Carol Hegel Lang: Gardens start to put on show as spring ends

Published 9:00 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

The sunny morning martagon lilium is supposed to be a butterfly magnet. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The sunny morning martagon lilium is supposed to be a butterfly magnet. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

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

Finally the gardens are beginning to put on a show after the spring finished its performance. There is now so much beauty everywhere I look. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning every day when I walk through the gardens and get to see what is blooming. It is always a surprise as to what I’ll see.

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Last night, as I finished watering all of the gardens, I was astonished to see my Siberian irises starting to bloom. There are only a couple of them left in the gardens and they get almost buried by everything else until the Virginia bluebells die back. They don’t last very long, but I do enjoy them while they are blooming with their bright purple-blue coloration.

Another surprise in the garden was one of the martagon lilies that I planted last fall. Two of them were planted, Arabian night and sunny morning, and to tell you the truth until the other one blooms I am not sure which one this is. My guess would be it is sunny morning. According to the catalog I ordered them from, sunny morning is supposed to be a butterfly magnet, so we will wait and see if it really does attract any. It is always fun when you have forgotten what you planted and then in the spring they jump out and surprise you. From now until late July I will have various lilies that will bloom. I always wish I had more room for planting more of them as they are so stunning.

In the back gardens the goatsbeard is just beginning to bloom. I love this flower with the creamy plume of flowers that stands against the gray privacy fence. Over the years I have moved this plant a couple of times trying to find just the right spot, and it seems to be very happy in this location. When I had it in the oval garden it was just too tall and hid some of the other plants. It now stands in the very back of the garden.

Only one hollyhock appears to have come up this year, which is sad because I love those yellow beauties. At least the malva has at least three of them that came back so I will have miniature hollyhocks in this garden. I had planned to plant some hollyhocks behind the outhouse, but never got around to it with my busy schedule this spring.

This morning I took time to stake up the trumpet lilies in the front garden. They were already leaning over as they reach for the sun. My white pine has grown over the top of them, so they have done what nature tells them to do and lean toward the light. Usually, this task is done by now, but again, I am so far behind on everything. At least I can check that one off the list.

Another task I have been working on is weeding the gardens, which is never-ending when you don’t use chemicals or Preen in your gardens. My spray bottle of water/vinegar in equal proportions is what I use to defeat the weeds. You need a warm and sunny day for it to really work well, and it may take several applications a few days apart to get the full benefit. Since we have a very warm and sunny forecast for the next couple of days, that will be my morning project as I work along the border of the fence. Those pesky thistles may also need a little table salt mixed in with the solution if the heat doesn’t kill them.

I recently attended the Audubon Society meeting that was at the preserve on Oregon Street. We had a presentation on the bees we have added to the preserve and then we toured the new butterfly garden that was just put in. We then headed to Edgewater Park to view the martin houses that Rick Mammel had put in. It was exciting to hear how many eggs were laid in each of the condos. It was a very interesting and fun evening with absolutely gorgeous weather. I also showed them where the pollinator park will be planted in spring 2017. If you are not a member of the Audubon Society, you really should come and see what we are doing.

“Those who look with their eyes and heart discover there is so much natural beauty around us to enjoy and admire.” — Marjolein Bastin