Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

April 29, 2015

Visiting Hours at Masterpiece Landscaping’s Home Garden

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 12:08 am

If you are a home landscape gardener and/or  member of a garden group who would  like to visit our Masterpiece Landscaping’s Home Garden,  please give us a call at 612-919-5300 for a guided tour.   Garden club groups are welcomed also.

April 28, 2015


The Spring  lacing of deciduous tree foliage is about to begin in a day or two here in our Twin City landscape gardening area.  It’s the time when our  major evergreen conifers no longer overwhelm our  winter’s six month  landscape dominating the deciduous ghosts of Winter.  My 60 foot Red Maple is already  overwhelmed with young leaves and countless bloom clusters causing the first sign of casting  its shade.   A taller cottonwood, one-third of its girth on my property,  is still naked in that noted  jay bird style.  Nature planted these behemoths  before I began my landscape garden over 40 years ago.

Of my other major deciduous  trees, those now  already over 50 feet, I have planted a Ginkgo by seed which turned out to be a she, an Ohio Buckeye, also by seed,  already  about to open its bloom, and   a  Kentucky Coffee Tree  originally planted from a  size ten pot,  still totally naked regarding leaf cover.   The kings of these grounds are two of  ten  one foot tall, second year seedling White Pine I purchased in 1976  to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of our Nation.   Three died before ‘grade school’,  but two must be over 60 feet tall, a third over 50,  and the remaining four between 30 to 40 feet, their punishment by being  planted   closer together than the others.

Among the more substory trees I have planted, my  30 foot Merrill Magnolia began blooming over a week ago, is still blooming, but is beginning to lose  its stardom as of today…..but won’t fill out with foliage for another week or more.   The  fragrant Toka plum bloom opened up day before yesterday , and the Minnesota Hardy Redbuds and  their seedlings old enough to show off  will be in full bloom by Friday, both species leafing out after bloom.   My  fragrant French Lilac planted in 1975, one, as are all others advertised in the local nursery catalogs as a shrub growing up to twelve feet, surpassed 25 feet ten years ago still is in its winter mood.   It’s   bloom will arrive  in a couple weeks.

Normally Spring lacing of our landscape large deciduous trees begins around the fifteenth of May suggesting that our Spring is  two weeks earlier than the norm.  The last average last  frost date occurs May 10th in our part of Minnesota.

One should also remember that snow storms have occurred in May in our neighborhoods.  We had a twelve inch very wet one  about fifteen years ago.  I’ve been praying for Minnesota warming all of my landscape gardening life, and fortunately  it has come to pass.  My space is somewhere around horticultural zone 4.5……The Russians claim, however, that  the seventy year of warming in the Northern Hemisphere is over  with Earth’s cooling trend showing signs of change for almost a decade already.

Ninety per cent of Russia lies to the North of the Twin Cities in case, dear reader, you are interested.

(Rabbits were evil nearly everywhere in our area  this past winter.  I suspect the city or county have killed all of the coyotes who feasted on  my garden bunnies about the past ten years.  I haven’t seen any fox recently either.)


April 17, 2015

The Spring Gardened Grounds……Radiant Already (If you planned ahead)

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 10:56 pm

Chionodoxa, Siberian Squill, Crocus, Puschkinia, Eranthis, the early tulips,  even certain Narcissus are all  bulbs in bloom as of this date in my grounds.  Most of the Snowdrops have already passed their time.  These  Dutch bulbs, as they are called, are sold by the bulb in September and October when they are planted for the coming season bloom.  Hyacinths, Ornithagalum  and most of the taller tulips and Narcissus  usually  arrive in bloom  two weeks or more after these early bloomers.  Don’t forget  the  Narcissus are NOT rabbit food.  The same cannot be said of other bulbs.

This is an early  Spring season for our greater Twin City, Minnesota geography,  running about two garden  weeks ahead of average bloom and leaf out  time.  Bloodroot and Pachysandra  opened bloom  this past Tuesday , the same day leaf buds on the mature, 6’x6′  Golden Carousel Barberry  began  opening,  always producing a winsome sight as if  sparkling gold  in the sun…..  stardust   exploding.  Merrill Magnolia is already  in full white fragrant  bloom.  Almost all of the conifers, especially the arborvitaes,  are also showing off their spring- season sheen celebrating the end of their long winter nap.

This is the time of year, a brief time at that, when these  healthy evergreen  conifers claim  command of the landscape, their greatest color  dominance of the tree world.  It is when they are in full open bud  when they are  most  colorful.  It will be yet another three weeks, depending upon sun and temperature, before our  largest deciduous shade  trees begin their rule  of mass green, their  size and shade  to  govern the landscape until leaf fall in October and November.

If Minnesota home dwellers didn’t love to  mow  lawn so much, they  might pay closer attention to the world of garden  plants,  and having planted the exceptional ones,  come to become intoxicated by    the constant daily alterations of  the beauty  they produce on the grounds where they live.   If a broader variety of plants were displayed wisely and artfully,  we would all recognize that   Landscape Gardening is supposed to be an artform. the most cherished artform of them all.

Lawn has a place in the home grounds.  It is the carpet of  human outdoor life.   When our American cities began to grow, lawn was primary in its function to announce to every home owner, they now lived in the civilized city surrounded by people instead of trees,   prairies, and the wildings competing with them  for food and flesh.

We at Masterpiece Landscaping invite visitors including  garden club groups to schedule  a visit to our home grounds near Hopkins, Minnesota, by calling us at 952-933-5777 for a guided tour.

April 8, 2015

Too Much Lawn on your HOME GROUNDS?

There can be  no doubt that a well manicured  lawn  on one’s outside home grounds  is as beautiful as a stunning Oriental Carpet is  on the inside of a person’s domain.  Yet, if left alone in a vast room of nothing else, how winsome can they really ever  be if they lie  alone in their space?

One carpet requires  great human effort to maintain its beauty, which actually includes another art form, the clipping  of the lawn itself.  Remember, too, this carpet  has to be ‘fed’ certain nutrients, water, raked,  and provided  weed -prevention medicines. Nevertheless, at their best, life would be rather lonely and boring if these ‘beauties” were left  alone without embellishments within their  surroundings.   Although eventually uncomfortable, one could sit on the indoor Oriental  during our winter wonderland season, but sitting out there on  the snow doesn’t seem to be very appealing.

For about a century here in  Midwest America, that time in the 19th and early 20th centuries of urban settlements, the standard order of landscaping home grounds for the masses consisted of lawn everywhere, to demonstrate urban civility and order, with the exceptions of evergreen shrubs along the foundation to hide  cinderblock whether cinderblock was a problem or not,  a shade tree in the middle of the  back yard, along with  flower and vegetable gardens along the alley drive,  and  a shade tree in the middle of the front yard.    American Elms were planted by ‘the city’  along the neighborhood”s  ‘boulevards’.

These were city folks, not farmers,  living here in these smaller spaces,  in ‘civilized’ cleaned up  urban arrangements with neighbors living next door.

Landscape gardening, however, is supposed to be an art form.   The structure of the house is  ideally   to be located in a beautiful setting,  worthy  of uplifting, inspiriting  the  soul upon arriving home from work and during hours and days nesting there  as if living in  Eden.

Plants of appropriate  size, if well chosen, cleverly placed, and reliably cared for,  can make nearly any outdoor home  grounds become  as inviting, inspiring, as comforting for twelve months each year  as any indoor rooms  on  nearly any  city lot  95′ by 45′  or larger on tillable soil.

Like Beethoven’s great gifts of  music, creating truly  beautiful landscape gardens is merely the result of  tricks of  a trade  well done  to inspire.  (Call us at 952-933-5777 if you need help.)


April 6, 2015

The Landscape Garden as an Art Form in our Northland

Fewer and fewer Americans engage in ‘monkeying around ones grounds’ these days. Fewer and fewer Americans can identify five plants growing on their property or grounds near by. Fewer and fewer people bother tending to ‘gardens’. More and ever more Americans live all of their lives just a few feet above asphalt. Fewer and fewer Americans have children…..We now import them for political as well as economic reasons.

Botany is no longer taught at school….at any school.

We are told in politics and school that Carbon Dioxide is a poison and must be eradicated to save us all. Yet, there would be neither vegetative nor animal life remaining on Earth if these politicians would have their way ‘making’ Carbon Dioxide disappear. What do you think would happen if Carbon Dioxide increased by ten-fold, twenty-fold over the next generation? You’d probably be surprised!

It is likely that the majority of American junior high school students today believe a tomato is made at the local super market. What else would they guess when nothing in the outdoor vegetative world competes with modern indoctrinations and directives by governments? What can inspirit children to love life more than the life they cherish from family and garden?

One does not go to university to discover, learn, and know the garden arts… comes from experience, patience, tolerance, training, and spirit….. as successful raising of children used to be when the human family once had meaning.

City managers of all stripes, weight and sizes, know by instinct that trees are more than something to pass by or escape from the summer sun. It’s the place we homo sapiens lived and died before venturing out on the great place beneath. Typically in each arriving springtime around our Minnesota regions, they or their subordinates sell these woodies as goodwill rather than for profits and/or ‘beautification’ purposes and usually at bargain rates. It builds a reputation of ‘character’ for city institutions….the city CARES for you and me. People feel good.

But, where would the tree, or trees be planted? Which tree would be best suited for the space available? What happens to the setting relative to other forms nearby?

Deciduous trees here in Minnesota lose their leaves in autumn and don’t get them back until May. Does this matter? Not all dropped leaves are equal. Does THIS matter? Every year fewer and fewer Minnesotans know what ‘conifer’ means. “Pine” is a word that still lingers in their memory, and so, call all conifers ‘PINES’, for pines have needles.

A winter garden in Minnesota without conifers is a very cold, frigid, unwelcoming acreage where visitors are not likely to linger long much less evaluate the beauty of the space. Conifers cost more in upfront price, knowledge, and care, however….too many questions for city plant money-makers to answer.

A good friend of mine who lives in Minneapolis on a 45′ by 95′ lot, called the other day about trees the city was offering for ‘beautification’, good prices, and perhaps even for a bit of Carbon Dioxide ‘control’. Who knows real reasons which bureaucrats rely on to order the selections? Dozens were available, but descriptions of River Birch and Royal Plum had caught her attention… a major sixty foot deciduous tree with a beautiful bark for about twenty five years of its aging, the other a smaller thing with an acceptable bloom and purplish foliage, but disease issues. She should have bought neither, but I finally gave in on the Royal Plum. (It has a shorter life span).

Ideally, landscape gardening is supposed to be an art form. Think of your woody plants as musical notes, piano keys, for your eyes rather than your ears to behold Beethoven or Mozart, let’s say…..and ideally you are supposed to make lovely harmony to make your home-world pleasant for you and your family’s eye and soul… a time in human life where we learn at university to disdain beauty in art, for their professors are incapable of teaching it.