Fellow Vikings and foreigners to our Northland…..This summer is the closest to the tropical in my gardening lifetime.   Hot, humid, wet and tons of mosquitoes….not a winning season for us who ‘work the soil’, but the formula sure works for plants.    I expect to see dinosauers any day now coming out of the jungle.

At least there are no tsetse flies.   Just plenty of Japanese beetles.

Throughout the summer of 1988 there was more heat, believe it or not, but no rain.   That was not a pretty season for the landscape gardeners’ eye or nose, for that matter.

Last year’s Minnesota landscape garden season  was among the best ever.   Spring was early.   April was warmer than May.   The azaleas loved every minute of the reverse and stayed in bloom for weeks.   Ditto for nearly all of the plants noted for their spring blooms.  Never were their fragrances more enticing.

Spring lasted about a week this year…..arrived late and bumped into Summer early.   Hail and tornado destroyed or damaged  some of our Twin City gardened grounds, but missed mine.

Many rains this year have been heavy.   So what does all this mean for the landscape garden?  

For an answer I shall turn to my own tropics…..the half acre surrounding my house.

On one Friday rather recently, while working at  grounds on Mary Street east of St. Paul  during an off and on  deluge, Noah’s Flood finally arrived and sent me home to check out the damage.   The pond path was squishy, the Gigas grew a foot in my absence  and my basement had nearly an inch of water throughout.

My gutters had clogged despite being ‘cleaned’ earlier in Spring.   The principal area of entry needed to be regraded somewhat to lessen chances for flooding when  clogging occurs in the future.   I decided to remove two arborvitaes, each about 25 feet tall, whose foliage draped over each downspout causing some of  the deluge in the basement.

Neither I nor any visitor to my grounds would ever miss the dismissed trees.  

The devoted landscape garden artist must be flexible and remember that there are many roads to beauty.   One should also remember that classical beauty is  NOT “in the eye of the beholder.   Some things created and seen are simply far more beautiful than others.

There are rules and generalizations to follow to attain classical beauty in the landscape garden.  It also usually requires inspiration, thought, and knowledge.

What was essential for beauty twenty five years ago, may no longer be serviceable to the ground’s artistic requirements…….which, of course, arise from  your eye and brain.

Why is it that every garden season almost every grounds of the devoted landscape gardener become more beautiful?   Because every year the eye of the beholder becomes more experienced and therefore more demanding.

This often causes  a serious crisis confronting our female landscape gardeners…and there are quite a few of these gals……..those who discover  there is more to a landscape  than flowers.    Gals  fall in love with trees and shrubs, and often, no matter how vulgar the woody plants, tree or shrub, might be to the eye, both in harmony and health to plantings or persons  near by, they draw a line.    That line may include a very cold shoulder for years to come for the very thought of causing harm to their beloveds.    Yes, there are a few men in this category as well, but reason often wins them over.

Nothing alive stays still in the landscape garden.   Its art form is in constant turmoil….especially in our Northland.   Yesterday will never again be lived.   Today’s beautiful  masterpiece will never again be seen.   Even the setting so inspiring in the landscape  just ten minutes ago, will never again be seen.   So, again…….

             The landscape garden artist must be flexible and patient.

Not all ugly trees and shrubs are ugly.   More homeowners curse the world of junipers.   “I don’t want that prickly stuff  anywhere around my house”  is said about junipers more than any other garden plants.

Yet, junipers  often produce  the most beautiful plant forms created by traditional Japanese garden artists skilled in the pruning arts.

The most popular art  practiced in our America is gardening.    We see its result whenever we go outside.  It is often not pretty.    We must view no matter how ugly the art might be set.   It is most often exercised at the level of  placing plants whereever there might be room no matter what the character of the plant might be.  

 There is too much information for the busy public to absorb in their busy day.

For those interested in the landscape garden, begin your lessons always  remembering to ask yourself:

“What is to be placed where…..and why?”  

Ask it every time you think  ‘landscape garden’.   Whether hot weather or cold, wet or dry, winter or summer, you will begin to create harmony to your art.   It is infecting….enticing,   and you will never look at the plant world as you have in the past.l

The beautiful landscape garden should be for the eye, what Beethoven’s concerti are to the ear.   Unfortunately, there are very few available for eye to view even though it is a lot easier creating a spectacular landscape garden than a Beethoven!