Yearning for the summer gardens

Published 10:00 am Sunday, January 31, 2016

The July garden featured bright yellow sunflowers, orange marigolds, purple phlox and liatris and colorful zinnias. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The July garden featured bright yellow sunflowers, orange marigolds, purple phlox and liatris and colorful zinnias. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Are you feeling those winter blues as the month of January comes to an end?  Well, you are not alone — so am I. We have had some very cold days in the middle of the month with nasty windchills that leave me dreaming about the warmth of spring days filled with the sun warming my bones as snow slowly melts away giving hope to new life in the gardens.

The past weeks I have had to spend about 10 minutes bundling up before I could go outside and fill the bird feeders and all the time thinking that if I fall down I will never be able to right myself with all of the clothes I am wearing. Roosevelt has been going out on a leash so that when the pads on his feet get cold I can give it a tug and bring him back inside. Otherwise he would lay down on the snow and just curl up.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

It certainly doesn’t help when a relative of mine is posting photos of her vacation in Hawaii, where she has gone snorkeling, walking on the beach and attending a luau in the lush tropical islands. Am I jealous? You bet I am. Oh how beautiful all of those tropical flowers must be and the fragrance I would guess is overwhelming. All those posts of hers make me wish I was in my gardens with all of the beauty of color that abounds in them. On Feb. 1 I always start my spring countdown and this year will be no different.

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The annual seeds I ordered have arrived, and I keep fingering the packets as if they were magic and would sprout right before my eyes. January has to be the most difficult month for me as it often will give us a January thaw, and then I start wishing the days away until I see the black soil in my gardens just waiting for me to start working in them.

In July the gardens are at their very best with yellow sunflowers making me smile, roses so fragrant and delicate, color everywhere I look and beautiful lilies that take my breath away. It is time to enjoy the bounty of what I have planted —whether it is the flowers, herbs, strawberries, peppers or tomatoes as they start ripening. It is also mosquito and humidity season, but when it is way below zero those things are the furthest from my mind.

What will my color scheme be this year? That question is still undecided, but I do know that I will plant lots of begonias in containers because you just can’t beat them. They bloom continuously and add just the right punch of color everywhere. In the past couple of years I have used hanging baskets of dragon wing in the front of the house and they really were spectacular.  Last year I also used a new variety to me called big daddy in containers and I will be looking for this one again this year.

As I peruse the photos of the gardens on my computer it takes me away from the winter blues and thrusts me into my own little bit of paradise. Tropical flowers, well mandevilla, cannas and bougainvillea sure add a bit of the tropics to my gardens during the summer months. Anything bright red or orange also gives this same illusion.

Those of us who live in the Upper Midwest are a tough bunch when you think of what we endure during the cold months of winter. The other day we were supposed to meet a group for breakfast and neither of our two cars would start so my husband spent the morning working on getting them running again. One sits in the garage so you would think it would start, but no way was it going to turn over. Now I can understand mine that sits outside and hadn’t been driven in a week, but the van had been driven regularly all week. Even the feral cats were seeking someplace warm during the day as they ate their food out of the cold and wind. Think spring everyone, and it will be here soon enough.

“Winter is the king of showmen, turning tree stumps into snowmen and houses into birthday cakes and spreading sugar over the lakes. Smooth clean and frosty white, the world looks good enough to bite. That’s the season to be young, catching snowflakes on your tongue. Snow is snowy when it is snowing, I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.” — Ogden Nash


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