Serendipity Gardens: Tough winter for gardens, but onward

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 26, 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

“Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day,” as the songs goes.

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I have been enjoying the sounds, sights and smells of my spring gardens! With the warmer weather, I have been sleeping with the bedroom windows open and the birds have been waking me up around 4 a.m. with their repertoire of songs much to my delight — even though I would like to sleep a couple more hours. After a slow start with migrating birds, I did get lots of orioles both Baltimore and orchard, grosbeaks, hummingbirds, goldfinches and only one warbler.

Carol Hegel Lang

With all the time it took keeping the feeders filled with jelly and sugar water and oranges scattered throughout the back gardens, I wasn’t getting much gardening done.

My early blooming daffodils have finished, and the later ones are now blooming along with tulips, bleeding hearts, Virginia bluebells, bloodroot, wild violets and dandelions. My heart sings with joy as I watch the magnificent tapestry of colors from day to day unfolding for my enjoyment.

Tomorrow I will start planting seeds in the gardens along the driveway, so that come July it will be filled with magnificent colors and butterflies. I have a dwarf cherry to plant in the garden that is filled with blooms, bringing excitement to the gardens and berries for the birds later in the season. The chokecherry will also get planted in the front entry garden with more berries for the birds.

I have a garden flag hanging on the front door, and this morning I noticed a wasp building a nest under it, so got out my trusty spray bottle of vinegar/water and sprayed him so I can knock the nest down. I don’t need the mailman getting stung by him. A few bees have been seen going in and out of the mason bee house, but I’m not sure if they are building a nest.

This past winter was very hard on my gardens with the loss of the Eastern white pine in December. Several hydrangeas show lots of die-back on them and both weigela look like they didn’t make it. In the front garden all three brunnera have not emerged yet, so I would guess they also died.

My native plants are just starting to show above the soil, so it will be a few more weeks before I know how many of those I lost. With two garden tours scheduled, it is not a pretty sight with all of this damage. My Japanese maple did not lose its leaves at all last fall, and they are still on the branches along with this year’s new leaves so I don’t know what is going on with it. The pagoda dogwood also shows signs of dead branches, but I will wait until fall to cut them off, as they do have buds on them that just didn’t open. That is the life of gardening with Mother Nature holding the upper hand on what goes on in the gardens.

With the warm weather the past week, the spring ephemerals are not blooming very long as they like cooler, damper weather and are already starting to fade away. Each day is a new day in the gardens that makes me want to leap out of bed in the morning just to make sure I don’t miss any of the excitement. I have spent time visiting garden centers and bringing home lots of flowers to get planted along with some garden ornaments. I now have a wine bottle tree and another iron sculpture with cobalt beads on it to brighten up the front garden. My friend, Lou Jean, and I kid each other about being a bad influence on each other when we take a road trip, as we always manage to fill the car up with lots of goodies we find.

What will the rest of the summer be like, I wonder? We will just wait and see.

“These flowers, so fragrant, grew and the birds and bees sipped sweet nectar from the sparkling, morning dew.

God has blessed all beauties of Nature; He’s set His approval and seal on all of His small, winged messengers that fly through the air with such zeal.” — Gertrude Tooley Buckingham