Blooms make welcome distractions

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 22, 2016

Red trillium blooms can be so distracting. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Red trillium blooms can be so distracting. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

Boy, I sure hope there isn’t a law against distracted gardening. If there is, you will have to raise bail for me because they will probably throw me in the caboose.

I was eating my breakfast when I happened to notice the bird feeder that is the furthest from the house was nearly empty. I jumped up, threw on my flannel shirt and donned the garden shoes — since the grass was going to be very wet — and filled it up again. This seems to be a normal behavior pattern for me.

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The other day I was talking on the phone with my sister, when I noticed that some of the oranges I have out for the orioles looked like there wasn’t much left on them to eat. I wrote a short note, and as soon as we finished our conversation I cutup some more oranges to put out for them.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Sometimes while I am sitting under the gazebo taking a brief rest, I will notice that a certain area needs weeding. Off I go to clean up that area. Is there no time a gardener can just sit quietly and rest? My mind never seems to be resting, either. I am thinking about projects that need to get done while I should be sleeping, or I am taking something out to the composter and I see another task that needs to get done. I will sit down what should go in the composter and head off to take care of the task I just noticed.

This past week it has been cold, rainy and windy and the flowers are going from sitting outdoors back into the greenhouse or garage. This weekend there is even the mention of snow in the forecast, so the few containers that have been planted and too heavy to move need to be covered. This gardener is really getting antsy waiting to get those beauties in the gardens.

It is so wonderful to be outside and see the colorful migrating birds that are visiting the feeders. The orioles did not arrive at my house until Mother’s Day and the grosbeaks came later in the day. This morning, which is Friday the 13th, I spotted my first hummingbird. Life is good! We were all beginning to wonder if the spring migrating birds were going to bypass us again this year — especially when we had all of the smoke coming from the fires in Canada and northern Minnesota. It seems the birds know more about what is happening in the world than we do. I have to believe that the smoke was a deterrent to their arrival, because they were about a week later than usual.

My gazebo looks like a garden center, as it is packed with flowers waiting to get planted and hanging baskets fill the garage. The other day I bought a bunch of penstemon that the hummingbirds will love, and I want to get them planted now that they have arrived in my gardens.

The garden along the driveway looks like a weed patch with all of the dill that has self-seeded, but until the verbena bonariensis appears I don’t want to till this area. Lots of poppies are along the far eastern end of this garden along with something I have not identified just yet. This area definitely needs to get thinned-out as soon as possible. The ground is so saturated it is not good to be working it up until it dries out a bit.

Finally, the butterfly weed has sprouted up enough that I can identify it, but the common milkweed still is not showing itself to me. My newly-planted swamp milkweed and meadow blazing star finally have made their appearance and I am so excited. Inside the whorled milkweed seeds are finally sprouting, but not a very good germination percentage rate thus far.  If you have seeds for milkweed to plant outdoors, now is the time to get them planted so they will be large-enough for the monarch caterpillars later this summer to feast on.

Plant zinnias for a nectar plant for the monarch butterflies; they just love them and they are so pretty. I get so excited when the butterflies visit my gardens. Hopefully this year will be a good butterfly year for all of us. No milkweed equals no monarchs.

“When nature made the bluebird she wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth, so she gave him the color of the one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast.” — John Burroughs 


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