Income Tax Day has little to do with landscaping unless your business is Landscape Gardening.   However, most home owners interested in beautifying their immediate environment  are among the roughly 50% of our population who still  pay income tax each April 15.  (Nearly 50% of Amerians do not.)  

 I am much relieved that my forms assembled by a reliable, long time trusted accounting firm have been sent in, properly organized with all of  the important numbers in order and before deadline.

How  could an American be more content on April 15, 2011?

Well, I can be more content if the weather hereabouts wouldn’t be so ‘old-fashioned’  this year.  Most of us outdoor people have enjoyed the gentle, quiet  warmings  of  our Minnesota garden weather the past many decades.  As I have often mentioned, I am rooting for a horticultural zone 5 for our Twin City population, or at least in my Hopkins area climate.   A zone 5 horicultural  environment increases the opportunities to create beauty ten-fold than a zone 4.

However, beauty is not ‘in’ with America these days.

I have good memories of late March and April 60 and 70 years ago.   Easter Sunday was  about the  only  time when my Dad would join my Mother, sister and me  for church service.   I loved the inspiring music of an Easter Sunday.  

 I also remember the outdoor landscape of  EVERY Easter  Sunday in those early days of my life, including high school…….ice and snow everywhere  with half of those  Sundays, sunny, windy  and cold and causing  some melting, slow melting  of the crusty ice nearly everwhere around us ourdoors.   On the other half of Sundays  ice, wind  and snow and everywhere  ice particles flying around stinging the face to toughen the body and mind to remain hopeful that warmth and warmth’s revival of the living  might occur in a month or two.

There are some folks these days who hanker for those good old days of April weather sufferings and pray and plot for global warming.  Such people should be happy with the Twin City weather this tax day, April 15 through April 17.

I repeat. I am not one of these people.   And I admit I have been very spoiled with almost all of the past 40 Aprils of my life.    How lucky could I have been? 

 As I look out my cubby-hole office onto the front grounds of my house, there still is snow on my neighbor’s embankment….unlike those past Aprils of colder clime when  I would see only patches of ground peaking throught the glaciers,  teasing that  spring might be just  around the corner.

Last year, 2010 year, was more modern, my kind of global warming year.  My PJM Rhodododendron was  already in full bloom on April 1.  My magnolias were already just past their floral  best.   Some earlier crab apple trees were already in full bloom  this past week.   Cool, gentle breezes warmed both me and my plants as I reveled in my ‘work’ outdoors.

Spring in Minnesota can vary over a month from season to season, but overall, the Aprils of the past twenty years have been glorious consistently warm, sunny with just enough moisture with a following May so often no warmer,  even occasionally cooler than the April before it. …….he ideal for spring plants and the human mind and body which spends time to care for them.

In older Minnesota there was a much, much shorter Spring usually cut short by a sudden blast of hot  Summer…….Spring, the most inspiring season of the year for those blessed to be interested in garden beauty would be  reduced to a day or two.     Its cold would abruptly  shock plants  into this  Spring  with wind, driving dirt, dust and pollen shrivelling, killing  the blooms of any plant whose misfortune it was  to attempt life in our Northland.  There’s the Minnesota of  its 150 years of pioneer settlement.

Last year at  my good friend, Sunny’s garden, her well-cared -for  azaleas maintained their blooms in exquisite beauty for nearly  a month…….rather than two days, as may happen this season,  AD 2011.  

Keep in mind, too, that we in Twin City Minnesota, have not experienced a “trial” winter for more than twenty years, if my memory serves me correctly.

What is a trial winter?   

Well, it is a killer of a huge percentage of usually  perennial plants, both herbaceous and woody, we have enjoyed in our Twin City gardens for decades  because of the kind, ‘thoughtful’ absence of trial winters.   

Trial winters are those winters  when the temperature dips down to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit or worse, anytime  when there is no snowcover on the ground.   It is lethal to very damaging to many  of the plants we most cherish for beauty in our landscape gardens.  The astute gardeners at these times are the ones who did NOT clean out the grounds in the Fall.   Leaves and other debris would by Nature, be blown to collect around the crowns of  perennials, including the woodies, aiding in insulation around the vital plant crowns…….giving them a chance to avoid  “murder” by death by freezing.

Sixty years ago most Minnesotans were still outdoors people.   Today there are fewer than five per cent of the population among these ranks, and culturally are looked upon as failures in life.  Success occurs in an office.   Beauty has disappeared as a concept and therefore a goal in ones creative pursuits.  

Beauty is ‘out’ but Rain Gardens are in.    Native Minnesota plants are in also…..”ugly” has become as popular in landscaping as it has become popular in our today’s music, painting, poetry, sculpture, and government and commercial landscaping.   We learn our ‘uglies’ at university but nearly everything we learn today comes from university.

“Ugly” is also  ‘in’  with those who sit at their computers and play games designing  our Minnesota  climate destiny of tomorrow.

They view today’s April 15, with its bitter winds, dust and cold, its hostility to life, human and plant, whatever it will kill or maim,  as ideal for Minnesota.    These are indoor people, very, very different animals in every way from our  grandparents.