Enjoying bright colors in the garden

Published 10:00 am Sunday, June 21, 2015

The colorful Asiatic lily adds lots of color to the early summer gardens as the rest of the lilies begin to bloom. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The colorful Asiatic lily adds lots of color to the early summer gardens as the rest of the lilies begin to bloom. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Bring on the colors of summer for me to enjoy as I work in the gardens or take a well-deserved break and just sit and savor the spectacle of a gorgeous summer day.

Aldo Leopold wrote this statement about the June gardens, “In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.”

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

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Every morning as I walk through the gardens with my notebook I am amazed at what has burst forth in bloom since the day before. Warm rains followed by sunshine seems to bring out the best in the gardens and as we celebrate the summer solstice today with the arrival of summer the gardens will be ramping up their colors. Soon those tiny zinnia seeds that I planted this spring will burst forth in a kaleidoscope of colors making the gardens a masterpiece only God could create. When the flowers in the cutting garden start to bloom it really does resemble a kaleidoscope with every color of the rainbow present.

The cutting garden has many self-sown flowers that I never know what it will look like. It is such a wonderful surprise as each flower bud opens to reveal a patchwork quilt of colors. This little garden can really look overgrown because everything is so thickly planted, but once the color show begins it transforms me into another world with its magic.

As the roses begin to bloom and the spring flowers have died away, the yellow primroses in the oval garden start the transformation sequence. Goatsbeard, baptisa, Asiatic lilies, bachelor buttons, tickseed coreopsis and oh so many others are revving up the colors of summer. Soon the phlox, bee balm, globe thistle, salvias, catmint and others will claim their share of this colorful spectacle. Before I can blink the cosmos, zinnias and larkspur will dazzle my eyes. Oh, what a magnificent time it is to be in the gardens.

As the Joe-pye weed grows taller and the kiss-me-over the garden gate reach for the skies, my eyes are brought closer to watch the billowy clouds glide by; a pastime that has brought back memories of my childhood and watching those clouds to see what will appear. Will it be a monster, a cat or dog or some mythical character such as a dragon that I see as it is always in the eyes of the beholder as to what they are.

With the heat of summer comes the fireflies darting across the muggy night adding so much excitement for children. Butterflies will flutter across the gardens and hummingbirds will dive bomb each other as they head for the feeders. Oh, those warm summer days are just meant for taking time to sit and watch all of the activity in the gardens. One of my favorite quotes about butterflies comes from Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

As I am writing this today we are under a flash flood watch and it has been raining all day so I have not spent any time in the gardens. Looking from my kitchen windows the swamp milkweed is full of buds just waiting to burst open. The fragrance it brings to the gardens will attract the monarch butterfly. In the cutting gardens butterfly weed will also be blooming adding another source of food for the monarch caterpillars. Along the driveway gardens dill is growing wildly and it will be calling swallowtails to lay their eggs on them as this will provide a food source for the caterpillars along with the parsley I have in containers. Talk about a riot of colors these butterflies will add to the gardens.

What gardener doesn’t love summer’s colors? Once the cutting gardens starts blooming I am so at peace in the gardens just sitting on a bench quietly taking in all it has to offer me with color, fragrance and activity from bees, butterflies, toads and insects to clouds in the sky.

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of summer.  My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.  It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” — Violette Leduc 


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