Serendipity Gardens: Mother Nature throws in a wrench

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 21, 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

It’s time for this gardener to take some time to relax and enjoy the gardens after several months of hard work getting the gardens ready for the Art and Garden Tour that was a huge success despite the weather conditions. On July 13, we had rain, thunder and lightning just as we opened for visitors. After about an hour of moderate rain, it wound down to just a light misty rain and visitors started coming carrying umbrellas — not to be deterred by the weather.

Carol Hegel Lang

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On July 14, there was a steady stream of people, and the total for both days was over 200 visitors to my Serendipity Gardens. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to tour the gardens and visit with me and meet my guest artist, Ruth Olson. We so enjoyed chatting with all of you and hearing your comments and questions. I am always overwhelmed that people really do read my columns, so when you compliment me on the gardens or my writing, it really leaves me in awe. Hopefully you were able to take home some ideas for your own gardens or you learned something new.

For the first time in my nearly 50 years of gardening I have found Japanese beetles eating away at my kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate, and now this morning also on the Joe-pye weed. They may have also been the culprit munching away at my dragon wing begonia in the front garden. Having a certified backyard wildlife habitat doesn’t leave me many ways of ridding them other than picking them off the plants and squishing them. Several people that visited the gardens mentioned they also had them and that they were really attacking their roses. We work so hard to have beautiful gardens only to have Mother Nature throw a ringer at us.

My tall garden phlox certainly are not tall this year. Usually in the oval garden the tall phlox block my view of the other side, but this year they are not even 4 feet tall. Two hollyhocks were planted in the raised garden along the back fence, but the morning glories have taken over the space and completely hidden them from view, which is very disappointing, as I was looking forward to those lovely hollyhocks making a statement. Now I have to walk right up to them and look between all the morning glories to see them. Best laid plans don’t always materialize.

While I was working in the garden along the driveway the other day getting the last of the weeds pulled, a very small bunny appeared, munching on the flower petals on the ground and then the white clover. He was not the least bit timid or afraid of me, so I grabbed my camera and had fun shooting photos of him. He also made an appearance while some of the visitors on the tour were walking around this garden, giving them a chance to take photos of him.

Later this afternoon our granddog will arrive for us to babysit for a day while they visit colleges for our granddaughter, who is entering her senior year. Thank goodness the garden tours are finished, as Sage doesn’t understand that he is not to romp right through the gardens. I have to let him out without Roosevelt or they would be chasing each other and destroy the gardens. Sometimes pets and garden don’t always mix well.

My Benary’s giant zinnias should be called Benary’s miniatures this year as they are only about 2 feet tall instead of their usual 6 feet or more, and with very few of them that made it to actually being a plant, my butterflies will surely miss those beauties. It has been a disappointing year, but I still enjoy the gardens and the beauty they provide and all of the pollinators that visit. So now the gardens belong to me and the pollinators to enjoy.

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” — Gertrude Jekyll