Serendipity Gardens: Garden visitors enjoy sights and sounds of August

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

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

When the month of August arrives the gardens are at their peak for blooms, fragrances and visitors.

Carol Hegel Lang

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Every year, I cannot wait to see what is visiting every day as the stage is set for the event. Monarch butterflies arrive in greater numbers to mate and too soon the last generation of Minnesota monarchs will begin their fall migration to Mexico.

Over the past five years, I have seen a dramatic decline in the number of monarchs and caterpillars in my gardens. As I continue to add native plants, hopefully I will see a reversal of this trend.

In the early morning, I make my rounds and fill the feeders for the birds. I enjoy the sounds of the gardens — waking up with the crows and cardinals, who are usually the first to been seen and heard. It isn’t long before the delightful cheery sounds of the chickadees can be heard.

In the distance, the bluejays call each other telling them the feeders are ready for their arrival as the peanuts call them to the buffet. The gurgling sound of the fountain soothes my soul as I sit on the step to watch the activity.

Goldfinch land on the sunflowers and devour the seeds leaving the heads bare. I love to hear their chatter back and forth to each other. Bees are enjoying nectar on the large hydrangea heads on the different bushes that I have throughout the gardens. The larger bees seem to prefer the sunflowers.

The meadow blazing star is blooming and it is a magnet for the monarch butterflies. If you have any room in your gardens, I urge you to add this gem. My gardens would not be complete without the zinnias that are so colorful — just like a rainbow in every color they come. The butterflies love zinnias and I have them in several of my gardens. This year I planted a package of orange ones in the container on my back patio and are they ever gorgeous. You will want to plant them in large groups throughout your gardens so the butterflies don’t have far to go for nectar. You will be rewarded with many more beauties visiting.

I filled a suet feeder the other day for the woodpeckers that love to visit it all year long. My favorite of this group is the red-bellied woodpeckers. The one that visits my garden I have named ‘Big Red’. There is also a small red squirrel that will run across the top of the privacy fence back and forth. He knows this territory is patrolled by a dog that doesn’t like squirrels. Yes — Roosevelt is my guardian of the feeders.

A few years ago, I added honeysuckle to the garden in the backyard. What a joy it has been to watch the hummingbirds that are attracted to the sweet nectar. I love the color of the orange and red blooms. I have not seen many dragonflies or damselflies this year in the gardens, so when I see them I always stop what I am doing and enjoy their flight from flower to flower.

The many different colors of lantana that are planted in containers have drawn the buckeye and painted lady butterflies to them.

Next year, I want to add more of these hardy plants to the containers along the gardens. They love the heat and require very minimal care throughout the summer — what a bounty of colors to enjoy. A few red admirals have also been seen on them. My tithonia grew very tall and are covered with orange blooms attracting a myriad of insects to them. The hummingbirds prefer the kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, honeysuckle, tithonia and zinnias, so we have a lot to entice them into view.

These gardens, weeds and all, seem to be enjoyed by many visitors. I get the benefit of watching all of the activity throughout the day while I work in the gardens. Such joy all of this activity provides along with beauty, take the time and enjoy every minute of it.

“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their home.” — Clare Ansberry