Finally time to enjoy the gardens

Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2015

A sign and blooming pink astilbe welcome visitors to the gardens. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A sign and blooming pink astilbe welcome visitors to the gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

It’s finally time to start enjoying the gardens. After spending many weeks planting the gardens — and now weeding them — I can relax a bit. The past three days my granddaughter has helped me do the weeding and we are just about done with all of the gardens. The exceptions are the driveway garden that needs weekly weeding. As the plants grow, I need to take a few of them out so as not to crowd everything and garden number two. The morning glories are still popping up. As they grow I need to be diligent about taking some of them out so they don’t strangle the other plants around them.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Quite a few of the gardens have something blooming in them and as the weeks go by more of them will explode in color. This week the astilbe are showing me how pretty they are and why I love them so much. The gardens that have more shade have astilbe planted in them in shades of creamy white, pink and a deep raspberry color. The key to having lovely astilbe is to keep them well watered — especially if they receive afternoon sun.

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Just the other day the Stella de’oro daylilies began to bloom along the driveway and in the oval garden. Over the last couple of years I have taken most of them out to make room for other plants. The few that I have left are in areas of the garden where they really make a statement.  The ones along the driveway have cornflower blue bachelor buttons blooming right behind them and what a gorgeous combination of yellow and blue they make. In the oval garden, it stands right in front of one of the very colorful gazing balls so it really brings a pop of color to that area.

My strawberry plants are doing very well and every morning I pick a few to have with my cereal. My granddaughter is also enjoying the sweetness they offer. The two Tumbling Tom tomato plants have little tomatoes all over them and the green pepper has two small peppers so far.  Every time I walk past the herb garden I take my fingers and run them over the chocolate mint plants. These little mini gardens are bringing me so much enjoyment watching them grow and producing things that I can eat.

This is the part of gardening that I love — when the hard work of weeks past shows in the colorful gardens and I am on a regular schedule of watering, fertilizing and weeding. I can finally steal a few minutes to sit and enjoy all of this without feeling guilty. On a warm day the butterflies are such a marvelous distraction that I can sit and be mesmerized by all the activity in the gardens.

So far Roosevelt has not caused much destruction in the gardens, but he does love to race around the oval gardens like a wild man and wear off some of his energy. After I moved a planter to the left about a foot he is able to race through the small garden by the gazebo in pursuit of the squirrels without trampling any flowers. He loves to be outside with us and just watch what is happening in the yard or as people walk by on the sidewalk. The decision to add a puppy to our lives again was a good one even though it means more work in the house, the car and the gardens having a rambunctious puppy around. The feral cats have been very scarce since he arrived with only mama Violet making an occasional appearance to check out the bird feeders.

While watering the daylilies under the south kitchen window one morning I was thrilled to see so many damselflies and small flies that I think are in the bee family. I have strived the past four years to make my gardens wildlife friendly by not using pesticides or herbicides in the gardens or on the lawns. It has certainly made a big difference. It was breathtaking to see hundreds of them and brought me so much happiness.

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.  A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.” — Ada Louise Huxtable   


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