Our company, Masterpiece Landscaping, Ltd., was invited to participate in a Garden Party last Thursday.  It was a fund raiser for the Friends of Roseville Parks held at the lovely grounds of Tom and Mona Dougherty.  Over 300 people attended. 

There were many programs offered to provide entertainment and learnings to the attendees.  I and Mike Berg of our Masterpiece staff were among the speakers.

I wanted to emphasize the importance of beauty as the fundamental goal in the development of the landscape garden.  Beauty and beautiful are words seldom used in the garden world these days.  I happened to notice while at the offices of the Horticultural Society in Roseville a few weeks ago, that of 80 or more topics offered by folks signed up for the Society’s speaker’s list, NOT A ONE MENTIONED THE WORD OR ANY RELATIVE OF THE WORD, ‘BEAUTY’.   Not a one mentioned landscaping as an art form.  

I mentioned in my presentation that beauty is no longer  respected in art,  any art.  It apparently is out of date.   Where is beauty expressed  in any of the more common art forms…music?  theater?  painting?  poetry?  literature?

In landscaping and gardening usually the instrutments of the trade don’t let us down.   The flowers themselves are colorful, trees might be shapely and not dying, shrubs occasionally are seen not hacked back to control their size, and evergreens when healthy are still beautiful, especially in winter.

But beyond the instruments themselves, little attention is paid to achieve beauty  in the home grounds…..and the flowers, shrubs, trees, and all of the evergreens, these instruments of beauty become neglected and begin to deteriorate.   Others  grow beyond the spaces allotted.  

Gardens, like people, gain character with age.    A bit of knowledge can help good character.

By ‘garden’  we usually refer to a space of ground where flowers are grown for display.   We usually don’t think of foundation plantings as gardens, but as a display of plants to cover the foundation of the house whether that foundation needs cover or not.

Most home owners don’t know if their foundations need cover.   Most landscape designers don’t either….foundation plantings are a habit….it’s a given.

Almost all landscaping itself,  as practiced for generations, is a display of lawn, and a display or two of other plant material.   And, in my 60 years of being aware of home landscaping, there can be no doubt that many of  these displays are  more attractive that they used to be.

There are more materiasl from which to choose.  Until recently there has been a bit more money available to spend on decorating the home grounds with various displays of plants.

Little of this has to do with a lancscape garden.   A landscape garden is to be entered.  Yes, it is a piece of land, but that piece of land is to be developed not to display plants as displays, but mimic nature and  idealize  nature as the human eye and mind dictate. 

Privacy, or at least the illusion of privacy, is vital. 

How does a home owner develop such grounds?

The landscape garden requires space, but it can be created in the “front yard” or the back, or both, of almost every 45′ by 100′ of a typical rectangular Twin City home lot.

Would you buy a house in which every room is a kitchen…..or the rooms are all livingrooms?

Why do we landscape our “yards” into two rooms at most…..the front yard and the back yard?

Foundation plantings out front, a  spiraea or three or five, some hostas, a lot of river rock, and a linden tree or a dying Colorado spruce  in the middle of the front ‘yard’.   In grounds where  plantaholics live, every space is filled with plants.  That is what space is for….to fill with plants.  More plants will be bought and placed whereever there might be an opening.

Occasionally, some beauty might break out, but the best one can usually achieve is to be noted as a person who is a plantaholic.

I have coined a phrase which tells all there is to know about the rule of achieving beauty in the art of landscaping……”What do you plant where, and why did you do it?”   Three questions as one…..but the most important question is “Why did you do it?”

However practical it may be to answer the question, “Why did you place that particular plant at that particular location?” with “Because that was the only space available”, you may find comfort in being among the 98%  who will answer the same, but you’ll never get anywhere as a plantaholic except collect plants.

“Because I like it there!” is not a satisfactory answer either, unless  you   explain why.  When you can explain rationally why you like something beautiful, you have taken  the most important step in becoming a successful landscape garden artist. 

Gals, this might be difficult to do, but give it a serious try.

Give us a call at Masterpiece Landscaping  for more information about establishing landscape gardens on your home or business grounds.   We offer garden tours and addresses of beautiful gardens which contain beautiful displays, but in a ‘cathedral’ of a landscape garden.