Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

October 9, 2014

Frost Arrived at my Grounds This Morning, October 9, 2014

I was about to write an article at this post today that tomorrow, October 10th according to records, is the average date for the arrival of frost in these Twin City, America environs. However, when I stepped out onto my gardened grounds, I spied frost covering the here and there. This frost had not been predicted by the pundits.

In the upper regions of my bit over a half acre gardened grounds, frost arrived for awhile this morning, AM October 9th, a day early. Frost for much of vegetative life, especially the leafy parts of so much of it, is a killer in our climatic zones, as noted by the name of the season in which we live, “FALL”.

Most of today’s Americans, which of course includes our locality called Minnesota, knowledge of vegetative life out doors is non-existent. That landscape gardening to the soulful human animal is supposed to be an art form is even more deeply hidden in the recesses of contemporary human thought. It is certainly not taught at university.

When the ambient temperature drops a degree or two below 33 degrees Fahrenheit, not all nooks of ones landscape garden are equally affected. Not all perennials and annual woody and non-woody plants are equally bothered by a few degrees of the Fall’s first frost. I remember snow falling on my birthday, September 21st on two occasions during our ICE AGE ERA, 60 plus years ago; wet and heavy snows which caused bending and broken branches and flopped herbs. Yet, I even then noticed there was no ground frost for snow provided the protective touch of insulation.

Throughout the lower reaches of my gardened grounds, there was no evidence of frost anywhere. Tree and shrub foliage, I am guessing, entrapped enough yesterday’s warmth to escape leafy death by a degree or two.

Over the past fifty years the genus “Hosta” has become one of the most widely grown perennials in our area. Early on in this invasion only a handful of varieties were available.

It’s hard to kill these older varieties and cultivars of Hosta. Gardening gals loved them all. After a few years of Hosta-growing in anyone’s garden hereabouts, gals would divide the original plant into countless numbers of offspring plants….at no cost beyond their own invested time and ‘local’ energy. Guys, nearly all of whom years ago used to mow their home lawns began to notice the economy of growing Hosta as a garden member as well. Furthermore it eventually became noticed that some Hosta sitting in soil but out of ground awaiting transplant in the Fall, actually had to await until Spring to be planted due to human forgetfulness and/or heartlessness, and still survived. Not all Hostas are ‘born’ equal, however.

Some begin to yellow in foliage before the first of October in our area with or without the help of frost. Nearly all will ‘fall’ their foliage from a heavy frost…. usually anything under 30 degrees F.

Check out the hosta population in your own or your neighbors’ gardened grounds to discover what was ‘hit’ by last night’s frost in your Twin City area. If your Hosta world still appears happy, and your marigolds or other tender annuals show no signs of certain death by weather, your garden is likely to be frost free for another three weeks…..that is, until the next evening of a clear sky and its full moon with temperatures in the lower 30s or colder arrives…. It’s Nature’s habit.

October 2, 2014

A Review of our Landscape Garden Year, 2014

I have been very delinquent regarding my recordings of landscape garden arts at this Masterpiece Landscaping blog site. That I admit and regret. However, Nature has had something to do about that on two fronts this season:

First, I reached my 80th year of life this past Summer…..Second, the pond along which more than two hundred feet of my gardened property abuts, flooded beyond anything previously recorded from the countless torrential rains of this past May and June. It was that four inches of rain that night in June that delivered so many fatal blows to nearly 30 years of beautiful pond side plant life. Water sat idle or rising from early May to late July above the normal shore line. Dollar loss was beyond determination. Years of plant beauty disappeared.

Conifers of all ages and sizes were lost….with the exception of one inexplicably, a struggling Hetz Juniper. Its suffering caused an overloaded growth of its beautiful blue ‘berries’ in preparing for death, but thus far has cheated it. Although its suffering has been made obvious from its survival struggles, its status, its value in life in my landscape garden world has dramatically shot to the top.

Even Flamingo Willow was severely damaged and the most beautiful of my deciduous shore plants, the twenty-foot Arctic Willow finally found its way to ‘dusty death’ this past week.

What did survive nearly three months under water is the following…..all ten of the day lilies, my mature clump of purple-pink Physostegia, although foliage was a bit yellow and the blooms a pure white.

My purple loosestrife, a cherished perennial at the Ray pondside garden site survived all, but that was to be expected….Its bright pink bloom was as bright as ever…

My seedling white oak brought to life by my own acorn planted fifteen years ago also survived thus far. Fortunately almost half of its root zone remained at the level of, or above the floodwater, which gave it a chance to survive.

All hostas along the pond eventually turned to mush…..except two, both Francee. One sat entirely under water for more than a month limpishly. After one week of freedom it appeared it wanted to compete in some Hosta Society specimen show. The other Francee looked pathetic for a few weeks, yet it never appeared to have given up its ghost. Visitors don’t quite say, “Oh, what wonderful hostas you have about any of my five hundred or more hostas on my grounds. Most host slugs of one kind or another. But, my surviving pondside Francees are slugless.

Slugs aren’t great swimmers. They drown rather quickly if pressed under water. Nature can be wonderful!

I should mention that a Daub’s Frosted Juniper, in its second year pondside, survived three weeks with its root zone under water. It is beautiful.

Much of my July and August was spent cleaning up, digging out the dead and replanting, reconstructing 4,000 square feet of pond path area. This included hauling more than 350 bags of mulch through the landscaped garden by wheelbarrow, a couple hundred manageable boulders, tons of pondside type stone, sand, peatmoss, and, of course, plants, positioning and planting them in a new world.

It is amazing what the human body and mind can do when one becomes driven to create beauty.