Serendipity Gardens: Spring is gone, and summer color is now queen

Published 9:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2019

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

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

As we were coming to the end of a wet spring, garden buds appeared on the early summer blooming perennials, which will set the stage for the fireworks to explode in a few weeks. Goatsbeard, astilbe, sundrops (yellow buttercups or oenothera fruticosa), martagon lilies along with my roses (William Baffin, flower carpet, Bonica and a beautiful apricot rose I no longer remember the name of) were transitioning the gardens for the splendor of July colors that will give them the explosion of fireworks I have been waiting for.

Carol Hegel Lang

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The irises were gorgeous this year and added so much color and fragrance to those many drab days we had in late May and June. The bleeding hearts were delicate and lovely with the white ones beating out the pink ones this year, but those and the early wildflowers were nothing to brag about this year.

When July hits the gardens the varied colors of bloom just wow me. They vary from pastel in some of the Asiatic lilies to the red, yellow, salmon, white and orange of the Oriental, orienpet and trumpet liles. Monarda in bright red, orange butterfly weed, rose milkweed and the blues and purples of verbena bonariensis and black and blue salvia draw in the hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators to the gardens.

Several varieties of helianthus along with a rudbeckia bring sunshine to the gardens with their bright yellow colors.

Will there be much for zinnias this year in my gardens? Only time will tell. I planted them and then replanted them in mid-June after the ones planted earlier showed very little germination. Those that had come up were being attacked by something that was eating the leaves right down to the stems. My monarch butterflies will suffer if they don’t produce nectar-rich blooms. The queen lime series planted along the driveway had a little better germination than the tall zinnias did. If I don’t get the weeds out of there they probably will not make it to bloom.

In the oval garden, the profusion double hot cherry zinnias were purchased as plants, so I have had color in the front of the bed since the end of May. I planted a short row of state fair zinnias that might be the only ones from seed that will bloom. Next year I plan to start all my seeds in containers in the house to improve germination rates.

On the Victorian gazebo, I have a gorgeous red bougainvillea hanging basket that really draws your eyes toward it the minute you come down the driveway. Why have I never thought to hang a plant in this location before?

In the back gardens I have three hanging baskets with begonias that will knock your socks off! The canary wing begonias have surpassed my expectations to lighten up the west fence area.

I planted cuphea in two varieties this year — vermillionaire and batface — to attract hummingbirds along with rockin’ fuchsia salvia. They are in very close proximity to the patio doors, so when I sit at the desk in the Victorian reading room I can enjoy all of the activity and they sure have not disappointed me as they visit the plants constantly. Along the south side of the garage are my hibiscus in orange and yellow and they love the heat, blooming their hearts out until frost in the fall.

A flower that I always have difficulty finding — and it is one of my favorites for the shade — is browalia. The blue blooms just speak to my heart and the only place I ever find them is at Donahue’s. They are in an oblong container in front of Polly, my little girl statue, and loving where they are planted.

For the first time in many years I have gone with hot colors in my containers using red, orange, purple, yellow and many shades of pink and I am loving it!

“The little darling, Spring, has run away; the sunshine grew too hot for her to stay. She kissed her sister, Summer, and said, ‘When I am gone, you must be queen instead.’” — Cicely Mary Barker