Looking toward some April showers

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 19, 2015

Little Miss Sunshine holds a pot of violas blooming. These hardy plants can withstand the cool spring weather. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Little Miss Sunshine holds a pot of violas blooming. These hardy plants can withstand the cool spring weather. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

We are welcoming those April showers with open arms because we have been in a deficit for moisture with not a lot of snow this past winter. For me, as a gardener, those April showers will bring lovely May flowers that I have been waiting to see. My purple crocuses were just barely peeking through the mulch before the first rain arrived and within two days they jumped up and were blooming. What a welcome sight! The first flowers to bloom make my heart start fluttering because it means it really is time to start gardening. The grass is starting to green up and soon we will see dandelions with yellow heads swaying in the wind.

My lists of must haves is growing and I can hardly wait to visit the garden centers to see what they have this year. Last year I planted a salvia that I am hoping they will have again this year. It is called Wendy’s wish, a hybrid growing 24 to 36 inches tall. This pretty pink salvia has very tough stems that make it appear to be a bush rather than a flower. However, it performed so well in full sun and the hummers absolutely loved it. I planted three of them in a long oblong planter near the back of my gardens along the fence and it filled the space very well.

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The tumbling tom red tomato was planted in a medium-sized trug container and then it sat on top of the rain barrel in full sun. That provided me with handfuls of delicious cherry tomatoes up until frost. Hopefully, I will be able to find this one again because it was tasty. When you can get tomatoes every day over the season with no blight you know you have a winner.

Last year was my first year growing dragon wing red begonias as hanging baskets. Wow were they ever a knockout! This year I plan to do the same thing, but below them in elevated containers. I will plant a couple more of them to really give this area in front of my house that wow factor. Previously I have planted non-stop begonias in these containers with blue juncus spikes and dichondra silver falls as the spiller. I think it is time to crank it up a bit for even more excitement.

Over the past several years I have added more lilies to all of the gardens. I can’t wait to see how they will impact the gardens this summer with all of their fragrant and colorful blooms. I had planned to order more to plant this spring, but I decided I would wait and see where I really need more color this fall. Then, if necessary, I will order more bulbs to fill-in areas that are lacking a bit. Lilies get me through the late spring and almost to fall when other plants will carry the show until frost.

I noticed that I lost a couple of my Nora Barlow columbines so will need to purchase more to fill in the spots where these had been. The armeria isn’t looking very good either so I will probably need to purchase a few of them. I had planned to move them to the other side of the brick walkway in the oval garden. I will also be moving the oso easy rose that I received for Mother’s Day last year to the east of the walkway so that it will have a better place to show off its colors because the lilies have really crowded it out.

Spring is a season of anticipation. For me that means flowers and trees blooming, fragrance in the air and my yard filled with the sights and sound of many different kinds of birds. The grape jelly has been out for about two weeks and the robins have sure been enjoying their tasty snack. Soon I will need to get the hummingbird feeders up (unless I have a raccoon again this year who feeds on the sugar water) as I try to have them out before the end of the third week of April when the scouts usually arrive.

“It’s spring!  Farewell to chills and colds!  The blushing, girlish world unfolds each flower, leaf and blade of sod — small letters sent to her from God.” — John Updike


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