From early May much of my life over  the past twenty years I have spent most of every day in someone’s or my own gardened grounds.

I cannot remember a May so pleasant, so cooperating a climate for gardener and garden member alike. Cool, not cold, moist, but not wet,  and above all no violent winds or down pours. This past Sunday was June 8, 2015.  I noticed my first mosquito bite of the landscape season.  Yesterday the temperature reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit  with a humidity to oblige.   I noticed about twenty bites.

Landscape gardens, like people, gain character with age.

Most of the more significant additions to new landscape gardens these days come as potted plants.   Burlapped materials are both larger and pricier but offerings of varieties are limited.  In 1976 I purchased ten size one pot White Pines for my home grounds as a tribute to the  Nation’s 200th birthday.   They were nine inches tall.   Two died within a year, but eight have survived to this day.  These pines are the basic structural units  which provide the strength of my landscaped grounds throughout the year.  They are, indeed, beautiful pieces, magnificent structures,  soothing to both eye and ear especially in winter.   Their autumn needle drop provides a beautiful and practical cover for  walking  paths weaving in and out of various garden rooms  with Mother Nature replenishing the supply  quite free of your personal labor. Three of these beauties are over 80 feet tall.    The two which provide a pleasant  shade to the ‘dining’ patio,  are less robust in size and foliage quality, suffering a bit from the limestone base of the patio stone covering about half of their root zone.   White Pine, as are most pine, fir, and spruce, quite demanding of acid soils to maintain their best health.

The first  conifer in our  landscape is an American Arborvitae which I planted a year earlier.  Although this tree is a  common native  in woodsy Minnesota, none were sold  on the market locally in those days.   I ordered  one from Mentor, Ohio for a dollar plus postage, as I recall.   The six inch  ‘tree’ was sent to me in a size ten legal envelope  with roots wrapped in a touch of damp cotton and cellophane.   I nursed it like a baby for years until it was big enough to be on its own….and for years was a center piece form in the largest of our  garden ‘rooms’.    One November 13th four or five years ago, a Saturday of a heavy wet 32 inch snowfall  one of the structural stems of the tree crashed to the ground under the weight of the ice and snow.   About twelve major White Pine  branches from our  most majestic of the White Pines  joined the chorus of falling branches, one seemingly  playing the  old hymn, “Nearer my God to Thee” to me  while I was  underneath it  trying to lighten  the snow load off of its branches.   I’ve had back talk from a number of plants over my years and years of landscaping, but never one as personal as that pine branch episode turned out to be.

Flower beds are NOT landscaped gardens.   They are beds of flowers which may even include a woody shrub or two especially if they are roses.  Gals are noted for  growing flowers.  They are more taken by color than by form and/or placement of the ‘notes’ relative to creating a beautiful  setting, as if a symphony or concerto.

Landscape gardening historically  is supposed to be an art form   for the eye and at its best  what Beethoven, Handel,  Puccini,  Mozart,  Rachmaninov  and others of  similar achievements are for the ear. Ideally plants in the  landscaped garden  are merely “notes” arranged  for the human eye to perceive beauty and inspiration creating harmony for the soul.    Music as composed, throughout much of the world,  hasn’t been much of an  art form for the soul for  nearly a century.  Like all major arts,  landscaping and music  are unfortunately  owned by university bureaucrats these days.  Inspiration is not noted in  the curriculum.