Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

June 28, 2010

The Disappearance of Seeking Beauty in Modern America

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 9:57 pm

Over the past century and a half  western societies have suffered from the rise of the omnipotent university.  As the university populations increase,  the individual human imagination  decreases and the art of  creating beauty disappears.  Some university art education critics claim the human mind becomes programmed.

The “feelings’ of the individual become institutionalized.  What one absorbs  and attempts to understand or  respond to in inspiration….become  numbed. 

The quest to achieve that which is beautiful dies.

Beauty has long disappeared from most corners of the world of art.  Music, literature, poetry, painting, sculpture, theater  become more recognized, honored and remembered by vulgarities, mindlessness, or the shocking or  pedestrian. 

The state of the arts in a culture reveals the state of the mind of that culture.

Sameness in landscaping is learned at university.  Today’s university instructors teach tomorrow’s “teachers”. 

This sameness in copied by the homeowner,,,,or the college kid looking to make a bit of extra money during the summer.   

When I shop at Lund’s supermarket,  I hear the most boring, mechanical sounding noise piped into shoppers ears.  It is   irritating in its recorded monotony and harshness….so completely devoid of anything resembling a pleasant melody……..It’s the “music” of Orwell’s 1984.  

Of all the beautiful music in the world that has been composed, of all the inspiring and moving words which with  the melody of music and the beat of poetry which  have lifted mankind to the heights of human expression, nearly none of it is heard or read anymore by the modern American.

Beauty of Art is dead in America…..and has been for a long time.

We are told, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.    That is a profound untruth.   There are  some differences from culture to culture, nearly all are superficial.  Most humans will agree on what is more beautiful than another……if they are put to it.   But recognizing beauty during the course of their every day lives is not often noticed except maybe at the bird feeder.  There are attractions….sexual, sensual and the bizarre, but beauty is a word just about absent from  the American vocabulary.

Recently I contacted the Minnesota State Horticultural Society to consider adding my name to their long list of speakers of horticultural matters.  Nearly one hundred titles, topics were listed which one might check off. 

Not a single topic or title recorded the words “beauty” or “beautiful” within any of the nearly one hundred topics.

The classic music of landscaping and gardening is the Art of the Landscape Garden.  That classic art form was also not to be found either in topic or title.   Most gardens, if they can be called “gardens” are displays of plants, usually herbaceous perennials and annuals.

We live in a society which no longer seems to seek  beauty…..except for how in our modern day we are supposed to make ourselves over to appear physically  as some kind of commercial model no matter what inside might be missing.

Recognizing beauty is somewhat similar to recognizing porn since one has a hard time defining it, but one knows it when one sees it. 

It is common in the world of gardening to grow flowers for their beauty.  I cannot deny that.   Although the human hand does play a part in the development of that beauty,  such as keeping it watered and fed, protecting it from diseases and creatures, the beauty itself is essentually a cause of nature.

I liken it to a single chord of music…..for a split second the chord might be moving to someone…..but it would not be described as beautiful.   Chords become beautiful when compared to other sounds…..how they relate together to create harmony.

Beauty is the opposite of ugliness; harmony the opposite of disharmony.  It is the range from pleasantness to the wildly inspiring which captures ones emotions whether instant or prolongued.   And in the landscape garden exquisitely designed to casually well designed  the visual music may rise and fall as cleverly and moving   as one of Beethoven’s most successful composition.

However, one rarely visits a landscape garden.

Many home landscapes are neat.  One might exhibit an outstanding tree which might be noticed by a handful of people in a year’s time.    Most, however, simply exist.

The human responsible for the grounds  “plays” elsewhere,  oblivious to the world of beauty of the landscape garden.

Are you surprised that we at Masterpiece Landscaping specialize in the art of the landscape garden.  Regardless of the size of one own home or commercial lot, smallness of space does not eliminate a landscape garden. 

Please contact us at Masterpiece to give you a free tour of its home landscpe garden.  You will notice the difference from the cookie cutter pattern   at first glance.  Call us at 952-933-5777  to schedule your tour….limited to 3:00-6:00 on Fridays and Saturdays.

June 20, 2010

Classical Landscape Garden Open For Public View

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 8:34 pm

Our home grounds at Masterpiece is a classical landscape garden…..One enters its realm to retire from the present time and world.  With every move forward into the gardened grounds there are windows to view distant arrangements  and grand paintings to admire. 

One is magnificently alone among Nature in its ideal.  Not the  only  ideal, but one of an endless possibilities for the ideal. 

The sunny setting provides sharp colors and bright contrasts.   The temperature falls 15 degrees when entering the shade rooms.   

The structure of the massive appearing grounds is built mostly with coniferous evergreens which, of couse, provide extraordinary beautify and suggestion of life in the dead of a Minnesota winter.   The lure of each trail comes from the distant views of beautiful forms seen through nature’s window.  The eye has been captured by each setting.  One forgets time.

Captured too are the fragrances flowing mysteriously from someplace just around the corner or perhaps close to the ground itself. 

A weed is hard to find, for almost every plant has its place. 

Every day becomes a new season….new colors are found, forms change, the sun’s spot light never quite the same and sometimes appears lost forever.  Every day demands a new visit…..to see another new canvas of beautiful arrangements.  Forsythias yield to azaleas and rhododendrons.  Azaleas and rhododendrons yield to redbuds, viburnums, and early peonies.   This Spring’s garden as seen, is lost forever.

Spring not only refreshes and resurrects the garden’s population, it is the most beautiful time for color in the Minnesota garden.  Yet, more important than color in the Minnesota garden….more enticing and  more subtle  is the beauty of form…….Nature’s sculpting of beautiful shapes, textures, and the spaces inbetween the  objects  make the garden appear a dream world.

Form is the most vital artistic element  of  the Minnesota winter setting when color is essentially absent or significantly subdued.   THERE IS NO WINTER GARDEN IN OUTDOOR WINTER MINNESOTA WITHOUT CONIFEROUS EVERGREENS.  And perhaps the most important coniferous evergreen genus is the  arborvitae…..Thuja…… with all of its countless cultivars and varieties.  Unfortunately, most are favored in winter by our Virginia White Tail deer as well.

No plant which is beautiful in winter is ugly in summer.   Countless plants in the typical Minnesota display garden rather than a landscape garden, are either ugly in winter or appear dead or disappear entirely for the season.  The annual and perennial flower garden are not in view for six months of every Minnesota year.

Occasionally, garden artists must admit, a dead appearing oak or Kentucky Coffeetree in winter  can offer a striking silhouette in the distance. 

During the month of June on each Friday from 3 PM to 6 PM the Masterpiece home garden will be open to the public for a guided tour.  Come and see for yourself……Call 952-933-5777  to sign up.

June 15, 2010

The Landscaped Grounds of Metropolitan Minnesota

Filed under: Residential Projects,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 10:36 pm

If you and I were to walk up and down the sidewalks of the city or streetsides of suburbia, it is likely we could give a pretty good listing of the personalities of the homeowning folks  who live there. 

Many years ago I taught landscape classes at the University of Minnesota’s Extension Service.  For the winter landscaping class, we added a bus tour to drive along many communities to tell my story about the art of landscape gardening as practiced in urban Minnesota.

To tell the truth, readers, the story wasn’t and isn’t terribly inspiring.   The scenery often  wasn’t that much to look at.  So I picked out a wide variety of settings……one of the most quieting and lovely was the setting in Minneapolis at Red Cedar Lane.

People neglect their grounds.  Typically, they hire a landscape company or college kid, there’s often little difference, and they place and dig in plants  by the numbers a child might draw.  Folks can understand lining things up and putting them in circles.   Rumor has informed them that uneven numbers are better in the garden than even numbers…..how is that one for understanding?   Homeowners were once told that everthing had to be balanced…….

Then, twenty years ago, as now, most people displayed  their grounds as if the grounds are a burden…..in the way.    Today, where lawns are cared for, they are more beautiful than ever.

“I don’t have time to garden”, is a frequent comment, so the “I” will hire some “turkey” (as we used to say in the days of yesteryear when Americans  were more polite)  to drive up in a dump truck and unload twenty five tons of river rock or trap rock to cover the grounds to reduce “weeding”.

During our tours we would observe some home fronts without ever discovering where the entry door was….or  if there were any windows nearby.   There was so much evergreen growth, it was certain no one had touched anything outdoors for several decades.

As a generalization one is roughly what ones grounds look like.  Neat?  Messy?   Tight?   Loose?  Meticulously developed?   Dog poop along the front entry walk?…..with a pit bull daring a visitor to approach?   House painted purple with pink stars around the front door?  

In one neighborhood a gal displayed bed springs with plants growing amid the wire…..all in the front yard.

Most landscapes are simply designs made as if  by cookie cutters.  If maintained neatly, they could avoid being unpleasant…….but, let’s face it,  Minnesota-America, the  landscape grounds as a tastful art form where we live   is generally………..

 PRETTY BAD  THEATER!     But, at least more people are spending a lot more money for this theater than ever before!

At least in order to see BAD theater, one has to buy a ticket……Most everyone has to look at bad landscaping whether one wants to or not. 

One sees less of that “detachment” from the outdoors these days. 

Today, there are at least twenty plants to every one available for garden use just thirty years ago.  Perhaps the area where the most dramatic changes have taken place providing for a new look is the number of dwarf and semidwarf evergreens as well as countless new colorful “evergreens no available to help you live in a beautiful setting.

If your home does not have an inspiring and/or beautiful landscaped grounds, feel some comfort in knowing that the landscaped grounds of almost all of the most expensive newer homes of the past twenty years,  is pretty attrocious……take a tour to see for yourselves.

Look at the magazine and other pictures of “upper crust”, newer houses and examine their landscape grounds.   The only tour they would show for often would be the tour to demonstrate what went wrong. 

Our society is lucky, however, in the fact that most of our families do live in areas which possess an out doors……unlike Europe.   If a population never spends time tending plants outside where the sun shines or doesn’t shine, where the rains fall hard or hardly fall, where shadows occur and weeds grow and the birds sing, one might believe in the fraud we here that Carbon Dioxide is a pollutant.

Only indoor people could fall so low.  

Many lessons are learned every day from the experience of caring for  ones home grounds.  The more beautiful they become,  the more care is given because good people generally like to take care of beautiful things. 

Beautiful plants are countless in number.  They often become more beautiful in settings one with another and another or can grow to be admired as  sculpture.   

Call us at Masterpiece Landscaping,  952-933-5777,  and sign up for guided tours of  selected lovely landscaped grounds here in the Twin Cities.

Would you enjoy living in your house if it consisted of only one room?   Bathroom, kitchen, bedroom,  children’s rooms, t.v. rooms all removed so there would be only one room to the house.

Many,  if not most homeowners in our metropolitan area, if they “live” outside ever at all, they live only one vast room, or in two rooms…….the front and the back…..not much of a lure to see a world of life out of doors.