Living on the Edge

Lady's Mantle is the perfect edger in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Lady’s Mantle is a beautiful edger (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Living on the edge of the garden, up front and exposed, can sometimes be a scary place for a plant. All that pressure to perform and look good … after all, they’re front and center for all to see! But being center stage doesn’t have to be so risky, if you choose the right plants for your site and conditions. Here are a few of my long time durables that never fail to dazzle, despite the foul weather that Mother Nature dishes out. [Read more…]

Reliable Favorites

An inviting walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

An inviting walkway (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Each spring brings opportunities-and a little inspiration-to take on chores we put off over the winter. Perhaps it’s the sun’s warmth that inspires us after the long winter, or possibly just the change of seasons that makes us want to shed old “stuff” and reinvent ourselves in some small way. We might do a thorough house cleaning to refresh our spirits, paint one of our rooms a bright, cheerful color, or simply update some curtains. And for those of us whose spirits are longing to be outdoors, we may pick a few new plants to lift our spirits and celebrate the coming summer. If plant inspiration is something you’re thinking about this spring, here are a few of the long lived (in Zone 5 New England) beauties that give me great joy each year that they return. [Read more…]

Creative Containers

Lantana 'Samantha' with Coleus 'Dark Star' in A Garden For All by kathy Diemer

Dramatic contrast: Lantana ‘Samantha’ with Coleus ‘Dark Star’ and variegated plectranthus (photo: Kathy Diemer)

Depending on your climate, container time is nigh!  Dust off those pots, compost last year’s potting soil and round up some gorgeous new plants to adorn your doorstep, deck or driveway.  As always, plant growers have been working overtime to provide many enticing introductions, as well as improving upon the old reliables.  Let’s think outside the box and kick it up a notch with some dazzling flowers and fluorescent foliage.  Here’s a few tips and plant suggestions to do just that: [Read more…]

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…]

Darling Daffodils

Daffodils at Laurel Ridge in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Daffodils at Laurel Ridge (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Growing bulbs can sometimes be a disheartening process.  We’ve all been there to witness the barren ground after painstakingly planting dozens of bulbs, finding them consumed before they even had a chance to greet the sun.  Or when our treasured tulips suddenly become remnants of the grand display they once were; a tattered mass of stems and leaves torn asunder.  But, don’t give up yet!  Coming to the rescue is a dependable, durable, deer resistant dynamo: the daffodil; a hardy bulb that will provide you with years of joy and pleasure. [Read more…]

Tropical Punch

Yucca with snow in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Yucca in the snow (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

If, like me, you crave a touch of adventure in your garden, then yucca could be the plant for you.  For those of us in colder zones, we can’t grow many of the desert dwellers such as agaves or cactus. But yucca is a different story. Quite cold hardy, not only do they add a spiky, prickly character to an otherwise oval leafed garden, they look good all year long.  Yes, that’s right. When other cold climate plants have gone below for the winter, yucca happily stands up to whatever mother nature can dish out. [Read more…]

Geranium Macrorrhizum

Geranium macrorrhizum in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Geranium macrorrhizum in Spring (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Picture yourself walking along a path, it’s warm and your legs are bare.  Soft leaves tickle your legs, emitting a subtle spicy-minty scent, very pleasant and soothing. For a moment, you almost feel as though you could curl up in this patch and take a nap.  No worry, you’re not in a poppy field under a witch’s spell, rather you’re walking amidst Geranium macrorrhizum. . .  [Read more…]

Marvelous Milkweeds

Asclepias incarnata pods in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Asclepias incarnata pods (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

As a child, the pods of milkweed fascinated me.  To break them open and watch the silky seeds float through the air filled my mind with wonder and awe.  Where would these little flying seeds finally end up?  How far could they travel as they were carried along by the wind?  I imagined them landing in faraway places and popping up the next year to provide fun and entertainment to the children of those neighborhoods.  Even now, the dimpled teardrop shaped pods still amuse me. But, there’s more to the milkweed plant than just a curious pod . . .

Bees and butterflies flock to Milkweed's blossoms in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Bees and butterflies flock to Milkweed’s blossoms (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Ascelpias are widespread natives to the U.S. and a major food source for the monarch butterfly, as well as other native butterflies, hummingbirds, moths and insects.  In fact, the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, is the host plant for the monarch butterfly, which is why it’s so important to preserve these areas for the stands to thrive.  Milkweed was named for the bitter milky white sap it produces when a leaf is bitten or removed from the stem.  While this distasteful sap is said to be toxic, it actually acts as a predatory repellant for the monarch caterpillars that consume it.  [Read more…]

Don’t Hate Me …

Dwarf Goldenrod w/Sumac in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Dwarf Goldenrod with Sumac (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

…because I’m goldenrod!  Goldenrod gets a bad rap from allergy sufferers all over the country, when in fact the real culprit is ragweed.  The pollen of goldenrod (Solidago sp.) is actually too heavy to become airborne, instead pollination occurs from the traveling insects and butterflies that visit the plants. Ironically, goldenrod is used as a remedy for seasonal allergies; by brewing a tea with a teaspoon of dried flowers in a cup of boiling water.

A wide variety of insects also feed on solidago including bees, wasps, beetles, flies, moths and butterflies.  You may have noticed spherical galls in the stems of goldenrod, these are caused by the goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis).  Many birds enjoy the seeds as well, including Eastern Goldfinch and Swamp Sparrow. [Read more…]

Thyme is On My Side

Woolly and Lemon Thyme line my gravel walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Woolly and Lemon Thyme line my gravel walkway (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Although tiny and often overlooked, thyme is one of the greatest workhorses in the garden, both as an ornamental plant and beneficial herb. Everything about thyme is harmonious; content to be tread upon and live happily on the edge without any care, except an occasional pruning to prevent legginess. Thyme is comfortable existing under the foliage of taller plants, and equally appeased when it can gently tumble over nearby sedum or other willing companions. With sun, well drained soil and a little space, thyme will soon become a beloved garden friend. [Read more…]