Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

August 19, 2015

The Big Four Essentials for Garden Plant “Happiness”…from Masterpiece experience

Sun, water, soil, and nutrients  are the basic essentials for healthy garden plant growth…..Once again:  SUN, WATER, SOIL, NUTRIENTS for plant and YOUR happiness!!!

Sun:   Not all garden plants, either  woody or  herbaceous,  prefer full sun.   Others disdain deep shade.   Full sun might burn sensitive plants’ leaves, turning them ugly brown or pathetic yellow.   Deep shade  advances diseases on wet leaves which are sensitive to rot.    Nearly every perennial plant,  shrub, and understory tree  can tolerate   full morning, that is,  East  sun.   It’s the afternoon shine and heat  that does the damage to the sensitive.

Water:  Nearly  none of our garden plants can endure long periods of time under standing water.   During that rainy  spring and summer  in our Twin Cities, 2013,  I lost  thousands of dollars worth of relatively mature shrubs, conifers, and perennials along  a two hundred thirty foot  pond path which had flooded and remained underwater for over a month……nearly all twenty or more conifers eventually succumbing by September.   Only a Gold Lace Juniper, about a six year old, survived for some unknown reason and is beautiful to this very day.   A twenty foot North Star Spruce succumbed  the next Spring, with   a six year Red Obelisk Beech, a Redbud, and my prize, a ten year  Hillside Spruce  doing the same thing.  All of the pond side herbaceous perennials were lost.

I spent the entire summer ‘diking’ up the pond path area  more in anger than in preventing the next  flood.    The pond, an artificially made catch basin pond,  I share with four neighbors is almost a full acre, but it is swamping.   It has no outlet besides flooding to control water level.  Moreover,  each fall billions of leaves drop from spectacular mature  oaks, red maples, and cottonwoods  into the pond collecting, raising the pond bottom levels ever higher each season to increase its flooding  zone.

Today, however, the pond path gardens despite  the smaller immature  replacements have never been more beautiful.   The flood made me start all over again with a blank slate.

I have an automatic watering system throughout most of my grounds.  It is scheduled for fifteen minutes every other early morning.    Nothing except perhaps good soil, is more important  to the health of most landscape garden plants than REGULAR, RELIABLE WATERING!    Wonderful things can happen, such as beautiful plants usually so cherished, become weedy…..Astilbe chinensis, Anglelica gigas,  Brunnera macrophylla, and our native American Arborvitae are but a few examples.

Landscape Gardening is classically supposed to be a beautiful  art form.    One would never know as we see it practiced   today in our 21st century ….but then so is the same with music.   No one hears a Beethoven adagio anymore!

Soil:   I have the best soil in the world….. loam….loam from  the trees, shrubs, perennials and chipped bark mulch,  loam from  top soil piled up from soil   removed  from  the watershed pond when it was originally dug almost sixty years ago.   However, for the first two decades lawn covered  the world around the house.   There is no life without rot.  Soil high in organic matter holds water and therefore nutrients favoring the vast majority of ‘normal’  garden plants.

There is no life on Earth without plants.   For beginners, it’s where we get our breathable oxygen, folks.

I began removing sod the first year of residence here at our Masterpiece’s garden, 1974.   A seven minute mowing with a push mower is all that is left.   The remainder is a world of  hallways  and gardened rooms……

Sandy soils are much better for landscape garden plants than clay.  Both are far better  top ‘soils’ than those  home grounds whose top soils were removed when the homes were built.   About the only thing capable of growth on many subsoil properties is lawn.

Every plant on this property is what I have planted, or is progeny of what I have planted, or is progeny of stuff growing elsewhere whose seeds were  dropped by birds or winds, or burried by squirrels,  which I have allowed to remain on this property.   To celebrate the birth of our Nation,  I planted ten  ten-inch two-year seedlings of White Pine in Spring of 1976.   Two died in two years.   Of the eight remaining three are ninety feet tall.   How’s that for growth?      It is a return from excellent soil and reliable water.

Nutrients:   I fertilize new plants with root starter nutrients.   I fertilize with Milorganite, a slow, very slow release granulated fertilizer in March throughout the garden.   That’s the routine folks….except a 10-0-10  for my  lawn space during the season.   Acid fertilizers  are occasionally added to the conifers, especially hemlocks,  when they are young.   Arborvitaes prefer non-acid fertilizing.   Junipers usually don’t care.

Conclusion:  Landscape Gardening is classically supposed to be a beautiful  art form.    One would never know as we see it practiced   today in our 21st century ….but then so is the same with music.   No one hears a Beethoven adagio anymore!    Beauty is no longer  a valued expression in today’s culture.

You can change your home grounds.   Let us at Masterpiece help you begin!


August 15, 2015

Thank you Masterpiece Fans and Friends for Your Loyalty and Friendship

Filed under: About Masterpiece,perennials — glenn @ 11:52 pm

There is something special about the character accompanying folks who beautify the Earth with beautiful grounds.   Few of the sixty plus  client visitors to our  past Thursday’s Masterpiece Garden  Party  know one another.    The evening was heavy of air but fortunately,  without rain.

Gardens draw  friendships together.   We all had a common bond … transform our grounds.  Conversations  and laughter  and addresses  were shared.

Without question the garden  plant  of  Party talk centered on  Angelica gigas, unknown generally, but when known is  commonly called  Korean angelica.   Several hundred of them were entering full bloom  and will continue to do so for several weeks.   Each specimen appears as a ballet dancer, tutu and all,  from  the first foot of foliage to its spectacular period of bud and sharp maroon  flower cluster show usually beginning in midAugust in our Twin City area.

No garden  floral display appears more stately, more proud to show off its  superior form of presence when in bloom.   No foliage greenery is better designed  to resemble a ballerina performing on stage.   It  is shockingly eye-catching,  whether  single or  in group.

I have had Korean angelica growing in our Masterpiece Garden grounds for about fifteen years.   I was early-on informed that Angelica gigas was a biennial,  that is, a herbaceous plant that grows from seed to  death in two years….. such as the common onion or carrot.      The first year develops  foliage,  strong  roots, storing the necessary energy to produce the next year,   the reproductive parts of the plant,  the  flowers and seeds to continue its future  the second year,  when it grows a  cane   ranging from  a puny two feet to a stately eleven feet tall, depending upon seasonal nutrient and water availability.

I have discovered since that  Angelica gigas,  after flowering,  often  does send out underground  root shoots in  the first year  which do  produce  blooms and their seeds  the very  next season, causing the species to behave like a perennial instead of a biennial.    Angelica gigas is  not shy about  producing seeds, lots of them whether grown in shade or sun.

After you establish the general number of plants for your garden display, I’d advise you remove the flower clusters as soons as the seeds are developed, usually in mid September.    Although Angelica gigas may qualify as a weedy plant  for its determination to reproduce, it is a weed ONLY if becomes a plant out-of-place.




August 4, 2015

We are having a garden party!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — glenn @ 5:14 pm

Masterpiece Landscaping cordially invite you to our annual Garden Party on Thursday August 13, 2015  5pm-8pm.

14624 Woodhill Terrace, Minnetonka, MN 55345.



August 1, 2015

But, Homeowners Know Nothing about the ART of Landscape Gardening

Filed under: The Art of Landscaping — Tags: — glenn @ 11:07 pm

……..and unfortunately neither do most commercial  landscapers and professors at Departments of Horticulture at state universities.

Landscape gardening in the  present American world is considered among the lowest of lows among common human occupations.   Even school janitors at all levels of American labor are  more highly respected.

Anyone can put a plant in the ground or mow lawns goes the  talk  in today’s   American cultural jungle…….and  what is observed in most neighborhoods in cities and suburbs seem to support  it.

Another talk these days involves the question…..should some grounds be made more beautiful than others?…..Won’t more beautifully created and maintained grounds make other  citizens, especially neighbors  feel  less equal?  more  intimidated?  more  insecure?  less happy,  more unfit and out of kilter, drink and get drugged  more?

Probably…..and yet  most certainly the indigent of all classes will have less time to feel, act, or  be indigent.   Others may argue that any  high from  participating in the creation of  noticeable   landscape garden art beauty   is just another drug….and I’ll agree with that claim from personal experience.

I personally believe  that the easiest of all art forms for common folk to command, especially among the human male population, is the art of landscape gardening…….that is the ART OF CREATING A BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE.   It is usually a male art form…….The male eye is  more naturally perceptive and imaginative  in  recognizing shapes and sizes, angles, and lines, space, form,  and vacancy  than his female competitor……and she more  demanding of color……he the bigger forms and scenery, and she the smaller textures and softer colors of the flowerbed.

Landscaping is supposed to be an art form, but in practice and in university and other local teachings it is taught as a maintainance  occupation…..janitorial work in public language.  Nearly no one in the general public today can explain what a cultivar is, or even a conifer or an annual.   University people, office people,  maintenance people, sales people, politicians and today’s  students  live and work indoors.   People don’t have much of a plant world anymore.   Outdoor work is sold to immigrants, legal and illegal.

Universities murder rather than inspire whatever art forms they intrude upon to “teach”, not necessarily by intention, but by bureaucratic habits and judgments.  They also sell political correctness from time to time.   For two hundred years a highly valued, reliable  popular  coniferous creeper in the English speaking world was called  “Japgarden Juniper”. …..a name now banned in the trade.

At that time in American history  during  mass immigration from our  rural lands to the city, and the  times   of high birth rates and vast numbers of immigrants flocking from Europe before WWII,   small lots limited  new homeowners’  chances to be creative as a landscape garden artist.  Urban rules were laid out.  Elms and later ash trees were foisted on city  boulevards, whether citizen wanted or not.    Lawn became  worshiped by all as a sign of urban civility, cleanliness, openness, free of  rural corn, cow, and pig life.   Lawns were open for neighbors to visit with neighbors and children to play with neighboring  children, and the same habits were passed on to the suburbia and exurbia, no matter what opportunities for beauty the often vast and vacant spaces offered for  engaging landscape gardening as a wonderfully inspiring  art form……even when children began to disappear from the family being.

Garages got a lot fatter, too… did so many   citizens foreign to landscape garden arts.

Yet, there is a  bit of hope in some  Twin City and suburban  communities for the  cultural arrival of something resembling the art of  landscape gardening.   Much of what is done  is ticky-tack, disorderly,  usually ugly and without  hint of artistic beauty,  done not from and for inspiration but  to eliminate the pain of  working outside rather than any engagement with  the art of landscape gardening.

There are times when you cannot avoid viewing a beautiful landscape setting.   Most occur in  Nature, for Nature is forever a war between harmony and disharmony, order and disorder,  the beautiful and the ugly.   When you do, take time to put into thought and word….why  is this scene so beautiful?

Or when you are at home,  listen to the best  adagios by Beethoven, so many so simple, so beautiful in harmony and form  for the ear to perceive.   These creations came off a piece of paper through an artist’s mind,  training, and experience.

The Art of Landscape Gardening  in the ideal, should  be for the human eye, what Beethoven’s adagios are for the human ear.   Ask yourself what tricks of Beethoven’s trade were used to create such beauty  to inspire  the human  ear, mind, and soul for most of the tricks are the same as those needed  to create  beautiful harmony in the landscape garden for the eye.

In nearly every culture known to man,  Paradise is perceived as a magnificent  Landscape Garden.