I celebrate the year, 2015 in suburban Twin Cities, Minnesota,  as the most comfortable, the most gentle, , the most pleasing to garden plants of all shapes and sizes, and therefore, the most beautiful of my memorable lifetime,  well perhaps only seventy years of it.   Further, when it was decided to rain, the wetness was somehow ‘professionally’ timed to arrive gently and sufficiently around every third day totally free from  angry cloud bursts.   Last winter was mild and rather short of snow……a threat to  us in the snow removal business, but not to landscape gardens in our area.   We arrived in Spring somewhat short of  prosperity, however.

At December 15, we are rather late being introduced to  real winter this year……until this midweek when the cold is reported to be arriving.

My personal garden is about a half acre in property size…..about two acres in visual size (that is, including the geography within sight that appears to be part of my grounds, but of which I do not own and maintain).

I have only a six minute lawn to cut, meaning most of the grounds is covered by countless trees, shrubs and perennials, and considered  cluttered to some, but artistically arranged to me, by me.   I have my favorites and  joys…..leading the list is a Ginkgo biloba I planted by seed about 30 years ago.

My paths remain the same in direction and location, but the settings in such gardens change.    When the Ginkgo biloba was only six feet tall,  it disturbed nothing in its surroundings which required sun.   Starting at about fifteen feet its crown began to shade the surroundings noticeably.   At its present 40 and still happily growing, I am faced with major problems regarding what  should replace the plants who couldn’t remain beautiful with the threat of ever more shade from the Ginkgo…..such as lawn grass.

Worse, at about the 25th year of birthdays this Ginkgo finally decided it was female and so since, has been supplying me with dozens, then hundreds, and now countless hundreds of fruit which is coveted in Far East cuisines, I am told, despite the human vomit fragrance of the squished fresh fruit.

I have never eaten Ginkgo seeds, have you?   They look like almonds.

Those of you who possess landscape gardens of some size may be worrying some about the delayed winter arrival this season…..We have had a very favorable Nature watering our gardens in this area since last April, not only in quality and quantity but in timing as well…about every third day throughout the garden year and none more or significantly less in the months since.

Somewhere around five or six years ago my landscape garden was overwhelmed by a very wet  35 inch snowfall on a Saturday, November 31 crushing countless branches off my White Pines and bending, breaking other conifers.   In such snowy seasons most perennial plants woody or herbaceous, don’t care what the temperature above  the snow line  is if the plants are truly  safe growing in your winter temperature zone….What might be  a real killer to some woody plants  in any winter is when temperatures drop below ten degrees F  with a any wind of 20 mph or lower  for hours.   Damage increases  if there is little or no snowfall for greater protection from winter kills.    With some shrubs, certain Spiraea and Hydrangeas,  for an example, the branchings could die completely  back to the soil level, but still send out new shoots in the Spring.

Visually, the winter garden season in our part of Minnesota lasts almost half of the year.   One should never burlap, or otherwise smother woody plants above the snow line which make the landscape setting ugly.    In the ideal a landscape garden is supposed to be  an art form, but those  in our Minnesota are usually reduced to  the  hobby kind.

Temperatures here by weekend are forecast to be in the twenties, perhaps dropping down into single digits at night.   WARNING:   If a strong wind accompanies the single digit or lower temperatures, and there is no snow cover,  there  most likely will be damage occurring somewhere in your landscape garden to  Rhododendrons and certain  Azaleas, and others…. bud kill, trunk or branch  splitting, even death….but, don’t worry the damage  will not be noticed until Spring.

If you are worrying about such consequences threatening your favorite shrubs, simply place a sheet, or light blanket, some  ‘clothing’ large enough to cover the  vulnerable plant until the wind dies down.    If winter beauty in your garden is a value, remove the coverings for beauty’s sake.

We at Masterpiece Landscaping welcome visitors to our landscape garden…..please call 952-933-5777 for scheduling.   Speakers are also available for groups interested in learning more about Landscape Gardening in our area.