Being part of the magic of nature brings joy to local gardener

Published 9:10 am Saturday, November 2, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

There’s a song that I believe it was Merle Haggard who sang it that goes like this: “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way…” That’s kind of how I feel about the gardens with the joy they bring not only me but all those that visit them. They are perfect in every way. This quote from G.C. Constable comes to mind when I walk in the gardens: “God speaks to me in the stir of a leaf, in glorious song of a bird; and my pew is a log or a mountain crag, wherever his voice is heard.”

In the spring a tiny seed is planted in the earth; you wait impatiently for it to spring to life when the temperatures can fluctuate between chilly and warm from day to day challenging it to grow. What are the odds this little seed will even grow your mind is asking? We are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and this year definitely challenged us. That tiny seedling holds so many promises that it will grow into a beautiful flower in such a short period of time. A favorite author of mine, Celia Thaxter, wrote this quote that is so revealing of my own thoughts: “I watch my garden beds after they are sown, and think how one of God’s exquisite miracles is going on beneath the dark earth out of sight. I never forget my planted seeds.”

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Email newsletter signup

The first spring day that I spend in the garden I’ll take time to sit quietly on one of the benches and say a prayer to God that he will give me strength and stamina to take care of his garden this season. It is very humbling for me to understand that he has given me such a wonderful task to be the keeper of his gardens for another season. How did God select me to be one of his gardeners? These shoes I’m walking in are very hard to fulfill sometimes, and I often wonder if I have done him proud. I have learned so much already on this journey he has sent me on, and I pray that I will continue to take good care of his gardens.

This morning it was a chilly 28 degrees, the water in the bird baths was frozen and more flowers ended their garden journey with the killing frost. The bird feeders needed filling so I put on my coat and headed to the garage for feed. Lots of birds were flying from one feeder to the next in search of food, and it struck me how lucky I am to be able to observe all of this. You see for about 40 years I worked in buildings where the offices had no windows to the outside world, and I had missed being a part of the magic of nature.

Some people never take the time to just sit back and enjoy the beauty that is all around us. When I look at the petals of a flower or weed, the wings and body of insects I am truly amazed by the shapes, color and fragrances and all the intricacies of every living thing God has made. Again I am humbled to be a part of all of this magnificence.

Snapdragons were still blooming as of Oct. 22 in Carol Hegel Lang’s gardens.

Snapdragons were still blooming as of Oct. 22 in Carol Hegel Lang’s gardens.

Watching the leaves as they fall from the trees telling me it’s the end of one season and soon the beginning of another season that will quickly be upon us he has provided so much beauty that surrounds our lives daily. Autumn with all the brilliant colors signals yet another change in the garden.

That tiny little seed that was planted in May has fulfilled its promise of providing the garden with beauty. This is the third week of October that I am writing this, and the only plants blooming in the gardens are the snapdragons. How colorful they were as I spotted them blooming in the tiny garden by the pergola; the gardens last hurrah. This year the only perennials that I cut down were along the driveway where it is necessary to plow snow. The gardens will provide beauty when painted by Jack Frost and texture against the backdrop of newly fallen snow; the seed heads will provide food for the birds. God has provided me with serenity in the gardens even during the brutal winter weather that is ahead of us.

I always worry about how people perceive the gardens because they don’t live here where they can see all the subtle changes that take place daily. When the gardens are open to the public they are in full bloom and often they look a bit like a jungle. They have missed the amazing growth from that tiny seedling to mature plant. Some people think the gardens are beautiful but do they realize the events that have taken place over the course of just a few short months? Somehow many of them seem to think that the gardens just happen; a lot of blood, sweat and yes, tears have gone into the gardens. Every plant in the garden has a special part to play in the lifecycle of the birds and insects that live among them. I love it when someone who is visiting the gardens makes this connection and understands how integral every plant is to the gardens.

And so I hope that all of you will see the gardens from my viewpoint and know that I am truly a humble gardener.


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