Plants for Seasons of Fragrance

Casa Blanca Lily in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Fragrant Casa Blanca Lily (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Ornamental gardens are traditionally designed for visual impact; vivacious blossoms are chosen to display a bold array of colors while shapely shrubs and grasses enhance the landscape with complementary hues and textures. But there is an unseen aspect to the garden that can be as alluring as the view itself, like the enchanting song of a siren luring you closer to the source. In a word: fragrance.

A luscious bourbon rose in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A luscious heirloom rose (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

In 40BC, Cleopatra used sweetly scented rose petals to lure Mark Anthony to her bedchamber, and today our 21st century markets have followed suit with fragrant hygiene products and unique perfumes, all created to give us our own signature scent. People identify with fragrance, it has the power to soothe, entice or invigorate (think Aromatherapy) yet, it can also transport you in time. Think back to the fresh baked aroma of your grandmother’s apple pie or the first whiff of lilac blossoms in spring. Helen Keller said it best: “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived”. [Read more…]

If These Walls Could Talk

Stone Wall in New Preston in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Stone wall in New Preston (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

As the layers of foliage fall away abandoning the tree limbs, a new aspect of the landscape is revealed; one with walls of stone meandering across its hills and valleys.  Whether formidable structures or crumbling piles, they crisscross heavily wooded acres in patterns reminiscent of boundary markers. [Read more…]

A Time to Prune

Mix of Shrubs Fit Together in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Mix of Shrubs Fit Together (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

In my New England garden, where 6 months of the year plants are dormant, the backbone consists of low maintenance shrubs, evergreens and small trees. To keep order in the border, I prune most shrubs annually. There are many books written on this subject, emphasizing the importance of knowing the “When and How-to’s” of pruning trees and shrubs to promote their overall performance and well being. And that’s where things can get confusing.  Certain trees and shrubs should be pruned late winter, early spring, while others need to be left until summer. Following are a few tips I use to keep my gardens looking tidy year after year: [Read more…]


Decorative Wire Ball in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Decorative Wire Ball (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

As we wander about living our lives, we often come upon various curiosities, many that can be used for purposes other than originally intended.  In other words, embellishments for our homes and gardens.  Yes, I’m talking about trinkets, tchotchkes, unnecessary objects-pieces that we collect through our life time, some that become beloved treasures.  And it’s funny when you consider some of the things that could potentially become art in your home, garden, or both. [Read more…]

Working On the Inside

A whimsical dog sits atop a hand painted dresser in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A whimsical dog sits atop a hand painted dresser (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

You all know me as a hands-on garden designer that has been digging in the dirt for decades.  I’ve written many blog posts about low maintenance gardens and easy care plants, because keeping tasks at a minimum is essential for my busy life. What you may not know is that I use similar techniques when designing the rooms inside my home as well. I strive for ease and comfort whenever possible. Streamlining the process, while keeping a visibly pleasing atmosphere, is my ultimate goal. Although simplification came easily to me in the gardens, I wasn’t always so carefree when it came to changing or updating the interior of my home . . . [Read more…]

The Art of Stone

The construction site in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The construction site (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

One of the first things I did when my family moved into our home over twenty years ago was to focus on the exterior.  Even then I had a great desire to integrate our home into the surrounding landscape by adding beautiful trees and shrubs.  I wanted a close connection with nature; to embrace the local fauna by providing an inviting habitat for them to thrive in. The outside environment was far more important (than the inside) to me then, and as we rebuild the focus once again remains on making the property welcoming to our furry and feathered neighbors.  It’s not an easy feat on a construction site! However, with some ingenuity and flexibility you can get the job done . . . [Read more…]

Jeepers Weepers

Weeping Katsura Background in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Weeping Katsura Background (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

When it comes to structure, weepers are a form that shouldn’t be denied an opportunity to accentuate your garden.  Average plants and shrubs tend to grow upright, so incorporating a little downward flow will shake things up a bit.  Adding an umbrella shaped tree or shrub, whether deciduous or evergreen, will provide a focal point for any season.  And, you needn’t be limited to keeping weepers in a garden setting, as they are quite competent to stand alone in the landscape as well. [Read more…]

Recipe for a Low Maintenance Garden

Itea 'Henry's Garnet w/ stachys in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’ w/ stachys (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

You’ve all heard the term “Low Maintenance Garden”, but in actuality many so called low maintenance gardens are way more work than anyone anticipated. I consider most of my gardens to be low maintenance; thanks to the shrub to plant ratio, but this particular garden really exemplifies the term low maintenance.

The garden started simply enough.  We had a mass of dead elm trees removed from the corner of our property, which then provided this gaping hole in the landscape.  And you know me well enough that I can’t leave any areas unplanted.  However, I did try …  Initially, we had a friend deliver truckloads of mulch to keep the area from becoming weed infested.  We added a rustic split rail fence for division and then let it be while my creative juices simmered. [Read more…]

Exclamation Points!

Skyrocket Juniper in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Skyrocket Juniper makes a Statement (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

There’s a lot of hub-bub amongst the literary hierarchy regarding the use, or contended misuse, of the exclamation point in a sentence. Use them after an interjection or an emphatic declaration. Use them as a tool to add punch to a statement.  But, use them sparingly, lest you be strung up for your grammatical faux pas!  Although the use of exclamation points dates back to the 15th century, we didn’t see them on our keyboards until the 1970’s.  Perhaps only groovy hipsters (that’s us) truly appreciate the possibilities of an exclamation point! [Read more…]

Designing for Winter Interest

Roadside Garden in Summer in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Roadside Garden in Summer (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Whether novice or experienced, we all strive for gardens that look good no matter the season.  And that is indeed a challenge.  What can we do to maintain some structure and color when the temperatures hover in the single digits and all signs of plant life are but a pleasant memory? The answer is incorporating evergreens and deciduous shrubs into your landscape. [Read more…]