Embraceable Pines

The smoky blue needles of White pine in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

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…]

Fringe Benefits

Chionanthus virginicus in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Chionanthus virginicus’ fragrant tassels (Photo: Kathy Diemer)

Each spring is filled with great anticipation for the fragrant clusters of shredded coconut-like flowers that will soon adorn every branch of my fringe trees.  Sweetly honeysuckle scented, the delicate white tassels remind me of the streamers at the end of my first bicycle’s handle bars as they fluttered in the breeze. (I’m dating myself, but those of you that remember the streamers may also remember banana seats, sissy bars and playing cards attached to the spokes with clothes line pins). [Read more…]

Golden Opportunities

Golden Oriental Spruce in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Golden Oriental Spruce (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

The buds of our deciduous trees are starting to swell and the leaves are gently unwinding after a long winter’s slumber.  Yes, spring has arrived and our trees and shrubs are starting to awaken.  But, they won’t be fully displayed until sometime in May, which leaves us with a landscape that still seems a bit colorless.  Enter, stage right, a few golden needled conifers and “Shazam“, problem solved! [Read more…]

Planting for the Future

Tree lined road at NYBG in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Tree lined road at New York Botanical Garden (Photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Like silent sentries watching over us, the majestic trees spread across our landscape are hardly given a moments notice. But notice we should. Have you ever considered who lined our country roads with ancient trees? Were the ancestors that planted them thinking of future generations as they tended to each delicate sapling? I’d like to think so.  As a tree geek who never walks – or drives – anywhere without looking at what is growing around me, I confess to getting really excited when I spot a stately old tree with immense girth and limbs reaching toward the universe. I always wonder about its history . . . [Read more…]

Barking Up the Right Tree

As the last leaves drop to the ground, many think the garden season is over until spring. Not so!  We can look to evergreens to provide some interest in the winter landscape, but there are some deciduous trees that offer fabulous color and texture as well. When searching for trees that will look smashing year-round and not give you a lick of trouble, here are a few of my favorite decadently barked zone 5 hardies to consider adding to your wish list for next year:

  • Stewartia pseudocamellia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

    Stewartia pseudocamellia’s winter bark (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

    Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia): Many gardeners rave over the spring flowers of stewartia, but there is so much more to love about this small tree.  Each spring the Japanese stewartia produces clusters of white, camellia-type blooms that last the briefest amount of time and don’t even smell delicious.  Yes, the flowers are attractive, but what I would shout from the mountaintops are its other attributes: dazzling, fire engine red fall foliage, and a winter display of one of the most intriguing collaborations of color; tan, mauve, grey, copper, all melded beautifully throughout its trunk like a soft serve ice-cream cone .  In zones 5-8 with some late day shade, this gem will slowly grow well over 20 feet tall. [Read more…]

Just Juniper

Blue Star & Gold Tip junipers in mixed border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Blue Star & Gold Tip junipers (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Jumpin’ Jupiter, by Jiminy . . . it’s Juniper, with upwards of 50 different species (although it feels more like a gazillion), an often overlooked shrub when gardens are being designed, and I’m not quite sure why.  They come in a phenomenal range of sizes, shapes and colors, are incredibly deer resistant (prickly little buggers) and will grow in a lot of unsavory conditions.  I wouldn’t be surprised if junipers could be used to revive toxic wastelands (well, perhaps a touch of exaggeration there).  At any rate, junipers are durable workhorses, preferring sunny locales, while tolerating drought, crummy soil, and complete neglect-absolutely no fertilizing or pampering required once established. [Read more…]

Tiger Eyes

Tiger Eye Sumac's lemony yellow foliage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Tiger Eye Sumac’s lemony yellow foliage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger,’ otherwise known as Tiger Eye sumac, was a happy accident resulting from an unexpected mutation of its larger cousin, Rhus typhina ‘Laciniata’.  This sizzling specimen was first discovered by Bailey Nursery in 1985, and since then Tiger Eye has been making its way into gardens all across the U.S.   Rightfully so.  Once you’ve set eyes on the dazzling velvety-fern foliage burning like a flame in the landscape, you’ll be hooked-line and sinker.  Don’t wait a moment longer, put away the extinguisher and run on down to your local nursery today.  [Read more…]

A Horse of A Different Color

Aesculus hippocastanum Flower in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Aesculus hippocastanum Flower (photo: www.comanster.edu)

Aesculus hippocastanum, or common horse chestnut, is a popular choice for park settings and a perfect tree for a large lawn.  Not to be confused with our nearly extinct American Chestnut, Castanea dentata, horse chestnut is native to Southeastern Europe, hardy in zones 4-7, with an expansive architecture reaching over 80′ tall and 40′ wide (at a growth rate of 2-3′ annually).  Horse chestnut prefers full sun with moist soil, has palmate, five fingered foliage that may bronze in fall, and a lifespan over 150 years. It produces cone shaped, lightly fragrant oatmeal colored blossoms in May, with separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Aesculus hippocastanum is also known for its curious golf ball sized (toxic-not edible), prickly fruit that falls in late summer. Following are a few other large aesculus alternatives to consider: [Read more…]


Cinderella Crabapple fruit in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Cinderella Crabapple’s golden fruit (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

When it comes to fabulous ornamental specimens that are equally content on a city lot or a multi-acre spread, look no further than the dwarf flowering crabapple.  There are many varieties to choose from; with sizes ranging from 8′ to 15′, all are ideally sized for the smaller landscape.  Years ago we chose a Malus ‘Cinzam’, commonly known as the Cinderella Flowering Crabapple, to introduce to our landscape.  We have been thrilled with its performance year after year, through every season. Hybridized by Lake County Nursery in Ohio, Cinderella has gained popularity among home owners for its petite size, disease resistance and tolerance of a wide range of poor soil conditions.  [Read more…]

Mighty Metasequoia

Dawn Redwood's stunning bark and architecture in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Dawn Redwood’s stunning bark and curious branching habit (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For a tree with majesty and presence, I can think of nothing grander than the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides.  This king among trees is worth considering if you have a moist area and the room to accommodate a large tree.  And I mean large.  Under the right conditions, Metasequoia is a fast growing tree; growing several feet annually and capable of reaching over 100’ tall by 20’ wide in zones 5-8.  Considered a living fossil, Dawn Redwood was once one of the most widespread tree species in the Northern hemisphere (during the Tertiary period). Rediscovered in China in the early 1940’s, Metasequoia glyptostroboides is one of three species of sequoia, the others being giant sequoia, Sequoidendron giganteum and the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, which are well known natives of California.   [Read more…]