Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

April 20, 2010

Season 2010 Is Three Weeks Early

Filed under: battling the Minnesota climate,garden seasons — glenn @ 11:58 pm

I am certain that the vast majority of landscape gardeners in the Twin City area view this spring as outstanding…..thus far.

So far both March and April have been cool or mild and clear.  We had a good winter snow to supply good soil  moisture. 

According to most growth calendars, we are about three weeks ahead of schedule.  My Juddii Viburnums began opening their blooms yesterday…..redbud is in full lavendar-pink bud….PJM Rhododendron in its fifth day of full bloom.  Forsythia has been in bloom for over ten days.  That isn’t so abnormal….It’s the rest of the blooming calendar  that is running early. 

Usually the deciduous shrub and tree leaf out which visually pushes the conifer evergreens into the green background mass of vegetation after dominating the “green” and “form” of the  landscape for the past 6 months, occurs between May 8 and May 12.   It is occuring now in my west suburban neighborhood. 

Personally, I am for global warming in Minnesota.  I prefer a zone five climate community to our 3 to 4.5 mixes in the greater Twin City area.  I remember the harsh winters of my childhood in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  Real blizzards….hard driving dry snow pelletized to sting ones face…..and snow covering the ground  every Easter. 

There were no Cardinals nesting in the Twin Cities then…..not until bird feeders and warmer weather lured them into the Twin Cities, where now they seem to be quite nestled  in.  Experts are now expecting sixty or more years of colder winters, however.  What will winter be without those redbirds?   

I had serious deer, rabbit and mouse damage to many of my arborvitaes this last winter.  Generally, the deer problem is relegated to the suburban communities, with rabbit and mouse damage usually widespread in the cities, especially in fenced in home grounds.  This last January I saw a very aggressive hunting coyote stalking rabbit stew.  Fox  and feral cats aid the  pest control business in my community.   The deer is another matter. 

Otherwise most plants survived without any winterburn at all…..very unlide last winter. 

Look for saw fly larvae…worms…on your mugho, scott’s , and even occasionally on you white pine conifer trees.  Normally they emerge on the pine needles around May 10 to May 15.   I expect to see these wormy creatures in a few days.  Wash them off as soon as you see them with a powerful blast of water from your garden hose.  Shake the tree branches if a hose is not available…..Malathion is often recommended to cause harm to the larvae.   For future control apply the appropriate systemic insecticide.

The worms hatch inside the pine needles having been deposited there late last summer.

April 14, 2010

The Conifer Garden at Courage Center

Filed under: Uncategorized — glenn @ 8:37 pm

We at Masterpiece would like to invite readers and friends to visit the Conifer Garden which we installed about eight years ago at Courage Center on Golden Valley Road in Golden Valley, MN. 

It is located at the South Entrance to the Center.  Spring is an exceptional time to visit the grounds.  The Leonard Messel Magnolia is now in full pink bloom.  The Redbud trees will begin their sharp pink-lavender blooms next week or so. 

Visitors will be amazed at the variety of colors, sizes  and textures of the evergreen conifers on display here.   Conifers are plants which bear cones.

There are three White Fir to be especially admired as well.   Check them out.  This tall evergreen, Abies concolor, should be used much more frequently in the Twin City area.

Write us ….let us know what you think of the garden….especially if you have any questions.

For inquiries please contact Mike Berg,  Joshua Perlich, Chris Ray, or Glenn Ray at Masterpiece at 952-933-5777.

What’s That In Bloom?

Filed under: boulders and stone,Bulbs,garden seasons — glenn @ 8:24 pm

Well, what is that in bloom around the Twin Cities this year……April 9-20 depending on location of specimens?  

Among the trees there are the magnolias, pink being Leonard Messel and the white, the Merrill Magnolia.  Both are pleasantly fragrant.

The bright yellow flowering shrubs are the forsythias, probably Meadowlark or Northern Sun.  They have been in bloom in most locations for about a week already.  In older plantings one might see Nankin Cherry, a large ten foot high and wide rose family shrub with soft white flowers coverning the plant.  My own PJM Rhododendron opened its pinkish lavender blossoms in full force this very morning.  It is over 30 years old, twelve  feet by twelve  feet in size. 

The Amelanchiers both shrubs and trees will be beginning their flowering now, as well.   Floral displays are an off white.

The masses of stunning pure white among the groundcovers now in bloom is white arabis….or rockcress.  It is an evergreen spreader, and does like to spread, but is not at all weedy.  If wattered reliably the bloom might last for over three weeks.

My Lenten roses are in their third week in bloom….and might continue for another couple weeks. 

Most of the earlier Dutch bulbs, eranthis, snowdrops, crocus, dwarf fritillarias, scilla (Siberian squill) and Chionodoxa are either in full bloom or are past their prime in the more sunny exposures.  All of these bulbs must be planted in the fall.   Scillas are the one super reliable minor (small) Dutch bulb in our northern gardens.  They will last and spread in the grounds for decades and decades.  There is no more beautiful  penetrating  blue in nature.  It is too bad they are so small……but then, a spread of  a hundred or more square feet of them is spectacular.   An issues arises after the plant fades and disappears in a month.  What is going to happen next in their space is often a question. 

My lone marsh marigold clump will begin opening  tomorrow morning.

Many of the narcissus (daffodils) are in bloom now.  Remember these bulbs are not eaten by rodents.  Unfortunately, they do not bare colors outside the yellows and whites, but they do bloom about the same time as the early rhododendrons which together is a color scheme no family member or neighbor will fail to appreciate.   They also are available in miniature sizes.  Again these must be planted in autumn as well. 

Tulips are sold as early, middle, or late season bulbs.   Early season was yesterday and the week up to yesterday.   I like the Kaufmanias.  They are shorter and therefore more attractive abutting boulders.   I much prefer bulbs, flowering perennials in general, whose blooms and foliage are under 18 inches for these smaller sizes make my garden boulders looks bigger. 

Most hyacinths will be blooming next week.  They are tremendously fragrant.  The big fritillarias are much later,  after all they become  a rather large plant in adulthood. 

If you keep track of bloom times of any flowering plants in your garden, you will notice by the records you’ve kept, that not every Spring is the same in sequence of bloom. 

This spring in my garden the season is about ten days further along than last year at this time.  The steady weather in March helped to lengthen  Spring. 

Gardeners should remember that, in general, the best location for flowering plants and those shrubs and small trees which might be a bit more sensitive or delicate for one good reason or another, is the grounds to the East of the house or where the plants are exposed to morning light.

Why?   Here’s a hint. 

Remember your explanation when you do your plantings.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons, those hardy for our northern areas, do their best in full morning light, especially in floral display.  They would be unhappy in afternoon sun throughout the summer.

April 2, 2010

Touring the Garden the First Week in April

Filed under: Uncategorized — glenn @ 11:03 am

This has been a great week in the Ray garden.  I am man of all responsibilities here….design, planting, maintaining, critic, teacher, but I do have artificial irrigation, which is not yet turned on.

Water, light, fertilizer, space, and observation, knowledge  and imagination….yours….are the main factors in creating and maintaining the Eden of your life.   If you need assistance, by all means call Masterpiece Landscaping at 952-933-5777.

What is beautiful in your grounds now?  March is notoriously the ugliest month of the landscaped grounds in Minnesota.  The gathering of junk and disorder, kept hidden under the snowfalls of winter are finally coming to view for everyone to see.   Raking debris out of the plantings almost immediately improves the look of the setting.  

I recycle  the leaves on my grounds.  I spread them along the paths through the  more naturalistic settings on my groundsk.   They add to a suggestion of a walk through the northern woods.  These areas usually require little maintenance throughout the rest of the year.

This week Heleborus, Siberian Squill, Pushkinia, Crocus, Kaufmannia tulips, Eranthis, Snowdrops  and Chionodoxa are all in bloom.  The King’s Gold Chamaecyparis is already bright yellow in the sun.  Dwarf  Colorado Blue Spruce a bright aqua-powder blue.  Grey green of Hughes juniper, chartreuse Golden Globe and Sunkist Arborvitae add sharp color contrasts  to the rest of the greens of my coniferous dominated landscape this time of year. 

The evergreen conifers dominate the landscape in Minnesota from roughly November first to usually the first week in May.  No Winter Garden exists in  our area with some evergreen conifer as its dominant planting either as leading actor  or as supporting cast. 

There can be a lovely winter landscape over looking an iced over pond, or rolling snow covered hills…..but if it is a garden look disired for  winter beauty in Minnesota, conifers dictate its every look. 

Sometime during the second week in May give or take a few days earlier or later depending on the mood of a particular Spring, a great wave of green lace begins  to overcome the color, shape and form of the great conifers of the winter garden as the mature elms, maples, buckeyes, ash and all of those other grand deciduous trees and shrubs begin to swell and open their leaf buds. 

Within   five to seven days the green lacy bud cover turns to a mass of green leaves covering the Earth’s landscape whereever trees grow and the conifer forms are seen no more until leaf fall in October. 

I have never seen my own landscaped grounds more beautful than it has been in winter.  I usually sweep its paths regularly with a kitchen broom……easy to do if the snow is light.

But not every winter is equal.  Last winter yews and some junipers were heavily damaged or killed by strong winds during below zero temperatures.  This past winter arborvitaes were crushed under the enormous weight of December rain and subsequent snowfall.    Most of my dozens of global arborvitae simply disappeared under the snow.   

Critique your  landscape garden as you walk through your grounds.  Are you sure it is as beautiful as it could be….should be?    Call us at Masterpiece at 952-933-5777 for consultation and/or maintenance and installation. 

We will be opening  my grounds for garden tours during this coming landscape garden season.  If you or your group is interested in joining  the tour, please schedule a time by calling us at 952-933-5777.