Serendipity Gardens: Lilies invite visitors during the summer months

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 5, 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

It seems like once July hits the gardens start ramping up their beauty — and if you grow vegetables, it seems like every day there are more and more goodies available to us. This year I did not grow any vegetables, strawberries or herbs so I am missing the bounty of the gardens.

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Many of you know that I am very interested in what is happening with the monarch butterflies and the bee population.

On June 3, about 30 people gathered at Brookside Park to plant a 1.4-acre pollinator park to help provide food and habitat for the pollinators. If you have not been out to the site, I urge you to visit and watch the progress as this garden grows. It will be two to three years before it becomes a viable pollinator garden, but with each year it will change.

Carol Hegel Lang

In my own gardens, I have many pollinator-friendly plants that are host plants for both monarch and swallowtail butterflies. The swamp milkweed has really been lovely, and I will be planting more of this pollinator plant, for sure.

The past few years, I have added more tiger lilies in different colors for both their beauty — but also because the hummingbirds are attracted to them. The white variety of tiger lilies have really attracted the little birds this year and now my orange varieties are beginning to bloom in several of the gardens.

A raccoon was drinking the sugar water in my feeders so I ended up taking them down after two of the glass ones broke. It had me concerned that I might not have enough lilies blooming for the hummers — then I saw how much they were enjoying the white tigers.

Normally the cutting garden is filled with zinnias, cosmos and larkspur that make this a garden full of color, but after the kitties dug up most of the seeds there is not a lot of color. Sunflowers and tithonia are adding the color that I was missing, as well as two cleome and a few zinnias in bright colors.

Yes, I miss the way this garden is usually plump full of color and butterflies, but hopefully at least some butterflies make their way to my garden.

Last year, I added several oriental and Asiatic lilies to the front part of the cutting garden and I was not disappointed in their beauty and colors. My favorite is one called Scheherazade, which was listed as an old time lily and a repeat bloomer. The length of bloom time was phenomenal. Because the Scheherazade just finished blooming, I will cut off the old blooms and see if it blooms again. The salmon tiger lilies’ bloom was surprisingly lengthy and their color was gorgeous. They were pink with a buttercream center.

Seed heads have started forming on the common milkweed, and I also see them on the jack-in- the-pulpits, which tells me the gardens are ready for fall to arrive in about eight weeks.

Every year, the time seems to slip away faster during the summer months. I have to enjoy the beauty of the summer’s gardens while they last, and hold on to those memories this winter when the gardens are covered with snow.

It was so exciting for me to find a tiny tree frog hunkering down in the center of a pink lily one morning — it was the first time I have had one in the gardens. I quickly went in and grabbed my camera hoping it would still be there so I could photograph it. Since this flower was toward the middle of the garden it was very difficult to get close for a good photo, but it turned out pretty well anyway and I have a memory of another guest in the gardens. I love my backyard wildlife habitat!

This is the year of the weeds in my gardens so I am learning to overlook them and just enjoy the beauty that is there. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, an attitude which has some what become my mantra.

“The miracle of life in all it’s diversity is what I take in with every breath while walking in nature and working in my garden.” — Wilma Knight