Winter Bones

Weeping katsura, hemlock and grasses in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Weeping katsura, hemlock and grasses provide a variety of forms and colors (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

For those of us enduring long periods of dormancy in our seasonal landscapes, winter bones help to keep our outdoor environments lively and inviting.  Structures popping out of the snow and forms drizzled in frost create artistic objects that we may gaze upon and enjoy during the coldest days.  For no matter the season, and even without the benefit of green adornments, our gardens can be incredibly beautiful and interesting with the simple addition of living framework.  Andrew Wyeth said it best: “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape-something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”  [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

    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…]

Mighty Metasequoia

Dawn Redwood's stunning bark and architecture in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

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…]

Saying Goodbye

Treetop's Southern Magnolia in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Treetop’s Southern Magnolia (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Named for the view from her bedroom window, Tree Tops was what my aunt chose to call the home she and my uncle purchased in Oyster Bay, Long Island fifty four years ago.  Following her love of art and all things beautiful, she spent several years learning many different forms of artistry; from antique restoration, reverse glass painting and theorems, to gold leaf techniques; finally sharing her passion with many students over the next several decades.  And her artistic touch didn’t stop there; her home and gardens were a tribute to both her skills and ability to collect the most unique pieces.  Upon entering the grounds, you were surrounded with cherished garden structures that complemented a variety of choice trees painstakingly sited and planted over fifty years ago.  Among them a stately beech, rapturous metasequoia, formidable maples and my favorite, a Southern magnolia with glorious, polished emerald leaves that adorned the tree and her mantle every winter.  These precious acquisitions embellish the property, making it a treat for the eyes and inspiration for the soul.  But that’s not what made it a home for her over the last fifty four years, no it was more than just objects, it was her spirit. [Read more…]

A Garden for All