For those who garden, hope springs eternal

Published 9:00 am Sunday, April 3, 2016

Carol Hegel Lang remembers her mother working in her early-spring garden with tulips blooming. -Provided

Carol Hegel Lang remembers her mother working in her early-spring garden with tulips blooming. -Provided

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Hope springs eternal for those of us who garden and can’t wait to get our hands in the soil again. Anticipation heightens for when the snow has melted and we see things popping above ground. As this column is being written my grass is starting to turn green and we are under a winter storm warning that could leave us with some wet, heavy snow amounting to about a foot of the white stuff. Has this put my dreams of gardening on the back burner? Yes, it has, but the moisture is always welcome and with the frost out of the ground, this will be absorbed into the soil as well as adding nitrogen.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Little by little I have worked on my list of spring chores that has included trimming back a couple of shrubs as well as hydrangeas that needed a little makeover. Some of the branches that have accumulated have been sorted into a pile of those that I can use in the gardens and those that will be taken to the landfill. The composters are once again being utilized with scraps from the kitchen, shredded newspaper, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, coffee grounds and tea bags.

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Being an optimist, I guess I just take everything in stride because there is nothing we can do about Mother Nature’s plans for the spring anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I can hardly wait to see flowers blooming and be outdoors most of the day listening to the birds singing as I work in the gardens. For now, with the additional birds arriving, I spend time filling feeders and walking around the gardens checking to see what has shown its face since yesterday. My crocuses have been such a breath of excitement for me to see something blooming. It won’t be long and the daffodils will join them. My rhubarb is still covered. I will need to watch it carefully once I take the cover off, so they don’t get bit by the frost. They send out a poison in the stalks if they freeze and should be pulled and not eaten.

One of these days the yellow dandelions will appear and the bees will be swarming them for the nectar they provide early in the spring. I do have grape jelly out already for the robins, and in another month we will see lots of spring migrators like orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks appearing at our feeders. Since we had only a couple of orioles last year I still have a good stock of grape jelly awaiting them.

The one thing that is making me a bit anxious is to get started on the renovation of the cutting garden. I will be separating the small garden with the old part having only perennials while the part that is added on will have annuals that provide lots of nectar to the butterflies and bees. This year I will be adding meadow blazing star to the perennial part of the garden as they are a magnet for monarchs.

My mind wanders back to my mother’s garden that was filled with colorful flowers from spring until late summer. A favorite photo I have of her she is working in the garden with tulips blooming. As a child I would get up early in the morning during summer and sit on the swing next to her garden and watch it come alive with butterflies. Another memory from childhood is of the church yard just two houses from our home when the lilacs bloomed in various shades of purple with the delicious perfume they provided.  There was also a row of evergreens along the back part of the church yard and on the ground were violets in many shades of purple, blue, yellow and white that we would pick for my mother along with dandelions for a bouquet to sit on the kitchen table.

Early spring in my oval garden the Virginia bluebells, bleeding hearts, Jacob’s ladder and bloodroot add so much excitement to this garden. In the wildflower garden most of the Dutchman’s breeches have disappeared, but a few trillium are still there for me to enjoy. One of these years I need to get more wildflowers planted again in this garden because the snow-on mountain has taken it over. Although I like their variegated foliage, I would much rather have some of the pretty wildflowers that bloom.

“Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you.” — Edward Payson Rod 


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