Honoring women gardeners in life

Published 9:00 am Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lang’s gardening companion, Roosevelt, just turned 1 year old. Puppies can certainly be a challenge in the gardens. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Lang’s gardening companion, Roosevelt, just turned 1 year old. Puppies can certainly be a challenge in the gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Every gardening year has challenges that I have to meet head-on; some are easy while others can be quite challenging. This spring I was very cautious about what my gardens would look like with a puppy tearing around the yard and this month Roosevelt celebrated his first birthday.  When I got the email about a garden tour I cringed because I have seen what some of our other puppies have done to the gardens over the years.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

When Tess was just a puppy it was spring. I was planting flowers and she followed right behind me. Much to my dismay she started tearing out the flowers I had just put in. Then I had to figure out a way to keep her out of the gardens while we were gardening. A low fence worked quite well with her for a while, but then as she got a little older she just jumped right over it.

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When Buddy came along he hated squirrels and would leap off the back step and head straight through the gardens as he chased them to the tree. Boy did I have to get creative to find a way that he could chase the squirrels, but not totally destroy the gardens. My solution was to watch closely every time he chased them to determine how I could make a path that he could run through the gardens and not trample all the flowers. The first thing I did was to move the tall birdbath so that it was right in his path so he had to go around it to get through the gardens. Then I placed a pedestal planter to the side of it which made him move over to the left even further and then I moved a couple of plants out of his way and mulched a pathway for him. We finally made the gardens Beardie friendly for him, yet he could chase the squirrels to his heart’s content.

This year with Roosevelt I really didn’t have such a challenge. The birdbath was still in place so he couldn’t make a straight line through the garden and so was the pedestal planter. He liked to run to the side of the gardens between the pergola and a small garden so all I did was move the planter out of his way so he had his own little path. Now that the kittens have been visiting the gardens they hang out in Garden one and so far Roosevelt has heeded my verbal warnings about getting out of that garden. He has not met them face to face yet. I am sure once he does we will have another challenge ahead of us when it comes to keeping him out of their hideaway.

When the skunks decide to visit the gardens then we have another whole different challenge as the gardens are very thickly planted. When I take Roosevelt out in the early morning or evening I can’t see them lurking around the gardens. Usually the smell is a dead giveaway so then he has to go out on the leash and he is not a happy camper. The opossums don’t worry me as much, but I don’t like the dogs getting too close to them because they might get bitten. What really makes me mad with the raccoons is that they raid my birdfeeders and drink the sugar water for the hummingbirds. Last summer I had to take all of them down because every morning I would find the feeders empty and on the ground.

Right now the big challenge is watering the gardens with all of the mosquitoes early in the morning. I am batting my arms trying to keep them away while usually spraying myself with the hose several times. Most mornings I am out there very early and the winds are usually calm making it a feast for the mosquitoes as they seem to find my blood very tempting.

The wagon I purchased two years ago has been a Godsend for me to transport the containers with either the fertilizer solution or water from the rain barrels around the gardens. This year I also purchased a lightweight/flexible 100 foot hose that will reach all of the gardens. Some of the gardening challenges have easy solutions while others you have to be very creative.

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of earth are never alone or weary of life.”    — Rachel Carson


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