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Title: Making a Garden of Perennials
Author: Egan, W. C. (William Constantine), 1841-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Making a Garden of Perennials" ***

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It is the intention of the publishers to make this series of little
volumes, of which _Making a Garden of Perennials_ is one, a complete
library of authoritative and well illustrated handbooks dealing with
the activities of the home-maker and amateur gardener. Text, pictures
and diagrams will, in each respective book, aim to make perfectly clear
the possibility of having, and the means of having, some of the more
important features of a modern country or suburban home. Among the
titles already issued or planned for early publication are the
following: _Making a Rose Garden; Making a Lawn; Making a Tennis Court;
Making a Fireplace; Making Paths and Driveways; Making a Rock Garden;
Making a Garden with Hotbed and Coldframe; Making Built-in Bookcases,
Shelves and Seats; Making a Garden to Bloom This Year; Making a Water
Garden; Making a Poultry House; Making the Grounds Attractive with
Shrubbery; Making a Naturalized Bulb Garden_; with others to be
announced later.

[Illustration: To be really satisfying the flower garden must have that
air of permanence that is given it by the perennials]

Making a Garden of Perennials

_By_ W. C. EGAN


Copyright, 1912, by

Published June, 1912



INTRODUCTION                                                1

PREPARING THE BEDS                                          7

WINTER MULCHING                                            20

SUMMER MULCHING                                            23

PLANT COMBINATIONS                                         30

WEEDING                                                    34


    OF GENERAL EXCELLENCE                                  36

    FOR SHADY POSITIONS                                    49

   FOR DRY SOILS                                           50

    FOR WET SOILS                                          51

    ALPINES, OR ROCK PLANTS                                51


A GARDEN OF PERENNIALS                          _Frontispiece_

                                                  Facing Page

A COLONY OF GERMAN IRIS                                     4


PEONIES                                                    24

CANTERBURY BELLS AND FOXGLOVE                              30

_ANEMONE JAPONICA_                                         38

_PHLOX PANICULATA_                                         46




The successful garden has a permanent basis. There must be some flowers
that appear year after year, whose position is fixed and whose
appearance can be counted on. The group classed as perennials occupies
this position and about flowers of this class is arranged all the
various array of annuals and bulbs. These last act as reinforcements in
rounding out the garden scheme.

Perennials are plants that live on year after year if the conditions
surrounding them are congenial.

Trees and shrubs are perennials, of course; in these the stems are
woody, but we are considering only those known as herbaceous
perennials, having stems of a more or less soft texture that, with the
exception of a few evergreen species, die back each fall, new ones
appearing the following spring.

Quite a number of them are too tender to be generally grown as hardy
perennials, but those that bloom freely the first year--like the
snapdragon--are treated as annuals, discarding them when the season is

Some biennials--those that do not bloom until the second year, and then
die--may be placed among the perennials and considered of their class,
because they seed so freely at the base of the parent plant and bloom
the following year, that their presence in the border is nearly always
assured. The only thing necessary to do is to transplant those not in
the situation you desire them to bloom in. _Rudbeckia triloba_, one of
the Black-eyed Susan type, is not only a good example of this class,
but a charming plant that all should grow, and, moreover, it is a very
accommodating one, doing splendidly in semi-shady places, such as north
of buildings or under weeping trees like the rose-flowered Japanese
weeping cherry. It is at home in full sunshine where it will form a
broadly rounded, bushy plant about three feet in diameter and, when in
full bloom, with its myriad of black-eyed flowers, it can dispel the
worst case of melancholia a dyspeptic ever enjoyed. It requires a good
open, rather light soil to do itself justice. If lifted when in full
bloom, put into a ten-inch pot, well soaked at the roots, and set aside
for a few hours away from sun and wind, it will last for two weeks as a
porch or house plant.

We hear a good deal about the gardens of our grandmothers, perennial
gardens, in which the plants outlived the flagstones at the house door.

With a few exceptions, perennials are not long-lived. The gas plant,
peonies, some of the iris, day lilies, and a few others, seem

The usual run require to be taken up about every two or three years and
divided. There are two reasons for this. In the first place, the roots
have exhausted all the food within reach and, again, the main crown,
from which spring the blooming shoots, dies from exhaustion. At the
outer edge of this decay is generally a fringe of "live matter" which,
if taken up, separate from the decayed center, divided, and reset in
good soil, will rejuvenate itself, and soon form a new plant.

In unfavorable sections the Texas gaillardia will lose its crown during
winter, and the anxious novice watches impatiently in the spring for
its reappearance, and finally digs it up only to find that while the
crown is decayed the roots are alive, and here and there, on these, new
plant buds are forming which, if not disturbed, would soon make good
plants, probably not placed, however, just where wanted. Nurserymen
often avail themselves of this peculiarity and increase their stock by
taking up a plant, cutting the roots into small sections, and growing
them separately.

[Illustration: The German iris is one of the most beautiful forms in
the flower world and it will flourish in practically any moderately
good soil]

We must remember that nine-tenths of the plants we grow are
exotic--natives of distant parts and climes--coming from various
atmospheric conditions, and from all kinds of soil. We bring them into
our garden and grow them all under one climatic influence and in the
one kind of soil we happen to possess. Certainly we cannot expect
uniform success with all of them. You might as well bring into one room
unlettered natives of distant climes and expect them all to enter into
a general conversation. Even in gardens quite near each other, their
permanence varies. I cannot grow, successfully, any of the boltonias,
while within a quarter of a mile of me, in a friend's garden, they grow
like weeds. Our soil is the same, and one would suppose that the
climatic conditions were, still the fact remains. I merely mention this
so that any novice finding that he cannot grow some plants as well as
others near him, may not feel lonesome in his grief. It is, however, a
good plan, when a plant supposedly easy to grow, fails to materialize,
to try it in another part of your own garden, and if it does not do
well there, discard and forget it--the world is full of good things.

Due to the fact of the perennial's habit of annual recurrence the
cultural directions are different from the flowers of but a season's
bloom. There are some vital fundamentals that every gardener should
know and some short cuts to success that every one may know. Since
perennials, then, form the very kernel of the garden these are things
of first importance in the growing of flowers and will be here
elaborated sufficiently to give the reader an impetus that will carry
him at a bound into the inner circle of the garden mysteries.


Do we want a successful flower bed--one that our neighbors will
envy--or one in which the plants are struggling to exist? If we want
the former--and who does not?--we must give our plants good pasturage.
They are as fond of the fat of the land as we are, and, since they
gladden our hearts with their radiant blooms, we should treat them
fairly. And how? By giving them a good, deep soil for their root-run,
not only rich in food, but loose and friable.

Most all virgin soils contain ample plant food, but the deeper part
lacks the result of the action of air, sun and frost, and the natural
humus of decayed leaves and grasses. The plant food it contains is
"uncooked"--that is, not ready for plant assimilation. Therefore, the
beds to contain your perennials should be dug at least two feet
deep--three is better--and good garden soil, or soil from a corn-field
or any hoed crop where the weeds have been kept down, used to
supplement all but the top layer one foot in depth. All of this applies
to tree and shrub holes also. This top layer of one foot in depth is
apt to be in fair condition for immediate use and may be applied in the
bottom of the bed, mixed with either fresh or rotted manure. The soil
brought in may be mixed with old manure and placed on top.

A word about "old manure" is opportune here. Any manure that has been
piled up for a year or more in a weed-infested corner and used on your
grounds, especially on your lawn, is the best promoter of exercise I
know of, and can keep you busy all summer dislodging the weeds that
spring from the seed its bosom protected.

Of course, in a few sections where the soil is three feet deep--as I am
told it is in the Illinois corn belt--all that is needed is to loosen
up the soil to the depth mentioned, and add old manure. If the removal
and bringing in of so much new soil is too harsh on the pocketbook we
must proceed in a more economical way. If the soil is clayey in
texture, mix with it sifted coal ashes or sand, and the coarser part of
the ashes may be incorporated with the soil in the lower foot of bed.
Remove the top one-foot layer, and set it aside; throw out the bottom
soil to the remaining depth. Break it up finely and, in replacing it,
besides the coal ashes or sand, add fresh strong manure, placing it in
horizontal layers--say three inches of soil, and then a layer of manure
four inches thick, when gently tamped down; or make the layers
slantingly--say at an angle of about forty-five degrees. This will add
humus to the soil, and allow air and moisture to penetrate it. Then put
in the original top layer, mixing it with old manure. No fresh manure
should touch the root of a plant. The fresh manure at the bottom of the
bed will be well rotted by the time the roots reach it. After the top
layer is put on you will find the bed raised up six to eight inches
above the lawn, which is all right; it will settle enough in time. At
all times break up the soil into fine particles, otherwise a lump of
clay will remain a lump, and is of little value for plant use.

In making beds or shrub holes close to buildings having a cellar, one
generally has to remove entirely all the soil, as that present usually
consists of the deeper soil from the cellar excavation, mixed with
bricks and mortar--few flowers root well in brick.

Place your flower beds along the walks, at the house, or along the lot
lines, but do not clutter the center of your lawn with them. An open
grass plot adds apparent size and dignity to any place. Give as much
open sunlight as possible. Only early spring bloomers, like the
hepaticas and trilliums, grow in what we call shade--though at the time
of their growth and bloom they have the sunlight through the leafless
tree branches. Do not make a bed where the drainage is bad or where
water will stand in it during the winter. Tile draining will improve
the bed under almost any circumstances.

Keep away from large trees. A vigorous elm, and a perennial cannot eat
and drink out of the same dish and both grow fat. The perennial will be
the one to suffer, mostly from lack of moisture. If you have planted
near a tree or lack of space compels you to do so, take a sharp spade
and, each spring, cut deeply all along the edge of the flower bed
nearest the tree, and pull out from the bed all the small roots you can
without disturbing the plants. This will help it for a time, but the
elm will invade the bed again and the operation must be repeated. This
applies to beds within eight or ten feet of a tree. For any bed much
nearer, the cutting would be apt to injure the tree, and the growth in
the bed would be a poor one.

Where the grounds are large and there is ample room for large beds at
the borders, with an open lawn in front, flowering shrubs may be used
as a background for perennials, but the growth of the shrubs requires
frequent removals of the perennials further forward, and a frequent
renewal of the plant food which the shrub is sharing. This method
requires more watering on account of the double duty required of the

Avoid fancy or geometrical shapes. They belong, when allowable, to
formal gardens where tender bedding plants are used. Along walks,
rectangular beds may be made, but against buildings or boundary lines,
while the rear line may be comparatively straight, the front should be
undulating, having long sweeping bays and promontories. No short curves
should exist. They interfere with the lawn-mower. When it is desirable
to face a boundary border with a walk, then, of course, the front line
of a bed should be straight.

[Illustration: A background of vines or flowering shrubs is worth
striving for, especially to set off white flowers like sweet rocket]

Some perennials require to be planted two feet apart, and in some, like
peonies, three feet is close enough, for in time their tops will meet.
Eighteen inches apart is enough to allow for the majority and some
slender ones require but one foot. All this should be taken into
consideration when determining the width of the bed.

Starting with the proposition that the average plant requires eighteen
inches headroom, and that the first row may be planted six inches
within the bed at the front--nine to twelve is better--and the second
one back eighteen inches, and six from the back, we find that with rows
two plants deep it requires a bed two feet and a half in width. This
should be the narrowest allowance you should make. In a four-foot bed
you can place them three deep, and one five and a half takes four
plants. In other words, you increase your width in jumps of eighteen
inches at a time. While this is not actually necessary, it is best and
applies only to the widest and narrowest points. The intervening curved
lines will vary from this measurement but it makes no difference,
because you do not plant in straight rows from back to front as one
would cabbages.

In planting at boundary lines or at buildings, the taller ones should
be used at the back, but the semi-tall ones--say three feet in
height--should occasionally be brought well toward the front in order
to avoid stiffness and to add irregularity to the general effect. If a
house or fence is at the back, flowering vines like the _Clematis
paniculata_, or _C. flammula_, or any annual flowering vine, may be
used here and there. In detached beds which may be seen from all sides,
the taller plants are set in the middle.

The effect is much better if you plant in groups of four, six, or more
of one kind. It relieves the effect of spottiness. Plant in an
irregular manner so as to avoid stiffness or lumpiness, and let one
group run in behind another. If you plant large groups in a pear-shaped
form with the narrow stem end slightly curved and let the larger end of
the adjoining pear-shaped group run up to the narrow stem of its
neighbor, you will produce the effect I suggest. The plants you buy,
being small, if planted as suggested will not occupy all the ground the
first year. These spaces may be carpeted with annuals for a year or so,
or planted with gladioli, lilies or _Hyacinth candicans_.

I will not attempt to discuss the fighting and clashing of colors
sometimes seen in plantings. The acknowledged head of the house--she
who is probably the one who desires the flower border--is generally an
authority on pleasing color combinations.

Securely staking tall-growing plants is necessary if one desires
neatness and effectiveness in the garden. We care for a plant twelve
months in the year for the benefit we derive from its short season of
bloom, and to allow it, then, to be sprawled upon the ground by passing
storms seems cruel. Broom handles and ash rods, half an inch in
diameter, used by basket makers, may be obtained from dealers in broom
material. Bamboo canes are useful, as well as the painted stakes sold
by seed houses. The stakes should be forced well down into the soil.
Often, in dry weather when the ground is hard, they are not driven down
far enough and the first hard rain softens the soil around them, and,
if a strong wind exists, the plant may topple over and carry the stake
with it. In tying them don't hug them as you would a long-lost brother;
give them some natural freedom. In large groups, place the stakes
around them, three or four feet apart, and string from stake to stake,
running cross strings through the plants or between them. A single
large plant generally requires at least three stakes. Do it before they
are broken down by storms, for once broken it is hard to make a good
job of it, especially if left down for some time. Then the growing ends
turn up for light and harden in that bent condition.

If you raise the perennials yourself it is best to grow them one year
in a reserve bed, say in the vegetable garden, because but very few
will bloom the first year from seed. Purchased plants should have
blossoms the first year, as they are supposed to be one-year-old
seedlings or are divisions of old plants. These may be set out in the
first position upon arrival. Seedlings in the reserve bed may be
planted in rows, each row a foot apart, and the plants six inches apart
in the rows; thus planted, they take up but little room and in the
early fall or next spring they may be removed to their permanent

In transplanting, be sure to expose the roots as little as possible to
the sun or drying winds. When plants arrive with the started foliage
looking wilted, sprinkle them overhead and set them in a shady
sheltered position for a while--say an hour. This will generally revive
them enough to go on with your planting. If you have reason to suppose
the plants were frosted in transit, set the box in a cool cellar over
night. A gradual thawing out may rejuvenate them, while a sudden
thawing is dangerous.

In planting, it often helps an amateur to take a few stakes and place
one at each point he desires to set a plant. If you set six or more
stakes, plant six or more plants, pulling up the stakes as you proceed
to set out more. Make the holes in the bed wide enough to allow the
roots to go in without crowding, and after filling in the soil, press
it down firmly around the neck of the plant, and over the roots, and
water well when all the bed is planted.

When dry, hot weather comes, and you think artificial watering
necessary, soak the bed well and then let it alone for some time,
although, in the evening, after a hot sunny day accompanied by a
strong, drying wind, if the foliage looks wilted somewhat, a showering
overhead is beneficial. The day after a good soaking it is well to go
lightly over the bed with a hoe or rake and stir up the soil, breaking
the crust produced by the watering. This makes a mulch that will
conserve the moisture and protect the roots from the hot sun. Frequent
slight waterings keep the moisture at the top and the roots are then
inclined to grow upwards to meet it. If you then neglect to water, the
soil soon becomes dry and the roots suffer.


When winter approaches, if you desire tidiness, cut the tops down
(except evergreen-foliaged plants) even if the frost has not already
done this work for you, and cover the bed with well-rotted manure, but
it is really better to allow the tops to remain all winter, especially
in the case of hollow-stemmed plants. Well-decayed manure needs but
little going over in the spring, requiring only the removal of the
foreign material and the straw chaff it may contain. What remains is
generally the color of the soil, thus unnoticeable and acts as a mulch
during the summer. Fresh manure may be used--in fact it is better,
because the plants receive the benefit of the leachings, which is
pretty well spent in old manure. In large grounds there is, however,
considerable labor attached to the removal of this fertilizer in the
spring, as it must be taken away for neatness' sake. While this manure
has the greater part of its strength leached out, it is well worth
saving for the humus still in it, and it may be dug in in the vegetable
garden, or placed in a large flat pile about two feet high while still
loosely spread. Melons, squash, pumpkins or similar sprawling vines may
be grown in it. For each plant dump about one-half a wheelbarrow of
good soil on the top, level and sow in it, or set out plants, if the
seedlings are started elsewhere. The roots of these plants like the
loose run the open manure allows. In extreme dry weather the growing
squash or pumpkins should be well watered. In the fall this manure has
become fine in texture and makes a splendid winter's mulch for
snowdrops, crocus, etc.

Do not be in a hurry about removing the winter's covering when the
first warm days of spring appear. More damage is done in early spring
than in settled cold weather. It is the alternate freezing and thawing
that does the most damage, and the surface water lying over the crowns
of plants, which the frozen ground underneath does not allow to go
down. I have seen roots of shallow-rooted plants, _Lobelia cardinalis_
for instance, growing in clayey soil, lying on the surface of the
ground in spring--pried out by soil expansion. Part of the covering may
be removed quite early but enough should remain to shade the ground.


Shallow-rooted plants like the cardinal flower (_Lobelia cardinalis_)
and the tall, fall-flowering hardy phloxes, dislike the hot sun beating
down on their roots. Being surface rooters, and at the same time fond
of moisture, they suffer when the surface soil is dried out. They
should have a summer mulch to intercept the radiation of moisture from
the soil.

The spent manure I mentioned as fine for covering bulbs, is splendid
for this purpose and as it is of the same color as the soil, its
presence is hardly noticeable; besides it adds humus. Almost any open
material may be used, that will not offend our ideas of tidiness in
appearance. Grass clippings from the lawn-mower may be used.

Some plants are late in appearing above ground in the spring,
_Platycodons_ for instance, and there is danger of their being dug up
by impatient amateurs who have either forgotten their presence or
imagined they were dead and the ground vacant. It is well, therefore,
to place in the fall some cane stakes at each plant or in a row around
a group of this class to indicate their presence. I also place stakes
at each lily as they generally occupy open spaces between perennials,
and I seldom wish to disturb them if it becomes necessary to remove one
of the perennials.

With few exceptions--peonies and the gas plant, for
instance--perennials need dividing and resetting every two or three
years, which should be done in the early fall or early spring, but
never when the soil is very wet, because in the subsequent manipulation
of the soil to replenishing its food supply, it should be dry enough to
break up into fine particles. The Japanese anemone should be replanted
only in the spring. It is in bloom and in active life in the fall. The
best way to proceed is to work one section at a time--say a ten-foot
strip. Cut back the foliage, take up the plants and lay them aside,
covering with burlap or some material to keep the sun and wind from
their roots. Then dig the bed up, deeply, and add some well-rotted
manure, rake smoothly and replant. While it is probably best not to set
the same plants back in the same position occupied before, it may be
done, for if the soil has been well worked up it is apt to have changed
its position. Then take up another section and do the same. In the
meantime all large roots are divided. Some may be pulled apart, but
more often they have to be cut through with a sharp spade or a butcher
knife. Discard all evidence of decay and use only the healthy outer
rim, possessing well-developed roots. They generally show the stalk
buds for next year's growth. Three to five of these buds will make a
good plant. Sometimes, in the case, perhaps, of a cherished but not
over-robust larkspur, you find part of the original root decayed, but
if it has a few good roots attached to it, dust powdered sulphur on the
decayed part--it often checks decay--and you may eventually restore
your pet to a healthy condition.

[Illustration: Peonies have the advantages of few enemies, long and
vigorous life, beauty and, in most varieties, delightful fragrance]

If you want a delightful recreation and lots of fun, and would like to
possess some plant producing a flower entirely new in color or form,
and, certainly in your estimation finer than any your rival neighbors
have ever seen, make a reserve bed in some sunny spot and raise hybrid
delphiniums. In fact any one possessing a good collection of perennials
should have a reserve plantation to draw from in order to fill up gaps
that will be found in the main bed after any hard winter. It is
especially useful for keeping up a stock of that charming but
short-lived perennial, the columbine (_Aquilegia_), which seldom can be
depended upon after the second year. I am speaking of the finer forms.

These hybrid delphiniums, or garden larkspur, possess the blood of two
or more species and as a result are inclined to "sport," producing
flowers of various forms and colors, entirely different from those of
the parents. The word "sport" as used by gardeners is applied to any
plant that displays a marked contrast in foliage, flower, form or habit
of growth, from the type or normal aspect of the original species. The
well-known golden glow is a good example, being a double form of the
single-flowered _Rudbeckia laciniata_, a tall member of the Black-eyed
Susan family, and known as one of the coneflowers. The flower head of
the type is composed of two parts--the outer row of yellow "ray
florets," which is not a part of the flower proper, except that it
might be likened to the fringe that borders a curtain, and the dark
brown cone in the center, which is composed of numerous minute,
individual flowers like the dandelion, each perfect and capable of
producing seed. Nature is slyly freakish at times, and in this instance
she changed the individual flowers into ray florets. Fortunately some
observing flower lover saw this one original plant, for undoubtedly the
freak occurred in one plant only, and transplanting it to his garden,
eventually gave to the floral world the now common golden glow. If not
noticed by some one, the plant would have lived its allotted term and
died unknown to the world, for it produces no seed.

The delphinium sports into various forms of flower, color and shape--the
tones of color being a mingling of blues, pinks and mauve, some in the
most lovely combinations imaginable. They will all bloom the first year
from seed if sown in February or March in a greenhouse or hot-bed, but
will not all bloom at once, so that for at least a period of one month,
new blooms are opening each day. One's main pleasure is in expectancy.
You are always looking and hoping for something better, and you generally
get it. It is best, when a plant does not produce a flower up to grade,
to dig it up and discard it, but those that are good should be marked
in some manner to identify them. A label placed at their side will do,
but the better way is to get some small sheet-lead tags, bearing
stamped-in numbers or letters. Attach to wire pegs ten inches long and
force down near the plant, recording its number in your "Garden Book"
with a description of the flower. This enables you at any planting
time--spring is the best for delphiniums--to plant in groups of light
blues, dark blues, etc. You may be undecided sometimes as to whether
you consider a plant good enough to keep or not. In this case keep it,
but mark it a "hold-over." Some plants do better the second season.
They may be sown outdoors in May, but will hardly bloom the same year.


Many combinations may be used whereby a certain area may be made to
produce a double crop of bloom, and thus prolong the flowering season
within that area. Peonies, which are planted two and a half to three
feet apart, may have the _Lilium superbum_, the later varieties of
gladiolus, or _Hyacinth candicans_ planted in between them; the last
two should be taken up each fall as they are not hardy in all sections.
The lilies will require resetting every few years, as they travel
around in their new growth, and may invade the peony roots. These will
flower above the peony foliage. Fall is the best time to plant any

The shooting star (_Dodecatheon media_) may be planted between the
spreading dwarf plants of that admirable bell flower (_Campanula
Carpatica_). The bell flowers may be planted eighteen inches apart and,
in the spring, when the shooting stars are up and in bloom, the foliage
of the campanula is hardly in evidence, but during the summer it
occupies all the space between them.

[Illustration: There are interesting combinations of flowers not only
for succession of bloom but for simultaneous bloom, as Canterbury bells
(_Campanula medium_) and foxglove (_Digitalis_)]

After flowering, all that part of the shooting star above ground turns
brown, dies back and disappears to return again next spring.

The Virginia bluebell (_Mertensia Virginica_) is another charming plant
of the same habit, and as it is worthy of cultivation in groups, it
often becomes a question where to place it so that the bare ground it
leaves behind is not an eye-sore. Besides colonies I have established
in my ravine, where the overhanging underbrush hides its absence later
on, I grow it under large bushes of forsythia. Both bloom at the same
time and the pink buds and open blue bells of the _Mertensia_, when
seen through the fleecy mass of the golden bells of the forsythia, make
a charming picture. After flowering, the forsythia hides the disrobing
_Mertensia_ with its heavy sheet of foliage.

Some perennials--the bleeding heart and the perennial poppy--have
ragged foliage after blooming and require some tall bushy plant to
be placed in front and around them to hide their shabbiness.
Strong-growing perennials, asters or the biennial _Rudbeckia triloba_,
are good for this purpose.

Some instances occur where a low hedge of perennials might look well,
for instance in a small yard where all the lines are formal and a
straight walk leads from gate to house. A floral hedge might be placed
at each side of the walk by making beds eighteen inches to two feet
wide and deep. The best perennial hardy plant I know for this purpose
is the gas plant (_Dictamnus fraxinella_), which, when once established,
remains a joy, almost forever. Some people are still enjoying the
blooms of plants set out by their great-grandmothers. This plant is
slow in increasing its size, but a row planted twelve inches apart will
in time make a compact hedge with a dark green, lustrous foliage, over
two feet tall and fully as broad. The flower spikes are borne well
above the foliage, some pink, deeply veined a darker hue, and some
white. A mixture of the colors is desirable. On account of the slow
habit of its increase, the bed will look scantily furnished for a few
years. This can be remedied by growing at each side of the row of
plants any spring-flowering bulb, or by carpeting in summer with sweet
alyssum, sowing seeds in the bed. Any low-growing annual will do, but
it must be low-growing or it may injure the _Fraxinella_.


Paradoxical as it may seem, the weed is the best friend the farmer has
because it compels him to cultivate his land in order to exterminate
the intruder. Cultivation keeps the soil open to air and moisture and
conserves the latter. It is best, therefore, to go over lightly with a
hoe the day after a heavy rain or a good watering.

The time to weed is before you see the weeds, but if they do appear,
don't run away from them. When none are in sight, the chances are that
upon microscopic examination, a velvety fuzz of green would be
discovered. These are minute weed seedlings, but yet slightly rooted,
and easily treated by simple dislodgment. A hot, windy day is a good
time to hoe between your plants, because the wind and sun kill the
uprooted weeds in a short time. They dry up, and there is but little to
remove. On a damp cloudy day if a disturbed bit--no matter how
small--of the pestiferous couch grass rolls near the base of a plant
and remains there, it will send down its roots among those of the
plant, and it is almost impossible to get them out without taking the
plant up.


It is useless to attempt to name and describe all the good perennials
that may be grown, but there are some that seem to do well in all
sections and it may be well to call attention to some of them.

_Anchusia Italica_--Italian Alknet

One should grow the Dropmore variety, or possibly Perry's variety, a
new form just introduced. I would not have included this plant in the
list, because it does not winter well and a stock of seedling plants
should be grown each year and wintered in a coldframe, did it not
present such an airy, open-headed plant covered with its gentian-blue
flowers for a long time. A good blue is a rare color in the garden. A
group of these should be planted about two and a half feet apart and at
the rear, as they grow five to six feet in height.

Asters (hardy)

The so-called aster, grown by florists, and in general gardens, is not
a true aster, but is known botanically as _Callistephus Chinensis_,
introduced from China in 1731, and is a hardy annual. Why it received
the common name of aster I have never been able to find out. The true
aster is named from its star shape, and in England is much prized and
is called the Michaelmas Daisy, because they are in full bloom at the
time of the feast of St. Michael. As they grow wild nearly everywhere
in the States, they are not grown so much in gardens here. All good
catalogues list quite a number of good varieties for one to choose
from. Being tall they should be planted at the rear.

_Aconitum_--Monk's-hood, Helmet Flower

This plant, the roots of which are poisonous, should not be grown where
children are apt to get at its roots, and when transplanted care should
be taken not to allow any of its small, beet-like tubers to lie around,
the surplus being burned. They grow about four feet high, blooming in
the latter part of summer. _A. autumnale_ and _A. Napellus_ are among
the best.

Anemones--Wind Flower

_Anemone Pennsylvanica_ is a native, growing a little over a foot in
height, producing in profusion fairly large white flowers in July and
August. Having a "woodsy" look, it seems at home in semi-shaded
positions, where it does well, but will thrive in full sun. The king of
the tribe, however, is the Japanese variety, _A. Japonica_, especially
the variety _Alba_, with large, showy, pure white flowers, blooming
late in the fall, often after the first slight frost, and at a time
when all others are gone. For this reason they should be planted where
they may be seen from some house window, and thus be enjoyed when it is
too chilly to be out-of-doors. If planted eighteen inches apart, cup
and saucer Canterbury bells may be planted in between them and removed
when through blooming. The anemones do not require the room before

[Illustration: One of the brightest stars of the garden in late fall is
the Japanese anemone]

_Arabis Alpina_--Rock Cress

Rock cress is an early spring, white-flowering plant. Its low-growing
habit makes it suitable for edging. In the fall plant _Chionodoxa
Luciliæ_ in between them. This is a blue-flowering bulb, hardy, cheap
and in flower at the same time the rock cress is.


These have been mentioned in connection with the article on reserve
beds. The Rocky Mountain columbine (_A. cærulea_), a bright blue form,
is probably the handsomest one of the family, but it seldom lasts long.
The golden columbine (_A. chrysantha_) seems to be the sturdiest of the
group and lasts several years. It belongs to the long-spurred class,
all of which are good.

_Bocconia cordata_--Plume Poppy

The plume poppy is a stately plant, attaining a height of seven to
eight feet, bearing in July and August terminal panicles of creamy
white flowers having large, indented glaucous foliage. It has one
fault, however; it spreads rapidly and soon takes possession of the
whole bed, and therefore should be in an individual hole of its own.
The plantings are sometimes made in large bottomless tubs, sunk in the

_Campanula_--Bell Flower

Nearly all of this family, as well as the allied _Platycodons_, are
good. They are slender, upright growers, as a rule, but _C. Carpatica_,
already mentioned in the text, grows but eight inches tall. The species
_macrantha persicifolia, rotundifolia_ (Blue Bells of Scotland) and
_Trachelium_, are the most reliable among the group. The cup-and-saucer,
and the chimney bell flower, are biennials, blooming but once, and have
to be wintered the year prior in a coldframe.


Like an open sunny position. _C. macrocephala_ is the best, bearing
thistle-like golden yellow flowers.


The species _lanceolata_, and _C. grandiflora_, have rich golden
flowers of pleasing form, splendid for cutting. They grow about two
feet high and bloom all summer if not allowed to go to seed, but seldom
last over the third year.


Have already been discussed. All the named varieties are good,
especially Belladonna. See page 26.

_Dictamnus_--Gas Plant

Fully described on page 32.


The form usually grown is treated as a biennial, and with me, must be
coldframed the first year. _Ambigua_ or _grandiflora_ is a perennial
having pleasing pale yellow flowers, and is a comparatively long-lived

_Echinops_--Globe Thistle

This is a tall, interesting plant with foliage somewhat like a thistle.
_E. Ritro_ is the best. Its peculiar flower head consists of a ball
about an inch and a half in diameter, from which spring, in close array
all over the ball, minute flowers of a deep metallic blue.

_Eryngium_--Sea Holly

A plant somewhat similar in appearance to the _Echinops_, but smaller
in all its parts. _E. amethystinum_ is the best, having small globular
flower heads of an amethystine blue color, this color also extending
quite a way down the flower stems.


Two forms are in the market--_E. ageratoides_, bearing numerous small
white flowers in late summer, and _E. coelestinum_, with light blue
flowers similar to the ageratum. Both are good.

_Funkia_--Plantain Lily--Broad-leaf Day Lily

I consider _F. subcordata grandiflora_ the best of this group. In time
a single plant, if not crowded, will make a mound of green foliage,
looking as if an inverted bushel basket were shingled with broad
overlapping foliage, above which, in August, spring pure white,
sweet-scented lily-like flowers. It will stand partial shade. If
planted in groups they should be placed two and a half to three feet
apart. Tulips may be planted between them.

_Gaillardia_--Blanket Flower

The perennial forms produce much handsomer flowers than do the annuals.
All of our garden perennial forms, including _grandiflora_, are
varieties of _G. aristata_, and, being natives of Texas, are not always
hardy in the Northern States.--See page 4 in the text. It is a rather
sprawling plant, growing naturally some two feet high, and hard to
stake, but may be pegged down. Use common long hairpins. It requires an
open situation in full sun, and thrives best in a sandy soil, well


Quite a hardy border plant, rather low in its foliage, but throwing its
flower stems up fully eighteen inches, blooming more or less all
summer. _G. coccineum_, with scarlet flowers, and _G. Hederichi_,
are both good.

_Hesperis matronalis_--Rocket

An admirable plant for use where most other plants would fail. It does
fairly well in semi-shady places, at base of shrubs and in between them
in open spots. Plants grow three to four feet tall, of bushy form when
treated well, bearing pinkish flowers in June and July. There is a
white form.

_Hemerocalis_--Yellow Day Lily

All are good, strong growers with narrow iris-like foliage, producing
flowers in tones of yellow. _H. flava_, the sweet-scented, deep
lemon-yellow-flowered form, is the best and must not be confounded with
the coarser-flowered _H. fulva_, the tawny day lily.


All the mallows are good, from the "crimson eye" to the new mallow
marvels, moderately late, upright-growing and hardy. The colors run
from pure white to pinks and reds.

_Inula ensifolia_

A low-growing very hardy plant bearing freely yellow daisy-like
flowers, always presenting a neat appearance.


On account of the prevailing hollyhock disease--a disease of the
foliage hard to combat--it is best to grow one-year-old plants, as they
are less affected than the older ones. The singles are the most


This is a large group, from the bulbous Spanish and English iris, which
bloom in June and then die down to reappear next season, and may
therefore be planted in open spaces between other plants, to the
magnificent Japanese iris, _I. Kæmpferi_. This latter one is somewhat
fickle and does not last long. The best for general planting are the
German, _cristata_, _pumilla_ and _Sibirica_ varieties. _Pallida
Dalmatica_ is exceedingly fine.

[Illustration: The tall-growing hardy phlox is a garden mainstay
through August, September and October. Beware of the magenta colorings]

_Lysimachia clethroides_--Loose-strife

An excellent plant in damp soils.


Every one should have them, including the early-flowering red _P.
officinalis_, and the later ones. Try a few tree peonies--_P. Moutan_.
They are grafted on the ordinary form, so destroy all suckers that come
from below the union.


The tall-growing hardy phlox should be in all gardens. It is permanent
if taken up every three years and divided. Strong "cutting" plants give
the finest blooms. Avoid magenta colors. The new salmon-pink Elizabeth
Campbell is fine; on light soils, well drained, the creeping forms are


The hybrids of _P. roseum_ have handsome, daisy-like flowers in white
and various shades of pink, up to red, in single and semi-double forms,
but they seldom live long. A raised bed suits them best. _P. uliginosum_,
the giant white daisy, is fine in damp situations.


This genus includes the well-known golden glow and _R. nitida_ var.
Autumn Sun, growing five feet high. It bears attractive primrose yellow
flowers. The giant purple coneflower, often classed as a rudbeckia, is
really an _Echinacea_, growing three or more feet tall, bearing reddish
purple flowers and is very attractive in groups bordering a woods or
shrubbery belt, presenting a rustic aspect and remaining a long time in

_Thalictrum_--Meadow Rue

The white form of _T. aquilegifolium_ is a very handsome plant, doing
fairly well in open shade, flowering in fluffy masses of white.


These are all good, but _V. longifolia subsessilis_ is by far the
finest of the taller growers, reaching a height of three feet, and
bearing long slender spikes of deep blue flowers.


_Actæa spicata_--Baneberry
_Anemone Pennsylvanica_--Wind Flower
_Funkia_--Plantain Lily
Hepaticas--Liver Leaf
_Thalictrum_--Meadow Rue
Trillium--Wake Robin
_Mertensia Virginica_--Virginia Blue Bells


_Asclepias tuberosa_--Butterfly Weed
_Aquilegia Canadensis_--Canadian Columbine
_Aquilegia alpina_--Alpine Columbine
_Gypsophila paniculata_--Baby's Breath
_Gaillardia_--Blanket Flower
_Geranium sanguineum_--Cranes-bill
_Helianthus multiflorus_, fl. pl.--Double Mexican Sunflower
_Inula grandiflora_--Flea Bane
_Inula ensifolia_
_Saxifraga crassifolia_
_Tunica saxifraga_

[Illustration: Crimson-eye hibiscus or swamp mallow, blooming in August
and September]

[Illustration: Gaillardias are at their best in the perennial form and
thrive in a sandy soil]

[Illustration: _Campanula persicifolia_, one of the best varieties in
the bell flower family]


_Hibiscus Moscheutos_--Swamp Mallow, and all Mallows
_Iris pseudacorus_
  "   _Sibirica_--Siberian Iris
  "   _lævigata_--Japanese Iris
  "   _prismatica_
_Lilium superbum_--Turk's-cap Lily
_Lobelia cardinalis_--Cardinal Flower
_Monarda_--Bergamot--in variety, Rose
_Lythrum Salicaria_--Loose-strife
_Lysimachia clethroides_--Loose-strife
_Polygonum cuspidatum_--Giant Knot-weed
_Spiræa_--dwarf herbaceous form in variety


_Achillea tomontosa_--Wooly Yarrow
_Arabis albida_--Rock Cress
_Campanula Carpatica_--Carpathian Harebell
_Coronilla varia_--Crown Vetch
_Geum coccineum_--Avens
_Gypsophila repens_--Baby's Breath
_Inula ensifolia_--Flea Bane
_Phlox amoena_, in variety--Creeping Phlox
_Sedum_, in variety--Stonecrop
_Tunica saxifraga_
_Veronica circæoides_--Speedwell
_Yucca filamentosa_--Adam's Needle

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Making a Garden of Perennials" ***

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