Lazy days of summer gone for autumn

Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 14, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The lazy days of summer have come and gone and in only nine days autumn will officially arrive. It seems like our summer was awfully short this year and we didn’t have much time to really enjoy the gardens with the crazy weather we had. For me, the month of September is always a slow time as it is too early to collect seeds for next year, I am no longer spending my time fertilizing every Saturday and I don’t need to water as often.

A monarch butterfly sips nectar on a zinnia. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A monarch butterfly sips nectar on a zinnia. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Slowly we will begin to see signs of the approaching autumn as flowers die away, leaves start to turn color and the days are becoming shorter. Dew is on the grass in the morning and instead of working in the garden early I wait until it dries up a bit before I head out to work in them. I don’t have any flowers to move around this year and the bulbs I ordered will not arrive until October when I will spend a busy day planting them.   The lazy fall days are here and I can finally sit and enjoy the gardens without feeling any guilt.

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As I was sitting under the gazebo one late afternoon I was amazed at all of the activity that was going on around me. Hummingbirds and sphinx moths were darting around the tall garden phlox, dragonflies and damselflies were everywhere and so were grasshoppers. Chickadees were sitting on the peanut feeder enjoying a tasty morsel and monarch butterflies were abundant on the zinnias. How good it was to see so many of them this year and the butterfly weed has many caterpillars feeding on them. A lovely yellow tiger swallowtail lazily flew from one flower to another feeding on the sweet nectar. It doesn’t get much better than that if I do say so.

It doesn’t look like I will get much of a second bloom on the tall garden phlox this year as it was just too dry during August. The rudbeckia have been so beautiful and I am hoping to add more of the shorter variety, little goldstar, to the front gardens next spring to draw in even more butterflies. The black negligee bugbane that was planted early this spring is now blooming and really is pretty. I have two of these planted in different gardens but the one in front is the only one blooming. Because I wasn’t sure how well they would do I only planted one in each of these gardens and, now that I have seen the results, I will probably plant several more to give it more impact.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Two of the plants I added to the shade gardens did very well. They are raspberry splash pulmonaria and emerald mist brunnera. I plan to mulch them well so they survive the winter as last year nearly all of the new perennials I added to the gardens didn’t make it. Slowly I am adding more flowers with foliage to the shade gardens and so far the ones I have planted I am very satisfied with. Each year they keep adding more new plants that tolerate light to moderate shade and I for one am thrilled.

On a whim I bought two yellow Iceland poppy this spring that were blooming at the garden center and I will definitely be adding more of them to this small garden. The yellow is very bright and really mixes well with the lantana that was planted next to it.  They have bloomed non-stop up until the first week of September with just a little deadheading. What I like about this plant is that it is very airy looking and the stems stood up well projecting the blooms into the air. The one that I purchased was called champagne bubbles, and I don’t know if they had other colors available, but a true yellow works well in most gardens.

“The days may not be so bright and balmy — yet the quiet and melancholy that linger around them is fraught with glory. Over everything connected with autumn there lingers some golden spell — some unseen influence that penetrates the soul with its mysterious power.” — Northern Advocate


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