Carol Lang: Garden discoveries are always so exciting

Published 10:00 am Sunday, June 26, 2016

By Carol Hegel Lang

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

With the heat and the rain we have had lately, the gardens are ramping up their beauty. It is so exciting to walk into the gardens every morning and discover what is happening. My first of the Asiatic lilies are just beginning to open in a couple of the gardens, and from now until about late July it will be lilies that will take my breath away.

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The roses have really been putting on a colorful show with my William Baffin that stands about 20 feet tall. It is covered in pink blooms that can be seen from every part of the gardens as they tower over the fence. They must love all of the rain, because this year there are so many blooms on the climber. Over the past couple years this rose has been in decline. Last fall I trimmed many of the old canes out hoping to rejuvenate it, and it certainly didn’t disappoint me this season. The four amber flower carpet roses are just beginning their first bloom and I can hardly wait for all of them to open at once to add a delicate palate to the gardens.

Lots of insects can be found in the gardens, along with my family of wrens in the little church birdhouse. There is always so much activity to watch. This morning a hummingbird was seen gathering nectar from the Wendy’s wish salvia along the south fence. This particular salvia seems to be a favorite of the hummers, so this spring I moved the large oval container to sit along the south fence. Now I can readily see the activity of the hummers and they can have more accessibility to the plants. In previous years this planter was nestled among others and it made it difficult to watch them. I am sure it was also more difficult for the hummers to locate the nectar.

In the corner of what I call garden one, the goatsbeard is standing tall with its creamy plumes and the bees and blue azure butterflies have certainly been enjoying its nectar. The white astilbe is also blooming and it looks like the red will not be far behind with blooms. They are loving the wetter conditions we have been having. A couple of hosta are starting to form flower buds, as well as some of the hydrangeas. It won’t be long, and the gardens will be filled with so many colors and shapes of blooms.

The expanded cutting garden has been slow to show signs of germination, so I have not been able to keep up with the weeding for fear of pulling out some of the seedlings. One day I worked on part of it and got it cleaned up, but now it is full of weeds again. I have been waiting for the poppies to germinate and they are now about 2 inches tall. Instead of planting them in a row I mixed all the poppy seeds together and then just broadcast them over the soil. This will give me a wonderful show of color, but is going to making weeding very difficult. Oh well, I guess not every garden can look perfect.

The replanted zinnias along the driveway are coming along nicely. I can hardly wait for them to bloom as they are such a favorite of the monarch butterflies. Three different gardens have zinnias planted in them just for the butterflies, but I, too, will enjoy their colorful blooms. Along the driveway I have planted meadow blazing star just for the monarchs and all of them are growing well. I can hardly wait until they work their magic and draw in the monarchs. So far I have not spotted any monarchs, but I see the milkweed has flower heads starting to form on them. A few red admirals and the blue azures have been seen in the gardens, along with lots of different bees. No mason bees have found their house I put up yet, though.

To me just the joy of walking through the gardens every day renews my spirit — seeing all the different birds, bees, butterflies and other insects that visit now that I no longer use chemicals in the gardens or on our lawn. Yes, I have weeds galore, but oh just seeing all of my visitors is so worthwhile. When I take my daily journal notes of all the different birds that visit, it is incredible.

“Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” — Robert Louis Stevenson