are reliable, long lived perennials requiring little to no maintenance; not bad attributes for a plant with such an indifferent demeanor. [Read more…]

Where There’s Smoke . . .

Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) | A Garden for All by Kathy Diemer

Smoke Bush is rich in color (Photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

. . . there’s fire, and if you’re looking for a plant to ignite your garden setting this year, Cotinus coggygria may be just the plant you’ve been searching for.  Cultivated in Britain since 1656, and formerly known as Rhus cotinus, Cotinus coggygria is a blazing shrub that flaunts itself from early June to frost in my northern garden.  Also known as the smoke bush because of the frothy sprays of ashy grey flowers it bears each summer, I grow the showier Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’.  And, I don’t grow it for the flowers . . . I grow it for the outrageously showy, rich maroon-purple foliage that provides a dependably stunning display in my gardens every year. [Read more…]

Stellar Stellata

Magnolia stellata's luminous flowers in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Magnolia stellata’s luminous flowers (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Magnolia stellata, a most cherished early bloomer, was one of the first small trees we planted on our property over twenty years ago.  Sited in close proximity to our house, we could easily view its beauty through all the seasons, as well as enjoy one of early spring’s most enchanting fragrances. [Read more…]

Magical Moss

Moss and fern adorn rock surface in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Moss and fern adorn rock surface (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Imagine yourself walking in a forest where the only sounds are wind gently blowing through surrounding boughs and leaves rustling with the scurrying of squirrels busily collecting nuts for winter.  The air is filled with an earthy scent of fallen leaves, while high above a chorus of birds celebrate the new day.  While strolling along you realize that your path was made not by man, but by the creatures of this forest.  You imagine raccoons and possums that sifted through the soil beneath your feet in their search for tidbits, and you see evidence of branches nibbled by passing deer.  Looking about a little more cautiously, you wonder if larger predators such as coyote and bear might not be lurking somewhere close by.  And then you come upon a small clearing where the ground, fallen tree trunks and boulders are all cloaked in an emerald blanket of moss.  For a moment you are mesmerized by the wizardry of nature. [Read more…]

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis blooms in early spring in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cercis canadensis blooms in early spring (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Hardy to zones 4-8, native Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), is a smaller North American tree, and among the first to flower in my zone 5 Connecticut garden. The leafless branches are liberally twined with profuse ribbons of vibrant cotton candy blossoms from one end to the other, creating one of the most spectacular early spring displays. When you factor in the bright fuchsia flower clusters enveloping the broad limbs, the tree appears to be an enormous pink umbrella that has just opened in your yard. [Read more…]

Pussy Willows

Salix discolor in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Salix discolor (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

There’s one good thing about the month of March . . . well, actually two.  First, it’s only another four weeks (give or take, depending on Punxsutawney) before spring.  And second, irresistible pussy willows!  When Salix discolor‘s playful buds start emerging, it’s a sure sign spring isn’t too far away. [Read more…]

Rhody Rhapsody

A closer look at rhododendron flower in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A closer look at rhododendron flowers (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

When I first started selecting plants and shrubs for my gardens, rhododendrons were the furthest thing from my mind.  I thought of them as mundane, one hit wonders that flowered once in the spring and then quietly retired into the landscape.  And then a neighbor brought me a small shrub to welcome us to the neighborhood (he later admitted that his goats kept eating it, so it was more of a rescue gift).  I planted it rather unceremoniously, without pomp and circumstance, at the back corner of my house where it would be somewhat protected from the hot afternoon sun.  After all, shady locations are at a premium on my property, that is to say, I really don’t have any. [Read more…]

Speckled Alder

The ornamental tassels of Alnus incana in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The ornamental tassels of Alnus incana (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I was not impressed a decade ago, when I first spotted a speckled alder at a local nursery.  However, over the years my opinion has changed . . . dramatically. What once appeared as a spindly, boring stem with a few spots has since blossomed into the prince it was destined to become (mine can’t be a “Cinderella”, because it’s a male), providing both a handsome element to the wide open pasture behind my home, and a source of food and habitat for surrounding wildlife. [Read more…]

The Dastardly Duo: Moles & Voles

Mole in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Digging Mole

Moles and voles and bears, oh my!  Yes, I’m exaggerating about bears, but moles and voles pose a serious problem in my gardens.  With the recent warmer spell, I noticed lots of heaved plants and holes throughout the yard, and wondered exactly what damage is caused by moles and voles; who is the culprit behind each disturbance?  To figure out the responsible felon for each offense, you need to understand the differences between the two creatures.  In fact, the only similarity in these varmints is their name. [Read more…]

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