Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

May 18, 2010

Three “The Art of Landscape Gardening” Sessions To Be Offered

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 10:14 pm

Masterpiece Landscaping has started a three session class to acquaint homeowners to the art of the landscape garden.  The class is led by Glenn Ray, co-owner of Masterpiece Landscaping and former instructor of  class sessions, “Landscaping the Minnesota Home Grounds” and “Beauty in the Bleak Season”, through the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Glenn was Executive Secretary of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society from 1974 to 1988. 

The class sessions will be held on Saturdays tentatively set at  12:30 to 3:00 PM.  The specific Saturdays have not yet been determined.  We will meet at Glenn’s residence in Minnetonka.   Fee for the 3 sessions is $100 per person, $150 per couple. 

Number of participants is limited to ten.  Masterpiece’s clients will have preference.

Those interested should call Glenn at 952-933-5777.

What Is Put Where, and Why?

Filed under: About Masterpiece,garden seasons,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 9:46 pm

The 2010 Minnesota spring is almost back to its normal time frame.  In my grounds today’s May 18th garden usually occurs about May 26th, so now spring is only about 8 days early.   Last week’s cool, cloudy and rainy weather, made the adjustment.  Still, eight days of a better Spring is much appreciated. 

I usually use Azalea bloom as my standard for comparing Spring’s timing. 

My grounds are designed as a landscape garden….not a staged garden of flowers or lineup of shrubs one looks at ….but a space to be entered, and having entered it, the visitor becomes an indispensable part of the garden scene viewing  through its countless windows and entering and exiting doors into the next sceneries. 

In a landscape garden the very movement made by the visitor along the paths creates a new picture. 

Some of the most beautiful and well maintained landscape gardens occur within small city grounds.

Those interested in visiting them should call Masterpiece Landscaping, Ltd. at 952-933-5777 for reservations.

The landscape garden must have borders.  Without privacy there is no garden, but an open  field….

If the plantings aren’t arranged in some degree of harmony and reason , the collection becomes a mere display of plants rather than a landscape garden.  

Words have meaning….a truth often ignored.   The guide rule for creating the landscape garden is stated as 3 questions in one:  “What is to be placed Where, and Why did you do that?”

It is the habit of the American homeowner and landscape designer both, to place plants by habit.

Where there is an empty space, something must fill it.  Forms are memorized.  Twelve plants are remembered.  These twelve plants will be used again and again and again, without much care to know what they do.  Without much interest in the endless numbers of those available.

May 10, 2010

Ground Covers in the Landscape Garden

Filed under: Ground Covers,perennials,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 11:07 pm

Mulch, soil, leaves, river rock are all ground covers.  Each have there own place in Earth’s landscape  with river rock probably best located at the river.

The ground covers honored by this article are the ones which produce flowers and the coniferous evergreens that like to spread.

Have you ever seen a Japgarden juniper over fifteen feet wide.  You’ve missed a beauty if you haven’t.

Ground covers provide the negative space among  upright forms in the garden to allow those form to show their best shapes and  features.

I have about a half acre of landscape garden, which includes my house and garage.  About one per cent of this space is lawn…..which is a ground cover that does not produce a typical flower, nor is it coniferous.    Well, what did you expect?  Lawns are in the grass world.  Lawns can be walked upon.  Most flowering and coniferous ground covers cannot.

There are several sizes to ground covers, used  here not  in the meaning of  space they may occupy, but in their height…divided into four levels of growth….ground hugging, low growing, medium height, and tall ground covers……in all the plant world covering the soil  in masses of  about knee high height and lower.

As a guide, use garden thyme, chocolate chip ajuga, most  sedums, creeping jenny (lysimachia), creeping phlox, Wilton carpet and Mother Lode  junipers, and the tiny veronicas  as the ground hugger; sweet woodruff, ajuga, white arabis, wild ginger, the smaller leafed lamiums, or Japgarden or Prince of Wales  juniper as  low growing;  microbiota,  Hughes juniper, Mayapple, and the larger leafed lamiums as medium height, and Buffalo,  Gold Lace, and Broadmoor junipers, and some ferns as tall ground covers.

You will notice, that by ground covers we refer to plants which increase their domain horisontally.

It is in the idealized Landscape Garden where ground covers perform their most attractive roles in their performing.  Most of these plants gain character as they increase their space.

The sedums flower later in the season, but nearly all of the other ground covers show their very best in Spring.  The “best” might be the flower shape, the tightness of cover or the pattern of cover or foliage,  the fragrance, the color, either of foliage or flower, or the rhythm of foliage, its texture, its patterns of foliage.

Clients and clients-to-be are welcomed to visit some of Masterpiece’s landscape gardens to learn more about ground covers.   Call us at 952-933-5777 for an appointment.  We shall be looking forward to showing you the important role ground covers play in the art of landscape gardening.

For a description  of the Landscape Garden please go to our home page at this web site.

May 3, 2010

The Spring Garden Is Three Weeks Early

Filed under: battling the Minnesota climate,garden seasons — glenn @ 11:34 pm

There have been at least three springs over the past twenty years that resemble the present spring, when the vegetative world  started a month early and has continued to maintain such a schedule.  The symptoms have been the same, although this year, 2010 our Spring began according to calendar, in March…. even a week earlier.

Since then, not a day has been over 80 degrees Fahrenheit and there have been no driving dusty winds with dry humidity.  We had a good winter for snow depth and cover.  There’s been a lot of sun…….cool…..and just enough moisture to start plant growth early.

In my grounds and in other landscape gardens I visit there is more color than usual. 

Those plants with showy color are showing their color earlier and longer.

 The early flowering perennials and shrubs bloomed the full month earlier.  The French lilacs usually flower in the Twin Cities around the last week in May.  This year they are already open with all their normal frangrance that goes with them.  Forsythia usually is among the first shrub to color here.  This year the fragrant viburnums bloomed the same time.  Crabapples are peaking now, May 3rd instead of May 22nd.  They will be in bloom longer if there are no serious storms or dry windy days of 80 plust temperatures.  Sunny cool days, and cool but not freezing nights.

A number of years ago when a volcano in the  Philippines  erupted, we had spring all spring and summer.  There wasn’t any heat at all.  My azaleas were in bloom for a month.  

In all cases when April was not exceptionally cool, May would be cooler and less sunny…..still a help if colorful gardens were your only care regarding weather and its temperatures.

I notice there are some exceptions….plants who don’t seem to care how beautiful April was for plant growth.  My white fringe trees and many of my redbud five and six year old seedlings are only now showing interest in coming to life.   Smoke bushes are notorious for their funky attitudes about sending out leaves.  Some of the long gawky stalks still look pretty naked, yet some show life.  Regardless of their present state of dress, it is likely the shrub will be in full foliage in a week or two.

Black lace Elderberry has  beautiful pink clusters when it blooms.  But that its blooming is rare in the Twin Cities unless the stems were covered with snow all winter.  Apparently the branchings regularly die back to ground level.  Do not remover the shrub, thinking it is dead.  It is entirely root hardy and will send up new shoots soon, if not already.  The new shoots may become six feet long or more.  But, alas, they are not likely to bloom.

May 1, 2010

Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto and the Landscape Garden

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 9:31 pm

I have a bit more homework for those of you who are studying landscape gardening with me.  Of the two pieces of classical music I asked you to review at home, I wish you would pay particular attention to a  Beethoven composition, his 3rd piano concerto, the first and second movement.

You will remember I offered the analogy that much in classical music is to the ear as classical landscape gardening is to the eye.  Beethoven’s 3rd piano concerto, in my view…..that is from the view of a professional landscape gardener, not  a professional musician is  the best example  I can think of to prove my point.

I also declared “No one should ever go from birth to death without knowing Beethoven”……and the 3rd piano concerto is a good one for our landscape gardening purposes.  Likewise, no one, certainly no one of Western background should go from birth to death without knowing the classical landscape garden.

I am going to list a number of nouns which come to my mind which I would like you study after you have listened uninterupted and fettered to the Beethoven piece….No phone call interruptions  please. 

A landscape garden is a place, a piece of ground luring the visitor to enter  to find inspiration, quietude  rest, joy, solitude,  peace, memory to contemplate the wonders of the beauty of what is being seen and  the fragrances perceived,   to reflect upon memory and knowledge of ones  contentments with life. 

It is the  place where throughout human history regardless of  cultures, one is thought to be closest to God.

I have often said today’s Minnesota landscape garden will never ever again be seen.  Like a staged ballet, or the most moving symphony performance, what you have just seen or heard performed is gone forever.  I also suggest that your listening to Beethoven’s 3rd piano concerto as happens with so much of Beethoven’s creations, will also be unique in your experience.  You will never quite hear the concerto or the sonata or the symphony or the romance and so on, in  the way you have just heard it……that is, if you have been paying attention to the composition rather than talking on the cell phone or watching television tolerating background noise.    One needs to enter Beethoven’s music as one enter’s the landscape garden.

And, Beethoven is a landscape gardener for the music world.  He has the great advantage of having his work recorded….and recorded in many ways.   The art of landscape gardening is truly ephemeral.  What you see today will indeed be never the same.  The  keys of the piano or trumpet or the strings of the violin don’t keep changing their color, their size, and their cover and form…..not only every day, but every season and therefore, every year.  

But for today…..Go to a landscape garden….to mine, perhaps, or to Nancy’s, or to the conifer garden at the Courage Center in Golden Valley.  You are welcomed any time.  

With this magnificent springtime, so long with  weather  so abiding, pick your day and enter your landscape garden  thinking  of and remembering  the Beethoven you have been told to listen to so profoundly.   Walk the paths, listening and thinking what words are usable… both art forms….what words are matching and which are comparable….One art form commands the mind through the ear….the other the mind through the eye.  How do the emotions, the melodies of sight and ear relate one to the other…….I suggest you think of these nouns before your garden walk:

color, rhythm, harmony,  pause, crescendo, hilight, tension, tempo, repetition, drama, key, speed, height, depth, line, fragrance, dissonance, contrast, shadow, light, form, horizontal, vertical, shape, mask, anticipation, shock, rest, quietude, volume, shade, flow, movement….minor- major, life and death….rise and fall.

I am sure you will be able to add other provocative words to this list. 

Now walk through the landscape garden again and try to unpuzzle the puzzle.  Do not look for exact answers.  Examine  what you feel and think.   

Explain what I am suggesting you explain:  Match the words up the best you can to both the art for the ear and the art for the eye.  Match them one for the other art the best you can.  Are the tricks to achieve the pleasures, moods and impresseions  pretty much the same?   I don’t think it will be easy.  If it is, you should be the instructor, not I.

I deeply believe in the similarities of these great art forms.  We have few landscape gardens in our country….there are some.  There is a lot of rap ….and the cookie cutter installation around. 

Some of you might want to examine  Sunny’s garden in Dinkytown, a surprising location for an exquisite display of  Beethoven for the eye.  We have addresses of others grounds as well.  Please email me for the listings……limited to classmembers and their families and friends.

And now a moment of sadness.  The vast majority of the American population has never experienced what you are now doing.  They know neither Beethoven nor the Landscape Garden.