Serendipity Gardens: Make your garden a reflection of you

Published 9:19 am Friday, February 16, 2018

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

My gardens pack a punch. They are filled to overflowing with flowers and garden ornaments, yet weeds still seem to find a place to sprout.

When people ask me about starting a garden, the first thing I tell them is to make it personal; don’t just plant rows of flowers and vegetables. Add ornaments and cozy little nooks and crannies. Make sure it reflects your personality, so when people visit it they know it is truly your garden.

Carol Hegel Lang

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I have never been one to follow gardening rules and plant in uneven numbers, because sometimes I only have room for two plants and a third one would just not fit. I also mix colors that sometimes clash. In the long run — in Mother Nature’s garden — I don’t think she ever takes a look at it and says, “Oh my, those colors will not work together!” She just lets the seeds fall where they may and when you stand back and look at the whole picture, it looks pretty darn good.

For me, gardening is a way to express my ideas since I cannot draw or paint for the life of me. I admire those people who can paint something breathtaking or use their vision to create something beautiful. When God handed out the artistic gene, he gave all of them to my younger sister and passed right by me.

If you have visited my gardens, you know that it is planted in a very haphazard manner, but it is just perfect for my liking. To me, the most important thing is to provide food and shelter for nature’s creatures and secondly for my own enjoyment. Every time someone visits the gardens, I always cringe wondering what they think of this wild tangle of plants planted nilly-willy with taller plants in front of shorter ones in a way that goes against every gardening rule ever spoken or written.

Always find some cozy corner where you can sit and enjoy the serenity a garden provides and where you can find time to get lost in nature.

I have so many places throughout the gardens, and I cherish every one of them where I can sit and enjoy everything God has provided. Benches are placed throughout the yard in strategic places for views of a small area where you can get up close and personal with the flowers and critters in the gardens.

My gardens were created one at a time over many years. When I look back at the earliest photos, I have to laugh at how strictly I followed the gardening rules I read about, as short plants were placed in front, followed by medium size in the middle and taller ones to the back — and yes, they were planted in uneven numbers and colors, adhering to the color wheel theory.

When exactly I strayed from the rules isn’t really known, but one day I must have just planted flowers wherever they seemed to fit, and I loved the idea. Buying a four-pack of flowers always left me with that one extra plant. I didn’t know where it should go, so it went wherever it fit.

The garden fairy police didn’t come and take my trowel away, so it must have been all right.

Another tip for new gardeners is that even though when you purchase a plant or seeds it gives you recommendations on where they should be planted — sun or shade — you can try them some other places, and if they don’t thrive, then move them to where they should be. Be brave and break those rules sometimes.

My sunflowers come up in the most unusual places (having been planted by squirrels or birds) and most of the time I leave them right where they are. One time, a very tall, multi-stemmed sunflower came up through the bricks on the patio right next to a bench — not the best place for it, but it got full sun there and I liked the punch of yellow it provided, so I tied it to the bench the taller it grew. What a statement it made as you walked up the driveway.

“I have gazed so much on beauty that my eyes overflow with it.” — Constantine P. Cavafy

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