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Serendipity Gardens: Crossing fingers for upcoming tour

Serendipity Gardens By Carol Hegel Lang

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

The past couple of months it has been a frenzy trying to get the gardens ready for the Art Center’s Art and Garden Tour, which will be July 13 and July 14. My gardens have been neglected the past two years with my husband fighting pancreatic cancer. Will we be ready? I wish I could say yes, but in reality, if the rains keep coming like they have been, we will still have a very soggy pollinator garden filled with weeds.

Carol Hegel Lang

Slowly, as an area dries out, we have been trying to weed it and then finally get some mulch down, but it has been at a snail’s pace that we have accomplished this task. My hope is that people will look past the weeds and enjoy the blooming flowers.

Grab a friend and a cup of coffee and visit all of the different gardens and spend Friday evening and all day Saturday seeing what each garden has to offer. Also, chat with the artists at each garden. To really enjoy the gardens, take your time and stroll leisurely through them, asking questions of the gardeners because they would love to answer your questions.

This year, everything seems to be doing its own thing as my tall garden phlox aren’t very tall. I also lost many lilies, so I have bare spots which, if you have seen my gardens before, is very unusual, as they are jam-packed with flowers.

One of the unique plants that I grow is a self-seeding annual that Thomas Jefferson brought back from France while he was minister to France during the 1780s. It is tall — like the beanstalk from Jack and the beanstalk — with a pink pendulous flower. It is called kiss-me-over-the garden-gate. It always draws comments and questions from visitors.

One of the annuals I planted is tithonia, or Mexican sunflower, with bright orange daisy-like flowers. This year I planted both orange and a new variety that is yellow, as I wanted to see which one the butterflies were most attracted to. Out of two short rows I had very few seeds that germinated, and when the girls were weeding, it looks like most of them got pulled, so I have only one surviving plant. Such is life in the gardens this year.

A few sunflowers that the birds threw out from the feeders are doing very well and already have buds on them. The bees are attracted to them, so I always love it when they appear in the gardens randomly.

After the disaster with the Eastern white pine tree in December, the garden is coming along nicely. You will have to see if you can find the Axminster Gold comfrey growing in this garden. A couple of canna lilies were planted where the stump of the tree is since we just cut the tree to the ground and left the stump below dirt level. Three mini hostas were moved closer to the front of the garden and coneflowers and rudbeckia were added under the bottle tree. This fall, I will add more lilies since this garden suffered loss of most of the trumpet lilies, and with more sun I can also bring in some colorful daylilies now.

Even in a garden tragedy — like losing a beautiful tree — we can find something to smile about, and this garden has been completely changed now with more sun versus a semi-shaded area previously. The addition of a bottle bush in the oval garden and painting a tuteur a bright lime green while adding a row of coleus also in lime green has added some much-needed color to this garden. Hopefully the eyeliner lilies will be in full bloom for the tour, as they are stunning.

As you walk through the gardens, pause and see what insects are feeding in the gardens. My little green tree frogs are back again this year, much to my delight, as well as a couple of toads. These gardens are all about wildlife, so listen for the songs of the wrens and other birds while you tour it.

“Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun.” — Dodinsky

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