Seeing autumn beauty everywhere

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 18, 2015

The last of the annuals blooming in containers that have been cut down for the season as fall marches on. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The last of the annuals blooming in containers that have been cut down for the season as fall marches on. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The beauty of October can be seen everywhere, from the colorful leaves on the trees to the fields where farmers have been busy harvesting their crops, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and apple orchards. I love the October sky, which is so clear the stars and constellations sparkle in the evening and really call me to enjoy a night in the gardens. As a child, the wonder of the night sky was shared with my father, who bought us a small telescope to view the heavens on those cool, clear nights.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

My days have been busy cutting down the gardens, emptying out containers and adding mulch where needed. As of yet we have not experienced a frost, so the flowers that are still standing are enjoying the cooler temperatures and blooming with colorful abandon — as long as I keep them well-watered. Last night we were supposed to get light rain but that didn’t happen, so I will be out watering the gardens today as I noticed some of the leaves were wilting on one of the hydrangeas. This time of the year, it is very important to keep the gardens well-watered so they survive the cold winter months — especially any newly-planted trees, shrubs or perennials.

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In the oval garden the perennials are cut down, but I still have alyssum in varying shades of purple blooming next to the pumpkins and mums, adding a bit of color to the landscape. I finally got the last hummingbird feeder down and washed so it can be put away until next spring. I already miss those cute little birds that spent all summer and early fall in my gardens. The rest of the feeders were filled with peanuts and sunflower seeds, as there are still birds migrating through on their journey south and the winter birds are arriving.

Our granddaughter talked her parents into having a fire in their pit over the weekend so she could have s’mores and hotdogs. The weather was perfect for them. Many evenings I can smell fires, with people out taking advantage of the beautiful weather this October season is providing us. I am reminded of the bonfires my dad would make when we were kids and had spent the day raking piles of leaves in anticipation of the evening fires, where neighbors would gather and we would roast marshmallows on long sticks we had gathered.

One of these days I need to get busy and put up the new lights on the gazebo while the weather is still enjoyable, as many of them have burned out on one of the strings. In the winter, with snow on the gazebo, the lights add a magical touch to the evening as well as add light to the gray nights. Hopefully it will be several months before the snow arrives.

Now that most of the gardens are cut down, the feral kittens don’t have a place to hide from Roosevelt; that should be interesting. We have added another kitten to the three that were here before, but this one is very tame and will wind its skinny body around my legs and roll over to be petted. I wonder where this one came from, as it must have been a pet to someone, but is trying to become one of the gang with the other kittens now. Soon all of these kittens and mama Violet will be spayed or neutered so that we don’t continue to increase the feral cat population in our neighborhood.

There is still time to plant your bulbs that will add beauty to the spring gardens if you haven’t done so yet, or perhaps you were thinking of adding some flowering shrubs or a tree to the gardens for even more color. Just remember to keep them well watered until the ground freezes, and you might also want to mulch them for added protection from the freezing/thawing weather we sometimes have in the winter months. All of the lilies that I ordered arrived and have been planted, mulched and watered and I can hardly wait to see how much interest they will add to the gardens next year. My plans are to add on to the east end of the cutting garden, where I will plant annuals next spring while keeping only perennials in the west end of this garden. We will see if I get that accomplished.

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”  — Humbert Wolfe


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