Finding peace and quiet in gardens

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 24, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

This morning when I turned on the news, I learned about the suicide death of Robin Williams. I thought how blessed I am to have my gardens as a sanctuary to find peace and quiet amongst the tranquility of the flowers and the birds, bees, butterflies and critters that are here. How sad to think that people can’t find an inner peace as so often happens in suicides. Too many people that have been a part of my life have gone through this and how I wish that somehow I could have helped them to find peace. My gardens are truly a safehaven for me.

Lang’s feral cat Violet and her kittens enjoy frolicking in the gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Lang’s feral cat Violet and her kittens enjoy frolicking in the gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Over the years, when I have been stressed out, the gardens are where I went to find relief and to speak with God to get me through a difficult day. Working in the gardens with my hands is so satisfying and at the end of the day, even though sometimes I might be physically exhausted, I am mentally renewed. There is something so healing about being in the gardens, and I find that I can lose myself in just a short period of time by working in them or just sitting in the gazebo and listening to the water tumbling down the fountain or the birds singing.

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Often people have asked me how I can find it relaxing to work in the gardens when it requires a lot of physical exercise in heat and humidity and often I am outdoors for more than ten hours. The time just seems to slip away while I am weeding, watering, fertilizing and deadheading, and before you know it it’s time for lunch or supper. I never wear a watch since I retired.

Today, as I was watering, five goldfinch were darting back and forth between the sunflowers and listening to them chattering back and forth was so relaxing that, before long, I had finished watering the flowers in that part of the yard. Yesterday Violet, our mama feral kitty, was lying on the brick pathway in garden No. 1 with two of her kittens when, lo and behold, a third kitten appeared. This is the first time we have seen three kittens so it really took me by surprise. They were playing with each other and tumbling over one another and then one of the gray and black kittens was licking the orange sibling as if he was cleaning it. I could have sat and watched them all day as they chased each other around the gardens and then, if the wind blew one of the wind chimes, they would come frolicking back to their mother for safety. They were adorable.

Having retired nearly 10 years ago I finally learned that life is too short to worry about whether my house is spotless or if I spend time reading a book when I should be doing other chores. Spending time with my granddaughter taught me to relax and enjoy the moments with her because in the blink of an eye she will be grown up and I won’t have those special times like we are enjoying together now. When you are a “type A” personality like I am my motto has always been to do your work first and then play later if you have time. It seems like there was never time to just relax and enjoy those moments that you always thought were being wasted.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Once I retired and could really spend time in the gardens, I found out that if the bathroom didn’t get cleaned today or the ironing done the same day as the laundry it didn’t make life come to an abrupt halt. Gardening doesn’t seem to run on a clock because Mother Nature is always throwing a ringer into your plans. I think John Muir said it so well in this sentence, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in.”

Gardening in your own backyard can give you that special getaway place where you can lose all your worries and troubles. I invite you to enjoy all Mother Nature has given you and find tranquility in our crazy world.


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