Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

January 25, 2011

Welcome to Garden Year 2011

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 4:55 pm

Over my lifetime and deeper into the Minnesota past “Spring” began psychologically for the northern gardener somewhere around February first of ever year.

Most of the garden seed and plant catalogues had arrived by then.  The dreaming about what could be and should be in the garden would begin.   We bought our seeds from Northrop King….a Minnesota company whose home was located in Northeast Minneapolis.    In the know garden people were Bachman’s people.   They would wander through the greenhouses, dumpy and disorganized compared to those of today, but far more interesting because of the mystery of their lack of organizion.  One never knew what might be around the corner.

Either did many of the  plants people working there. 

Exploring began around February first of every year as well.  I bought my first Juddii Viburnum at Bachman’s on Lyndale around  May 10, 1965.   I don’t want to think about the amount of money I spent for house plants in those days.  Bachman’s then had by far the best and biggest variety of house plants for sale throught the state and then some.

Growing house plants was a craze at that time.  Far many more varieties were on the market than today.

On the other hand the numbers and varieties of outdoor plants today must be five to ten times greater than 50 or 60 years ago.   Nearly none of the dwarf conifers were even “born” by then.  There were a number of iris and peonies available, a few phlox and achillea, baby’s breath, phlox and  one or two varieties of hosta, neither terribly impressive.  

The evergreen ground cover, pachysandra, couldn’t survive  most Minnesota winters, and no one around here had heard of ajuga .  

Russian Olive, a few varieties of crab apples, most of them large growers, elms, maples, honeylocusts and green ash were available.   Deciduous shrubs included honeysuckles, hedge cotoneaster, alpine currant,  and buckthorn, cistena cherry and golden mock orange. 

Austrian, Scots, and Mugho Pine (species and dwarf) were the pines on the market.  There were no white pines sold to the public.   Arborvitaes included only Pyramidal and Siberian.    In the Spring of 1974 when we  moved to Minnetonka I had to purchase my American arborvitae from Mentor, Ohio, even though it was native to Minnesota.   It arrived in a number 10 envelope with  its roots wrapped in  moist cotton.   It is about 35′ tall now.

Technys started showing up for sale several years later.

Farmers Seed and Nursery was a terrific place to buy seeds and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs.   At one time I had planted a total of 17 plum trees in my Minnetonka garden.  The fruit was delicious, the fragrance of the blossoms intoxicating, the forms of most varieties either beautiful by nature, or  could be made spectacular by inspired pruning.

The best for eating purposes and natural beauty of tree shape was Waneta.   Toka, still on the market today, will beat or match any plum at any time in flavor.   I also grew Superior, Mount Royal, Underwood, the latter probably bearing the best blooms of all of the northern American plums.  I grew others as well, but I cannot remember their hybrid names just now. 

These plums lasted for about 30 years on the average.   By the time they eventually left my grounds ,  the  White pines I had planted, had matured enough to cause a lot of shade, too much for American plums hybrids to flourish underneath their branches.

Pfitzer junipers and  spreader yews were used as foundation shrubs with pyramidal arborvitaes at both sides of the front and at both corners of the front ot the house, whether they were needed or not.

Most landscaping then as now, was done by habit rather than by any artistic intent.

Welcome to garden year, 2011.