Sun, water, soil, and nutrients  are the basic essentials for healthy garden plant growth…..Once again:  SUN, WATER, SOIL, NUTRIENTS for plant and YOUR happiness!!!

Sun:   Not all garden plants, either  woody or  herbaceous,  prefer full sun.   Others disdain deep shade.   Full sun might burn sensitive plants’ leaves, turning them ugly brown or pathetic yellow.   Deep shade  advances diseases on wet leaves which are sensitive to rot.    Nearly every perennial plant,  shrub, and understory tree  can tolerate   full morning, that is,  East  sun.   It’s the afternoon shine and heat  that does the damage to the sensitive.

Water:  Nearly  none of our garden plants can endure long periods of time under standing water.   During that rainy  spring and summer  in our Twin Cities, 2013,  I lost  thousands of dollars worth of relatively mature shrubs, conifers, and perennials along  a two hundred thirty foot  pond path which had flooded and remained underwater for over a month……nearly all twenty or more conifers eventually succumbing by September.   Only a Gold Lace Juniper, about a six year old, survived for some unknown reason and is beautiful to this very day.   A twenty foot North Star Spruce succumbed  the next Spring, with   a six year Red Obelisk Beech, a Redbud, and my prize, a ten year  Hillside Spruce  doing the same thing.  All of the pond side herbaceous perennials were lost.

I spent the entire summer ‘diking’ up the pond path area  more in anger than in preventing the next  flood.    The pond, an artificially made catch basin pond,  I share with four neighbors is almost a full acre, but it is swamping.   It has no outlet besides flooding to control water level.  Moreover,  each fall billions of leaves drop from spectacular mature  oaks, red maples, and cottonwoods  into the pond collecting, raising the pond bottom levels ever higher each season to increase its flooding  zone.

Today, however, the pond path gardens despite  the smaller immature  replacements have never been more beautiful.   The flood made me start all over again with a blank slate.

I have an automatic watering system throughout most of my grounds.  It is scheduled for fifteen minutes every other early morning.    Nothing except perhaps good soil, is more important  to the health of most landscape garden plants than REGULAR, RELIABLE WATERING!    Wonderful things can happen, such as beautiful plants usually so cherished, become weedy…..Astilbe chinensis, Anglelica gigas,  Brunnera macrophylla, and our native American Arborvitae are but a few examples.

Landscape Gardening is classically supposed to be a beautiful  art form.    One would never know as we see it practiced   today in our 21st century ….but then so is the same with music.   No one hears a Beethoven adagio anymore!

Soil:   I have the best soil in the world….. loam….loam from  the trees, shrubs, perennials and chipped bark mulch,  loam from  top soil piled up from soil   removed  from  the watershed pond when it was originally dug almost sixty years ago.   However, for the first two decades lawn covered  the world around the house.   There is no life without rot.  Soil high in organic matter holds water and therefore nutrients favoring the vast majority of ‘normal’  garden plants.

There is no life on Earth without plants.   For beginners, it’s where we get our breathable oxygen, folks.

I began removing sod the first year of residence here at our Masterpiece’s garden, 1974.   A seven minute mowing with a push mower is all that is left.   The remainder is a world of  hallways  and gardened rooms……

Sandy soils are much better for landscape garden plants than clay.  Both are far better  top ‘soils’ than those  home grounds whose top soils were removed when the homes were built.   About the only thing capable of growth on many subsoil properties is lawn.

Every plant on this property is what I have planted, or is progeny of what I have planted, or is progeny of stuff growing elsewhere whose seeds were  dropped by birds or winds, or burried by squirrels,  which I have allowed to remain on this property.   To celebrate the birth of our Nation,  I planted ten  ten-inch two-year seedlings of White Pine in Spring of 1976.   Two died in two years.   Of the eight remaining three are ninety feet tall.   How’s that for growth?      It is a return from excellent soil and reliable water.

Nutrients:   I fertilize new plants with root starter nutrients.   I fertilize with Milorganite, a slow, very slow release granulated fertilizer in March throughout the garden.   That’s the routine folks….except a 10-0-10  for my  lawn space during the season.   Acid fertilizers  are occasionally added to the conifers, especially hemlocks,  when they are young.   Arborvitaes prefer non-acid fertilizing.   Junipers usually don’t care.

Conclusion:  Landscape Gardening is classically supposed to be a beautiful  art form.    One would never know as we see it practiced   today in our 21st century ….but then so is the same with music.   No one hears a Beethoven adagio anymore!    Beauty is no longer  a valued expression in today’s culture.

You can change your home grounds.   Let us at Masterpiece help you begin!