Serendipity Gardens: Trees on parade: Autumn has arrived

Published 9:00 am Saturday, September 29, 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 hard to believe that autumn is upon us. The trees have begun their colorful parade and the gardens are coming to an end for me with the sounds of acorns and walnuts falling to the ground with a thud, leaves crunching under my feet as I walk around the yard and watching the milkweed seeds burst open, spewing their next generation. The monarchs are on their long journey to the oyamel forests in Mexico, while the female and juvenile hummingbirds linger a bit longer. A new season begins in the gardens: autumn.

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It is time to gather the garden ornaments strewn throughout the gardens and pack them away in the garden shed until next year. Containers that are now past their prime are being emptied every day and some of the annuals that have fallen over from the heavy rains we have had need to be pulled out after I collect seeds from them. This time of the year it is a race against the inclement weather we know will be coming before long. It takes me about three weeks to get everything emptied out and then put in the shed along with cutting down perennials and pulling out annuals. I like to leave some of the rudbeckia and coneflowers with seeds on them for the birds to enjoy over winter, but when I have my lawn service people help with cutting down the gardens sometimes they don’t get saved. I need to get at least two of the Joe-Pye weed plants divided as they encroached on the lilies and consequently it was difficult to see their lovely blooms.

This time of the year in the gardens is always sad for me, as I miss seeing the beautiful blooms and the butterflies that have been a part of my life for the past several months. Notes need to be made in the gardening journals reminding me about which plants to move next spring to another spot in the gardens and what annuals were beautiful and which ones I don’t plan to repeat again next year. I should save the canna lilie,s but my basement is just too warm for them and the garage is too chilly, and they will freeze.

My rose milkweed was a butterfly magnet, and it looks like I will have lots of seeds to share with people who might be interested in adding this plant to their gardens. It has a lovely fragrance when it blooms that draws not only butterflies but also bees. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite plants.

The sweet autumn clematis is blooming, and it has covered the top of the large pergola for the first time. The one on the fence doesn’t seem to bloom as heavily, but it sure does take over a large section of fence along the west end of the wildflower garden. This plant sometimes doesn’t always get a chance to really ‘shine’ in the gardens if we get an early frost because that will put an end to the lovely white blooms.

A couple of years ago I purchased two plants of cimicifuga (black negligee and hillside beauty) and planted one in the back gardens along the west fence where it gets mostly shade while the other one was planted in the front garden with semi-shade provided by the eastern white pine tree. With the pine tree coming down last December, the one in the front garden now has mostly sun, and boy did it ever do well this year. Looks like I need to move the other one to the front garden also. The hummingbirds and bees seem to flock to it, as an added bonus, and it blooms in September, giving me a bit of pizzazz in the late season garden along with the goldenrod and red cannas.

Soon we will have a hard frost and anything is still growing will come to an end. My pepper plants still have peppers on them, so hopefully not too soon.

“After the first autumn rains, how inimitable the beauty of days — the fall colors, not yet faded.” —Virginia Garland