Serendipity Gardens: Still time to see if April folklore holds true this year with the crazy weather

Published 9:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2018

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

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

This morning I was sitting by the patio doors writing in my birding journal when a robin landed on the garden gate and looked in at me with a very disgusted look. It was snowing, and we were under yet another winter storm warning for our area. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor thing as he came back to Minnesota hoping for spring weather to be here. Late yesterday afternoon I went out and filled all the bird feeders in anticipation of the snowstorm — knowing that many of the spring birds would be looking for something to eat. I am glad I was able to help them out.

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I received my latest edition of “Our Iowa” yesterday and immediately turned to the Let’s Talk Weather section to see what bits of information Steve Gottschalk had to pass along about the month of April. This is what he had to say about April folklore: “If robins are building nests in April, the spring is likely to be early and warm. But nesting in May foretells colder and wetter weather in store. Robins will also build nests closer to the trunk if they sense the spring will be wet. And the lower the nest is built in a tree, the more likely there will be windstorms in the weeks ahead.”

It is always fun to read his forecasts and see how many of these old tales come true.

Before this column appears in print my friend, Lou Jean, and I will have made a visit to one of the garden centers north of here. Granted, it isn’t very likely I will be purchasing any flowers that day, but we will get to see what is new this year, take in the sights and smells of spring in the greenhouse and just have a fun-filled day talking about flowers. We can hardly wait to see blooming flowers!

The arrival of my first mail-order natives is scheduled about April 19, so if it continues with winter-like weather, they may spend some time in the refrigerator until I can plant them. When Lou Jean and I head north we will stop at Farmer’s Seed and Nursery, as it has a great selection of bare-root trees, and we are both looking for a particular variety of winter hardy cherry tree. Need to keep adding trees and shrubs in my gardens for the pollinators. I already have a chokecherry coming so this would be a nice addition.

How many of you planted potatoes on Good Friday? With the cold weather, you probably will need to replant them as there is a good chance they will rot in the ground if it doesn’t warm up soon. Even if I planted potatoes, I would not have been able to as the gardens on the south side of the driveway still had close to 2 feet of ice-packed snow on them. I am thinking it may be June before I will be able to plant in those gardens.

Lately I have been enjoying a wonderful gardening program on public television put on by the University of Minnesota Morris called, “Prairie Yard and Gardens.” If you have cable television it is shown on Channel 196 TPT but I watch it on YouTube on my computer and there are at least a hundred or more in the series to choose from. This gardener has learned many new things and has enjoyed seeing all the beautiful gardens they present on each show. You might want to check it out before planting season arrives for some great hints and ideas.

On Easter afternoon I took the dog outside and thought I would check a couple of the gardens that were clear of snow to see if anything was peeking through the soil yet and much to my surprise my chives were up about an inch along with wild geranium, iris, daylily (these last two along the south side of the house were up a couple of inches) and one of my favorite pass-along plants from my mother’s garden that we call yellow button flower (a member of the trillium family).