Moments can be fleeting

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Oakleaf hydrangea with gorgeous burgundy colored leaves highlight the garden during the fall. Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The Oakleaf hydrangea with gorgeous burgundy colored leaves highlight the garden during the fall. Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Autumn memories in the gardens are always fleeting moments. It takes its time to arrive and give us the brilliant colors before the leaves fall to the ground and we are left with only memories.

John Ruskin stated, “Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” The gardens have been so beautiful this past month. One by one the colors appeared on the trees in our neighborhood and some of the shrubs soon followed with their succession of colors. The flowers died down, adding yet another palate of colors.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

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As I have mentioned, I always wait for the oakleaf hydrangea to show the bright burgundy colors, before the frost hits it and the leaves fall to the ground. This year it really rose to the occasion and is still absolutely gorgeous. The leaves are huge and each one seems to be a different shade of burgundy. On the very bottom of the shrub, a few green leaves are still showing. This shrub is directly in my view from the Victorian reading room as I look out at the gardens and my eyes wander to the west fence line. I am so glad I added this hydrangea to the gardens a few years ago, because I enjoy the shape of the leaves during the summer months. When fall arrives, it really puts on a show for me.

The red oak in the Victorian garden has just turned color, and it will be a while before these leaves fall to the ground. As I look out the kitchen windows, it is in full view for me along with the vanilla strawberry hydrangea that is loaded with blooms that have turned shades of tawny brown. They provide such a lovely sight for me, even though there are no flowers blooming in this garden.

We have mulched leaves several times, and they have been put on the gardens to provide winter protection from the freezing and thawing our winter weather brings. As they break down they will add nutrients to the gardens. There is an extra benefit as they provide places for the birds to look for insects.

Along the driveway, the cutting garden is covered with these mulched leaves. A few garden ornaments stand tall in the gardens, providing me with something to look at besides bare ground.

Another tree that has far surpassed my wildest dreams of beauty is the tiger eye sumac that has had every shade of orange and red you can possibly imagine. The leaves hung on until the winds this past week ended the show. Now they are only a wonderful memory of a beautiful fall in the gardens.

In the front garden the hostas finally succumbed to the frost and have changed from shades of green to many colors of golden yellow. Surprisingly, the brunnera are still a vibrant blue-green contrasting to the yellow shades of pine needles that cover this garden. The sedum stand tall with the burnished reddish brown flower heads behind the roses that still have a few blooms on them. It seems like the colors of fall are going to hang on for a bit longer in the gardens.

When the purple alyssum will succumb to the colder temperatures is still in question, but I am loving seeing the colors next to the small pumpkins and fall garden ornament in the oval garden.  Most of the leaves have fallen from the Japanese maple and I continue to rake them into the garden around the roses.

Our last fall chore is disconnecting the hoses and putting them in the shed for the winter, but I continue to water the shrubs and roses so I guess we will wait a little while longer before we put them away. Don’t forget to water all of your newly-planted trees, shrubs and perennials until the ground freezes.

The gardens take on a totally different look now. I am able to see the entire yard, something I can’t do while the gardens are blooming as the taller plants hide anything on the back side of the yard. My mirrored window is visible on the fence. It looks like I am looking through a window at another garden area, while it is really only a reflection of what is in front of the mirror. Memories of the gardens are everywhere, but only in my mind now.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”  — Lao Tzu


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