Beauty and joy of gardens is still evident in winter months

Published 9:03 am Sunday, December 1, 2013

Column: Serendipity Gardens, by Carol Hegel Lang

The month of November gives us the holiday of Thanksgiving to celebrate with our family and friends and to give thanks for all of our blessings. Who doesn’t love eating turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, green bean casserole, cranberries (my favorite), lefse slathered with butter and sugar and for dessert either pumpkin or pecan pie topped with whipped cream? All of this should make us stop and realize how thankful we should be to live in our great country that gives us so many freedoms. We also took time in November to thank our veterans past and present for their service to this great country.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

For me the month of November gives me so much to be thankful for in my gardens. The beauty and joy that abounds in them is very evident in November when the ground is bare earth and I can still see beauty. The red oak tree in the Victorian gazebo garden is barely hanging on to its russet leaves after the first snowfall of the season took most of the leaves from other trees. The diablo ninebark shines with burgundy leaves against the green grass, making a bold statement during this dreary month when most of the leaves have fallen.

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The clear skies in November open the heavens to a nighttime show of twinkling stars and myriad constellations. So much beauty in the night skies sure makes me realize just how small our planet really is. It always brings back memories of my dad teaching us about the skies and looking through our telescope at the moon when I was a child.

The greens and blues of the evergreens will come alive with the snow covering the ground very soon. How grand they will look as they stand out against the white of the snow. We had our first snow of the season on Veterans Day and with the ground not yet frozen it seeped into the ground as it melted giving water and nutrients to the soil as a bonus. I didn’t like the icy roads, but I was so thankful for the moisture it provided the gardens and trees.

Hardscapes are giving the gardens added beauty this time of the year. In the corner garden in the front yard the windmill is whirling its blades with the wind adding height to this garden and winter interest. During the garden season blue morning glories cover it with so much color, but now that it is bare of flowers it stands like a sentry in the gardens.

There is a blue gazing ball that echoes the blue color of the morning glories that provided color earlier and now this gazing ball steps in to add color in the garden. A small garden flag greets you with a scarecrow on it in fall colors as you walk along the brick path to the windmill and seedheads on coneflowers that gently sway with the breeze. Three pine trees stand tall along the split-rail fence adding height and color to the landscape as well as shelter for the birds. Suet hangs from a branch on the middle tree to feed the woodpeckers this winter. This tree lost its top with the blizzard in May, and I am so thankful that it survived the storm to provide food and shelter for the birds.

The first snowfall on Veterans Day and a red oak tree still holding on to its leaves. --Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The first snowfall on Veterans Day and a red oak tree still holding on to its leaves. –Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The gardens have been blessed with so many birds at the feeders and birdbaths adding color and activity for me to watch. Cardinals and blue jays are really vivid against the dull colors of the gardens this time of the year and I love watching all of them. I so enjoy the sounds of the birds chorus in the early morning when I head outside to fill the feeders as the sun comes up to greet the new day.

Even watching the clouds as they roll across the steel blue skies makes me stop and give thanks because I have eyesight that lets me enjoy this magnificent spectacle. Every time the morning sun peeks through the lace curtains in my kitchen casting a shadow across the walls it takes my breath away and brings back memories of a very dear friend who also loved this. Peggy was my “kindred spirit” and we shared so many of the same loves of life and often had the same thoughts in our minds and even sent the same cards to each other many times.

Such simple things always have me giving thanks to God in our quiet times together for so many blessings in my life. How many of us take time out of our busy day to be thankful for all the little things that we take for granted? I think being a gardener or farmer gives us a special bond with God because we see how a tiny seed planted becomes a plant to provide food or beauty, and we realize that it doesn’t just grow on its own. Driving across the countryside and seeing the farmers in the fields putting in long hours harvesting their crops or tilling the soil you realize just how much we really take for granted in our daily lives. A very few people provide food for so many people across the world and it is truly amazing.


“A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment.” – Our Iowa Magazine, Side Notes


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