Serendipity Gardens: Time for gardeners to sit back, enjoy new seasons

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

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

This gardener is breathing a big sigh of relief now that the gardens are put to bed for the winter months! It is always on my mind until this task is done — because living in Minnesota, you just never know what the weather is going to be like from day to day. Now that we have to rely on someone else to do most of the big jobs in the garden, we are at their mercy, so to speak. Luckily, our lawn service people are great and do a fantastic job, but they also have many other customers to take care of. I wish I could name them because without all of their help and from a few other friends, the gardens would not be possible anymore. So to those who have helped us, a big, heartfelt thank you.

Carol Hegel Lang

As of writing, the past couple of days the weather has been beautiful, with sunshine and temperatures in the 50s, so some of the small tasks got completed. The dwarf Alberta spruce no longer has the white pine to protect it from the winter sun that burnt the southside of it last year, so I wrapped it in burlap yesterday to protect it. A couple of new feeders for the birds were purchased, hung and stocked up on seeds and suet along with mealworms, as I still have a small flock of about six robins visiting the gardens daily. A new birdbath was purchased for Garden  No. 1. Lily bulbs are planted.

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It is time for this gardener to sit back and enjoy the rest of fall and winter.

For nearly 30 years I have kept a daily bird/weather journal, and I think it is time to get rid of the huge stack of pages one of these days. Younger people don’t want all this stuff, and I can’t imagine who would want some of this when I am no longer around. The same holds true with all of my books that I have collected over the years of gardening and treasured. Nowadays they find all the information on the internet and don’t hold onto things like I have done for 50-some years.

Every morning I look forward to opening the blinds to see who is visiting my feeders. Over the years, I have been thrilled to have some rather unusual birds visit the gardens. One December I kept hearing this bird that sounded just like a wren, but I knew they were not here this time of the year. After several days of hearing this mysterious bird, an actual sighting showed me what I thought was a Carolina wren sitting in the highbush cranberry next to our bedroom window. It was so exciting to have several people from Minneapolis, along with an Al Batt visit, to confirm that indeed it was a Carolina wren. Several other sightings were seen that month in Freeborn County.

Another time I walked past our kitchen window, but did not have my glasses on when I spotted a yellow/orange bird on the platform feeder along the driveway that just didn’t look like an oriole. Luckily I was able to get a photograph of it and send it to Al for confirmation of what it was. It looked to be a Western tanager, and he confirmed that was what it was. My sanctuary gardens have been so exciting to see the different wildlife and birds that visit them.

It won’t be long and the first seed catalog will arrive, already many magazines have been showing some of the exciting newcomers that will be available in 2019. Usually the first year or so the new ones are available in limited quantities, so I try to order them immediately in hopes of getting some of them.

Many new coleus have really caught my eye. They are such easy-to-grow annuals; whether you have sun or shade, there is a variety that will work for your situation.

Enjoy the down time from gardening while you can.

“Time unfolds beauty, wonder, and mystery to reveal the auspicious tapestry of life.” — A.D. Posey