Archived Story

Anticipation of spring seems to make the days longer

Published 7:25am Sunday, March 3, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

According to the groundhog who didn’t see his shadow we will have an early spring just like last year. Even though we have had a very mild winter I am ready to get my hands dirty in the gardens and await the tulips and daffodils to come to life with their beautiful show of colors.

Why is it we always seem to wish the days away in favor of another season? For me it would be because the days are getting longer in the spring and I can finally be outdoors again. I love the anticipation as I walk through the gardens every morning to see what has come to life and shown its face to me, it just never grows old to see a new seedling peeking out of the ground.

With lots of projects to be done in the gardens I am already making my lists of things to do. I have my seeds, the seed starter mix and the containers to plant them in sitting ready to go but it will be a few more weeks before I do any planting. This is when I wish I had a large greenhouse so I could really plant lots of seeds and much earlier than I can with the very tiny greenhouse (I use that term loosely) that I have. When I page through my garden catalogs and see some of the magnificent greenhouses for sale, I dream of being a wealthy gardener who has unlimited finances instead of someone who has to check the balance in her checkbook before she places an order for anything.

Carol Hegel Lang took this photo of her weeping cherry tree, which is one of the earliest blooming things in her spring garden.
Carol Hegel Lang took this photo of her weeping cherry tree, which is one of the earliest blooming things in her spring garden.

I do count my blessings every time I walk into the gardens for the beauty that abounds in them and that I am able to get out there and physically do the work even if at the end of the day my body is screaming at me and saying you really should cut back on your gardens.

Some of the signs of spring are fragrances that waft across the gardens coming from the early blooming trees like the lilacs and crabapple. When my forsythia blooms I know that spring truly is on the way. Again this spring I will look forward to the weeping cherry and hope the pagoda dogwood has blooms. Last spring the cold spell really did a number on the dogwood just as it was beginning to bloom.

Hopefully the “angelique” tulips I planted last fall will bloom in lovely shades of pink about the same time as the weeping cherry tree to give me color in the cutting garden. The alliums will add so much height and color to all of the gardens this spring and they just seem to be so cheery as they wave their heads with the winds. If you haven’t added alliums to your gardens I would highly recommend them.

In the fall I do all the cleanup of my gardens so when spring arrives I don’t have a lot of work to do. The few rudbeckia that I left the seed heads on will need to be cut down, and I need to cut back the clematis. The yard will need a good raking when it warms up, and then I will spread a thin layer of compost over the grass. My fingers are crossed that we will get some much needed rainfall this spring; if not I will start watering the trees and shrubs.

For me some of the harbingers of spring are the buds swelling on the trees, robins in my yard and a little later the blooms of the wildflowers in the gardens. When the robins appear in my yard I always feel a pang of happiness in my heart because I know it won’t be long and I’ll be gardening again. I have always heard the tale of three snows will fall on the robins’ tail before spring is truly here. With so many robins over wintering in our area these days that doesn’t really ring true, but I don’t usually have any in my yard during the winter season so I seem to believe this folk lore.

Annuals in containers are a big part of my spring planting tasks, but I love to see how the combinations will play out with the beds of flowers. Like most gardeners I have my old standby plants, but I also like to add the new ones just to try them out and see how they will perform for me. The annuals are what give me color all season long as perennials bloom only a few short weeks. Thankfully, I have lots of self-seeding annuals that seem to thrive in my growing conditions. Kiss me over the garden gate, coreopsis, cosmos, larkspur and many others will add lots of interest to the gardens. Some of them will get transplanted to other more appropriate areas of the garden and some will stay where they seeded themselves; some will be shared with other gardeners. Carol Hegel Lang is an Albert Lea resident and local green thumb. Her email is