As spring creeps up, seed catalogs keep gardeners looking ahead to thaw

Published 9:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Light

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

It’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner — 59 days and counting for this gardener! My want list keeps growing, but I still have not placed any orders. The catalogs just keep piling up and I tag pages as I see items that I would like to buy. This is because I don’t know what I need to plant in the front garden where the tree blew down.

Carol Hegel Lang

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Over the years I have discovered my favorite catalogs and I can hardly wait until they arrive because they are filled with so much valuable cultivation information. Some of them I have saved over the years so that I can refer back to them. With everything available on the internet, it might seem ridiculous to save them, but just call me old-fashioned or sentimental.

A catalog that I would love to find is from the late 1890s when a woman named Carrie H. Lippincott opened a seed company in Minneapolis. She billed herself as the pioneering seedswoman in America and her catalog covers portrayed children, which possibly led to her secret of success. It is said that she realized women might sympathetically purchase seeds from a fellow female and she also knew newly introduced plants from Asia would capture customers. Many of the seeds she features in her early catalogs were near and dear to women and included cosmos, carnations, morning glories and sweet peas. She must have been quite a woman and it sure would have been exciting to know her.

My plan is to order more spring ephemerals to plant in the front garden is on hold until next year as I am not sure how much shade this garden will have now that the white pine is no longer there to provide shade.

A few years ago, a friend shared wild ginger and spring beauties with me from her woodland garden, and they were just starting to take hold this past year so I will watch to see how they do now that they are no longer in heavy shade.

More martagon lilies will be on my list for sure as they have really grabbed my interest. I would like to add more of them in several of the gardens. The expansion of the pollinator/cutting garden is one place where I do have room for more lilies. The white tiger lilies were really attractive to the pollinators, so possibly I will try to put more of those in on the other end of this garden. Lilies are one of my downfalls. if I had room I would make one garden just with lilies in it that would bloom from early summer to fall in so many colors and scents that it would knock your socks off.

In the oval garden, I have space to add a large hosta that would join the rest of them that are planted under the pagoda dogwood. I have been taking a close look at many different ones in the catalogs. I want one that is large leafed and variegated with a creamy-yellow color to add brightness to this shaded area.

Perennial hollyhocks are on my list and in last year’s Annie’s Seeds catalog she had some very colorful fig-leaf ones available. As soon as her catalog arrives I will be checking it out to see if they are still available.

Now that the pine tree is gone, I will have room for more of these sentimental beauties around the outhouse. The bees just love them and I even had a few butterflies on them last year.

As I have said many times before, “If only I had more garden space to plant the things I love!”

It would be so fun to have acres you could plant in all the beauties available.

“Just an old seed catalog … from a hundred years ago it told the tales of Mother Earth and plants that could be sown. While most are gone, thrown out by now, not many left to see the greatest gift they had to show was how life was meant to be.” — Henry L. Snyder, 1990