Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

July 23, 2017

Knowing, Remembering Names of Woody Plants

I knew what an elm was before I entered kindergarten.   Actually I already  knew of two ‘kinds’ (species) of elm, the Slippery and the White Elm.  The city of St. Paul planted a Slippery Elm about every 50 feet along the boulevard space adjacent to the street on the block  where we lived.

A White Elm, far more mature and  planted by Nature, was growing across the alley behind our house.  Its  leaves appeared very similar to the Slippery.  However one species  developed   very rough texture to the surface of its leaves,  the other  looked  very smooth, even sleek although they looked very much the same.  Guess which elm bore the ‘slippery’ name?

You’re right….the one with the rough surfaced leaves.

When a very young child I was  taught  that:           “God created the Heaven and the Earth…..and the Earth was without form.  Darkness was on the face of the deep.   And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters……And God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light…….And the evening and the morning were the first day……and God said, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear’:  and it was so.    And God said, ‘Let the Earth bring grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the Earth’: and it was so…….And the Lord planted a Garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed…..And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food;  the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil”.

Paradise was a garden, an ideal, a place of perfection and beauty without want and evil.

The above is what I was taught from the very beginning of my memory.   And there was more than this King James Bible declaration that had captured my attention throughout my life to the rule  that one is closest to God in the Garden.

I had terrible dyslexia as a kid….years before dyslexia was ‘born’.  I was a terrible reader from the very beginning of my school life.   I couldn’t read, that is see words  that others….mostly girls….could so easily see….letters making words, words making sentences.  Instead I photographed what I saw in pictures….not words.   To this day at almost 83, I am still a laborious reader.   Instead, unbeknownst to me until very late in life,  I learned ‘stuff’ by auto-memorizing  pictures…. maps, faces,  pictures,  photos, paintings, settings, gardens.   Enter the story of my life regarding the famous Canadian ‘painter’, R. Atkinson Fox.

I am four and a half years old in 1938.  I was left at home alone with Hilma, my Mother.   My sister was off to kindergarten every school day  morning, a year ahead of me.   Hilma, my intelligent, very driven, gifted  Germanic Mother  graduated formal schooling to conquer the world  when she was 13..  She adored classical music….especially Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, anything  Johann Strauss Jr, bits and pieces, here and there,  including Appalachian Spring, and the great  arias from classical opera.

She wanted to be the best.  She competed in ice skating and ball room dancing, the latter where and when she met my Dad and entered the 1920s ball room dancing competitions in St. Paul with him as her partner.   She knitted, sewed, she cooked, she baked and canned, gardened and worked away  part time late afternoons.   We needed the extra money….especially after the war broke out.

At ten o’clock five days a week Mother listened  to classical music from Chicago come hell or high water, as they used to say then.   Remember, these are radio days, 1938 on.   Then,  anything waffing into ones ear from a Chicago station during daytime in the Twin Cities and not carried locally  would be met with static….lots of it if the weather didn’t behave.

There was another irritation the poor woman had to endure besides radio static from Chicago….From age four on,  when my sister was off to school, I’d be  asking  my Mother a hundred questions per half hour (her statistics, but I’m sure she was right…..and then finally she rebels….”If you ask me one more  question, you’re going to the wall.   Do you hear me?”

I wanted to know the Why and What she was doing as well as what the world was about.  She was always so  busy, up to something interesting. I wanted to know, too.    At ten AM when it was time for classical music from Chicago, static and all,  I’d forget to stop asking….especially with my sister away at school during the ten o’clock morning hour.

So I’d get the wall….standing, looking at the wall for ONE HOUR….not fifty nine or sixty two  minutes, every time except once….when I pouted purposely trying  to make her feel bad…..I was there for two hours.  It became routine.  She learned to put me to the wall for an hour.   I learned to be at the wall for an hour nearly every work day at 10AM….for I’d forget, for I was programmed to ask questions.

The wall, just inside the front door,  was plastered.  Our  little house, a five room bungalow, was only two years old.   The wall smelled new and clean.

At about  the six-foot mark above me ,  there hung  a picture, a very pretty picture roughly 3′ wide by 2′.  In the lower left had corner was written  “R. Atkinson Fox”, the first reading I remember undertaking at age  4 and a half that year of ten o’clock punishment….leading to the following one morning when my sister was still at school in kindergarten.

It’s ten o’clock AM.  It’s Beethoven and Strauss  on radio time.   There I was well into my punishment at the wall…..tenth time by now maybe.  But it was no longer punishment.    I had already been captured by the color of this beautiful garden.  I had already recognized the hollyhocks and peonies early on in my sentencing.  Mom grew them at home.   I’d help her plant and weed.  I especially like planting tulip and daffodil  bulbs.   She made me know all the names of her favorite plantings.  “Bleeding Hearts” were exceptional.   She never argued or seemed cross while in her garden.

The day I remember so well is when I noticed in this “R. Atkinson Fox” picture painting the trees in the upper left background of the garden looked a lot like my neighbor  Mrs. Rowell’s, tree at the East corner of her house…a very narrow  upright proud looking ‘deciduous’ tree….the ones without needles I had been told.

“I wonder what its name is.  I’ll have to ask Mrs. Rowell.”

That very minute my punishment hour was up,  I ran out the back door over to Mrs. Rowell’s house.  I rang the back door bell…(Front doors were limited to grown ups in those days.)……my very first at the Rowell house.

“Why, Glenn, whatever are you doing here?” she asked so sweetly.

“Mrs. Rowell, what’s the name of that tree you have out front by your house?”

“Why, Glenn.   That’s a “Lombardy Poplar”.  Why are you asking?”

“Thank you, Mrs. Rowell.   I just wanted to know.”   By the end of the month I knew the names of most of the trees of the neighborhood including the conifers.   I was a boy.  I just  wanted to know.

I am looking forward to hosting you members of  the Wisconsin State Hardy Plant Society at my landscape garden this coming Saturday.

“One is closest to God in the Garden” is  an ancient  Chinese  adage I learned as Truth by the time I was ten.   I was so lucky as a child to have had to listen to Beethoven, the classical opera arias, Strauss waltzes, Appalachian Spring,  Wagner,  Puccini  and such at that wall listening “in blessed  silence”, yet occasionally with static,  along with  my own Mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 7, 2017

What exactly is a weed in the Northern garden? Astilbe chinensis?

Filed under: garden seasons,perennials,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 10:16 pm

It is likely the vast  majority of the today’s American population under age 40 have no idea what a weed is beyond an old fashioned word for marijuana…..the stuff of real value among our today’s American youth from homes without fathers.

Gifted humans, the ones lucky enough  who still ‘toil’ the soil in some manner or another, know that  to an experienced gardener, a WEED, is a plant out of place….end of story!

One of the weediest plants in my own gardened grounds is the aggressive  Astilbe chinensis of all shapes and sizes.   But “weediest” has nothing to do with the word “weedy” for neither are a weed if they are not unwanted.

Even in our TwinCity Minnesota area, Astilbe chinensis regardless of  all its salesmanship ‘nicknames’ likes to live and expand its realm where lawn grasses and soillessness are not a problem.   The first named one I remember planting was “Purple Cats”….a three footer or more whose flower spikes were strikingly purple.  That occurred  around 35 years ago.  It is still happy and still bears  a beautiful cluster of purple spikes starting again this coming week.  It  commands  the same  square foot of territory where it has bloomed every year since the day I planted it.  Strong stems and winsome foliage  add to its value.   It is more beautiful the bigger its crowd.

This Astilbe chinensis “Purple Cats” has also expanded its realm as well.   It might now own about fifty square feet of floral display beginning Monday, blooming earlier in sunnier locations than those in deep shade.  Full sun is not in its comfort zone.

Have you ever noticed how beautifully ordered Nature’s landscape gardens are?   Where there is time, HARMONY among plants eventually dominates the grounds.  There is order in Nature until disorder arrives.  Those (plants) victorious in claiming their realm do  so by expanding their own territory, conquering their competitors, enemies,  by making them out-of-place causing disharmony.

“A weed is a plant out of place.”    Is there an Astilbe chinensis in your garden?    There should be!

 

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.

 

 

 

May 8, 2017

Spring is an A Plus for the Home Landscape This Year

Filed under: garden seasons,perennials,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 12:55 am

NOT ALL SPRINGS ARE EQUAL

There is no doubt from my life’s experience  especially in the  landscape garden arts  that winters were colder, more brutal,  and longer during my outdoor life as a child  compared to the last five decades of Twin City, Minnesota existence.    I was raised in a five room bungalow house in St. Paul, Minnesota.  My outdoor winter life began “in earnest” around 1940 when I was six.   Despite being confined to small city lots, neighbors, home owners who weren’t poverty stricken, were better, more knowledgeable gardeners then than folks are  today.  Nearly every household had a flower garden managed by a Mother, vegetable garden dug by a male, a father or a son, and a neat appearing manicured foundation planting to hide the foundation structure along the front of every house.

Human powered mowers made little to no noise.  Only human powered tools were available then. Lawns had to look nice, neat to advertise that the citizens who lived in that house were civilized and cared about the neighborhood.     Only men and boys  mowed then.   Many local  properties included a hill  to the public walk out front of the house.  Mothers and sisters had other local duties.    Children were everywhere.  Lots were small. Divorces rarely existed.  A mother was a mother, a father, a father.

Most garden tools were hand-me-downs.  One mower lasted more than a lifetime for those depression years.   Spending was for food….and then there was the war, 1941-45.   Whether needed or wanted or not, elms were planted by the city along the ‘boulevard”, the space between the public walk and the street curb.   It made things appear cozy and cool in the summer  until Dutch Elm disease appeared in earnest.    Maintaining a neat and attractive front yard landscape indicated home owners cared about the quality of their neighborhood.   Adults weren’t as obnoxious then as so many seem to be these days.    Children didn’t dare misbehave where I lived.   They, we, didn’t dare.

I learned what a Lombardy Poplar tree was when I was 4…. as well as a Spruce, Elm, Bleeding Heart, Phlox, Juniper,  Four-0’clocks, Spiraea, marigolds, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and chrysanthemums that same year.  I became my Mother’s gardening  agent.  My sister played dolls and paper dolls in the bedroom.   (Did I ever luck out.  I loved the outdoors especially gardening from then on. It was a geography in which my Mother and I bonded besides doing thousand piece picture puzzles with her indoors in Winter).

There were no driveways dividing front yards in the city then.   Ugly stuff was confined to the back alley.

We learned birding at school starting in first grade.   There were several empty lots in our neighborhood across the alley from us before World War II.   In 1942 the City plowed up these lots for Victory Garden use…..The major weed in these lots was called hemp in those day.   No one seemed to care about such matters.   Everyone had a church or synagogue to tend to.

Despite our economic struggles these days,  there is always welfare and fewer families with children by percentage unlike those years when boys my age had two pairs of pants, people were never fat, and food never wasted but often grown somewhere in the backyard during Spring and Summer.

Knowledge about our human past was taught in schools then.   Classical music was allowed to be heard twice a month during public school time when Matilda Heck appeared.   I was already aware of Beethoven stuff even before third grade while at home standing like a soldier at a wall near our front door, looking at a R. Atkinson Fox picture painting  of a lovely  landscape garden hanging on the wall just above my head.

April 9, 2017

Twin City Spring…2017 in Our Northland

Filed under: Bulbs,garden seasons,Ground Covers,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 4:52 pm

It’s been very dry this Spring of our Minnesota northland.   It also has been warmer than usual, thank God!   Yes, Winter in Gopherland….which  should be called Rabbitland,  was colder and longer when I was four years old back in 1938, the first year  I discovered “garden”.

Minnesotans, at least we urban ones, had tons of close  friends and relatives who had to be visited including many owning a family farm.  I loved visiting family and friends from the very beginning.  It was a helluva lot better than watching television folks!   People especially cared  for  family, regardless how large.  No life insurance.   Death was not uncommon.    Cancer had taken two grandparents before I was born.   By 1947  an aunt, an uncle,   the two remaining grandparents, and a cousin, who died from leukemia also were gone.

We lived in the city.   Everyone we knew among family, friends, and neighbors  were Godfearing,  preferring to follow the JudeoChristian rules of goodness over marijuana, amass knowledge over  feelings, be civil rather than savage.   We knew our neighbors, about sixty or more, very, very well.

We Americans, in those days, were expected to grow up!   We were outdoor people….and lived rather closely together.   Our city lots were 45′ by 100′, which included  a single car garage in the back yard.

Everyone, every grounds had a flower garden and a vegetable garden….Apple and plum trees were extra, and we kids were known to have stolen a number of units during season.  No noises came  from motorized tools in those days.   Lawn mowers were borrowed from time to time when emergency called.   Knowing about 20  neighbors’ telephone numbers by heart was about average then until television arrived about 1947.

Raising a lovely city gardened yard was a sign folks who lived in the neighborhood were civilized and learned.   A well maintained  lawn and properly pruned spreading conifers along the front foundation of the house were proof neat neighbors lived there.  The neighborhood was clean, well manicured, and in Spring, always displayed tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus, and scilla  in the side or backyard garden, if only sometimes to coax the eye away from the vegetable garden if not perfectly manicured.

Because of that past, today I still  live in paradise, but it’s a lonely place  these days.   No one seems to be aware of their nearby outdoors, here where I live and, in general throughout the metropolitan area….and generally the grounds show it.

We are having an early Spring season this 2017 year.  Last year there was a 4″ snow fall this week which slowed Spring life up for nearly a month.  The spring bulbs came and went within a week.

Already scilla, snowdrops, puschkinia, crocus, chionodoxa have opened  up for display on my grounds.  Narcissus, that is, daffodils are already displaying foliage.  They’ll begin flowering in a week.

If the weather stays cool, most of these bulbs will remain in bloom for a couple of weeks.  Remember the rabbits.   They love crocus and tulips, don’t seem to know what Puschkinia, Chionodoxa and Snowdrops are…..and hate Narcissus.

It’s the heat of the location of planting that dictates the length of bloom in general.

Bulbs aren’t the only easy to oblige Spring plants in our area.   I have hundreds of Bloodroot and Virginia Bluebells now greening up for bloom next week or so, depending on the heat of the days.

But I have never planted Bloodroot or Virginia Bluebells  on my grounds.  I am presuming  birds did.   Since most of my acre grounds is lawnless,  I now have hundreds of clumps of both….I toss these Bluebells when they invade beyond their spaces.  If they are kept hugging each other, their spring blue is truly exceptional….with no worry at all.   By early June your Bluebells will disappear from life for another year.    Last year Bloodroot was in bloom about three days in May….for it was a warm Spring and rather late.   Yesterday, I saw a clump of it in full bloom on the South side of my garage….a first, for it must have seeded itself  over the past year.  You will not find a wildflower as neat as Bloodroot.   I let it grow where ever it wants to live…..usually in some shade and often understory to  large wide spreading shrubs.

Notes:   Nearly any flowering perennial, woody or not, marked as shade-loving here in Gopherland can survive beautifully in full morning Sun.  It’s the rising  heat of the afternoon hours that usually causes trouble

The bulbs mentioned above  lose their foliage by mid-June.     They appear for sale on the market around Labor Day here in Minnesota for Fall planting.

 

March 20, 2017

The Rabbit Problem

Filed under: Bulbs,garden seasons,Pruning,shrubs and trees — glenn @ 10:21 pm

I have made myself wander through our gardened grounds here in Minnetonka where I have lived since January 1, 1974.   Walking through and cleaning up the grounds isn’t as easy as it used to be.  I had knee replacement surgery on my right leg late last November.   That plus my elderly condition in general has delayed service in my keeping the grounds beautiful…..

……especially when I wasn’t around to keep deer and rabbits “in their place”.  They must have thought I went somewhere South for the winter instead of being crippled indoors.

Most of you home owners cover your grounds almost entirely with grass.   My gardened grounds has to be a bit more than a half acre upon which I have only a five minute mowing patch of  lawn…..all of it quite mediocre.

I did apply Milorganite as recommended in our previous article this past February.  Most of the damage had already been done.

Rabbits love arborvitae, at least those which have foliage reaching the ground.  Yet, not all arborvitae are equally pleasing to these pesty rodents.  Those shrubby with yellowish foliage seem to be breakfast, lunch, and Sunday dinner unless protection is provided.   Don’t worry about  the tree forms once they have reached adolescence….about ten feet tall…..There after the bark is too ‘barky’ for rabbit food.   In a few years after adolescence, however, when the arborvitae tree bark is about a foot or  more in diameter at your waistline, you can expect male deer activity in October and November to shred it into ribbons with its antlers while hunting down some doe to do their nature together.

Fortunately only females jumped my fencing during my recovery……some eatings, lots of poop dropped, but no scars on any of my countless trees from antlers.

This is the best time for pruning the lower branches made nude of foliage by rabbits.  All you have to do is observe the ugly damage usually below  the first foot or three above the ground, depending upon the  snow  depth of the past winter.   Use a professional felco hand sheers for smaller woody cuts or a quality Japanese hand saw, but not the low quality stuff you usually see being sold at your local monster store.   Use your eye as your art scope ready to make your eaten shrub beautiful….not necessarily for the moment, but for its future.

Remember, the conifers Pine, Spruce, and Fir are not pruned as if they are arborvitae, chamaecyparis,   juniper or yew.   Pine, Spruce, and Fir develop candle-like foliage clusters rather than a mass of  new foliage of greenery, foliage which can easily be sheered if needed.

If you  want  to artistically , or need  to prune back any of these new  Spring-developing Pine, Spruce, or Fir candles, prune back only the fresh candles, but never previous years’  candles.   Remember that the previous year’s  foliage is not able to produce new buds on the old wood of  these particular  shrubs or trees.

Note:  My  snow drops opened bloom last Saturday.   The rabbits have probably destroyed nearly all of my Crocus…but the Chionodoxa and Narcissus will begin blooming in April.

Do not forget, all Narcissus produce a chemical which makes them uneatable for the animal world.

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 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 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 22, 2016

Masterpiece Home Grounds Open House Thursday of This Week

Filed under: About Masterpiece,garden seasons,random fun — glenn @ 6:09 pm

Masterpiece clients, friends, followers, helpers, and ‘newbies’ are all welcomed to join our Masterpiece Landscaping family Open Garden  at our home grounds, this Thursday,  May, 26, 2016,  from 4 PM to dark…..

Usually this event occurs in August, not always the most spectacular show time to display outstanding  landscape beauty in our Minnesota.

In beautifying the landscaped garden world, May is the most beautiful, the most fragrant, colorful, inspiring refreshing season of the year in our zone four  Twin City, Minnesota.

We picked the third week in May, the time when Azaleas, Redbuds, Juddii Viburnum, and many Rhododendrons are liable to show off in peak bloom more or less simultaneously with the most reliable flowering ground covers,  vinca, ajuga,  sweet woodruff, white rockcress, mauve flowering lamiums, the common sedums with their fresh foliage along with the bright green new  foliage of pachysandra.

April is when our conifer world is at its  most beautiful  color and ‘refreshment’….

so  one must include the Spring touch and beauty of all of the  conifers, especially the juniper creepers,    Japgarden,  Blue Chip, Blue Prince, Motherlode,  Prince of Wales,  Wilton Carpet and Conifer “dwarfs’ such as Dwarf Colorado Spruce with their budding new growth.

However, Spring arrived very early this year, 2016….and it was cool, somewhat moist, void of torrents of this or that and by habit nearly all species of Spring beauty arrived early this season….two to three weeks early to be more specific.

Whereas  May 26 is, on the average, the day my couple dozen azaleas would be opening in their finest color display, the May 26th, might be at high tail end of bloom this Thursday, unless the next few days are cool and quiet.

Conifers, nearly all, will be at their very best display, no matter what the Spring offers in weather.   New year foliage begins mid April and will continue being distinguished until the first week in June, come rain, shine, or/and snow.

REMEMBER IN OUR MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE GARDENS, WINTER IS THE LONGEST SEASON OF THE YEAR……EQUAL TO ALL  SEASONS COMBINED.  Many beautiful conifers are at their best throughout winter when they are kings and queens of the garden roost.

YES, YOU CAN BRING FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.    Tasties will be provided.    Please come! ….from all of us at Masterpiece.

The address is 14624  Woodhill Terrace in Minnetonka…..just west of the intersection of  State Highway #7 and 494, second turn off  from Highway #7   northward on  Woodhill Road and left at Woodhill Terrace.

 

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