Snow and winds visit the gardens

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Winter arrived in the gardens on Veterans Day with a few inches of snow, blustery winds and much colder temperatures. Listening to the weather forecast a few days before the snow arrived, it sounded like we would really be dumped. My husband and I decided we better get the rest of the Christmas lights up, hang the wreaths on the doors and the outhouse, and haul the pumpkins to the landfill. This also meant the garden flags needed to be changed from fall to winter too, so as John finished putting the lights around the front door, that was my job.

A dwarf Alberta spruce and sedum covered in snow add winter interest in one of Lang’s front gardens that was previously just boring grass. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A dwarf Alberta spruce and sedum covered in snow add winter interest in one of Lang’s front gardens that was previously just boring grass. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

As I was walking back to the house, it dawned on me that I had the Red Devil sled in the garden shed that was given to me last year by a cousin of my mom. So, back to the shed to bring out this family treasure that will stand with a place of honor next to the large pergola with a darling winter garden flag of children sledding down a hill. The bright red of the sled will add so much color to the gray pergola over the winter and every time I look outside and see the sled, memories of my Twito cousins who gave me the sled will bring them close to my heart.

Email newsletter signup

Even though we only received a couple of inches of snow, it will help to insulate the ground and protect all of the perennials and shrubs in the gardens. Snow this early is not my favorite part of November, but with the polar vortex that is hitting most of the nation it was welcome indeed this year. Last year we had the extreme cold before we had any snow cover and it drove the frost down deep into the ground.

The landscape changed with the arrival of snow and now the trees and shrubs become the embellishments within the gardens. The bright green and blue of the conifers stands out against the white ground, while the shape of the shrubs is intensified much more so than when flowers and leaves on the trees concealed them. The weigelia along the split-rail fence blended into the gardens during the gardening season, but now they stand out prominently with their lovely branches so thick. How wonderful to look out and see each and every branch on the different shrubs that have lost their leaves with the snow highlighting them.

My expanded front garden has been such a joy to me as it now brings shape and color to a part of the yard that was just grass previously. With the snow covering the sedum and the dwarf Alberta spruce as if someone sprinkled confectioners’ sugar on them, they jump out of the landscape and say, “Hey, look at me.” In my wildest dreams this garden could not have turned out this perfectly and I wouldn’t change anything I have done with it. Isn’t it funny how such a small change can bring joy and happiness to us? Next spring when I add a few colorful annuals to the small unplanted area it will be even prettier.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Recently with my column I used a photo of my little stick girl in the very back garden that I painted John Deere green with yellow hair. Now with the ground covered in white she really pops out against the gray fence; a small amount of color against a white covering of snow that draws my eyes way to the back of the yard.

The birds are keeping me busy filling feeders and the other day a young Cooper’s hawk was taunting the birds in the small bush in the oval garden. A few minutes before that the feral cats had been pursuing these same birds. A possum ate under the feeder that night.

“Nature looks dead in the winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.” — Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871


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