Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

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.

 

September 20, 2016

How Beautiful is the Drive to Your Garage?

BEAUTY AND YOUR GARAGE

So, you’re driving home from work.   Traffic is miserable.  Every day traffic seems to become more consuming of  the world in which  you  live.   Home…..to home,  paradise at last?

What would paradise be….a bath?….a nap?…..playing with ones kids?…..supper?……a beautiful family  living in a beautiful setting,  all of these pleasures at their proper time?

We at Masterpiece Landscaping are in the beautiful-setting business for homes and businesses.   The following drive to home and its garage was designed to inspire the eye and therefore the mind the moment one turns from the public streets of noise and danger.

Peace, peace at last….  color, fragrance, light, temperature, forms, memories, Mother Earth,  replace the time and tension and the angst of driving home.

Home, home at last for the  folks living  in the St. Paul garden picture below, who have worked with us at Masterpiece over the past several years.

 

 

Ideally, the  landscape gardening is supposed to be, according to history whether East or West, the most favored art form known to mankind, an art for  the eye and mind what Beethovens’ adagios are for the ear and soul.

Eternal Paradise according to nearly every major religion of history is  a Landscape Garden, not a symphony or opera, no matter how beautiful and inspirational its music, however.   It is life ALIVE for the pleasure of the thinking  animal to feel closest to God while on Earth.

For several generations,  causing beauty has  disappeared from the American   mind and soul.   Causing beauty for the eye and ear are TRICKS OF A TRADE,  tricks no longer professed at school and university, where we are programmed to believe beauty is dangerous.   If something is deemed beautiful automatically deems something less beautiful, therefore causing jealousy in the world.

For those of you interested in creating or  restoring beauty to your home or business grounds, call us at 952-933-5777!

 

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2016

Why Do Metropolitcan Politicians, Bureaucrats Make Community Streets So Ugly?

My parents bought the house in which  I was raised in 1936 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It was newly built on a “vacant”  lot of  the more prairie edges  of  the city south of Randolph, west of Fairview down to the Mississippi River itself.  “Civilized” American urban areas were developed post Civil War with the arrival  of European immigrants for the next forty years or so.   Scandinavians, Germans, and Czech went rural.  Slavs, Italians went Iron Range….East Coast  AngloAmericans were moving westward to plot urban  matters that counted as well as farm.

Suburbia occurred after World War II.    My neighborhood was ‘urbia’ from its beginning;  straight streets, mostly one-story houses, small lots, 45′ wide  by  90′ depth with alleys in the back of the house  leading to one-car garages all arising from plowed fields.

Then, as in so many communities today, the city  demanded, as so many suburban communities command  today, the rights to line these streets up with ‘shade’ trees of their dictate.   In our neighborhood the tree of worship then was Slippery Elm.    City folk needed shade whether they liked it or not.

Foundation plantings were the decorations the home owner would determine and it became a godlike worship that a maple tree should be planted in the middle of the front yard of lawn,  whether needed or not.    That Slippery or American  Elms, Sugar or Silver Maples being planted streetside by bureaucrats reach ninety feet  in height eventually, never seemed to cross anyone’s mind.    It would take more than  generation or two for  humans to discover their downside….their  size, overbearing shade, leaf tonnage, root conquerings,  weedy seedlings, their effect controlling and even destroying the  visual environment of the community.  But, they were cheap and grew rapidly….and no one dared to complain about their intrusions.   Eventually there came shade, whether needed, wanted  or not….and storms.

Green ash lollipops and all of their seedlings, became popular during the early stages of suburban sprawl.

Recently, city and suburban human  figures dictating urban plant disorientation today have found a special way to spread ugliness along streetsides….along Mississippi River Boulevard in today’s St. Paul, for instance….They ‘decorate’ new boulevard tree plantings with large  green plastic sacs attached to each  tree assuming, I am assuming, that no one will notice how ugly these ‘garbage’ sacks really are.

“Beauty” has long disappeared from the American art vocabulary, for according to current ‘intellectual’  talk,  things have a right to be or made to be ugly.   Besides, “Beauty” in the landscape takes too much time and knowledge to know the tricks of the trade.   There are only so many notes in music to play with….millions of notes to play with in the plant world.   Today’s American-made ‘music’ is supreme in its ugliness.  Why should our  landscapes have to  be the same?

Because  beauty to the eye and the ear,  when it  reaches the mind,   inspires, uplifts  the human soul.   The more one lives in  beautiful  surroundings, the more inspired and curious one becomes about beauty itself.  The more beautiful the neighborhoods become.

It is not the job of  bureaucrats to sell ‘beauty’, something they know nothing about.  Why, then, are they permitted to curse your ‘yard’ and the yards all around you by lining up the tree of their  day up and down your residential streets unless they add beauty to citizen life?

 

August 25, 2016

WHAT, on Earth, IS A WEED?

Yes, what on Earth,IS a weed!

Our governments and other fanatics who choose to  dictate human thoughts and moods these days, insist weeds are plant-like  things they’ve been programmed  to dislike in order to feel good.    These ‘dictate’ people are  indoor people…office people…..downtown people, usually government people  who live amid cement and asphalt.   If these people  are third or more generation Americans,  their grandparents were raised on a farm, not the street…..but they are all  dead…so yesterday with yesterday’s habits.

If they were raised on a farm in our Minnesota, they would have  known the differences between a potato and a tomato, wheat from corn, a pine from a spruce, a marigold  from a rose.   They would have lived in some kind of house, a house of their own.  They would have maintained a flower and shrub garden, a demand of the lady of that house….Paradise, after all, was a GARDEN with family.

In my own lifetime the majority of Minnesotans worked the soil.   They knew what a weed was, and if they were still alive, what a weed is today…..an irritating, disgusting…..but merely….

“A PLANT OUT OF PLACE”…..the ONLY accurate definition!

Recently in Minnesota  downtown people, those cement and concrete people have declared war on certain plants they have  declared weeds which at one time gave    gardeners  interest….the perennial, Lythrum, often called purple loosestrife,  and an understory tree,  Common Buckthorn, both arriving from their native Europe.

One of my most cherished trees in my home landscape garden is a Common Buckthorn, even  the fernleaf kind banned in Minnesota by the cement and concrete downtown people.    Purple loosestrife discovered my property about thirty years ago and I have allowed it to remain rent free along a pond front ever since.   It struggled for survival for a few years.  I was told the city had  air sprayed an herbicide along with its mosquito control program one spring.

Let us not forget, all of you  rare gardeners and  millions of non-gardeners of cement and concrete life, many many plants are ‘weedy’.   It’s in their genetic material.   The most popular of all, at least the best known, is  the garden plant  cherished especially   by government folks at all levels,  LAWN GRASS.

(It’s a plant easy to understand, requiring nearly no thought at all to maintain.     It needs light, topsoil, and Nitrogen for a good life and expands where ever Earth gives it its space.    To look its human best and is often walked on,  it needs to be mowed at least four times a month during the growing season…about the only need requiring thought beyond worrying about the mowing machine.

In the art world of  music,  lawn would be the eternal monotone, that single noise which in its landscape conquers the eye sans any and all interruption by something different and/or  beautiful…..very akin to  modern life, don’t you agree?)

I am a child of  the Garden of Eden people, and admit the  blessings taught by my elders….That is, I was born into a neighborhood which taught  the most beautiful, most perfect place in human existence is a garden….a Garden of Eden…

(Then, listening to Beethoven was deemed  runner-up…..but the two, Garden and Beethoven blending  together equals three in the math of beauty and  imagination  allowed the human being.

 

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.

May 2, 2016

The Spring Landscape Garden is the Most Beautiful

The vast majority of urban and suburban  home owners and others who visit the outdoors rather often,  are not particularly interested in beautiful landscape gardens.    Such gardens  are too rare   to be found.  If ever found, they are usually limited to the back ‘yard’.

Not that there might not be well manicured grounds, well mowed lawns, a healthy tree or two implying a degree of neatness and care somewhere.    But where are the  beautiful spring blooms, the spectacular opening buds on so many of the conifers, the very purpose of  nature’s Spring?      Annabelle hydrangeas don’t bloom for another month or two.    Hostas ringing around tree stumps appear artificial and silly….and the foliage will reach full strength and health in a couple weeks yet…until the slugs get to them.   And yes, there might be  a   Rhododendron and Magnolia blooming in the naked occasionally  somewhere in a square mile or two…..but where is the landscape gardened grounds of inspiration?

In the neighborhood where I live more than half of blue spruce trees over fifteen years old are already more than 50% dead.  Ash trees are all over the place whether wanted,  needed or not.   The positioning of other woody materials, whether needed or not,  occur by habit along the front foundation, whether attractive nor not.    Lawns, lots of them,  are mowed.    A shrub or two appear  somewhere.   But, there is little, if any, harmony anywhere on the home grounds.    Crabapples  do appear in the front of  some suburban homes occasionally, but live  unpruned, therefore return to  their natural ugly selves every   Autumn and Winter at leaf fall.

All of the conifers, if there are any planted at all,  are called either ‘evergreens’ or pine.   Few are ever pruned to beauty, for almost no one knows how to prune them to add to their beauty.    Their beautiful leaf buds are opening now and will continue to be displayed until  early June.

In the suburbs, many homes have garages attached to the house itself as a ‘convenience’  making it possible for folks to go to and come from work without ever  having to worry about visiting the   outdoors.   Perhaps fewer than  one in fifty homeowners  know the names of  any  woody plants planted on  their grounds and fewer would know why they were  planted there in the first place.   Identifying perennials might be limited to two species.

We at Masterpiece years ago offered  Spring landscape  garden tours of exceptional Twin City settings, but folks weren’t interested.  Garden tours, by habit in towns and cities  for more than a century have  occured  the first two weeks in July or so when  lady garden club members could show off their  flower gardens in best bloom.     Such gardened grounds are often exquisitely colorful for a week or two  as a flower garden, but  NOT a landscape garden setting where the home grounds are beautiful to come home to, live within, and enjoy whether visiting and  ‘sculpting’ or  looking out each window admiring the setting.

Beginning this Saturday, May 7, we at Masterpiece are offering a series of classes to learn more about landscape gardening in the home grounds.   Please call 612-919-5300 for further information.   Be sure to look at a blog earlier this week for more details……

 

April 19, 2016

There is No Life Without Decay

Every year more and more Americans live and work indoors.   Every year more and more Americans know more nothing about their outdoors  where they live.

I was lucky being born 82 years ago.   I was raised in the city, in a house on a ninety by forty-five foot lot taught to know the outdoors, both at home and at school.  It was in first grade before World War II when  I was first forced to collect tree leaves so I could identify these living outdoor  things, both the small and the massive.   Everyone in the neighborhood had gardens for both flower and food.   No one sweated guilt  about growing  things  organic or inorganic.   It was in the garden where ones  grass clippings went.  There were no noises coming from the gardened grounds in those days.   Things were done by thought, hand, and back, not motors.

For the past forty two years I have lived in suburbia.   Lawns are in, and with some messy exceptions, they are well taken care of.    The same Annabelle Hydrangeas planted  sixty years  ago when this community was built are still growing seven or eight in a row as a hedge between lots.   Most of the originally planted  Blue Colorado Spruce, all sixty feet plus of them, are sickly…. 75% of their foliage dead, but no one looks skyward.     Green Ash cultivars and Silver Maples  were popular and cheap then…..$5 a tree , so became choice for shade and are still alive.     Many are a mess in their old age…..tree trimming isn’t free.

City folk aren’t very religious anymore about the spiritual.   But many are told to  believe in the spirit of things Organic, as if  Organic  is the new god for  modern American better  being.

Knowing by lack of  practice,  nothing about outdoor plant life, they are fully willing to pay higher prices for edibles called  “Organic”, for government and its university city folk  feel it more godly if they   program their public  to believe an ‘organic’ banana is better  by taste and moral  goodness of chemistry than a banana without the benefits of  ‘organic’  title.   The poor banana, whether organic or not, is the same banana when eaten  whether the consumer pays more for it or not.

However, ‘organic’ does mean something in the garden.   Whether a blade of grass, a petunia petal, and oak tree or a dog, you or me we pass through our  paths of decay  from life to abet other life .  Things “organic” were once living things bearing ‘organs’ of sorts which made things, units,  living.   Life matter  is God’s gift of  recycling, the give and take of once living matter from the dead to the living.

EVERY THINKING GARDENER EVENTUALLY COMES TO DISCOVER THE FULL MEANING OF ‘LIFE ETERNAL’.    THERE IS NO LIFE WITHOUT DECAY!

For years and years since the 1970s, a foot or so  of  top soil was removed from probably the majority of lots where homes and business buildings were built in suburbia.  House building was financially a  risky business.  Since lawn was the human habit of  vegetative ‘life’ where living,  suburban or city, top soil  depth wasn’t needed to help it’s green color remain green during the growing season.   Lawn  needs a pinch of soil,  nitrogen and watering.    The subsoil, rock, stone outcrop, clay, gray, tan  clay with stone, stone pressed with gray, tan clay remained so dense  underneath this ‘pinch’, most  rainwater ran off  looking for the nearest sewers.

Autumn leaves nearly everywhere in suburbia, even where there is plenty of space on the homeowners’ property  for recycling this magnificent organic stuff  necessary for the betterment of living matter,   are bagged up and hauled off.     Ninety per cent of living leaf matter is water.    Decay needs water for decay….for a pile of decaying leaf matter or any other matter once living,  is loaded with elements required for things  living.   Without decay, remember, there is no life as we know life.

Autumn leaves with moisture regularly provided is one of the better ‘mulches’ used to keep weed seeds from sprouting all garden season long.   A mulch better for soil improvement can be made by chopping up  leaves and small branchlets to hasten plant decay and quicker release of nutrients available for plant life…..Remember also, that any  mulch factory creating decay needs ‘fuel’, to energize its power to decay and release its own elements for living plant use as well.

Simply add a touch  of Nitrogen to your outdoor perennial world  once in awhile along with weekly watering, your  plant world, especially  your shrubs and smaller sized trees will  respond beautifully.

If your lawn is ‘everything’ on the grounds where you live, couldn’t you take a first step to contour a ridge somewhere where a handful of shrubs, especially evergreens, can grow….where you can recycle your own autumn leaf  ‘waste’  from whose ever trees covering your lawn.   If you have the spiritual urge to do so, but not the experience or time, give us at Masterpiece Landscaping a call at 952-933-5777 a call.

 

 

 

April 7, 2016

“Whither Goest Thine Eye?”……(with your landscape in mind)

Whether one lives in the woods, in suburbia, the city with “a yard” or on the 24th floor of some structure, most of us have two eyes which help lead us on our path from birth “to dusty death” as Shakespeare described the end for some.

Our eyes  absorb things ugly and things of beauty.   What the eye absorbs usually becomes  habit forming.    Our todays are not carbon copies of yesterdays personally, collectively, and morally.   So, who are we today….from the view of the author of this ‘note’ crowding in on his 82nd birthday?

Beauty is far less cherished today than yesterday’s yesterdays.   The human animal is no longer  surrounded by  cause for beauty as an expression in life to uplift one’s soul.    If something is beautiful, it means something is LESS beautiful, therefore causing discomfort, sorrow,  despair and jealousy for  the ‘victims’.   Therefore, in today’s  America it is better NOT to have “SOUL”….so all of us can feel ‘equal’…….

Today in our ‘cultural’ year 2016, NONE  of our artistic expressions including the art of landscape gardening, are focused upon creating beauty.    Nearly all ‘professionally’ are products of  our America’s departments of  “ART” where university bureaucrats preach the pictures, forms, and politics of their day.

Things beautiful were “forever”  created by the human male animal…..whether in old China, old Europe, Old Amazon territory, in ‘barbaric’ Vikingland, or the Easter Islands.   It is in the human male animal DNA to roam, explore, defend, build, protect, be curious, be industrious, to invent, to paint, sculpt, landscape,  from his genetic material driving him to produce comfort, health, and beauty for his mate and off spring.  It has been the human male animal’s DNA in his Nature, the  God-given drive to survive,  which has driven the world until the arrival of today’s politically, sexually  “remodeled”  western institutions where FEELINGS  now replace LEARNINGS.

I was in first grade a couple of years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.   My teacher’s name was Florence Ray…a tall beautiful woman,  but no relation to my family.   Although I lived in the city, St. Paul, Minnesota, knowing the outdoors was considered very important in the learning world of the  day.   So was classical music and  some kind of introduction to beautiful literature, paintings, sculpture, and the appropriate  placement of words whenever such words were needed.  (Swearing  in public whether on the street,  at home, or in school, did not occur.   People then  were churched to feel ugly whenever  performing the ugly and  to believe a price would be paid for selling or acting out the ugly.)

It was in first grade I first received classroom instructions to collect tree leaves for identification. I learned what a conifer was.     It was then I  discovered perennials “Obedience”, “Bleeding Heart”, “Peonies”,  and  biennials – annuals;   “Evening primrose “,  “4 O’Clocks”,  Hesperus, “Petunias, Marigolds, and shrub roses, Pfitzer junipers, and Bridal wreath Spiraea.   The following year I fell into “paradise in exile”, when it became my responsibility to have ‘sole’ as well as “soul”  care for  a double empty lot -sized Victory Garden across our alley.   “I” grew and maintained nearly every kitchen vegetable you could name….even okra.   Digging by hand  for potato tubers made me feel  like digging for gold.

I even learned to dive bomb the potato beetles as I plucked them off leaves  and smushed them by hand.  It was world war time, remember.   I was pretending to aid the war effort.   I also knew exactly where tomatoes came from…for there were very few super markets in those days.

I wonder how many households today include children.  I wonder how many of the households who do have children, bother to teach the young what I was taught about the outdoors  by setting examples   exploiting their home grounds to become a teaching “room” for discovering beauty of the landscape garden.    I wonder how many households of people who pay taxes for the grounds they occupy  yearn to enter the outdoors for the beauty it offers the eye, mind, and soul of anyone who enters it.

Landscape gardening, in the ideal, is supposed to be a visual  art form to inspire all who enter.  It should be to the eye, what Beethoven’s adagios are for the ear…..to help you,  for a moment or several ,  enter some place special to escape the outside day, and discover beauty over which you have a piece of control.

If  you have  interest in becoming acquainted with creating   garden “pictures” such as those I have written above…….please give us at Masterpiece Landscaping  a call at 952-933-5777,  for an evaluation of your home or business grounds, and the means to introduce a touch of paradise  for your being or, and the essentials regarding how to care for it.

Some things are simply  more beautiful than others…..with reasons too many to describe or even know.   However there are some ‘rules’ many of which are vital in creating the visually spectacular or quiet.   “Tricks of the trade”, we at Masterpiece call them.     Beethoven’s adagios were no bought!   They came from a human brain led to by the ear,  knowledge, and experience  of his day.

On the front page entry to  this website you will find a series of pictures, nearly 100, of various settings we have created for clients.   Not all of them are of equal beauty.   Beauty in our business relies primarily on space available, choice of material,   maintenance,  and a  location based upon controlling what the eye should see from primary, secondary and so on, settings.     As you view the settings,  ‘grade’ the beauty  of the picture….and then, far more importantly,  determine by language why it is more or less beautiful than another.

 

 

January 13, 2016

Landscaped Gardening is Supposed to be an ART FORM

The human genesis  on the Earth of  our day  originally  ‘arrived’ from a garden in our wonderful JudeoChristian religious teachings;  from  the  jungle in the more accurate scientific  vernacular.    This  we do know from the messages provided by genetics, geology, etc,etc.     It is amazing how accurately  the first chapters so artistically written in English of the King James Version of the JudeoChristian Bible fit the scientific understandings.

There are many kinds of gardens….vegetable, flower, shrub,  beer, and countless  spreads  called   Landscaped Gardens to decorate something or another living or  man made….in which vegetation is the primary tool.

The ideal Landscaped Garden is a garden  which inspires the visitor,  suggesting  to the visitor the trials of life beyond its entry will become happily  forgotten when visited.

The origin of its most successful  plan arises from ones soul….Does anyone these days  remember  what ‘soul’ means?

Among the ugliest  such  Gardens, are those  ‘designed’, planted,  and/or  ‘maintained’, by  government and its universities,  projects designed, planted  without soul, without beauty.

“Beauty” in  these days of irreligiosity,  is  programmed  to be a religious word, an insulting word in the lands of political correctness.  “If something is beautiful, it is suggested,  something else is either less beautiful, or perhaps even ugly”  which may, will destroy ones building of  self esteem or at least, cause bad feelings.

Some Landscaped gardens are just more beautiful than others…and for many reasons….design, maintenance, fragrance, color, mood, harmony, size, textural  relationships……all the result of the Landscaped Garden artist’s control of where visitors’  eyes (especially the artist’s)  should travel, and when they  concentrate with the countless  arrangements of plants and their features.

Below is a listing of some words a beginning landscape garden artist-to-be might practice imagining how each might be applied when plotting to create  this most popular visual art form of them all.

Color, shape, height, width, depth,  privacy, focus,  line, texture, pattern, number, weight, repetition, harmony, rhythm, shadow, space, contrast, movement, spread, memory, feel, quietude,  lure….and so on…..I list as a few.

July 22, 2015

When Should the Ideal Landscape Garden be at its Best?

When, at what season, does, should,  your landscape garden radiate its most inspiring  beauty?

The answer is simple……Whenever you enter your Garden of Eden.

I have lived at my grounds for over 40 years, long enough to be able to do,  genetically, mentally, physically, and culturally, what I was driven to do, planting and maintaining a beautiful  landscape garden  in some form or another.

I have been very, very fortunate in life, and have many other interests to know and worry about, such as the survival of civilized, JudeoChristian principles, understandings and responsibilities in our hostile world.

I began landscape gardening when I was about four years old. I remember the first move. I was playing in my neighbor boy’s sand box, an exercise which never lured him to experience, so I had his sandbox world to myself. It was in a space far enough away from my Mother to be free, relaxed, and creative. I was born a dreamer, and probably a loner. I was born to be happy and to be happiest outdoors deeply entrenched among beautiful scenery. I have always felt blessed possessing this wonderful escape from reality……and, without knowing it while early in aging playing in that sandbox, I have been directed by the drive my entire life since.

No art form can be as inspiring to pursue than the art of  making and maintaining  not merely colorful gardens, but  beautiful scenery.

I have loved the Earth as long as I can remember…..since drawing maps from atlases or tracing them against windows since before kindergarten. I placed the world at my finger tips.

I have also discovered by now in my eighth decade of life, supplied by years of teaching professionally, the male human eye is genetically made to be quite different from the eye of the human female ……and made to be especially keen in the out-of-doors. Honest females notice the difference. They were not stirred by endless thousands of years of genetic material development programmed to be defenders, protectors, hunters ‘of the clan’, and aggressors to hunt, invent, and collect whatever needed to continue life as a species. The human male was/is born genetically curious.

We do know the human female prefers color to form. This ‘law’ of human life is especially true in the landscape garden world.

I spent fourteen years of my professional life as Executive Secretary of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society when it used to be a semi-State agency providing horticultural knowledge to our north land, Minnesota, owning a climate quite different from the big population sections of the country itself. I traveled the State three or four time every year for the Society, organized in 1866, and chapters were established in each of the states’ Congressional Districts. It was through the Minnesota State Horticultural Society that the popular Minnesota Landscape Arboretum came into being. The institution no longer exists as a state serving agency.

I was four years old when the spark of landscape-garden life entered my soul and began its control of my private time. My sister was in kindergarten as I would be the following year. I was alone at home, alone, at last…..with the exception of my Germanic mother, a devoted traditional gal-gardener in her own right. Flower gardening was the only world I ever saw her profoundly at peace at work, content with life, enjoying every moment of it as she maneuvered her annuals and perennials to satisfy her eye for making beauty.

We bonded in many ways, most of them having something to do with landscape gardening.

She loved picture puzzles….but ONLY the ones with colored pictures of beautiful landscape gardens with more than a thousand pieces so she wouldn’t become too bored too soon putting it all together. My Dad worked at his drug store all of the time; my sister played paper dolls and dolls in her bedroom. I was the only person aloud to touch Mother’s puzzle, for she was impatient for the finish. Being a boy, I saw the pieces better, quicker than she. She recognized and respected that. Although competitive, it didn’t bother her in the least for she had to perform all of the domestic duties of the day and work at Dad’s drug store part time, as well. She loved being with me as her puzzle worker partner.

By Spring 1942 there was the matter of the War. Dad, too old to serve and working 70 plus hours a week at his drug store, had been raised on a farm near Hope, North Dakota, and so, patriotically agreed to sign-up to be in charge of a Victory Garden at the three empty lots across the alley behind our house. The city would plow the space and provide seed packets for free if he would agree to plant and maintain a Victory Garden in that space for our harvest but share the larger harvest among neighbors.

Neither he, nor Mother had time for farm-life extras even for the war effort beyond Mom’s canning. It also turned out that she had a rather serious allergy to certain bee stings. So, at age 7, guess who, as a habitual rite of punishment, was ordered to plant this, hoe that, pick beetles here, stir the crows there, harvest everything hither and thither here, there, and everywhere in that garden all by myself? How could I have become so lucky to suddenly be drawn into paradise on Earth where there were no limits to a boy’s imagination and play…..especially during war time!

Canning vegetables, however, was another area of deep bonding with the lady of our house….Although Mother wouldn’t allow anyone to disturb her own flower garden, because of her allergy, she didn’t dare a chance to even enter the Victory Garden.

I became manager, laborer, and play maker at the same time. I especially liked dive bombing potato beetles.

I loved every bit of it, but at a cost. I became devious. I was smart enough to pretend the punishment being sent to the victory garden was too severe for an innocent young lad of seven, eight, and nine, to endure. I knew Mother would send me on assignment there ever more often. That garden became my personal world. I had every garden duty there, I seeded, weeded, cultivated, harvested throughout the war years until Spring, 1946. It’s where we boys played hunting Nazis among the corn stocks in the Fall and dive bombed Nazi installations (the snow forts we had built for that very purpose) in the Winter, all for the war effort, of course.

The first ten years of living here in my eventual landscape garden paradise, I maintained an eighty by thirty foot vegetable garden to make certain none of my three kids would fail to know where tomatoes and such came from. The two boys paid attention. Our daughter did not. I was never German enough to maintain a perfectly well-manicured vegetable garden, but always have been jealous of those who do…..for such settings, too, can be made lovely as well as orderly.

With all of this background programming me to become a captive of landscape garden beauty, nothing matches the following domestic experience causing the final blow.

I was raised in a small five-room bungalow, as it was then called, built and moved into by our family in 1936, then a newly settled section of St. Paul, Minnesota. At the vestibule at the front door was a wall empty of everything except for a framed picture placed at the six foot level by my Mother, a picture two feet by one and a half foot. It was the wall in which I spent countless standing hours of my life from age four to ten most often during winter or whenever Mother was in the mood to silence me. This wall is where I contemplated about life, war, and the world. For it was there I stood in punishment, almost always for disturbing Mother by asking too many questions while she desperately wanted to listen to classical music over the static from our floor radio console…..especially when she wanted to hear Handel’s Messiah during Christmas or Easter from Chicago or anything Johann Strauss at anytime.

She’d warn me every time…”Glenn Ray, if you ask me one more question, you’re going to the Wall…..Do you hear me? Do you understand what I am saying?”

“Yes, Mother”, but sooner rather than later, I’d forget. I had too many questions to ask, answers to know, too many worlds to conquer. Whether in seconds, minutes, or hours, I’d be right at her apron asking more questions.

The punishment was very German. I’d have to stand there for one hour…..that’s sixty minutes, not fifty nine or sixty one….but sixty minutes. Mother was very precise when at her best which was usually always. That ‘best’ included destroying my ability to pout about any punishment. I could never get even with her with sulky, pouty, disagreeable looks, slouches, or displaying other attitudes. She’d pick up even the slightest sulk I come up with….I tried that trick only once….that old trick kids can pull in retaliation to make adults, mostly moms feel bad. It almost worked for my buddies when they tried sulking to their moms. But my mom’s memory was as sharp and German as everything else she did. She gave me the one hundred and twenty minute standing time the one time I dared to practice my frown trying to make her feel bad.

Let’s look at that lone picture hanging at the punishment wall I was forced to stare at all those years. Even though I was born horribly dyslexic, unable to read much beyond but atlases, encyclopedias, and news article throughout my life, somewhere along the line of these punishments, most likely when I was seven, I spied R. ATKINSON FOX, written, nestled into the lower right hand corner of a “painting” of an idealized, landscape garden setting. I didn’t know what R. Atkinson Fox meant then, but my eyes had recorded it. I inherited the picture about twenty five years ago and immediately placed it at the six foot level in my bedroom. Eventually, I remembered standing after standing, hour upon hour, with nothing to do but look at this this one picture, primarily as a result of my own Mother’s drive to listen to Handel, Strauss, and Beethoven, et alia in the background without any interference beyond radio static while she was doing her home chores and enjoyments before going to work in the afternoon.

When I was five years old and attending afternoon kindergarten and my sister was in the first grade, after an hour ‘at the wall’ and already well trained at looking up to the six foot level where the landscape picture had already so commanded my eyes and thinking, I began wondering about a line of trees along the left border of the picture-painting. I already knew what hollyhocks, delphinium, and peonies were. Both Mother and Mrs. Rowell our wonderful neighbor next door, grew them in their gardens. Both had told me their names, for I wanted to know.

Once while standing below the picture perhaps at the 44th minute mark of my punishment, I thought the tree of the lineup looked a lot like the tree growing in Mrs. Rowell’s front yard, a tall skinny one. I can see myself this very moment leaving the wall and its picture precisely at the hour mark going out our back door across the lawn to Mrs. Rowell’s back door….(In those days in St. Paul neighborhoods, all children unescorted by adults visited neighbors at the back door only. Front doors were reserved for adults.)

“Mrs. Rowell…..what’s the name of the tree you have growing in your front yard?”

“Why, Glenn, it’s a Lombardy Poplar.” she replied. “Thank you” and I turned around to go back home…..but Mrs. Rowell called out, “Just a moment, Glenn. Why ever did you ask me?”

“I just wanted to know”……which has been one of the best blessed gifts of my life…..a trait I inherited from my Mother, but a trait she was too busy to handle from some offspring in her family. Mrs. Rowell hired me when I was about ten to help her arrange her perennial garden.

It was the sand box by the alley at Mrs. Rowell’s where I first began learning the art of landscape gardening. In 1939 I got a set of Tootsie-Toy cars for Christmas from my favorite uncle. These were miniature ‘replicas’ of real cars of the day. I remember a Buick and a Mercury as my favorites. They all were about three inches long and appeared very real. I needed foliage to make my streets and country road believably tree-lined. One elm leaf was longer than a single Tootsie-Toy car. So, I bit a piece off of a conifer, a pyramidal arborvitae, which had dark evergreen foliage about the proper size relative to a Tootsie-Toy car to make it look like a street tree….and eventually a couple of park trees where my city parks would be built in the sand.

At age 13, although heavily secreted from any of my friends, I was still designing streets and gardens in this same sandbox. One day an angry Mother called from our back door while I was designing at the sand box……”Glenn Ray, you’re too old to be playing in a sand box!”

I shouted back, “I’m not playing in a sand box. I’m making SCENERY!”……..but the dagger hit me hard. I swiped at the streets I had designed, collected all of my blocks, the houses and skyscrapers I had built and gardens I had arranged with petals, florets, and conifer cuttings I had used to imitate and idealize reality, and never returned to “play” in the sand. Mom was right. I was afraid my friends might find me playing landscaping in the sandbox…..I WAS too old….and yet, here I am almost 81 and have been playing the same visual art game for a living for more than half my life. What did I ever do to be so fortunate?

How beautiful is the scenery where you reside?

 

 

 

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