Create a room for relaxing that also has a view of the garden

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2012

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

It is the second week of November, and not much is going on in the gardens. Other than watching the birds it is pretty quiet here. Today I am writing about the importance of having a room with a garden view because during the winter months it is really a down time for us gardeners other than dreaming about the gardens for next year.

To give you a little background on where this article is coming from you need to know that my house is a small bungalow/ranch built in the early 1950s, and after a small addition to our kitchen it is about 1,000 square feet in size. Remember I said it is small. There is no “man-cave” here but there is a room that I named the Victorian reading room. It is the second bedroom.

Carol Hegel Lang

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Before 1991, when we remodeled the kitchen, this was our daughter’s bedroom until she left for college and her own apartment. This room is located in the southwest corner of the house and before the remodel had a corner window with each small window facing either south or west. They provided some light, but they were small and high up so unless you stood right in front of it there was no view.

We had decided to update our kitchen and add a little more space and also replace the corner windows with a bay window. It was our carpenter, Gene Moen (a master carpenter with a vision for every room he worked on) who asked me one of the first days he was here why we didn’t have a sliding door in that bedroom. I told Gene in my dream vision there was a double window facing south and a sliding patio door. You see at the time we also had a couple of dogs and in order for them to get outside to the fenced backyard I had to go outside with them through the kitchen and walk around the side of the house to the gate to let them into the backyard. On a nice warm day that wasn’t so bad, but remember we live in Minnesota where it can be very cold and snowy in the winter months and very wet during the spring season.

Men seem to only see dollar signs in front of them when presented with an opportunity, and mine was no different than the others. Finally, between Gene and me, we convinced my husband that if we were ever going to do anything with that room now was the time when the siding on that side of the house came off during the remodel. Gene ordered the window and door and it only added about another week in delay to the project.

So from 1991 to 2001 this was the Victorian reading room complete with wicker furniture, lace curtains and a lot of clutter. Did I mention that I loved the Victorian era also? I really think that I was born about a hundred years too late. The Victorians loved clutter, frilly things like doilies and lace curtains and of course their gardens.

Then in 2001, I became a grandmother and the room became a nursery/playroom for Carissa. This became her room as well as mine, although I was too busy to sit in the room and read because I was doing the grandmother thing and loving every minute of watching her grow and change on a daily basis.

I would sit in the chair and hold her while talking about everything we could see in the backyard. I would point out the birds that were on the feeders or we would laugh at the antics of the squirrels trying to snatch seeds from the feeders. We could watch the dogs playing in the yard, and it was so easy to open the door and let them in or out. We would read and listen to music or just play with her dolls and games. This was really a shared room.

Eventually I would start Carissa on keeping a journal like I do about the birds that visit the feeders. I would tell her the names of the flowers that were blooming and talk about the weather. It was a cozy place for a grandmother to sit with her precious granddaughter and enjoy our time together.

Now that Carissa has gotten to be a young lady in middle school we still enjoy our times sitting in this room before she goes to school in the mornings. Grandma now has her reading corner back after the doll cradle and stroller moved on to some other little girl. I have a wicker chair where I read about gardening and watch the flowers change with the seasons. In front of the sliding doors I now have a small table that holds pens, books, rulers and of course the phone so when my sister and I talk to each other almost daily I can tell her what is going on in my gardens and she tells me about hers. My sister lives in Texas and gardening for her is much different than the few months I can garden so we always have a lot to discuss.

I can’t imagine not having this garden view, and I am so thankful that Gene persuaded my husband into putting in the sliding patio doors. Often while I sit here I will be writing a column in my mind and then I quickly jot down my thoughts until I have a chance to get to my computer and write. It has given me a chance to really enjoy the gardens on days when the weather is not very cooperative. The view from this room is of my entire backyard but especially the oval garden that sits in the center of the yard.


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