The end of the summer is full of things to do, but gardening enters routine

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Sometimes writers just hit a stumbling block about what subject to write about and today is one of those days. It’s not that the gardens don’t give me subject matter, but sometimes I worry that my readers get bored with hearing my weekly tales of what is happening in my gardens. Every time I walk outside it seems like there is something that needs to get done or, if I take a break, people will wonder why I’m not working my fingers to the bone. By now the gardens pretty much have a routine for me daily or weekly from watering, weeding, deadheading and fertilizing to photographing them. We are on the downward side with August here as most of the perennials that bloom in the summer are finished and the few late summer or early fall are just starting to bloom.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

The annuals have been blooming for some time and each year I take my trusty journal to the garden this time of the year to evaluate them and make notes on which ones I want to plant again next year, or which ones didn’t perform as well as expected.  Begonias and zinnias have never been high on my list of must-haves, but for the past two years they have performed well with little work and have been relegated to the top of the list. The two hanging baskets in front with dragon wing begonias are gorgeous and I also have two large containers of them on the patio. They really have been super stars in my estimation.

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After 30 years of having kiss-me-over the garden gate in the gardens it really seemed odd not to have any this year, as I have pulled every seedling as it sprouted because this is a high maintenance self-seeder that takes over the gardens. They are beautiful and the hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love them, but when one plant can produce hundreds of seedlings it becomes overwhelming to pull all of those little plants out. As we get older I hope we get wiser when we garden. This plant took my heart by storm, but my knees just won’t take being on them to eradicate those little gems. So, as much as I miss them, they will no longer be a star attraction here in my gardens.

At this point I should also make an announcement that will greatly affect my gardens next spring; we are adding a puppy to our home in September. He is a black and white ball of fur — bearded collie or “beardie” as we call them — who just happened to be born on my birthday and his name is Roosevelt. That means that I need to take out some plants in my garden that are toxic to dogs because this little guy will still be in puppy mode next spring. It has been 10 years since we had a puppy, and it took our other beardie about two years to learn he had to stay on the paths in the gardens or else I was not a happy camper.

A garden fairy sitting atop a fuchsia ponders the loss of her one wing. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A garden fairy sitting atop a fuchsia ponders the loss of her one wing. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Just like the gardens go through changes, so do our lives and having a puppy around will necessitate some changes in the house and the gardens. After we lost Buddy I had my husband take out the main gate into the backyard because my hose was always getting hung up on it, but with a new puppy coming in September we need to get that gate back on to keep him in the yard. We have been puppy-proofing the inside of the house and looking online for gates, crates, toys and exercise pens to keep him controlled in the yard or the house until he is housebroken and gets through the teething stage. You would think a baby was arriving at our house instead of a new puppy.

“I talk to him when I’m lonesome like; and I’m sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught threat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that”.  — W. Dayton Wedgefarth


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