Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

October 26, 2016

The Wisp of Winter without an Attracting Setting is Often Very Gray……and Very, Very Cold

Temperature doesn’t measure the arrival of Winter in Minnesota.   Our landscapes usually do.

If one bothers to look,  Winter in Minnesota is equal to Spring and Fall in the quality of its beauty  offered by sight.   Outdoor viewing during and immediately after snowfall creates a landscape garden aura of its own…..if there is a landscape garden in site, that is.

And, let us thank God, this garden “aura” doesn’t occur in summer as it has in mid May and late  September upon occasion in my own life time.  It might otherwise make winter living unbearable in our Northland.

The setting below was photographed during a late  autumn hoar frost and light snow fall a few years ago  at our Masterpiece Farms near Maple Lake, a bit northwest of Minnesota’s Twin Cities.   I grant the photo is not an inspiring and incredible beauty to advertise as a landscape garden if color was its primary measure.   Winter in Minnesota is six months long folks….equal in length to all other landscape seasons combined.

Imagine what this photo, and therefore the setting, would look like without the planted plant material.    There it is in the background, a background unattractive and uniform  enough to  make viewers focus on the textures, forms, and “colors” of the garden plants and the positioned boulder in the foreground.

When you first spied the photograph, what captured your eye first?????

We know, for most viewers,  it was  the boulder…..Why?   At immediate glance the eye quickly  picks up the full setting more or less without noticing form, that is true….but only for an instant….There is  no color to attract ones searching eyes, folks.   No yellows or whites surrounded by masses of green to grab your mind.

Moreover there are a couple of Nature’s arrows pointing to the boulder….White, frosty  ones according to my eyes.   Without a doubt the darkness  and texture of the Arborvitae foliage corners the boulder pronouncing its existence to capture your eye.

Will anyone want to sit there?   Perhaps….but for the landscape garden uninitiated, probably not, unless there is a spectacular scene to the right, somewhere in its  horizon, if one does.

Landscape Gardening is ideally  an Art form based upon soul, knowledge of plants, space, texture, and form, even fragrance….  Tricks of the Trade, ideally,  an art form when at its best, is designed to impress and then capture  the human eye to inspire the human soul.

 

 

Without Decay, There Is No Life…Especially in the Landscaped Garden

Filed under: shrubs and trees,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 5:47 pm

Dear Minnesota  Homeowner….It’s late October in the Twin Cities.   What are you planning to do with all of those falling leaves now swirling around your grounds?

Most likely you’ll do what you’ve done as long as you have lived in your Twin City house…either rake the leaves up,  or  very loudly power blow them into a pile, bag them up and have them  driven  someplace  to make them disappear.

I have lived on my Twin City  western suburban property at the western dead end of a one block  cul de sac  for over forty years.   I am not aware of a single bag of leaves ever leaving my property.   On the contrary, I gather about 50 bags of leaves from friends for a variety of uses throughout my 27,000 square foot landscape garden.  (I grow only  about 160 square feet of mowed lawn.)

For my uses, I prefer most of the leaves to be chopped up for they decay into compost much more quickly.   Not all leaves are equal, however.

Chopped oak leaves are my favorite residue leaf for landscape garden use.    Unchopped oak leaves are my favorite among the unchopped regardless of the genus. Fallen oak leaves remain crisp throughout the winter.   They entrap ‘closets’ of air created by their crisp and often slightly curled leaves creating layers of insulation around roots and crown of their harboring  plants providing ‘blankets’ of protection from  severe temperatures during Winter.

Many oaks, especially those of  white oak heritage, usually  hold their leaves throughout winter….often artistically  a positive providing  form to our usually  formless urban winter “flatscapes”  in and around the Twin Cities.

Sugar and Norway Maple leaves are not crisp, do not provide pockets of warmth, but stick tightly  together as if glued by slime thereby forbidding aeration to keep stems and roots of many plants  healthy.   These leaves are particularly useful, however, in killing lawns or other  non woody vegetation.   They are useful, therefore,  when piled as mulch to kill grasses, weedy non-woody greenery to open areas of ones ground as prelude to plantings  of more beautiful, more  inspiring,  and/or  useful landscape garden plantings.

For an example:  Garden phlox can become a very dominating flowering perennial, that is weedy as some folks might say, in open ground seedable garden territories.   I cherish them.    These garden phlox seedlings can spread their seedlings in all sorts of directions of open ground territory in one gardened season.   I, my landscape garden’s sole artist,  then decide which flowering phlox I like best and cull the rest.

If Minnesotans  never raked their lawns or flower beds  amid Norway and/or Sugar Maple trees, in a couple of years  there wouldn’t be much left of any desirable  understory plantings, especially lawn grass.   If you become tired mowing that part of your grounds, you may welcome a visual change toward the more  beautiful.

I prefer conifers as the major tree features of my grounds.   Most Minnesotans forget that  Winter is Minnesota’s longest landscape season, equal to all other seasons combined.    Winter home  grounds are nearly universally  ghastly bleak  without these majestic EVERGREEN  wonders.

In Spring of 1976 I bought ten second-year old seedlings of  White Pine,  Pinus strobus, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our then democratic nation.   They amounted to  nine inches in length (height)  per tree when planted.    In this, their 40th year,  seven are left….Two are already 100 feet tall, four others in their fifties, and one rather a runt.    Three died  within the first three years of the plantings.

To endure our northern winters, White Pines do drop old needles  in fall as do all  coniferous trees.    They, too, are useful as a mulch, but better used  for appearance than for weed control and decay.

Try   never to  mulch with plastics or other lifeless  matter including stone chips, especially limestone unless necessary for some particular scene you, the artist, want to create.     Boulders, as long as they are not lined up and the same size, can become  neighborhood garden beauties as well as seating  areas and climbing spots  if well positioned.

HINTS:  Artistically, it is better to bag, or otherwise group your tree leaves  separately by species and without scrap foliage when placing them upon the grounds you want to clear.  “Neatify” you work.    Where ever you spread them, and if you spread the mulch thickly enough, these groupings will look more like carpets throughout the winter and the following growing season, than a  dump for garbage.

Decaying plant  material, otherwise known as ‘organic matter’  in this case autumn leaves,  requires certain nutrients for the decaying process itself.  By piling them a foot or  more   heat increases over a period of time hastening  the decaying process which releases nutrients for ‘locals’ to absorb.   Regular, reliable watering hastens the compost making process.

According to the landscape industry’s advertising declarations, the expected height for the  Sunkist, (or Yellow Ribbon) Arborvitae is advertised as six to eight feet.   I planted one about twenty years ago in my front side landscape.   It is thirty feet tall.   Two doors down the block, I planted one in a neighbor’s front grounds about twelve years ago.   It is only six feet tall….but all the same, very attractive. The difference is in the soil, fertilizing and regular watering.

 

October 23, 2016

The Art of Landscape Gardening #1

Beauty as a value in our western culture began its death throes from the unspeakable horror of the industrialized slaughter of countless millions of  World War I.   It stands to reason its disappearing  accelerated into oblivion with the slaughters which followed….World War II, and the estimated 20,000,000 in the USSR murdered by Joseph Stalin and the 60,000,000 killed by Mao Tse Dung to rearrange China into  police states.

Music is an aural experience to human kind, inspiring the soul via the ear.   What one visualizes as a work of art is, of course, sensitive to the human eye.   Can beauty exist without soul?

What ‘music’ have you heard  profoundly  beautiful to the ear has been composed  within the past ninety years?

Likewise, what have you seen recently or since the First World War settings created which are  profoundly beautiful in any of the visual arts created by anyone?

To socialists who are now politically  conquering our America with things government, “beauty”  must disappear, for if something is deemed beautiful,  other things are deemed  not as beautiful, therefore causing bad feelings and despair among some folks.

Beethoven  became   dead to the ear and therefore the brain in our American culture  years ago.  With his and similar inspiring music, what is left to hear?

Noise and vulgarity!  Both  now fill our American ears and have so for more than a half century.

Landscape gardening is the most favored among all of the arts including the musical.   Among nearly all  classical religions, especially JudeoChristianity,  paradise is perfection existing in a beautiful garden.  No other art form reaches such  height and honor.   It’s understandable, for so much of the Earth when  in its order is so beautiful to view.

The landscape garden shown in the photo below is a setting in the back yard of a 45 by 90 foot property in crowded Dinky town, Minneapolis featuring the owner’s garage.  How does your landscape grow?   Are you inspired every moment you enter  and walk  through your gardened grounds?   What causes beauty?

It arises from the imagination nested in the human mind.   The best in the art of landscape gardening it is created by TRICKS OF THE TRADE as seen by the eye pursuing some kind of order.

However in today’s  practice,  nearly all  human made grounds visible to urban and town folks are quite ugly.   Make a list of the most important words you think are needed to whet your mind to generate  creating  a beautiful landscape garden.

I think it fair to claim that we, at Masterpiece, created this piece of gardened  grounds many years ago.  It is also fair to claim that the homeowner of these grounds studied so carefully  over its many years of our assistance, she became so inspired by it,  she  learned the tricks of the trade to make  it her own Masterpiece.

Landscape gardening is a visual art form.   Let us assume there is a beauty to the landscape garden shown below.  What tricks of the trade have enticed you to want to enter these grounds?   Learning the vocabulary is the first trick.    Call us at Masterpiece when you need assistance.