Archived Story

Bizarre weather in May put a slow start to gardening

Published 8:01am Sunday, June 2, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

The month of May came roaring in like a lion making me wonder what month it really was. The snowstorm that hit us on May 2 sure wasn’t the way May usually arrives. And then two weeks later the temperature hits 102 degrees and the rest of the month we have been inundated with rain. I am so glad this month had ended. It has put a slow start to gardening and planting crops this year so I sure hope that June is a better month for all of us.

Carol Hegel Lang
Carol Hegel Lang

I always look forward to the first flowers popping up and then walking the gardens every day with my notebook taking notes to review against last years. The scent of apple blossoms and lilacs bring back so many childhood memories of my days growing up in Iowa where our yard had both apple and plum trees. Just two places down from our home the church yard was surrounded with lilacs in three colors and oh how I loved to wander over there to smell them. In the back of the church was a small area with no grass and a thicket of evergreens and hiding amongst the trees was a bed of violets in many colors. We would pick handfuls of them and then the spare lot behind our house would always have lots of dandelions to add to the bouquets.

Memorial Day would be a time to gather flowers from my mother’s gardens to make bouquets to put in Mason jars for the cemeteries where our loved ones were buried. Early in the morning we would go out and pick huge bunches of ‘Bridal Wreath’ spirea, poppies, tulips and peonies and mom would make such lovely arrangements from these flowers. Somehow our childhood days were much more relaxed than those of the children today. We would visit the cemeteries to pay our respects to the veterans and our family that were deceased and then gather with family for a noon meal.

Photo of bleeding hearts blooming in late May by Carol Hegel Lang.
Photo of bleeding hearts blooming in late May by Carol Hegel Lang.

Since the weather this month has been so radical planting seeds in the garden almost didn’t happen because the ground has either been too wet or too cold to plant. About the day after the record setting heat I did manage to get in the garden and plant zinnias, cosmos and marigolds and now I am finding them popping up through the ground. My little sticks with the seed paper wrappers look like soldiers marching through the gardens but at least I know where everything is planted this year. Only a few of the larkspur appear to have self-seeded so it is a good thing that I planted more this year.

It has been a fun two weeks with all of the migrating birds at the feeders but it sure has kept me busy hanging oranges on the corn holders and putting fresh grape jelly in the bowls because the rains would flood the containers nearly every day spilling it out. Lots of rose-breasted grosebeaks, Baltimore orioles and a few orchard orioles, a female scarlet tanager and only one indigo bunting but lots of American goldfinch filled the trees in my yard. I really was worried about whether we would get any of the migrating birds this year with the unusual weather but it was delightful to see all of them.

It has been a race to get to the garden centers, pick out the flowers I need and then plant the cemetery urns in between rain showers. Finally the last urn was planted just in time for Memorial Day and hopefully the rest of my containers at home will get planted soon.

My color theme this year is purple, pink, blue and accents of lime green and deep burgundy with a bit of white thrown in. I love to visit the garden centers to see what is new and how I can use it in my own gardens and what new garden items are available for accents. I found a yellow viola with a deep burgundy that worked so nicely in the cream can that is all rusted and I have a wooden flag that a friend made that has this same deep burgundy and cream stripes and it hangs next to the can. Sure makes the entrance into the garden look pretty.

Even though we suffered some tree damage from the snowstorm we left the bottom half of the pine that broke off as it holds a suet holder for the woodpeckers, yes, it looks a bit strange but the woodpeckers sure don’t seem to mind it. The pagoda dogwood looks good from the one side but if you walk around the garden you see a big gap in the tree where a large branch broke off but again it has leafed out and I see flower buds on it and the birds still like the tree so it will remain in my landscape just as it is. You see I truly value my trees and shrubs and since my yard is a certified wildlife habitat they play a very important role especially this time of the year when birds are migrating through and when the berries are produced for the robins and blackbirds. So if the garden isn’t pristine by your standards my wildlife still enjoy the many important roles it plays in their lives. I am just glad the month of May is over and done with.


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