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Serendipity Gardens: Nature preserve a hidden gem in Albert Lea community

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

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

This week my column is going to feature a little hidden gem tucked away at the west end of Oregon Street here in Albert Lea, the Albert Lea Audubon Wildlife Nature Preserve. It consists of 10-plus acres of land with trees, shrubs, native plants, bird houses, bird feeders and even three beehives.  There are mowed trails meandering through the preserve for you to stroll leisurely or to stop and sit on one of the benches and just listen to the sounds and sights of nature all in a natural setting.

Carol Hegel Lang

The land was gifted to the Albert Lea Audubon Society in 1987 from the estate of Myron and Stephanie Pederson. Since that time, many improvements have taken place with more to come in future years.

There are three areas of native plants, forbs and grasses, as well as trees and shrubs to aid our pollinators, and more will be planted in the future to provide habitat for the many pollinators whose numbers are shrinking every year.

As you follow one of the paths, you come to the place where three beehives have been placed by a local beekeeper. The hives have been very successful in producing honey the past several years that we give away every year at the Freeborn County Fair, so make sure you register for some local honey.

Always remember to keep a respectful distance away from the hives. The bee population has drastically declined the past 10 years, and we are trying to do our part to improve the situation by planting native plants that the bees and other pollinators will utilize.

If you are a bird lover, it is a wonderful place to sit and observe the goings on with lots of activity in and around the feeders that are maintained by one of our members daily. Of course, you can also observe the antics of resident squirrels.

For those of you who love photography, it is a wonderful setting to get some nature photos. You may also see deer and other small animals in the preserve.

Native plants with their many colors attract butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators, and this is a wonderful place to experience all of this activity up close and personal. Bring your family and a picnic lunch. You will not be disappointed as you dine among nature at its finest with the peace and quiet disturbed only by the sounds of wildlife or the wind rustling the leaves. How has this little bit of heaven not been recognized by everyone here in Freeborn County?

We hope that each and every one of you will take a few minutes out of your busy day to enjoy what nature has given us right here in the city. What a wonderful learning experience for children as they watch butterflies fly from flower to flower or see birds as they land on a feeder to dine or squirrels with their crazy antics as they try to steal food from the feeders. It isn’t often that places like this are available to all and free to the public.

Bring your camera and your binoculars, and take advantage of all there is to see and don’t forget the mosquito/tick repellant to keep you safe from bites.

Things are always changing with the seasons so plan on visiting often to see what is happening at that time of the year. Early morning and late afternoon are great to see as everything is feeding usually at those times and bright sunny days bring out the pollinators. Perhaps you want to keep a journal of what you have observed that day. You may also want to think about joining the Albert Lea Audubon Society.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” — Albert Einstein