There is a magic in the gardens

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2015

A lovely swallowtail butterfly enjoys the colorful zinnias. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A lovely swallowtail butterfly enjoys the colorful zinnias. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

There’s magic in the gardens as they fly around my head circling me with wings beating furiously — they are called hummingbirds and they bring a smile to my face. Donald Culross Peattie wrote this description in “A Cup of Sky,” “A hummingbird is a feathered prism; a living rainbow. Darting out of a fairyland into your garden, it captures the very sunlight for you and turns it into a jewel on wings.” For me I have been lucky to have them in my gardens all summer because of the plants that I grow that attract the hummingbirds to them. Fuchsia is definitely a favorite of theirs and I have eight hanging baskets in the back gardens that really seem to attract them along with a wonderful salvia called Wendy’s Wish. They will dart from flower to flower and then chase each other as if playing a game of tag or one will dive bomb the other.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

My honeysuckle is finally blooming this year on the fence and the hummingbirds can quite often be found going from bloom to bloom looking for sweet nectar. They will then fly over to the morning glories on the tuteur. How I love to watch these clowns as they seem to play with each other and then after a brief rest they start all over again. I don’t even have the sugar water feeders filled this year and they seem quite happy finding nectar in all of the flowers. Before long most of these flowers will finish blooming so I need to get the feeders filled to keep them around until they migrate south for the year.

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The other day when it was raining I was reading in the Victorian reading room (second bedroom) which faces the oval garden. I stopped to watch the sparrows that were feeding at the peanut feeder. There must have been 20 or more of them hopping from the feeder down to the ground where they were looking for weed seeds in the grass and then over to the small birdbath and fountain to get a drink. I was absolutely transfixed watching them and it felt so magical even if they only were sparrows. The parents would bite off small pieces of peanuts and feed them to their young ones over and over again tirelessly.  Yes, they were only common sparrows, but it didn’t matter what kind of a bird it was I was enjoying watching the magic of the activities.

Many years ago I found this poem by an unknown author that I kept because I thought it was so beautiful so I thought I would share it with all of you. “Sparrows come to my feeder like brown leaves over the snow. Greedy and drab little creatures there’s something that you don’t know.  I’d hoped for birds with more color; some that were bright and gay, like the brilliant red of the cardinal or the cheerful blue of the jay. I’d hoped for the flash of the oriole — but a different thought comes in view, birds are so much like people, we’re mostly common, too. We don’t all have beautiful feathers, we have meager talents to give, people are mostly like sparrows in the ways that we look and live. We’re most of us plain and selfish and loved by only a few; stay God’s drab little creatures, for I am a sparrow too.” And so even though they were only sparrows they brought magic to my gardens as I watched them.

How many times have I been disappointed like this spring when we didn’t have all of the beautiful and colorful migratory birds at the feeders and I would remark to others that it wasn’t much of a birding season? God created all things equal in his eyes and yet we don’t always seem to see it that way. The drab little sparrows aren’t as colorful as the hummingbirds and yet they held my attention and I so enjoyed watching their antics feeding their young. This is a life lesson from God, but we have to open our eyes to see what really is there.

My gardens have so much going on in them just like the other day when a beautiful green darner dragonfly attached himself to the screen on the front door for more than a day. He caught my eye in the morning when I brought the mail in and later in the day I noticed he was still there and again in the morning when I opened the door he was there still. Finally I pulled him off and watched him fly away.


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