Honoring women gardeners in life

Published 1:21 pm Monday, May 12, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.” — Abram L. Urban

A photo of Lang’s mother, Fern Twito Hegel, standing in front of her favorite bush, bridal wreath spirea.

A photo of Lang’s mother, Fern Twito Hegel, standing in front of her favorite bush, bridal wreath spirea.

On this Mother’s Day I thought it was a good time to honor the women gardeners in my life that are part of my large family who have defined who I am. My great-great-grandmother, Aslaug Einung Twito, immigrated to America from Norway in 1842 with her father and siblings and settled in the Norwegian settlement known as Old Muskego, Wis. There she met and married her husband, Hans Torgrimson Tveito, who had also recently arrived from Norway.

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After her marriage to Hans, they began their family and lived in Old Muskego until 1855, when they moved to Spring Grove to buy land to farm and raise their family of eight children. She was a busy woman helping start their farm, taking care of the family cooking and, of course, raising a vegetable garden. How much time she had to grow flowers, I don’t know, but I know that she loved the land and flowers. She eventually moved to Lake Mills after the death of her husband in the early 1870s.

Next comes my great-grandmother, Carrie Halvorson Twito, one of the early settlers of Lake Mills, where her family moved to in the 1860s. She died the year after I was born so I never got the chance to know her. Much has been written by her daughters of her love for gardening and many of the photos taken of her were by her gardens. She raised fruits, vegetables and flowers over the many years she lived in her homes.

One of my favorite photos of her was taken sitting in a chair on the side yard with a row of peonies in bloom behind her. So many times over the years I wished that I had known this lovely lady, who had a passion for gardening, and how I certainly must have inherited my passion from her.

My mother was born in 1916 in Lake Mills, in a family of 12 children, to Elmer and Regina Sponem Twito, a lady that I dearly loved as a young child. Grandma was kind, loving and always made time for her grandchildren when they visited them, whether at the Big House, as it was called on Main Street, or the Farm, when they moved to the country. Just recently, my uncle, Don, was reminiscing about how much his mother loved flowers and about a favorite photo of my mother and her sisters. They were standing in front of a large patch of daylilies at the Big House.

My mother, Fern Twito Hegel, loved to garden and her cutting garden, along the sidewalk, literally stopped traffic driving or walking by our house. It wasn’t fancy, by any means, but it was beautiful and always in bloom with so much color. Mom loved to cut flowers and arrange them in a mason jar to sit on the kitchen table or for the graves on Memorial Day.

Her favorite was the bridal wreath spirea bushes we had growing around the house and along the driveway, as they were filler in her bouquets. In the photo with this article my mother is standing in front of the spirea that is in full bloom. The photo was taken before she was married to my father and has to be one of my favorites of her. When I started to garden, I received many pass-along plants from her gardens to put in my gardens, and I still have those plants today and cherish them.

Thank you, Mom, and all the rest of my gardening women who have played a role in my life as a gardener. You have made me the person that I am today and forever, I am humbled. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

“Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn, hundreds of bees in the purple clover, hundreds of butterflies on the lawn, but only one mother the wide world over.” — George Cooper


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.