Memories of a gardener who just can’t stop dreaming

Published 11:14 am Sunday, May 12, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

OK, so the cat let the dream out of the bag: I have garden dreams many nights. I like to refer to them as visions because sometimes they are pretty intense. For years now I have dreamed about the Blazing Star Landing on East Main Street and what we could do with it. The good thing about dreams is that they don’t cost money, so you can really dream big, which in these trying financial times is definitely an asset.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Being a gardener, I of course want the Blazing Star Landing utilized as a green space where people can spend time with friends and family enjoying the outdoors and inviting people off the interstate to see our beautiful town.

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Have you ever ventured down to Clear Lake, Iowa, to visit the Central Gardens? If not, I invite you to load up the car, pack a lunch and travel down Interstate 35 for an afternoon of relaxation. The Central Gardens is one of my visions for what the Blazing Star Landing could be turned into. We could make not only community gardens for people but a beautiful landscape filled with trees, flowers, shrubs and ponds; like I said, I dream big. I know this will never happen in today’s depressed economy, but I can always dream.

This location would be perfect to have beautiful gardens for people to enjoy, complete with a picnic area where families could spend time together. Having canoe and bicycle rentals would offer everyone an opportunity to enjoy the Blazing Star Trail on bikes or a leisure afternoon of canoeing on Albert Lea Lake. I can just see the people utilizing this beautiful dream space.

My other dream or vision as I tend to call them is for the city to purchase Itasca Gardens and revitalize them as part of our park system. It is one of the most fanciful gardens I have ever been to, and I hate to think that this beautiful garden may eventually be lost. What a treasure this is to Albert Lea.

As I said dreams don’t cost money, so I can dream big, but when I keep having these reoccurring dreams I think they are trying to tell me something. I am only one person and definitely not in a position to fund either of these dreams, but maybe I can put a dream in someone else’s mind. I wish I would have had these dreams 20 or 30 years ago when the economy was better, but then neither of these visions would have been possible at that time.

Gardens are meant to be shared with people. They provide a respite from the hectic lifestyles we all live in this day and age. We could even make the Blazing Star Landing into a certified wildlife habitat with its proximity to both Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake — it would make wonderful use of the land. How inviting it would be for both wildlife and humans, not to mention beautiful?

Carol Hegel Lang took this photo at Central Gardens in Clear Lake, Iowa. She recommends a visit there to anyone who enjoys gardens.

Carol Hegel Lang took this photo at Central Gardens in Clear Lake, Iowa. She recommends a visit there to anyone who enjoys gardens.

I looked up the word dream in the dictionary for a definition and this is what it said:

1. a series of thoughts, images or emotions occurring during sleep.

2. a dreamlike vision: daydream.

3. something notable for its beauty, excellence or enjoyable quality.

That about says it all for my dreams or visions doesn’t it. While these are only my dreams perhaps you have also had dreams about your gardens and what you would like them to be. Dream on, everyone! Great things come from people who have dreams and visions.

Of course, these are not my only garden dreams because I keep thinking I really need a pond in my yard, and then my husband said, “Absolutely not. We get enough wildlife around here already.” My dreams have developed into many beautiful gardens for wildlife to live in, and I never would have believed any of this could have been possible some 35 years or more ago when I started with a few containers placed along the fence line because a gigantic oak tree provided so much shade to my backyard. With a little knowledge I am a dangerous person because I don’t like being told I can’t do something. Believe me I will show you it can be done.

Who would have ever thought my childhood dream of becoming a writer would ever really happen? Now I write for three newspapers on the subject of gardening, and I am in the process of writing a gardening book. I grew up a child with more dreams than money, and so I have always had dreams that seemed impossible to fulfill and yet many of these dreams have come true over the years. So don’t dismiss your dreams but try to make them come true.


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