Transition between seasons takes time

Published 1:34 pm Friday, February 26, 2016

A robin is a harbinger of spring in Lang’s gardens, but so far she hasn’t spotted one. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

A robin is a harbinger of spring in Lang’s gardens, but so far she hasn’t spotted one. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

The transition from winter into spring seems to take forever here in Minnesota as February and March can be some of the worst winter weather we have. Little teasers are given sparingly on those late February and early March days when the temperatures reach into the high 30s or low 40s, giving us a peek into spring and making this gardener chomping at the bit to get out in her gardens. Our forecast for the next couple of days has those temperatures in the high 40s and possibly low 50s. This morning the winds were howling and my gong-type wind chime was beating out a tune of “spring is coming,” making my spirits soar.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Yesterday, when I filled the feeders, the birds were just singing their hearts out as if they wanted me to know that spring is coming early this year. One cardinal was so loud as if we was singing just for me. What a smile it brought to my face. Last year was not a good spring for birding. Very few of the yearly migrants that pass through our area were seen. I am keeping my fingers crossed this year will be a magnificent year to view all of those beautiful birds. I have heard from several people who have spotted large flocks of robins already, but I have not seen any yet in my gardens.

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It seems like I am always wishing the days away. I am this time of the year because I can’t wait for the snow to melt away so I can begin searching the gardens for signs of something green popping through the dirt. This morning I am heading to the garden shed to find my trusty pruner and then will cut back the clematis to about 12 inches. If I can get to the hydrangeas through the snow banks I will trim the flower heads off. The highbush cranberry is going to have to wait until a bit more snow melts away as I don’t think I can haul a garbage can over the snowbank that I will have to traverse to get to it on the north side of the house.

This spring I am not going to be in such a hurry to plant my annual seeds. Last year, with the cold snap we had, many of the seeds were just germinating and sprouting above ground when the freeze nipped them, so I lost many of them. And then we had lots of rain that also washed out the seeds I had just planted. This year I am going to wait until just about the end of May before planting any of them.

For me, just opening the garden shed and seeing all the pots and containers that are so colorful gives me a thrill. Most of the little garden accents are hidden away in the potting desk so I won’t be able to hold them in my hands and dream about the gardens because the desk is at the very back of the shed with all of the containers sitting in front of it.

Watching the activity in the gardens in spring is always so exciting for me. I will grab one of the large kneeling pads and sit on each and every bench throughout the gardens just to hear the sounds of spring in the air. The birds sound so happy this time of the year, and listening to them calling to their mates always brings happiness to my heart. Soon I will be working in the gardens with those adorable little wrens serenading me while I work and also warning me away from their nests in the wren houses.

My journals will be filled with sightings of birds, weather conditions, what has shown its face in the gardens that day as wells as the first sighting of mourning cloak butterflies on the warmer days. It’s a good thing I have plenty of space to write in those journals as I record each day’s happenings.

This year I plan to expand the cutting garden since I wasn’t able to last fall with that pesky skunk spraying my pile of bricks. There is still a lingering faint smell on them, but it should not deter my efforts as long as I remember to wear gloves so I don’t get that nasty odor on my hands. Wish me luck on finishing this task.

“The cheerful birds their airy carols sing, and the whole year is one eternal spring.”  — Ovid


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