Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

January 31, 2012

The Delivery of a Fawn

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 6:10 pm

As you know, I am by profession, a landscape gardener.    I  have planted and nursed a beautiful setting  on my homegrounds since I and  my family  moved  here in 1974.   

One morning that decade or two    ago  shortly after dawn,  I was walking along a path slightly downhill rather dreamily   to a pond to  plant some perennials along its  path.   It was a dead quiet time of a gorgeous Minnesota  morning.

I heard  a  srange noise…..a kind of a whine,   a ‘hhheeeeeeeheeee’ to my left.   

Wow!  Here, nearly next to me was this full grown doe standing  among some shrubs blending into the scenery  without moving a muscle!   She was holding her ground!   

I was shocked!….. She repeated her noise, and again  didn’t retreat and run off  as would always be the deer habit on my grounds.  

She was looking to my right and appeared more puzzled than afraid.    And then I spied what caused her not to run.    Still mostly in its placenta sac, lying among the garden leaves, was this peculiar object poking and poking.  

I have never talked to this particular  kind of  deer before, except to yell, “SCRAM….GET OUT OF HERE!” when one  would chew on my yews.    This meeting was different.    I appologized out loud profusely to her, and slowly backed up along the path on which  I had arrived.

I was afraid she might abandon ‘the thing’.    That  this was a fawn poking around, was clear.  But to me,  it was still  ’a thing’.  

 I backed up to snoop  from behind a small oak, to see  what  ‘mom’ would do.

I was thrilled as she became calm and slowly moved toward her ‘baby’.    She chewed away the remaining sac and began licking its content which was still poking its legs here and there.  

In a few minutes ‘the thing’   stood up and wobbled  just as you see it on the video.    Mom licked a bit more as baby moved left and then right.   After another few minutes baby, now fawn,  started looking cocky and proud, and after a nudge from mom’s nose…..they took off together through my grounds  as if they had been friends  for years.  

Click below:

January 25, 2012

Garden paths through the Beautiful Winter Garden of Snow Flowers

How many times  a day do you enjoy walking your garden paths?

Have you noticed how much more fulfilling these  walks are in winter than in any other season of the year?    There may be less color;  the fragrances are fewer or more hidden; the sounds are clearer in the particular, but silent in the mass, more than the other  six months of each year.  

However, in  no other  daytime can the forms of the uprights show so precisely, sharply, and meaningfully their personalities than  in this winter like ours in the Twin Cities, 2012.    They dominate undisturbed by fancy color and crowded corners, and are made so much more beautiful and so well appreciated by the negative spaces which divide them.

What a wonderful place to be  every day of your winter life in Minnesota after an inch or two of winter’s  visual ‘mannah’  from heaven.    Nearly every  conifer species displays this  lace  in its own special way.    I have been told that in Japanese  this phenomenon is called ‘snow flowers’.  

Like most landscape gardeners, however much I enjoy the solitude of walking my own  gardened grounds, I feel  selfish that others so seldom see  such beauty.

One of the great enjoyments of installing such landscape gardens for our clients, is that in time, if they have mangaged their grounds properly, they, too, can enjoy this kind of selfishness and invite others to  do the same by spreading the scenery.

Of course, we at Masterpiece  would like to share our skills by developing and maintaining beautiful sceneries through which  garden paths meander.   Give us a call for a tour of a winter landscape garden at 952-933-5777 for further  information.

January 13, 2012

2012 – The Winter without a January

at least thus far fellow Northlanders…..

Previous to yesterday the vast majority of my grounds was bare of snow.   Where snow did exist, there was no accumulation, but only a dusting here or there in areas beyond the reach of the Sun.

As most of you readers know, I am thoroughly in favor of our Twin Cities moving into Horticultural zone 5.   In some grounds we are almost there, but msot of those grounds are in the Twin Cities themselves.

Last year we didn’t have a January either exactly.   As you remember we had the abundance of snow fall on November 13.   The ‘dump[ reached 32 inches most places on my grounds.   December came and went, dumping more ‘on the place below”.   And January came and went without any January thaw at all.  

It was good for our snow removal business for we could remove the endless number of ice dams on Twin City roofs.   Suddenly, mid February,  warm breezes, the tantalizing kind feigning Spring, ruined the money-making.   We had to wait another six weeks before the landscape gardening season began in earnest. 

Are there troubles assoicated  with a winter without a January?  

You bet there are.   Last evening the temperature hit our season low, zero degrees Fahrenheit after a month of March weather, but March weather without March snow…..the heavy wet kind. 

Some folks noticed tulip foliage already beginning to pierce the soil line on the south locations of their  house.    Although it is possible some Dutch bulbs might be already lost due to this warm and snowless winter followed by this sudden deep freeze,  it depend upon what temperatures are ‘on the horizon’. 

If there is an extended period of below zero temperatures   without any snow cover, any damage to  tulips will be nothing compared to what might happen to countless far  more valuable woody plant materials of borderline hardiness…..such as the Emperor Japanese Maples,  Forsythia blooms (although nearly all Forsythia shrubs themselves are hardy in the Twin Cities, the exposed wood of the Black Beauty Elderberry,  dieback also on many smokebushes to the ground, although their roots probably will survive.   

Young newly planted hemlocks, yews, yellow foliaged Japanese yews especially might be hard hit, depending upon the quality of the soil in which they have been  planted. 

Dwarf ginkgos might be killed.   Some of those other plants you spent $200 per unit for are also likely to be victimized.

As a rule “dwarfs’ of both deciduous and evergreen shrubs or trees are less hardy than their standard parents.   The ones most susceptible to winter kill from snowlessness are those from parents hardy only to zone 4, and most woody plants of horticultural zone 5. 

What to do to avoid the loss  of some of your favorite more sensitive plants?  

If your landscape garden or garden  border, or flower garden bear  no winter mulch added to the soil around their crowns already and you haven’t a bag or two or twenty filled with oak leaves, unchopped, you might think about applying rags or old sheets around the crowns of the plants possibly endangered.  

Tree  and  Intersectional  peonies might be susceptible to damage…..which reminds me as I write this article I have forgotten   to tend to them thus far.

So I have to run folks!  These peonies demand my attention!

January 5, 2012

Landscape Garden Life among the Coyote

I have coyote preying on my grounds.   The resident couple have produced a pup.   We seldom see these folks, but they are there and we have quicky pictures to prove their settlement.

In the thirty eight years of my residency here in suburban Minneapolis , I have been able to create and maintain a beautiful  classic landscape garden.   We live in a climate in which winter is the major landscape season, as long as all of the other landscape seasons combined.   

As a boy I noticed that.   I delivered papers both morning and after school.  It was an outdoor job…..Although I hated delivering papers in the winter, I loved  the early mornings throughout the year….the 5 AM mornings  before anyone but paper boys were prowling the streets…..except once in a long while  when a coyote came to view.      Fox at 5AM were fairly common, but not coyote.   Fearless through ignorance, I’d drop my paper boy’s delivery bag and try to follow the creature.

We haven’t noticed coyotes anywhere in my neighborhood until  three or four years ago.   I had seen one in the center of Minneapolis about ten years back  in the garden of a good friend of mine.   It was dark winter and I had just  turned into the driveway.   Suddenly a coyote I distrubed  looked up at me.  ”He”  had  torn something apart which was drooping from its jaws…..and it wasn’t a plant.   “He” was mangy-looking (all coyotes in my vocabulary are male unless proved otherwise), and “he,” coyote-like,  grabbed his kill and ran off into the dark.

My grounds are filled with evergreen conifers……the plants of good memory when I needed them as a news delivery boy  to hide behind during the wild blizzards  50 plus years ago before these wonderful days of global warming in our Northland.

Conifers  come in many  sizes and shapes these days.   Those sizes and shapes are well displayed in my ‘paradise’.   So is snow in winter…..except for this winter thus  far.   

Rabbits and squirrels, birds and voles used to love these conifers-of-all-sizes winter garden.   Until about three years ago.  

Today, only the birds still  do.  Actually, there are more of them of all kinds than in the past.    

No longer do the rabbits and voles eat up all of the lower foliage of the arborvitaes.   No longer are squirrels fighting to burrow into my house eaves to mooch off of  my expensive winter heating and escape the winter winds.

Instead, I  see replacement  foot prints in the winter snow as I walk  along my garden paths.   They are dog-like, but I allow no dogs to enter my space whereever I think I rule.  

My lovely garden now houses new visitors,  ’Canis latrans’ the coyote,  into my space, whether I like it or not.   They are about the only footprints etched in the snow these days.    New prints arrive with each new snow dusting or snowfall.

While searching for television something or another a few days ago, I came across an hour’s worth on the expansion of the coyote population  throughout America……the America that still includes Arizona, New York , California, and Florida.

“Although assaults upon humans are rare, they do happen…..” the narrators admitted more than once.   The deaths are more  frequent in PARKS  the Northeast….Massachusetts and New York, for instance.    They noted an example of an ourdoor type gal who was a regular hiker  in an urban public park.   Two  coyote had stalked her, had run her down and destroyed her as others in the park who had heard  her screams arrived to the scene  too late to save her…….and fended off the two coyote killers.

We live in a time where equality among mankind and ’other’ animals  is required by some politicians and university instructors…..we must live ‘as one’ with nature.   I accept  this dogma, but I do believe I must add, “barely”.    

I still believe the human being is sacred, out of fashioned as that may be.  I am  not the equal of the coyote or squirrel.    I prefer me to rule in my landscape garden rather than  coyote.   If I have to put up with something of a lower order than I am  in my paradise, I’ll go for the hungry  mink, who have happened to drop by upon occasion.

The equality people, the stars of this  television program on coyote, that is, the park rangers, the animal huggers who work for the state to protect wild life, and their similars, (isn’t English a terrific language) who love coyote, seem quite sincere in their warnings to the general public reminding  them that coyote can be our killers.  

“Don’t feed them”, they advise…..and then they move on to their coyote loving.   I admit.   Their ‘chicks’ ARE cute.

“Coyote have naturalized nearly everywhere throughout the United States, even on Manhattan Island in New York City”. 

Rangers who keep an eye on these exploding coyote populations mark the  ’cute’ beasts in their youth  to follow  their roamings henceforth…..your tax money at work.      “They lack competition from bigger predators.”  the experts  announce, hinting that the timber wolf once roamed our streets  widely before we had streets.

Besides “Don’t feed the animals”, here is the official message from these state officials representing urban  American  visits from the ever larger coyote flocks……

“When taking  your nature  hikes in your local parks, suburban or urban, or your landscape gardens, you should take a stick along with you……just in case.” concluding that the coyote is our human equal in the eyes of the modern educated park bureaucrats.   “We must learn to live along side ‘nature’.

There was a moment the narrators offered a degree of  politico-social-religious  ’balance’, a brief one for sure, but an effort nevertheless.   I think the setting  was in Colorado, in a suburb of Denver. where a  park ranger being interviewed by the coyote huggers,  glanced with a hint of a wink at his power rifle when he was asked about his recommentdations  for coyote control.

I enjoyed the program as you, dear readers, might have noticed from the rhythms and a embellishments of this writing.

The American has become and indoor population despite their occasional bicycle and hiking jaunts from their bureaucratic life  into the great outdoors.    When I was a kid most Americans worked outdoors for their living.    Most  owned a rifle for their outdoor business…..controlling wolves and coyote, puma and wild this or  that which decimated their food supply and not infrequently some of these outdoor people as well.

Today indoor people look at animal life romantically.   I do too.   One of the most beautiful sites Mother Nature can cook up for me  is to see the beautiful sleak cougar eyeing and plotting the kill of its prey….as long as one doesn’t romance too much  of the prey’s immediate future.   

I think it a tragedy  that  ”lions, tigers and bears”…..well not bears, yet…..are disappearing from Earth due to mankind’s ‘interference’.   

In the meantime I guess I’ll  have to  position a few sticks  for self defense, artistically placed , of course, blending them  into the lines and curves of my lovely  landscape garden.