Winter can be difficult, but is also beautiful

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

One of the benches in the garden painted with a fresh cover of snow while tracks of an animal can be seen on the ground. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

One of the benches in the garden painted with a fresh cover of snow while tracks of an animal can be seen on the ground. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter in the gardens, now that we have had a couple of light snows and colder temperatures. Soon Old Man Winter will rear his temper and hit us with a blizzard and below zero temperatures, and we will all settle in for a long winter.

The gardens have lost their color and nearly all of the leaves are off the few standing flowers and shrubs. We finished all of our tasks with plenty of time to spare and everything got mulched, so I am not worried about the gardens.

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The month of December will be busy with people shopping, attending concerts at church and school, parties and getting together with family and friends. The gardens will be the furthest thing from their mind for several months, even though garden catalogs will fill their mail boxes. For me it is a time to organize my thoughts about the gardens for the next season, read through my garden journal, pour over the photographs that I took and start my lists of things I need to do or plants that I want to purchase.

John Burroughs stated, “What a severe yet master artist old Winter is — no longer the canvas and the pigments, but marble and the chisel.”

My Christmas tree has been standing in the living room since last December and I have to admit I loved having sparkling lights through the entire winter lighting up the room. Will I put up the village this year with the other decorations? I haven’t decided. Every year it is getting to be more work as I have to take down things and store them in the basement to make room for the Christmas decorations. Our granddaughter is no longer a small child, but a teenager, so I don’t go overboard with decorating now. It would be nice if I didn’t have to make so many trips up and down the basement stairs with all of this stuff, so maybe I will select only those things that mean the most to me.

I have a porcelain nativity scene that belonged to my mother, and an angel that was given to me by my sister when I retired. I also have a Victorian house that lights up and trees and other things that go with it that are my must-haves, and those will be setup.

Keeping the feeders well-stocked can get tricky in the winter months, as the birds and squirrels can empty them almost as fast as I fill them. Sometimes the weather will limit which ones I can reach if the snow is deep or the sidewalks and patio are covered in ice. The heated birdbath is always busy and needs to have water almost daily, as the starlings really splash while bathing and can empty the bath quickly. My camera is always ready to catch just the perfect picture at all times.

My friend Cheryl is a daylily hybridizer and has some gorgeous new varieties she has developed. The one I really wanted was already sold-out on the plant auction when I finally had time to check it out. How I envy what she is doing. This has been a thought in the back of my mind for quite some time, but I just don’t have the room for these babies to grow. She will have over 3,000 new plants growing that she has skillfully hybridized. She really has a talent and some of the ones she has developed are absolutely stunning.

What will this winter be like? I wonder. Will it be lots of snow, cold and wind or a milder one?  There isn’t anything we can do about the weather, but it sure can be a great conversation starter among people. Seems like we are never satisfied, and we do complain about it a lot.

Winter can be difficult to navigate around in for those of us in the Midwest, and we need to have warm clothing on for everything we do outside. Sometimes, when I go out to fill feeders, it takes me about five minutes to get all the heavy clothes on to keep me warm as I will often be out in the cold for about 30 minutes — or longer if I need to shovel. Even though I hate the ice, I do enjoy the snow.

“It is the life of crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.” — John Burroughs


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