Looking forward to springtime

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2015

A fuchsia basket hangs while morning glories climb the fence and the astilbe bloom in the early summer gardens. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A fuchsia basket hangs while morning glories climb the fence and the astilbe bloom in the early summer gardens. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

It seems like it was just yesterday when I waited impatiently for the first sign of the gardens awakening and the rebirth of spring. Now, here we are, with the first day of winter approaching this week and the days finally starting to get longer.

As a gardener I am always thinking about the gardens, even on days when a blizzard is raging or the temperature and wind chill is way below zero. I worry about if the plants and shrubs are protected enough against the elements.

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Seeing that first robin in March gives me hope that soon things will be growing in the gardens and again I will be in my element spending time watching the show that nature puts on for us.  What migratory birds will come my way and when will they arrive? Will I spot that first oriole or will John’s cousin, Neil? Then he will send me an email bragging about it, of course, with a photo attached. I love having someone to talk birds with and having it be a relative makes it even better.

Once April arrives I can hardly wait to head to the garden centers to purchase some pretty violas and pansies to set out in the gardens which will make me smile. Those frizzle sizzle pansies have become a favorite of mine with their layers of frills and ruffles that shimmer with the breeze. I will also start taking things out of the garden shed to place around the gardens for added interest and humor. One of the first places to get decorated is the outhouse, where Mr. Rooster will strut his stuff.

It won’t be long before I will see crocuses in bloom and, if I look closely, tulips and daffodils will be peeking through the soil, as well.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

With May comes the early blooming perennials — which include the pulmonaria, mukdenia, bridal wreath spirea, bleeding hearts, apple, plum and cherry trees, along with brunnera, Virginia bluebells and other spring bloomers.

Every day as I walk the gardens a miracle appears right before my eyes. Something new has peeked through the soil or is blooming. It will be time to plant annual seeds and get serious about purchasing plants for the containers.

When June arrives we will hopefully be past the chance of frost harming the gardens, and I begin the ritual of planting the containers and deciding where they will sit. The first of the clematis will bloom with a succession of others to quickly follow. About mid-June the orange ditch lilies burst forth in the front garden followed by the Asiatic lilies with their gorgeous array of colors. At the same time, my William Baffin rose will be the star of the back gardens. It adds height and color as this rose is nearly 20 feet tall and can be seen from the gardens on the other side of the fence.

When the seeds I planted begin to grow, the cutting garden starts hinting at the beauty that will appear before long. Cosmos, bachelor buttons, zinnia, dill, catmint, more lilies, globe thistle, coreopsis and bee balm will put on quite a show for anyone traveling past the yard on the sidewalk. In the back gardens things will be waiting for the heat to arrive. The tiger lilies in several different colors will begin the color parade. The planted containers will grow rapidly and before long they will take center stage throughout the yard.

In my gardens, July is by far the best time for visitors. The oriental lilies start to bloom and their fragrance is everywhere. Milkweed is in full bloom, drawing bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the gardens, and their fragrance is wonderful, too. My flower carpet roses will also start to bloom in several gardens and they will continue until the late fall. The rest of the daylilies, coneflowers and the annuals in all of the gardens will add a burst of energy with so much color. If our mama feral cat has a batch of kittens, they usually appear about the first part of July, when the flowers provide safety for them to run if Roosevelt sees them.

Rudbeckia and phlox begin their long succession of blooming in July while the morning glories scamper up the trellis just waiting to start blooming. Hollyhocks stand tall and sunflowers make me smile as they bloom wherever the birds or squirrels planted them. The hydrangeas will also be in bloom.

I wish all of you a merry Christmas.


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