Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

May 16, 2017

Redbuds and Spring, 2017 in Twin City Land

Nearly no one gardens anymore……whether the vegetable or the flower one…..even in Minnesota.

Seventy years ago, even during World War II and its previous Depression years, most city folk did manage to garden for food and flower …..as did our local  farmers who hadn’t lost  their land.

“Working” the land was still common regardless of ‘plot’ size.    People knew what  kohlrabi and  bleeding heart were.

Redbuds were understory trees, weeding throughout  eastern forest openings incapable of growing here in the colder midwest where winters often included evenings of minus 30 plus Fahrenheit.   Most Americans those days moving West into Minnesota came from Maine and  Massachusetts  before and during our Scandinavian settlements.   They missed their Redbud (Cercis canadensis) capable of growing in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario as well.   For years horticulturists at the University of Minnesota worked overtime to cause Redbuds to become hardier in order to join their thirst for more beautiful Springs.

During and shortly after the War, the wealthy of the  Lake Minnetonka area estates would plant trial seedlings of Redbud from the University’s extension service east of Waconia.   Eventually, this Northern Redbud became reliable enough as an attractive  local Twin City area understory both in clump form and in bright pink floral color arriving for show before foliage develops.

Most of my landscape garden where I live is without lawn….I have plotted it to be that way.  I  bought my first Northern Redbud about 30 years ago….and purposely  planted the clump rather crooked to one side in  hope that it would develop  a spectacular form during its old age.

It obliged…with this Spring bloom the most beautiful of all in color and form.  “Plants, gardens, like people, gain character with age”, I have often claimed.

Another purchased Northern Redbud planted about ten years ago, has struggled to look good in shape, for the color of hot pink in early May is always bright and clean of all the mature and living….usually.

Northern Redbuds seed profusely  where ‘open’ soil is available.   Their countless  pea family pods are filled  with seeds following their hot pink display.   Not all Redbuds are equal weed seed producers, however.  In my own mostly woodsy-like garden settings,  dozens and dozens of seedlings are produced  every Spring.  The vast majority will live a year or two before they succumb to the stress of  yesterday’s tenderness to temperatures colder  than  ten below zero of winter wear or be eaten by rabbits for their winter evening and morning meals.

Yet, some eaten still survive such meals and send out side shoots at the edges groundward from the eatings causing two to four side shoots to develop to keep the Redbud factory alive often for a good thirty years of character  forming some of the most beautiful clumps.

This past late April and May have produced the most beautiful, longest blooming period in Redbud history here in our Gopherland.    My ten or more Redbuds have been in a spectacular stage of  bloom for three weeks, longer than ever before.    This Spring’s flock has likely  been the biggest, happiest, most beautiful Northern Redbud bloom  ever in our western Twin City suburbs:  cool nights with  ‘hotless’ days with  no wild rainfalls or heavy snowfall.  Few, if any, have shed their hot pink.

 

 

 

February 3, 2017

The Beauty of the Fragrance of Human Manure In the Landscape Garden

Winter is rarely  a kind season for most of our landscape gardens and their gardeners  here in Minnesota.   Winds,  killer  evening temperatures,  crushing snow layers, sunburns on bark, deer, dogs,  and then there are the rabbits.

Sixty years of rumor have told me   rabbits are hit with a vicious virus or two about every seven years which wipes out the vast majority of a settled rabbit population…,.I used to believe the rumor….until reviewing the last five to seven years of rabbits running around winter in my gardened grounds.

Last year rabbits caused more  damage in my grounds  and others our Masterpiece Landscaping company  has created,  was the worst in a decade or more.   Arborvitae shrubs chewed to pieces to the one foot high mark….some  chewings even  higher where plant foliage and snowdrifts meet.  Many of my plants’  rabbits came from neighbors’ habitats and nearby woods.   I laid out some wire fencing in areas where my  most valuable cherished plants are located.   Some young woodies disappeared entirely into rabbit poop over a single night.

There is a “friend” available at most garden centers and hardware stores you might want to meet for assistance in reducing your landscaped grounds rabbit population….It’s usually  sold in about a 25 pound bag….with the name MILORGANITE  printed on it.

Again…MILORGANITE…and it has been around these northern areas for decades, and available in eastern Wisconsin for many, many decades more.   Milwaukee is where these bags originated.  One can tell by its name…”Milwaukee organic matter”…and it used to be  found very close to home in the old days.  It may still be ‘organized’ exclusively in Milwaukee, for  the organic matter it sells originates from Milwaukee area human poop…..aged to perfection, of course!

If your garden plants have been  pestered by rabbits this  winter,  you might want to try  Milorganite  for temporary rabbit control.   It consists of countless  tiny pellets of human organic waste and is sold as a slow release garden fertilizer.   But, this fertilizer  carries an odor, which of course, doesn’t bother any plants at all…..nor does it bother Mr. or Mrs. Gardeners.   It seems to bother rabbits of all shapes and sizes for a while.

It can be spread broadly around the garden area or around any  plants at any time for normal garden soil and plant enrichment.

Before snowfall, rabbits usually have an endless supply of herbs to eat up.   After snowfall most of that rabbit food becomes unavailable forcing a change in the bunny diet….conifer foliage and bark…..young deciduous tree and shrub bark now appear on top of  the rabbit diet.

So, whenever you are in the mood to fertilize your  trees and shrubs after snowfall, you might want to think of human manure from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.    I usually wait until after the first major snowfall before I apply this unusual fertilizer.    Whatever power Milorganite has over rabbits, it weakens when its pellets are  lying under every major snowfall, so  keep that in mind.

Spread it by hand in  glove.   Throw handfuls of this “aromatic” fertilizer around the crowns of   shrubs and young tree trunks, bunnies usually  nest or chew on.   Rose shrubs, those beautiful new hybrids available to northern gardeners these days, are usually breakfast, lunch, and supper desserts  to rabbits of all ages.  Winged Euonymus bark near soil level can be ravaged by a bunny or two in a week.  Canadian plum trees of all varieties when  can be chewed to pieces by deer or rabbits  in winter or anytime if there is no protection such as tree wrap around the structural stems.

Don’t be wussy about the amount of Milwaukee manure you throw around the trunks of your susceptible cherished plants.   Toss  to ten or even  more handfuls, around each trunk  of the susceptible plants you cherish more than your  rabbits do…..ideally, each time after a heavy snowfall.   Good Luck.

Be sure to call us at Masterpiece Landscaping at 952-933-5777 when you need help creating and maintaining beauty on your home or business grounds.

 

November 17, 2016

2016….The Most Beautiful Autumn of My Conscious Life

About six weeks ago I had planned in mind, but not on paper or computer, what a landscape garden expert…me….should share to you, the vast landscape garden  unaware of the great outdoors around you before snowfall.

I had in mind a written lecture NEVER to almost  never, mine the grounds you own by throwing away its leaves, for leaves should be recycled rather than burned or sent to garbage…..I planned to suggest tricks of my trade from learnings I have been blessed to absorb during the 42 years I have developed the magnificent grounds in which I live.

I am a Milorganite user kind of guy…The past hour  I was applying ‘sweet-smelling Milorganite bits around the plantings of my domain this very day, for I got wind that tomorrow snow will bring winter, and the snowfall might become  considerable by wet and inch.   About twenty minutes into the labor, I remember that about a month ago, before snowfall, I should share with readers the benefit I have discovered from applying Milorganite in the landscape garden ever Autumn just before snowfall.

A lot of good it will do at this point a day before the deluge…..and I have to hurry for I have a business appointment to attend within 30 minutes…..What I should have written a month ago, beyond saving the leaves every Autumn is the following tidbits about Milorganite.

It comes from Milwaukee human poop, but is sold in pellets, very small ones.   It is a slow, quite slow, nutrient release fertilizer, relatively high in Nitrogen, a touch of Phosphorus, and no Potassium.    Those who visit these garden grounds I maintain, are always admiring the ’tilth’ feel of foot when browsing through its beauty and are shocked at the size and richness of color of my conifers….Well, some if the feel comes from moles playing submarine under each garden path, but the size, color, and their wealth of health is universal in the territory.

To “wit”, I planted ten second year old White Pines in 1976 as essential structural forms for the grounds, but most of all in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.   For your view each of the ten were about ten inches long…including root.

Three of them these forty years later are crowding or exceed their 100th foot mark…..and are gorgeous specimens.

Fall leaves and Milorganite have kept them healthy….for THERE IS NO DECAY WITHOUT LIFE….and the decay, autumn leaves and Milwaukee human poop have been, in my experience, essential in the health of these and dozens and dozens of other trees on my property….most ot them conifers…..(Winter in Minnesota  is long, folks, very long,    I have to run to attend a client….

But, don’t forget….rabbits don’t like the smell of human excrement, the major ingredient in Milorganite….

 

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.

 

 

September 12, 2016

THE BEGINNING OF THE FALL

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……..at 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

BUTCHART GARDENS // VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA

 

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 29, 2016

Gardens, Like People, Gain Character with AGE

Filed under: battling the Minnesota climate,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 11:18 pm

“Gardens, like people, gain character with age” is a truism which, at least  in the dream of things, is TRUE.   In both cases good fortune is a necessity.   Both people and beautiful landscape gardens can be destroyed, ‘ killed ‘ by the same tornado, mud slide, flood, fire, or earthquake.  As a generalization, however,  the adage IS true, at least in the ideal.

Both beautiful people and beautiful landscape gardens usually  need  help, care and attention   especially when young to develop their ‘glow’ in later life.   It’s  living human beings who  make  judgments on the matter, however.

Most homeowners who do love and seek beauty in a landscaped garden are folks with average income, or are retired from years of average, or slightly above average income.   The super wealthy usually hire university degreed   landscape architects to  line things up  the way architects are trained to do.   Hedges become popular and can be practical in the setting.  After all, a wall is a wall is a wall.   One might even appear beautiful someday.

Sometimes for some folks,  the more expensive is deemed more beautiful merely by its cost rather any notice of  something ‘beautiful’.

Most of our plants which provide structure in beautiful landscape gardens are sun-loving.   Massive deciduous trees may become beautiful on their own account as individuals  after a century of living in the landscape garden, but because of root expanse and the living tree’s demand  for light,  living woody plant matter whether young or old doesn’t have much of a chance to compete in such an environment .

In our Northland, East exposure  to the Sun is the location superior to all other woody plantings for best growth.   South is runner up.  It’s hotter.    West, where the ground is usually hot longer and  drier,  is an ‘also ran’, with North dead last, often a sure killer for countless beautiful woody specimens when the season is with wind and severe cold without much snow cover.

Do remember, however, that the nature of the ambient soil does have a dictate in the health of  plants in their domain.   A sand ‘bottom’ is a far drier environment  for most  plant roots  than  clay.

Sometimes trees and shrubs, and occasionally people,   gain character from periods of  suffering….   While we root for human avoidance of  the condition,  older trees which survive  years of  suffering can become among the most beautiful in form  in ones landscape garden.  Skillful prunings can relieve many a landscape  tree or shrub suffering from ugliness and/or  general disorder.

We at Masterpiece invite folks to review the ‘beauty quotient’ of their existing trees and shrubs.   If your plants are not gaining character with age, do call us for advice and action….at 952-933-5777…..even if they look old and crusty.   Some plants can live with character  for centuries, you know.

 

July 30, 2016

Aralia spinosa

Filed under: battling the Minnesota climate,shrubs and trees — glenn @ 12:39 am

One of my favorite woodies in my gardened grounds is Aralia spinosa….(Aralia spinosissima).   About forty years ago it arrived in my possession around mid- August,    I had a large vegetable garden and was beginning  my artistic landscaping of my  property  nearly 90% of which was covered by a mediocre lawn.

I was director of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society then.  Our office was located on the St. Paul University of Minnesota Agricultural School campus.  A devoted plantsman, Bob Estelle, although a Librarian at the University of Minnesota main campus, came rushing into my office around late August that year….upset that the University was destroying its century-old St. Paul campus landscaped garden to make room for a parking lot.   He was carrying  a rather prickly stemmed herbaceous-appearing thing with several  double compound spiky leaves squeezed into a brittle plastic green colored size two pot .

He announced the survival of this Aralia spinosissima (Aralia spinosa) was in jeopardy and was trusting me to plant it in my own garden in Minnetonka about twenty five miles to the west.  “It is a rare plant here in Minnesota!  We can’t let it disappear!”     He had apparently dug up a dozen or so ‘suckers’ and potted them to hand out to folks he could ‘trust’ to do them well.  I had to do my horticultural duty, he nagged.   He was too upset for me to let him down.   I accepted the responsibility, but once I got home I set the pot among others I needed to plant beginning the ‘bones’ of my intended landscape gardened grounds.

I knew countless Twin City  woody plants, but had never come across this almost woody thing called Aralia “the spiny” or Aralia spinosissima, “the very most spiny ever”.   Plastic plant pots were made very brittle in those days.  This one was colored very bright green.

Then it was suddenly early November and a 30 inch very wet snowfall began its dump while I was at work….unexpected.  I had to speed home to salvage all of my brussel sprouts, sweet carrots and other edibles still rich in the garden.    It was not quite dusk when I came across a pack of ten or so  unpotted plants I had intended to set into the ground and nurture that Summer, but never got around to doing it.   One was that  very Aralia spinosa still in its green pot, Bob had trusted me to take care of……  The snow was already a foot deep.   Even though the ground had not yet frozen, I was too tired to plant the darn thing.   I was also too tired to feel guilty about abusing the plant.   I had never watered the thing since the day it entered my property sitting among others similar in a far corner of the garden.

I disturbed a few inches of soil, dumped about a foot of oak leaves around and above the pot in the middle of a clump of three five year old French Lilacs I had planted…..and never thought about the plant for four or five years…..until one hot sweaty day in July when I was weeding with my shirt off, weeding  around  the grounds where my French Lilacs were growing so well.   I remember being very pleased with their good looks and growth….At about my third reach attempting  to collect some kind of plastic debris, my bare right arm was shredded as I pulled it back  having grabbed  a handful of  grassy weeds.    I looked at my upper arm where the skin was shredded as if some animal had clawed me big time.   I had never heard of any lilac being spiny, yet the  spiny woody stalk was easily five feet tall, with another two slightly shorter blending perfectly among some thicker woody stalks without spines.

Only for a moment did I try to digest that my French Lilacs had spines growing out of their stems.   Then I spied the truth  to calm my dismay……I saw a number of small pieces of brittle plastic around the ground swelling of the largest of the three spiny stems.   Moreover, my fist had wrapped around a few pieces of that same green colored plastic I dropped while  my arm was being slashed.

Thirty years later I have to admit, Aralia spinosa…..I prefer ‘Aralia spinosissima’, which is more accurately descriptive, is one of my favorite of  any of  perhaps a hundred or more woody plants I have planted or have allowed to be grown  and nurtured in my landscaped gardened grounds since.

Aralia spinosissima was its name when I first looked up the details of the stranger the day after its arrival.   Even the double compound leaves, each easily three feet long, possess spines.   It produces a large cluster of florets, one to two feet wide at the tops of the foliage (at the twenty foot level)….and is doing so as I write this biography of my “Club of Hercules” as it is romantically called.    These florets, countless in number, open up mid August and mature into berries which become very popular to robins and cedar waxwings in October when they literally  get drunk devouring them in preparation for their journeys southward for winter.

Three or four  years ago we had a winter with very, very little snow cover with temperatures down to minus 20 F….two or three times.    All of my Aralia tree trunks, about six, died to the ground.    This is the first crop of floral clusters, six in number, since that seasonal set back.   They are opening as I write this ‘report’.

I  planted starters in two other locations in my gardened landscape, done before I began to respect  their drive to expand their territories.    Fortunately, their shoots  are easy to pull out the first two years of growth…..Gloves are highly recommended.  You’ll learn why quickly!

In my Twin City metropolitan grounds, these spiny double compound leaves normally all drop within two or three days after the first killing frost.   Aralia spinosa (spinosissima)  sure looks naked and mean in Winter.

May 13, 2016

Spring, Minnesota, 2016

No year is ever a carbon copy of another.   No day in the life of an animal, including the human one, is a “carbon” copy of another.   Life is filled with errors and the unexpected , for WITHOUT ERRORS OF NATURE, LIFE, WHETHER PLANT OR ANIMAL WOULD NEVER CHANGE.

I am in my 80s….. and began landscape gardening in my neighbor’s sandbox about 75 years ago.   I have many memories of my Twin City, Minnesota winters.

Winter is very long in our Northland….It is equal to all other landscape seasons combined….one half of each year.    When I was a child, adults understood that calendar of winter.   Folks lived  as farm families then when  both male and female of the household became fully aware of the demands of the seasons and  that weight of life, living and working outdoors in  the northern winter for survival.

City folk are rarely outdoors until Spring these days.   In today’s suburban Minnesota there are no alleys to garages for parking cars.   Cars, for good or bad,  are now stored ‘in’ the ‘room’  next to or close to the kitchen……where no one is ever ‘inconvenienced’ by having to go into the  out doors to get to work.   Mosquitoes begin to  bite in Minnesota around late May on the average, often ending all or most visits tiptoeing through the tulips and enjoying the  glories of the new season’s  fragrance, growth,  and color.     Yet, how could they come to  know anything about the glories of a northern spring, when only  a shrub or two and  lawn grass are their primary plants of life decorating, allegedly, ideally,   to inspire them to enter their Eden-like  outdoor world?

In my neighborhood nearly half of the Colorado Blue Spruces planted fifty years ago when the houses were built, are more than half dead… No one seems to notice.

I do believe, however, some Twin City folks nevertheless,  have actually   felt something unusual, something special about this Minnesota Spring.

It started early….in March, perhaps even mid February.  It followed a remarkably  comfortable Winter void of minus twenty something Fahrenheit and five feet of snowbanks.   No killer frosts.   No heat waves.  Not this Spring!

Life in 2016 Twin City’s Minnesota has been glorious….at least for those of us who have planted with Spring, by far the most beautiful season of our northern year,   in mind.

This year  nearly every spring plant woody or no, has been more beautiful in sight  and  form, and holding its beauty longer  than ever in memory.   In my own grounds, PJM Rhododendrons both large and dwarf, Redbuds all, Juddii Fragrant Viburnums, my thirty foot tall flowering crabapple, along with all major and minor Dutch bulbs,  perennials Lenten Rose,  colored ajuga foliage,  mats of  fresh  lily of the valley foliage, sedums,  blooms of vinca, pachysandra,  even sweet woodruff in the sun, blood root, corydalis, white  Arabis rock cress, Darmera,  and on and on….all blooming ‘at once and together’….a sight I have never seen in the four decades I have lived and planted here.

Along side such color, so beautiful yet so often unappreciated, even unnoticed  is the new growth popping out along the evergreen branches of the MOST IMPORTANT PLANTS OF THE MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE GARDEN, THE EVERGREEN CONIFERS, even those beauties the conifer  tamarack which are not evergreen.

Normally the bloom beauty of  our PJM Rhododendrons, our azaleas, any flowering plums or crabapples, black locusts, buckeyes,  magnolias or  Juddii Viburnums lasts at most a week….beginning in earnest  around the middle of May, give or take a week one direction or the other.

Our conifers, so seldom planted, so seldom appreciated for their beauty, for their “ever” green nature,  so rarely doctored when diseased, go unnoticed and so,  go unplanted.   Their  2016 spring growth on my grounds, whether spruce, pine, fir, juniper, arborvitae, hemlock, yew, or chamaecyparis, along with the deciduous larch I cherish, began their spring show almost two weeks ago……Their foliar budding increases every day and will continue to do so until the first week in June this year, not the usual  five days to a week of winsome, attractive, fresh  spring beauty of others of the garden, but  SIX WEEKS OF WINSOME, ATTRACTIVE, FRESH SPRING BEAUTY!

Yet, we in gopherland ignore their place in our Earthly garden life, for we don’t pay too much attention to anything  landscape garden beyond lawn and a ‘bush’ or two.

Note to our clients…..Do not forget our client appreciation day at our Masterpiece Landscaping  Home grounds  is Thursday,  May 26  this year.   Be sure to call us at 952-933-5777 in you have any questions….

 

 

April 28, 2016

Chamaecyparis pisifera, Vintage Gold

Filed under: battling the Minnesota climate,shrubs and trees — glenn @ 3:39 pm

One of the finest conifers introduced to the Twin City landscape garden market is Chamaecyparis pisifera, Vintage Gold.     Its advertised form is global, reaching about three feet in height.

A human generation or two ago the only golden foliaged conifers seen on anyone’s grounds,  private or public,  were  dying arborvitaes.   Dying junipers usually chose brown before yellow as their passage to death color.

Chamaecyparis pisifera, King’s Gold is a flimsier, fluffier  foliaged cousin.   It used to be called “Sun Gold” until a decade or so ago.  No matter, its is or roughly is the same plant.  It also is advertised as a global form which reaches four or five feet in height.  I am guessing I have about a half dozen of these somewhere on my grounds already reaching twelve or more feet high.       I have to prune and prune often to maintain  any maximum height of seven feet or less.   I think I have only  two such  globals left due to neglect as well as choice rather than any health problems.

All of these advertised statistics are nonsense.   Chamaecyparis pisifera is a conifer TREE!     I have two  on my grounds planted thirty plus years ago now  both over twenty feet tall.  Beautiful things!!!    That their  name has Sungold or King’s Gold attached to it,  infers that this marketed plant is a selection of the original tree.

Vintage Gold Chamaecyparis is likely to be a more robust fattish brilliant yellow conifer of an Arborvitae look.   On my grounds all three retain their brilliant yellow foliage throughout the winter…..A couple of my Sun-King’s Gold types slide back to green until late February.     I don’t think they are “reliably” hardy in horticultural zone 3….but  it is worth the experiment especially if you plant your  King’s Gold or Vintage protected from winter winds.

(Don’t forget to sign up for our ‘landscape garden classes’ advertised here a few days ago….call 612-919-5300 for more information.)

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