Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

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.

 

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?

 

 

 

January 5, 2012

Landscape Garden Life among the Coyote

I have coyote preying on my grounds.   The resident couple have produced a pup.   We seldom see these folks, but they are there and we have quicky pictures to prove their settlement.

In the thirty eight years of my residency here in suburban Minneapolis , I have been able to create and maintain a beautiful  classic landscape garden.   We live in a climate in which winter is the major landscape season, as long as all of the other landscape seasons combined.   

As a boy I noticed that.   I delivered papers both morning and after school.  It was an outdoor job…..Although I hated delivering papers in the winter, I loved  the early mornings throughout the year….the 5 AM mornings  before anyone but paper boys were prowling the streets…..except once in a long while  when a coyote came to view.      Fox at 5AM were fairly common, but not coyote.   Fearless through ignorance, I’d drop my paper boy’s delivery bag and try to follow the creature.

We haven’t noticed coyotes anywhere in my neighborhood until  three or four years ago.   I had seen one in the center of Minneapolis about ten years back  in the garden of a good friend of mine.   It was dark winter and I had just  turned into the driveway.   Suddenly a coyote I distrubed  looked up at me.  ”He”  had  torn something apart which was drooping from its jaws…..and it wasn’t a plant.   “He” was mangy-looking (all coyotes in my vocabulary are male unless proved otherwise), and “he,” coyote-like,  grabbed his kill and ran off into the dark.

My grounds are filled with evergreen conifers……the plants of good memory when I needed them as a news delivery boy  to hide behind during the wild blizzards  50 plus years ago before these wonderful days of global warming in our Northland.

Conifers  come in many  sizes and shapes these days.   Those sizes and shapes are well displayed in my ‘paradise’.   So is snow in winter…..except for this winter thus  far.   

Rabbits and squirrels, birds and voles used to love these conifers-of-all-sizes winter garden.   Until about three years ago.  

Today, only the birds still  do.  Actually, there are more of them of all kinds than in the past.    

No longer do the rabbits and voles eat up all of the lower foliage of the arborvitaes.   No longer are squirrels fighting to burrow into my house eaves to mooch off of  my expensive winter heating and escape the winter winds.

Instead, I  see replacement  foot prints in the winter snow as I walk  along my garden paths.   They are dog-like, but I allow no dogs to enter my space whereever I think I rule.  

My lovely garden now houses new visitors,  ’Canis latrans’ the coyote,  into my space, whether I like it or not.   They are about the only footprints etched in the snow these days.    New prints arrive with each new snow dusting or snowfall.

While searching for television something or another a few days ago, I came across an hour’s worth on the expansion of the coyote population  throughout America……the America that still includes Arizona, New York , California, and Florida.

“Although assaults upon humans are rare, they do happen…..” the narrators admitted more than once.   The deaths are more  frequent in PARKS  the Northeast….Massachusetts and New York, for instance.    They noted an example of an ourdoor type gal who was a regular hiker  in an urban public park.   Two  coyote had stalked her, had run her down and destroyed her as others in the park who had heard  her screams arrived to the scene  too late to save her…….and fended off the two coyote killers.

We live in a time where equality among mankind and ’other’ animals  is required by some politicians and university instructors…..we must live ‘as one’ with nature.   I accept  this dogma, but I do believe I must add, “barely”.    

I still believe the human being is sacred, out of fashioned as that may be.  I am  not the equal of the coyote or squirrel.    I prefer me to rule in my landscape garden rather than  coyote.   If I have to put up with something of a lower order than I am  in my paradise, I’ll go for the hungry  mink, who have happened to drop by upon occasion.

The equality people, the stars of this  television program on coyote, that is, the park rangers, the animal huggers who work for the state to protect wild life, and their similars, (isn’t English a terrific language) who love coyote, seem quite sincere in their warnings to the general public reminding  them that coyote can be our killers.  

“Don’t feed them”, they advise…..and then they move on to their coyote loving.   I admit.   Their ‘chicks’ ARE cute.

“Coyote have naturalized nearly everywhere throughout the United States, even on Manhattan Island in New York City”. 

Rangers who keep an eye on these exploding coyote populations mark the  ’cute’ beasts in their youth  to follow  their roamings henceforth…..your tax money at work.      “They lack competition from bigger predators.”  the experts  announce, hinting that the timber wolf once roamed our streets  widely before we had streets.

Besides “Don’t feed the animals”, here is the official message from these state officials representing urban  American  visits from the ever larger coyote flocks……

“When taking  your nature  hikes in your local parks, suburban or urban, or your landscape gardens, you should take a stick along with you……just in case.” concluding that the coyote is our human equal in the eyes of the modern educated park bureaucrats.   “We must learn to live along side ‘nature’.

There was a moment the narrators offered a degree of  politico-social-religious  ’balance’, a brief one for sure, but an effort nevertheless.   I think the setting  was in Colorado, in a suburb of Denver. where a  park ranger being interviewed by the coyote huggers,  glanced with a hint of a wink at his power rifle when he was asked about his recommentdations  for coyote control.

I enjoyed the program as you, dear readers, might have noticed from the rhythms and a embellishments of this writing.

The American has become and indoor population despite their occasional bicycle and hiking jaunts from their bureaucratic life  into the great outdoors.    When I was a kid most Americans worked outdoors for their living.    Most  owned a rifle for their outdoor business…..controlling wolves and coyote, puma and wild this or  that which decimated their food supply and not infrequently some of these outdoor people as well.

Today indoor people look at animal life romantically.   I do too.   One of the most beautiful sites Mother Nature can cook up for me  is to see the beautiful sleak cougar eyeing and plotting the kill of its prey….as long as one doesn’t romance too much  of the prey’s immediate future.   

I think it a tragedy  that  ”lions, tigers and bears”…..well not bears, yet…..are disappearing from Earth due to mankind’s ‘interference’.   

In the meantime I guess I’ll  have to  position a few sticks  for self defense, artistically placed , of course, blending them  into the lines and curves of my lovely  landscape garden.

 

 

 

 

July 18, 2010

What Is This Thing Called “Weed”

Filed under: garden maintenance,perennials,random fun — glenn @ 4:33 pm

No, not the stuff the foolish  smoke!  The stuff  that grows where folks don’t want the stuff to grow.

To the Landscape Garden artist there is only one definition for the word, “weed”…..

A Weed is a Plant Out of Place!       That is the definition, the whole definition,  and nothing but the definition……to the Landscape Gardener.

In my landscape garden the plants out of place most everywhere are tree seedlings….sugar maples, red maples, elm, Ohio buckeye, buckthorn, box elder, Norway maple, Green Ash,  Red Oak, White Oak, American Arborvitae, Japanese Yew, Red Cedar, and so on and so on.  Then there are the herbaceous perennials which can be weedy, weedy, weedy no matter what the definition might be. 

In my garden I cherish one of these weedies…..the progeny from my Purple Cats Astilbe.

I have an underground irrigation system to water my plant world.  I realized early in my gardening life that astilbes demanded a moist environment.   I never thought for a moment that meant reliable waterings from an underground irrigation system. 

Where I once had one clump of Purple Cats Astilbe, I now have, perhaps, thousands of its seedlings.  The color isn’t quite there, but these reliable perennials are as big if a bit more pink that purple, a replica of its parents.  They are everywhere, and at the moment, they are in full bloom. 

I weed out only those which defy harmony.   I know there will be a problem in the future.  For each new hundred clumps  established each year, what will happen to my grounds in five more years.

I have a very small area of my landscape garden in  lawn.  Nine minutes worth to be exact.   The only other routine demand is managed automatically…..the watering for fifteen minutes a zone, every other day program. 

The rest of the grounds is an open door for any and all plant visitors to set up shop……where there is room, however.   Many plants are fussy about where they will do their thing.  I have been trying to get my ginkgo to produce for years and have succeeded with only two and both are rather moody about growing much.

I have Virginia Creeper growing.  Until about August first, mature  and happy Virginia grows about three feet a day and in several directions at the same time.  I call Virginia weedy, but not a weed.  I am the one who decides where Virginia can live and flourish.  Yet, pound for pound, no other species has been removed from my property over the past 36 years except perhaps for the exception of an 90 year old American Elm I had removed last Thanksgiving Day weekend.

I find the Creeper a great ground cover in some locations, and an attractive accent in foliage in others.  I never let the plant crawl up the trunks of trees, if I can help it.   That looks messy.

If one does have grounds fairly well designed naturalistically, there are other “weedies” which make good ground covers more restful to manage…..violets come to mind….cushion and chameleon spurge are good,….

 Japanese anemone is bound to be successful despite your moods.  In Latin is named, Anemone robustissima.   That should tell the interested gardener all that is needed to know.  The “issima” part can be translated to mean….”the very, very, very most!”

It the plant were the very, very, very most in height, the plant would likely have been named,  Genera “altissima”……referring to its altitude.

You can put it together, dear reader.   Expect Anemone robustissima to enjoy its stay in your garden.  Fortunately for all, it is a very attractive for a “robustissima”.

There are many plants who do enjoy “taking over” in the grounds.  And there are some weeds far worse than others, because no one can control them.

Among such weeds, Campanula  rapunculoides leads the list.  Another is Goutweed, the socalled perennial Snow on the Mountain.  As a large group  the grasses, especially lawn grasses can be killers in the perennial garden.  That is why timely and proper edging the perennial garden border from the lawn is very important.

Most weeds can be pulled out easily by hand.  I have always liked “weeding”.  It is so resrfull and uncomplex.   One simply reaches out, grabs on to the stem at its nearest to the ground, and pulls.

If the landscape garden is beautiful before weeding, imagine how clean and sharp it will be after weeding.

But, never forget that a weed is a plant out of place if you are a person so fortunate in life to have found the art of landscape gardening.

January 22, 2010

Ages Old “Chinese” Advice to the Non-Gardener

Filed under: random fun — glenn @ 10:13 am

If you wish to be happy for a day……..Get drunk.

If you wish to be happy for a week………Kill a pig.

If you wish to be happy for a month……..Get married.

But, if you wish to be happy for ever and ever…………Plant a Garden!!