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…]

Garden Cat

Tommy & Prudence Dozing in A Garden For All by kathy Diemer

Tommy & Prudence Dozing (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

If we’re really lucky, during our lifetime we’ll have a few very special friends.  Friends that are there through thick and thin, good times and bad, richer or poorer.  One of my best friends came in the form of a four legged orange tabby, and from the day he came into my life it has been a blessing to have known him.  Abandoned at my sister’s farm when he was only a kitten, from the second I saw his adorable face; golden eyes staring up in wonder and ears I thought he’d never grow into, I was a goner.  He simply had to come home with me.  [Read more…]

Enchanting Hummingbirds

A Hummingbird visits the globe thistle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A Hummingbird visits the globe thistle (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been mesmerized by hummingbirds. From their ability to fly almost at the speed of light in one moment and perch quietly on a limb the next, to their brilliantly colored bodies illuminated by the sunlight in a prism of shades, from emerald green to royal blue and ruby red. (Impossible to truly capture on film, although I continue to try). Yes, there is something special about hummingbirds – the tiniest of birds, yet in many ways the most amazing. Almost otherworldly or mystical, they are indeed magical.

Named for the humming sound produced by their fast moving wings (up to 80 times per second), some believe that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying hopes for love, joy, beauty and limitless opportunities. Native Americans thought of hummingbirds as sacred and associated them with beauty, harmony, industriousness and integrity. Hummingbirds were often portrayed as healers or spirit beings that helped people in need. But for most of us, hummingbirds are enchanted beings that flit about our yards bringing a sense of wonder whenever they pass by. [Read more…]

Sending Nature an Invitation

Bee resting on rudbeckia blossom in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

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…]

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…]


Note the zig-zag pattern in the web's center in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Note the zig-zag pattern in the web’s center (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

They’re not exactly warm and fuzzy (actually some are sort of fuzzy), but spiders are really neat and beneficial creatures if you can overlook their scary appearance.  Although I keep my home relatively clean, if you look up you may spot a spider or two hanging out on the ceiling waiting for something to eat.  And outside, the doors are adorned with multiple webs full of delicacies caught in their sticky snares.

A Garden Spider's massive web in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A Garden Spider’s massive web (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In both garden and yard, I’m always thrilled and intrigued to see the variety of webs and lines carefully wound around leaves and branches.  The work involved for one tiny 1/4 inch arachnid to reach from one limb to another seems daunting and mysterious at the same time.  How do these little Tarzans (and Janes) do it?  Especially when you consider that often the web needs to be respun daily, after a storm or intruder destroys it.  It’s exhausting just thinking about it . . . [Read more…]

The Blue Chatterer

Blue Jays at Feeder in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A family of Blue Jays dine together (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

One of the noisiest and vibrant birds to animate our eastern back yards, many think of the Blue Jay as a nuisance. Yet that title would be doing our little indigo friend an injustice, for though they are a rambunctious sort, Blue Jays are also incredibly intelligent, curious and playful.  They maintain a complex social system with tight family bonds and the growing population of oak trees in our New England forests are due in part to their love of acorns.  [Read more…]

Going Squirrelly

Grey Squirrel on Bridge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Grey Squirrel on wooden bridge over my stream (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Winter is the time of year when we fill our bird feeders with all sorts of seeds and nuts, and sit back to watch the variety of birds that flock to our back yards to indulge in the smorgasbord that awaits them. But what is that acrobat hanging upside-down from our feeder with fistfuls of food bulging from his (or her) cheeks? Why it’s none other than the common Eastern gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, a four legged contortionist capable of climbing down trees head first in its quest for food.  [Read more…]

Jiminy Crickets!

Short winged Green Grasshopper in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Short winged Green Grasshopper (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Nothing speaks the end of summer more significantly than the familiar chirping and high pitched songs of our local crickets and grasshoppers.  We may tune it out sometimes, but if we listen during our drive to work, as we stroll about during the day, or even at nightfall while walking the dog, we will hear these beautiful songs of nature.  It’s a medley of sounds blended together, an ebb and flow, creating a soothing melody reminiscent of the background music in a fancy restaurant.  But what exactly is making up this unique chorus?  And how or why do they produce these sounds?  [Read more…]


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying bottlebrush flowers in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying bottle-brush flowers (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Lately I feel like I’m living on a Lepidoptera landing strip, with butterflies dive-bombing me from all directions as they head in to land on a succulent blossom in my yard.  It’s heavenly to watch!  Some fly in pairs, others swoop in alone.  Clusters of yellow Eastern Tiger swallowtails congregate on a mound of bright purple phlox, casually fluttering over to some nearby rudbeckia flower heads.  A female black swallowtail is sipping nectar from the throat of a Casa Blanca lily, while a monarch settles in for a treat on masses of rose colored eupatorium blooms nearby.  This is the reward I get for planting dozens of tempting delicacies in my gardens, priceless indeed! [Read more…]

A Garden for All