Archived Story

Pass-along plants are what gardening is all about

Published 6:49pm Saturday, January 5, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

It’s time again to ring in a new year and the 2013 gardening season has me already counting down the days until spring arrives. The seed catalogs started arriving at my house the week of Thanksgiving, which I thought was a bit too early since I hadn’t even mailed out my Christmas cards yet. Oh well, it didn’t stop me from browsing the catalogs and placing an early order for perennials.

My plans are to revamp both the garden along the driveway and the oval garden in the backyard this spring. Last fall I dug out the daylilies along the driveway because I was tired of my husband driving over the foliage and also having to warn people as they exited their cars to be careful of the flowers so their clothing would not be permanently stained if they brushed against them. As I divided the plants one division of each plant went into the cutting garden while the other went into a bucket and was given to my brother for his garden.

The one nice thing about digging and dividing perennials is that my brother will take anything I have extra and so will my friend, Jane. Those daylilies had been in the driveway garden since it was first planted, and over the years they have been divided many times and given to other friends. That are what pass-along plants are all about. I will miss the daylilies in that location because they were the first plants that greeted visitors to the gardens.

I ordered several different rudbeckia plants for this location and will also plant annual lantana and salvia to attract more butterflies and hummingbirds. This past June my gardens were certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a backyard habitat so I am always looking for plants to attract wildlife into the gardens.

In the oval garden I took out two pink daylilies that bordered the brick path because I never really liked the color of them, and they desperately needed division to promote more flower production. Thanks again to my brother who now boasts pink flowers in his garden. In place of them I will plant C. Karl Foerster, a reed grass, for year-round interest.

In that same garden the Pinky Winky hydrangea will be moved to the location of the frog fountain on the west end of the garden. This will block the view of the smaller gardens along the fence making you walk around the garden to see them. One of the best tricks of gardening is to hide some of your garden, which makes people walk into them farther to gain a view of the rest of the garden. It also will make your garden appear larger.

Once the hydrangea is moved the amber flower carpet rose can be moved out from under the spreading branches of the pagoda dogwood that has resurrected itself after most of the tree died a few years ago. In this same garden I took out two alba roses that bloomed only in June and took up more space that I was willing to give them because of the short bloom time. The phlox they were crowding gives me nearly three months of bloom if deadheaded regularly so they won out this space.

In what I call garden No. 1 was another rose bush that had a longer blooming season but was very prone to mildew and grew too large for the garden that I also took out. Thanks to Jane all three of these rosebushes now have a new home. I’m very excited about the changes these two gardens will be undergoing.

What I will add is more lilies, both oriental and Asiatic to give me a longer season of color and fragrance. This past season with the heat and drought, my lilies were the superstars of the oval garden as well as the garden that is out front along the sidewalk. I planted more this fall and hope to add even more come spring.

For spring color I planted several different kinds of alliums in the different gardens as they seem to perform so well regardless of the weather conditions. Also I have many bleeding hearts in both pink and white that will be blooming at the same time as the Virginia blue-bells to add lots of punch to the early gardens. I also added a dozen Angelique tulips to the cutting garden if the squirrels don’t dig out the bulbs and eat them. I prefer daffodils to the tulips because normally my gardens are still buried under mounds of snow when the tulips bloom and my daffodils are later to put on their show of colors.

My pride and joy would have to be the cutting garden last year. It looks like the larkspur that bloomed until hard frost self-seeded prolifically so I will have many new plants to transfer to some of the other gardens. The purple zinnias were show stoppers and again this season I will plant them from seeds to this garden. The Double Click cosmos were breathtaking in several shades of pink from light to deep rose and will be the mainstay of this garden. I also added tall phlox, butterfly bush, lilies and daylilies this fall to the garden.

The cutting garden was first put in last spring but what a showstopper! It turned out to be with kiss-me-over the garden gate reaching 12 feet tall and the tithonia even taller. They sure gave me privacy while I sat on the bench watching the wildlife that this garden attracted.

The best part of gardening is how it is forever changing with the different plants that I grow in it every season. Look out world because this year’s garden is going to be a knockout for sure.

Carol Hegel Lang is an Albert Lea resident and local green thumb. Her email is