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


July 17, 2017

Welcome Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society!

I live in Minnetonka, Minnesota.  Soon I will be  honored to open my landscape gardened grounds here in Minnetonka  to folks from the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society busing in from Madison, Wisconsin.   I, especially  my 78 years of “landscape gardening” welcome all of you for your interest in landscape gardens of the hardy kind!

The first tree I ever knew by name was the “White Pine”.  I was four years old.   My parents had a friend who owned a cabin at Lake Alexander, Minnesota which we would visit every summer for years.   Sand was everywhere, even amongst the tallest trees I had ever seen….groves of White Pine one hundred feet tall.

In the world of labor outdoors, gardening, especially landscape gardening,  can easily become  a drug of the first order, if beauty is the primary, or worse, sole goal for the hooked attempting to create something to uplift the soul.

I was lucky.   It was without choice at age six or seven my primary play outdoors was creating believable and the beautiful landscapes in a sand box about six feet by four in size….which belonged to the neighbor next door in a very modest, pleasant pre-World War II  St. Paul, Minnesota area where lot sizes were 45 by 90 feet each with a garage and alley.

“It”, that is my landscape gardening life, all began in that 6×4 sandbox when I was 4 and a half years old.

It ended, that is my landscape gardening in the neighbor’s  sand box, some time mid summer nearly 9 years later, the summer before I was to enter freshman year at St. Paul Central High School.

I remember being very pleased with the scenery I had created….beauty at last, believability  in  proper order had been achieved that day.   I remember not moving a single tootsy-toy car from its parking spot.   My favorite was a 1939 Mercury my Uncle Frank had bought me for my birthday that year.  It was a coupe, a realistic replica of the real, only two and a half inches long.

Both my sand box boulevard trees and landscape trees were  from a pyramidal arborvitae not far from the sandbox.   I’d bite off the tips of the greenery….and in doing so endured a bitter flavor as if chewing a lemon rind.  Years later, while studying Latin in high school, I learned arbor…vitae meant “tree” of “life”…and indeed so, for the Brits during their centuries as a world naval power, used to store Arborvitae trees grown in pots on their great sail ships which sent them all around globe for business, profit and democratic civilization….which led to the birth of own country,  Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India, by the way ….(I taught ‘high school social studies’  for twelve years. I landscaped as a hobby-drug then.)

I used cigar boxes for corner shops and drug stores.   I lined my streets with ‘pruned’ arborvitae foliage…sizes and shapes formed by my teeth.    Toy building blocks were saved for modest houses like those in which I lived.    A dandelion bud both before and after bloom could be designed as shrubs.

However, that “believability” day was the last day I ever ‘touched’ that or any other sandbox.

Embarrassed by her 13 and a half year old son still monkeying around a sandbox…always alone and loving it, she opened the side outside door where she would be best heard by all  and seen by her ‘wayward’ son and shouted as loudly as possible:  “Glenn Ray, you are too old to be playing in a sand box!!!….but I shouted back, just as loud…..


Nevertheless, I understood the point she wanted ME to absorb for I knew she was right.   What if any of my buddies might ideed  see me making scenery, that is “playing” in a sandbox….something I had practiced for nearly nine years.

My Mother had won the day!

I wanted to avoid her celebrating her victory, however.  So, I covered the pain by  slyly filling a gunny sack with all of the paraphernalia required for community  landscape garden created  in that sandbox, with a laugh or two……for, after considering her claims,   I knew she was right ‘regarding the scenery’ at her distance.   My sandbox education came to its end!


April 7, 2017

Today’s “Garden” Conditions AD 2017 and the Landscaped Garden

Most folks who own ‘grounds’ are not landscape garden gardeners.  Especially these days of cultures of different drives and habits.

Beauty has disappeared from today’s American cultural experience and has been absent for more than two generations.   Yes, this is a matter of opinion, but most of you readers and “non-readers” aren’t old enough to remember the late 1930s through the 1950s when Americans of the Great Depression became dedicated to win a World war they had to win and became prosperous for doing so.

For peace and quiet for the living who remain honest citizens, there still is ‘the garden’….in particular the landscaped garden where human fingers instead of the mind are dirtied, where knowledge and experience  are  required and amassed to avoid failure,  boredom, and the malcontent.

Beautiful landscape gardens are for the eye, what beautiful music is for the ear….but who knows Beethoven, Handel, or Verdi anymore?

Nearly all  gardens, if they exist at all,  are flower gardens, that kind of garden in which colorful flowers are grown, but these are not  landscaped gardens.   There could be shrub gardens, tree gardens which might or might not be accurately deemed landscaped gardens….for they might be merely plant material on display with no spiritual activity obvious in its arrangement.

In the ideal, a landscape garden is a space, a  “room”, or series of “rooms” where upon entering  one exits  the world “outdoors”.    One becomes  captivated by the Garden of Eden  almost immediately becoming detached from any  worries of the day.

Warning:   Discovering beauty in  the  world of the  landscape garden may become habit forming……driving the victim to become inspired to own one, or even driven enough to learn how to create and/or maintain one…..or call us  at Masterpiece Landscaping Ltd  at 952-933-5777  to structure one for you to fit your grounds.

In the meantime, do remember that most  beautiful landscape gardened grounds are established by positioning  large plant forms first as structure, as if you are entering a special room.   Shrubs, trees, and the larger of whatever non-woody  plants are used for beauty whether for color, texture,  or form….. or whatever materials  your (or OUR MASTERPIECE  soul, eye,  and knowledge command, are to be planted first before the smaller floral or woody plant material……..Why?

……because Beautiful Landscaped Gardens are created,  for the eye…… as Beethoven’s masterpieces, were created for  the ear in order to reach the human  brain which inspires  the  twist and  conquer of creating beauty .

For the accomplished landscape garden creator, it is the eye which must be ‘touched’,  trained,  skilled,  manipulated to position  plants for their form, size, color, texture, fragrance, seasons of performance, contrasts, length of life,  to capture and  inspire the minds and souls of all those so fortunate to visit such paradises….

In nearly ever culture known to mankind, eternal paradise is not a flower bed, not a swath of lawn, nor a National Anthem,  but an EDEN, a  LANDSCAPED GARDEN arrangement of plants causing a dream of  INSPIRATION AND PERFECTION OF LIFE EVEN AFTER DEATH’……

Do enjoy your day.   It’s been very, very dry thus far  this Spring.   I have to retire to my  Paradise on Earth now  to nurture  its plantings with  some precious water, the source of life on Earth,  to encourage them to become happier earlier to extend   their beauty of  life  longer  to inspire all  who enter the landscape garden’s realm.







April 3, 2017

My first “employment” in The Garden

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 5:03 pm

I am Glenn Ray, the old timer of Masterpiece Landscaping, Ltd.   It was 75 years ago this very May, I began my first venture in ‘managing’ a gardened piece of land.  It was the Spring following Pearl Harbor.  Our America was at World War.   I lived in a very modest, but newer part of St. Paul, Minnesota at that time, a neighborhood where there were a number of empty lots, all sized at about 50′ by 100′ feet per lot.   There were three directly across the alley from our house.

As a part of the War effort, my Dad, too old to sign up or be drafted, joined the Victory Garden movement.   The city would plow empty lots larger than 40′ x 40′ free if any homeowner would take responsibility, care and cost, for developing a vegetable garden and share half of the produce with the neighborhood.  My father, a pharmacist and former North Dakota farmer agreed.  After plowing, my parents and I raked and ‘seeded’ peas, pole beans, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, raised corn and tomatoes and the like.

That was the last time this trio met “to work” in this Victory Garden.  Due to lack of labor my Dad had to work overtime; my Mother developed an allergy to bees.

I was given charge….in general as a punishment for some or another chore I had failed to perform.   I loved the place from the very beginning.   No adults around……, free at last to play and pretend….where I could dive bomb weeds, beetles, and worms as another part of the War effort.   When hoeing I could use my weapon to ‘shoot’   enemy Zeros, that is, crows or robins.  That garden was the best place I’ve ever been to play, in or out of ‘punishment’…..all four years of it.

I alone was the harvester.  I picked the ears of corn, tomatoes, radishes, green beans, and kholrabi, cut the leaf lettuce, ate the peas right out of the pods.  I planted the seeds and picked off the Colorado potato beetles and squeezed the aphids.

I became profoundly respected for my achievements…yet, even sent there as punishment from time to time.  I was smart enough to keep my paradise a secret, so I practiced pouting…. (“Oh, not again!”).  Such duplicity was never discovered, for I would have been otherwise punished for being ‘deceptive’.

I was first introduced to the art of landscape gardening by “R. Atkinson Fox” that year, the same year I was made hands on  in charge of ‘nursing’ our family Victory Garden as part of the War effort, May, 1942 in the empty lots across the alley from where we lived on Eleanor Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I met “R. Atkinson Fox”  a few months earlier that year……a signature to a pretty painted picture of trees, shrubs, and flowers,  hanging on the wall opposite the  front entry way to  our house……  Where and when that part of the Winter at that place in the house my mom introduced me to her  style of punishment for me so she could listen to her beautiful classical music hours on radio without me asking questions or otherwise interrupting her Heaven.   She was especially fond of Beethoven and Johann Strauss, Jr.   She didn’t want anything noisy around, she warned….while she was listening to beautiful things.

When I goofed or forgot the rules, I had to stand at that wall silent for an hour every time, looking at beautiful things in the Fox painting of a landscape garden.

Outdoors, I began learning to play ‘making scenery’ in the next door neighbor’s roomy sand box, the only box on the block.   I chewed off countless twigs of a conifer near the sand box for my trees… an Arborvitae.  Unaware, this was the beginning of my future career and Our Company.

Following me in the company are two co-owners, my son, Christian Ray,  and Joshua Perlich, who began landscaping at Masterpiece when he was 16….both are not only well trained in the world of landscape gardening, they are gifted artists as well.

Landscape gardening is supposed to be an art form….actually the one most cherished of human history.

In nearly every culture of human history, Paradise is perceived as a Perfect Landscape Garden.


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.


September 12, 2016


We human animals  spend much our life “avoiding”  falls.

This is particularly true when the coming “fall”  happens to be your 82nd birthday.  Yet, without it I’d be already dead.  (Oh, the irony of Life!)   And without that fall there’d be no blessed Spring.

Fall, that is the autumn one in our Minnesota , is a very short Fall, often barely over a month long  with every day the prospect of  colder, much colder temperatures with darker days, and therefore the end of Spring and Summer.

Most “Minnesotans”,  Europeans and others, since the disappearance of a thousand feet of our glacial ice over us  a few  thousands of years ago, spent  most of their days working  outdoors to survive.  Prosperity’s cultural influence have sent these animals indoors, however, and have done so locally overwhelmingly   IN MY LIFETIME.

In today’s newer homes and huge residential housing structures one measures the quality of   life  by avoiding the outdoors completely by ‘driving’ from kitchen to workplace without ever leaving a heated conveyance to avoid their enemy,  their outdoors.

Fewer and fewer people in the general population have to be “bothered” about the look, the feel, the being of the outdoors, the grounds around the abode where they live.   Fewer and fewer people understand the world of the plants around them and the  “Gardens of Eden”   their religions used to worship as the highest, most perfect, most beautiful  environment of  thinking animal life.  (It also happens to be where our food and water come whether today’s human animal is aware of it or not.)

Winter in Minnesota is this part of the world’s longest landscape season of each year.   It happens to be nearly as long as all other landscape seasons, Spring, Summer, and Fall, combined…..mid-October to mid-April…..and in my youth, even  through the end of April into May.

In that youth city and town homeowners, nearly none of them wealthy in those days, most paying taxes on 45′ by 90′ foot  properties, did their very best to maintain their lawns, foundation plantings, vegetable gardens and flower beds despite the city’s  elm tree on their boulevard grass and  the habitual silver maple tree in the middle of the front yard, the cheapest tree buy available, whether needed or not.   Beyond the beauty of the rise of each Spring with the rebirth of its flowers and foliage, almost all of  the landscape  was “artless”….but it was usually  well maintained and kept neat.

Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils,  lilacs, bleeding hearts, marigolds, four 0’clocks,  rhubarb, carrots, lettuce,  and tomatoes were the order of the day.   Pfitzer junipers covered cement blocks at the foundations  of older houses.

Outdoors is where city and town folk  used to meet, chat, and share…… a time when so little was available to beautify so much to meet the standards of that day.   Most homeowners could recognized a pine from a spruce, a conifer from an evergreen.    Fortunately,  most folks  couldn’t afford the non-living  junk that is sold at  garden markets these days.   The landscape was supposed to be welcoming to owner, neighbor,  and visitor alike.

In the ideal landscape gardening is supposed to be an art form…..the most cherished in nearly all human society.  “One is closest to God in the Garden” is a universal cliche.  WINTER IS AS BEAUTIFUL A SEASON AS ANY OTHER SEASON OF THE YEAR!

Fall, however, is an excellent time to examine ones home and/or business grounds.  Have such grounds been made beautiful for the coming fall of the leaves and temperatures?   What remains in your home or business landscape  grounds that is beautiful to behold?

THERE ARE MANY ROADS TO BEAUTY, FOLKS.   Winter is as Beautiful as any other Season!     Call us at  952-933-5777….Give us a chance to prove the Truth of this Truth.







August 31, 2016

When Color Conquers the Landscape Garden



Color in the well developed landscape garden usually conquers all other senses and moods possessed by the human visitor.  It is the most enticing lure collecting visitors.  Spring is usually the season when the   most spectacular  of color shows occur.   The foliage is fresh in color and texture especially in our Minnesota location.

It is obvious to us northern landscape gardeners the beautiful colorful display  below did not occur in our climate zone.    We in the North do not have anywhere near the broad pallet from which to choose our  colors  and the shapes and sizes of plants carrying such colors.   Nevertheless, such a beautiful landscape garden as you view below can be, and is  managed in our communities, but with fewer varieties  of perennial  plants and the length of time their spectacular colors can be displayed.

The growing season is very, very short in our Twin City area compared to Vancouver Island.   The island, if I can remember by geography correctly, is North of our metropolitan community.   It’s the moisture and the lack of  our Minnesota winter there which guarantees a far greater number of beautiful flowering perennial plants from which to choose when planting.

From this view of this garden setting, to what planting, most likely, will your eye be lured  to view first?

The human male has many varieties of colorblindness which may interfere with the generalization to be written here.  It is likely that  the majority of  first viewers of this setting, their colorblindness tendencies notwithstanding, will be captured by the size and shape of the  colorful tree in the center and then move immediately to the right where white floral ground covers are central amidst  a large setting of many colors of several shapes and sizes.   White, yellow, chartreuse, orange lead the list in an order of colors commanding first human glance in the garden, with all things being equally ‘lit’.     Even in the light shade below, white dominates the first glance which quickly moves on to community of colors  surrounding it.     Some folks will be tagged at the light lavender to the back ground right, yet other eyes might be captured by the brilliantly colored lawn leading the red on the left  before returning to dwell on the beauty of the  FORM of the tree central to the picture.

Viewers should remember that floral color on perennials, both herbaceous and woody, is almost always brief.   In our Minnesota a week to three weeks at the most is common.

In our Minnesota, winter is the  longest landscape garden season of the year, as long as all other seasons combined….This truth, this reality seems to be totally unknown to government, home owners, most citizens by the winter displays of ‘gardened’ grounds. “Beauty  in the Minnesota winter landscape garden” is a rare sight except for grounds created by Masterpiece Landscaping.

How would you grade the beauty quotient of winter settings of  the home grounds in your neighborhood?

Call us at Masterpiece,  612-933-5777 for assistance if your ‘settings’ are starved of the beautiful.


August 4, 2016

Is There a Sunkist Arborvitae in Your Future?

Masterpiece Landscaping is a Twin City, Minnesota  artistic landscaping company nearing its 30th birthday.   We line up and plant  garden trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials  in rows only when artistically required to fit  formal settings or for some other special artistic display to inspire visitors.

Landscape gardens, ideally,  should inspire the designer, the builder, and above all,   the home or business owners and their visitors whom we serve. It should never be forgotten, however, the installing the beautiful landscape garden is one art form, maintaining it is entirely another. We provide both services.

The Sunkist arborvitae, and its twin sister, the Yellow Ribbon,  are recent visitors to the upper midWest landscape, both being ‘born’ and made available for only  about 20 years.   I’ve been growing Sunkist on my grounds for nearly twenty years.   Yellow Ribbon is more  a newbie, available for only the past ten years locally.    The twins are  identical to us commoners. The following growth and care  information about these twins  is what is typically advertised as the following:

SUNKIST ARBORVITAE:    (Thuja occidentalis ‘Sunkist’        “Very bright golden tips.  Semi-dwarf, broad globe-shaed or oval pyramid shape form.  Compact growth habit.   Bright yellow foliage turns dark yellow to orange in fall/winter.  Evergreen shrub.    Great for use in asian style gardens, rock gardens, as a border or edge plant, or as a specimen or accent plant.

HEIGHT:  4-6 FEET     WIDTH:   4-6 FEET          Exposure:  Full sun        Hardiness Zones:  3-8

The above information doesn’t provide fullness of truth, however.   It is a carbon  copy of the sales tag the Sunkist or Yellow Ribbon bears when displayed for sale at your local Midwestern  nursery.    But is it true and helpful to the garden caretaker? It depends upon their  location, the amount and length of sunlight available, and  the care you and/or Nature provide them, the quality and character of the soil in which they  live, or try  to, and the amount and reliability of water available to the plants each week.

I have probably seven or eight of these golden arborvitaes growing in my landscape gardens.     The three oldest are all over twenty feet tall and  seven or eight feet in width.    Others I prune for shape or size control depending upon their location in the garden settings. However, I have outstanding soil to serve such plantings….both in tilth and depth…and  have an artificial watering system which  guarantees my plants water during season every other day.   I also fertilize somewhat reliably…usually  starting in February with Milorganite and standard 10-10-10 granulated  once or twice early season  until mid July.

All ‘golden’ arborvitaes including the global, are the same plant essentially. In contrast,  on grounds without such amenities for ideal plant growth,  these arborvitaes are quite different….In our neighborhood at a grounds a  couple doors to the East, I planted a Sunkist arborvitae #10 pot about twelve years ago.   It has received little care.  It sat ‘ungrowing’ but alive at four feet for the first half of its new life and since has gathered character and beauty at about the six foot mark. It eventually most likely by living twenty or more years, it  will  reach the twenty foot height similar to my plantings, with or without extra fertilizing.   If no fertilizing is added to its annual needs, the tree’s  foliage often does start to look thin and somewhat unhappy,  and begins to lose a bit of that bright Spring yellow the plant so well offers if treated right. There have been more ‘yellow’ and turquoise  foliaged conifers made available over the past two decades adding new colors as well as shapes and sizes to improve  our local landscape gardens.   Unfortunately, our Twin City public seems immune to the outdoors surrounding the places where they live.    Our schools no longer teach much about outdoor vegetative life these days.     Have you ever heard of: Chamaecyparis?   Microbiota?   Gigas Angelica?   Fernleaf Buckthorn?    Purple or Amber Jubilee Smokebush? If you, or you and your neighbors or garden club members are interested in visiting  our ‘home’  Masterpiece Landscape Garden. please all us at 952 933 5777.

August 1, 2016

Landscape Gardens, Like People, Gain Character With Age…..

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 1:09 pm

……or, at least they should!    But, then, what is a landscape garden?

It is not a vegetable, beer, or flower garden, that’s for certain.

A landscape garden, at its best, is the most honored of all human art forms.   Nearly every human  culture’s paradise is perceived as a garden perfection,  therefore….a, THE,  Garden of Eden….a place of perfect harmony for the eye, body,  mind, and soul.   Its pieces are various collections and assemblies of Earth’s vegetative and hard surface world usually determined  by the inspired human  mind and imagination and  an amenable  climate to which the art forms  are  usually able to grow, cared for by the human hand  made to grow  into a paradise to enter and leave the troubles of the real world behind.

Landscape gardens, like people, gain character with age.

All other art forms are incidentals, with the exception of music….the beautiful kind, the Beethoven kind,  the kind no one knows anything about these days of noise, noise, and more noise as if  animal grunts.

I was in first grade when my teacher, Mrs. Florence Ray instructed our urban class of 40 students to collect tree leaves.  “We must know God’s beautiful world around us”, this public school teacher emphasized.   I already knew what mom’s peonies and roses  looked like…..I knew sugar maple and ‘slippery’ elm leaves, obedience plant, pansies, dandelions and four 0’clocks….and prickly junipers as well.   Balsam firs, the real ones made by Nature’s God  were celebrated as Christmas trees during the holidays.   I loved their fragrance as much as decorating them.

I learned the ‘tricks’ of the American citizen home garden trade by  working beside my Mother in the back “yard”….She was Germanic by background where garden beauty had to be colorful and precise.   Shrubs were incidentals confined to ‘foundation’ plantings…..that is,  evergreens….a habit from the American urban  1870s  following the American Civil War.

The country had become industrial to win  the war.  Afterward, homes had to be built for factory  workers and shop owners to build the nation….the Europeans were coming.  Workers had to have homes….and so city houses were built with wood, clapboard and cinder blocks to keep costs modest.    Spreader evergreen conifers were what “God” ordered to soften the cold and ugly of the cinder blocks on the street side of each urban  house of the labor class.   Some are probably still there in the older sections of many northern cities.

Urban lots were small, so gardens came to mean flowers, annuals and perennials for house wives…..seeds were sold and bought to control family budgets and that meant more flowers.    Lawn became a statement  of urban neatness of civilized, neighborly persons…..even during the Great Depression and until the end of World War II.   Neighbors shared.

Outdoors is a different place today.   Nearly no one in the Twin City metropolitan area look at a beautiful garden, whether  urban or suburban.    Homeowners no longer know  a fir, hemlock, or spruce….”The city”  plants trees along streetside…..whether the neighborhood  needs or can absorb them.    Beauty, since the garden hemp  revolutions of the 1960-70a, garden hemp, and all that goes with it,  has become the cherished plant of the new American garden  order.

Beauty, both for the American eye and the ear,  has not only disappeared from the  human touch, but among some,  has become an anathema, for if something is inspiringly  beautiful, something must then  be ugly, it’s opposite, and that would upset the level tables of the citizen to be made equal.

Where would one find aural or visual inspirational beauty in  today’s American culture  to depress it?

For a  three and a half minute lesson for the ear, listen to a top orchestral recording of Aaron Copland’s FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN…..for a half hour, listen to this American Aaron Copland’s  APPALACHIAN SPRING…or listen to nearly of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Largo, or  his “Spring” violin sonata adagio……Of course, there are countless others, if you’d bother to hear them.

Looking for them and finding them can become inspiring as well….I know.  I’ve been there.

For the eye, if you don’t  have your own  beautiful landscape garden to handle  inspiration, go to the Grand Canyon or Canada’s  Lake Louise…..If you want to learn how to grow and own your own  landscape garden for inspiration and beauty, please call us at Masterpiece Landscaping at 952-933-5777.





July 14, 2016

The Disappearance of the Beautiful throughout Today’s American Art

Filed under: About Masterpiece,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 9:58 pm

Some things heard and/or seen are simply more beautiful than others… the eyes and ears of the normal, that is…..Psychotics live on a different planet ‘normally’.   Beethoven’s adagios make the recordings of noise at your local super market sound like dead skunks stink.

No one listens to anything Beethoven anymore.    What is celebrated as music today  is  noise to the ear as the fragrance a well used summer  out house is to the human nostrils.   What, then, can be said about the visual arts?

Beauty used to be cherished in civilized societies…..but then again, some societies were quite civilized.

In my lifetime, before and even after the second world war, the American adult female dressed attractively whenever entering the public, whether shopping, visiting, or going to church…..usually anywhere,  everywhere,   when ‘in public’.

Nearly every home  ‘yard’ had a garden… for their color, and vegetables for their flavor.   Kholrabis were refreshing;  tomatoes flavorful.

Today greater and greater numbers of Americans have never planted a flower or  vegetable seed.   Their children, if there are any,  guess tomatoes are made at the super market.

With the disappearance of things beautiful to the eye and ear and therefore to the mind, what happens to the human soul in a world without loveliness?

Some trees, shrubs, flowers are more beautiful than others……Some normally beautiful oaks are ugly;  some Box Elders are spectacular.   In today’s limited American visual world no one seems to be aware of any difference.  Who knows one tree from another?  Who even knows what a conifer means?….much less what one  might look like or know that some creep, others are brilliant yellow, some soft to the touch, others with great form.

Some folks are too busy to go outdoors…..They go to work from kitchen to garage directly driving    their  auto  to some  business garage or tarred lot, never engaging verdant beauty, never reviewing  sun and shadow, that ‘ touch’ of sweet fragrance, the flutter and color of something beautiful they have cared for since their first  appearance on the property.

Have you ever inhaled the fragrance of a Juddii Viburnum?    You could own one!  It blooms for only a week at best, but how uplifting it is to discover,  never forgetting  it’s glory especially late in our  winters when Spring is again around he corner !

Where would you plant your Juddii?    North, south, east, or west, shade or sun, sand or clay?   What will inspire you once the bloom passes?….an azalea?  ninebark?  weigela?  a Chamaecyparis?

Has your blue spruce been dying for the past twenty five years?     Tired  pulling box elder,  buckthorn, and mulberry seedlings from your thinning lawn?

Are you  aware  how beautiful your home grounds could truly  be, especially if your goal is  to achieve beauty to inspire you and those around you?     Where would you begin?     Not all plants are equally beautiful…..Not all plants are beautiful one beside  another.

When is the last time you have visited  a beautiful, truly beautiful landscape garden, private or public?

Give us a call at Masterpiece….952-933-5777  for a look or two.   In the meantime….when you do recognize a winsome  landscape setting, try to verbalize what makes it so!!






Older Posts »