Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

July 25, 2017

Notes to the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society Regarding Their Visit to My Minnetonka Home

Filed under: About Masterpiece,shrubs and trees,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 10:59 pm

I began serious landscaping  in 1979, starting on our own home grounds, the  fifth year living in our Minnetonka home.  Masterpiece Landscaping was born in 1989.    By then  I had planted ten second year seedlings of White Pine for the home grounds  purchased from the Minnesota Department of Resources for about $1 apiece.  They were not available at garden nurseries.  (White Pines were, are victims of the deadly  but controllable White Pine Blister Rust.)   That  was in  1976, the 200th birthday of my nation, the one in which I was born.  I reeked the  patriotism I was taught by my gifted old maid school teachers, K through eleventh grade.  I wanted to celebrate every day I worked in my garden….that is my home grounds.

Seven of the ten White Pine  survived their planting and continue living this very day.    Today, three are at or nearly at the 100 foot mark.

I had known Thuja occidentalis, the American Arborvitae, at least the pyramidal form since I was about six years old.   That was the pyramidal evergreen growing near my neighbor’s sandbox, the box at which I began my landscaping a year or two earlier, the one I learned to bite off foliage I’d use as evergreens to decorate roads and streets to drive my 1937 Mercury coupe tootsie-toy car.  My dad had a 1936 Ford four door sedan.  Naturally, I often pretended I was driving our family  of four in the Mercury coupe…also a Ford product….It never came to me that we four could never have fit in a ‘real life’ 1937 coupe of any model.

Thuja occidentalis was not sold in the retail nursery plant market in the 1970s.  I had to send away for one in Spring 1975  as it turned out, the first tree  I planted on my property.   I ordered a seedling from an old time nursery garden  plant enterprise in Mentor, Ohio….no longer in business.   I think it cost me a quarter plus 3 cents postage.

It arrived promptly….in a ten inch envelope with moist cotton enveloping its two root strands.    I was thrilled and planted it in the middle of my 90 by 30 foot vegetable garden.   Although stripped of a huge branch during a 30″ snow storm about twelve years ago, it still stands appropriately  scarred today, the wizened  ‘granddaddy’ of the countless trees I have planted in the landscape garden you Wisconsin folks will be visiting this coming Saturday.

Nearly the entire grounds had been lawn before I settled in at this frontier.   A sickly paper birch, a gangly Russian Olive,  two weedy Box Elders were the only ‘landscape’ trees on the property outside a small ‘room’ of four teenage Red Oaks and one very crooked White Oak in its southwest corner ‘ravine’.    These all died of Oak Wilt epidemic about twenty years ago which began among the oaks at a neighbor’s  grounds high above this southwest valley.

My landscape garden includes  about 200 feet of pond shore.    It was the pond as well nearly a  half acre of lawn that made me greedy about owning these grounds.    I wanted to transform the land  into an ideal garden landscape of  woody plants.   It would remind me of the power, the beauty, and the  moody  of  Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and such….the music  that excited me so  while standing in punishment  staring at that landscape garden  painting by Canadian R. Atkinson Fox  so my Mother could hear her own joys of music by  Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, and the great tragic Operas without my interruptions.

See you folks on Saturday!   Glenn H. Ray


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