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Title: Wood and Garden - Notes and thoughts, practical and critical, of a working amateur
Author: Jekyll, Gertrude
Language: English
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    WOOD AND GARDEN

    [Illustration: _Frontispiece._]



    WOOD AND GARDEN

    NOTES AND THOUGHTS, PRACTICAL AND
    CRITICAL, OF A WORKING AMATEUR

    By

    GERTRUDE JEKYLL

    _With 71 Illustrations from Photographs
    by the Author_

    [Illustration]

    Second Edition

    Longmans, Green, and Co.
    39 Paternoster Row, London
    New York and Bombay

    1899

    _All rights reserved_



    Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
    At the Ballantyne Press



PREFACE


From its simple nature, this book seems scarcely to need any prefatory
remarks, with the exception only of certain acknowledgments.

A portion of the contents (about one-third) appeared during the years
1896 and 1897 in the pages of the _Guardian_, as "Notes from Garden and
Woodland." I am indebted to the courtesy of the editor and proprietors
of that journal for permission to republish these notes.

The greater part of the photographs from which the illustrations have
been prepared were done on my own ground--a space of some fifteen acres.
Some of them, owing to my want of technical ability as a photographer,
were very weak, and have only been rendered available by the skill of
the reproducer, for whose careful work my thanks are due.

A small number of the photographs were done for reproduction in
wood-engraving for Mr. Robinson's _Garden_, _Gardening Illustrated_, and
_English Flower Garden_. I have his kind permission to use the original
plates.

                                                                 G. J.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I

    INTRODUCTORY                                                 1-6

  CHAPTER II

    JANUARY                                                      7-18

    Beauty of woodland in winter -- The nut-walk --
    Thinning the overgrowth -- A nut nursery -- _Iris
    stylosa_ -- Its culture -- Its home in Algeria --
    Discovery of the white variety -- Flowers and branches
    for indoor decoration.

  CHAPTER III

    FEBRUARY                                                    19-31

    Distant promise of summer -- Ivy-berries -- Coloured
    leaves -- _Berberis Aquifolium_ -- Its many merits --
    Thinning and pruning shrubs -- Lilacs -- Removing
    Suckers -- Training _Clematis flammula_ -- Forms of
    trees -- Juniper, a neglected native evergreen --
    Effect of snow -- Power of recovery -- Beauty of colour
    -- Moss-grown stems.

  CHAPTER IV

    MARCH                                                       32-45

    Flowering bulbs -- Dog-tooth Violet -- Rock-garden --
    Variety of Rhododendron foliage -- A beautiful old
    kind -- Suckers on grafted plants -- Plants for
    filling up the beds -- Heaths -- Andromedas -- Lady
    Fern -- _Lilium auratum_ -- Pruning Roses -- Training
    and tying climbing plants -- Climbing and free-growing
    Roses -- The Vine the best wall-covering -- Other
    climbers -- Wild Clematis -- Wild Rose.

  CHAPTER V

    APRIL                                                       46-58

    Woodland spring flowers -- Daffodils in the copse --
    Grape Hyacinths and other spring bulbs -- How best to
    plant them -- Flowering shrubs -- Rock-plants -- Sweet
    scents of April -- Snowy Mespilus, Marsh Marigolds,
    and other spring flowers -- Primrose garden -- Pollen
    of Scotch Fir -- Opening seed-pods of Fir and Gorse --
    Auriculas -- Tulips -- Small shrubs for rock-garden --
    Daffodils as cut flowers -- Lent Hellebores --
    Primroses -- Leaves of wild Arum.

  CHAPTER VI

    MAY                                                         59-76

    Cowslips -- Morells -- Woodruff -- Felling oak timber --
    Trillium and other wood-plants -- Lily of the Valley
    naturalised -- Rock-wall flowers -- Two good wall-shrubs
    -- Queen wasps -- Rhododendrons -- Arrangement for colour
    -- Separate colour-groups -- Difficulty of choosing --
    Hardy Azaleas -- Grouping flowers that bloom together --
    Guelder-rose as climber -- The garden-wall door -- The
    Pæony garden -- Moutans -- Pæony varieties -- Species
    desirable for garden.

  CHAPTER VII

    JUNE                                                        77-88

    The gladness of June -- The time of Roses -- Garden
    Roses -- Reine Blanche -- The old white Rose -- Old
    garden Roses as standards -- Climbing and rambling Roses
    -- Scotch Briars -- Hybrid Perpetuals a difficulty --
    Tea Roses -- Pruning -- Sweet Peas autumn sown --
    Elder-trees -- Virginian Cowslip -- Dividing
    spring-blooming plants -- Two best Mulleins -- White
    French Willow -- Bracken.

  CHAPTER VIII

    JULY                                                        89-99

    Scarcity of flowers -- Delphiniums -- Yuccas --
    Cottager's way of protecting tender plants --
    Alströmerias -- Carnations -- Gypsophila -- _Lilium
    giganteum_ -- Cutting fern-pegs.

  CHAPTER IX

    AUGUST                                                     100-111

    Leycesteria -- Early recollections -- Bank of choice
    shrubs -- Bank of Briar Roses -- Hollyhocks -- Lavender
    -- Lilies -- Bracken and Heaths -- The Fern-walk --
    Late-blooming rock-plants -- Autumn flowers -- Tea Roses
    -- Fruit of _Rosa rugosa_ -- Fungi -- Chantarelle.

  CHAPTER X

    SEPTEMBER                                                  112-124

    Sowing Sweet Peas -- Autumn-sown annuals -- Dahlias --
    Worthless kinds -- Staking -- Planting the rock-garden
    -- Growing small plants in a wall -- The old wall --
    Dry-walling -- How built -- How planted -- Hyssop -- A
    destructive storm -- Berries of Water-elder -- Beginning
    ground-work.

  CHAPTER XI

    OCTOBER                                                    125-143

    Michaelmas Daisies -- Arranging and staking --
    Spindle-tree -- Autumn colour of Azaleas -- Quinces --
    Medlars -- Advantage of early planting of shrubs --
    Careful planting -- Pot-bound roots -- Cypress hedge
    -- Planting in difficult places -- Hardy flower border
    -- Lifting Dahlias -- Dividing hardy plants --
    Dividing tools -- Plants difficult to divide --
    Periwinkles -- Sternbergia -- Czar Violets -- Deep
    cultivation for _Lilium giganteum_.

  CHAPTER XII

    NOVEMBER                                                   144-157

    Giant Christmas Rose -- Hardy Chrysanthemums --
    Sheltering tender shrubs -- Turfing by inoculation --
    Transplanting large trees -- Sir Henry Steuart's
    experience early in the century -- Collecting fallen
    leaves -- Preparing grubbing tools -- Butcher's Broom
    -- Alexandrian Laurel -- Hollies and Birches -- A
    lesson in planting.

  CHAPTER XIII

    DECEMBER                                                   158-170

    The woodman at work -- Tree-cutting in frosty weather
    -- Preparing sticks and stakes -- Winter Jasmine --
    Ferns in the wood-walk -- Winter colour of evergreen
    shrubs -- Copse-cutting -- Hoop-making -- Tools used
    -- Sizes of hoops -- Men camping out -- Thatching with
    hoop-chips -- The old thatcher's bill.

  CHAPTER XIV

    LARGE AND SMALL GARDENS                                    171-187

    A well done villa-garden -- A small town-garden -- Two
    delightful gardens of small size -- Twenty acres
    within the walls -- A large country house and its
    garden -- Terrace -- Lawn -- Parterre -- Free garden
    -- Kitchen garden -- Buildings -- Ornamental orchard
    -- Instructive mixed gardens -- Mr. Wilson's at Wisley
    -- A window garden.

  CHAPTER XV

    BEGINNING AND LEARNING                                     188-199

    The ignorant questioner -- Beginning at the end -- An
    example -- Personal experience -- Absence of outer
    help -- Johns' "Flowers of the Field" -- Collecting
    plants -- Nurseries near London -- Wheel-spokes as
    labels -- Garden friends -- Mr. Robinson's "English
    Flower-Garden" -- Mr. Nicholson's "Dictionary of
    Gardening" -- One main idea desirable -- Pictorial
    treatment -- Training in fine art -- Adapting from
    Nature -- Study of colour -- Ignorant use of the word
    "artistic."

  CHAPTER XVI

    THE FLOWER-BORDER AND PERGOLA                              200-215

    The flower-border -- The wall and its occupants --
    _Choisya ternata_ -- Nandina -- Canon Ellacombe's
    garden -- Treatment of colour-masses -- Arrangement of
    plants in the border -- Dahlias and Cannas -- Covering
    bare places -- The Pergola -- How made -- Suitable
    climbers -- Arbours of trained Planes -- Garden
    houses.

  CHAPTER XVII

    THE PRIMROSE GARDEN                                        216-220

  CHAPTER XVIII

    COLOURS OF FLOWERS                                         221-228

  CHAPTER XIX

    THE SCENTS OF THE GARDEN                                   229-240

  CHAPTER XX

    THE WORSHIP OF FALSE GODS                                  241-248

  CHAPTER XXI

    NOVELTY AND VARIETY                                        249-255

  CHAPTER XXII

    WEEDS AND PESTS                                            256-262

  CHAPTER XXIII

    THE BEDDING FASHION AND ITS INFLUENCE                      263-270

  CHAPTER XXIV

    MASTERS AND MEN                                            271-279

    INDEX                                                          280



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    FRONTISPIECE                                          _face title_

    A WILD JUNIPER                                   _face page_    19

    SCOTCH FIRS THROWN ON TO FROZEN WATER BY SNOWSTORM    "         27

    OLD JUNIPER, SHOWING FORMER INJURIES                  "         29

    JUNIPER, LATELY WRECKED BY SNOWSTORM                  "         29

    GARDEN DOOR-WAY WREATHED WITH CLEMATIS GRAVEOLENS     "         39

    COTTAGE PORCH WREATHED WITH THE DOUBLE WHITE ROSE
    (_R. alba_)                                           "         39

    WILD HOP, ENTWINING WORMWOOD AND COW-PARSNIP          "         43

    DAFFODILS IN THE COPSE                                "         48

    MAGNOLIA STELLATA                                     "         50

    DAFFODILS AMONG JUNIPERS WHERE GARDEN JOINS COPSE     "         51

    TIARELLA CORDIFOLIA                                   "         53

    HOLLYHOCK, PINK BEAUTY. (_See page 105_)              "         53

    TULIPA RETROFLEXA                                     "         55

    LATE SINGLE TULIPS, BREEDERS AND BYBLOEMEN            "         55

    TRILLIUM IN THE WILD GARDEN                           "         61

    RHODODENDRONS WHERE THE COPSE AND GARDEN MEET         "         65

    GRASS WALKS THROUGH THE COPSE                         "         66

    RHODODENDRONS AT THE EDGE OF THE COPSE                "         68

    SOUTH SIDE OF DOOR, WITH CLEMATIS MONTANA
    AND CHOISYA                                           "         72

    NORTH SIDE OF THE SAME DOOR, WITH CLEMATIS
    MONTANA AND GUELDER-ROSE                              "         72

    FREE CLUSTER-ROSE AS STANDARD IN A COTTAGE GARDEN     "         77

    DOUBLE WHITE SCOTCH BRIAR                             "         81

    PART OF A BUSH OF ROSA POLYANTHA                      "         82

    GARLAND-ROSE SHOWING NATURAL WAY OF GROWTH            "         82

    LILAC MARIE LEGRAYE (_See page 23_)                   "         84

    FLOWERING ELDER AND PATH FROM GARDEN TO COPSE         "         84

    THE GIANT LILY                                        "         96

    CISTUS FLORENTINUS                                    "        101

    THE GREAT ASPHODEL                                    "        101

    LAVENDER HEDGE AND STEPS TO THE LOFT                  "        105

    HOLLYHOCK, PINK BEAUTY                                "        105

    SOLOMON'S SEAL IN SPRING, IN THE UPPER PART
    OF THE FERN-WALK                                      "        107

    THE FERN-WALK IN AUGUST                               "        107

    JACK (_See page 79_)                                  "        117

    THE "OLD WALL"                                        "        117

    ERINUS ALPINUS, CLOTHING STEPS IN ROCK-WALL           "        121

    BORDERS OF MICHAELMAS DAISIES                         "        126

    PENS FOR STORING DEAD LEAVES                          "        150

    CAREFUL WILD-GARDENING--WHITE FOXGLOVES AT
    THE EDGE OF THE FIR WOOD. (_See page 270_)            "        150

    HOLLY STEMS IN AN OLD HEDGE-ROW                       "        153

    WILD JUNIPERS                                         "        154

    WILD JUNIPERS                                         "        156

    THE WOODMAN                                           "        158

    GRUBBING A TREE-STUMP                                 "        161

    FELLING AND GRUBBING TOOLS (_See page 150_)           "        161

    HOOP-MAKING IN THE WOODS                              "        167

    HOOP-SHAVING                                          "        169

    SHED-ROOF, THATCHED WITH HOOP-CHIP                    "        169

    GARLAND-ROSE WREATHING THE END OF A TERRACE WALL      "        178

    A ROADSIDE COTTAGE GARDEN                             "        185

    A FLOWER-BORDER IN JUNE                               "        200

    PATHWAY ACROSS THE SOUTH BORDER IN JULY               "        202

    OUTSIDE VIEW OF THE BRICK PERGOLA SHOWN
    AT PAGE 214, AFTER SIX YEARS' GROWTH                  "        202

    END OF FLOWER-BORDER AND ENTRANCE OF PERGOLA          "        210

    SOUTH BORDER DOOR AND YUCCAS IN AUGUST                "        210

    STONE-BUILT PERGOLA WITH WROUGHT OAK BEAMS            "        214

    PERGOLA WITH BRICK PIERS AND BEAMS OF ROUGH OAK       "        214

    EVENING IN THE PRIMROSE GARDEN                        "        217

    TALL SNAPDRAGONS GROWING IN A DRY WALL                "        251

    MULLEINS GROWING IN THE FACE OF DRY WALL
    (_See "Old Wall," page 116_)                          "        251

    GERANIUMS IN NEAPOLITAN POTS                          "        267

    SPACE IN STEP AND TANK-GARDEN FOR LILIES,
    CANNAS, AND GERANIUMS                                 "        268

    HYDRANGEAS IN TUBS, IN A PART OF THE SAME GARDEN      "        268

    MULLEIN (VERBASCUM PHLOMOIDES) AT THE EDGE
    OF THE FIR WOOD                                       "        270

    A GRASS PATH IN THE COPSE                             "        270



WOOD AND GARDEN



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY


There are already many and excellent books about gardening; but the love
of a garden, already so deeply implanted in the English heart, is so
rapidly growing, that no excuse is needed for putting forth another.

I lay no claim either to literary ability, or to botanical knowledge, or
even to knowing the best practical methods of cultivation; but I have
lived among outdoor flowers for many years, and have not spared myself
in the way of actual labour, and have come to be on closely intimate and
friendly terms with a great many growing things, and have acquired
certain instincts which, though not clearly defined, are of the nature
of useful knowledge.

But the lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others,
is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives. I
rejoice when I see any one, and especially children, inquiring about
flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in
them. For the love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but
always grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of
happiness.

If in the following chapters I have laid special stress upon gardening
for beautiful effect, it is because it is the way of gardening that I
love best, and understand most of, and that seems to me capable of
giving the greatest amount of pleasure. I am strongly for treating
garden and wooded ground in a pictorial way, mainly with large effects,
and in the second place with lesser beautiful incidents, and for so
arranging plants and trees and grassy spaces that they look happy and at
home, and make no parade of conscious effort. I try for beauty and
harmony everywhere, and especially for harmony of colour. A garden so
treated gives the delightful feeling of repose, and refreshment, and
purest enjoyment of beauty, that seems to my understanding to be the
best fulfilment of its purpose; while to the diligent worker its
happiness is like the offering of a constant hymn of praise. For I hold
that the best purpose of a garden is to give delight and to give
refreshment of mind, to soothe, to refine, and to lift up the heart in a
spirit of praise and thankfulness. It is certain that those who practise
gardening in the best ways find it to be so.

But the scope of practical gardening covers a range of horticultural
practice wide enough to give play to every variety of human taste. Some
find their greatest pleasure in collecting as large a number as possible
of all sorts of plants from all sources, others in collecting them
themselves in their foreign homes, others in making rock-gardens, or
ferneries, or peat-gardens, or bog-gardens, or gardens for conifers or
for flowering shrubs, or special gardens of plants and trees with
variegated or coloured leaves, or in the cultivation of some particular
race or family of plants. Others may best like wide lawns with large
trees, or wild gardening, or a quite formal garden, with trim hedge and
walk, and terrace, and brilliant parterre, or a combination of several
ways of gardening. And all are right and reasonable and enjoyable to
their owners, and in some way or degree helpful to others.

The way that seems to me most desirable is again different, and I have
made an attempt to describe it in some of its aspects. But I have
learned much, and am always learning, from other people's gardens, and
the lesson I have learned most thoroughly is, never to say "I
know"--there is so infinitely much to learn, and the conditions of
different gardens vary so greatly, even when soil and situation appear
to be alike and they are in the same district. Nature is such a subtle
chemist that one never knows what she is about, or what surprises she
may have in store for us.

Often one sees in the gardening papers discussions about the treatment
of some particular plant. One man writes to say it can only be done one
way, another to say it can only be done quite some other way, and the
discussion waxes hot and almost angry, and the puzzled reader, perhaps
as yet young in gardening, cannot tell what to make of it. And yet the
two writers are both able gardeners, and both absolutely trustworthy,
only they should have said, "In my experience _in this place_ such a
plant can only be done in such a way." Even plants of the same family
will not do equally well in the same garden. Every practical gardener
knows this in the case of strawberries and potatoes; he has to find out
which kinds will do in his garden; the experience of his friend in the
next county is probably of no use whatever.

I have learnt much from the little cottage gardens that help to make our
English waysides the prettiest in the temperate world. One can hardly go
into the smallest cottage garden without learning or observing something
new. It may be some two plants growing beautifully together by some
happy chance, or a pretty mixed tangle of creepers, or something that
one always thought must have a south wall doing better on an east one.
But eye and brain must be alert to receive the impression and studious
to store it, to add to the hoard of experience. And it is important to
train oneself to have a good flower-eye; to be able to see at a glance
what flowers are good and which are unworthy, and why, and to keep an
open mind about it; not to be swayed by the petty tyrannies of the
"florist" or show judge; for, though some part of his judgment may be
sound, he is himself a slave to rules, and must go by points which are
defined arbitrarily and rigidly, and have reference mainly to the
show-table, leaving out of account, as if unworthy of consideration,
such matters as gardens and garden beauty, and human delight, and
sunshine, and varying lights of morning and evening and noonday. But
many, both nurserymen and private people, devote themselves to growing
and improving the best classes of hardy flowers, and we can hardly offer
them too much grateful praise, or do them too much honour. For what
would our gardens be without the Roses, Pæonies, and Gladiolus of
France, and the Tulips and Hyacinths of Holland, to say nothing of the
hosts of good things raised by our home growers, and of the enterprise
of the great firms whose agents are always searching the world for
garden treasures?

Let no one be discouraged by the thought of how much there is to learn.
Looking back upon nearly thirty years of gardening (the earlier part of
it in groping ignorance with scant means of help), I can remember no
part of it that was not full of pleasure and encouragement. For the
first steps are steps into a delightful Unknown, the first successes are
victories all the happier for being scarcely expected, and with the
growing knowledge comes the widening outlook, and the comforting sense
of an ever-increasing gain of critical appreciation. Each new step
becomes a little surer, and each new grasp a little firmer, till, little
by little, comes the power of intelligent combination, the nearest
thing we can know to the mighty force of creation.

And a garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful
watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all, it teaches
entire trust. "Paul planteth and Apollos watereth, but God giveth the
increase." The good gardener knows with absolute certainty that if he
does his part, if he gives the labour, the love, and every aid that his
knowledge of his craft, experience of the conditions of his place, and
exercise of his personal wit can work together to suggest, that so
surely as he does this diligently and faithfully, so surely will God
give the increase. Then with the honestly-earned success comes the
consciousness of encouragement to renewed effort, and, as it were, an
echo of the gracious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."



CHAPTER II

JANUARY

Beauty of woodland in winter -- The nut-walk -- Thinning the overgrowth
-- A nut nursery -- _Iris stylosa_ -- Its culture -- Its home in Algeria
-- Discovery of the white variety -- Flowers and branches for indoor
decoration.


A hard frost is upon us. The thermometer registered eighteen degrees
last night, and though there was only one frosty night next before it,
the ground is hard frozen. Till now a press of other work has stood in
the way of preparing protecting stuff for tender shrubs, but now I go up
into the copse with a man and chopping tools to cut out some of the
Scotch fir that are beginning to crowd each other.

How endlessly beautiful is woodland in winter! To-day there is a thin
mist; just enough to make a background of tender blue mystery three
hundred yards away, and to show any defect in the grouping of near
trees. No day could be better for deciding which trees are to come down;
there is not too much at a time within sight; just one good picture-full
and no more. On a clear day the eye and mind are distracted by seeing
away into too many planes, and it is much more difficult to decide what
is desirable in the way of broad treatment of nearer objects.

The ground has a warm carpet of pale rusty fern; tree-stem and branch
and twig show tender colour-harmonies of grey bark and silver-grey
lichen, only varied by the warm feathery masses of birch spray. Now the
splendid richness of the common holly is more than ever impressive, with
its solid masses of full, deep colour, and its wholesome look of perfect
health and vigour. Sombrely cheerful, if one may use such a mixture of
terms; sombre by reason of the extreme depth of tone, and yet cheerful
from the look of glad life, and from the assurance of warm shelter and
protecting comfort to bird and beast and neighbouring vegetation. The
picture is made complete by the slender shafts of the silver-barked
birches, with their half-weeping heads of delicate, warm-coloured spray.
Has any tree so graceful a way of throwing up its stems as the birch?
They seem to leap and spring into the air, often leaning and curving
upward from the very root, sometimes in forms that would be almost
grotesque were it not for the never-failing rightness of free-swinging
poise and perfect balance. The tints of the stem give a precious lesson
in colour. The white of the bark is here silvery-white and there
milk-white, and sometimes shows the faintest tinge of rosy flush. Where
the bark has not yet peeled, the stem is clouded and banded with
delicate grey, and with the silver-green of lichen. For about two feet
upward from the ground, in the case of young trees of about seven to
nine inches diameter, the bark is dark in colour, and lies in thick and
extremely rugged upright ridges, contrasting strongly with the smooth
white skin above. Where the two join, the smooth bark is parted in
upright slashes, through which the dark, rough bark seems to swell up,
reminding one forcibly of some of the old fifteenth-century German
costumes, where a dark velvet is arranged to rise in crumpled folds
through slashings in white satin. In the stems of older birches the
rough bark rises much higher up the trunk and becomes clothed with
delicate grey-green lichen.

The nut-walk was planted twelve years ago. There are two rows each side,
one row four feet behind the other, and the nuts are ten feet apart in
the rows. They are planted zigzag, those in the back rows showing
between the front ones. As the two inner rows are thirteen feet apart
measuring across the path, it leaves a shady border on each side, with
deeper bays between the nearer trees. Lent Hellebores fill one border
from end to end; the other is planted with the Corsican and the native
kinds, so that throughout February and March there is a complete bit of
garden of one kind of plant in full beauty of flower and foliage.

The nut-trees have grown into such thick clumps that now there must be a
vigorous thinning. Each stool has from eight to twelve main stems, the
largest of them nearly two inches thick. Some shoot almost upright,
but two or three in each stool spread outward, with quite a different
habit of growth, branching about in an angular fashion. These are the
oldest and thickest. There are also a number of straight suckers one and
two years old. Now when I look at some fine old nut alley, with the tops
arching and meeting overhead, as I hope mine will do in a few years, I
see that the trees have only a few stems, usually from three to five at
the most, and I judge that now is the time to thin mine to about the
right number, so that the strength and growing power may be thrown into
these, and not allowed to dilute and waste itself in growing extra
faggoting. The first to be cut away are the old crooked stems. They grow
nearly horizontally and are all elbows, and often so tightly locked into
the straighter rods that they have to be chopped to pieces before they
can be pulled out. When these are gone it is easier to get at the other
stems, though they are often so close together at the base that it is
difficult to chop or saw them out without hurting the bark of the ones
to be left. All the young suckers are cut away. They are of straight,
clean growth, and we prize them as the best possible sticks for
Chrysanthemums and potted Lilies.

After this bold thinning, instead of dense thickety bushes we have a few
strong, well-branched rods to each stool. At first the nut-walk looks
wofully naked, and for the time its pictorial value is certainly
lessened; but it has to be done, and when summer side-twigs have grown
and leafed, it will be fairly well clothed, and meanwhile the Hellebores
will be the better for the thinner shade.

The nut-catkins are already an inch long, but are tightly closed, and
there is no sign as yet of the bright crimson little sea-anemones that
will appear next month and will duly grow into nut-bearing twigs. Round
the edges of the base of the stools are here and there little branching
suckers. These are the ones to look out for, to pull off and grow into
young trees. A firm grasp and a sharp tug brings them up with a fine
supply of good fibrous root. After two years in the nursery they are
just right to plant out.

The trees in the nut-walk were grown in this way fourteen years ago,
from small suckers pulled off plants that came originally from the
interesting cob-nut nursery at Calcot, near Reading.

I shall never forget a visit to that nursery some six-and-twenty years
ago. It was walled all round, and a deep-sounding bell had to be rung
many times before any one came to open the gate; but at last it was
opened by a fine, strongly-built, sunburnt woman of the type of the good
working farmer's wife, that I remember as a child. She was the
forewoman, who worked the nursery with surprisingly few hands--only
three men, if I remember rightly--but she looked as if she could do the
work of "all two men" herself. One of the specialties of the place was a
fine breed of mastiffs; another was an old Black Hamburg vine, that
rambled and clambered in and out of some very old greenhouses, and was
wonderfully productive. There were alleys of nuts in all directions, and
large spreading patches of palest yellow Daffodils--the double
_Narcissus cernuus_, now so scarce and difficult to grow. Had I then
known how precious a thing was there in fair abundance, I should not
have been contented with the modest dozen that I asked for. It was a
most pleasant garden to wander in, especially with the old Mr. Webb who
presently appeared. He was dressed in black clothes of an old-looking
cut--a Quaker, I believe. Never shall I forget an apple-tart he invited
me to try as a proof of the merit of the "Wellington" apple. It was not
only good, but beautiful; the cooked apple looking rosy and transparent,
and most inviting. He told me he was an ardent preacher of total
abstinence, and took me to a grassy, shady place among the nuts, where
there was an upright stone slab, like a tombstone, with the inscription:

    TO ALCOHOL.

He had dug a grave, and poured into it a quantity of wine and beer and
spirits, and placed the stone as a memorial of his abhorrence of drink.
The whole thing remains in my mind like a picture--the shady groves of
old nuts, in tenderest early leaf, the pale Daffodils, the mighty
chained mastiffs with bloodshot eyes and murderous fangs, the brawny,
wholesome forewoman, and the trim old gentleman in black. It was the
only nursery I ever saw where one would expect to see fairies on a
summer's night.

I never tire of admiring and praising _Iris stylosa_, which has proved
itself such a good plant for English gardens; at any rate, for those in
our southern counties. Lovely in form and colour, sweetly-scented and
with admirable foliage, it has in addition to these merits the unusual
one of a blooming season of six months' duration. The first flowers come
with the earliest days of November, and its season ends with a rush of
bloom in the first half of April. Then is the time to take up old tufts
and part them, and plant afresh; the old roots will have dried up into
brown wires, and the new will be pushing. It thrives in rather poor
soil, and seems to bloom all the better for having its root-run invaded
by some stronger plant. When I first planted a quantity I had brought
from its native place, I made the mistake of putting it in a
well-prepared border. At first I was delighted to see how well it
flourished, but as it gave me only thick masses of leaves a yard long,
and no flowers, it was clear that it wanted to be less well fed. After
changing it to poor soil, at the foot of a sunny wall close to a strong
clump of Alströmeria, I was rewarded with a good crop of flowers; and
the more the Alströmeria grew into it on one side and _Plumbago
Larpenti_ on the other, the more freely the brave little Iris flowered.
The flower has no true stem; what serves as a stem, sometimes a foot
long, is the elongated style, so that the seed-pod has to be looked for
deep down at the base of the tufts of leaves, and almost under ground.
The specific name, _stylosa_, is so clearly descriptive, that one
regrets that the longer, and certainly uglier, _unguicularis_ should be
preferred by botanists.

What a delight it was to see it for the first time in its home in the
hilly wastes, a mile or two inland from the town of Algiers! Another
lovely blue Iris was there too, _I. alata_ or _scorpioides_, growing
under exactly the same conditions; but this is a plant unwilling to be
acclimatised in England. What a paradise it was for flower-rambles,
among the giant Fennels and the tiny orange Marigolds, and the immense
bulbs of _Scilla maritima_ standing almost out of the ground, and the
many lovely Bee-orchises and the fairy-like _Narcissus serotinus_, and
the groves of Prickly Pear wreathed and festooned with the graceful
tufts of bell-shaped flower and polished leaves of _Clematis cirrhosa_!

It was in the days when there were only a few English residents, but
among them was the Rev. Edwyn Arkwright, who by his happy discovery of a
white-flowered _Iris stylosa_, the only one that has been found wild,
has enriched our gardens with a most lovely variety of this excellent
plant. I am glad to be able to quote his own words:--

"The finding of the white _Iris stylosa_ belongs to the happy old times
twenty-five years ago, when there were no social duties and no
vineyards[1] in Algiers. My two sisters and I bought three horses, and
rode wild every day in the scrub of Myrtle, Cistus, Dwarf Oak, &c. It
was about five miles from the town, on what is called the 'Sahel,' that
the one plant grew that I was told botanists knew ought to exist, but
with all their searching had never found. I am thankful that I dug it up
instead of picking it, only knowing that it was a pretty flower. Then
after a year or two Durando saw it, and took off his hat to it, and told
me what a treasure it was, and proceeded to send off little bits to his
friends; and among them all, Ware of Tottenham managed to be beforehand,
and took a first-class certificate for it. It is odd that there should
never have been another plant found, for there never was such a
free-growing and multiplying plant. My sister in Herefordshire has had
over fifty blooms this winter; but we count it by thousands, and it is
_the_ feature in all decorations in every English house in Algiers."

[1] The planting of large vineyards, in some cases of private
enterprise, had not proved a financial success.

Throughout January, and indeed from the middle of December, is the time
when outdoor flowers for cutting and house decoration are most scarce;
and yet there are Christmas Roses and yellow Jasmine and Laurustinus,
and in all open weather _Iris stylosa_ and Czar Violets. A very few
flowers can be made to look well if cleverly arranged with plenty of
good foliage; and even when a hard and long frost spoils the few
blooms that would otherwise be available, leafy branches alone are
beautiful in rooms. But, as in all matters that have to do with
decoration, everything depends on a right choice of material and the
exercise of taste in disposing it. Red-tinted Berberis always looks well
alone, if three or four branches are boldly cut from two to three feet
long. Branches of the spotted Aucuba do very well by themselves, and are
specially beautiful in blue china; the larger the leaves and the bolder
the markings, the better. Where there is an old Exmouth Magnolia that
can spare some small branches, nothing makes a nobler room-ornament. The
long arching sprays of Alexandrian Laurel do well with green or
variegated Box, and will live in a room for several weeks. Among useful
winter leaves of smaller growth, those of _Epimedium pinnatum_ have a
fine red colour and delicate veining, and I find them very useful for
grouping with greenhouse flowers of delicate texture. _Gaultheria
Shallon_ is at its best in winter, and gives valuable branches and twigs
for cutting; and much to be prized are sprays of the Japan Privet, with
its tough, highly-polished leaves, so much like those of the orange.
There is a variegated Eurybia, small branches of which are excellent;
and always useful are the gold and silver Hollies.

There is a little plant, _Ophiopogon spicatum_, that I grow in rather
large quantity for winter cutting, the leaves being at their best in the
winter months. They are sword-shaped and of a lively green colour, and
are arranged in flat sheaves after the manner of a flag-Iris. I pull up
a whole plant at a time--a two-year-old plant is a spreading tuft of the
little sheaves--and wash it and cut away the groups of leaves just at
the root, so that they are held together by the root-stock. They last
long in water, and are beautiful with Roman Hyacinths or Freesias or
_Iris stylosa_ and many other flowers. The leaves of Megaseas,
especially those of the _cordifolia_ section, colour grandly in winter,
and look fine in a large bowl with the largest blooms of Christmas
Roses, or with forced Hyacinths. Much useful material can be found among
Ivies, both of the wild and garden kinds. When they are well established
they generally throw out rather woody front shoots; these are the ones
to look out for, as they stand out with a certain degree of stiffness
that makes them easier to arrange than weaker trailing pieces.

I do not much care for dried flowers--the bulrush and pampas-grass
decoration has been so much overdone, that it has become wearisome--but
I make an exception in favour of the flower of _Eulalia japonica_, and
always give it a place. It does not come to its full beauty out of
doors; it only finishes its growth late in October, and therefore does
not have time to dry and expand. I grew it for many years before finding
out that the closed and rather draggled-looking heads would open
perfectly in a warm room. The uppermost leaf often confines the flower,
and should be taken off to release it; the flower does not seem to
mature quite enough to come free of itself. Bold masses of Helichrysum
certainly give some brightness to a room during the darkest weeks of
winter, though the brightest yellow is the only one I much care to have;
there is a look of faded tinsel about the other colourings. I much prize
large bunches of the native Iris berries, and grow it largely for winter
room-ornament.

Among the many valuable suggestions in Mrs. Earle's delightful book,
"Pot-pourri from a Surrey Garden," is the use indoors of the smaller
coloured gourds. As used by her they give a bright and cheerful look to
a room that even flowers can not surpass.

[Illustration: A WILD JUNIPER.]



CHAPTER III

FEBRUARY

Distant promise of summer -- Ivy-berries -- Coloured leaves -- _Berberis
Aquifolium_ -- Its many merits -- Thinning and pruning shrubs -- Lilacs
-- Removing suckers -- Training _Clematis flammula_ -- Forms of trees --
Juniper, a neglected native evergreen -- Effect of snow -- Power of
recovery -- Beauty of colour -- Moss-grown stems.


There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the
yet distant, but surely coming, summer. Perhaps it is a warm, mossy
scent that greets one when passing along the southern side of a
hedge-bank; or it may be in some woodland opening, where the sun has
coaxed out the pungent smell of the trailing ground Ivy, whose blue
flowers will soon appear; but the day always comes, and with it the glad
certainty that summer is nearing, and that the good things promised will
never fail.

How strangely little of positive green colour is to be seen in copse and
woodland. Only the moss is really green. The next greenest thing is the
northern sides of the trunks of beech and oak. Walking southward they
are all green, but looking back they are silver-grey. The undergrowth is
of brambles and sparse fronds of withered bracken; the bracken less
beaten down than usual, for the winter has been without snow; only where
the soil is deeper, and the fern has grown more tall and rank, it has
fallen into thick, almost felted masses, and the stalks all lying one
way make the heaps look like lumps of fallen thatch. The bramble
leaves--last year's leaves, which are held all the winter--are of a
dark, blackish-bronze colour, or nearly red where they have seen the
sun. Age seems to give them a sort of hard surface and enough of a
polish to reflect the sky; the young leaves that will come next month
are almost woolly at first. Grassy tufts show only bleached bents, so
tightly matted that one wonders how the delicate young blades will be
able to spear through. Ivy-berries, hanging in thick clusters, are still
in beauty; they are so heavy that they weigh down the branches. There is
a peculiar beauty in the form and veining of the plain-shaped leaves
belonging to the mature or flowering state that the plant reaches when
it can no longer climb, whether on a wall six feet high or on the
battlements of a castle. Cuttings grown from such portions retain this
habit, and form densely-flowering bushes of compact shape.

Beautiful colouring is now to be seen in many of the plants whose leaves
do not die down in winter. Foremost amongst these is the Foam-flower
(_Tiarella cordifolia_). Its leaves, now lying on the ground, show
bright colouring, inclining to scarlet, crimson, and orange. _Tellima_,
its near relation, is also well coloured. _Galax aphylla_, with its
polished leaves of hard texture, and stalks almost as stiff as wire, is
nearly as bright; and many of the Megaseas are of a fine bronze red, the
ones that colour best being the varieties of the well-known _M.
crassifolia_ and _M. cordifolia_. Among shrubs, some of the nearly
allied genera, popularly classed under the name Andromeda, are beautiful
in reddish colour passing into green, in some of the leaves by tender
gradation, and in others by bold splashing. _Berberis Aquifolium_ begins
to colour after the first frosts; though some plants remain green, the
greater number take on some rich tinting of red or purple, and
occasionally in poor soil and in full sun a bright red that may almost
be called scarlet.

What a precious thing this fine old Berberis is! What should we do in
winter without its vigorous masses of grand foliage in garden and
shrubbery, to say nothing of its use indoors? Frequent as it is in
gardens, it is seldom used as well or thoughtfully as it deserves. There
are many places where, between garden and wood, a well-considered
planting of Berberis, combined with two or three other things of larger
stature, such as the fruiting Barberry, and Whitethorn and Holly, would
make a very enjoyable piece of shrub wild-gardening. When one reflects
that _Berberis Aquifolium_ is individually one of the handsomest of
small shrubs, that it is at its very best in mid-winter, that every leaf
is a marvel of beautiful drawing and construction, and that its ruddy
winter colouring is a joy to see, enhanced as it is by the glistening
brightness of the leaf-surface; and further, when one remembers that in
spring the whole picture changes--that the polished leaves are green
again, and the bushes are full of tufted masses of brightest yellow
bloom, and fuller of bee-music than any other plant then in flower; and
that even then it has another season of beauty yet to come, when in the
days of middle summer it is heavily loaded with the thick-clustered
masses of berries, covered with a brighter and bluer bloom than almost
any other fruit can show,--when one thinks of all this brought together
in one plant, it seems but right that we should spare no pains to use it
well. It is the only hardy shrub I can think of that is in one or other
of its varied forms of beauty throughout the year. It is never leafless
or untidy; it never looks mangy like an Ilex in April, or moulting like
a Holly in May, or patchy and unfinished like Yew and Box and many other
evergreens when their young leafy shoots are sprouting.

We have been thinning the shrubs in one of the rather large clumps next
to the lawn, taking the older wood in each clump right out from the
bottom and letting more light and air into the middle. Weigelas grow
fast and very thick. Quite two-thirds have been cut out of each bush of
Weigela, Philadelphus, and Ribes, and a good bit out of Ceanothus,
"Gloire de Versailles," my favourite of its kind, and all the oldest
wood from _Viburnum plicatus_. The stuff cut out makes quite a
respectable lot of faggoting. How extremely dense and hard is the wood
of Philadelphus! as close-grained as Box, and almost as hard as the
bright yellow wood of Berberis.

Some of the Lilacs have a good many suckers from the root, as well as on
the lower part of the stem. These must all come away, and then the trees
will have a good dressing of manure. They are greedy feeders, and want
it badly in our light soil, and surely no flowering shrub more truly
deserves it. The Lilacs I have are some of the beautiful kinds raised in
France, for which we can never be thankful enough to our good neighbours
across the Channel. The white variety, "Marie Legraye," always remains
my favourite. Some are larger and whiter, and have the trusses more
evenly and closely filled, but this beautiful Marie fills one with a
satisfying conviction as of something that is just right, that has
arrived at the point of just the best and most lovable kind of beauty,
and has been wisely content to stay there, not attempting to pass beyond
and excel itself. Its beauty is modest and reserved, and temperate and
full of refinement. The colour has a deliciously-tender warmth of white,
and as the truss is not over-full, there is room for a delicate play of
warm half-light within its recesses. Among the many beautiful coloured
Lilacs, I am fond of Lucie Baltet and Princesse Marie. There may be
better flowers from the ordinary florist point of view, but these have
the charm that is a good garden flower's most precious quality. I do not
like the cold, heavy-coloured ones of the bluish-slaty kinds. No shrub
is hardier than the Lilac; I believe they flourish even within the
Arctic Circle. It is very nearly allied to Privet; so nearly, that the
oval-leaved Privet is commonly used as a stock. Standard trees flower
much better than bushes; in this form all the strength seems to go
directly to the flowering boughs. No shrub is more persistent in
throwing up suckers from the root and from the lower part of the stem,
but in bush trees as well as in standards they should be carefully
removed every year. In the case of bushes, three or four main stems will
be enough to leave. When taking away suckers of any kind whatever, it is
much better to tear them out than to cut them off. A cut, however close,
leaves a base from which they may always spring again, but if pulled or
wrenched out they bring away with them the swollen base that, if left
in, would be a likely source of future trouble.

Before the end of February we must be sure to prune and train any plants
there may be of _Clematis flammula_. Its growth is so rapid when once it
begins, that if it is overlooked it soon grows into a tangled mass of
succulent weak young stuff, quite unmanageable two months hence, when it
will be hanging about in helpless masses, dead and living together. If
it is left till then, one can only engirdle the whole thing with a soft
tarred rope and sling it up somehow or anyhow. But if taken now, when
the young growths are just showing at the joints, the last year's mass
can be untangled, the dead and the over-much cut out, and the best
pieces trained in. In gardening, the interests of the moment are so
engrossing that one is often tempted to forget the future; but it is
well to remember that this lovely and tenderly-scented Clematis will be
one of the chief beauties of September, and well deserves a little
timely care.

In summer-time one never really knows how beautiful are the forms of the
deciduous trees. It is only in winter, when they are bare of leaves,
that one can fully enjoy their splendid structure and design, their
admirable qualities of duly apportioned strength and grace of poise, and
the way the spread of the many-branched head has its equivalent in the
wide-reaching ground-grasp of the root. And it is interesting to see
how, in the many different kinds of tree, the same laws are always in
force, and the same results occur, and yet by the employment of what
varied means. For nothing in the growth of trees can be much more unlike
than the habit of the oak and that of the weeping willow, though the
unlikeness only comes from the different adjustment of the same sources
of power and the same weights, just as in the movement of wind-blown
leaves some flutter and some undulate, while others turn over and back
again. Old apple-trees are specially noticeable for their beauty in
winter, when their extremely graceful shape, less visible when in
loveliness of spring bloom or in rich bounty of autumn fruit, is seen to
fullest advantage.

Few in number are our native evergreens, and for that reason all the
more precious. One of them, the common Juniper, is one of the best of
shrubs either for garden or wild ground, and yet, strangely enough, it
is so little appreciated that it is scarcely to be had in nurseries.
Chinese Junipers, North American Junipers, Junipers from Spain and
Greece, from Nepaul and Siberia, may be had, but the best Juniper of all
is very rarely grown. Were it a common tree one could see a sort of
reason (to some minds) for overlooking it, but though it is fairly
abundant on a few hill-sides in the southern counties, it is by no means
widely distributed throughout the country. Even this reason would not be
consistent with common practice, for the Holly is abundant throughout
England, and yet is to be had by the thousand in every nursery. Be the
reason what it may, the common Juniper is one of the most desirable of
evergreens, and is most undeservedly neglected. Even our botanists fail
to do it justice, for Bentham describes it as a low shrub growing two
feet, three feet, or four feet high. I quote from memory only; these may
not be the words, but this is the sense of his description. He had
evidently seen it on the chalk downs only, where such a portrait of it
is exactly right. But in our sheltered uplands, in sandy soil, it is
a small tree of noble aspect, twelve to twenty-eight feet high. In form
it is extremely variable, for sometimes it shoots up on a single stem
and looks like an Italian Cypress or like the upright Chinese Juniper,
while at other times it will have two or more tall spires and a dense
surrounding mass of lower growth, while in other cases it will be like a
quantity of young trees growing close together, and yet the trees in all
these varied forms may be nearly of an age.

[Illustration: SCOTCH FIRS THROWN ON TO FROZEN WATER BY SNOWSTORM.]

The action of snow is the reason of this unlikeness of habit. If, when
young, the tree happens to have one main stem strong enough to shoot up
alone, and if at the same time there come a sequence of winters without
much snow, there will be the tall, straight, cypress-like tree. But if,
as is more commonly the case, the growth is divided into a number of
stems of nearly equal size, sooner or later they are sure to be laid
down by snow. Such a winter storm as that of the end of December 1886
was especially disastrous to Junipers. Snow came on early in the evening
in this district, when the thermometer was barely at freezing point and
there was no wind. It hung on the trees in clogging masses, with a
lowering temperature that was soon below freezing. The snow still
falling loaded them more and more; then came the fatal wind, and all
through that night we heard the breaking trees. When morning came there
were eighteen inches of snow on the ground, and all the trees that
could be seen, mostly Scotch fir, seemed to be completely wrecked. Some
were entirely stripped of branches, and stood up bare, like
scaffold-poles. Until the snow was gone or half gone, no idea could be
formed of the amount of damage done to shrubs; all were borne down and
buried under the white rounded masses. A great Holly on the edge of the
lawn, nearly thirty feet high and as much in spread, whose head in
summer is crowned with a great tangle of Honeysuckle, had that crowned
head lying on the ground weighted down by the frozen mass. But when the
snow was gone and all the damage could be seen, the Junipers looked
worse than anything. What had lately been shapely groups were lying
perfectly flat, the bare-stemmed, leafless portions of the inner part of
the group showing, and looking like a faggot of dry brushwood, that,
having been stood upright, had burst its band and fallen apart in all
directions. Some, whose stems had weathered many snowy winters, now had
them broken short off half-way up; while others escaped with bare life,
but with the thick, strong stem broken down, the heavy head lying on the
ground, and the stem wrenched open at the break, like a half-untwisted
rope. The great wild Junipers were the pride of our stretch of heathy
waste just beyond the garden, and the scene of desolation was truly
piteous, for though many of them already bore the marks of former
accidents, never within our memory had there been such complete and
comprehensive destruction.

[Illustration: OLD JUNIPER, SHOWING FORMER INJURIES.]

[Illustration: JUNIPER, LATELY WRECKED BY SNOWSTORM.]

But now, ten years later, so great is their power of recovery, that
there are the same Junipers, and, except in the case of those actually
broken off, looking as well as ever. For those with many stems that were
laid down flat have risen at the tips, and each tip looks like a
vigorous young ten-year-old tree. What was formerly a massive,
bushy-shaped Juniper, some twelve feet to fifteen feet high, now covers
a space thirty feet across, and looks like a thick group of
closely-planted, healthy young ones. The half broken-down trees have
also risen at the tips, and are full of renewed vigour. Indeed, this
breaking down and splitting open seems to give them a new energy, for
individual trees that I have known well, and observed to look old and
over-worn, and to all appearance on the downward road of life, after
being broken and laid down by snow, have some years later, shot up again
with every evidence of vigorous young life. It would be more easily
accounted for if the branch rooted where it touched the ground, as so
many trees and bushes will do; but as far as I have been able to
observe, the Juniper does not "layer" itself. I have often thought I had
found a fine young one fit for transplanting, but on clearing away the
moss and fern at the supposed root have found that it was only the tip
of a laid-down branch of a tree perhaps twelve feet away. In the case of
one of our trees, among a group of laid-down and grown-up branches, one
old central trunk has survived. It is now so thick and strong, and has
so little top, that it will be likely to stand till it falls from sheer
old age. Close to it is another, whose main stem was broken down about
five feet from the ground; now, what was the head rests on the earth
nine feet away, and a circle of its outspread branches has become a
wholesome group of young upright growths, while at the place where the
stem broke, the half-opened wrench still shows as clearly as on the day
it was done.

Among the many merits of the Juniper, its tenderly mysterious beauty of
colouring is by no means the least; a colouring as delicately subtle in
its own way as that of cloud or mist, or haze in warm, wet woodland. It
has very little of positive green; a suspicion of warm colour in the
shadowy hollows, and a blue-grey bloom of the tenderest quality
imaginable on the outer masses of foliage. Each tiny, blade-like leaf
has a band of dead, palest bluish-green colour on the upper surface,
edged with a narrow line of dark green slightly polished; the back of
the leaf is of the same full, rather dark green, with slight polish; it
looks as if the green back had been brought up over the edge of the leaf
to make the dark edging on the upper surface. The stems of the twigs are
of a warm, almost foxy colour, becoming darker and redder in the
branches. The tips of the twigs curl over or hang out on all sides
towards the light, and the "set" of the individual twigs is full of
variety. This arrangement of mixed colouring and texture, and infinitely
various position of the spiny little leaves, allows the eye to
penetrate unconsciously a little way into the mass, so that one sees as
much tender shadow as actual leaf-surface, and this is probably the
cause of the wonderfully delicate and, so to speak, intangible quality
of colouring. Then, again, where there is a hollow place in a bush, or
group, showing a cluster of half-dead stems, at first one cannot tell
what the colour is, till with half-shut eyes one becomes aware of a
dusky and yet luminous purple-grey.

The merits of the Juniper are not yet done with, for throughout the
winter (the time of growth of moss and lichen) the rugged-barked old
stems are clothed with loveliest pale-green growths of a silvery
quality. Standing before it, and trying to put the colour into words,
one repeats, again and again, pale-green silver--palest silvery green!
Where the lichen is old and dead it is greyer; every now and then there
is a touch of the orange kind, and a little of the branched stag-horn
pattern so common on the heathy ground. Here and there, as the trunk or
branch is increasing in girth, the silvery, lichen-clad, rough outer
bark has parted, and shows the smooth, dark-red inner bark; the outer
covering still clinging over the opening, and looking like grey ribands
slightly interlaced. Many another kind of tree-stem is beautiful in its
winter dress, but it is difficult to find any so full of varied beauty
and interest as that of the Juniper; it is one of the yearly feasts that
never fails to delight and satisfy.



CHAPTER IV

MARCH

Flowering bulbs -- Dog-tooth Violet -- Rock-garden -- Variety of
Rhododendron foliage -- A beautiful old kind -- Suckers on grafted
plants -- Plants for filling up the beds -- Heaths -- Andromedas -- Lady
Fern -- _Lilium auratum_ -- Pruning Roses -- Training and tying climbing
plants -- Climbing and free-growing Roses -- The Vine the best
wall-covering -- Other climbers -- Wild Clematis -- Wild Rose.


In early March many and lovely are the flowering bulbs, and among them a
wealth of blue, the more precious that it is the colour least frequent
among flowers. The blue of _Scilla sibirica_, like all blues that have
in them a suspicion of green, has a curiously penetrating quality; the
blue of _Scilla bifolia_ does not attack the eye so smartly. _Chionodoxa
sardensis_ is of a full and satisfying colour, that is enhanced by the
small space of clear white throat. A bed of it shows very little
variation in colour. _Chionodoxa Lucilliæ_, on the other hand, varies
greatly; one may pick out light and dark blue, and light and dark of
almost lilac colour. The variety _C. gigantea_ is a fine plant. There
are some pretty kinds of _Scilla bifolia_ that were raised by the Rev.
J. G. Nelson of Aldborough, among them a tender flesh-colour and a good
pink. _Leucojum vernum_, with its clear white flowers and polished
dark-green leaves, is one of the gems of early March; and, flowering at
the same time, no flower of the whole year can show a more splendid and
sumptuous colour than the purple of _Iris reticulata_. Varieties have
been raised, some larger, some nearer blue, and some reddish purple, but
the type remains the best garden flower. _Iris stylosa_, in sheltered
nooks open to the sun, when well established, gives flower from November
till April, the strongest rush of bloom being about the third week in
March. It is a precious plant in our southern counties, delicately
scented, of a tender and yet full lilac-blue. The long ribbon-like
leaves make handsome tufts, and the sheltered place it needs in our
climate saves the flowers from the injury they receive on their native
windy Algerian hills, where they are nearly always torn into tatters.

What a charm there is about the common Dogtooth Violet; it is pretty
everywhere, in borders, in the rock-garden, in all sorts of corners. But
where it looks best with me is in a grassy place strewn with dead
leaves, under young oaks, where the garden joins the copse. This is a
part of the pleasure-ground that has been treated with some care, and
has rewarded thought and labour with some success, so that it looks less
as if it had been planned than as if it might have come naturally. At
one point the lawn, trending gently upward, runs by grass paths into a
rock-garden, planted mainly with dwarf shrubs. Here are Andromedas,
Pernettyas, Gaultherias, and Alpine Rhododendron, and with them three
favourites whose crushed leaves give a grateful fragrance, Sweet Gale,
_Ledum palustre_, and _Rhododendron myrtifolium_. The rock part is
unobtrusive; where the ground rises rather quickly are a couple of
ridges made of large, long lumps of sandstone, half buried, and so laid
as to give a look of natural stratification. Hardy Ferns are grateful
for the coolness of their northern flanks, and Cyclamens are happy on
the ledges. Beyond and above is the copse, or thin wood of young silver
Birch and Holly, in summer clothed below with bracken, but now bristling
with the bluish spears of Daffodils and the buds that will soon burst
into bloom. The early Pyrenean Daffodil is already out, gleaming through
the low-toned copse like lamps of pale yellow light. Where the rough
path enters the birch copse is a cheerfully twinkling throng of the
Dwarf Daffodil (_N. nanus_), looking quite at its best on its carpet of
moss and fine grass and dead leaves. The light wind gives it a graceful,
dancing movement, with an active spring about the upper part of the
stalk. Some of the heavier trumpets not far off answer to the same wind
with only a ponderous, leaden sort of movement.

Farther along the garden joins the wood by a plantation of Rhododendrons
and broad grassy paths, and farther still by a thicket of the
free-growing Roses, some forming fountain-like clumps nine paces in
diameter, and then again by masses of flowering shrubs, gradating by
means of Sweetbriar, Water-elder, Dogwood, Medlar, and Thorn from garden
to wild wood.

Now that the Rhododendrons, planted nine years ago, have grown to a
state and size of young maturity, it is interesting to observe how much
they vary in foliage, and how clearly the leaves show the relative
degree of relationship to their original parents, the wild mountain
plants of Asia Minor and the United States. These, being two of the
hardiest kinds, were the ones first chosen by hybridisers, and to these
kinds we owe nearly all of the large numbers of beautiful garden
Rhododendrons now in cultivation. The ones more nearly related to the
wild _R. ponticum_ have long, narrow, shining dark-green leaves, while
the varieties that incline more to the American _R. catawbiense_ have
the leaves twice as broad, and almost rounded at the shoulder where they
join the stalk; moreover, the surface of the leaf has a different
texture, less polished, and showing a grain like morocco leather. The
colour also is a lighter and more yellowish green, and the bush is not
so densely branched. The leaves of all the kinds are inclined to hang
down in cold weather, and this habit is more clearly marked in the
_catawbiense_ varieties.

There is one old kind called _Multum maculatum_--I dare say one of the
earliest hybrids--for which I have a special liking. It is now despised
by florists, because the flower is thin in texture and the petal
narrow, and the truss not tightly filled. Nevertheless I find it quite
the most beautiful Rhododendron as a cut flower, perhaps just because of
these unorthodox qualities. And much as I admire the great bouncing
beauties that are most justly the pride of their raisers, I hold that
this most refined and delicate class of beauty equally deserves faithful
championship. The flowers of this pretty old kind are of a delicate
milk-white, and the lower petals are generously spotted with a
rosy-scarlet of the loveliest quality. The leaves are the longest and
narrowest and darkest green of any kind I know, making the bush
conspicuously handsome in winter. I have to confess that it is a shy
bloomer, and that it seems unwilling to flower in a young state, but I
think of it as a thing so beautiful and desirable as to be worth waiting
for.

Within March, and before the busier season comes upon us, it is well to
look out for the suckers that are likely to come on grafted plants. They
may generally be detected by the typical _ponticum_ leaf, but if the
foliage of a branch should be suspicious and yet doubtful, if on
following the shoot down it is seen to come straight from the root and
to have a redder bark than the rest, it may safely be taken for a
robber. Of course the invading stock may be easily seen when in flower,
but the good gardener takes it away before it has this chance of
reproaching him. A lady visitor last year told me with some pride that
she had a most wonderful Rhododendron in bloom; all the flower in the
middle was crimson, with a ring of purple-flowered branches outside. I
am afraid she was disappointed when I offered condolence instead of
congratulation, and had to tell her that the phenomenon was not uncommon
among neglected bushes.

When my Rhododendron beds were first planted, I followed the usual
practice of filling the outer empty spaces of the clumps with hardy
Heaths. Perhaps it is still the best or one of the best ways to begin
when the bushes are quite young; for if planted the right distance
apart--seven to nine feet--there must be large bare spaces between; but
now that they have filled the greater part of the beds, I find that the
other plants I tried are more to my liking. These are, foremost of all,
_Andromeda Catesbæi_, then Lady Fern, and then the dwarf _Rhododendron
myrtifolium_. The main spaces between the young bushes I plant with
_Cistus laurifolius_, a perfectly hardy kind; this grows much faster
than the Rhododendrons, and soon fills the middle spaces; by the time
that the best of its life is over--for it is a short-lived bush--the
Rhododendrons will be wanting all the space. Here and there in the inner
spaces I put groups of _Lilium auratum_, a Lily that thrives in a peaty
bed, and that looks its best when growing through other plants;
moreover, when the Rhododendrons are out of flower, the Lily, whose
blooming season is throughout the late summer and autumn, gives a new
beauty and interest to that part of the garden.

The time has come for pruning Roses, and for tying up and training the
plants that clothe wall and fence and pergola. And this sets one
thinking about climbing and rambling plants, and all their various ways
and wants, and of how best to use them. One of my boundaries to a road
is a fence about nine feet high, wall below and close oak paling above.
It is planted with free-growing Roses of several types--Aimée Vibert,
Madame Alfred Carrière, Reine Olga de Wurtemburg, and Bouquet d'Or, the
strongest of the Dijon teas. Then comes a space of _Clematis Montana_
and _Clematis flammula_, and then more Roses--Madame Plantier, Emélie
Plantier (a delightful Rose to cut), and some of the grand Sweetbriars
raised by Lord Penzance.

From midsummer onward these Roses are continually cut for flower, and
yield an abundance of quite the most ornamental class of bloom. For I
like to have cut Roses arranged in a large, free way, with whole
branches three feet or four feet long, easy to have from these
free-growing kinds, that throw out branches fifteen feet long in one
season, even on our poor, sandy soil, that contains no particle of that
rich loam that Roses love. I think this same Reine Olga, the grand
grower from which have come our longest and largest prunings, must be
quite the best evergreen Rose, for it holds its full clothing of
handsome dark-green leaves right through the winter. It seems to like
hard pruning. I have one on a part of the pergola, but have no pleasure
from it, as it has rushed up to the top, and nothing shows but a few
naked stems.

[Illustration: GARDEN DOOR-WAY WREATHED WITH CLEMATIS GRAVEOLENS.]

[Illustration: COTTAGE PORCH WREATHED WITH THE DOUBLE WHITE ROSE (_R.
alba_).]

One has to find out how to use all these different Roses. How often one
sees the wrong Roses used as climbers on the walls of a house. I have
seen a Gloire de Dijon covering the side of a house with a profitless
reticulation of bare stem, and a few leaves and flowers looking into the
gutter just under the edge of the roof. What are generally recommended
as climbing Roses are too ready to ramp away, leaving bare, leggy growth
where wall-clothing is desired. One of the best is climbing Aimée
Vibert, for with very little pruning it keeps well furnished nearly to
the ground, and with its graceful clusters of white bloom and
healthy-looking, polished leaves is always one of the prettiest of
Roses. Its only fault is that it does not shed its dead petals, but
retains the whole bloom in dead brown clusters.

But if a Rose wishes to climb, it should be accommodated with a suitable
place. That excellent old Rose, the Dundee Rambler, or the still
prettier Garland Rose, will find a way up a Holly-tree, and fling out
its long wreaths of tenderly-tinted bloom; and there can be no better
way of using the lovely Himalayan _R. Brunonis_, with its long, almost
blue leaves and wealth of milk-white flower. A common Sweetbriar will
also push up among the branches of some dark evergreen, Yew or Holly,
and throw out aloft its scented branches and rosy bloom, and look its
very best.

But some of these same free Roses are best of all if left in a clear
space to grow exactly as they will without any kind of support or
training. So placed, they grow into large rounded groups. Every year,
just after the young laterals on the last year's branches have flowered,
they throw out vigorous young rods that arch over as they complete their
growth, and will be the flower-bearers of the year to come.

Two kinds of Roses of rambling growth that are rather tender, but
indispensable for beauty, are Fortune's Yellow and the Banksias. Pruning
the free Roses is always rough work for the hands and clothes, but of
all Roses I know, the worst to handle is Fortune's Yellow. The prickles
are hooked back in a way that no care or ingenuity can escape; and
whether it is their shape and power of cruel grip, or whether they have
anything of a poisonous quality, I do not know; but whereas hands
scratched and torn by Roses in general heal quickly, the wounds made by
Fortune's Yellow are much more painful and much slower to get well. I
knew an old labourer who died of a rose-prick. He used to work about the
roads, and at cleaning the ditches and mending the hedges. For some time
I did not see him, and when I asked another old countryman, "What's gone
o' Master Trussler?" the answer was, "He's dead--died of a canker-bush."
The wild Dog-rose is still the "canker" in the speech of the old people,
and a thorn or prickle is still a "bush." A Dog-rose prickle had gone
deep into the old hedger's hand--a "bush" more or less was nothing to
him, but the neglected little wound had become tainted with some
impurity, blood-poisoning had set in, and my poor old friend had truly
enough "died of a canker-bush."

The flowering season of Fortune's Yellow is a very short one, but it
comes so early, and the flowers have such incomparable beauty, and are
so little like those of any other Rose, that its value is quite without
doubt. Some of the Tea Roses approach it in its pink and copper
colouring, but the loose, open, rather flaunting form of the flower, and
the twisted set of the petals, display the colour better than is
possible in any of the more regular-shaped Roses. It is a good plan to
grow it through some other wall shrub, as it soon gets bare below, and
the early maturing flowering tips are glad to be a little sheltered by
the near neighbourhood of other foliage.

I do not think that there is any other Rose that has just the same rich
butter colour as the Yellow Banksian, and this unusual colouring is the
more distinct because each little Rose in the cluster is nearly evenly
coloured all over, besides being in such dense bunches. The season of
bloom is very short, but the neat, polished foliage is always pleasant
to see throughout the year. The white kind and the larger white are both
lovely as to the individual bloom, but they flower so much more shyly
that the yellow is much the better garden plant.

But the best of all climbing or rambling plants, whether for wall or
arbour or pergola, is undoubtedly the Grape-Vine. Even when trimly
pruned and trained for fruit-bearing on an outer wall it is an admirable
picture of leafage and fruit-cluster; but to have it in fullest beauty
it must ramp at will, for it is only when the fast-growing branches are
thrown out far and wide that it fairly displays its graceful vigour and
the generous magnificence of its incomparable foliage.

The hardy Chasselas, known in England by the rather misleading name
Royal Muscadine, is one of the best, both for fruit and foliage. The
leaves are of moderate size, with clearly serrated edges and that
strongly waved outline that gives the impression of powerful build, and
is, in fact, a mechanical contrivance intended to stiffen the structure.
The colour of the leaves is a fresh, lively green, and in autumn they
are prettily marbled with yellow. Where a very large-leaved Vine is
wanted nothing is handsomer than the North American _Vitis Labrusca_ or
the Asiatic _Vitis Coignettii_, whose autumn leaves are gorgeously
coloured. For a place that demands more delicate foliage there is the
Parsley-Vine, that has a delightful look of refinement, and another that
should not be forgotten is the Claret-Vine, with autumnal colouring of
almost scarlet and purple, and abundance of tightly clustered black
fruit, nearly blue with a heavy bloom.

Many an old house and garden can show the far-rambling power of the
beautiful _Wistaria Chinensis_, and of the large-leaved _Aristolochia
Sipho_, one of the best plants for covering a pergola, and of the
varieties of _Ampelopsis_, near relations of the Grape-Vine. The limit
of these notes only admits of mention of some of the more important
climbers; but among these the ever-delightful white Jasmine must have a
place. It will ramble far and fast if it has its own way, but then gives
little flower; but by close winter pruning it can be kept full of bloom
and leaf nearly to the ground.

[Illustration: WILD HOP, ENTWINING WORMWOOD AND COW-PARSNIP.]

The woods and hedges have also their beautiful climbing plants.
Honeysuckle in suitable conditions will ramble to great heights--in this
district most noticeable in tall Hollies and Junipers as well as in high
hedges. The wild Clematis is most frequent on the chalk, where it laces
together whole hedges and rushes up trees, clothing them in July with
long wreaths of delicate bloom, and in September with still more
conspicuous feathery seed. For rapid growth perhaps no English plant
outstrips the Hop, growing afresh from the root every year, and almost
equalling the Vine in beauty of leaf. The two kinds of wild Bryony are
also herbaceous climbers of rapid growth, and among the most beautiful
of our hedge plants.

The wild Roses run up to great heights in hedge and thicket, and never
look so well as when among the tangles of mixed growth of wild forest
land or clambering through some old gnarled thorn-tree. The common
Brambles are also best seen in these forest groups; these again in form
of leaf show somewhat of a vine-like beauty.

In the end of March, or at any time during the month when the wind is in
the east or north-east, all increase and development of vegetation
appears to cease. As things are, so they remain. Plants that are in
flower retain their bloom, but, as it were, under protest. A kind of
sullen dulness pervades all plant life. Sweet-scented shrubs do not give
off their fragrance; even the woodland moss and earth and dead leaves
withhold their sweet, nutty scent. The surface of the earth has an arid,
infertile look; a slight haze of an ugly grey takes the colour out of
objects in middle distance, and seems to rob the flowers of theirs, or
to put them out of harmony with all things around. But a day comes, or,
perhaps, a warmer night, when the wind, now breathing gently from the
south-west, puts new life into all growing things. A marvellous change
is wrought in a few hours. A little warm rain has fallen, and plants,
invisible before, and doubtless still underground, spring into glad
life.

What an innocent charm there is about many of the true spring flowers.
Primroses of many colours are now in bloom, but the prettiest, this
year, is a patch of an early blooming white one, grouped with a delicate
lilac. Then comes _Omphalodes verna_, with its flowers of brilliant blue
and foliage of brightest green, better described by its pretty
north-country name, Blue-eyed Mary. There are Violets of many colours,
but daintiest of all is the pale-blue St. Helena; whether it is the
effect of its delicate colouring, or whether it has really a better
scent than other varieties of the common Violet, I cannot say, but it
always seems to have a more refined fragrance.



CHAPTER V

APRIL

Woodland spring flowers -- Daffodils in the copse -- Grape Hyacinths and
other spring bulbs -- How best to plant them -- Flowering shrubs --
Rock-plants -- Sweet scents of April -- Snowy Mespilus, Marsh Marigolds,
and other spring flowers -- Primrose garden -- Pollen of Scotch Fir --
Opening seed-pods of Fir and Gorse -- Auriculas -- Tulips -- Small
shrubs for rock-garden -- Daffodils as cut flowers -- Lent Hellebores --
Primroses -- Leaves of wild Arum.


In early April there is quite a wealth of flower among plants that
belong half to wood and half to garden. _Epimedium pinnatum_, with its
delicate, orchid-like spike of pale-yellow bloom, flowers with its last
year's leaves, but as soon as it is fully out the young leaves rush up,
as if hastening to accompany the flowers. _Dentaria pinnata_, a woodland
plant of Switzerland and Austria, is one of the handsomest of the
white-flowered _cruciferæ_, with well-filled heads of twelve to fifteen
flowers, and palmate leaves of freshest green. Hard by, and the best
possible plant to group with it, is the lovely Virginian Cowslip
(_Mertensia virginica_), the very embodiment of the freshness of early
spring. The sheaf of young leafage comes almost black out of the
ground, but as the leaves develop, their dull, lurid colouring changes
to a full, pale green of a curious texture, quite smooth, and yet
absolutely unreflecting. The dark colouring of the young leaves now only
remains as a faint tracery of veining on the backs of the leaves and
stalks, and at last dies quite away as the bloom expands. The flower is
of a rare and beautiful quality of colour, hard to describe--a
rainbow-flower of purple, indigo, full and pale blue, and daintiest
lilac, full of infinite variety and indescribable charm. The flowers are
in terminal clusters, richly filled; lesser clusters springing from the
axils of the last few leaves and joining with the topmost one to form a
gracefully drooping head. The lurid colouring of the young leaves is
recalled in the flower-stems and calix, and enhances the colour effect
of the whole. The flower of the common Dog-tooth Violet is over, but the
leaves have grown larger and handsomer. They look as if, originally of a
purplish-red colour, some liquid had been dropped on them, making
confluent pools of pale green, lightest at the centre of the drop. The
noblest plant of the same family (_Erythronium giganteum_) is now in
flower--a striking and beautiful wood plant, with turn-cap shaped
flowers of palest straw-colour, almost white, and large leaves, whose
markings are not drop-like as in the more familiar kind, but are
arranged in a regular sequence of bold splashings, reminding one of a
_Maranta_. The flowers, single or in pairs, rise on stems a foot or
fifteen inches high; the throat is beautifully marked with flames of
rich bay on a yellow ground, and the handsome group of golden-anthered
stamens and silvery pistil make up a flower of singular beauty and
refinement. That valuable Indian Primrose, _P. denticulata_, is another
fine plant for the cool edge or shady hollows of woodland in rather
good, deep soil.

But the glory of the copse just now consists in the great stretches of
Daffodils. Through the wood run shallow, parallel hollows, the lowest
part of each depression some nine paces apart. Local tradition says they
are the remains of old pack-horse roads; they occur frequently in the
forest-like heathery uplands of our poor-soiled, sandy land, running,
for the most part, three or four together, almost evenly side by side.
The old people account for this by saying that when one track became too
much worn another was taken by its side. Where these pass through the
birch copse the Daffodils have been planted in the shallow hollows of
the old ways, in spaces of some three yards broad by thirty or forty
yards long--one kind at a time. Two of such tracks, planted with
_Narcissus princeps_ and _N. Horsfieldi_, are now waving rivers of
bloom, in many lights and accidents of cloud and sunshine full of
pictorial effect. The planting of Daffodils in this part of the copse is
much better than in any other portions where there were no guiding
track-ways, and where they were planted in haphazard sprinklings.

[Illustration: DAFFODILS IN THE COPSE.]

The Grape Hyacinths are now in full bloom. It is well to avoid the
common one (_Muscari racemosum_), at any rate in light soils, where it
becomes a troublesome weed. One of the best is _M. conicum_; this, with
the upright-leaved _M. botryoides_, and its white variety, are the best
for general use, but the Plume Hyacinth, which flowers later, should
have a place. _Ornithogalum nutans_ is another of the bulbous plants
that, though beautiful in flower, becomes so pestilent a weed that it is
best excluded.

Where and how the early flowering bulbs had best be planted is a
question of some difficulty. Perhaps the mixed border, where they are
most usually put, is the worst place of all, for when in flower they
only show as forlorn little patches of bloom rather far apart, and when
their leaves die down, leaving their places looking empty, the ruthless
spade or trowel stabs into them when it is desired to fill the space
with some other plant. Moreover, when the border is manured and partly
dug in the autumn, it is difficult to avoid digging up the bulbs just
when they are in full root-growth. Probably the best plan is to devote a
good space of cool bank to small bulbs and hardy ferns, planting the
ferns in such groups as will leave good spaces for the bulbs; then as
their leaves are going the fern fronds are developing and will cover the
whole space. Another way is to have them among any groups of newly
planted small shrubs, to be left there for spring blooming until the
shrubs have covered their allotted space.

Many flowering shrubs are in beauty. _Andromeda floribunda_ still holds
its persistent bloom that has endured for nearly two months. The thick,
drooping, tassel-like bunches of bloom of _Andromeda japonica_ are just
going over. _Magnolia stellata_, a compact bush some five feet high and
wide, is white with the multitude of its starry flowers; individually
they look half double, having fourteen to sixteen petals. _Forsythia
suspensa_, with its graceful habit and tender yellow flower, is a much
better shrub than _F. viridissima_, though, strangely enough, that is
the one most commonly planted. Corchorus, with its bright-yellow balls,
the fine old rosy Ribes, the Japan Quinces and their salmon-coloured
relative _Pyrus Mauleii_, _Spiræa Thunbergi_, with its neat habit and
myriads of tiny flowers, these make frequent points of beauty and
interest.

In the rock-garden, _Cardamine trifoliata_ and _Hutchinsia alpina_ are
conspicuous from their pure white flowers and neat habit; both have
leaves of darkest green, as if the better to show off the bloom.
_Ranunculus montanus_ fringes the cool base of a large stone; its whole
height not over three inches, though its bright-yellow flowers are
larger than field buttercups. The surface of the petals is curiously
brilliant, glistening and flashing like glass. _Corydalis capnoides_ is
a charming rock-plant, with flowers of palest sulphur colour, one of the
neatest and most graceful of its family.

[Illustration: MAGNOLIA STELLATA.]

[Illustration: DAFFODILS AMONG JUNIPERS WHERE GARDEN JOINS COPSE.]

Border plants are pushing up vigorous green growth; finest of all are
the Veratrums, with their bold, deeply-plaited leaves of brilliant
green. Delphiniums and Oriental Poppies have also made strong foliage,
and Daylilies are conspicuous from their fresh masses of pale greenery.
Flag Iris have their leaves three parts grown, and Pæonies are a foot or
more high, in all varieties of rich red colouring. It is a good plan,
when they are in beds or large groups, to plant the dark-flowered
Wallflowers among them, their colour making a rich harmony with the reds
of the young Pæony growths.

There are balmy days in mid-April, when the whole garden is fragrant
with Sweetbriar. It is not "fast of its smell," as Bacon says of the
damask rose, but gives it so lavishly that one cannot pass near a plant
without being aware of its gracious presence. Passing upward through the
copse, the warm air draws a fragrance almost as sweet, but infinitely
more subtle, from the fresh green of the young birches; it is like a
distant whiff of Lily of the Valley. Higher still the young leafage of
the larches gives a delightful perfume of the same kind. It seems as if
it were the office of these mountain trees, already nearest the high
heaven, to offer an incense of praise for their new life.

Few plants will grow under Scotch fir, but a notable exception is the
Whortleberry, now a sheet of brilliant green, and full of its
arbutus-like, pink-tinged flower. This plant also has a pleasant scent
in the mass, difficult to localise, but coming in whiffs as it will.

The snowy Mespilus (_Amelanchier_) shows like puffs of smoke among the
firs and birches, full of its milk-white, cherry-like bloom--a true
woodland shrub or small tree. It loves to grow in a thicket of other
trees, and to fling its graceful sprays about through their branches. It
is a doubtful native, but naturalised and plentiful in the neighbouring
woods. As seen in gardens, it is usually a neat little tree of shapely
form, but it is more beautiful when growing at its own will in the high
woods.

Marshy hollows in the valleys are brilliant with Marsh Marigold (_Caltha
palustris_); damp meadows have them in plenty, but they are largest and
handsomest in the alder-swamps of our valley bottoms, where their great
luscious clumps rise out of pools of black mud and water.

_Adonis vernalis_ is one of the brightest flowers of the middle of
April, the flowers looking large for the size of the plant. The
bright-yellow, mostly eight-petalled, blooms are comfortably seated in
dense, fennel-like masses of foliage. It makes strong tufts, that are
the better for division every four years. The spring Bitter-vetch
(_Orobus vernus_) blooms at the same time, a remarkably clean-looking
plant, with its cheerful red and purple blossom and handsomely divided
leaves. It is one of the toughest of plants to divide, the mass of
black root is like so much wire. It is a good plan with plants that have
such roots, when dividing-time comes, to take the clumps to a strong
bench or block and cut them through at the crown with a sharp
cold-chisel and hammer. Another of the showiest families of plants of
the time is _Doronicum_. _D. Austriacum_ is the earliest, but it is
closely followed by the fine _D. Plantagineum_. The large form of wood
Forget-me-not (_Myosotis sylvatica major_) is in sheets of bloom,
opening pink and changing to a perfect blue. This is a great improvement
on the old smaller one. Grouped with it, as an informal border, and in
patches running through and among its clumps, is the Foam-flower
(_Tiarella cordifolia_), whose flower in the mass looks like the wreaths
of foam tossed aside by a mountain torrent. By the end of the month the
Satin-leaf (_Heuchera Richardsoni_) is pushing up its richly-coloured
leaves, of a strong bronze-red, gradating to bronze-green at the outer
edge. The beauty of the plant is in the colour and texture of the
foliage. To encourage full leaf growth the flower stems should be
pinched out, and as they push up rather persistently, they should be
looked over every few days for about a fortnight.

[Illustration: TIARELLA CORDIFOLIA. (_Height, 12 inches._)]

[Illustration: HOLLYHOCK, PINK BEAUTY. (_See page 105._) (_Height, 9
feet._)]

The Primrose garden is now in beauty, but I have so much to say about it
that I have given it a chapter to itself towards the end of the book.

The Scotch firs are shedding their pollen; a flowering branch shaken or
struck with a stick throws out a pale-yellow cloud. Heavy rain will
wash it out, so that after a storm the sides of the roads and paths look
as if powdered sulphur had been washed up in drifts. The sun has gained
great power, and on still bright days sharp _snicking_ sounds are to be
heard from the firs. The dry cones of last year are opening, and the
flattened seeds with their paper-like edges are fluttering down. Another
sound, much like it but just a shade sharper and more _staccato_, is
heard from the Gorse bushes, whose dry pods are flying open and letting
fall the hard, polished, little bean-like seeds.

Border Auriculas are making a brave show. Nothing in the flower year is
more interesting than a bed of good seedlings of the Alpine class. I
know nothing better for pure beauty of varied colouring among early
flowers. Except in varieties of _Salpiglossis_, such rich gradation of
colour, from pale lilac to rich purple, and from rosy pink to deepest
crimson, is hardly to be found in any one family of plants. There are
varieties of cloudings of smoky-grey, sometimes approaching black,
invading, and at the same time enhancing, the purer colours, and numbers
of shades of half-tones of red and purple, such as are comprised within
the term _murrey_ of heraldry, and tender blooms of one colour, sulphurs
and milk-whites--all with the admirable texture and excellent perfume
that belong to the "Bear's-ears" of old English gardens. For practical
purposes the florist's definition of a good Auricula is of little value;
that is for the show-table, and, as Bacon says, "Nothing to the true
pleasure of a garden." The qualities to look for in the bed of seedlings
are not the narrowing ones of proportion of eye to tube, of exact circle
in the circumference of the individual pip, and so on, but to notice
whether the plant has a handsome look and stands up well, and is a
delightful and beautiful thing as a whole.

[Illustration: TULIPA RETROFLEXA.]

[Illustration: LATE SINGLE TULIPS, BREEDERS AND BYBLOEMEN.]

Tulips are the great garden flowers in the last week of April and
earliest days of May. In this plant also the rule of the show-table is
no sure guide to garden value; for the show Tulip, beautiful though it
is, is of one class alone--namely, the best of the "broken" varieties of
the self-coloured seedlings called "breeders." These seedlings, after
some years of cultivation, change or "break" into a variation in which
the original colouring is only retained in certain flames or feathers of
colour, on a ground of either white or yellow. If the flames in each
petal are symmetrical and well arranged, according to the rules laid
down by the florist, it is a good flower; it receives a name, and
commands a certain price. If, on the other hand, the markings are
irregular, however beautiful the colouring, the flower is comparatively
worthless, and is "thrown into mixture." The kinds that are the grandest
in gardens are ignored by the florist. One of the best for graceful and
delicate beauty is _Tulipa retroflexa_, of a soft lemon-yellow colour,
and twisted and curled petals; then Silver Crown, a white flower with a
delicate picotee-like thread of scarlet along the edge of the sharply
pointed and reflexed petals. A variety of this called Sulphur Crown is
only a little less beautiful. Then there is Golden Crown, also with
pointed petals and occasional threadings of scarlet. Nothing is more
gorgeous than the noble _Gesneriana major_, with its great chalice of
crimson-scarlet and pools of blue in the inner base of each petal. The
gorgeously flamed Parrot Tulips are indispensable, and the large double
Yellow Rose, and the early double white La Candeur. Of the later kinds
there are many of splendid colouring and noble port; conspicuous among
them are _Reine d'Espagne_, _Couleur de vin_, and _Bleu celeste_. There
are beautiful colourings of scarlet, crimson, yellow, chocolate, and
purple among the "breeders," as well as among the so-called _bizarres_
and _bybloemen_ that comprise the show kinds.

The best thing now in the rock-garden is a patch of some twenty plants
of _Arnebia echioides_, always happy in our poor, dry soil. It is of the
Borage family, a native of Armenia. It flowers in single or
double-branching spikes of closely-set flowers of a fine yellow. Just
below each indentation of the five-lobed corolla is a spot which looks
black by contrast, but is of a very dark, rich, velvety brown. The day
after the flower has expanded the spot has faded to a moderate brown,
the next day to a faint tinge, and on the fourth day it is gone. The
legend, accounting for the spots, says that Mahomet touched the flower
with the tips of his fingers, hence its English name of Prophet-flower.

The upper parts of the rock-garden that are beyond hand-reach are
planted with dwarf shrubs, many of them sweetly scented either as to
leaf or flower--_Gaultherias_, Sweet Gale, Alpine Rhododendron,
_Skimmias_, _Pernettyas_, _Ledums_, and hardy Daphnes. _Daphne pontica_
now gives off delicious wafts of fragrance, intensely sweet in the
evening.

In March and April Daffodils are the great flowers for house decoration,
coming directly after the Lent Hellebores. Many people think these
beautiful late-flowering Hellebores useless for cutting because they
live badly in water. But if properly prepared they live quite well, and
will remain ten days in beauty. Directly they are cut, and immediately
before putting in water, the stalks should be slit up three or four
inches, or according to their length, and then put in deep, so that the
water comes nearly up to the flowers; and so they should remain, in a
cool place, for some hours, or for a whole night, after which they can
be arranged for the room. Most of them are inclined to droop; it is the
habit of the plant in growth; this may be corrected by arranging them
with something stiff like Box or Berberis.

_Anemone fulgens_ is a grand cutting flower, and looks well with its own
leaves only or with flowering twigs of Laurustinus. Then there are
Pansies, delightful things in a room, but they should be cut in whole
branches of leafy stem and flower and bud. At first the growths are
short and only suit dish-shaped things, but as the season goes on they
grow longer and bolder, and graduate first into bowls and then into
upright glasses. I think Pansies are always best without mixture of
other flowers, and in separate colours, or only in such varied tints as
make harmonies of one class of colour at a time.

The big yellow and white bunch Primroses are delightful room flowers,
beautiful, and of sweetest scent. When full-grown the flower-stalks are
ten inches long and more. Among the seedlings there are always a certain
number that are worthless. These are pounced upon as soon as they show
their bloom, and cut up for greenery to go with the cut flowers, leaving
the root-stock with all its middle foliage, and cutting away the roots
and any rough outside leaves.

When the first Daffodils are out and suitable greenery is not abundant
in the garden (for it does not do to cut their own blades), I bring home
handfuls of the wild Arum leaves, so common in roadside hedges, grasping
the whole plant close to the ground; then a steady pull breaks it away
from the tuber, and you have a fine long-stalked sheaf of leafage held
together by its own underground stem. This should be prepared like the
Lent Hellebores, by putting it deep in water for a time. I always think
the trumpet Daffodils look better with this than with any other kind of
foliage. When the wild Arum is full-grown the leaves are so large and
handsome that they do quite well to accompany the white Arum flowers
from the greenhouse.



CHAPTER VI

MAY

Cowslips -- Morells -- Woodruff -- Felling oak timber -- Trillium and
other wood-plants -- Lily of the Valley naturalised -- Rock-wall flowers
-- Two good wall-shrubs -- Queen wasps -- Rhododendrons -- Arrangement
for colour -- Separate colour-groups -- Difficulty of choosing -- Hardy
Azaleas -- Grouping flowers that bloom together -- Guelder-rose as
climber -- The garden-wall door -- The Pæony garden -- Moutans -- Pæony
varieties -- Species desirable for garden.


While May is still young, Cowslips are in beauty on the chalk lands a
few miles distant, but yet within pleasant reach. They are finest of all
in orchards, where the grass grows tall and strong under the half-shade
of the old apple-trees, some of the later kinds being still loaded with
bloom. The blooming of the Cowslip is the signal for a search for the
Morell, one of the very best of the edible fungi. It grows in open woods
or where the undergrowth has not yet grown high, and frequently in old
parks and pastures near or under elms. It is quite unlike any other
fungus; shaped like a tall egg, with the pointed end upwards, on a
short, hollow stalk, and looking something like a sponge. It has a
delicate and excellent flavour, and is perfectly wholesome.

The pretty little Woodruff is in flower; what scent is so delicate as
that of its leaves? They are almost sweeter when dried, each little
whorl by itself, with the stalk cut closely away above and below. It is
a pleasant surprise to come upon these fragrant little stars between the
leaves of a book. The whole plant revives memories of rambles in
Bavarian woodlands, and of Mai-trank, that best of the "cup" tribe of
pleasant drinks, whose flavour is borrowed from its flowering tips.

In the first week in May oak-timber is being felled. The wood is
handsomer, from showing the grain better, when it is felled in the
winter, but it is delayed till now because of the value of the bark for
tanning, and just now the fast-rising sap makes the bark strip easily. A
heavy fall is taking place in the fringes of a large wood of old Scotch
fir. Where the oaks grow there is a blue carpet of wild Hyacinth; the
pathway is a slightly hollowed lane, so that the whole sheet of flower
right and left is nearly on a level with the eye, and looks like solid
pools of blue. The oaks not yet felled are putting forth their leaves of
golden bronze. The song of the nightingale and the ring of the woodman's
axe gain a rich musical quality from the great fir wood. Why a wood of
Scotch fir has this wonderful property of a kind of musical
reverberation I do not know; but so it is. Any sound that occurs within
it is, on a lesser scale, like a sound in a cathedral. The tree itself
when struck gives a musical note. Strike an oak or an elm on the trunk
with a stick, and the sound is mute; strike a Scotch fir, and it is a
note of music.

[Illustration: TRILLIUM IN THE WILD GARDEN.]

In the copse are some prosperous patches of the beautiful North American
Wood-lily (_Trillium grandiflorum_). It likes a bed of deep leaf-soil on
levels or cool slopes in woodland, where its large white flowers and
whorls of handsome leaves look quite at home. Beyond it are widely
spreading patches of Solomon's Seal and tufts of the Wood-rush (_Luzula
sylvatica_), showing by their happy vigour how well they like their
places, while the natural woodland carpet of moss and dead leaves puts
the whole together. Higher in the copse the path runs through stretches
of the pretty little _Smilacina bifolia_, and the ground beyond this is
a thick bed of Whortleberry, filling all the upper part of the copse
under oak and birch and Scotch fir. The little flower-bells of the
Whortleberry have already given place to the just-formed fruit, which
will ripen in July, and be a fine feast for the blackbirds.

Other parts of the copse, where there was no Heath or Whortleberry, were
planted thinly with the large Lily of the Valley. It has spread and
increased and become broad sheets of leaf and bloom, from which
thousands of flowers can be gathered without making gaps, or showing
that any have been removed; when the bloom is over the leaves still
stand in handsome masses till they are hidden by the fast-growing
bracken. They do not hurt each other, as it seems that the Lily of the
Valley, having the roots running just underground, while the fern-roots
are much deeper, the two occupy their respective _strata_ in perfect
good fellowship. The neat little _Smilacina_ is a near relation of the
Lily of the Valley; its leaves are of an even more vivid green, and its
little modest spikes of white flower are charming. It loves the poor,
sandy soil, and increases in it fast, but will have nothing to say to
clay. A very delicate and beautiful North American fern (_Dicksonia
punctilobulata_) proves a good colonist in the copse. It spreads rapidly
by creeping roots, and looks much like our native _Thelipteris_, but is
of a paler green colour. In the rock-garden the brightest patches of
bloom are shown by the tufts of dwarf Wallflowers; of these,
_Cheiranthus alpinus_ has a strong lemon colour that is of great
brilliancy in the mass, and _C. Marshalli_ is of a dark orange colour,
equally powerful. The curiously-tinted _C. mutabilis_, as its name
implies, changes from a light mahogany colour when just open, first to
crimson and then to purple. In length of life _C. alpinus_ and _C.
Marshalli_ are rather more than biennials, and yet too short-lived to be
called true perennials; cuttings of one year flower the next, and are
handsome tufts the year after, but are scarcely worth keeping longer.
_C. mutabilis_ is longer lived, especially if the older growths are cut
right away, when the tuft will generally spring into vigorous new life.

_Orobus aurantiacus_ is a beautiful plant not enough grown, one of the
handsomest of the Pea family, with flowers of a fine orange colour, and
foliage of a healthy-looking golden-green. A striking and handsome plant
in the upper part of the rockery is _Othonna cheirifolia_; its aspect is
unusual and interesting, with its bunches of thick, blunt-edged leaves
of blue-grey colouring, and large yellow daisy flowers. There is a
pretty group of the large white Thrift, and near it a spreading carpet
of blue Veronica and some of the splendid gentian-blue _Phacelia
campanularia_, a valuable annual for filling any bare patches of rockery
where its brilliant colouring will suit the neighbouring plants, or,
best of all, in patches among dwarf ferns, where its vivid blue would be
seen to great advantage.

Two wall-shrubs have been conspicuously beautiful during May; the
Mexican Orange-flower (_Choisya ternata_) has been smothered in its
white bloom, so closely resembling orange-blossom. With a slight winter
protection of fir boughs it seems quite at home in our hot, dry soil,
grows fast, and is very easy to propagate by layers. When cut, it lasts
for more than a week in water. _Piptanthus nepalensis_ has also made a
handsome show, with its abundant yellow, pea-shaped bloom and deep-green
trefoil leaves. The dark-green stems have a slight bloom on a
half-polished surface, and a pale ring at each joint gives them somewhat
the look of bamboos.

Now is the time to look out for the big queen wasps and to destroy as
many as possible. They seem to be specially fond of the flowers of two
plants, the large perennial Cornflower (_Centaurea montana_) and the
common Cotoneaster. I have often secured a dozen in a few minutes on one
or other of these plants, first knocking them down with a battledore.

Now, in the third week of May, Rhododendrons are in full bloom on the
edge of the copse. The plantation was made about nine years ago, in one
of the regions where lawn and garden were to join the wood. During the
previous blooming season the best nurseries were visited and careful
observations made of colouring, habit, and time of blooming. The space
they were to fill demanded about seventy bushes, allowing an average of
eight feet from plant to plant--not seventy different kinds, but,
perhaps, ten of one kind, and two or three fives, and some threes, and a
few single plants, always bearing in mind the ultimate intention of
pictorial aspect as a whole. In choosing the plants and in arranging and
disposing the groups these ideas were kept in mind: to make pleasant
ways from lawn to copse; to group only in beautiful colour harmonies; to
choose varieties beautiful in themselves; to plant thoroughly well, and
to avoid overcrowding. Plantations of these grand shrubs are generally
spoilt or ineffective, if not absolutely jarring, for want of attention
to these simple rules. The choice of kinds is now so large, and the
variety of colouring so extensive, that nothing can be easier than to
make beautiful combinations, if intending planters will only take the
small amount of preliminary trouble that is needful. Some of the
clumps are of brilliant scarlet-crimson, rose and white, but out of the
great choice of colours that might be so named only those are chosen
that make just the colour-harmony that was intended. A large group,
quite detached from this one, and more in the shade of the copse, is of
the best of the lilacs, purples, and whites. When some clumps of young
hollies have grown, those two groups will not be seen at the same time,
except from a distance. The purple and white group is at present rather
the handsomest, from the free-growing habit of the fine old kind _Album
elegans_, which forms towering masses at the back. A detail of pictorial
effect that was aimed at, and that has come out well, was devised in the
expectation that the purple groups would look richer in the shade, and
the crimson ones in the sun. This arrangement has answered admirably.
Before planting, the ground, of the poorest quality possible, was deeply
trenched, and the Rhododendrons were planted in wide holes filled with
peat, and finished with a comfortable "mulch," or surface-covering of
farmyard manure. From this a supply of grateful nutriment was gradually
washed in to the roots. This beneficial surface-dressing was renewed
every year for two years after planting, and even longer in the case of
the slower growing kinds. No plant better repays care during its early
years. Broad grass paths leading from the lawn at several points pass
among the clumps, and are continued through the upper parts of the
copse, passing through zones of different trees; first a good stretch
of birch and holly, then of Spanish chestnut, next of oak, and finally
of Scotch fir, with a sprinkling of birch and mountain ash, all with an
undergrowth of heath and whortleberry and bracken. Thirty years ago it
was all a wood of old Scotch fir. This was cut at its best marketable
maturity, and the present young wood is made of what came up self-sown.
This natural wild growth was thick enough to allow of vigorous cutting
out, and the preponderance of firs in the upper part and of birch in the
lower suggested that these were the kinds that should predominate in
their respective places.

[Illustration: RHODODENDRONS WHERE THE COPSE AND GARDEN MEET.]

It may be useful to describe a little more in detail the plan I followed
in grouping Rhododendrons, for I feel sure that any one with a feeling
for harmonious colouring, having once seen or tried some such plan, will
never again approve of the haphazard mixtures. There may be better
varieties representing the colourings aimed at in the several groups,
but those named are ones that I know, and they will serve as well as any
others to show what is meant.

The colourings seem to group themselves into six classes of easy
harmonies, which I venture to describe thus:--

1. Crimsons inclining to scarlet or blood-colour grouped with dark
claret-colour and true pink.

In this group I have planted Nigrescens, dark claret-colour; John
Waterer and James Marshall Brook, both fine red-crimsons; Alexander
Adie and Atrosanguineum, good crimsons, inclining to blood-colour;
Alarm, rosy-scarlet; and Bianchi, pure pink.

2. Light scarlet rose colours inclining to salmon, a most desirable
range of colour, but of which the only ones I know well are Mrs. R. S.
Holford, and a much older kind, Lady Eleanor Cathcart. These I put by
themselves, only allowing rather near them the good pink Bianchi.

3. Rose colours inclining to amaranth.

4. Amaranths or magenta-crimsons.

5. Crimson or amaranth-purples.

6. Cool clear purples of the typical _ponticum_ class, both dark and
light, grouped with lilac-whites, such as _Album elegans_ and _Album
grandiflorum_. The beautiful partly-double _Everestianum_ comes into
this group, but nothing redder among purples. _Fastuosum florepleno_ is
also admitted, and _Luciferum_ and _Reine Hortense_, both good
lilac-whites. But the purples that are most effective are merely
_ponticum_ seedlings, chosen when in bloom in the nursery for their
depth and richness of cool purple colour.

My own space being limited, I chose three of the above groups only,
leaving out, as of colouring less pleasing to my personal liking, groups
3, 4, and 5. The remaining ones gave me examples of colouring the most
widely different, and at the same time the most agreeable to my
individual taste. It would have been easier, if that had been the
object, to have made groups of the three other classes of colouring,
which comprise by far the largest number of the splendid varieties now
grown. There are a great many beautiful whites; of these, two that I
most admire are Madame Carvalho and Sappho; the latter is an immense
flower, with a conspicuous purple blotch. There is also a grand old kind
called Minnie, a very large-growing one, with fine white trusses; and a
dwarf-growing white that comes early into bloom is Cunningham's White,
also useful for forcing, as it is a small plant, and a free bloomer.

[Illustration: GRASS WALKS THROUGH THE COPSE.]

Nothing is more perplexing than to judge of the relative merits of
colours in a Rhododendron nursery, where they are all mixed up. I have
twice been specially to look for varieties of a true pink colour, but
the quantity of untrue pinks is so great that anything approaching a
clear pink looks much better than it is. In this way I chose Kate
Waterer and Sylph, both splendid varieties; but when I grew them with my
true pink Bianchi they would not do, the colour having the suspicion of
rank quality that I wished to keep out of that group. This same Bianchi,
with its mongrel-sounding name, I found was not grown in the larger
nurseries. I had it from Messrs. Maurice Young, of the Milford
Nurseries, near Godalming. I regretted to hear lately from some one to
whom I recommended it that it could not be supplied. It is to be hoped
that so good a thing has not been lost.

A little way from the main Rhododendron clumps, and among bushy
Andromedas, I have the splendid hybrid of _R. Aucklandi_, raised by
Mr. A. Waterer. The trusses are astoundingly large, and the individual
blooms large and delicately beautiful, like small richly-modelled lilies
of a tender, warm, white colour. It is quite hardy south of London, and
unquestionably desirable. Its only fault is leggy growth; one year's
growth measures twenty-three inches, but this only means that it should
be planted among other bushes.

[Illustration: RHODODENDRONS AT THE EDGE OF THE COPSE.]

The last days of May see hardy Azaleas in beauty. Any of them may be
planted in company, for all their colours harmonise. In this garden,
where care is taken to group plants well for colour, the whites are
planted at the lower and more shady end of the group; next come the pale
yellows and pale pinks, and these are followed at a little distance by
kinds whose flowers are of orange, copper, flame, and scarlet-crimson
colourings; this strong-coloured group again softening off at the upper
end by strong yellows, and dying away into the woodland by bushes of the
common yellow _Azalea pontica_, and its variety with flowers of larger
size and deeper colour. The plantation is long in shape, straggling over
a space of about half an acre, the largest and strongest-coloured group
being in an open clearing about midway in the length. The ground between
them is covered with a natural growth of the wild Ling (_Calluna_) and
Whortleberry, and the small, white-flowered Bed-straw, with the
fine-bladed Sheep's-fescue grass, the kind most abundant in heathland.
The surrounding ground is copse, of a wild, forest-like character, of
birch and small oak. A wood-path of wild heath cut short winds through
the planted group, which also comprises some of the beautiful
white-flowered Californian _Azalea occidentalis_, and bushes of some of
the North American Vacciniums.

Azaleas should never be planted among or even within sight of
Rhododendrons. Though both enjoy a moist peat soil, and have a near
botanical relationship, they are incongruous in appearance, and
impossible to group together for colour. This must be understood to
apply to the two classes of plants of the hardy kinds, as commonly grown
in gardens. There are tender kinds of the East Indian families that are
quite harmonious, but those now in question are the ordinary varieties
of so-called Ghent Azaleas, and the hardy hybrid Rhododendrons. In the
case of small gardens, where there is only room for one bed or clump of
peat plants, it would be better to have a group of either one or the
other of these plants, rather than spoil the effect by the inharmonious
mixture of both.

I always think it desirable to group together flowers that bloom at the
same time. It is impossible, and even undesirable, to have a garden in
blossom all over, and groups of flower-beauty are all the more enjoyable
for being more or less isolated by stretches of intervening greenery. As
one lovely group for May I recommend Moutan Pæony and _Clematis
montana_, the Clematis on a wall low enough to let its wreaths of bloom
show near the Pæony. The old Guelder Rose or Snowball-tree is beautiful
anywhere, but I think it best of all on the cold side of a wall. Of
course it is perfectly hardy, and a bush of strong, sturdy growth, and
has no need of the wall either for support or for shelter; but I am for
clothing the garden walls with all the prettiest things they can wear,
and no shrub I know makes a better show. Moreover, as there is
necessarily less wood in a flat wall tree than in a round bush, and as
the front shoots must be pruned close back, it follows that much more
strength is thrown into the remaining wood, and the blooms are much
larger.

I have a north wall eleven feet high, with a Guelder Rose on each side
of a doorway, and a _Clematis montana_ that is trained on the top of the
whole. The two flower at the same time, their growths mingling in
friendly fashion, while their unlikeness of habit makes the
companionship all the more interesting. The Guelder Rose is a
stiff-wooded thing, the character of its main stems being a kind of
stark uprightness, though the great white balls hang out with a certain
freedom from the newly-grown shoots. The Clematis meets it with an
exactly opposite way of growth, swinging down its great swags of
many-flowered garland masses into the head of its companion, with here
and there a single flowering streamer making a tiny wreath on its own
account.

On the southern sides of the same gateway are two large bushes of the
Mexican Orange-flower (_Choisya ternata_), loaded with its orange-like
bloom. Buttresses flank the doorway on this side, dying away into the
general thickness of the wall above the arch by a kind of roofing of
broad flat stones that lay back at an easy pitch. In mossy hollows at
their joints and angles, some tufts of Thrift and of little Rock Pinks
have found a home, and show as tenderly-coloured tufts of rather dull
pink bloom. Above all is the same white Clematis, some of its abundant
growth having been trained over the south side, so that this one plant
plays a somewhat important part in two garden-scenes.

Through the gateway again, beyond the wall northward and partly within
its shade, is a portion of ground devoted to Pæonies, in shape a long
triangle, whose proportion in length is about thrice its breadth
measured at the widest end. A low cross-wall, five feet high, divides it
nearly in half near the Guelder Roses, and it is walled again on the
other long side of the triangle by a rough structure of stone and earth,
which, in compliment to its appearance, we call the Old Wall, of which I
shall have something to say later. Thus the Pæonies are protected all
round, for they like a sheltered place, and the Moutans do best with
even a little passing shade at some time of the day. Moutan is the
Chinese name for Tree Pæony. For an immense hardy flower of beautiful
colouring what can equal the salmon-rose Moutan Reine Elizabeth? Among
the others that I have, those that give me most pleasure are Baronne
d'Alès and Comtesse de Tuder, both pinks of a delightful quality, and
a lovely white called Bijou de Chusan. The Tree Pæonies are also
beautiful in leaf; the individual leaves are large and important, and so
carried that they are well displayed. Their colour is peculiar, being
bluish, but pervaded with a suspicion of pink or pinkish-bronze,
sometimes of a metallic quality that faintly recalls some of the
variously-coloured alloys of metal that the Japanese bronze-workers make
and use with such consummate skill.

[Illustration: SOUTH SIDE OF DOOR, WITH CLEMATIS MONTANA AND CHOISYA.]

[Illustration: NORTH SIDE OF THE SAME DOOR, WITH CLEMATIS MONTANA AND
GUELDER-ROSE.]

It is a matter of regret that varieties of the better kinds of Moutans
are not generally grown on their own roots, and still more so that the
stock in common use should not even be the type Tree Pæony, but one of
the herbaceous kinds, so that we have plants of a hard-wooded shrub
worked on a thing as soft as a Dahlia root. This is probably the reason
why they are so difficult to establish, and so slow to grow, especially
on light soils, even when their beds have been made deep and liberally
enriched with what one judges to be the most gratifying comfort. Every
now and then, just before blooming time, a plant goes off all at once,
smitten with sudden death. At the time of making my collection I was
unable to visit the French nurseries where these plants are so admirably
grown, and whence most of the best kinds have come. I had to choose them
by the catalogue description--always an unsatisfactory way to any one
with a keen eye for colour, although in this matter the compilers of
foreign catalogues are certainly less vague than those of our own. Many
of the plants therefore had to be shifted into better groups for colour
after their first blooming, a matter the more to be regretted as Pæonies
dislike being moved.

The other half of the triangular bit of Pæony ground--the pointed
end--is given to the kinds I like best of the large June-flowered
Pæonies, the garden varieties of the Siberian _P. albiflora_, popularly
known as Chinese Pæonies. Though among these, as is the case with all
the kinds, there is a preponderance of pink or rose-crimson colouring of
a decidedly rank quality, yet the number of varieties is so great, that
among the minority of really good colouring there are plenty to choose
from, including a good number of beautiful whites and whites tinged with
yellow. Of those I have, the kinds I like best are--

    Hypatia, pink.
    Madame Benare, salmon-rose.
    The Queen, pale salmon-rose.
    Léonie, salmon-rose.
    Virginie, warm white.
    Solfaterre, pale yellow.
    Edouard André, deep claret.
    Madame Calot, flesh pink.
    Madame Bréon.
    Alba sulfurea.
    Triomphans gandavensis.
    Carnea elegans (Guerin).
    Curiosa, pink and blush.
    Prince Pierre Galitzin, blush.
    Eugenie Verdier, pale pink.
    Elegans superbissima, yellowish-white.
    Virgo Maria, white.
    Philomèle, blush.
    Madame Dhour, rose.
    Duchesse de Nemours, yellow-white.
    Faust.
    Belle Douaisienne.
    Jeanne d'Arc.
    Marie Lemoine.

Many of the lovely flowers in this class have a rather strong, sweet
smell, something like a mixture of the scents of Rose and Tulip.

Then there are the old garden Pæonies, the double varieties of _P.
officinalis_. They are in three distinct colourings--full rich crimson,
crimson-rose, and pale pink changing to dull white. These are the
earliest to flower, and with them it is convenient, from the garden
point of view, to class some of the desirable species.

Some years ago my friend Mr. Barr kindly gave me a set of the Pæony
species as grown by him. I wished to have them, not for the sake of
making a collection, but in order to see which were the ones I should
like best to grow as garden flowers. In due time they grew into strong
plants and flowered. A good many had to be condemned because of the raw
magenta colour of the bloom, one or two only that had this defect being
reprieved on account of their handsome foliage and habit. Prominent
among these was _P. decora_, with bluish foliage handsomely displayed,
the whole plant looking strong and neat and well-dressed. Others whose
flower-colour I cannot commend, but that seemed worth growing on account
of their rich masses of handsome foliage, are _P. triternata_ and _P.
Broteri_. Though small in size, the light red flower of _P. lobata_ is
of a beautiful colour. _P. tenuifolia_, in both single and double form,
is an old garden favourite. _P. Wittmanniana_, with its yellow-green
leaves and tender yellow flower, is a gem; but it is rather rare, and
probably uncertain, for mine, alas! had no sooner grown into a fine
clump than it suddenly died.

All Pæonies are strong feeders. Their beds should be deeply and richly
prepared, and in later years they are grateful for liberal gifts of
manure, both as surface dressings and waterings.

Friends often ask me vaguely about Pæonies, and when I say, "What kind
of Pæonies?" they have not the least idea.

Broadly, and for garden purposes, one may put them into three classes--

1. Tree Pæonies (_P. moutan_), shrubby, flowering in May.

2. Chinese Pæonies (_P. albiflora_), herbaceous, flowering in June.

3. Old garden Pæonies (_P. officinalis_), herbaceous, including some
other herbaceous species.

I find it convenient to grow Pæony species and Caulescent (Lent)
Hellebores together. They are in a wide border on the north side of the
high wall and partly shaded by it. They are agreed in their liking for
deeply-worked ground with an admixture of loam and lime, for shelter,
and for rich feeding; and the Pæony clumps, set, as it were, in picture
frames of the lower-growing Hellebores, are seen to all the more
advantage.

[Illustration: FREE CLUSTER-ROSE AS STANDARD IN A COTTAGE GARDEN.]



CHAPTER VII

JUNE

The gladness of June -- The time of Roses -- Garden Roses -- Reine
Blanche -- The old white Rose -- Old garden Roses as standards --
Climbing and rambling Roses -- Scotch Briars -- Hybrid Perpetuals a
difficulty -- Tea Roses -- Pruning -- Sweet Peas, autumn sown --
Elder-trees -- Virginian Cowslip -- Dividing spring-blooming plants --
Two best Mulleins -- White French Willow -- Bracken.


What is one to say about June--the time of perfect young summer, the
fulfilment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign
to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade? For my own
part I wander up into the wood and say, "June is here--June is here;
thank God for lovely June!" The soft cooing of the wood-dove, the glad
song of many birds, the flitting of butterflies, the hum of all the
little winged people among the branches, the sweet earth-scents--all
seem to say the same, with an endless reiteration, never wearying
because so gladsome. It is the offering of the Hymn of Praise! The
lizards run in and out of the heathy tufts in the hot sunshine, and as
the long day darkens the night-jar trolls out his strange song, so
welcome because it is the prelude to the perfect summer night; here and
there a glowworm shows its little lamp. June is here--June is here;
thank God for lovely June!

And June is the time of Roses. I have great delight in the best of the
old garden Roses; the Provence (Cabbage Rose), sweetest of all sweets,
and the Moss Rose, its crested variety; the early Damask, and its red
and white striped kind; the old, nearly single, Reine Blanche. I do not
know the origin of this charming Rose, but by its appearance it should
be related to the Damask. A good many years ago I came upon it in a
cottage garden in Sussex, and thought I had found a white Damask. The
white is a creamy white, the outsides of the outer petals are stained
with red, first showing clearly in the bud. The scent is delicate and
delightful, with a faint suspicion of Magnolia. A few years ago this
pretty old Rose found its way to one of the meetings of the Royal
Horticultural Society, where it gained much praise. It was there that I
recognised my old friend, and learned its name.

I am fond of the old _Rosa alba_, both single and double, and its
daughter, Maiden's Blush. How seldom one sees these Roses except in
cottage gardens; but what good taste it shows on the cottager's part,
for what Rose is so perfectly at home upon the modest little wayside
porch?

I have also learnt from cottage gardens how pretty are some of the old
Roses grown as standards. The picture of my neighbour, Mrs. Edgeler,
picking me a bunch from her bush, shows how freely they flower, and what
fine standards they make. I have taken the hint, and have now some big
round-headed standards, the heads a yard through, of the lovely Celeste
and of Madame Plantier, that are worth looking at, though one of them is
rather badly-shaped this year, for my handsome Jack (donkey) ate one
side of it when he was waiting outside the studio door, while his
cart-load of logs for the ingle fire was being unloaded.

What a fine thing, among the cluster Roses, is the old Dundee Rambler! I
trained one to go up a rather upright green Holly about twenty-five feet
high, and now it has rushed up and tumbles out at the top and sides in
masses of its pretty bloom. It is just as good grown as a "fountain,"
giving it a free space where it can spread at will with no training or
support whatever. These two ways I think are much the best for growing
the free, rambling Roses. In the case of the fountain, the branches arch
over and display the flowers to perfection; if you tie your Rose up to a
tall post or train it over an arch or _pergola_, the birds flying
overhead have the best of the show. The Garland Rose, another old sort,
is just as suitable for this kind of growth as Dundee Rambler, and the
individual flowers, of a tender blush-colour, changing to white, are
even more delicate and pretty.

The newer Crimson Rambler is a noble plant for the same use, in sunlight
gorgeous of bloom, and always brilliant with its glossy bright-green
foliage. Of the many good plants from Japan, this is the best that has
reached us of late years. The Himalayan _Rosa Brunonii_ is loaded with
its clusters of milk-white bloom, that are so perfectly in harmony with
its very long, almost blue leaves. But of all the free-growing Roses,
the most remarkable for rampant growth is _R. polyantha_. One of the
bushes in this garden covers a space thirty-four feet across--more than
a hundred feet round. It forms a great fountain-like mass, covered with
myriads of its small white flowers, whose scent is carried a
considerable distance. Directly the flower is over it throws up rods of
young growth eighteen to twenty feet long; as they mature they arch
over, and next year their many short lateral shoots will be smothered
with bloom.

Two other Roses of free growth are also great favourites--Madame Alfred
Carrière, with long-stalked loose white flowers, and Emilie Plantier. I
have them on an east fence, where they yield a large quantity of bloom
for cutting; indeed, they have been so useful in this way that I have
planted several more, but this time for training down to an oak trellis,
like the one that supports the row of Bouquet d'Or, in order to bring
the flowers within easier reach.

Now we look for the bloom of the Burnet Rose (_Rosa spinosissima_), a
lovely native plant, and its garden varieties, the Scotch Briars. The
wild plant is widely distributed in England, though somewhat local.
It grows on moors in Scotland, and on Beachy Head in Sussex, and near
Tenby in South Wales, favouring wild places within smell of the sea. The
rather dusky foliage sets off the lemon-white of the wild, and the clear
white, pink, rose, and pale yellow of the double garden kinds. The hips
are large and handsome, black and glossy, and the whole plant in late
autumn assumes a fine bronzy colouring between ashy black and dusky red.
Other small old garden Roses are coming into bloom. One of the most
desirable, and very frequent in this district, is _Rosa lucida_, with
red stems, highly-polished leaves, and single, fragrant flowers of pure
rosy-pink colour. The leaves turn a brilliant yellow in autumn, and
after they have fallen the bushes are still bright with the coloured
stems and the large clusters of bright-red hips. It is the St. Mark's
Rose of Venice, where it is usually in flower on St. Mark's Day, April
25th. The double variety is the old _Rose d'amour_, now rare in gardens;
its half-expanded bud is perhaps the most daintily beautiful thing that
any Rose can show.

[Illustration: DOUBLE WHITE SCOTCH BRIAR.]

After many years of fruitless effort I have to allow that I am beaten in
the attempt to grow the Grand Roses in the Hybrid Perpetual class. They
plainly show their dislike to our dry hill, even when their beds are as
well enriched as I can contrive or afford to make them. The rich loam
that they love has to come many miles from the Weald by hilly roads in
four-horse waggons, and the haulage is so costly that when it arrives I
feel like distributing it with a spoon rather than with the spade.
Moreover, even if a bed is filled with the precious loam, unless
constantly watered the plants seem to feel and resent the two hundred
feet of dry sand and rock that is under them before any moister stratum
is reached.

But the Tea Roses are more accommodating, and do fairly well, though, of
course, not so well as in a stiffer soil. If I were planting again I
should grow a still larger proportion of the kinds I have now found to
do best. Far beyond all others is Madame Lambard, good alike early and
late, and beautiful at all times. In this garden it yields quite three
times as much bloom as any other; nothing else can approach it either
for beauty or bounty. Viscountess Folkestone, not properly a Tea, but
classed among Hybrid Noisettes, is also free and beautiful and
long-enduring; and Papa Gontier, so like a deeper-coloured Lambard, is
another favourite. Bouquet d'Or is here the strongest of the Dijon Teas.
I grow it in several positions, but most conveniently on a strong bit of
oak post and rail trellis, keeping the long growths tied down, and every
two years cutting the oldest wood right out. It is well to remember that
the tying or pegging down of Roses always makes them bloom better: every
joint from end to end wants to make a good Rose; if the shoots are more
upright, the blooming strength goes more to the top.

The pruning of Tea Roses is quite different from the pruning required
for the Hybrid Perpetuals. In these the last year's growth is cut
back in March to within two to five eyes from where it leaves the main
branch, according to the strength of the kind. This must not be done
with the Teas. With these the oldest wood is cut right out from the
base, and the blooming shoots left full length. But it is well, towards
the end of July or beginning of August, to cut back the ends of soft
summer shoots in order to give them a chance of ripening what is left.
When an old Tea looks worn out, if cut right down in March or April it
will often throw out vigorous young growth, and quite renew its life.

[Illustration: PART OF A BUSH OF ROSA POLYANTHA.]

[Illustration: GARLAND-ROSE, SHOWING NATURAL WAY OF GROWTH.]

Within the first days of June we can generally pick some Sweet Peas from
the rows sown in the second week of September. They are very much
stronger than those sown in spring. By November they are four inches
high, and seem to gain strength and sturdiness during the winter; for as
soon as spring comes they shoot up with great vigour, and we know that
the spray used to support them must be two feet higher than for those
that are spring-sown. The flower-stalks are a foot long, and many have
four flowers on a stalk. They are sown in shallow trenches; in spring
they are earthed up very slightly, but still with a little trench at the
base of the plants. A few doses of liquid manure are a great help when
they are getting towards blooming strength.

I am very fond of the Elder-tree. It is a sociable sort of thing; it
seems to like to grow near human habitations. In my own mind it is
certainly the tree most closely associated with the pretty old cottage
and farm architecture of my part of the country; no bush or tree, not
even the apple, seems to group so well or so closely with farm
buildings. When I built a long thatched shed for the many needs of the
garden, in the region of pits and frames, compost, rubbish and
burn-heap, I planted Elders close to the end of the building and on one
side of the yard. They look just right, and are, moreover, every year
loaded with their useful fruit. This is ripe quite early in September,
and is made into Elder wine, to be drunk hot in winter, a comfort by no
means to be despised. My trees now give enough for my own wants, and
there are generally a few acceptable bushels to spare for my cottage
neighbours.

About the middle of the month the Virginian Cowslip (_Mertensia
virginica_) begins to turn yellow before dying down. Now is the time to
look out for the seeds. A few ripen on the plant, but most of them fall
while green, and then ripen in a few days while lying on the ground. I
shake the seeds carefully out, and leave them lying round the
parent-plant; a week later, when they will be ripe, they are lightly
scratched into the ground. Some young plants of last year's growth I
mark with a bit of stick, in case of wanting some later to plant
elsewhere, or to send away; the plant dies away completely, leaving no
trace above ground, so that if not marked it would be difficult to find
what is wanted.

[Illustration: LILAC MARIE LEGRAYE. (_See page 23._)]

[Illustration: FLOWERING ELDER AND PATH FROM GARDEN TO COPSE.]

This is also the time for pulling to pieces and replanting that good
spring plant, the large variety of _Myosotis dissitiflora_; I always
make sure of divisions, as seed does not come true. _Primula rosea_
should also be divided now, and planted to grow on in a cool place, such
as the foot of a north or east wall, or be put at once in its place in
some cool, rather moist spot in the rock-garden. Two-year-old plants
come up with thick clumps of matted root that is now useless. I cut off
the whole mass of old root about an inch below the crown, when it can
easily be divided into nice little bits for replanting. Many other
spring-flowering plants may with advantage be divided now, such as
Aubrietia, Arabis, Auricula, Tiarella, and Saxifrage.

The young Primrose plants, sown in March, have been planted out in their
special garden, and are looking well after some genial rain.

The great branching Mullein, _Verbascum olympicum_, is just going out of
bloom, after making a brilliant display for a fortnight. It is followed
by the other of the most useful tall, yellow-flowered kinds, _V.
phlomoides_. Both are seen at their best either quite early in the
morning, or in the evening, or in half-shade, as, like all their kind,
they do not expand their bloom in bright sunshine. Both are excellent
plants on poor soils. _V. olympicum_, though classed as a biennial, does
not come to flowering strength till it is three or four years old; but
meanwhile the foliage is so handsome that even if there were no flower
it would be a worthy garden plant. It does well in any waste spaces of
poor soil, where, by having plants of all ages, there will be some to
flower every year. The Mullein moth is sure to find them out, and it
behoves the careful gardener to look for and destroy the caterpillars,
or he may some day find, instead of his stately Mulleins, tall stems
only clothed with unsightly grey rags. The caterpillars are easily
caught when quite small or when rather large; but midway in their
growth, when three-quarters of an inch long, they are wary, and at the
approach of the avenging gardener they will give a sudden wriggling
jump, and roll down into the lower depths of the large foliage, where
they are difficult to find. But by going round the plants twice a day
for about a week they can all be discovered.

The white variety of the French Willow (_Epilobium angustifolium_) is a
pretty plant in the edges of the copse, good both in sun and shade, and
flourishing in any poor soil. In better ground it grows too rank,
running quickly at the root and invading all its neighbours, so that it
should be planted with great caution; but when grown on poor ground it
flowers at from two feet to four feet high, and its whole aspect is
improved by the proportional amount of flower becoming much larger.

Towards the end of June the bracken that covers the greater part of the
ground of the copse is in full beauty. No other manner of undergrowth
gives to woodland in so great a degree the true forest-like character.
This most ancient plant speaks of the old, untouched land of which large
stretches still remain in the south of England--land too poor to have
been worth cultivating, and that has therefore for centuries endured
human contempt. In the early part of the present century, William
Cobbett, in his delightful book, "Rural Rides," speaking of the heathy
headlands and vast hollow of Hindhead, in Surrey, calls it "certainly
the most villainous spot God ever made." This gives expression to his
view, as farmer and political economist, of such places as were
incapable of cultivation, and of the general feeling of the time about
lonely roads in waste places, as the fields for the lawless labours of
smuggler and highwayman. Now such tracts of natural wild beauty, clothed
with stretches of Heath and Fern and Whortleberry, with beds of Sphagnum
Moss, and little natural wild gardens of curious and beautiful
sub-aquatic plants in the marshy hollows and undrained wastes, are
treasured as such places deserve to be, especially when they still
remain within fifty miles of a vast city. The height to which the
bracken grows is a sure guide to the depth of soil. On the poorest,
thinnest ground it only reaches a foot or two; but in hollow places
where leaf-mould accumulates and surface soil has washed in and made a
better depth, it grows from six feet to eight feet high, and when
straggling up through bushes to get to the light a frond will sometimes
measure as much as twelve feet. The old country people who have always
lived on the same poor land say, "Where the farn grows tall anything
will grow"; but that only means that there the ground is somewhat better
and capable of cultivation, as its presence is a sure indication of a
sandy soil. The timber-merchants are shy of buying oak trees felled from
among it, the timber of trees grown on the wealden clay being so much
better.



CHAPTER VIII

JULY

Scarcity of flowers -- Delphiniums -- Yuccas -- Cottager's way of
protecting tender plants -- Alströmerias -- Carnations -- Gypsophila --
_Lilium giganteum_ -- Cutting fern-pegs.


After the wealth of bloom of June, there appear to be but few flowers in
the garden; there seems to be a time of comparative emptiness between
the earlier flowers and those of autumn. It is true that in the early
days of July we have Delphiniums, the grandest blues of the flower year.
They are in two main groups in the flower border, one of them nearly all
of the palest kind--not a solid clump, but with a thicker nucleus,
thinning away for several yards right and left. Only white and
pale-yellow flowers are grouped with this, and pale, fresh-looking
foliage of maize and Funkia. The other group is at some distance, at the
extreme western end. This is of the full and deeper blues, following a
clump of Yuccas, and grouped about with things of important silvery
foliage, such as Globe Artichoke and Silver Thistle (_Eryngium_). I have
found it satisfactory to grow Delphiniums from seed, choosing the fine
strong "Cantab" as the seed-parent, because the flowers were of a
medium colour--scarcely so light as the name would imply--and because of
its vigorous habit and well-shaped spike. It produced flowers of all
shades of blue, and from these were derived nearly all I have in the
border. I found them better for the purpose in many cases than the named
kinds of which I had a fair collection.

The seedlings were well grown for two years in nursery lines, worthless
ones being taken out as soon as they showed their character. There is
one common defect that I cannot endure--an interrupted spike, when the
flowers, having filled a good bit of the spike, leave off, leaving a
space of bare stem, and then go on again. If this habit proves to be
persistent after the two years' trial, the plant is condemned. For my
liking the spike must be well filled, but not overcrowded. Many of the
show kinds are too full for beauty; the shape of the individual flower
is lost. Some of the double ones are handsome, but in these the flower
takes another shape, becoming more rosette-like, and thereby loses its
original character. Some are of mixed colouring, a shade of lilac-pink
sliding through pale blue. It is very beautiful in some cases, the
respective tints remaining as clear as in an opal, but in many it only
muddles the flower and makes it ineffective.

Delphiniums are greedy feeders, and pay for rich cultivation and for
liberal manurial mulches and waterings. In a hot summer, if not well
cared for, they get stunted and are miserable objects, the flower
distorted and cramped into a clumsy-looking, elongated mop-head.

Though weak in growth the old _Delphinium Belladonna_ has so lovely a
quality of colour that it is quite indispensable; the feeble stem should
be carefully and unobtrusively staked for the better display of its
incomparable blue.

Some of the Yuccas will bloom before the end of the month. I have them
in bold patches the whole fifteen-feet depth of the border at the
extreme ends, and on each side of the pathway, where, passing from the
lawn to the Pæony ground, it cuts across the border to go through the
arched gateway. The kinds of Yucca are _gloriosa_, _recurva_,
_flaccida_, and _filamentosa_. They are good to look at at all times of
the year because of their grand strong foliage, and are the glory of the
garden when in flower. One of the _gloriosa_ threw up a stout
flower-spike in January. I had thought of protecting and roofing the
spike, in the hope of carrying it safely through till spring, but
meanwhile there came a damp day and a frosty night, and when I saw it
again it was spoilt. The _Yucca filamentosa_ that I have I was told by a
trusty botanist was the true plant, but rather tender, the one commonly
called by that name being something else. I found it in a cottage
garden, where I learnt a useful lesson in protecting plants, namely, the
use of thickly-cut peaty sods. The goodwife had noticed that the peaty
ground of the adjoining common, covered with heath and gorse and mossy
grass, resisted frost much better than the garden or meadow, and it had
been her practice for many years to get some thick dry sods with the
heath left on and to pack them close round to protect tender plants. In
this way she had preserved her Fuchsias of greenhouse kinds, and
Calceolarias, and the Yucca in question.

The most brilliant mass of flower in early July is given by the beds of
_Alströmeria aurantiaca_; of this we have three distinct varieties, all
desirable. There is a four feet wide bed, some forty feet long, of the
kind most common in gardens, and at a distance from it a group grown
from selected seed of a paler colour; seedlings of this remain true to
colour, or, as gardeners say, the variety is "fixed." The third sort is
from a good old garden in Ireland, larger in every way than the type,
with petals of great width, and extremely rich in colour. _Alströmeria
chilense_ is an equally good plant, and beds of it are beautiful in
their varied colourings, all beautifully harmonious, and ranging through
nearly the same tints as hardy Azaleas. These are the best of the
Alströmerias for ordinary garden culture; they do well in warm,
sheltered places in the poorest soil, but the soil must be deep, for the
bunches of tender, fleshy roots go far down. The roots are extremely
brittle, and must be carefully handled. Alströmerias are easily raised
from seed, but when the seedlings are planted out the crowns should be
quite four inches under the surface, and have a thick bed of leaves or
some other mild mulching material over them in winter to protect them
from frost, for they are Chilian plants, and demand and deserve a little
surface comfort to carry them safely through the average English winter.

Sea-holly (_Eryngium_) is another family of July-flowering plants that
does well on poor, sandy soils that have been deeply stirred. Of these
the more generally useful is _E. Oliverianum_, the _E. amethystinum_ of
nurserymen, but so named in error, the true plant being rare and
scarcely known in gardens. The whole plant has an admirable structure of
a dry and nervous quality, with a metallic colouring and dull lustre
that are in strong contrast to softer types of vegetation. The
black-coated roots go down straight and deep, and enable it to withstand
almost any drought. Equalling it in beauty is _E. giganteum_, the Silver
Thistle, of the same metallic texture, but whitish and almost silvery.
This is a biennial, and should be sown every year. A more lowly plant,
but hardly less beautiful, is the wild Sea-holly of our coasts (_E.
maritimum_), with leaves almost blue, and a handsome tuft of flower
nearly matching them in colour. It occurs on wind-blown sandhills, but
is worth a place in any garden. It comes up rather late, but endures,
apparently unchanged, except for the bloom, throughout the late summer
and autumn.

But the flower of this month that has the firmest hold of the
gardener's heart is the Carnation--the Clove Gilliflower of our
ancestors. Why the good old name "Gilliflower" has gone out of use it is
impossible to say, for certainly the popularity of the flower has never
waned. Indeed, in the seventeenth century it seems that it was the
best-loved flower of all in England; for John Parkinson, perhaps our
earliest writer on garden plants, devotes to it a whole chapter in his
"Paradisus Terrestris," a distinction shared by no other flower. He
describes no less than fifty kinds, a few of which are still to be
recognised, though some are lost. For instance, what has become of the
"_great gray Hulo_" which he describes as a plant of the largest and
strongest habit? The "gray" in this must refer to the colour of the
leaf, as he says the flower is red; but there is also a variety called
the "_blew Hulo_," with flowers of a "purplish murrey" colouring,
answering to the slate colour that we know as of not unfrequent
occurrence. The branch of the family that we still cultivate as "Painted
Lady" is named by him "Dainty Lady," the present name being no doubt an
accidental and regrettable corruption. But though some of the older
sorts may be lost, we have such a wealth of good known kinds that this
need hardly be a matter of regret. The old red Clove always holds its
own for hardiness, beauty, and perfume; its newer and dwarfer variety,
Paul Engleheart, is quite indispensable, while the beautiful
salmon-coloured Raby is perhaps the most useful of all, with its hardy
constitution and great quantity of bloom. But it is difficult to grow
Carnations on our very poor soil; even when it is carefully prepared
they still feel its starving and drying influence, and show their
distaste by unusual shortness of life.

_Gypsophila paniculata_ is one of the most useful plants of this time of
year; its delicate masses of bloom are like clouds of flowery mist
settled down upon the flower borders. Shooting up behind and among it is
a tall, salmon-coloured Gladiolus, a telling contrast both in form and
manner of inflorescence. Nothing in the garden has been more
satisfactory and useful than a hedge of the white everlasting Pea. The
thick, black roots that go down straight and deep have been undisturbed
for some years, and the plants yield a harvest of strong white bloom for
cutting that always seems inexhaustible. They are staked with stiff,
branching spray, thrust into the ground diagonally, and not reaching up
too high. This supports the heavy mass of growth without encumbering the
upper blooming part.

Hydrangeas are well in flower at the foot of a warm wall, and in the
same position are spreading masses of the beautiful _Clematis
Davidiana_, a herbaceous kind, with large, somewhat vine-like leaves,
and flowers of a pale-blue colour of a delicate and uncommon quality.

The blooming of the _Lilium giganteum_ is one of the great flower events
of the year. It is planted in rather large straggling groups just within
the fringe of the copse. In March the bulbs, which are only just
underground, thrust their sharply-pointed bottle-green tips out of the
earth. These soon expand into heart-shaped leaves, looking much like
Arum foliage of the largest size, and of a bright-green colour and
glistening surface. The groups are so placed that they never see the
morning sun. They require a slight sheltering of fir-bough, or anything
suitable, till the third week of May, to protect the young leaves from
the late frosts. In June the flower-stem shoots up straight and tall,
like a vigorous young green-stemmed tree. If the bulb is strong and the
conditions suitable, it will attain a height of over eleven feet, but
among the flowering bulbs of a group there are sure to be some of
various heights from differently sized bulbs; those whose stature is
about ten feet are perhaps the handsomest. The upper part of the stem
bears the gracefully drooping great white Lily flowers, each bloom some
ten inches long, greenish when in bud, but changing to white when fully
developed. Inside each petal is a purplish-red stripe. In the evening
the scent seems to pour out of the great white trumpets, and is almost
overpowering, but gains a delicate quality by passing through the air,
and at fifty yards away is like a faint waft of incense. In the evening
light, when the sun is down, the great heads of white flower have a
mysterious and impressive effect when seen at some distance through the
wood, and by moonlight have a strangely weird dignity. The flowers only
last a few days, but when they are over the beauty of the plant is by
no means gone, for the handsome leaves remain in perfection till the
autumn, while the growing seed-pods, rising into an erect position,
become large and rather handsome objects. The rapidity and vigour of the
four months' growth from bulb to giant flowering plant is very
remarkable. The stem is a hollow, fleshy tube, three inches in diameter
at the base, and the large radiating roots are like those of a tree. The
original bulb is, of course, gone, but when the plants that have
flowered are taken up at the end of November, offsets are found
clustered round the root; these are carefully detached and replanted.
The great growth of these Lilies could not be expected to come to
perfection in our very poor, shallow soil, for doubtless in their
mountain home in the Eastern Himalayas they grow in deep beds of cool
vegetable earth. Here, therefore, their beds are deeply excavated, and
filled to within a foot of the top with any of the vegetable rubbish of
which only too much accumulates in the late autumn. Holes twelve feet
across and three feet deep are convenient graves for frozen Dahlia-tops
and half-hardy Annuals; a quantity of such material chopped up and
tramped down close forms a cool subsoil that will comfort the Lily bulbs
for many a year. The upper foot of soil is of good compost, and when the
young bulbs are planted, the whole is covered with some inches of dead
leaves that join in with the natural woodland carpet.

[Illustration: THE GIANT LILY.]

In the end of July we have some of the hottest of the summer days, only
beginning to cool between six and seven in the evening. One or two
evenings I go to the upper part of the wood to cut some fern-pegs for
pegging Carnation layers, armed with fag-hook and knife and rubber, and
a low rush-bottomed stool to sit on. The rubber is the stone for
sharpening the knife--a long stone of coarse sandstone grit, such as is
used for scythes. Whenever I am at work with a knife there is sure to be
a rubber not far off, for a blunt knife I cannot endure, so there is a
stone in each department of the garden sheds, and a whole series in the
workshop, and one or two to spare to take on outside jobs. The Bracken
has to be cut with a light hand, as the side-shoots that will make the
hook of the peg are easily broken just at the important joint. The
fronds are of all sizes, from two to eight feet long; but the best for
pegs are the moderate-sized, that have not been weakened by growing too
close together. Where they are crowded the main stalk is thick, but the
side ones are thin and weak; whereas, where they get light and air the
side branches are carried on stouter ribs, and make stronger and
better-balanced pegs. The cut fern is lightly laid in a long ridge with
the ends all one way, and the operator sits at the stalk end of the
ridge, a nice cool shady place having been chosen. Four cuts with the
knife make a peg, and each frond makes three pegs in about fifteen
seconds. With the fronds laid straight and handy it goes almost
rhythmically, then each group of three pegs is thrown into the basket,
where they clash on to the others with a hard ringing sound. In about
four days the pegs dry to a surprising hardness; they are better than
wooden ones, and easier and quicker to make.

People who are not used to handling Bracken should be careful how they
cut a frond with a knife; they are almost sure to get a nasty little cut
on the second joint of the first finger of the right hand--not from the
knife, but from the cut edge of the fern. The stalk has a silicious
coating, that leaves a sharp edge like a thin flake of glass when cut
diagonally with a sharp knife; they should also beware how they pick or
pull off a mature frond, for even if the part of the stalk laid hold of
is bruised and twisted, some of the glassy structure holds together and
is likely to wound the hand.



CHAPTER IX

AUGUST

Leycesteria -- Early recollections -- Bank of choice shrubs -- Bank of
Briar Roses -- Hollyhocks -- Lavender -- Lilies -- Bracken and Heaths --
The Fern-walk -- Late-blooming rock-plants -- Autumn flowers -- Tea
Roses -- Fruit of _Rosa rugosa_ -- Fungi -- Chantarelle.


_Leycesteria formosa_ is a soft-wooded shrub, whose beauty, without
being showy, is full of charm and refinement. I remember delighting in
it in the shrub-wilderness of the old home, where I first learnt to know
and love many a good bush and tree long before I knew their names. There
were towering Rhododendrons (all _ponticum_) and Ailanthus and Hickory
and Magnolias, and then Spiræa and Snowball tree and tall yellow Azalea,
and Buttercup bush and shrubby Andromedas, and in some of the clumps
tall Cypresses and the pretty cut-leaved Beech, and in the edges of
others some of the good old garden Roses, double Cinnamon and _R.
lucida_, and Damask and Provence, Moss-rose and Sweetbriar, besides
tall-grown Lilacs and Syringa. It was all rather overgrown, and perhaps
all the prettier, and some of the wide grassy ways were quite shady in
summer. And I look back across the years and think what a fine
lesson-book it was to a rather solitary child; and when I came to plant
my own shrub clump I thought I would put rather near together some of
the old favourites, so here again we come back to Leycesteria, put
rather in a place of honour, and near it Buttercup bush and Andromeda
and Magnolias and old garden Roses.

[Illustration: CISTUS FLORENTINUS.]

[Illustration: THE GREAT ASPHODEL.]

I had no space for a shrub wilderness, but have made a large clump for
just the things I like best, whether new friends or old. It is a long,
low bank, five or six paces wide, highest in the middle, where the
rather taller things are planted. These are mostly Junipers and
Magnolias; of the Magnolias, the kinds are _Soulangeana_, _conspicua_,
_purpurea_, and _stellata_. One end of the clump is all of peat earth;
here are Andromedas, Skimmeas, and on the cooler side the broad-leaved
Gale, whose crushed leaves have almost the sweetness of Myrtle. One long
side of the clump faces south-west, the better to suit the things that
love the sun. At the farther end is a thrifty bush of _Styrax japonica_,
which flowers well in hot summers, but another bush under a south wall
flowers better. It must be a lovely shrub in the south of Europe and
perhaps in Cornwall; here the year's growth is always cut at the tip,
but it flowers well on the older wood, and its hanging clusters of white
bloom are lovely. At its foot, on the sunny side, are low bushy plants
of _Cistus florentinus_. I am told that this specific name is not right;
but the plant so commonly goes by it that it serves the purpose of
popular identification. Then comes _Magnolia stellata_, now a
perfectly-shaped bush five feet through, a sheet of sweet-scented bloom
in April. Much too near it are two bushes of _Cistus ladaniferus_. They
were put there as little plants to grow on for a year in the shelter and
comfort of the warm bank, but were overlooked at the time they ought to
have been shifted, and are now nearly five feet high, and are crowding
the Magnolia. I cannot bear to take them away to waste, and they are
much too large to transplant, so I am driving in some short stakes
diagonally and tying them down by degrees, spreading out their branches
between neighbouring plants. It is an upright-growing Cistus that would
soon cover a tallish wall-space, but this time it must be content to
grow horizontally, and I shall watch to see whether it will flower more
freely, as so many things do when trained down.

Next comes a patch of the handsome _Bambusa Ragamowski_, dwarf, but with
strikingly-broad leaves of a bright yellow-green colour. It seems to be
a slow grower, or more probably it is slow to grow at first; Bamboos
have a good deal to do underground. It was planted six years ago, a nice
little plant in a pot, and now is eighteen inches high and two feet
across. Just beyond it is the Mastic bush (_Caryopteris mastacanthus_),
a neat, grey-leaved small shrub, crowded in September with lavender-blue
flowers, arranged in spikes something like a Veronica; the whole bush
is aromatic, smelling strongly like highly-refined turpentine. Then
comes _Xanthoceras sorbifolia_, a handsome bush from China, of rather
recent introduction, with saw-edged pinnate leaves and white flowers
earlier in the summer, but now forming its bunches of fruit that might
easily be mistaken for walnuts with their green shucks on. Here a wide
bushy growth of _Phlomis fruticosa_ lays out to the sun, covered in
early summer with its stiff whorls of hooded yellow flowers--one of the
best of plants for a sunny bank in full sun in a poor soil. A little
farther along, and near the path, comes the neat little _Deutzia
parviflora_ and another little shrub of fairy-like delicacy,
_Philadelphus microphyllus_. Behind them is _Stephanandra flexuosa_,
beautiful in foliage, and two good St. John's worts, _Hypericum aureum_
and _H. Moserianum_, and again in front a Cistus of low, spreading
growth, _C. halimifolius_, or something near it. One or two favourite
kinds of Tree Pæonies, comfortably sheltered by Lavender bushes, fill up
the other end of the clump next to the Andromedas. In all spare spaces
on the sunny side of the shrub-clump is a carpeting of _Megasea
ligulata_, a plant that looks well all the year round, and gives a
quantity of precious flower for cutting in March and April.

I was nearly forgetting _Pavia macrostachya_, now well established among
the choice shrubs. It is like a bush Horse-chestnut, but more refined,
the white spikes standing well up above the handsome leaves.

On the cooler side of the clump is a longish planting of dwarf
Andromeda, precious not only for its beauty of form and flower, but from
the fine winter colouring of the leaves, and those two useful Spiræas,
_S. Thunbergi_, with its countless little starry flowers, and the double
_prunifolia_, the neat leaves of whose long sprays turn nearly scarlet
in autumn. Then there comes a rather long stretch of _Artemisia
Stelleriana_, a white-leaved plant much like _Cineraria maritima_,
answering just the same purpose, but perfectly hardy. It is so much like
the silvery _Cineraria_ that it is difficult to remember that it prefers
a cool and even partly-shaded place.

Beyond the long ridge that forms the shrub-clump is another, parallel to
it and only separated from it by a path, also in the form of a long low
bank. On the crown of this is the double row of cob-nuts that forms one
side of the nut-alley. It leaves a low sunny bank that I have given to
various Briar Roses and one or two other low, bushy kinds. Here is the
wild Burnet Rose, with its yellow-white single flowers and large black
hips, and its garden varieties, the Scotch Briars, double white,
flesh-coloured, pink, rose, and yellow, and the hybrid briar, Stanwell
Perpetual. Here also is the fine hybrid of _Rosa rugosa_, Madame George
Bruant, and the lovely double _Rosa lucida_, and one or two kinds of
small bush Roses from out-of-the-way gardens, and two wild Roses that
have for me a special interest, as I collected them from their rocky
home in the island of Capri. One is a Sweetbriar, in all ways like the
native one, except that the flowers are nearly white, and the hips are
larger. Last year the bush was distinctly more showy than any other of
its kind, on account of the size and unusual quantity of the fruit. The
other is a form of _Rosa sempervirens_, with rather large white flowers
faintly tinged with yellow.

[Illustration: LAVENDER HEDGE AND STEPS TO THE LOFT.]

[Illustration: HOLLYHOCK, PINK BEAUTY.]

Hollyhocks have been fine, in spite of the disease, which may be partly
checked by very liberal treatment. By far the most beautiful is one of a
pure pink colour, with a wide outer frill. It came first from a cottage
garden, and has always since been treasured. I call it Pink Beauty. The
wide outer petal (a heresy to the florist) makes the flower infinitely
more beautiful than the all-over full-double form that alone is esteemed
on the show-table. I shall hope in time to come upon the same shape of
flower in white, sulphur, rose-colour, and deep blood-crimson, the
colours most worth having in Hollyhocks.

Lavender has been unusually fine; to reap its fragrant harvest is one of
the many joys of the flower year. If it is to be kept and dried, it
should be cut when as yet only a few of the purple blooms are out on the
spike; if left too late, the flower shakes off the stalk too readily.

Some plantations of _Lilium Harrisi_ and _Lilium auratum_ have turned
out well. Some of the _Harrisi_ were grouped among tufts of the
bright-foliaged _Funkia grandiflora_ on the cool side of a Yew hedge.
Just at the foot of the hedge is _Tropæolum speciosum_, which runs up
into it and flowers in graceful wreaths some feet above the ground. The
masses of pure white lily and cool green foliage below are fine against
the dark, solid greenery of the Yew, and the brilliant flowers above are
like little jewels of flame. The Bermuda Lilies (_Harrisi_) are
intergrouped with _L. speciosum_, which will follow them when their
bloom is over. The _L. auratum_ were planted among groups of
Rhododendrons; some of them are between tall Rhododendrons, and have
large clumps of Lady Fern (_Filix foemina_) in front, but those that
look best are between and among Bamboos (_B. Metake_); the heavy heads
of flower borne on tall stems bend gracefully through the Bamboos, which
just give them enough support.

Here and there in the copse, among the thick masses of green Bracken, is
a frond or two turning yellow. This always happens in the first or
second week of August, though it is no indication of the approaching
yellowing of the whole. But it is taken as a signal that the Fern is in
full maturity, and a certain quantity is now cut to dry for protection
and other winter uses. Dry Bracken lightly shaken over frames is a
better protection than mats, and is almost as easily moved on and off.

The Ling is now in full flower, and is more beautiful in the landscape
than any of the garden Heaths; the relation of colouring, of greyish
foliage and low-toned pink bloom with the dusky spaces of purplish-grey
shadow, are a precious lesson to the colour-student.

[Illustration: SOLOMON'S SEAL IN SPRING, IN THE UPPER PART OF THE
FERN-WALK.]

[Illustration: THE FERN-WALK IN AUGUST.]

The fern-walk is at its best. It passes from the garden upwards to near
the middle of the copse. The path, a wood-path of moss and grass and
short-cut heath, is a little lower than the general level of the wood.
The mossy bank, some nine feet wide, and originally cleared for the
purpose, is planted with large groups of hardy Ferns, with a
preponderance (due to preference) of Dilated Shield Fern and Lady Fern.
Once or twice in the length of the bank are hollows, sinking at their
lowest part to below the path-level, for _Osmunda_ and _Blechnum_. When
rain is heavy enough to run down the path it finds its way into these
hollow places.

Among the groups of Fern are a few plants of true
wood-character--_Linnæa_, _Trientalis_, _Goodyera_, and _Trillium_. At
the back of the bank, and stretching away among the trees and underwood,
are wide-spreading groups of Solomon's-seal and Wood-rush, joining in
with the wild growth of Bracken and Bramble.

Most of the Alpines and dwarf-growing plants, whose home is the
rock-garden, bloom in May or June, but a few flower in early autumn. Of
these one of the brightest is _Ruta patavina_, a dwarf plant with
lemon-coloured flowers and a very neat habit of growth. It soon makes
itself at home in a sunny bank in poor soil. _Pterocephalus parnassi_ is
a dwarf Scabious, with small, grey foliage keeping close to the ground,
and rather large flowers of a low-toned pink. The white Thyme is a
capital plant, perfectly prostrate, and with leaves of a bright
yellow-green, that with the white bloom give the plant a particularly
fresh appearance. It looks at its best when trailing about little flat
spaces between the neater of the hardy Ferns, and hanging over little
rocky ledges. Somewhat farther back is the handsome dwarf _Platycodon
Mariesi_, and behind it the taller Platycodons, among full-flowered
bushes of _Olearia Haasti_.

By the middle of August the garden assumes a character distinctly
autumnal. Much of its beauty now depends on the many non-hardy plants,
such as Gladiolus, Canna, and Dahlia, on Tritomas of doubtful hardiness,
and on half-hardy annuals--Zinnia, Helichrysum, Sunflower, and French
and African Marigold. Fine as are the newer forms of hybrid Gladiolus,
the older strain of gandavensis hybrids are still the best as border
flowers. In the large flower border, tall, well-shaped spikes of a good
pink one look well shooting up through and between a wide-spreading
patch of glaucous foliage of the smaller Yuccas, _Tritoma caulescens_,
_Iris pallida_, and _Funkia Sieboldi_, while scarlet and salmon-coloured
kinds are among groups of Pæonies that flowered in June, whose leaves
are now taking a fine reddish colouring. Between these and the edge of
the border is a straggling group some yards in length of the
dark-foliaged _Heuchera Richardsoni_, that will hold its satin-surfaced
leaves till the end of the year. Farther back in the border is a group
of the scarlet-flowered Dahlia Fire King, and behind these, Dahlias Lady
Ardilaun and Cochineal, of deeper scarlet colouring. The Dahlias are
planted between groups of Oriental Poppy, that flower in May and then
die away till late in autumn. Right and left of the scarlet group are
Tritomas, intergrouped with Dahlias of moderate height, that have orange
and flame-coloured flowers. This leads to some masses of flowers of
strong yellow colouring; the old perennial Sunflower, in its tall single
form, and the best variety of the old double one of moderate height, the
useful _H. lætiflorus_ and the tall Miss Mellish, the giant form of
_Harpalium rigidum_. _Rudbeckia Newmanni_ reflects the same strong colour
in the front part of the border, and all spaces are filled with orange
Zinnias and African Marigolds and yellow Helichrysum. As we pass along
the border the colour changes to paler yellow by means of a pale
perennial Sunflower and the sulphur-coloured annual kind, with Paris
Daisies, _Oenothera Lamarkiana_ and _Verbascum phlomoides_. The two last
were cut down to about four feet after their earliest bloom was over,
and are now again full of profusely-flowered lateral growths. At the
farther end of the border we come again to glaucous foliage and
pale-pink flower of Gladiolus and Japan Anemone. It is important in such
a border of rather large size, that can be seen from a good space of
lawn, to keep the flowers in rather large masses of colour. No one who
has ever done it, or seen it done, will go back to the old haphazard
sprinkle of colouring without any thought of arrangement, such as is
usually seen in a mixed border. There is a wall of sandstone backing the
border, also planted in relation to the colour-massing in the front
space. This gives a quiet background of handsome foliage, with always in
the flower season some show of colour in one part or another of its
length. Just now the most conspicuous of its clothing shrubs or of the
somewhat tall growing flowers at its foot are a fine variety of
_Bignonia radicans_, a hardy Fuchsia, the Claret Vine covering a good
space, with its red-bronze leaves and clusters of blue-black grapes, the
fine hybrid Crinums and _Clerodendron foetidum_.

Tea Roses have been unusually lavish of autumn bloom, and some of the
garden climbing Roses, hybrids of China and Noisette, have been of great
beauty, both growing and as room decoration. Many of them flower in
bunches at the end of the shoots; whole branches, cut nearly three feet
long, make charming arrangements in tall glasses or high vases of
Oriental china. Perhaps their great autumnal vigour is a reaction from
the check they received in the earlier part of the year, when the bloom
was almost a failure from the long drought and the accompanying attacks
of blight and mildew. The great hips of the Japanese _Rosa rugosa_ are
in perfection; they have every ornamental quality--size, form, colour,
texture, and a delicate waxlike bloom; their pulp is thick and luscious,
and makes an excellent jam.

The quantity of fungous growth this year is quite remarkable. The late
heavy rain coming rather suddenly on the well-warmed earth has no doubt
brought about their unusual size and abundance; in some woodland places
one can hardly walk without stepping upon them. Many spots in the copse
are brilliant with large groups of the scarlet-capped Fly Agaric
(_Amanita muscaria_). It comes out of the ground looking like a dark
scarlet ball, generally flecked with raised whitish spots; it quickly
rises on its white stalk, the ball changing to a brilliant flat disc,
six or seven inches across, and lasting several days in beauty. But the
most frequent fungus is the big brown _Boletus_, in size varying from a
small bun to a dinner-plate. Some kinds are edible, but I have never
been inclined to try them, being deterred by their coarse look and
uninviting coat of slimy varnish. And why eat doubtful _Boletus_ when
one can have the delicious Chantarelle (_Cantharellus cibarius_), also
now at its best? In colour and smell it is like a ripe apricot,
perfectly wholesome, and, when rightly cooked, most delicate in flavour
and texture. It should be looked for in cool hollows in oak woods; when
once found and its good qualities appreciated, it will never again be
neglected.



CHAPTER X

SEPTEMBER

Sowing Sweet Peas -- Autumn-sown annuals -- Dahlias -- Worthless kinds
-- Staking -- Planting the rock-garden -- Growing small plants in a wall
-- The old wall -- Dry-walling -- How built -- How planted -- Hyssop --
A destructive storm -- Berries of Water-elder -- Beginning ground-work.


In the second week of September we sow Sweet Peas in shallow trenches.
The flowers from these are larger and stronger and come in six weeks
earlier than from those sown in the spring; they come too at a time when
they are especially valuable for cutting. Many other hardy Annuals are
best sown now. Some indeed, such as the lovely _Collinsia verna_ and the
large white Iberis, only do well if autumn-sown. Among others, some of
the most desirable are Nemophila, Platystemon, Love-in-a-Mist,
Larkspurs, Pot Marigold, Virginian Stock, and the delightful Venus's
Navel-wort (_Omphalodes linifolia_). I always think this daintily
beautiful plant is undeservedly neglected, for how seldom one sees it.
It is full of the most charming refinement, with its milk-white bloom
and grey-blue leaf and neat habit of growth. Any one who has never
before tried Annuals autumn-sown would be astonished at their vigour. A
single plant of Nemophila will often cover a square yard with its
beautiful blue bloom; and then, what a gain it is to have these pretty
things in full strength in spring and early summer, instead of waiting
to have them in a much poorer state later in the year, when other
flowers are in plenty.

Hardy Poppies should be sown even earlier; August is the best time.

Dahlias are now at their full growth. To make a choice for one's own
garden, one must see the whole plant growing. As with many another kind
of flower, nothing is more misleading than the evidence of the
show-table, for many that there look the best, and are indeed lovely in
form and colour as individual blooms, come from plants that are of no
garden value. For however charming in humanity is the virtue modesty,
and however becoming is the unobtrusive bearing that gives evidence of
its possession, it is quite misplaced in a Dahlia. Here it becomes a
vice, for the Dahlia's first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger
and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to
hang its head. Some of the delicately-coloured kinds lately raised not
only hang their heads, but also hide them away among masses of their
coarse foliage, and are doubly frauds, looking everything that is
desirable in the show, and proving worthless in the garden. It is true
that there are ways of cutting out superfluous green stuff and thereby
encouraging the blooms to show up, but at a busy season, when rank
leafage grows fast, one does not want to be every other day tinkering at
the Dahlias.

Careful and strong staking they must always have, not forgetting one
central stake to secure the main growth at first. It is best to drive
this into the hole made for the plant before placing the root, to avoid
the danger of sending the point of the stake through the tender tubers.
Its height out of the ground should be about eighteen inches less than
the expected stature of the plant. As the Dahlia grows, there should be
at least three outer stakes at such distance from the middle one as may
suit the bulk and habit of the plant; and it is a good plan to have
wooden hoops to tie to these, so as to form a girdle round the whole
plant, and for tying out the outer branches. The hoop should be only
loosely fastened--best with roomy loops of osier, so that it may be
easily shifted up with the growth of the plant. We make the hoops in the
winter of long straight rent rods of Spanish Chestnut, bending them
while green round a tub, and tying them with tarred twine or osier
bands. They last several years. All this care in staking the Dahlias is
labour well bestowed, for when autumn storms come the wind has such a
power of wrenching and twisting, that unless the plant, now grown into a
heavy mass of succulent vegetation, is braced by firm fixing at the
sides, it is in danger of being broken off short just above the ground,
where its stem has become almost woody, and therefore brittle.

Now is the moment to get to work on the rock-garden; there is no time of
year so precious for this work as September. Small things planted now,
while the ground is still warm, grow at the root at once, and get both
anchor-hold and feeding-hold of the ground before frost comes. Those
that are planted later do not take hold, and every frost heaves them up,
sometimes right out of the ground. Meanwhile those that have got a firm
root-hold are growing steadily all the winter, underground if not above;
and when the first spring warmth comes they can draw upon the reserve of
strength they have been hoarding up, and make good growth at once.

Except in the case of a rockery only a year old, there is sure to be
some part that wants to be worked afresh, and I find it convenient to do
about a third of the space every year. Many of the indispensable Alpines
and rock-plants of lowly growth increase at a great rate, some spreading
over much more than their due space, the very reason of this
quick-spreading habit being that they are travelling to fresh pasture;
many of them prove it clearly by dying away in the middle of the patch,
and only showing vigorous vitality at the edges.

Such plants as _Silene alpestris_, _Hutchinsia alpina_, _Pterocephalus_,
the dwarf alpine kinds of _Achillea_ and _Artemisia_, _Veronica_ and
_Linaria_, and the mossy Saxifrages, in my soil want transplanting every
two years, and the silvery Saxifrages every three years. As in much
else, one must watch what happens in one's own garden. We practical
gardeners have no absolute knowledge of the constitution of the plant,
still less of the chemistry of the soil, but by the constant exercise of
watchful care and helpful sympathy we acquire a certain degree of
instinctive knowledge, which is as valuable in its way, and probably
more applicable to individual local conditions, than the tabulated
formulas of more orthodox science.

One of the best and simplest ways of growing rock-plants is in a loose
wall. In many gardens an abrupt change of level makes a retaining wall
necessary, and when I see this built in the usual way as a solid
structure of brick and mortar--unless there be any special need of the
solid wall--I always regret that it is not built as a home for
rock-plants. An exposure to north or east and the cool backing of a mass
of earth is just what most Alpines delight in. A dry wall, which means a
wall without mortar, may be anything between a wall and a very steep
rock-work, and may be built of brick or of any kind of local stone. I
have built and planted a good many hundred yards of dry walling with my
own hands, both at home and in other gardens, and can speak with some
confidence both of the pleasure and interest of the actual making and
planting, and of the satisfactory results that follow.

The best example I have to show in my own garden is the so-called "Old
Wall," before mentioned. It is the bounding and protecting fence of the
Pæony ground on its northern side, and consists of a double dry wall
with earth between. An old hedge bank that was to come away was not far
off, within easy wheeling distance. So the wall was built up on each
side, and as it grew, the earth from the hedge was barrowed in to fill
up. A dry wall needs very little foundation; two thin courses
underground are quite enough. The point of most structural importance is
to keep the earth solidly trodden and rammed behind the stones of each
course and throughout its bulk, and every two or three courses to lay
some stones that are extra long front and back, to tie the wall well
into the bank. A local sandstone is the walling material. In the pit it
occurs in separate layers, with a few feet of hard sand between each.
The lowest layer, sometimes thirty to forty feet down, is the best and
thickest, but that is good building stone, and for dry walling we only
want "tops" or "seconds," the later and younger formations of stone in
the quarry. The very roughness and almost rotten state of much of this
stone makes it all the more acceptable as nourishment and root-hold to
the tiny plants that are to grow in its chinks, and that in a few months
will change much of the rough rock-surface to green growth of delicate
vegetation. Moreover, much of the soft sandy stone hardens by exposure
to weather; and even if a stone or two crumbles right away in a few
years' time, the rest will hold firmly, and the space left will make a
little cave where some small fern will live happily.

The wall is planted as it is built with hardy Ferns--_Blechnum_,
Polypody, Hartstongue, _Adiantum_, _Ceterach_, _Asplenium_, and _Ruta
muraria_. The last three like lime, so a barrow of old mortar-rubbish is
at hand, and the joint where they are to be planted has a layer of their
favourite soil. Each course is laid fairly level as to its front top
edge, stones of about the same thickness going in course by course. The
earth backing is then carefully rammed into the spaces at the uneven
backs of the stones, and a thin layer of earth over the whole course,
where the mortar would have been in a built wall, gives both a "bed" for
the next row of stones and soil for the plants that are to grow in the
joints.

[Illustration: JACK. (_See page 79._)]

[Illustration: THE "OLD WALL."]

The face of the wall slopes backward on both sides, so that its whole
thickness of five feet at the bottom draws in to four feet at the top.
All the stones are laid at a right angle to the plane of the
inclination--that is to say, each stone tips a little down at the back,
and its front edge, instead of being upright, faces a little upward. It
follows that every drop of gentle rain that falls on either side of the
wall is carried into the joints, following the backward and downward
pitch of the stones, and then into the earth behind them.

The mass of earth in the middle of the wall gives abundant root-room for
bushes, and is planted with bush Roses of three kinds, of which the
largest mass is of _Rosa lucida_. Then there is a good stretch of
Berberis; then Scotch Briars, and in one or two important places
Junipers; then more Berberis, and Ribes, and the common Barberry, and
neat bushes of _Olearia Haastii_.

The wall was built seven years ago, and is now completely clothed. It
gives me a garden on the top and a garden on each side, and though its
own actual height is only 4-1/2 feet, yet the bushes on the top make it
a sheltering hedge from seven to ten feet high. One small length of
three or four yards of the top has been kept free of larger bushes, and
is planted on its northern edge with a very neat and pretty dwarf kind
of Lavender, while on the sunny side is a thriving patch of the hardy
Cactus (_Opuntia Raffinesquiana_). Just here, in the narrow border at
the foot of the wall, is a group of the beautiful _Crinum Powelli_,
while a white Jasmine clothes the face of the wall right and left, and
rambles into the Barberry bushes just beyond. It so happened that these
things had been planted close together because the conditions of the
place were likely to favour them, and not, as is my usual practice, with
any intentional idea of harmonious grouping. I did not even remember
that they all flower in July, and at nearly the same time; and one day
seeing them all in bloom together, I was delighted to see the success of
the chance arrangement, and how pretty it all was, for I should never
have thought of grouping together pink and lavender, yellow and white.

The northern face of the wall, beginning at its eastern end, is planted
thus: For a length of ten or twelve paces there are Ferns, Polypody and
Hartstongue, and a few _Adiantum nigrum_, with here and there a Welsh
Poppy. There is a clump of the wild Stitchwort that came by itself, and
is so pretty that I leave it. At the foot of the wall are the same, but
more of the Hartstongue; and here it grows best, for not only is the
place cooler, but I gave it some loamy soil, which it loves. Farther
along the Hartstongue gives place to the wild Iris (_I. foetidissima_),
a good long stretch of it. Nothing, to my mind, looks better than these
two plants at the base of a wall on the cool side. In the upper part of
the wall are various Ferns, and that interesting plant, Wall Pennywort
(_Cotyledon umbilicus_). It is a native plant, but not found in this
neighbourhood; I brought it from Cornwall, where it is so plentiful in
the chinks of the granite stone-fences. It sows itself and grows afresh
year after year, though I always fear to lose it in one of our dry
summers. Next comes the common London Pride, which I think quite the
most beautiful of the Saxifrages of this section. If it was a rare
thing, what a fuss we should make about it! The place is a little dry
for it, but all the same, it makes a handsome spreading tuft hanging
over the face of the wall. When its pink cloud of bloom is at its best,
I always think it the prettiest thing in the garden. Then there is the
Yellow Everlasting (_Gnaphalium orientale_), a fine plant for the upper
edge of the wall, and even better on the sunny side, and the white form
of _Campanula cæspitosa_, with its crowd of delicate little white
bells rising in June, from the neatest foliage of tender but lively
green. Then follow deep-hanging curtains of Yellow Alyssum and of hybrid
rock Pinks. The older plants of Alyssum are nearly worn out, but there
are plenty of promising young seedlings in the lower joints.

[Illustration: ERINUS ALPINUS, CLOTHING STEPS IN ROCK-WALL.]

Throughout the wall there are patches of Polypody Fern, one of the best
of cool wall-plants, its creeping root-stock always feeling its way
along the joints, and steadily furnishing the wall with more and more of
its neat fronds; it is all the more valuable for being at its best in
early winter, when so few ferns are to be seen. Every year, in some bare
places, I sow a little seed of _Erinus alpinus_, always trying for
places where it will follow some other kind of plant, such as a place
where rock Pink or Alyssum has been. All plants are the better for this
sort of change. In the seven years that the wall has stood, the stones
have become weathered, and the greater part of the north side, wherever
the stone work shows, is hoary with mosses, and looks as if it might
have been standing for a hundred years.

The sunny side is nearly clear of moss, and I have planted very few
things in its face, because the narrow border at its foot is so precious
for shrubs and plants that like a warm, sheltered place. Here are
several Choisyas and Sweet Verbenas, also _Escallonia_, _Stuartia_, and
_Styrax_, and a long straggling group of some very fine Pentstemons. In
one space that was fairly clear I planted a bit of Hyssop, an old sweet
herb whose scent I delight in; it grows into a thick bush-like plant
full of purple flower in the late summer, when it attracts quantities of
bumble-bees. It is a capital wall-plant, and has sown its own seed, till
there is a large patch on the top and some in its face, and a
broadly-spreading group in the border below. It is one of the plants
that was used in the old Tudor gardens for edgings; the growth is close
and woody at the base, and it easily bears clipping into shape.

The fierce gales and heavy rains of the last days of September wrought
sad havoc among the flowers. Dahlias were virtually wrecked. Though each
plant had been tied to three stakes, their masses of heavy growth could
not resist the wrenching and twisting action of the wind, and except in
a few cases where they were well sheltered, their heads lay on the
ground, the stems broken down at the last tie. If anything about a
garden could be disheartening, it would be its aspect after such a storm
of wind. Wall shrubs, only lately made safe, as we thought, have great
gaps torn out of them, though tied with tarred string to strong iron
staples, staples and all being wrenched out. Everything looks battered,
and whipped, and ashamed; branches of trees and shrubs lie about far
from their sources of origin; green leaves and little twigs are washed
up into thick drifts; apples and quinces, that should have hung till
mid-October, lie bruised and muddy under the trees. Newly-planted roses
and hollies have a funnel-shaped hole worked in the ground at their
base, showing the power of the wind to twist their heads, and giving
warning of a corresponding disturbance of the tender roots. There is
nothing to be done but to look round carefully and search out all
disasters and repair them as well as may be, and to sweep up the
wreckage and rubbish, and try to forget the rough weather, and enjoy the
calm beauty of the better days that follow, and hope that it may be long
before such another angry storm is sent. And indeed a few quiet days of
sunshine and mild temperature work wonders. In a week one would hardly
know that the garden had been so cruelly torn about. Fresh flowers take
the place of bruised ones, and wholesome young growths prove the
enduring vitality of vegetable life. Still we cannot help feeling,
towards the end of September, that the flower year is nearly at an end,
though the end is a gorgeous one, with its strong yellow masses of the
later perennial Sunflowers and Marigolds, Goldenrod, and a few belated
Gladioli; the brilliant foliage of Virginian Creepers, the leaf-painting
of _Vitis Coignettii_, and the strong crimson of the Claret Vine.

The Water-elder (_Viburnum opulus_) now makes a brave show in the edge
of the copse. It is without doubt the most beautiful berry-bearing shrub
of mid-September. The fruit hangs in ample clusters from the point of
every branch and of every lateral twig, in colour like the brightest of
red currants, but with a translucent lustre that gives each separate
berry a much brighter look; the whole bush shows fine warm colouring,
the leaves having turned to a rich red. Perhaps it is because it is a
native that this grand shrub or small tree is generally neglected in
gardens, and is almost unknown in nurserymen's catalogues. It is the
parent of the well-known Guelder-Rose, which is merely its
double-flowered form. But the double flower leaves no berry, its
familiar white ball being formed of the sterile part of the flower only,
and the foliage of the garden kind does not assume so bright an autumn
colouring.

The nights are growing chilly, with even a little frost, and the work
for the coming season of dividing and transplanting hardy plants has
already begun. Plans are being made for any improvements or alterations
that involve ground work. Already we have been at work on some broad
grass rides through the copse that were roughly levelled and laid with
grass last winter. The turf has been raised and hollows filled in, grass
seed sown in bare patches, and the whole beaten and rolled to a good
surface, and the job put out of hand in good time before the leaves
begin to fall.



CHAPTER XI

OCTOBER

Michaelmas Daisies -- Arranging and staking -- Spindle-tree -- Autumn
colour of Azaleas -- Quinces -- Medlars -- Advantage of early planting
of shrubs -- Careful planting -- Pot-bound roots -- Cypress hedge --
Planting in difficult places -- Hardy flower border -- Lifting Dahlias
-- Dividing hardy plants -- Dividing tools -- Plants difficult to divide
-- Periwinkles -- Sternbergia -- Czar Violets -- Deep cultivation for
_Lilium giganteum_.


The early days of October bring with them the best bloom of the
Michaelmas Daisies, the many beautiful garden kinds of the perennial
Asters. They have, as they well deserve to have, a garden to themselves.
Passing along the wide path in front of the big flower border, and
through the pergola that forms its continuation, with eye and brain full
of rich, warm colouring of flower and leaf, it is a delightful surprise
to pass through the pergola's last right-hand opening, and to come
suddenly upon the Michaelmas Daisy garden in full beauty. Its clean,
fresh, pure colouring, of pale and dark lilac, strong purple, and pure
white, among masses of pale-green foliage, forms a contrast almost
startling after the warm colouring of nearly everything else; and the
sight of a region where the flowers are fresh and newly opened, and in
glad spring-like profusion, when all else is on the verge of death and
decay, gives an impression of satisfying refreshment that is hardly to
be equalled throughout the year. Their special garden is a wide border
on each side of a path, its length bounded on one side by a tall hedge
of filberts, and on the other side by clumps of yew, holly, and other
shrubs. It is so well sheltered that the strongest wind has its
destructive power broken, and only reaches it as a refreshing
tree-filtered breeze. The Michaelmas Daisies are replanted every year as
soon as their bloom is over, the ground having been newly dug and
manured. The old roots, which will have increased about fourfold, are
pulled or chopped to pieces, nice bits with about five crowns being
chosen for replanting; these are put in groups of three to five
together. Tall-growing kinds like _Novi Belgi_ Robert Parker are kept
rather towards the back, while those of delicate and graceful habit,
such as _Cordifolius elegans_ and its good variety Diana are allowed to
come forward. The fine dwarf _Aster amellus_ is used in rather large
quantity, coming quite to the front in some places, and running in and
out between the clumps of other kinds. Good-sized groups of _Pyrethrum
uliginosum_ are given a place among the Asters, for though of quite
another family, they are Daisies, and bloom at Michaelmas, and are
admirable companions to the main occupants of the borders. The only
other plants admitted are white Dahlias, the two differently striped
varieties of _Eulalia japonica_, the fresh green foliage of Indian
Corn, and the brilliant light-green leafage of _Funkia grandiflora_.
Great attention is paid to staking the Asters. Nothing is more
deplorable than to see a neglected, overgrown plant, at the last moment,
when already half blown down, tied up in a tight bunch to one stake.
When we are cutting underwood in the copse in the winter, special
branching spray is looked out for our Michaelmas Daisies and cut about
four feet or five feet long, with one main stem and from two to five
branches. Towards the end of June and beginning of July these are thrust
firmly into the ground among the plants, and the young growths are tied
out so as to show to the best advantage. Good kinds of Michaelmas
Daisies are now so numerous that in selecting those for the special
garden it is well to avoid both the ones that bloom earliest and also
the very latest, so that for about three weeks the borders may show a
well-filled mass of bloom.

[Illustration: BORDERS OF MICHAELMAS DAISIES.]

The bracken in the copse stands dry and dead, but when leaves are
fluttering down and the chilly days of mid-October are upon us, its
warm, rusty colouring is certainly cheering; the green of the freshly
grown mossy carpet below looks vividly bright by contrast. Some bushes
of Spindle-tree (_Euonymus europæus_) are loaded with their rosy
seed-pods; some are already burst, and show the orange-scarlet seeds--an
audacity of colouring that looks all the brighter for the even,
lustreless green of the leaves and of the green-barked twigs and stems.

The hardy Azaleas are now blazing masses of crimson, almost scarlet
leaf; the old _A. pontica_, with its large foliage, is as bright as any.
With them are grouped some of the North American Vacciniums and
Andromedas, with leaves almost as bright. The ground between the groups
of shrubs is knee-deep in heath. The rusty-coloured withered bloom of
the wild heath on its purplish-grey masses and the surrounding banks of
dead fern make a groundwork and background of excellent colour-harmony.

How seldom does one see Quinces planted for ornament, and yet there is
hardly any small tree that better deserves such treatment. Some Quinces
planted about eight years ago are now perfect pictures, their lissome
branches borne down with the load of great, deep-yellow fruit, and their
leaves turning to a colour almost as rich and glowing. The old English
rather round-fruited kind with the smooth skin is the best both for
flavour and beauty--a mature tree without leaves in winter has a
remarkably graceful, arching, almost weeping growth. The other kind is
of a rather more rigid form, and though its woolly-coated, pear-shaped
fruits are larger and strikingly handsome, the whole tree has a coarser
look, and just lacks the attractive grace of the other. They will do
fairly well almost anywhere, though they prefer a rich, loamy soil and a
cool, damp, or even swampy place. The Medlar is another of the small
fruiting trees that is more neglected than it should be, as it well
deserves a place among ornamental shrubs. Here it is a precious thing
in the region where garden melts into copse. The fruit-laden twigs are
just now very attractive, and its handsome leaves can never be passed
without admiration. Close to the Medlars is a happy intergrowth of the
wild Guelder-Rose, still bearing its brilliant clusters, a
strong-growing and far-clambering garden form of _Rosa arvensis_, full
of red hips, Sweetbriar, and Holly--a happy tangle of red-fruited
bushes, all looking as if they were trying to prove, in friendly
emulation, which can make the bravest show of red-berried wild-flung
wreath, or bending spray, or stately spire; while at their foot the
bright colour is repeated by the bending, berried heads of the wild
Iris, opening like fantastic dragons' mouths, and pouring out the red
bead-like seeds upon the ground; and, as if to make the picture still
more complete, the leaves of the wild Strawberry that cover the ground
with a close carpet have also turned to a crimson, and here and there to
an almost scarlet colour.

During the year I make careful notes of any trees or shrubs that will be
wanted, either to come from the nursery or to be transplanted within my
own ground, so as to plant them as early as possible. Of the two
extremes it is better to plant too early than too late. I would rather
plant deciduous trees before the leaves are off than wait till after
Christmas, but of all planting times the best is from the middle of
October till the end of November, and the same time is the best for all
hardy plants of large or moderate size.

I have no patience with slovenly planting. I like to have the ground
prepared some months in advance, and when the proper time comes, to do
the actual planting as well as possible. The hole in the already
prepared ground is taken out so that the tree shall stand exactly right
for depth, though in this dry soil it is well to make the hole an inch
or two deeper, in order to leave the tree standing in the centre of a
shallow depression, to allow of a good watering now and then during the
following summer. The hole must be made wide enough to give easy space
for the most outward-reaching of the roots; they must be spread out on
all sides, carefully combing them out with the fingers, so that they all
lay out to the best advantage. Any roots that have been bruised, or have
broken or jagged ends, are cut off with a sharp knife on the homeward
side of the injury. Most gardeners when they plant, after the first
spadeful or two has been thrown over the root, shake the bush with an up
and down joggling movement. This is useful in the case of plants with a
good lot of bushy root, such as Berberis, helping to get the grains of
earth well in among the root; but in tree planting, where the roots are
laid out flat, it is of course useless. In our light soil, the closer
and firmer the earth is made round the newly-planted tree the better,
and strong staking is most important, in order to save the newly-placed
root from disturbance by dragging.

Some trees and shrubs one can only get from nurseries in pots. This is
usually the case with Ilex, Escallonia, and Cydonia. Such plants are
sure to have the roots badly matted and twisted. The main root curls
painfully round and round inside the imprisoning pot, but if it is a
clever root it works its way out through the hole in the bottom, and
even makes quite nice roots in the bed of ashes it has stood on. In this
case, as these are probably its best roots, we do not attempt to pull it
back through the hole, but break the pot to release it without hurt. If
it is possible to straighten the pot-curled root, it is best to do so;
in any case, the small fibrous ones can be laid out. Often the potful of
roots is so hard and tight that it cannot be disentangled by the hand;
then the only way is to soften it by gentle bumping on the bench, and
then to disengage the roots by little careful digs all round with a
blunt-pointed stick. If this is not done, and the plant is put in in its
pot-bound state, it never gets on; it would be just as well to throw it
away at once.

Nine years ago a hedge of Lawson's Cypress was planted on one side of
the kitchen garden. Three years later, when the trees had made some
growth, I noticed in the case of three or four that they were quite bare
of branches on one side all the way up for a width of about one-sixth of
the circumference, leaving a smooth, straight, upright strip. Suspecting
the cause, I had them up, and found in every case that the root just
below the bare strip had been doubled under the stem, and had therefore
been unable to do its share of the work. Nothing could have pointed out
more clearly the defect in the planting.

There are cases where ground cannot be prepared as one would wish, and
where one has to get over the difficulty the best way one can. Such a
case occurred when I had to plant some Yews and Savins right under a
large Birch-tree. The Birch is one of several large ones that nearly
surround the lawn. This one stands just within the end of a large
shrub-clump, near the place of meeting of some paths with the grass and
with some planting; here some further planting was wanted of dark-leaved
evergreens. There is no tree more ground-robbing than a Birch, and under
the tree in question the ground was dust-dry, extremely hard, and
nothing but the poorest sand. Looking at the foot of a large tree one
can always see which way the main roots go, and the only way to get down
any depth is to go between these and not many feet away from the trunk.
Farther away the roots spread out and would receive more injury. So the
ground was got up the best way we could, and the Yews and Savins
planted. Now, after some six years, they are healthy and dark-coloured,
and have made good growth. But in such a place one cannot expect the
original preparation of the ground, such as it was, to go for much. The
year after planting they had some strong, lasting manure just pricked in
over the roots--stuff from the shoeing-forge, full of hoof-parings.
Hoof-parings are rich in ammonia, and decay slowly. Every other year
they have either a repetition of this or some cooling cow manure. The
big Birch no doubt gets some of it, though its hungriest roots are
farther afield, but the rich colour of the shrubs shows that they are
well nourished.

As soon as may be in November the big hardy flower-border has to be
thoroughly looked over. The first thing is to take away all "soft
stuff." This includes all dead annuals and biennials and any tender
things that have been put in for the summer, also Paris Daisies,
Zinnias, French and African Marigolds, Helichrysums, Mulleins, and a few
Geraniums. Then Dahlias are cut down. The waste stuff is laid in big
heaps on the edge of the lawn just across the footpath, to be loaded
into the donkey-cart and shot into some large holes that have been dug
up in the wood, whose story will be told later.

The Dahlias are now dug up from the border, and others collected from
different parts of the garden. The labels are tied on to the short
stumps that remain, and the roots are laid for a time on the floor of a
shed. If the weather has been rainy just before taking them up, it is
well to lay them upside down, so that any wet there may be about the
bases of the large hollow stalks may drain out. They are left for
perhaps a fortnight without shaking out the earth that holds between the
tubers, so that they may be fairly dry before they are put away for the
winter in a cellar.

Then we go back to the flower border and dig out all the plants that
have to be divided every year. It will also be the turn for some others
that only want division every two or three or more years, as the case
may be. First, out come all the perennial Sunflowers. These divide
themselves into two classes; those whose roots make close clumpy masses,
and those that throw out long stolons ending in a blunt snout, which is
the growing crown for next year. To the first division belong the old
double Sunflower (_Helianthus multiflorus_), of which I only keep the
well-shaped variety Soleil d'Or, and the much taller large-flowered
single kind, and a tall pale-yellow flowered one with a dark stem, whose
name I do not know. It is not one of the kinds thought much of, and as
usually grown has not much effect; but I plant it at the back and pull
it down over other plants that have gone out of flower, so that instead
of having only a few flowers at the top of a rather bare stem eight feet
high, it is a spreading cloud of pale yellow bloom; the training down,
as in the case of so many other plants, inducing it to throw up a short
flowering stalk from the axil of every leaf along the stem. The kinds
with the running roots are _Helianthus rigidus_, and its giant variety
Miss Mellish, _H. decapetalus_ and _H. lætiflorus_. I do not know how it
may be in other gardens, but in mine these must be replanted every year.

Phloxes must also be taken up. They are always difficult here, unless
the season is unusually rainy; in dry summers, even with mulching and
watering, I cannot keep them from drying up. The outside pieces are cut
off and the woody middle thrown away. It is surprising what a tiny bit
of Phlox will make a strong flowering plant in one season. The kinds I
like best are the pure whites and the salmon-reds; but two others that I
find very pretty and useful are Eugénie, a good mauve, and Le Soleil, a
strong pink, of a colour as near a really good pink as in any Phlox I
know. Both of these have a neat and rather short habit of growth. I do
not have many Michaelmas Daisies in the flower border, only some early
ones that flower within September; of these there are the white-flowered
_A. paniculatus_, _Shortii_, _acris_, and _amellus_. These of course
come up, and any patches of Gladiolus are collected, to be dried for a
time and then stored.

The next thing is to look through the border for the plants that require
occasional renewal. In the front I find that a longish patch of
_Heuchera Richardsoni_ has about half the plants overgrown. These must
come up, and are cut to pieces. It is not a nice plant to divide; it has
strong middle crowns, and though there are many side ones, they are
attached to the main ones too high up to have roots of their own; but I
boldly slice down the main stocky stem with straight downward cuts, so
as to give a piece of the thick stock to each side bit. I have done this
both in winter and spring, and find the spring rather the best, if not
followed by drought. Groups of _Anemone japonica_ and of _Polygonum
compactum_ are spreading beyond bounds and must be reduced. Neither of
these need be entirely taken up. Without going into further detail, it
may be of use to note how often I find it advisable to lift and divide
some of the more prominent hardy plants.

Every year I divide Michaelmas Daisies, Goldenrod, _Helianthus_,
_Phlox_, _Chrysanthemum maximum_, _Helenium pumilum_, _Pyrethrum
uliginosum_, _Anthemis tinctoria_, _Monarda_, _Lychnis_, _Primula_,
except _P. denticulata_, _rosea_, and _auricula_, which stand two years.

Every two years, White Pinks, Cranesbills, _Spiræa_, _Aconitum_,
_Gaillardia_, _Coreopsis_, _Chrysanthemum indicum_, _Galega_,
_Doronicum_, _Nepeta_, _Geum aureum_, _Oenothera Youngi_, and _Oe.
riparia_.

Every three years, _Tritoma_, _Megasea_, _Centranthus_, _Vinca_, _Iris_,
_Narcissus_.

A plasterer's hammer is a tool that is very handy for dividing plants.
It has a hammer on one side of the head, and a cutting blade like a
small chopper on the other. With this and a cold chisel and a strong
knife one can divide any roots in comfort. I never divide things by
brutally chopping them across with a spade. Plants that have soft fleshy
tubers like Dahlias and Pæonies want the cold chisel; it can be cleverly
inserted among the crowns so that injury to the tubers is avoided, and
it is equally useful in the case of some plants whose points of
attachment are almost as hard as wire, like _Orobus vernus_, or as
tough as a door-mat, like _Iris graminia_. The Michaelmas Daisies of
the _Novæ Angliæ_ section make root tufts too close and hard to be cut
with a knife, and here the chopper of the plasterer's hammer comes in.
Where the crowns are closely crowded, as in this Aster, I find it best
to chop at the bottom of the tuft, among the roots; when the chopper has
cut about two-thirds through, the tuft can be separated with the hands,
dividing naturally between the crowns, whereas if chopped from the top
many crowns would have been spoilt.

Tritomas want dividing with care; it always looks as if one could pull
every crown apart, but there is a tender point at the "collar," where
they easily break off short; with these also it is best to chop from
below or to use the chisel, making the cut well down in the yellow rooty
region. Veratrums divide much in the same way, wanting a careful cut low
down, the points of their crowns being also very easy to break off. The
Christmas Rose is one of the most awkward plants to divide successfully.
It cannot be done in a hurry. The only safe way is to wash the clumps
well out and look carefully for the points of attachment, and cut them
either with knife or chisel, according to their position. In this case
the chisel should be narrower and sharper. Three-year-old tufts of St.
Bruno's Lily puzzled me at first. The rather fleshy roots are so tightly
interlaced that cutting is out of the question; but I found out that if
the tuft is held tight in the two hands, and the hands are worked
opposite ways with a rotary motion of about a quarter of a circle, that
they soon come apart without being hurt in the least. Delphiniums easily
break off at the crown if they are broken up by hand, but the roots cut
so easily that it ought not to be a difficulty.

There are some plants in whose case one can never be sure whether they
will divide well or not, such as Oriental Poppies and _Eryngium
Oliverianum_. They behave in nearly the same way. Sometimes a Poppy or
an Eryngium comes up with one thick root, impossible to divide, while
the next door plant has a number of roots that are ready to drop apart
like a bunch of Salsafy.

Everlasting Peas do nearly the same. One may dig up two plants--own
brothers of say seven years old--and a rare job it is, for they go
straight down into the earth nearly a yard deep. One of them will have a
straight black post of a root 2-1/2 inches thick without a break of any
sort till it forks a foot underground, while the other will be a sort of
loose rope of separate roots from half to three-quarters of an inch
thick, that if carefully followed down and cleverly dissected where they
join, will make strong plants at once. But the usual way to get young
plants of Everlasting Pea is to look out in earliest spring for the many
young growths that will be shooting, for these if taken off with a good
bit of the white underground stem will root under a hand-light.

Most of the Primrose tribe divide pleasantly and easily: the worst are
the _auricula_ section; with these, for outdoor planting, one often has
to slice a main root down to give a share of root to the offset.

When one is digging up plants with running roots, such as Gaultheria,
Honeysuckle, Polygonum, Scotch Briars, and many of the _Rubus_ tribe, or
what is better, if one person is digging while another pulls up, it
never does for the one who is pulling to give a steady haul; this is
sure to end in breakage, whereas a root comes up willingly and unharmed
in loosened ground to a succession of firm but gentle tugs, and one soon
learns to suit the weight of the pulls to the strength of the plant, and
to learn its breaking strain.

Towards the end of October outdoor flowers in anything like quantity
cannot be expected, and yet there are patches of bloom here and there in
nearly every corner of the garden. The pretty Mediterranean Periwinkle
(_Vinca acutiflora_) is in full bloom. As with many another southern
plant that in its own home likes a cool and shady place, it prefers a
sunny one in our latitude. The flowers are of a pale and delicate
grey-blue colour, nearly as large as those of the common _Vinca major_,
but they are borne more generously as to numbers on radical shoots that
form thick, healthy-looking tufts of polished green foliage. It is not
very common in gardens, but distinctly desirable.

In the bulb-beds the bright-yellow _Sternbergia lutea_ is in flower. At
first sight it looks something like a Crocus of unusually firm and
solid substance; but it is an Amaryllis, and its pure and even yellow
colouring is quite unlike that of any of the Crocuses. The numerous
upright leaves are thick, deep green, and glossy. It flowers rather
shyly in our poor soil, even in well-made beds, doing much better in
chalky ground.

Czar Violets are giving their fine and fragrant flowers on stalks nine
inches long. To have them at their best they must be carefully
cultivated and liberally enriched. No plants answer better to good
treatment, or spoil more quickly by neglect. A miserable sight is a
forgotten violet-bed where they have run together into a tight mat,
giving only few and poor flowers. I have seen the owner of such a bed
stand over it and blame the plants, when he should have laid the lash on
his own shoulders. Violets must be replanted every year. When the last
rush of bloom in March is over, the plants are pulled to pieces, and
strong single crowns from the outer edges of the clumps, or from the
later runners, are replanted in good, well-manured soil, in such a place
as will be somewhat shaded from summer sun. There should be eighteen
inches between each plant, and as they make their growth, all runners
should be cut off until August. They are encouraged by liberal doses of
liquid manure from time to time, and watered in case of drought; and the
heart of the careful gardener is warmed and gratified when friends,
seeing them at midsummer, say (as has more than once happened), "What a
nice batch of young Hollyhocks!"

In such a simple matter as the culture of this good hardy Violet, my
garden, though it is full of limitations, and in all ways falls short of
any worthy ideal, enables me here and there to point out something that
is worth doing, and to lay stress on the fact that the things worth
doing are worth taking trouble about. But it is a curious thing that
many people, even among those who profess to know something about
gardening, when I show them something fairly successful--the crowning
reward of much care and labour--refuse to believe that any pains have
been taken about it. They will ascribe it to chance, to the goodness of
my soil, and even more commonly to some supposed occult influence of my
own--to anything rather than to the plain fact that I love it well
enough to give it plenty of care and labour. They assume a tone of
complimentary banter, kindly meant no doubt, but to me rather
distasteful, to this effect: "Oh yes, of course it will grow for you;
anything will grow for you; you have only to look at a thing and it will
grow." I have to pump up a laboured smile and accept the remark with
what grace I can, as a necessary civility to the stranger that is within
my gates, but it seems to me evident that those who say these things do
not understand the love of a garden.

I could not help rejoicing when such a visitor came to me one October. I
had been saying how necessary good and deep cultivation was, especially
in so very poor and shallow a soil as mine. Passing up through the copse
where there were some tall stems of _Lilium giganteum_ bearing the great
upturned pods of seed, my visitor stopped and said, "I don't believe a
word about your poor soil--look at the growth of that Lily. Nothing
could make that great stem ten feet high in a poor soil, and there it
is, just stuck into the wood!" I said nothing, knowing that presently I
could show a better answer than I could frame in words. A little farther
up in the copse we came upon an excavation about twelve feet across and
four deep, and by its side a formidable mound of sand, when my friend
said, "Why are you making all this mess in your pretty wood? are you
quarrying stone, or is it for the cellar of a building? and what on
earth are you going to do with that great heap of sand? why, there must
be a dozen loads of it." That was my moment of secret triumph, but I
hope I bore it meekly as I answered, "I only wanted to plant a few more
of those big Lilies, and you see in my soil they would not have a chance
unless the ground was thoroughly prepared; look at the edge of the scarp
and see how the solid yellow sand comes to within four inches of the
top; so I have a big wide hole dug; and look, there is the donkey-cart
coming with the first load of Dahlia-tops and soft plants that have been
for the summer in the south border. There will be several of those
little cartloads, each holding three barrowfuls. As it comes into the
hole, the men will chop it with the spade and tread it down close,
mixing in a little sand. This will make a nice cool, moist bottom of
slowly-rotting vegetable matter. Some more of the same kind of waste
will come from the kitchen garden--cabbage-stumps, bean-haulm, soft
weeds that have been hoed up, and all the greenest stuff from the
rubbish-heap. Every layer will be chopped and pounded, and tramped down
so that there should be as little sinking as possible afterwards. By
this time the hole will be filled to within a foot of the top; and now
we must get together some better stuff--road-scrapings and trimmings
mixed with some older rubbish-heap mould, and for the top of all, some
of our precious loam, and the soil of an old hotbed and some
well-decayed manure, all well mixed, and then we are ready for the
Lilies. They are planted only just underground, and then the whole bed
has a surfacing of dead leaves, which helps to keep down weeds, and also
looks right with the surrounding wild ground. The remains of the heap of
sand we must deal with how we can; but there are hollows here and there
in the roadway and paths, and a place that can be levelled up in the
rubbish-yard, and some kitchen-garden paths that will bear raising, and
so by degrees it is disposed of."



CHAPTER XII

NOVEMBER

Giant Christmas Rose -- Hardy Chrysanthemums -- Sheltering tender shrubs
-- Turfing by inoculation -- Transplanting large trees -- Sir Henry
Steuart's experience early in the century -- Collecting fallen leaves --
Preparing grubbing tools -- Butcher's Broom -- Alexandrian Laurel --
Hollies and Birches -- A lesson in planting.


The giant Christmas Rose (_Helleborus maximus_) is in full flower; it is
earlier than the true Christmas Rose, being at its best by the middle of
November. It is a large and massive flower, but compared with the later
kinds has a rather coarse look. The bud and the back of the flower are
rather heavily tinged with a dull pink, and it never has the pure-white
colouring throughout of the later ones.

I have taken some pains to get together some really hardy
November-blooming Chrysanthemums. The best of all is a kind frequent in
neighbouring cottage-gardens, and known hereabouts as Cottage Pink. I
believe it is identical with Emperor of China, a very old sort that used
to be frequent in greenhouse cultivation before it was supplanted by the
many good kinds now grown. But its place is not indoors, but in the
open garden; if against a south or west wall, so much the better.
Perhaps one year in seven the bloom may be spoilt by such a severe frost
as that of October 1895, but it will bear unharmed several degrees of
frost and much rain. I know no Chrysanthemum of so true a pink colour,
the colour deepening to almost crimson in the centre. After the first
frost the foliage of this kind turns to a splendid colour, the green of
the leaves giving place to a rich crimson that sometimes clouds the
outer portion of the leaf, and often covers its whole expanse. The
stiff, wholesome foliage adds much to the beauty of the outdoor kinds,
contrasting most agreeably with the limp, mildewed leafage of those
indoors. Following Cottage Pink is a fine pompone called Soleil d'Or, in
colour the richest deep orange, with a still deeper and richer coloured
centre. The beautiful crimson Julie Lagravère flowers at the same time.
Both are nearly frost-proof, and true hardy November flowers.

The first really frosty day we go to the upper part of the wood and cut
out from among the many young Scotch Firs as many as we think will be
wanted for sheltering plants and shrubs of doubtful hardiness. One
section of the high wall at the back of the flower border is planted
with rather tender things, so that the whole is covered with sheltering
fir-boughs. Here are Loquat, Fuchsia, Pomegranate, _Edwardsia_,
_Piptanthus_, and _Choisya_, and in the narrow border at the foot of the
wall, _Crinum_, _Nandina_, _Clerodendron_, and _Hydrangea_. In the
broad border in front of the wall nothing needs protection except
Tritomas; these have cones of coal-ashes heaped over each plant or
clump. The Crinums also have a few inches of ashes over them.

Some large Hydrangeas in tubs are moved to a sheltered place and put
close together, a mound of sand being shovelled up all round to nearly
the depth of the tubs; then a wall is made of thatched hurdles, and dry
fern is packed well in among the heads of the plants. They would be
better in a frost-proof shed, but we have no such place to spare.

The making of a lawn is a difficulty in our very poor sandy soil. In
this rather thickly-populated country the lords of the manor had been so
much pestered for grants of road-side turf, and the privilege when
formerly given had been so much abused, that they have agreed together
to refuse all applications. Opportunities of buying good turf do not
often occur, and sowing is slow, and not satisfactory. I am told by a
seedsman of the highest character that it is almost impossible to get
grass seed clean and true to name from the ordinary sources; the leading
men therefore have to grow their own.

In my own case, having some acres of rough heath and copse where the
wild grasses are of fine-leaved kinds, I made the lawn by inoculation.
The ground was trenched and levelled, then well trodden and raked, and
the surface stones collected. Tufts of the wild grass were then forked
up, and were pulled into pieces about the size of the palm of one's
hand, and laid down eight inches apart, and well rolled in. During the
following summer we collected seed of the same grasses to sow early in
spring in any patchy or bare places. One year after planting the patches
had spread to double their size, and by the second year had nearly
joined together. The grasses were of two kinds only, namely, Sheep's
Fescue (_Festuca ovina_) and Crested Dog's-tail (_Agrostis canina_).
They make a lawn of a quiet, low-toned colour, never of the bright green
of the rather coarser grasses; but in this case I much prefer it; it
goes better with the Heath and Fir and Bracken that belong to the place.
In point of labour, a lawn made of these fine grasses has the great
merit of only wanting mowing once in three weeks.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have never undertaken the transplanting of large trees, but there is
no doubt that it may be done with success, and in laying out a new place
where the site is bare, if suitable trees are to be had, it is a plan
much to be recommended. It has often been done of late years, but until
a friend drew my attention to an article in the _Quarterly Review_,
dated March 1828, I had no idea that it had been practised on a large
scale so early in the century. The article in question was a review of
"The Planter's Guide," by Sir Henry Steuart, Bart., LL.D. (Edinburgh,
1828.) It quoted the opinion and observation of a committee of
gentlemen, among whom was Sir Walter Scott, who visited Allanton (Sir
Henry Steuart's place) in September 1828, when the trees had been some
years planted. They found them growing "with vigour and luxuriance, and
in the most exposed situations making shoots of eighteen inches.... From
the facts which they witnessed the committee reported it as their
unanimous opinion that the art of transplantation, as practised by Sir
Henry Steuart, is calculated to accelerate in an extraordinary degree
the power of raising wood, whether for beauty or shelter."

The reviewer then quotes the method of transplantation, describing the
extreme care with which the roots are preserved, men with picks
carefully trying round the ground beneath the outer circumference of the
branches for the most outlying rootlets, and then gradually approaching
the bole. The greatest care was taken not to injure any root or fibre,
these as they were released from the earth being tied up, and finally
the transplanting machine, consisting of a strong pole mounted on high
wheels, was brought close to the trunk and attached to it, and the tree
when lowered, carefully transported to its new home. Every layer of
roots was then replanted with the utmost care, with delicate fingering
and just sufficient ramming, and in the end the tree stood without any
artificial support whatever, and in positions exposed to the fiercest
gales.

The average size of tree dealt with seems to have had a trunk about a
foot in diameter, but some were removed with complete success whose
trunks were two feet thick. In order that his trees might be the better
balanced in shape, Sir Henry boldly departed from the older custom of
replanting a tree in its original aspect, for he reversed the aspect, so
that the more stunted and shorter-twigged weather side now became the
lee side, and could grow more freely.

He insists strongly on the wisdom of transplanting only well-weathered
trees, and not those of tender constitution that had been sheltered by
standing among other close growths, pointing out that these have a
tenderer bark and taller top and roots less well able to bear the strain
of wind and weather in the open.

He reckons that a transplanted tree is in full new growth by the fourth
or fifth year, and that an advantage equal to from thirty to forty
years' growth is gained by the system. As for the expense of the work,
Sir Henry estimated that his largest trees each cost from ten to
thirteen shillings to take up, remove half a mile, and replant. In the
case of large trees the ground that was to receive them was prepared a
twelvemonth beforehand.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, in the third week of November, the most pressing work is the
collecting of leaves for mulching and leaf-mould. The oaks have been
late in shedding their leaves, and we have been waiting till they are
down. Oak-leaves are the best, then hazel, elm, and Spanish chestnut.
Birch and beech are not so good; beech-leaves especially take much too
long to decay. This is, no doubt, the reason why nothing grows willingly
under beeches. Horse and cart and three hands go out into the lanes for
two or three days, and the loads that come home go three feet deep into
the bottom of a range of pits. The leaves are trodden down close and
covered with a layer of mould, in which winter salad stuff is
immediately planted. The mass of leaves will soon begin to heat, and
will give a pleasant bottom-heat throughout the winter. Other loads of
leaves go into an open pen about ten feet square and five feet deep. Two
such pens, made of stout oak post and rail and upright slabs, stand side
by side in the garden yard. The one newly filled has just been emptied
of its two-year-old leaf-mould, which has gone as a nourishing and
protecting mulch over beds of Daffodils and choice bulbs and
Alströmerias, some being put aside in reserve for potting and various
uses. The other pen remains full of the leaves of last year, slowly
rotting into wholesome plant-food.

With works of wood-cutting and stump-grubbing near at hand, we look over
the tools and see that all are in readiness for winter work. Axes and
hand-bills are ground, fag-hooks sharpened, picks and mattocks sent to
the smithy to be drawn out, the big cross-cut saw fresh sharpened and
set, and the hand-saws and frame-saws got ready. The rings of the bittle
are tightened and wedged up, so that its heavy head may not split when
the mighty blows, flung into the tool with a man's full strength,
fall on the heads of the great iron wedges.

[Illustration: PENS FOR STORING DEAD LEAVES.]

[Illustration: CAREFUL WILD-GARDENING--WHITE FOXGLOVES AT THE EDGE OF
THE FIR WOOD. (_See page 270._)]

Some thinning of birch-trees has to be done in the lowest part of the
copse, not far from the house. They are rather evenly distributed on the
ground, and I wish to get them into groups by cutting away superfluous
trees. On the neighbouring moorland and heathy uplands they are apt to
grow naturally in groups, the individual trees generally bending outward
towards the free, open space, the whole group taking a form that is
graceful and highly pictorial. I hope to be able to cut out trees so as
to leave the remainder standing in some such way. But as a tree once cut
cannot be put up again, the condemned ones are marked with bands of
white paper right round the trunks, so that they can be observed from
all sides, thus to give a chance of reprieve to any tree that from any
point of view may have pictorial value.

Frequent in some woody districts in the south of England, though local,
is the Butcher's Broom (_Ruscus aculeatus_). Its stiff green branches
that rise straight from the root bear small, hard leaves, armed with a
sharp spine at the end. The flower, which comes in early summer, is
seated without stalk in the middle of the leaf, and is followed by a
large red berry. In country places where it abounds, butchers use the
twigs tied in bunches to brush the little chips of meat off their great
chopping-blocks, that are made of solid sections of elm trees, standing
three and a half feet high and about two and a half feet across. Its
beautiful garden relative, the Alexandrian or Victory Laurel (_Ruscus
racemosus_), is also now just at its best. Nothing makes a more
beautiful wreath than two of its branches, suitably arched and simply
bound together near the butts and free ends. It is not a laurel, but a
_Ruscus_, the name laurel having probably grown on to it by old
association with any evergreen suitable for a victor's wreath. It is a
slow-growing plant, but in time makes handsome tufts of its graceful
branches. Few plants are more exquisitely modelled, to use a term
familiar to the world of fine art, or give an effect of more delicate
and perfect finish. It is a valuable plant in a shady place in good,
cool soil. Early in summer, when the young growths appear, the old, then
turning rusty, should be cut away.

No trees group together more beautifully than Hollies and Birches. One
such happy mixture in one part of the copse suggested further plantings
of Holly, Birches being already in abundance. Every year some more
Hollies are planted; those put in nine years ago are now fifteen feet
high, and are increasing fast. They are slow to begin growth after
transplanting, perhaps because in our very light soil they cannot be
moved with a "ball"; all the soil shakes away, and leaves the root
naked; but after about three years, when the roots have got good hold
and begun to ramble, they grow away well. The trunk of an old Holly has
a smooth pale-grey bark, and sometimes a slight twist, that makes it
look like the gigantic bone of some old-world monster. The leaves of
some old trees, especially if growing in shade, change their shape,
losing the side prickles and becoming longer and nearly flat and more of
a dark bottle-green colour, while the lower branches and twigs, leafless
except towards their ends, droop down in a graceful line that rises
again a little at the tip.

[Illustration: HOLLY STEMS IN AN OLD HEDGE-ROW.]

The leaves are all down by the last week of November, and woodland
assumes its winter aspect; perhaps one ought rather to say, some one of
its infinite variety of aspects, for those who live in such country know
how many are the winter moods of forest land, and how endless are its
variations of atmospheric effect and pictorial beauty--variations much
greater and more numerous than are possible in summer.

With the wind in the south-west and soft rain about, the twigs of the
birches look almost crimson, while the dead bracken at their foot,
half-draggled and sodden with wet, is of a strong, dark rust colour. Now
one sees the full value of the good evergreens, and, rambling through
woodland, more especially of the Holly, whether in bush or tree form,
with its masses of strong green colour, dark and yet never gloomy.
Whether it is the high polish of the leaves, or the lively look of their
wavy edges, with the short prickles set alternately up and down, or the
brave way the tree has of shooting up among other thick growth, or its
massive sturdiness on a bare hillside, one cannot say, but a Holly in
early winter, even without berries, is always a cheering sight. John
Evelyn is eloquent in his praise of this grand evergreen, and lays
special emphasis on this quality of cheerfulness.

Near my home is a little wild valley, whose planting, wholly done by
Nature, I have all my life regarded with the most reverent admiration.

The arable fields of an upland farm give place to hazel copses as the
ground rises. Through one of these a deep narrow lane, cool and dusky in
summer from its high steep banks and over-arching foliage, leads by a
rather sudden turn into the lower end of the little valley. Its grassy
bottom is only a few yards wide, and its sides rise steeply right and
left. Looking upward through groups of wild bushes and small trees, one
sees thickly-wooded ground on the higher levels. The soil is of the very
poorest; ridges of pure yellow sand are at the mouths of the many
rabbit-burrows. The grass is of the short fine kinds of the heathy
uplands. Bracken grows low, only from one to two feet high, giving
evidence of the poverty of the soil, and yet it seems able to grow in
perfect beauty clumps of Juniper and Thorn and Holly, and Scotch Fir on
the higher ground.

On the steeply-rising banks are large groups of Juniper, some tall, some
spreading, some laced and wreathed about with tangles of Honeysuckle,
now in brown winter dress, and there are a few bushes of
Spindle-tree, whose green stems and twigs look strangely green in
winter. The Thorns stand some singly, some in close companionship,
impenetrable masses of short-twigged prickly growth, with here and there
a wild Rose shooting straight up through the crowded branches. One
thinks how lovely it will be in early June, when the pink Rose-wreaths
are tossing out of the foamy sea of white Thorn blossom. The Hollies are
towering masses of health and vigour. Some of the groups of Thorn and
Holly are intermingled; all show beautiful arrangements of form and
colour, such as are never seen in planted places. The track in the
narrow valley trends steadily upwards and bears a little to the right.
High up on the left-hand side is an old wood of Scotch Fir. A few
detached trees come half-way down the valley bank to meet the gnarled,
moss-grown Thorns and the silver-green Junipers. As the way rises some
Birches come in sight, also at home in the sandy soil. Their graceful,
lissome spray moving to the wind looks active among the stiffer trees,
and their white stems shine out in startling contrast to the other dusky
foliage. So the narrow track leads on, showing the same kinds of tree
and bush in endless variety of beautiful grouping, under the sombre
half-light of the winter day. It is afternoon, and as one mounts higher
a pale bar of yellow light gleams between the farther tree-stems, but
all above is grey, with angry, blackish drifts of ragged wrack. Now the
valley opens out to a nearly level space of rough grass, with grey
tufts that will be pink bell-heather in summer, and upstanding clumps of
sedge that tell of boggy places. In front and to the right are dense
fir-woods. To the left is broken ground and a steep-sided hill, towards
whose shoulder the track rises. Here are still the same kinds of trees,
but on the open hillside they have quite a different effect. Now I look
into the ruddy heads of the Thorns, bark and fruit both of rich warm
colouring, and into the upper masses of the Hollies, also reddening into
wealth of berry.

[Illustration: WILD JUNIPERS.]

Throughout the walk, pacing slowly but steadily for nearly an hour, only
these few kinds of trees have been seen, Juniper, Holly, Thorn, Scotch
Fir, and Birch (a few small Oaks excepted), and yet there has not been
once the least feeling of monotony, nor, returning downward by the same
path, could one wish anything to be altered or suppressed or differently
grouped. And I have always had the same feeling about any quite wild
stretch of forest land. Such a bit of wild forest as this small valley
and the hilly land beyond are precious lessons in the best kind of tree
and shrub planting. No artificial planting can ever equal that of
Nature, but one may learn from it the great lesson of the importance of
moderation and reserve, of simplicity of intention, and directness of
purpose, and the inestimable value of the quality called "breadth" in
painting. For planting ground is painting a landscape with living
things; and as I hold that good gardening takes rank within the
bounds of the fine arts, so I hold that to plant well needs an artist of
no mean capacity. And his difficulties are not slight ones, for his
living picture must be right from all points, and in all lights.

[Illustration: WILD JUNIPERS.]

No doubt the planting of a large space with a limited number of kinds of
trees cannot be trusted to all hands, for in those of a person without
taste or the more finely-trained perceptions the result would be very
likely dull or even absurd. It is not the paint that make the picture,
but the brain and heart and hand of the man who uses it.



CHAPTER XIII

DECEMBER

The woodman at work -- Tree-cutting in frosty weather -- Preparing
sticks and stakes -- Winter Jasmine -- Ferns in the wood-walk -- Winter
colour of evergreen shrubs -- Copse-cutting -- Hoop-making -- Tools used
-- Sizes of hoops -- Men camping out -- Thatching with hoop-chips -- The
old thatcher's bill.


It is good to watch a clever woodman and see how much he can do with his
simple tools, and how easily one man alone can deal with heavy pieces of
timber. An oak trunk, two feet or more thick, and weighing perhaps a
ton, lies on the ground, the branches being already cut off. He has to
cleave it into four, and to remove it to the side of a lane one hundred
feet away. His tools are an axe and one iron wedge. The first step is
the most difficult--to cut such a nick in the sawn surface of the butt
of the trunk as will enable the wedge to stick in. He holds the wedge to
the cut and hammers it gently with the back of the axe till it just
holds, then he tries a moderate blow, and is quite prepared for what is
almost sure to happen--the wedge springs out backwards; very likely it
springs out for three or four trials, but at last the wedge bites and he
can give it the dexterous, rightly-placed blows that slowly drive it
in. Before the wedge is in half its length a creaking sound is heard;
the fibres are beginning to tear, and a narrow rift shows on each side
of the iron. A few more strokes and the sound of the rending fibres is
louder and more continuous, with sudden cracking noises, that tell of
the parting of larger bundles of fibres, that had held together till the
tremendous rending power of the wedge at last burst them asunder. Now
the man looks out a bit of strong branch about four inches thick, and
with the tree-trunk as a block and the axe held short in one hand as a
chopper, he makes a wooden wedge about twice the size of the iron one,
and drives it into one of the openings at its side. For if you have only
one iron wedge, and you drive it tight into your work, you can neither
send it farther nor get it out, and you feel and look foolish. The
wooden wedge driven in releases the iron one, which is sent in afresh
against the side of the wedge of oak, the trunk meanwhile rending slowly
apart with much grieving and complaining of the tearing fibres. As the
rent opens the axe cuts across diagonal bundles of fibres that still
hold tightly across the widening rift. And so the work goes on, the man
unconsciously exercising his knowledge of his craft in placing and
driving the wedges, the helpless wood groaning and creaking and finally
falling apart as the last holding fibres are severed by the axe.
Meanwhile the raw green wood gives off a delicious scent, sweet and
sharp and refreshing, not unlike the smell of apples crushing in the
cider-press.

[Illustration: THE WOODMAN.]

The woodman has still to rend the two halves of the trunk, but the work
is not so heavy and goes more quickly. Now he has to shift them to the
side of the rough track that serves as a road through the wood. They are
so heavy that two men could barely lift them, and he is alone. He could
move them with a lever, that he could cut out of a straight young tree,
a foot or so at a time at each end, but it is a slow and clumsy way;
besides, the wood is too much encumbered with undergrowth. So he cuts
two short pieces from a straight bit of branch four inches or five
inches thick, levers one of his heavy pieces so that one end points to
the roadway, prises up this end and kicks one of his short pieces under
it close to the end, settling it at right angles with gentle kicks. The
other short piece is arranged in the same way, a little way beyond the
middle of the length of quartered trunk. Now, standing behind it, he can
run the length easily along on the two rollers, till the one nearest him
is left behind; this one is then put under the front end of the weight,
and so on till the road is reached.

Trees that stand where paths are to come, or that for any reason have to
be removed, root and all, are not felled with axe or saw, but are
grubbed down. The earth is dug away next to the tree, gradually exposing
the roots; these are cut through with axe or mattock close to the
butt, and again about eighteen inches away, so that by degrees a deep
trench, eighteen inches wide, is excavated round the butt. A rope is
fastened at the right distance up the trunk, when, if the tree does not
hold by a very strong tap-root, a succession of steady pulls will bring
it down; the weight of the top thus helping to prise the heavy butt out
of the ground. We come upon many old stumps of Scotch fir, the remains
of the original wood; they make capital firewood, though some burn
rather too fiercely, being full of turpentine. Many are still quite
sound, though it must be six-and-twenty years since they were felled.
They are very hard to grub, with their thick taproots and far-reaching
laterals, and still tougher to split up, their fibres are so much
twisted, and the dark-red heart-wood has become hardened till it rings
to a blow almost like metal. But some, whose roots have rotted, come up
more easily, and with very little digging may be levered out of the
ground with a long iron stone-bar, such as they use in the neighbouring
quarries, putting the point of the bar under the "stam," and having a
log of wood for a hard fulcrum. Or a stout young stem of oak or chestnut
is used for a lever, passing a chain under the stump and over the middle
of the bar and prising upwards with the lever. "Stam" is the word always
used by the men for any stump of a tree left in the ground.

[Illustration: GRUBBING A TREE-STUMP.]

[Illustration: FELLING AND GRUBBING TOOLS. (_See page 150._)]

A spell of frosty days at the end of December puts a stop to all
planting and ground work. Now we go into the copse and cut the trees
that have been provisionally marked, judged, and condemned, with the
object of leaving the remainder standing in graceful groups. The men
wonder why I cut some of the trees that are best and straightest and
have good tops, and leave those with leaning stems. Anything of seven
inches or less diameter is felled with the axe, but thicker trees with
the cross-cut saw. For these our most active fellow climbs up the tree
with a rope, and makes it fast to the trunk a good way up, then two of
them, kneeling, work the saw. When it has cut a third of the way
through, the rope is pulled on the side opposite the cut to keep it open
and let the saw work free. When still larger trees are sawn down this is
done by driving in a wedge behind the saw, when the width of the
saw-blade is rather more than buried in the tree. When the trunk is
nearly sawn through, it wants care and judgment to see that the saw does
not get pinched by the weight of the tree; the clumsy workman who fails
to clear his saw gets laughed at, and probably damages his tool. Good
straight trunks of oak and chestnut are put aside for special uses; the
rest of the larger stuff is cut into cordwood lengths of four feet. The
heaviest of these are split up into four pieces to make them easier to
load and carry away, and eventually to saw up into firewood.

The best of the birch tops are cut into pea-sticks, a clever, slanting
cut with the hand-bill leaving them pointed and ready for use.
Throughout the copse are "stools" of Spanish chestnut, cut about once in
five years. From this we get good straight stakes for Dahlias and
Hollyhocks, also beanpoles; while the rather straight-branched boughs
are cut into branching sticks for Michaelmas Daisies, and special
lengths are got ready for various kinds of plants--Chrysanthemums,
Lilies, Pæonies and so on. To provide all this in winter, when other
work is slack or impossible, is an important matter in the economy of a
garden, for all gardeners know how distressing and harassing it is to
find themselves without the right sort of sticks or stakes in summer,
and what a long job it then seems to have to look them up and cut them,
of indifferent quality, out of dry faggots. By the plan of preparing all
in winter no precious time is lost, and a tidy withe-bound bundle of the
right sort is always at hand. The rest of the rough spray and small
branching stuff is made up into faggots to be chopped up for
fire-lighting; the country folk still use the old word "bavin" for
faggots. The middle-sized branches--anything between two inches and six
inches in diameter--are what the woodmen call "top and lop"; these are
also cut into convenient lengths, and are stacked in the barn, to be cut
into billets for next year's fires in any wet or frosty weather, when
outdoor work is at a standstill.

What a precious winter flower is the yellow Jasmine (_Jasminum
nudiflorum_). Though hard frost spoils the flowers then expanded, as
soon as milder days come the hosts of buds that are awaiting them burst
into bloom. Its growth is so free and rapid that one has no scruple
about cutting it freely; and great branching sprays, cut a yard or more
long, arranged with branches of Alexandrian Laurel or other suitable
foliage--such as Andromeda or Gaultheria--are beautiful as room
decoration.

Christmas Roses keep on flowering bravely, in spite of our light soil
and frequent summer drought, both being unfavourable conditions; but
bravest of all is the blue Algerian Iris (_Iris stylosa_), flowering
freely as it does, at the foot of a west wall, in all open weather from
November till April.

In the rock-garden at the edge of the copse the creeping evergreen
_Polygala chamæbuxus_ is quite at home in beds of peat among mossy
boulders. Where it has the ground to itself, this neat little shrub
makes close tufts only four inches or five inches high, its wiry
branches being closely set with neat, dark-green, box-like leaves;
though where it has to struggle for life among other low shrubs, as may
often be seen in the Alps, the branches elongate, and will run bare for
two feet or three feet to get the leafy end to the light. Even now it is
thickly set with buds and has a few expanded flowers. This bit of
rock-garden is mostly planted with dwarf shrubs--_Skimmia_, Bog-myrtle,
Alpine Rhododendrons, _Gaultheria_, and _Andromeda_, with drifts of
hardy ferns between, and only a few "soft" plants. But of these, two are
now conspicuously noticeable for foliage--the hardy Cyclamens and the
blue Himalayan Poppy (_Meconopsis Wallichi_). Every winter I notice how
bravely the pale woolly foliage of this plant bears up against the early
winter's frost and wet.

The wood-walk, whose sloping banks are planted with hardy ferns in large
groups, shows how many of our common kinds are good plants for the first
half of the winter. Now, only a week before Christmas, the male fern is
still in handsome green masses; _Blechnum_ is still good, and common
Polypody at its best. The noble fronds of the Dilated Shield-fern are
still in fairly good order, and _Ceterach_ in rocky chinks is in fullest
beauty. Beyond, in large groups, are prosperous-looking tufts of the
Wood-rush (_Luzula sylvatica_); then there is wood as far as one can
see, here mostly of the silver-stemmed Birch and rich green Holly, with
the woodland carpet of dusky low-toned bramble and quiet dead leaf and
brilliant moss.

By the middle of December many of the evergreen shrubs that thrive in
peat are in full beauty of foliage. _Andromeda Catesbæi_ is richly
coloured with crimson clouds and splashes; Skimmias are at their best
and freshest, their bright, light green, leathery foliage defying all
rigours of temperature or weather. Pernettyas are clad in their
strongest and deepest green leafage, and show a richness and depth of
colour only surpassed by that of the yew hedges.

Copse-cutting is one of the harvests of the year for labouring men, and
all the more profitable that it can go on through frosty weather. A
handy man can earn good wages at piece-work, and better still if he can
cleave and shave hoops. Hoop-making is quite a large industry in these
parts, employing many men from Michaelmas to March. They are
barrel-hoops, made of straight poles of six years' growth. The wood used
is Birch, Ash, Hazel and Spanish Chestnut. Hazel is the best, or as my
friend in the business says, "Hazel, that's the master!" The growths of
the copses are sold by auction in some near county town, as they stand,
the buyer clearing them during the winter. They are cut every six years,
and a good copse of Chestnut has been known to fetch £54 an acre.

A good hoop-maker can earn from twenty to twenty-five shillings a week.
He sets up his brake, while his mate, who will cleave the rods, cuts a
post about three inches thick, and fixes it into the ground so that it
stands about three feet high. To steady it he drives in another of
rather curly shape by its side, so that the tops of the two are nearly
even, but the foot of the curved spur is some nine inches away at the
bottom, with its top pressing hard against the upright. To stiffen it
still more he makes a long withe of a straight hazel rod, which he
twists into a rope by holding the butt tightly under his left foot
and twisting with both hands till the fibres are wrenched open and
the withe is ready to spring back and wind upon itself. With this he
binds his two posts together, so that they stand perfectly rigid. On
this he cleaves the poles, beginning at the top. The tool is a small
one-handed adze with a handle like a hammer. A rod is usually cleft in
two, so that it is only shaved on one side; but sometimes a pole of
Chestnut, a very quick-growing wood, is large enough to cleave into
eight, and when the wood is very clean and straight they can sometimes
get two lengths of fourteen feet out of a pole.

[Illustration: HOOP-MAKING IN THE WOODS.]

The brake is a strong flat-shaped post of oak set up in the ground to
lean a little away from the workman. It stands five and a half feet out
of the ground. A few inches from its upper end it has a shoulder cut in
it which acts as the fulcrum for the cross-bar that supports the pole to
be shaved, and that leans down towards the man. The relative position of
the two parts of the brake reminds one of the mast and yard of a
lateen-rigged boat. The bar is nicely balanced by having a hazel withe
bound round a groove at its upper short end, about a foot beyond the
fulcrum, while the other end of the withe is tied round a heavy bit of
log or stump that hangs clear of the ground and just balances the bar,
so that it see-saws easily. The cleft rod that is to be shaved lies
along the bar, and an iron pin that passes through the head of the brake
just above the point where the bar rides over its shoulder, nips the
hoop as the weight of the stroke comes upon it; the least lifting of the
bar releases the hoop, which is quickly shifted onwards for a new
stroke. The shaving tool is a strong two-handled draw-knife, much like
the tool used by wheelwrights. It is hard work, "wunnerful tryin' across
the chest."

The hoops are in several standard lengths, from fourteen to two and a
half feet. The longest go to the West Indies for sugar hogsheads, and
some of the next are for tacking round pipes of wine. The wine is in
well-made iron-hooped barrels, but the wooden hoops are added to protect
them from the jarring and bumping when rolled on board ship, and
generally to save them during storage and transit. These hoops are in
two sizes, called large and small pipes. A thirteen-foot size go to
foreign countries for training vines on. A large quantity that measure
five feet six inches, and called "long pinks," are for cement barrels. A
length of seven feet six inches are used for herring barrels, and are
called kilderkins, after the name of the size of tub. Smaller sizes go
for gunpowder barrels, and for tacking round packing-cases and
tea-chests.

The men want to make all the time they can in the short winter daylight,
and often the work is some miles from home, so if the weather is not
very cold they make huts of the bundles of rods and chips, and sleep out
on the job. I always admire the neatness with which the bundles are
fastened up, and the strength of the withe-rope that binds them, for
sixty hoops, or thirty pairs, as they call them, of fourteen feet,
are a great weight to be kept together by four slight hazel bands.

[Illustration: HOOP-SHAVING.]

[Illustration: SHED-ROOF, THATCHED WITH HOOP-CHIP.]

In this industry there is a useful by-product in the shavings, or chips
as they call them. They are eighteen inches to two feet long, and are
made up into small faggots or bundles and stacked up for six months to a
year to dry, and then sell readily at twopence a bundle to cut up for
fire-lighting. They also make a capital thatch for sheds, a thatch
nearly a foot thick, warm in winter, and cool in summer, and durable,
for if well made it will last for forty years. I got a clever old
thatcher to make me a hoop-chip roof for the garden shed; it was a long
job, and he took his time (although it was piece-work), preparing and
placing each handful of chips as carefully as if he was making a wedding
bouquet. He was one of the old sort--no scamping of work for him; his
work was as good as he could make it, and it was his pride and delight.
The roof was prepared with strong laths nailed horizontally across the
rafters as if for tiling, but farther apart; and the chips, after a
number of handfuls had been duly placed and carefully poked and patted
into shape, were bound down to the laths with soft tarred cord guided by
an immense iron needle. The thatching, as in all cases of roof-covering,
begins at the eaves, so that each following layer laps over the last.
Only the ridge has to be of straw, because straw can be bent over; the
chips are too rigid. When the thatch is all in place the whole is
"drove," that is, beaten up close with a wooden bat that strikes against
the ends of the chips and drives them up close, jamming them tight into
the fastening. After six months of drying summer weather he came and
drove it all over again.

Thatching is done by piece-work, and paid at so much a "square" of ten
by ten feet. When I asked for his bill, the old man brought it made out
on a hazel stick, in a manner either traditional, or of his own
devising. This is how it runs, in notches about half an inch long, and
dots dug with the point of the knife. It means, "To so much work done,
£4, 5s. 0d."

    IIXXX·I·, IIXXXX·II[V] IIII[V]XX,IIXX



CHAPTER XIV

LARGE AND SMALL GARDENS

A well done villa garden -- A small town garden -- Two delightful
gardens of small size -- Twenty acres within the walls -- A large
country house and its garden -- Terrace -- Lawn -- Parterre -- Free
garden -- Kitchen garden -- Buildings -- Ornamental orchard --
Instructive mixed gardens -- Mr. Wilson's at Wisley -- A window garden.


The size of a garden has very little to do with its merit. It is merely
an accident relating to the circumstances of the owner. It is the size
of his heart and brain and goodwill that will make his garden either
delightful or dull, as the case may be, and either leave it at the usual
monotonous dead-level, or raise it, in whatever degree may be, towards
that of a work of fine art. If a man knows much, it is more difficult
for him to deal with a small space than a larger, for he will have to
make the more sacrifice; but if he is wise he will at once make up his
mind about what he will let go, and how he may best treat the restricted
space. Some years ago I visited a small garden attached to a villa on
the outskirts of a watering-place on the south coast. In ordinary hands
it would have been a perfectly commonplace thing, with the usual weary
mixture, and exhibiting the usual distressing symptoms that come in the
train of the ministrations of the jobbing-gardener. In size it may have
been a third of an acre, and it was one of the most interesting and
enjoyable gardens I have ever seen, its master and mistress giving it
daily care and devotion, and enjoying to the full its glad response of
grateful growth. The master had built with his own hands, on one side
where more privacy was wanted, high rugged walls, with spaces for many
rock-loving plants, and had made the wall die away so cleverly into the
rock-garden, that the whole thing looked like a garden founded on some
ancient ruined structure. And it was all done with so much taste that
there was nothing jarring or strained-looking, still less anything
cockneyfied, but all easy and pleasant and pretty, while the happy look
of the plants at once proclaimed his sympathy with them, and his
comprehensive knowledge of their wants. In the same garden was a walled
enclosure where Tree Pæonies and some of the hardier of the oriental
Rhododendrons were thriving, and there were pretty spaces of lawn, and
flower border, and shrub clump, alike beautiful and enjoyable, all
within a small space, and yet not crowded--the garden of one who was a
keen flower lover, as well as a world-known botanist.

I am always thankful to have seen this garden, because it showed me, in
a way that had never been so clearly brought home to me, how much may be
done in a small space.

Another and much smaller garden that I remember with pleasure was in a
sort of yard among houses, in a country town. The house it belonged to,
a rather high one, was on its east side, and halfway along on the south;
the rest was bounded by a wall about ten feet high. Opposite the house
the owner had built of rough blocks of sandstone what served as a
workshop, about twelve feet long along the wall, and six feet wide
within. A low archway of the same rough stone was the entrance, and
immediately above it a lean-to roof sloped up to the top of the wall,
which just here had been carried a little higher. The roof was of large
flat sandstones, only slightly lapping over each other, with spaces and
chinks where grew luxuriant masses of Polypody Fern. It was contrived
with a cement bed, so that it was quite weather-tight, and the room was
lighted by a skylight at one end that did not show from the garden. A
small surface of lead-flat, on a level with the top of the wall, in one
of the opposite angles, carried an old oil-jar, from which fell masses
of gorgeous Tropæolum, and the actual surface of the flat was a garden
of Stonecrops. The rounded coping of the walls, and the joints in many
places (for the wall was an old one), were gay with yellow Corydalis and
Snapdragons and more Stonecrops. The little garden had a few pleasant
flowering bushes, Ribes and Laurustinus, a Bay and an Almond tree. In
the coolest and shadiest corner were a fern-grotto and a tiny tank. The
rest of the garden, only a few yards across, was laid out with a square
bed in the middle, and a little path round, then a three-feet-wide
border next the wall, all edged with rather tall-grown Box. The middle
bed had garden Roses and Carnations, and Mignonette and Stocks. All
round were well-chosen plants and shrubs, looking well and happy, though
in a confined and rather airless space. Every square foot had been made
the most of with the utmost ingenuity, but the ingenuity was always
directed by good taste, so that nothing looked crowded or out of place.

And I think of two other gardens of restricted space, both long strips
of ground walled at the sides, whose owners I am thankful to count among
my friends--one in the favoured climate of the Isle of Wight, a little
garden where I suppose there are more rare and beautiful plants brought
together within a small space than perhaps in any other garden of the
same size in England; the other in a cathedral town, now a memory only,
for the master of what was one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever
seen now lives elsewhere. The garden was long in shape, and divided
about midway by a wall. The division next the house was a quiet lawn,
with a mulberry tree and a few mounded borders near the sides that were
unobstrusive, and in no way spoilt the quiet feeling of the lawn space.
Then a doorway in the dividing wall led to a straight path with a double
flower border. I suppose there was a vegetable garden behind the
borders, but of that I have no recollection, only a vivid remembrance of
that brilliantly beautiful mass of flowers. The picture was good enough
as one went along, especially as at the end one came first within sound
and then within sight of a rushing river, one of those swift, clear,
shallow streams with stony bottom that the trout love; but it was ten
times more beautiful on turning to go back, for there was the mass of
flowers, and towering high above it the noble mass of the giant
structure--one of the greatest and yet most graceful buildings that has
ever been raised by man to the glory of God.

It is true that it is not every one that has the advantage of a garden
bounded by a river and a noble church, but even these advantages might
have been lost by vulgar or unsuitable treatment of the garden. But the
mind of the master was so entirely in sympathy with the place, that no
one that had the privilege of seeing it could feel that it was otherwise
than right and beautiful.

Both these were the gardens of clergymen; indeed, some of our greatest
gardeners are, and have been, within the ranks of the Church. For have
we not a brilliantly-gifted dignitary whose loving praise of the Queen
of flowers has become a classic? and have we not among churchmen the
greatest grower of seedling Daffodils the world has yet seen, and other
names of clergymen honourably associated with Roses and Auriculas and
Tulips and other good flowers, and all greatly to their bettering? The
conditions of the life of a parish priest would tend to make him a good
gardener, for, while other men roam about, he stays mostly at home, and
to live with one's garden is one of the best ways to ensure its welfare.
And then, among the many anxieties and vexations and disappointments
that must needs grieve the heart of the pastor of his people, his
garden, with its wholesome labour and all its lessons of patience and
trust and hopefulness, and its comforting power of solace, must be one
of the best of medicines for the healing of his often sorrowing soul.

I do not envy the owners of very large gardens. The garden should fit
its master or his tastes just as his clothes do; it should be neither
too large nor too small, but just comfortable. If the garden is larger
than he can individually govern and plan and look after, then he is no
longer its master but its slave, just as surely as the much-too-rich man
is the slave and not the master of his superfluous wealth. And when I
hear of the great place with a kitchen garden of twenty acres within the
walls, my heart sinks as I think of the uncomfortable disproportion
between the man and those immediately around him, and his vast output of
edible vegetation, and I fall to wondering how much of it goes as it
should go, or whether the greater part of it does not go dribbling away,
leaking into unholy back-channels; and of how the looking after it must
needs be subdivided; and of how many side-interests are likely to
steal in, and altogether how great a burden of anxiety or matter of
temptation it must give rise to. A grand truth is in the old farmer's
saying, "The master's eye makes the pig fat;" but how can any one
master's eye fat that vast pig of twenty acres, with all its minute and
costly cultivation, its two or three crops a year off all ground given
to soft vegetables, its stoves, greenhouses, orchid and orchard houses,
its vineries, pineries, figgeries, and all manner of glass structures?

But happily these monstrous gardens are but few--I only know of or have
seen two, but I hope never to see another.

Nothing is more satisfactory than to see the well-designed and
well-organised garden of the large country house, whose master loves his
garden, and has good taste and a reasonable amount of leisure.

I think that the first thing in such a place is to have large unbroken
lawn spaces--all the better if they are continuous, passing round the
south and west sides of the house. I am supposing a house of the best
class, but not necessarily of the largest size. Immediately adjoining
the house, except for the few feet needed for a border for climbing
plants, is a broad walk, dry and smooth, and perfectly level from end to
end. This, in the case of many houses, and nearly always with good
effect, is raised two or three feet above the garden ground, and if the
architecture of the house demands it, has a retaining wall surmounted by
a balustrade of masonry and wrought stone. Broad and shallow stone
steps lead down to the turf both at the end of the walk and in the
middle of the front of the house, the wider and shallower the better,
and at the foot of the wall may be a narrow border for a few climbing
plants that will here and there rise above the coping of the parapet. I
do not think it desirable where there are stone balusters or other
distinct architectural features to let them be smothered with climbing
plants, but that there should be, say, a _Pyrus japonica_ or an
Escallonia, and perhaps a white Jasmine, and on a larger space perhaps a
cut-leaved or a Claret Vine. Some of the best effects of the kind I have
seen were where the bush, being well established, rose straight out of
the grass, the border being unnecessary except just at the beginning.

The large lawn space I am supposing stretches away a good distance from
the house, and is bounded on the south and west by fine trees; away
beyond that is all wild wood. On summer afternoons the greater part of
the lawn expanse is in cool shade, while winter sunsets show through the
tree stems. Towards the south-east the wood would pass into shrub
plantations, and farther still into garden and wild orchard (of which I
shall have something to say presently). At this end of the lawn would be
the brilliant parterre of bedded plants, seen both from the shaded lawn
and from the terrace, which at this end forms part of its design. Beyond
the parterre would be a distinct division from the farther garden,
either of Yew or Box hedge, with bays for seats, or in the case of a
change of level, of another terrace wall. The next space beyond would be
the main garden for hardy plants, at its southern end leading into the
wild orchard. This would be the place for the free garden or the reserve
garden, or for any of the many delightful ways in which hardy flowers
can be used; and if it happened by good fortune to have a stream or any
means of having running water, the possibilities of beautiful gardening
would be endless.

[Illustration: GARLAND-ROSE WREATHING THE END OF A TERRACE WALL.]

Beyond this again would come the kitchen garden, and after that the
stables and the home farm. If the kitchen garden had a high wall, and
might be entered on this side by handsome wrought-iron gates, I would
approach it from the parterre by a broad grass walk bounded by large Bay
trees at equal intervals to right and left. Through these to the right
would be seen the free garden of hardy flowers.

For the kitchen garden a space of two acres would serve a large country
house with all that is usually grown within walls, but there should
always be a good space outside for the rougher vegetables, as well as a
roomy yard for compost, pits and frames, and rubbish.

And here I wish to plead on behalf of the gardener that he should have
all reasonable comforts and conveniences. Nothing is more frequent, even
in good places, than to find the potting and tool sheds screwed away
into some awkward corner, badly lighted, much too small, and altogether
inadequate, and the pits and frames scattered about and difficult to get
at. Nothing is more wasteful of time, labour, or temper. The working
parts of a large garden form a complicated organisation, and if the
parts of the mechanism do not fit and work well, and are not properly
eased and oiled, still more, if any are missing, there must be
disastrous friction and damage and loss of power. In designing garden
buildings, I always strongly urge in connection with the heating system
a warmed potting shed and a comfortable messroom for the men, and over
this a perfectly dry loft for drying and storing such matters as shading
material, nets, mats, ropes, and sacks. If this can be warmed, so much
the better. There must also be a convenient and quite frost-proof place
for winter storing of vegetable roots and such plants as Dahlias,
Cannas, and Gladiolus; and also a well-lighted and warmed workshop for
all the innumerable jobs put aside for wet weather, of which the chief
will be repainting and glazing of lights, repairing implements, and
grinding and setting tools. This shop should have a carpenter's bench
and screw, and a smith's anvil, and a proper assortment of tools. Such
arrangements, well planned and thought out, will save much time and loss
of produce, besides helping to make all the people employed more
comfortable and happy.

I think that a garden should never be large enough to be tiring, that if
a large space has to be dealt with, a great part had better be laid out
in wood. Woodland is always charming and restful and enduringly
beautiful, and then there is an intermediate kind of woodland that
should be made more of--woodland of the orchard type. Why is the orchard
put out of the way, as it generally is, in some remote region beyond the
kitchen garden and stables? I should like the lawn, or the hardy flower
garden, or both, to pass directly into it on one side, and to plant a
space of several acres, not necessarily in the usual way, with orchard
standards twenty-five feet apart in straight rows (though in many places
the straight rows might be best), but to have groups and even groves of
such things as Medlars and Quinces, Siberian and Chinese Crabs, Damsons,
Prunes, Service trees, and Mountain Ash, besides Apples, Pears, and
Cherries, in both standard and bush forms. Then alleys of Filbert and
Cob-nut, and in the opener spaces tangles or brakes of the many
beautiful bushy things allied to the Apple and Plum tribe--_Cydonia_ and
_Prunus triloba_ and _Cratægus_ of many kinds (some of them are tall
bushes or small trees with beautiful fruits); and the wild Blackthorn,
which, though a plum, is so nearly related to pear that pears may be
grafted on it. And then brakes of Blackberries, especially of the
Parsley-leaved kind, so free of growth and so generous of fruit. How is
it that this fine native plant is almost invariably sold in nurseries as
an American bramble? If I am mistaken in this I should be glad to be
corrected, but I believe it to be only the cut-leaved variety of the
native _Rubus affinis_.

I have tried the best of the American kinds, and with the exception of
one year, when I had a few fine fruits from Kittatinny, they had been a
failure, whereas invariably when people have told me that their American
Blackberries have fruited well, I have found them to be the
Parsley-leaved.

Some members of the large Rose-Apple-Plum tribe grow to be large forest
trees, and in my wild orchard they would go in the farther parts. The
Bird-cherry (_Prunus padus_) grows into a tree of the largest size. A
Mountain Ash will sometimes have a trunk two feet in diameter, and a
head of a size to suit. The American kind, its near relation, but with
larger leaves and still grander masses of berries, is a noble small
tree; and the native white Beam should not be forgotten, and choice
places should be given to Amelanchier and the lovely double Japan Apple
(_Pyrus malus floribunda_). To give due space and effect to all these
good things my orchard garden would run into a good many acres, but
every year it would be growing into beauty and profit. The grass should
be left rough, and plentifully planted with Daffodils, and with Cowslips
if the soil is strong. The grass would be mown and made into hay in
June, and perhaps mown once more towards the end of September. Under the
nut-trees would be Primroses and the garden kinds of wood Hyacinths and
Dogtooth Violets and Lily of the Valley, and perhaps Snowdrops, or any
of the smaller bulbs that most commended themselves to the taste of the
master.

Such an orchard garden, well-composed and beautifully grouped, always
with that indispensable quality of good "drawing," would not only be a
source of unending pleasure to those who lived in the place, but a
valuable lesson to all who saw it; for it would show the value of the
simple and sensible ways of using a certain class of related trees and
bushes, and of using them with a deliberate intention of making the best
of them, instead of the usual meaningless-nohow way of planting. This,
in nine cases out of ten, means either ignorance or carelessness, the
planter not caring enough about the matter to take the trouble to find
out what is best to be done, and being quite satisfied with a mixed lot
of shrubs, as offered in nursery sales, or with the choice of the
nurseryman. I do not presume to condemn all mixed planting, only stupid
and ignorant mixed planting. It is not given to all people to take their
pleasures alike; and I have in my mind four gardens, all of the highest
interest, in which the planting is all mixed; but then the mixture is of
admirable ingredients, collected and placed on account of individual
merit, and a ramble round any one of these in company with its owner is
a pleasure and a privilege that one cannot prize too highly. Where the
garden is of such large extent that experimental planting is made with a
good number of one good thing at a time, even though there was no
premeditated intention of planting for beautiful effect, the fact of
there being enough plants to fall into large groups, and to cover some
extent of ground, produces numbers of excellent results. I remember
being struck with this on several occasions when I have had the
happiness of visiting Mr. G. F. Wilson's garden at Wisley, a garden
which I take to be about the most instructive it is possible to see. In
one part, where the foot of the hill joined the copse, there were hosts
of lovely things planted on a succession of rather narrow banks. Almost
unthinkingly I expressed the regret I felt that so much individual
beauty should be there without an attempt to arrange it for good effect.
Mr. Wilson stopped, and looking at me straight with a kindly smile, said
very quietly, "That is your business, not mine." In spite of its being a
garden whose first object is trial and experiment, it has left in my
memory two pictures, among several lesser ones, of plant-beauty that
will stay with me as long as I can remember anything, one an autumn and
one a spring picture--the hedge of _Rosa rugosa_ in full fruit, and a
plantation of _Primula denticulata_. The Primrose was on a bit of level
ground, just at the outer and inner edges of the hazel copse. The plants
were both grouped and thinly sprinkled, just as nature plants--possibly
they grew directly there from seed. They were in superb and luxuriant
beauty in the black peaty-looking half-boggy earth, the handsome
leaves of the brilliant colour and large size that told of perfect
health and vigour, and the large round heads of pure lilac flower
carried on strong stalks that must have been fifteen inches high. I
never saw it so happy and so beautiful. It is a plant I much admire, and
I do the best I can for it on my dry hill; but the conditions of my
garden do not allow of any approach to the success of the Wisley plants;
still I have treasured that lesson among many others I have brought away
from that good garden, and never fail to advise some such treatment when
I see the likely home for it in other places.

[Illustration: A ROADSIDE COTTAGE GARDEN.]

Some of the most delightful of all gardens are the little strips in
front of roadside cottages. They have a simple and tender charm that one
may look for in vain in gardens of greater pretension. And the old
garden flowers seem to know that there they are seen at their best; for
where else can one see such Wallflowers, or Double Daisies, or White
Rose bushes; such clustering masses of perennial Peas, or such well-kept
flowery edgings of Pink, or Thrift, or London Pride?

Among a good many calls for advice about laying out gardens, I remember
an early one that was of special interest. It was the window-box of a
factory lad in one of the great northern manufacturing towns. He had
advertised in a mechanical paper that he wanted a tiny garden, as full
of interest as might be, in a window-box; he knew nothing--would
somebody help him with advice? So advice was sent and the box prepared.
If I remember rightly the size was three feet by ten inches. A little
later the post brought him little plants of mossy and silvery
saxifrages, and a few small bulbs. Even some stones were sent, for it
was to be a rock-garden, and there were to be two hills of different
heights with rocky tops, and a longish valley with a sunny and a shady
side.

It was delightful to have the boy's letters, full of keen interest and
eager questions, and only difficult to restrain him from killing his
plants with kindness, in the way of liberal doses of artificial manure.
The very smallness of the tiny garden made each of its small features
the more precious. I could picture his feeling of delightful
anticipation when he saw the first little bluish blade of the Snowdrop
patch pierce its mossy carpet. Would it, could it really grow into a
real Snowdrop, with the modest, milk-white flower and the pretty green
hearts on the outside of the inner petals, and the clear green stripes
within? and would it really nod him a glad good-morning when he opened
his window to greet it? And those few blunt reddish horny-looking snouts
just coming through the ground, would they really grow into the
brilliant blue of the early Squill, that would be like a bit of
midsummer sky among the grimy surroundings of the attic window, and
under that grey, soot-laden northern sky? I thought with pleasure how he
would watch them in spare minutes of the dinner-hour spent at home, and
think of them as he went forward and back to his work, and how the
remembrance of the tender beauty of the full-blown flower would make him
glad, and lift up his heart while "minding his mule" in the busy
restless mill.



CHAPTER XV

BEGINNING AND LEARNING

The ignorant questioner -- Beginning at the end -- An example --
Personal experience -- Absence of outer help -- Johns' "Flowers of the
Field" -- Collecting plants -- Nurseries near London -- Wheel-spokes as
labels -- Garden friends -- Mr. Robinson's "English Flower-Garden" --
Mr. Nicholson's "Dictionary of Gardening" -- One main idea desirable --
Pictorial treatment -- Training in fine art -- Adapting from Nature --
Study of colour -- Ignorant use of the word "artistic."


Many people who love flowers and wish to do some practical gardening are
at their wit's end to know what to do and how to begin. Like a person
who is on skates for the first time, they feel that, what with the
bright steel runners, and the slippery surface, and the sense of
helplessness, there are more ways of tumbling about than of progressing
safely in any one direction. And in gardening the beginner must feel
this kind of perplexity and helplessness, and indeed there is a great
deal to learn, only it is pleasant instead of perilous, and the many
tumbles by the way only teach and do not hurt. The first few steps are
perhaps the most difficult, and it is only when we know something of the
subject and an eager beginner comes with questions that one sees how
very many are the things that want knowing. And the more ignorant the
questioner, the more difficult it is to answer helpfully. When one
knows, one cannot help presupposing some sort of knowledge on the part
of the querist, and where this is absent the answer we can give is of no
use. The ignorance, when fairly complete, is of such a nature that the
questioner does not know what to ask, and the question, even if it can
be answered, falls upon barren ground. I think in such cases it is
better to try and teach one simple thing at a time, and not to attempt
to answer a number of useless questions. It is disheartening when one
has tried to give a careful answer to have it received with an Oh! of
boredom or disappointment, as much as to say, You can't expect me to
take all that trouble; and there is the still more unsatisfactory sort
of applicant, who plies a string of questions and will not wait for the
answers! The real way is to try and learn a little from everybody and
from every place. There is no royal road. It is no use asking me or any
one else how to dig--I mean sitting indoors and asking it. Better go and
watch a man digging, and then take a spade and try to do it, and go on
trying till it comes, and you gain the knack that is to be learnt with
all tools, of doubling the power and halving the effort; and meanwhile
you will be learning other things, about your own arms and legs and
back, and perhaps a little robin will come and give you moral support,
and at the same time keep a sharp look-out for any worms you may happen
to turn up; and you will find out that there are all sorts of ways of
learning, not only from people and books, but from sheer trying.

I remember years ago having to learn to use the blow-pipe, for soldering
and other purposes connected with work in gold and silver. The difficult
part of it is to keep up the stream of air through the pipe while you
are breathing the air in; it is easy enough when you only want a short
blast of a few seconds, within the compass of one breath or one filling
of the bellows (lungs), but often one has to go on blowing through
several inspirations. It is a trick of muscular action. My master who
taught me never could do it himself, but by much trying one day I caught
the trick.

The grand way to learn, in gardening as in all things else, is to wish
to learn, and to be determined to find out--not to think that any one
person can wave a wand and give the power and knowledge. And there will
be plenty of mistakes, and there must be, just as children must pass
through the usual childish complaints. And some people make the mistake
of trying to begin at the end, and of using recklessly what may want the
utmost caution, such, for instance, as strong chemical manures.

Some ladies asked me why their plant had died. They had got it from the
very best place, and they were sure they had done their very best for
it, and--there it was, dead. I asked what it was, and how they had
treated it. It was some ordinary border plant, whose identity I now
forget; they had made a nice hole with their new trowel, and for its
sole benefit they had bought a tin of Concentrated Fertiliser. This they
had emptied into the hole, put in the plant, and covered it up and given
it lots of water, and--it had died! And yet these were the best and
kindest of women, who would never have dreamed of feeding a new-born
infant on beefsteaks and raw brandy. But they learned their lesson well,
and at once saw the sense when I pointed out that a plant with naked
roots just taken out of the ground or a pot, removed from one
feeding-place and not yet at home in another, or still more after a
journey, with the roots only wrapped in a little damp moss and paper,
had its feeding power suspended for a time, and was in the position of a
helpless invalid. All that could be done for it then was a little bland
nutriment of weak slops and careful nursing; if the planting took place
in the summer it would want shading and only very gentle watering, until
firm root-hold was secured and root-appetite became active, and that in
rich and well-prepared garden ground such as theirs strong artificial
manure was in any case superfluous.

When the earlier ignorances are overcome it becomes much easier to help
and advise, because there is more common ground to stand on. In my own
case, from quite a small child, I had always seen gardening going on,
though not of a very interesting kind. Nothing much was thought of but
bedding plants, and there was a rather large space on each side of the
house for these, one on gravel and one on turf. But I had my own little
garden in a nook beyond the shrubbery, with a seat shaded by a
_Boursault elegans_ Rose, which I thought then, and still think, one of
the loveliest of its kind. But my first knowledge of hardy plants came
through wild ones. Some one gave me that excellent book, the Rev. C. A.
Johns' "Flowers of the Field." For many years I had no one to advise me
(I was still quite small) how to use the book, or how to get to know
(though it stared me in the face) how the plants were in large related
families, and I had not the sense to do it for myself, nor to learn the
introductory botanical part, which would have saved much trouble
afterwards; but when I brought home my flowers I would take them one by
one and just turn over the pages till I came to the picture that looked
something like. But in this way I got a knowledge of individuals, and
afterwards the idea of broad classification and relationship of genera
to species may have come all the easier. I always think of that book as
the most precious gift I ever received. I distinctly trace to its
teaching my first firm steps in the path of plant knowledge, and the
feeling of assured comfort I had afterwards in recognising the kinds
when I came to collect garden plants; for at that time I had no other
garden book, no means of access to botanic gardens or private
collections, and no helpful adviser.

One copy of "Johns" I wore right out; I have now two, of which one is in
its second binding, and is always near me for reference. I need hardly
say that this was long before the days of the "English Flower-Garden,"
or its helpful predecessor, "Alpine Plants."

By this time I was steadily collecting hardy garden plants wherever I
could find them, mostly from cottage gardens. Many of them were still
unknown to me by name, but as the collection increased I began to
compare and discriminate, and of various kinds of one plant to throw out
the worse and retain the better, and to train myself to see what made a
good garden plant, and about then began to grow the large yellow and
white bunch Primroses, whose history is in another chapter. And then I
learnt that there were such places (though then but few) as nurseries,
where such plants as I had been collecting in the cottage gardens, and
even better, were grown. And I went to Osborne's at Fulham (now all
built over), and there saw the original tree of the fine Ilex known as
the Fulham Oak, and several spring-flowering bulbs I had never seen
before, and what I felt sure were numbers of desirable summer-flowering
plants, but not then in bloom. Soon after this I began to learn
something about Daffodils, and enjoyed much kind help from Mr. Barr,
visiting his nursery (then at Tooting) several times, and sometimes
combining a visit to Parker's nursery just over the way, a perfect
paradise of good hardy plants. I shall never forget my first sight
here of the Cape Pondweed (_Aponogeton distachyon_) in full flower and
great vigour in the dipping tanks, and overflowing from them into the
ditches.

Also I was delighted to see the use as labels of old wheel-spokes. I
could not help feeling that if one had been a spoke of a cab-wheel, and
had passed all one's working life in being whirled and clattered over
London pavements, defiled with street mud, how pleasant a way to end
one's days was this; to have one's felloe end pointed and dipped in nice
wholesome rot-resisting gas-tar and thrust into the quiet cool earth,
and one's nave end smoothed and painted and inscribed with some such
soothing legend as _Vinca minor_ or _Dianthus fragrans_!

Later I made acquaintance with several of the leading amateur and
professional gardeners, and with Mr. Robinson, and to their good
comradeship and kindly willingness to let me "pick their brains" I owe a
great advance in garden lore. Moreover, what began by the drawing
together of a common interest has grown into a still greater benefit,
for several acquaintances so made have ripened into steady and
much-valued friendships. It has been a great interest to me to have had
the privilege of watching the gradual growth, through its several
editions, of Mr. Robinson's "English Flower-Garden," the one best and
most helpful book of all for those who want to know about hardy flowers,
offering as it does in the clearest and easiest way a knowledge of the
garden-treasures of the temperate world. No one who has not had
occasional glimpses behind the scenes can know how much labour and
thought such a book represents, to say nothing of research and practical
experiment, and of the trouble and great expense of producing the large
amount of pictorial illustration. Another book, though on quite
different lines, that I find most useful is Mr. Nicholson's "Illustrated
Dictionary of Gardening," in eight handy volumes. It covers much the
same ground as the useful old Johnson's "Gardener's Dictionary," but is
much more complete and comprehensive, and is copiously illustrated with
excellent wood-cuts. It is the work of a careful and learned botanist,
treating of all plants desirable for cultivation from all climates, and
teaching all branches of practical horticulture and such useful matters
as means of dealing with insect pests. The old "Johnson" is still a
capital book in one volume; mine is rather out of date, being the
edition of 1875, but it has been lately revised and improved. It would
be delightful to possess, or to have easy access to, a good botanical
library; still, for all the purposes of the average garden lover, these
books will suffice.

I think it is desirable, when a certain degree of knowledge of plants
and facility of dealing with them has been acquired, to get hold of a
clear idea of what one most wishes to do. The scope of the subject is so
wide, and there are so many ways to choose from, that having one general
idea helps one to concentrate thought and effort that would otherwise
be wasted by being diluted and dribbled through too many probable
channels of waste.

Ever since it came to me to feel some little grasp of knowledge of means
and methods, I have found that my greatest pleasure, both in garden and
woodland, has been in the enjoyment of beauty of a pictorial kind.
Whether the picture be large as of a whole landscape, or of lesser
extent as in some fine single group or effect, or within the space of
only a few inches as may be seen in some happily-disposed planting of
Alpines, the intention is always the same; or whether it is the grouping
of trees in the wood by the removal of those whose lines are not wanted
in the picture, or in the laying out of broad grassy ways in woody
places, or by ever so slight a turn or change of direction in a wood
path, or in the alteration of some arrangement of related groups for
form or for massing of light and shade, or for any of the many local
conditions that guide one towards forming a decision, the intention is
still always the same--to try and make a beautiful garden-picture. And
little as I can as yet boast of being able to show anything like the
number of these I could wish, yet during the flower-year there is
generally something that at least in part answers to the effort.

I do not presume to urge the acceptance of my own particular form of
pleasure in a garden on those to whom, from different temperament or
manner of education, it would be unwelcome; I only speak of what I
feel, and to a certain degree understand; but I had the advantage in
earlier life of some amount of training in appreciation of the fine
arts, and this, working upon an inborn feeling of reverent devotion to
things of the highest beauty in the works of God, has helped me to an
understanding of their divinely-inspired interpretations by the noblest
minds of men, into those other forms that we know as works of fine art.

And so it comes about that those of us who feel and understand in this
way do not exactly attempt to imitate Nature in our gardens, but try to
become well acquainted with her moods and ways, and then discriminate in
our borrowing, and so interpret her methods as best we may to the making
of our garden-pictures.

I have always had great delight in the study of colour, as the word is
understood by artists, which again is not a positive matter, but one of
relation and proportion. And when one hears the common chatter about
"artistic colours," one receives an unpleasant impression about the
education and good taste of the speaker; and one is reminded of an old
saying which treats of the unwisdom of rushing in "where angels fear to
tread," and of regret that a good word should be degraded by misuse. It
may be safely said that no colour can be called artistic in itself; for,
in the first place, it is bad English, and in the second, it is
nonsense. Even if the first objection were waived, and the second
condoned, it could only be used in a secondary sense, as signifying
something that is useful and suitable and right in its place. In this
limited sense the scarlet of the soldier's coat, and of the pillar-box
and mail-cart, and the bright colours of flags, or of the port and
starboard lights of ships, might be said to be just so far "artistic"
(again if grammar would allow), as they are right and good in their
places. But then those who use the word in the usual ignorant, random
way have not even this simple conception of its meaning. Those who know
nothing about colour in the more refined sense (and like a knowledge of
everything else it wants learning) get no farther than to enjoy it only
when most crude and garish--when, as George Herbert says, it "bids the
rash gazer wipe his eye," or when there is some violent opposition of
complementary colour--forgetting, or not knowing, that though in detail
the objects brought together may make each other appear brighter, yet in
the mass, and especially when mixed up, the one actually neutralises the
other. And they have no idea of using the colour of flowers as precious
jewels in a setting of quiet environment, or of suiting the colour of
flowering groups to that of the neighbouring foliage, thereby enhancing
the value of both, or of massing related or harmonious colourings so as
to lead up to the most powerful and brilliant effects; and yet all these
are just the ways of employing colour to the best advantage.

But the most frequent fault, whether in composition or in colour, is the
attempt to crowd too much into the picture; the simpler effect obtained
by means of temperate and wise restraint is always the more telling.



CHAPTER XVI

THE FLOWER-BORDER AND PERGOLA

The flower-border -- The wall and its occupants -- _Choisya ternata_ --
Nandina -- Canon Ellacombe's garden -- Treatment of colour-masses --
Arrangement of plants in the border -- Dahlias and Cannas -- Covering
bare places -- The pergola -- How made -- Suitable climbers -- Arbours
of trained Planes -- Garden houses.


I have a rather large "mixed border of hardy flowers." It is not quite
so hopelessly mixed as one generally sees, and the flowers are not all
hardy; but as it is a thing everybody rightly expects, and as I have
been for a good many years trying to puzzle out its wants and ways, I
will try and describe my own and its surroundings.

There is a sandstone wall of pleasant colour at the back, nearly eleven
feet high. This wall is an important feature in the garden, as it is the
dividing line between the pleasure garden and the working garden; also,
it shelters the pleasure garden from the sweeping blasts of wind from
the north-west, to which my ground is much exposed, as it is all on a
gentle slope, going downward towards the north. At the foot of the wall
is a narrow border three feet six inches wide, and then a narrow alley,
not a made path, but just a way to go along for tending the wall
shrubs, and for getting at the back of the border. This little alley
does not show from the front. Then the main border, fourteen feet wide
and two hundred feet long. About three-quarters of the way along a path
cuts through the border, and passes by an arched gateway in the wall to
the Pæony garden and the working garden beyond. Just here I thought it
would be well to mound up the border a little, and plant with groups of
Yuccas, so that at all times of the year there should be something to
make a handsome full-stop to the sections of the border, and to glorify
the doorway. The two extreme ends of the border are treated in the same
way with Yuccas on rather lesser mounds, only leaving space beyond them
for the entrance to the little alley at the back.

[Illustration: A FLOWER-BORDER IN JUNE.]

The wall and border face two points to the east of south, or, as a
sailor would say, south-south-east, half-way between south and
south-east. In front of the border runs a path seven feet wide, and
where the border stops at the eastern end it still runs on another sixty
feet, under the pergola, to the open end of a summer-house. The wall at
its western end returns forward, square with its length, and hides out
greenhouses, sheds, and garden yard. The path in front of the border
passes through an arch into this yard, but there is no view into the
yard, as it is blocked by some Yews planted in a quarter-circle.

Though wall-space is always precious, I thought it better to block out
this shorter piece of return wall on the garden side with a hedge of
Yews. They are now nearly the height of the wall, and will be allowed to
grow a little higher, and will eventually be cut into an arch over the
arch in the wall. I wanted the sombre duskiness of the Yews as a rich,
quiet background for the brightness of the flowers, though they are
rather disappointing in May and June, when their young shoots are of a
bright and lively green. At the eastern end of the border there is no
return wall, but another planting of Yews equal to the depth of the
border. Notched into them is a stone seat about ten feet long; as they
grow they will be clipped so as to make an arching hood over the seat.

The wall is covered with climbers, or with non-climbing shrubs treated
as wall-plants. They do not all want the wall for warmth or protection,
but are there because I want them there; because, thinking over what
things would look best and give me the greatest pleasure, these came
among them. All the same, the larger number of the plants on the wall do
want it, and would not do without it. At the western end, the only part
which is in shade for the greater part of the day, is a _Garrya
elliptica_. So many of my garden friends like a quiet journey along the
wall to see what is there, that I propose to do the like by my reader;
so first for the wall, and then for the border. Beyond the _Garrya_, in
the extreme angle, is a _Clematis montana_. When the _Garrya_ is more
grown there will not be much room left for the Clematis, but then it
will have become bare below, and can ramble over the wall on the north
side, and, in any case, it is a plant with a not very long lifetime, and
will be nearly or quite worn out before its root-space is reached or
wanted by its neighbours. Next on the wall is the beautiful Rose Acacia
(_Robinia hispida_). It is perfectly hardy, but the wood is so brittle
that it breaks off short with the slightest weight of wind or snow or
rain. I never could understand why a hardy shrub was created so brittle,
or how it behaves in its native place. I look in my "Nicholson," and see
that it comes from North America. Now, North America is a large place,
and there may be in it favoured spots where there is no snow, and only
the very gentlest rain, and so well sheltered that the wind only blows
in faintest breaths; and to judge by its behaviour in our gardens, all
these conditions are necessary for its well-being. This troublesome
quality of brittleness no doubt accounts for its being so seldom seen in
gardens. I began to think it hopeless when, after three plantings in the
open, it was again wrecked, but at last had the happy idea of training
it on a wall. Even there, though it is looked over and tied in twice a
year, a branch or two often gets broken. But I do not regret having
given it the space, as the wall could hardly have had a better ornament,
so beautiful are its rosy flower-clusters and pale-green leaves. As it
inclines to be leggy below, I have trained a Crimson Rambler Rose over
the lower part, tying it in to any bare places in the _Robinia_.

[Illustration: PATHWAY ACROSS THE SOUTH BORDER IN JULY.]

[Illustration: OUTSIDE VIEW OF THE BRICK PERGOLA SHOWN AT PAGE 214,
AFTER SIX YEARS' GROWTH.]

Next along the wall is _Solanum crispum_, much to be recommended in our
southern counties. It covers a good space of wall, and every year shoots
up some feet above it; indeed it is such a lively grower that it has to
endure a severe yearly pruning. Every season it is smothered with its
pretty clusters of potato-shaped bloom of a good bluish-lilac colour.
After these I wanted some solid-looking dark evergreens, so there is a
Loquat, with its splendid foliage equalling that of _Magnolia
grandiflora_, and then Black Laurustinus, Bay, and Japan Privet; and
from among this dark-leaved company shoots up the tender green of a
Banksian Rose, grown from seed of the single kind, the gift of my kind
friend Commendatore Hanbury, whose world-famed garden of La Mortola,
near Ventimiglia, probably contains the most remarkable collection of
plants and shrubs that have ever been brought together by one man. This
Rose has made good growth, and a first few flowers last year--seedling
Roses are slow to bloom--lead me to expect a good show next season.

In the narrow border at the foot of the wall is a bush of _Raphiolepis
ovata_, always to me an interesting shrub, with its thick, roundish,
leathery leaves and white flower-clusters, also bushes of Rosemary, some
just filling the border, and some trained up the wall. Our Tudor
ancestors were fond of Rosemary-covered walls, and I have seen old
bushes quite ten feet high on the garden walls of Italian monasteries.
Among the Rosemaries I always like, if possible, to "tickle in" a China
Rose or two, the tender pink of the Rose seems to go so well with the
dark but dull-surfaced Rosemary. Then still in the wall-border comes a
long straggling mass of that very pretty and interesting herbaceous
Clematis, _C. Davidiana_. The colour of its flower always delights me;
it is of an unusual kind of greyish-blue, of very tender and lovely
quality. It does well in this warm border, growing about three feet
high. Then on the wall come _Pyrus Maulei_ and _Chimonanthus_,
Claret-Vine, and the large-flowered _Ceanothus_ Gloire de Versailles,
hardy _Fuchsia_, and _Magnolia Soulangeana_, ending with a big bush of
_Choisya ternata_, and rambling above it a very fine kind of _Bignonia
grandiflora_.

Then comes the archway, flanked by thick buttresses. A Choisya was
planted just beyond each of these, but it has grown wide and high,
spreading across the face of the buttress on each side, and considerably
invading the pathway. There is no better shrub here than this delightful
Mexican plant; its long whippy roots ramble through our light soil with
every sign of enjoyment; it always looks clean and healthy and well
dressed, and as for its lovely and deliciously sweet flowers, we cut
them by the bushel, and almost by the faggot, and the bushes scarcely
look any the emptier.

Beyond the archway comes the shorter length of wall and border. For
convenience I planted all slightly tender things together on this bit of
wall and border; then we make one job of covering the whole with
fir-boughs for protection in winter. On the wall are _Piptanthus
nepalensis_, _Cistus ladaniferus_, _Edwardsia grandiflora_, and another
Loquat, and in the border a number of Hydrangeas, _Clerodendron
foetidum_, _Crinums_, and _Nandina domestica_, the Chinese so-called
sacred Bamboo. It is not a Bamboo at all, but allied to _Berberis_; the
Chinese plant it for good luck near their houses. If it is as lucky as
it is pretty, it ought to do one good! I first made acquaintance with
this beautiful plant in Canon Ellacombe's most interesting garden at
Bitton, in Gloucestershire, where it struck me as one of the most
beautiful growing things I had ever seen, the beauty being mostly in the
form and colouring of the leaves. It is not perhaps a plant for
everybody, and barely hardly; it seems slow to get hold, and its full
beauty only shows when it is well established, and throws up its
wonderfully-coloured leaves on tall bamboo-like stalks.

There is nothing much more difficult to do in outdoor gardening than to
plant a mixed border well, and to keep it in beauty throughout the
summer. Every year, as I gain more experience, and, I hope, more power
of critical judgment, I find myself tending towards broader and simpler
effects, both of grouping and colour. I do not know whether it is by
individual preference, or in obedience to some colour-law that I can
instinctively feel but cannot pretend even to understand, and much less
to explain, but in practice I always find more satisfaction and facility
in treating the warm colours (reds and yellows) in graduated harmonies,
culminating into gorgeousness, and the cool ones in contrasts;
especially in the case of blue, which I like to use either in distinct
but not garish contrasts, as of full blue with pale yellow, or in
separate cloud-like harmonies, as of lilac and pale purple with grey
foliage. I am never so much inclined to treat the blues, purples, and
lilacs in gradations together as I am the reds and yellows. Purples and
lilacs I can put together, but not these with blues; and the pure blues
always seem to demand peculiar and very careful treatment.

The western end of the flower-border begins with the low bank of Yuccas,
then there are some rather large masses of important grey and glaucous
foliage and pale and full pink flower. The foliage is mostly of the
Globe Artichoke, and nearer the front of _Artemisia_ and _Cineraria
maritima_. Among this, pink Canterbury Bell, Hollyhock, Phlox,
Gladiolus, and Japan Anemone, all in pink colourings, will follow one
another in due succession. Then come some groups of plants bearing
whitish and very pale flowers, _Polygonum compactum_, _Aconitum
lycoctonum_, Double Meadowsweet, and other Spiræas, and then the colour
passes to pale yellow of Mulleins, and with them the palest blue
Delphiniums. Towards the front is a wide planting of _Iris pallida
dalmatica_, its handsome bluish foliage showing as outstanding and yet
related masses with regard to the first large group of pale foliage.
Then comes the pale-yellow _Iris flavescens_, and meanwhile the group
of Delphinium deepens into those of a fuller blue colour, though none of
the darkest are here. Then more pale yellow of Mullein, Thalictrum, and
Paris Daisy, and so the colour passes to stronger yellows. These change
into orange, and from that to brightest scarlet and crimson, coming to
the fullest strength in the Oriental Poppies of the earlier year, and
later in Lychnis, Gladiolus, Scarlet Dahlia, and Tritoma. The
colour-scheme then passes again through orange and yellow to the paler
yellows, and so again to blue and warm white, where it meets one of the
clumps of Yuccas flanking the path that divides this longer part of the
border from the much shorter piece beyond. This simple procession of
colour arrangement has occupied a space of a hundred and sixty feet, and
the border is all the better for it.

The short length of border beyond the gateway has again Yuccas and
important pale foliage, and a preponderance of pink bloom, Hydrangea for
the most part; but there are a few tall Mulleins, whose pale-yellow
flowers group well with the ivory of the Yucca spikes and the clear pink
of the tall Hollyhocks. These all show up well over the masses of grey
and glaucous foliage, and against the rich darkness of dusky Yew.

Dahlias and Cannas have their places in the mixed border. When it is
being dismantled in the late autumn all bare places are well dug and
enriched, so that when it comes to filling-up time, at the end of May, I
know that every spare bit of space is ready and at the time of
preparation I mark places for special Dahlias, according to colour, and
for groups of the tall Cannas where I want grand foliage.

There are certain classes of plants that are quite indispensable, but
that leave a bare or shabby-looking place when their bloom is over. How
to cover these places is one of the problems that have to be solved. The
worst offender is Oriental Poppy; it becomes unsightly soon after
blooming, and is quite gone by midsummer. I therefore plant _Gypsophila
paniculata_ between and behind the Poppy groups, and by July there is a
delicate cloud of bloom instead of large bare patches. _Eryngium
Oliverianum_ has turned brown by the beginning of July, but around the
group some Dahlias have been planted, that will be gradually trained
down over the space of the departed Sea-Holly, and other Dahlias are
used in the same way to mask various weak places.

There is a perennial Sunflower, with tall black stems, and pale-yellow
flowers quite at the top, an old garden sort, but not very good as
usually grown; this I find of great value to train down, when it throws
up a short flowering stem from each joint, and becomes a spreading sheet
of bloom.

One would rather not have to resort to these artifices of sticking and
training; but if a certain effect is wanted, all such means are lawful,
provided that nothing looks stiff or strained or unsightly; and it is
pleasant to exercise ingenuity and to invent ways to meet the needs of
any case that may arise. But like everything else, in good gardening it
must be done just right, and the artist-gardener finds that hardly the
placing of a single plant can be deputed to any other hand than his own;
for though, when it is done, it looks quite simple and easy, he must
paint his own picture himself--no one can paint it for him.

I have no dogmatic views about having in the so-called hardy
flower-border none but hardy flowers. All flowers are welcome that are
right in colour, and that make a brave show where a brave show is
wanted. It is of more importance that the border should be handsome than
that all its occupants should be hardy. Therefore I prepare a certain
useful lot of half-hardy annuals, and a few of what have come to be
called bedding-plants. I like to vary them a little from year to year,
because in no one season can I get in all the good flowers that I should
like to grow; and I think it better to leave out some one year and have
them the next, than to crowd any up, or to find I have plants to put out
and no space to put them in. But I nearly always grow these half-hardy
annuals; orange African Marigold, French Marigold, sulphur Sunflower,
orange and scarlet tall Zinnia, Nasturtiums, both dwarf and trailing,
_Nicotiana affinis_, Maize, and Salpiglossis. Then Stocks and China
Asters. The Stocks are always the large white and flesh-coloured summer
kinds, and the Asters, the White Comet, and one of the blood-red or
so-called scarlet sorts.

Then I have yellow Paris Daisies, _Salvia patens_, Heliotrope,
_Calceolaria amplexicaulis_, Geraniums, scarlet and salmon-coloured and
ivy-leaved kinds, the best of these being the pink Madame Crousse.

[Illustration: END OF FLOWER-BORDER AND ENTRANCE OF PERGOLA.]

[Illustration: SOUTH BORDER DOOR AND YUCCAS IN AUGUST.]

The front edges of the border are also treated in rather a large way. At
the shadier end there is first a long straggling bordering patch of
_Anemone sylvestris_. When it is once above ground the foliage remains
good till autumn, while its soft white flower comes right with the
colour of the flowers behind. Then comes a long and large patch of the
larger kind of _Megasea cordifolia_, several yards in length, and
running back here and there among taller plants. I am never tired of
admiring the fine solid foliage of this family of plants, remaining, as
it does, in beauty both winter and summer, and taking on a splendid
winter colouring of warm red bronze. It is true that the flowers of the
two best-known kinds, _M. cordifolia_ and _M. crassifolia_, are
coarse-looking blooms of a strong and rank quality of pink colour, but
the persistent beauty of the leaves more than compensates; and in the
rather tenderer kind, _M. ligulata_ and its varieties, the colour of the
flower is delightful, of a delicate good pink, with almost scarlet
stalks. There is nothing flimsy or temporary-looking about the Megaseas,
but rather a sort of grave and monumental look that specially fits them
for association with masonry, or for any place where a solid-looking
edging or full-stop is wanted. To go back to those in the edge of the
border: if the edging threatens to look too dark and hard, I plant
among or just behind the plants that compose it, pink or scarlet Ivy
Geranium or trailing Nasturtium, according to the colour demanded by the
neighbouring group. _Heuchera Richardsoni_ is another good front-edge
plant; and when we come to the blue and pale-yellow group there is a
planting of _Funkia grandiflora_, whose fresh-looking pale-green leaves
are delightful with the brilliant light yellow of _Calceolaria
amplexicaulis_, and the farther-back planting of pale-blue Delphinium,
Mullein, and sulphur Sunflower; while the same colour of foliage is
repeated in the fresh green of the Indian Corn. Small spaces occur here
and there along the extreme front edge, and here are planted little
jewels of colour, of blue Lobelia, or dwarf Nasturtium, or anything of
the colour that the place demands.

The whole thing sounds much more elaborate than it really is; the
trained eye sees what is wanted, and the trained hand does it, both by
an acquired instinct. It is painting a picture with living plants.

I much enjoy the pergola at the end of the sunny path. It is pleasant
while walking in full sunshine, and when that sunny place feels just a
little too hot, to look into its cool depth, and to feel that one has
only to go a few steps farther to be in shade, and to feel that little
air of wind that the moving summer clouds say is not far off, and is
only unfelt just here because it is stopped by the wall. It feels
wonderfully dark at first, this gallery of cool greenery, passing into
it with one's eyes full of light and colour, and the open-sided
summer-house at the end looks like a black cavern; but on going into it,
and sitting down on one of its broad, low benches, one finds that it is
a pleasant subdued light, just right to read by.

The pergola has two openings out of it on the right, and one on the
left. The first way out on the right is straight into the nut-walk,
which leads up to very near the house. The second goes up two or three
low, broad steps made of natural sandstone flags, between groups of
Ferns, into the Michaelmas Daisy garden. The opening on the left leads
into a quiet space of grass the width of the flower and wall border
(twenty feet), having only some peat-beds planted with Kalmia. This is
backed by a Yew hedge in continuation of the main wall, and it will soon
grow into a cool, quiet bit of garden, seeming to belong to the pergola.
Now, standing midway in the length of the covered walk, with the eye
rested and refreshed by the leafy half-light, on turning round again
towards the border it shows as a brilliant picture through the bowery
framing, and the value of the simple method of using the colours is seen
to full advantage.

I do not like a mean pergola, made of stuff as thin as hop-poles. If
means or materials do not admit of having anything better, it is far
better to use these in some other simple way, of which there are many to
choose from--such as uprights at even intervals, braced together with a
continuous rail at about four feet from the ground, and another rail
just clear of the ground, and some simple trellis of the smaller stuff
between these two rails. This is always pretty at the back of a
flower-border in any modest garden. But a pergola should be more
seriously treated, and the piers at any rate should be of something
rather large--either oak stems ten inches thick, or, better still, of
fourteen-inch brickwork painted with lime-wash to a quiet stone-colour.
In Italy the piers are often of rubble masonry, either round or square
in section, coated with very coarse plaster, and lime-washed white. For
a pergola of moderate size the piers should stand in pairs across the
path, with eight feet clear between. Ten feet from pier to pier along
the path is a good proportion, or anything from eight to ten feet, and
they should stand seven feet two inches out of the ground. Each pair
should be tied across the top with a strong beam of oak, either of the
natural shape, or roughly adzed on the four faces; but in any case, the
ends of the beams, where they rest on the top of the piers, should be
adzed flat to give them a firm seat. If the beams are slightly curved or
cambered, as most trunks of oak are, so much the better, but they must
always be placed camber side up. The pieces that run along the top, with
the length of the path, may be of any branching tops of oak, or of larch
poles. These can easily be replaced as they decay; but the replacing of
a beam is a more difficult matter, so that it is well to let them be
fairly durable from the beginning.

[Illustration: STONE-BUILT PERGOLA WITH WROUGHT OAK BEAMS.]

[Illustration: PERGOLA WITH BRICK PIERS AND BEAMS OF ROUGH OAK. (_See
opposite page 202._)]

The climbers I find best for covering the pergola are Vines, Jasmine,
Aristolochia, Virginia Creeper, and Wistaria. Roses are about the worst,
for they soon run up leggy, and only flower at the top out of sight.

A sensible arrangement, allied to the pergola, and frequent in Germany
and Switzerland, is made by planting young Planes, pollarding them at
about eight feet from the ground, and training down the young growths
horizontally till they have covered the desired roof-space.

There is much to be done in our better-class gardens in the way of
pretty small structures thoroughly well-designed and built. Many a large
lawn used every afternoon in summer as a family playground and place to
receive visitors would have its comfort and usefulness greatly increased
by a pretty garden-house, instead of the usual hot and ugly, crampy and
uncomfortable tent. But it should be thoroughly well designed to suit
the house and garden. A pigeon-cote would come well in the upper part,
and the face or faces open to the lawn might be closed in winter with
movable shutters, when it would make a useful store-place for garden
seats and much else.



CHAPTER XVII

THE PRIMROSE GARDEN


It must be some five-and-twenty years ago that I began to work at what I
may now call my own strain of Primroses, improving it a little every
year by careful selection of the best for seed. The parents of the
strain were a named kind, called Golden Plover, and a white one, without
name, that I found in a cottage garden. I had also a dozen plants about
eight or nine years ago from a strong strain of Mr. Anthony Waterer's
that was running on nearly the same lines; but a year later, when I had
flowered them side by side, I liked my own one rather the best, and Mr.
Waterer, seeing them soon after, approved of them so much that he took
some to work with his own. I hold Mr. Waterer's strain in great
admiration, and, though I tried for a good many years, never could come
near him in red colourings. But as my own taste favoured the
delicately-shaded flowers, and the ones most liked in the nursery seemed
to be those with strongly contrasting eye, it is likely that the two
strains may be working still farther apart.

They are, broadly speaking, white and yellow varieties of the strong
bunch-flowered or Polyanthus kind, but they vary in detail so much, in
form, colour, habit, arrangement, and size of eye and shape of edge,
that one year thinking it might be useful to classify them I tried to do
so, but gave it up after writing out the characters of sixty classes!
Their possible variation seems endless. Every year among the seedlings
there appear a number of charming flowers with some new development of
size, or colour of flower, or beauty of foliage, and yet all within the
narrow bounds of--white and yellow Primroses.

[Illustration: EVENING IN THE PRIMROSE GARDEN.]

Their time of flowering is much later than that of the true or
single-stalked Primrose. They come into bloom early in April, though a
certain number of poorly-developed flowers generally come much earlier,
and they are at their best in the last two weeks of April and the first
days of May. When the bloom wanes, and is nearly overtopped by the
leaves, the time has come that I find best for dividing and replanting.
The plants then seem willing to divide, some almost falling apart in
one's hands, and the new roots may be seen just beginning to form at the
base of the crown. The plants are at the same time relieved of the
crowded mass of flower-stem, and, therefore, of the exhausting effort of
forming seed, a severe drain on their strength. A certain number will
not have made more than one strong crown, and a few single-crown plants
have not flowered; these, of course, do not divide. During the flowering
time I keep a good look-out for those that I judge to be the most
beautiful and desirable, and mark them for seed. These are also taken
up, but are kept apart, the flower stems reduced to one or two of the
most promising, and they are then planted in a separate place--some cool
nursery corner. I find that the lifting and replanting in no way checks
the growth or well-being of the seed-pods.

I remember some years ago a warm discussion in the gardening papers
about the right time to sow the seed. Some gardeners of high standing
were strongly for sowing it as soon as ripe, while others equally
trustworthy advised holding it over till March. I have tried both ways,
and have satisfied myself that it is a matter for experiment and
decision in individual gardens. As nearly as I can make out, it is well
in heavy soils to sow when ripe, and in light ones to wait till March.
In some heavy soils Primroses stand well for two years without division;
whereas in light ones, such as mine, they take up the food within reach
in a much shorter time, so that by the second year the plant has become
a crowded mass of weak crowns that only throw up poor flowers, and are
by then so much exhausted that they are not worth dividing afterwards.
In my own case, having tried both ways, I find the March sown ones much
the best.

The seed is sown in boxes in cold frames, and pricked out again into
boxes when large enough to handle. The seedlings are planted out in
June, when they seem to go on without any check whatever, and are just
right for blooming next spring.

The Primrose garden is in a place by itself--a clearing half shaded by
Oak, Chestnut, and Hazel. I always think of the Hazel as a kind nurse to
Primroses; in the copses they generally grow together, and the finest
Primrose plants are often nestled close in to the base of the nut-stool.
Three paths run through the Primrose garden, mere narrow tracks between
the beds, converging at both ends, something like the lines of longitude
on a globe, the ground widening in the middle where there are two
good-sized Oaks, and coming to a blunt point at each end, the only other
planting near it being two other long-shaped strips of Lily of the
Valley.

Every year, before replanting, the Primrose ground is dug over and well
manured. All day for two days I sit on a low stool dividing the plants;
a certain degree of facility and expertness has come of long practice.
The "rubber" for frequent knife-sharpening is in a pail of water by my
side; the lusciously fragrant heap of refuse leaf and flower-stem and
old stocky root rises in front of me, changing its shape from a heap to
a ridge, as when it comes to a certain height and bulk I back and back
away from it. A boy feeds me with armfuls of newly-dug-up plants, two
men are digging-in the cooling cow-dung at the farther end, and another
carries away the divided plants tray by tray, and carefully replants
them. The still air, with only the very gentlest south-westerly breath
in it, brings up the mighty boom of the great ship guns from the old
seaport, thirty miles away, and the pheasants answer to the sound as
they do to thunder. The early summer air is of a perfect temperature,
the soft coo of the wood-dove comes down from the near wood, the
nightingale sings almost overhead, but--either human happiness may never
be quite complete, or else one is not philosophic enough to contemn
life's lesser evils, for--oh, the midges!



CHAPTER XVIII

COLOURS OF FLOWERS


I am always surprised at the vague, not to say reckless, fashion in
which garden folk set to work to describe the colours of flowers, and at
the way in which quite wrong colours are attributed to them. It is done
in perfect good faith, and without the least consciousness of describing
wrongly. In many cases it appears to be because the names of certain
substances have been used conventionally or poetically to convey the
idea of certain colours. And some of these errors are so old that they
have acquired a kind of respectability, and are in a way accepted
without challenge. When they are used about familiar flowers it does not
occur to one to detect them, because one knows the flower and its true
colour; but when the same old error is used in the description of a new
flower, it is distinctly misleading. For instance, when we hear of
golden buttercups, we know that it means bright-yellow buttercups; but
in the case of a new flower, or one not generally known, surely it is
better and more accurate to say bright yellow at once. Nothing is more
frequent in plant catalogues than "bright golden yellow," when bright
yellow is meant. Gold is not bright yellow. I find that a gold piece
laid on a gravel path, or against a sandy bank, nearly matches it in
colour; and I cannot think of any flower that matches or even approaches
the true colour of gold, though something near it may be seen in the
pollen-covered anthers of many flowers. A match for gold may more nearly
be found among dying beech leaves, and some dark colours of straw or dry
grass bents, but none of these when they match the gold are bright
yellow. In literature it is quite another matter; when the poet or
imaginative writer says, "a field of golden buttercups," or "a golden
sunset," he is quite right, because he appeals to our artistic
perception, and in such case only uses the word as an image of something
that is rich and sumptuous and glowing.

The same irrelevance of comparison seems to run through all the colours.
Flowers of a full, bright-blue colour are often described as of a
"brilliant amethystine blue." Why amethystine? The amethyst, as we
generally see it, is a stone of a washy purple colour, and though there
are amethysts of a fine purple, they are not so often seen as the paler
ones, and I have never seen one even faintly approaching a really blue
colour. What, therefore, is the sense of likening a flower, such as a
Delphinium, which is really of a splendid pure-blue colour, to the
duller and totally different colour of a third-rate gem?

Another example of the same slip-slop is the term flame-coloured, and
it is often preceded by the word "gorgeous." This contradictory mixture
of terms is generally used to mean bright scarlet. When I look at a
flame, whether of fire or candle, I see that the colour is a rather pale
yellow, with a reddish tinge about its upper forks, and side wings often
of a bluish white--no scarlet anywhere. The nearest approach to red is
in the coals, not in the flame. In the case of the candle, the point of
the wick is faintly red when compared with the flame, but about the
flame there is no red whatever. A distant bonfire looks red at night,
but I take it that the apparent redness is from seeing the flames
through damp atmosphere, just as the harvest-moon looks red when it
rises.

And the strange thing is that in all these cases the likeness to the
unlike, and much less bright, colour is given with an air of conferring
the highest compliment on the flower in question. It is as if, wishing
to praise some flower of a beautiful blue, one called it a brilliant
slate-roof blue. This sounds absurd, because it is unfamiliar, but the
unsuitability of the comparison is scarcely greater than in the examples
just quoted.

It seems most reasonable in describing the colour of flowers to look out
for substances whose normal colour shows but little variation--such, for
example, as sulphur. The colour of sulphur is nearly always the same.
Citron, lemon, and canary are useful colour-names, indicating different
strengths of pure pale yellow, inclining towards a tinge of the palest
green. Gentian-blue is a useful word, bringing to mind the piercingly
powerful hue of the Gentianella. So also is turquoise-blue, for the
stone has little variety of shade, and the colour is always of the same
type. Forget-me-not blue is also a good word, meaning the colour of the
native water Forget-me-not. Sky-blue is a little vague, though it has
come by the "crystallising" force of usage to stand for a blue rather
pale than full, and not far from that of the Forget-me-not; indeed, I
seem to remember written passages in which the colours of flower and
firmament were used reciprocally, the one in describing the other.
Cobalt is a word sometimes used, but more often misused, for only
water-colour painters know just what it represents, and it is of little
use, as it so rarely occurs among flowers.

Crimson is a word to beware of; it covers such a wide extent of ground,
and is used so carelessly in plant-catalogues, that one cannot know
whether it stands for a rich blood colour or for a malignant magenta.
For the latter class of colour the term amaranth, so generally used in
French plant-lists, is extremely useful, both as a definition and a
warning. Salmon is an excellent colour-word, copper is also useful, the
two covering a limited range of beautiful colouring of the utmost value.
Blood-red is also accurately descriptive. Terra-cotta is useful but
indefinite, as it may mean anything between brick-red and buff.
Red-lead, if it would be accepted as a colour-word, would be useful,
denoting the shades of colour between the strongest orange and the
palest scarlet, frequent in the lightest of the Oriental Poppies. Amber
is a misleading word, for who is to know when it means the transparent
amber, whose colour approaches that of resin, or the pale, almost
opaque, dull-yellow kind. And what is meant by coral-red? It is the red
of the old-fashioned dull-scarlet coral, or of the pink kind more
recently in favour.

The terms bronze and smoke may well be used in their place, as in
describing or attempting to describe the wonderful colouring of such
flowers as Spanish Iris, and the varieties of Iris of the _squalens_
section. But often in describing a flower a reference to texture much
helps and strengthens the colour-word. I have often described the modest
little _Iris tuberosa_ as a flower made of green satin and black velvet.
The green portion is only slightly green, but is entirely green satin,
and the black of the velvet is barely black, but is quite
black-velvet-like. The texture of the flower of _Ornithogalum nutans_ is
silver satin, neither very silvery nor very satin-like, and yet so
nearly suggesting the texture of both that the words may well be used in
speaking of it. Indeed, texture plays so important a part in the
appearance of colour-surface, that one can hardly think of colour
without also thinking of texture. A piece of black satin and a piece of
black velvet may be woven of the same batch of material, but when the
satin is finished and the velvet cut, the appearance is often so
dissimilar that they may look quite different in colour. A working
painter is never happy if you give him an oil-colour pattern to match in
distemper; he must have it of the same texture, or he will not undertake
to get it like.

What a wonderful range of colouring there is in black alone to a trained
colour-eye! There is the dull brown-black of soot, and the velvety
brown-black of the bean-flower's blotch; to my own eye, I have never
found anything so entirely black in a natural product as the patch on
the lower petals of _Iris iberica_. Is it not Ruskin who says of
Velasquez, that there is more colour in his black than in many another
painter's whole palette? The blotch of the bean-flower appears black at
first, till you look at it close in the sunlight, and then you see its
rich velvety texture, so nearly like some of the brown-velvet markings
on butterflies' wings. And the same kind of rich colour and texture
occurs again on some of the tough flat half-round funguses, marked with
shaded rings, that grow out of old posts, and that I always enjoy as
lessons of lovely colour-harmony of grey and brown and black.

Much to be regretted is the disuse of the old word murrey, now only
employed in heraldry. It stands for a dull red-purple, such as appears
in the flower of the Virginian Allspice, and in the native
Hound's-tongue, and often in seedling Auriculas. A fine strong-growing
border Auricula was given to me by my valued friend the Curator of the
Trinity College Botanic Garden, Dublin, to which he had given the
excellently descriptive name, "Old Murrey."

Sage-green is a good colour-word, for, winter or summer, the sage-leaves
change but little. Olive-green is not so clear, though it has come by
use to stand for a brownish green, like the glass of a wine-bottle held
up to the light, but perhaps bottle-green is the better word. And it is
not clear what part or condition of the olive is meant, for the ripe
fruit is nearly black, and the tree in general, and the leaf in detail,
are of a cool-grey colour. Perhaps the colour-word is taken from the
colour of the unripe fruit pickled in brine, as we see them on the
table. Grass-green any one may understand, but I am always puzzled by
apple-green. Apples are of so many different greens, to say nothing of
red and yellow; and as for pea-green, I have no idea what it means.

I notice in plant-lists the most reckless and indiscriminate use of the
words purple, violet, mauve, lilac, and lavender, and as they are all
related, I think they should be used with the greater caution. I should
say that mauve and lilac cover the same ground; the word mauve came into
use within my recollection. It is French for mallow, and the flower of
the wild plant may stand as the type of what the word means. Lavender
stands for a colder or bluer range of pale purples, with an inclination
to grey; it is a useful word, because the whole colour of the flower
spike varies so little. Violet stands for the dark garden violet, and I
always think of the grand colour of _Iris reticulata_ as an example of a
rich violet-purple. But purple equally stands for this, and for many
shades redder.

Snow-white is very vague. There is nearly always so much blue about the
colour of snow, from its crystalline surface and partial transparency,
and the texture is so unlike that of any kind of flower, that the
comparison is scarcely permissible. I take it that the use of
"snow-white" is, like that of "golden-yellow," more symbolical than
descriptive, meaning any white that gives an impression of purity.
Nearly all white flowers are yellowish-white, and the comparatively few
that are bluish-white, such, for example, as _Omphalodes verna_, are of
a texture so different from snow that one cannot compare them at all. I
should say that most white flowers are near the colour of chalk; for
although the word chalky-white has been used in rather a contemptuous
way, the colour is really a very beautiful warm white, but by no means
an intense white. The flower that always looks to me the whitest is that
of _Iberis sempervirens_. The white is dead and hard, like a piece of
glazed stoneware, quite without play or variation, and hence
uninteresting.



CHAPTER XIX

THE SCENTS OF THE GARDEN


The sweet scents of a garden are by no means the least of its many
delights. Even January brings _Chimonanthus fragrans_, one of the
sweetest and strongest scented of the year's blooms--little
half-transparent yellowish bells on an otherwise naked-looking wall
shrub. They have no stalks, but if they are floated in a shallow dish of
water, they last well for several days, and give off a powerful
fragrance in a room.

During some of the warm days that nearly always come towards the end of
February, if one knows where to look in some sunny, sheltered corner of
a hazel copse, there will be sure to be some Primroses, and the first
scent of the year's first Primrose is no small pleasure. The garden
Primroses soon follow, and, meanwhile, in all open winter weather there
have been Czar Violets and _Iris stylosa_, with its delicate scent,
faintly violet-like, but with a dash of tulip. _Iris reticulata_ is also
sweet, with a still stronger perfume of the violet character. But of all
Irises I know, the sweetest to smell is a later blooming one, _I.
graminea_. Its small purple flowers are almost hidden among the thick
mass of grassy foliage which rises high above the bloom; but they are
worth looking for, for the sake of the sweet and rather penetrating
scent, which is exactly like that of a perfectly-ripened plum.

All the scented flowers of the Primrose tribe are delightful--Primrose,
Polyanthus, Auricula, Cowslip. The actual sweetness is most apparent in
the Cowslip; in the Auricula it has a pungency, and at the same time a
kind of veiled mystery, that accords with the clouded and
curiously-blended colourings of many of the flowers.

Sweetbriar is one of the strongest of the year's early scents, and
closely following is the woodland incense of the Larch, both freely
given off and far-wafted, as is also that of the hardy Daphnes. The
first quarter of the year also brings the bloom of most of the deciduous
Magnolias, all with a fragrance nearly allied to that of the large one
that blooms late in summer, but not so strong and heavy.

The sweetness of a sun-baked bank of Wallflower belongs to April.
Daffodils, lovely as they are, must be classed among flowers of rather
rank smell, and yet it is welcome, for it means spring-time, with its
own charm and its glad promise of the wealth of summer bloom that is
soon to come. The scent of the Jonquil, Poeticus, and Polyanthus
sections are best, Jonquil perhaps best of all, for it is without the
rather coarse scent of the Trumpets and Nonsuch, and also escapes the
penetrating lusciousness of _poeticus_ and _tazetta_, which in the
south of Europe is exaggerated in the case of _tazetta_ into something
distinctly unpleasant.

What a delicate refinement there is in the scent of the wild
Wood-Violet; it is never overdone. It seems to me to be quite the best
of all the violet-scents, just because of its temperate quality. It
gives exactly enough, and never that perhaps-just-a-trifle-too-much that
may often be noticed about a bunch of frame-Violets, and that also in
the south is intensified to a degree that is distinctly undesirable. For
just as colour may be strengthened to a painful glare, and sound may be
magnified to a torture, so even a sweet scent may pass its appointed
bounds and become an overpoweringly evil smell. Even in England several
of the Lilies, whose smell is delicious in open-air wafts, cannot be
borne in a room. In the south of Europe a Tuberose cannot be brought
indoors, and even at home I remember one warm wet August how a plant of
Balm of Gilead (_Cedronella triphylla_) had its always powerful but
usually agreeably aromatic smell so much exaggerated that it smelt
exactly like coal-gas! A brother in Jamaica writes of the large white
Jasmine: "It does not do to bring it indoors here; the scent is too
strong. One day I thought there was a dead rat under the floor (a thing
which did happen once), and behold, it was a glassful of fresh white
Jasmine that was the offender!"

While on this less pleasant part of the subject, I cannot help thinking
of the horrible smell of the Dragon Arum; and yet how fitting an
accompaniment it is to the plant, for if ever there was a plant that
looked wicked and repellent, it is this; and yet, like Medusa, it has
its own kind of fearful beauty. In this family the smell seems to
accompany the appearance, and to diminish in unpleasantness as the
flower increases in amiability; for in our native wild Arum the smell,
though not exactly nice, is quite innocuous, and in the beautiful white
Arum or _Calla_ of our greenhouses there is as little scent as a flower
can well have, especially one of such large dimensions. In Fungi the bad
smell is nearly always an indication of poisonous nature, so that it
would seem to be given as a warning. But it has always been a matter of
wonder to me why the root of the harmless and friendly Laurustinus
should have been given a particularly odious smell--a smell I would
rather not attempt to describe. On moist warmish days in mid-seasons I
have sometimes had a whiff of the same unpleasantness from the bushes
themselves; others of the same tribe have it in a much lesser degree.
There is a curious smell about the yellow roots of Berberis, not exactly
nasty, and a strong odour, not really offensive, but that I personally
dislike, about the root of _Chrysanthemum maximum_. On the other hand, I
always enjoy digging up, dividing, and replanting the _Asarums_, both
the common European and the American kinds; their roots have a pleasant
and most interesting smell, a good deal like mild pepper and ginger
mixed, but more strongly aromatic. The same class of smell, but much
fainter, and always reminding me of very good and delicate pepper, I
enjoy in the flowers of the perennial Lupines. The only other hardy
flowers I can think of whose smell is distinctly offensive are _Lilium
pyrenaicum_, smelling like a mangy dog, and some of the _Schizanthus_,
that are redolent of dirty hen-house.

There is a class of scent that, though it can neither be called sweet
nor aromatic, is decidedly pleasing and interesting. Such is that of
Bracken and other Fern-fronds, Ivy-leaves, Box-bushes, Vine-blossom,
Elder-flowers, and Fig-leaves. There are the sweet scents that are
wholly delightful--most of the Roses, Honeysuckle, Primrose, Cowslip,
Mignonette, Pink, Carnation, Heliotrope, Lily of the Valley, and a host
of others; then there is a class of scent that is intensely powerful,
and gives an impression almost of intemperance or voluptuousness, such
as Magnolia, Tuberose, Gardenia, Stephanotis, and Jasmine; it is strange
that these all have white flowers of thick leathery texture. In
strongest contrast to these are the sweet, wholesome, wind-wafted scents
of clover-field, of bean-field, and of new-mown hay, and the soft
honey-scent of sun-baked heather, and of a buttercup meadow in April.
Still more delicious is the wind-swept sweetness of a wood of Larch or
of Scotch Fir, and the delicate perfume of young-leaved Birch, or the
heavier scent of the flowering Lime. Out on the moorlands, besides the
sweet heather-scent, is that of flowering Broom and Gorse and of the
Bracken, so like the first smell of the sea as you come near it after a
long absence.

How curiously scents of flowers and leaves fall into classes--often one
comes upon related smells running into one another in not necessarily
related plants. There is a kind of scent that I sometimes meet with,
about clumps of Brambles, a little like the waft of a Fir wood; it
occurs again (quite naturally) in the first taste of blackberry jam, and
then turns up again in Sweet Sultan. It is allied to the smell of the
dying Strawberry leaves.

The smell of the Primrose occurs again in a much stronger and ranker
form in the root-stock, and the same thing happens with the Violets and
Pansies; in Violets the plant-smell is pleasant, though without the high
perfume of the flower; but the smell of an overgrown bed of Pansy-plants
is rank to offensiveness.

Perhaps the most delightful of all flower scents are those whose tender
and delicate quality makes one wish for just a little more. Such a scent
is that of Apple-blossom, and of some small Pansies, and of the wild
Rose and the Honeysuckle. Among Roses alone the variety and degree of
sweet scent seems almost infinite. To me the sweetest of all is the
Provence, the old Cabbage Rose of our gardens. When something
approaching this appears, as it frequently does, among the hybrid
perpetuals, I always greet it as the real sweet Rose smell. One expects
every Rose to be fragrant, and it is a disappointment to find that such
a beautiful flower as Baroness Rothschild is wanting in the sweet scent
that would be the fitting complement of its incomparable form, and to
perceive in so handsome a Rose as Malmaison a heavy smell of decidedly
bad quality. But such cases are not frequent.

There is much variety in the scent of the Tea-Roses, the actual tea
flavour being strongest in the Dijon class. Some have a powerful scent
that is very near that of a ripe Nectarine; of this the best example I
know is the old rose Goubault. The half-double red Gloire de Rosamène
has a delightful scent of a kind that is rare among Roses. It has a good
deal of the quality of that mysterious and delicious smell given off by
the dying strawberry leaves, aromatic, pungent, and delicately refined,
searching and powerful, and yet subtle and elusive--the best sweet smell
of all the year. One cannot have it for the seeking; it comes as it
will--a scent that is sad as a forecast of the inevitable certainty of
the flower-year's waning, and yet sweet with the promise of its timely
new birth.

Sometimes I have met with a scent of somewhat the same mysterious and
aromatic kind when passing near a bank clothed with the great St. John's
Wort. As this also occurs in early autumn, I suppose it to be occasioned
by the decay of some of the leaves. And there is a small yellow-flowered
Potentilla that has a scent of the same character, but always freely and
willingly given off--a humble-looking little plant, well worth growing
for its sweetness, that much to my regret I have lost.

I observe that when a Rose exists in both single and double form the
scent is increased in the double beyond the proportion that one would
expect. _Rosa lucida_ in the ordinary single state has only a very
slight scent; in the lovely double form it is very sweet, and has
acquired somewhat of the Moss-rose smell. The wild Burnet-rose (_R.
spinosissima_) has very little smell; but the Scotch Briars, its garden
relatives, have quite a powerful fragrance, a pale flesh-pink kind,
whose flowers are very round and globe-like, being the sweetest of all.

But of all the sweet scents of bush or flower, the ones that give me the
greatest pleasure are those of the aromatic class, where they seem to
have a wholesome resinous or balsamic base, with a delicate perfume
added. When I pick and crush in my hand a twig of Bay, or brush against
a bush of Rosemary, or tread upon a tuft of Thyme, or pass through
incense-laden brakes of Cistus, I feel that here is all that is best and
purest and most refined, and nearest to poetry, in the range of faculty
of the sense of smell.

The scents of all these sweet shrubs, many of them at home in dry and
rocky places in far-away lower latitudes, recall in a way far more
distinct than can be done by a mere mental effort of recollection,
rambles of years ago in many a lovely southern land--in the islands of
the Greek Archipelago, beautiful in form, and from a distance looking
bare and arid, and yet with a scattered growth of lowly, sweet-smelling
bush and herb, so that as you move among them every plant seems full of
sweet sap or aromatic gum, and as you tread the perfumed carpet the
whole air is scented; then of dusky groves of tall Cypress and Myrtle,
forming mysterious shadowy woodland temples that unceasingly offer up an
incense of their own surpassing fragrance, and of cooler hollows in the
same lands and in the nearer Orient, where the Oleander grows like the
willow of the north, and where the Sweet Bay throws up great tree-like
suckers of surprising strength and vigour. It is only when one has seen
it grow like this that one can appreciate the full force of the old
Bible simile. Then to find oneself standing (while still on earth) in a
grove of giant Myrtles fifteen feet high is like having a little chink
of the door of heaven opened, as if to show a momentary glimpse of what
good things may be beyond!

Among the sweet shrubs from the nearer of these southern regions, one of
the best for English gardens is _Cistus laurifolius_. Its wholesome,
aromatic sweetness is freely given off, even in winter. In this, as in
its near relative, _C. ladaniferus_, the scent seems to come from the
gummy surface, and not from the body of the leaf. _Caryopteris
Mastacanthus_, the Mastic plant, from China, one of the few shrubs that
flower in autumn, has strongly-scented woolly leaves, something like
turpentine, but more refined. _Ledum palustre_ has a delightful scent
when its leaves are bruised. The wild Bog-myrtle, so common in Scotland,
has almost the sweetness of the true Myrtle, as has also the
broad-leaved North American kind, and the Candleberry Gale (_Comptonia
asplenifolia_) from the same country. The myrtle-leaved Rhododendron is
a dwarf shrub of neat habit, whose bruised leaves have also a
myrtle-like smell, though it is less strong than in the Gales. I wonder
why the leaves of nearly all the hardy aromatic shrubs are of a hard,
dry texture; the exceptions are so few that it seems to be a law.

If my copse were some acres larger I should like nothing better than to
make a good-sized clearing, laying out to the sun, and to plant it with
these aromatic bushes and herbs. The main planting should be of Cistus
and Rosemary and Lavender, and for the shadier edges the Myrtle-leaved
Rhododendron, and _Ledum palustre_, and the three Bog-myrtles. Then
again in the sun would be Hyssop and Catmint, and Lavender-cotton and
Southernwood, with others of the scented Artemisias, and Sage and
Marjoram. All the ground would be carpeted with Thyme and Basil and
others of the dwarfer sweet-herbs. There would be no regular paths, but
it would be so planted that in most parts one would have to brush up
against the sweet bushes, and sometimes push through them, as one does
on the thinner-clothed of the mountain slopes of southern Italy.

Among the many wonders of the vegetable world are the flowers that hang
their heads and seem to sleep in the daytime, and that awaken as the sun
goes down, and live their waking life at night. And those that are most
familiar in our gardens have powerful perfumes, except the Evening
Primrose (_Oenothera_), which has only a milder sweetness. It is vain to
try and smell the night-given scent in the daytime; it is either
withheld altogether, or some other smell, quite different, and not
always pleasant, is there instead. I have tried hard in daytime to get a
whiff of the night sweetness of _Nicotiana affinis_, but can only get
hold of something that smells like a horse! Some of the best of the
night-scents are those given by the Stocks and Rockets. They are sweet
in the hand in the daytime, but the best of the sweet scent seems to be
like a thin film on the surface. It does not do to smell them too
vigorously, for, especially in Stocks and Wallflowers, there is a
strong, rank, cabbage-like under-smell. But in the sweetness given off
so freely in the summer evening there is none of this; then they only
give their very best.

But of all the family, the finest fragrance comes from the small annual
Night-scented Stock (_Matthiola bicornis_), a plant that in daytime is
almost ugly; for the leaves are of a dull-grey colour, and the flowers
are small and also dull-coloured, and they are closed and droop and look
unhappy. But when the sun has set the modest little plant seems to come
to life; the grey foliage is almost beautiful in its harmonious relation
to the half-light; the flowers stand up and expand, and in the early
twilight show tender colouring of faint pink and lilac, and pour out
upon the still night-air a lavish gift of sweetest fragrance; and the
modest little plant that in strong sunlight looked unworthy of a place
in the garden, now rises to its appointed rank and reigns supreme as its
prime delight.



CHAPTER XX

THE WORSHIP OF FALSE GODS


Several times during these notes I have spoken in a disparaging manner
of the show-table; and I have not done so lightly, but with all the care
and thought and power of observation that my limited capacity is worth;
and, broadly, I have come to this: that shows, such as those at the
fortnightly meetings of the Royal Horticultural Society, and their more
important one in the early summer, whose object is to bring together
beautiful flowers of all kinds, to a place where they may be seen, are
of the utmost value; and that any shows anywhere for a like purpose, and
especially where there are no money prizes, are also sure to be helpful.
And the test question I put to myself at any show is this, Does this
really help the best interests of horticulture? And as far as I can see
that it does this, I think the show right and helpful; and whenever it
does not, I think it harmful and misleading.

The love of gardening has so greatly grown and spread within the last
few years, that the need of really good and beautiful garden flowers is
already far in advance of the demand for the so-called "florists"
flowers, by which I mean those that find favour in the exclusive shows
of Societies for the growing and exhibition of such flowers as Tulips,
Carnations, Dahlias, and Chrysanthemums. In support of this I should
like to know what proportion of demand there is, in Dahlias, for
instance, between the show kinds, whose aim and object is the
show-table, and the decorative kinds, that are indisputably better for
garden use. Looking at the catalogue of a leading Dahlia nursery, I find
that the decorative kinds fill ten pages, while the show kinds,
including Pompones, fill only three. Is not this some indication of what
is wanted in gardens?

I am of opinion that the show-table is unworthily used when its object
is to be an end in itself, and that it should be only a means to a
better end, and that when it exhibits what has become merely a "fancy,"
it loses sight of its honourable position as a trustworthy exponent of
horticulture, and has degenerated to a baser use. When, as in
Chrysanthemum shows, the flowers on the board are of _no use anywhere
but on that board_, and for the purpose of gaining a money prize, I hold
that the show-table has a debased aim, and a debasing influence. Beauty,
in all the best sense, is put aside in favour of set rules and
measurements, and the production of a thing that is of no use or value;
and individuals of a race of plants capable of producing the highest and
most delightful forms of beauty, and of brightening our homes, and even
gardens, during the dim days of early winter, are teased and tortured
and fatted and bloated into ugly and useless monstrosities for no
purpose but to gain money. And when private gardeners go to these shows
and see how the prizes are awarded, and how all the glory is accorded to
the first-prize bloated monster, can we wonder that the effect on their
minds is confusing, if not absolutely harmful?

Shows of Carnations and Pansies, where the older rules prevail, are
equally misleading, where the single flowers are arrayed in a flat
circle of paper. As with the Chrysanthemum, every sort of trickery is
allowed in arranging the petals of the Carnation blooms: petals are
pulled out or stuck in, and they are twisted about, and groomed and
combed, and manipulated with special tools--"dressed," as the show-word
has it--dressed so elaborately that the dressing only stops short of
applying actual paint and perfumery. Already in the case of Carnations a
better influence is being felt, and at the London shows there are now
classes for border Carnations set up in long-stalked bunches just as
they grow. It is only like this that their value as outdoor plants can
be tested; for many of the show sorts have miserably weak stalks, and a
very poor, lanky habit of growth.

Then the poor Pansies have single blooms laid flat on white papers, and
are only approved if they will lie quite flat and show an outline of a
perfect circle. All that is most beautiful in a Pansy, the wing-like
curves, the waved or slightly fluted radiations, the scarcely
perceptible undulation of surface that displays to perfection the
admirable delicacy of velvety texture; all the little tender tricks and
ways that make the Pansy one of the best-loved of garden flowers; all
this is overlooked, and not only passively overlooked, but overtly
contemned. The show-pansy judge appears to have no eye, or brain, or
heart, but to have in their place a pair of compasses with which to
describe a circle! All idea of garden delight seems to be excluded, as
this kind of judging appeals to no recognition of beauty for beauty's
sake, but to hard systems of measurement and rigid arrangement and
computation that one would think more applicable to astronomy or
geometry than to any matter relating to horticulture.

I do most strongly urge that beauty of the highest class should be the
aim, and not anything of the nature of fashion or "fancy," and that
every effort should be made towards the raising rather than the lowering
of the standard of taste.

The Societies which exist throughout the country are well organised;
many have existed for a great number of years; they are the local
sources of horticultural education, to which large circles of people
naturally look for guidance; and though they produce--and especially the
Rose shows--quantities of beautiful things, it cannot but be perceived
by all who have had the benefit of some refinement of education, that
in very many cases they either deliberately teach, or at any rate allow
to be seen with their sanction, what cannot fail to be debasing to
public taste.

I will just take two examples to show how obvious methods of leading
taste are not only overlooked, but even perverted; for it is not only in
the individual blooms that much of the show-teaching is unworthy, but
also in the training of the plants; so that a plant that by nature has
some beauty of form, is not encouraged or even allowed to develop that
beauty, but is trained into some shape that is not only foreign to its
own nature, but is absolutely ugly and ungraceful, and entirely stupid.
The natural habit of the Chrysanthemum is to grow in the form of several
upright stems. They spring up sheaf-wise, straight upright for a time,
and only bending a little outwards above, to give room for the branching
heads of bloom. The stems are rather stiff, because they are half woody
at the base. In the case of pot-plants it would seem right only so far
to stake or train them as to give the necessary support by a few sticks
set a little outwards at the top, so that each stem may lean a little
over, after the manner of a Bamboo, when their clustered heads of flower
would be given enough room, and be seen to the greatest advantage.

But at shows, the triumph of the training art seems to be to drag the
poor thing round and round over an internal scaffolding of sticks, with
an infinite number of ties and cross-braces, so that it makes a sort of
shapeless ball, and to arrange the flowers so that they are equally
spotted all over it, by tying back some almost to snapping-point, and by
dragging forward others to the verge of dislocation. I have never seen
anything so ugly in the way of potted plants as a certain kind of
Chrysanthemum that has incurved flowers of a heavy sort of dull
leaden-looking red-purple colour trained in this manner. Such a sight
gives me a feeling of shame, not unmixed with wrathful indignation. I
ask myself, What is it for? and I get no answer. I ask a practical
gardener what it is for, and he says, "Oh, it is one of the ways they
are trained for shows." I ask him, Does he think it pretty, or is it any
use? and he says, "Well, they think it makes a nice variety;" and when I
press him further, and say I consider it a very nasty variety, and does
he think nasty varieties are better than none, the question is beyond
him, and he smiles vaguely and edges away, evidently thinking my
conversation perplexing, and my company undesirable. I look again at the
unhappy plant, and see its poor leaves fat with an unwholesome obesity,
and seeming to say, We were really a good bit mildewed, but have been
doctored up for the show by being crammed and stuffed with artificial
aliment!

My second example is that of _Azalea indica_. What is prettier in a room
than one of these in its little tree form, a true tree, with tiny trunk
and wide-spreading branches, and its absurdly large and lovely flowers?
Surely it is the most perfect room ornament that we can have in tree
shape in a moderate-sized pot; and where else can one see a tree loaded
with lovely bloom whose individual flowers have a diameter equal to five
times that of the trunk?

But the show decrees that all this is wrong, and that the tiny, brittle
branches must be trained stiffly round till the shape of the plant shows
as a sort of cylinder. Again I ask myself, What is this for? What does
it teach? Can it be really to teach with deliberate intention that
instead of displaying its natural and graceful tree form it should aim
at a more desirable kind of beauty, such as that of the chimney-pot or
drain-pipe, and that this is so important that it is right and laudable
to devote to it much time and delicate workmanship?

I cannot but think, as well as hope, that the strong influences for good
that are now being brought to bear on all departments of gardening may
reach this class of show, for there are already more hopeful signs in
the admission of classes for groups arranged for decoration.

The prize-show system no doubt creates its own evils, because the
judges, and those who frame the schedules, have been in most cases men
who have a knowledge of flowers, but who are not people of cultivated
taste, and in deciding what points are to constitute the merits of a
flower they have to take such qualities as are within the clearest
understanding of people of average intelligence and average
education--such, for instance, as size that can be measured, symmetry
that can be easily estimated, thickness of petal that can be felt, and
such qualities of colour as appeal most strongly to the uneducated eye;
so that a flower may possess features or qualities that endow it with
the highest beauty, but that exclude it, because the hard and narrow
limits of the show-laws provide no means of dealing with it. It is,
therefore, thrown out, not because they have any fault to find with it,
but because it does not concern them; and the ordinary gardener, to
whose practice it might be of the highest value, accepting the verdict
of the show-judge as an infallible guide, also treats it with contempt
and neglect.

Now, all this would not so much matter if it did not delude those whose
taste is not sufficiently educated to enable them to form an opinion of
their own in accordance with the best and truest standards of beauty;
for I venture to repeat that what we have to look for for the benefit of
our gardens, and for our own bettering and increase of happiness in
those gardens, are things that are beautiful, rather than things that
are round, or straight, or thick, still less than for those that are
new, or curious, or astonishing. For all these false gods are among us,
and many are they who are willing to worship.



CHAPTER XXI

NOVELTY AND VARIETY


When I look back over thirty years of gardening, I see what an
extraordinary progress there has been, not only in the introduction of
good plants new to general cultivation, but also in the home production
of improved kinds of old favourites. In annual plants alone there has
been a remarkable advance. And here again, though many really beautiful
things are being brought forward, there seems always to be an undue
value assigned to a fresh development, on the score of its novelty.

Now it seems to me, that among the thousands of beautiful things already
at hand for garden use, there is no merit whatever in novelty or variety
unless the thing new or different is distinctly more beautiful, or in
some such way better than an older thing of the same class.

And there seems to be a general wish among seed growers just now to
dwarf all annual plants. Now, when a plant is naturally of a diffuse
habit, the fixing of a dwarfer variety may be a distinct gain to
horticulture--it may just make a good garden plant out of one that was
formerly of indifferent quality; but there seems to me to be a kind of
stupidity in inferring from this that all annuals are the better for
dwarfing. I take it that the bedding system has had a good deal to do
with it. It no doubt enables ignorant gardeners to use a larger variety
of plants as senseless colour-masses, but it is obvious that many, if
not most, of the plants are individually made much uglier by the
process. Take, for example, one of the dwarfest Ageratums: what a silly
little dumpy, formless, pincushion of a thing it is! And then the
dwarfest of the China Asters. Here is a plant (whose chief weakness
already lies in a certain over-stiffness) made stiffer and more
shapeless still by dwarfing and by cramming with too many petals. The
Comet Asters of later years are a much-improved type of flower, with a
looser shape and a certain degree of approach to grace and beauty. When
this kind came out it was a noteworthy novelty, not because it was a
novelty, but because it was a better and more beautiful thing. Also
among the same Asters the introduction of a better class of red
colouring, first of the blood-red and then of the so-called scarlet
shades, was a good variety, because it was the distinct bettering of the
colour of a popular race of garden-flowers, whose red and pink
colourings had hitherto been of a bad and rank quality.

It is quite true that here and there the dwarf kind is a distinctly
useful thing, as in the dwarf Nasturtiums. In this grand plant one is
glad to have dwarf ones as well as the old trailing kinds. I even
confess to a certain liking for the podgy little dwarf Snapdragons; they
are ungraceful little dumpy things, but they happen to have come in some
tender colourings of pale yellow and pale pink, that give them a kind of
absurd prettiness, and a certain garden-value. I also look at them as a
little floral joke that is harmless and not displeasing, but they cannot
for a moment compare in beauty with the free-growing Snapdragon of the
older type. This I always think one of the best and most interesting and
admirable of garden-plants. Its beauty is lost if it is crowded up among
other things in a border; it should be grown in a dry wall or steep
rocky bank, where its handsome bushy growth and finely-poised spikes of
bloom can be well seen.

[Illustration: TALL SNAPDRAGONS GROWING IN A DRY WALL.]

[Illustration: MULLEINS GROWING IN THE FACE OF DRY WALL. (_See "Old
Wall," page 116._)]

One of the annuals that I think is entirely spoilt by dwarfing is
Love-in-a-Mist, a plant I hold in high admiration. Many years ago I came
upon some of it in a small garden, of a type that I thought extremely
desirable, with a double flower of just the right degree of fulness, and
of an unusually fine colour. I was fortunate enough to get some seed,
and have never grown any other, nor have I ever seen elsewhere any that
I think can compare with it.

The Zinnia is another fine annual that has been much spoilt by its
would-be improvers. When a Zinnia has a hard, stiff, tall flower, with a
great many rows of petals piled up one on top of another, and when its
habit is dwarfed to a mean degree of squatness, it looks to me both ugly
and absurd, whereas a reasonably double one, well branched, and two feet
high, is a handsome plant.

I also think that Stocks and Wallflowers are much handsomer when rather
tall and branching. Dwarf Stocks, moreover, are invariably spattered
with soil in heavy autumn rain.

An example of the improver not knowing where to stop in the matter of
colouring, always strikes me in the Gaillardias, and more especially in
the perennial kind, that is increased by division as well as by seed.
The flower is naturally of a strong orange-yellow colour, with a narrow
ring of red round the centre. The improver has sought to increase the
width of the red ring. Up to a certain point it makes a livelier and
brighter-looking flower; but he has gone too far, and extended the red
till it has become a red flower with a narrow yellow edge. The red also
is of a rather dull and heavy nature, so that instead of a handsome
yellow flower with a broad central ring, here is an ugly red one with a
yellow border. There is no positive harm done, as the plant has been
propagated at every stage of development, and one may choose what one
will; but to see them together is an instructive lesson.

No annual plant has of late years been so much improved as the Sweet
Pea, and one reason why its charming beauty and scent are so enjoyable
is, that they grow tall, and can be seen on a level with the eye. There
can be no excuse whatever for dwarfing this, as has lately been done.
There are already plenty of good flowering plants under a foot high, and
the little dwarf white monstrosity, now being followed by coloured ones
of the same habit, seems to me worthy of nothing but condemnation. It
would be as right and sensible to dwarf a Hollyhock into a podgy mass a
foot high, or a Pentstemon, or a Foxglove. Happily these have as yet
escaped dwarfing, though I regret to see that a deformity that not
unfrequently appears among garden Foxgloves, looking like a bell-shaped
flower topping a stunted spike, appears to have been "fixed," and is
being offered as a "novelty." Here is one of the clearest examples of a
new development which is a distinct debasement of a naturally beautiful
form, but which is nevertheless being pushed forward in trade: it has no
merit whatever in itself, and is only likely to sell because it is new
and curious.

And all this parade of distortion and deformity comes about from the
grower losing sight of beauty as the first consideration, or from his
not having the knowledge that would enable him to determine what are the
points of character in various plants most deserving of development, and
in not knowing when or where to stop. Abnormal size, whether greatly
above or much below the average, appeals to the vulgar and uneducated
eye, and will always command its attention and wonderment. But then the
production of the immense size that provokes astonishment, and the
misapplied ingenuity that produces unusual dwarfing, are neither of them
very high aims.

And much as I feel grateful to those who improve garden flowers, I
venture to repeat my strong conviction that their efforts in selection
and other methods should be so directed as to keep in view the
attainment of beauty in the first place, and as a point of honour; not
to mere increase of size of bloom or compactness of habit--many plants
have been spoilt by excess of both; not for variety or novelty as ends
in themselves, but only to welcome them, and offer them, if they are
distinctly of garden value in the best sense. For if plants are grown or
advertised or otherwise pushed on any other account than that of their
possessing some worthy form of beauty, they become of the same nature as
any other article in trade that is got up for sale for the sole benefit
of the seller, that is unduly lauded by advertisement, and that makes
its first appeal to the vulgar eye by an exaggerated and showy pictorial
representation; that will serve no useful purpose, and for which there
is no true or healthy demand.

No doubt much of it comes about from the unwholesome pressure of trade
competition, which in a way obliges all to follow where some lead. I
trust that my many good friends in the trade will understand that my
remarks are not made in any personal sense whatever. I know that some of
them feel much as I do on some of these points, but that in many ways
they are helpless, being all bound in a kind of bondage to the general
system. And there is one great evil that calls loudly for redress, but
that will endure until some of the mightiest of them have the energy and
courage to band themselves together and to declare that it shall no
longer exist among them.



CHAPTER XXII

WEEDS AND PESTS


Weeding is a delightful occupation, especially after summer rain, when
the roots come up clear and clean. One gets to know how many and various
are the ways of weeds--as many almost as the moods of human creatures.
How easy and pleasant to pull up are the soft annuals like Chickweed and
Groundsel, and how one looks with respect at deep-rooted things like
Docks, that make one go and fetch a spade. Comfrey is another thing with
a terrible root, and every bit must be got out, as it will grow again
from the smallest scrap. And hard to get up are the two Bryonies, the
green and the black, with such deep-reaching roots, that, if not weeded
up within their first year, will have to be seriously dug out later. The
white Convolvulus, one of the loveliest of native plants, has a most
persistently running root, of which every joint will quickly form a new
plant. Some of the worst weeds to get out are Goutweed and Coltsfoot.
Though I live on a light soil, comparatively easy to clean, I have done
some gardening in clay, and well know what a despairing job it is to
get the bits of either of these roots out of the stiff clods.

The most persistent weed in my soil is the small running Sheep's Sorrel.
First it makes a patch, and then sends out thready running roots all
round, a foot or more long; these, if not checked, establish new bases
of operation, and so it goes on, always spreading farther and farther.
When this happens in soft ground that can be hoed and weeded it matters
less, but in the lawn it is a more serious matter. Its presence always
denotes a poor, sandy soil of rather a sour quality.

Goutweed is a pest in nearly all gardens, and very difficult to get out.
When it runs into the root of some patch of hardy plant, if the plant
can be spared, I find it best to send it at once to the burn-heap; or if
it is too precious, there is nothing for it but to cut it all up and
wash it out, to be sure that not the smallest particle of the enemy
remains. Some weeds are deceiving--Sow-thistle, for instance, which has
the look of promising firm hand-hold and easy extraction, but has a
disappointing way of almost always breaking short off at the collar. But
of all the garden weeds that are native plants I know none so persistent
or so insidious as the Rampion Bell-flower (_Campanula Rapunculus_); it
grows from the smallest thread of root, and it is almost impossible to
see every little bit; for though the main roots are thick, and white,
and fleshy, the fine side roots that run far abroad are very small, and
of a reddish colour, and easily hidden in the brown earth.

But some of the worst garden-weeds are exotics run wild. The common
Grape Hyacinth sometimes overruns a garden and cannot be got rid of.
_Sambucus ebulis_ is a plant to beware of, its long thong-like roots
spreading far and wide, and coming up again far away from the parent
stock. For this reason it is valuable for planting in such places as
newly-made pond-heads, helping to tie the bank together. _Polygonum
Sieboldi_ must also be planted with caution. The winter Heliotrope
(_Petasites fragrans_) is almost impossible to get out when once it has
taken hold, growing in the same way as its near relative the native
Coltsfoot.

But by far the most difficult plant to abolish or even keep in check
that I know is _Ornithogalum nutans_. Beautiful as it is, and valuable
as a cut flower, I will not have it in the garden. I think I may venture
to say that in this soil, when once established, it cannot be
eradicated. Each mature bulb makes a host of offsets, and the seed
quickly ripens. When it is once in a garden it will suddenly appear in
all sorts of different places. It is no use trying to dig it out. I have
dug out the whole space of soil containing the patch, a barrow-load at a
time, and sent it to the middle of the burn-heap, and put in fresh soil,
and there it is again next year, nearly as thick as ever. I have dug up
individual small patches with the greatest care, and got out every bulb
and offset, and every bit of the whitish leaf stem, for I have such
faith in its power of reproduction that I think every atom of this is
capable of making a plant, only to find next year a thriving young tuft
of the "grass" in the same place. And yet the bulb and underground stem
are white, and the earth is brown, and I passed it all several times
through my fingers, but all in vain. I confess that it beats me
entirely.

_Coronilla varia_ is a little plant that appears in catalogues among
desirable Alpines, but is a very "rooty" and troublesome thing, and
scarcely good enough for garden use, though pretty in a grassy bank
where its rambling ways would not be objectionable. I once brought home
from Brittany some roots of _Linaria repens_, that looked charming by a
roadside, and planted them in a bit of Alpine garden, a planting that I
never afterwards ceased to regret.

I learnt from an old farmer a good way of getting rid of a bed of
nettles--to thrash them down with a stick every time they grow up. If
this is done about three times during the year, the root becomes so much
weakened that it is easily forked out, or if the treatment is gone on
with, the second year the nettles die. Thrashing with a stick is better
than cutting, as it makes the plant bleed more; any mutilation of bruise
or ragged tearing of fibre is more harmful to plant or tree than clean
cutting.

Of bird, beast, and insect pests we have plenty. First, and worst, are
rabbits. They will gnaw and nibble anything and everything that is
newly planted, even native things like Juniper, Scotch Fir, and Gorse.
The necessity of wiring everything newly planted adds greatly to the
labour and expense of the garden, and the unsightly grey wire-netting is
an unpleasant eyesore. When plants or bushes are well established the
rabbits leave them alone, though some families of plants are always
irresistible--Pinks and Carnations, for instance, and nearly all
Cruciferæ, such as Wallflowers, Stocks, and Iberis. The only plants I
know that they do not touch are Rhododendrons and Azaleas; they leave
them for the hare, that is sure to get in every now and then, and who
stands up on his long hind-legs, and will eat Rose-bushes quite high up.

Plants eaten by a hare look as if they had been cut with a sharp knife;
there is no appearance of gnawing or nibbling, no ragged edges of wood
or frayed bark, but just a straight clean cut.

Field mice are very troublesome. Some years they will nibble off the
flower-buds of the Lent Hellebores; when they do this they have a
curious way of collecting them and laying them in heaps. I have no idea
why they do this, as they neither carry them away nor eat them
afterwards; there the heaps of buds lie till they rot or dry up. They
once stole all my Auricula seed in the same way. I had marked some good
plants for seed, cutting off all the other flowers as soon as they went
out of bloom. The seed was ripening, and I watched it daily, awaiting
the moment for harvesting. But a few days before it was ready I went
round and found the seed was all gone; it had been cut off at the top of
the stalk, so that the umbel-shaped heads had been taken away whole. I
looked about, and luckily found three slightly hollow places under the
bank at the back of the border where the seed-heads had been piled in
heaps. In this case it looked as if it had been stored for food; luckily
it was near enough to ripeness for me to save my crop.

The mice are also troublesome with newly-sown Peas, eating some
underground, while sparrows nibble off others when just sprouted; and
when outdoor Grapes are ripening mice run up the walls and eat them.
Even when the Grapes are tied in oiled canvas bags they will eat through
the bags to get at them, though I have never known them to gnaw through
the newspaper bags that I now use in preference, and that ripen the
Grapes as well. I am not sure whether it is mice or birds that pick off
the flowers of the big bunch Primroses, but am inclined to think it is
mice, because the stalks are cut low down.

Pheasants are very bad gardeners; what they seem to enjoy most are
Crocuses--in fact, it is no use planting them. I had once a nice
collection of Crocus species. They were in separate patches, all along
the edge of one border, in a sheltered part of the garden, where
pheasants did not often come. One day when I came to see my Crocuses, I
found where each patch had been a basin-shaped excavation and a few
fragments of stalk or some part of the plant. They had begun at one end
and worked steadily along, clearing them right out. They also destroyed
a long bed of _Anemone fulgens_. First they took the flowers, and then
the leaves, and lastly pecked up and ate the roots.

But we have one grand consolation in having no slugs, at least hardly
any that are truly indigenous; they do not like our dry, sandy heaths.
Friends are very generous in sending them with plants, so that we have a
moderate number that hang about frames and pot plants, though nothing
much to boast of; but they never trouble seedlings in the open ground,
and for this I can never be too thankful.

Alas that the beautiful bullfinch should be so dire an enemy to
fruit-trees, and also the pretty little tits! but so it is; and it is a
sad sight to see a well-grown fruit-tree with all its fruit-buds pecked
out and lying under it on the ground in a thin green carpet. We had some
fine young cherry-trees in a small orchard that we cut down in despair
after they had been growing twelve years. They were too large to net,
and their space could not be spared just for the mischievous fun of the
birds.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE BEDDING FASHION AND ITS INFLUENCE


It is curious to look back at the old days of bedding-out, when that and
that only meant gardening to most people, and to remember how the
fashion, beginning in the larger gardens, made its way like a great
inundating wave, submerging the lesser ones, and almost drowning out the
beauties of the many little flowery cottage plots of our English
waysides. And one wonders how it all came about, and why the bedding
system, admirable for its own purpose, should have thus outstepped its
bounds, and have been allowed to run riot among gardens great and small
throughout the land. But so it was, and for many years the fashion, for
it was scarcely anything better, reigned supreme.

It was well for all real lovers of flowers when some quarter of a
century ago a strong champion of the good old flowers arose, and fought
strenuously to stay the devastating tide, and to restore the healthy
liking for the good old garden flowers. Many soon followed, and now one
may say that all England has flocked to the standard. Bedding as an
all-prevailing fashion is now dead; the old garden-flowers are again
honoured and loved, and every encouragement is freely offered to those
who will improve old kinds and bring forward others.

And now that bedding as a fashion no longer exists, one can look at it
more quietly and fairly, and see what its uses really are, for in its
own place and way it is undoubtedly useful and desirable. Many great
country-houses are only inhabited in winter, then perhaps for a week or
two at Easter, and in the late summer. There is probably a house-party
at Easter, and a succession of visitors in the late summer. A brilliant
garden, visible from the house, dressed for spring and dressed for early
autumn, is exactly what is wanted--not necessarily from any special love
of flowers, but as a kind of bright and well-kept furnishing of the
immediate environment of the house. The gardener delights in it; it is
all routine work; so many hundreds or thousands of scarlet Geranium, of
yellow Calceolaria, of blue Lobelia, of golden Feverfew, or of other
coloured material. It wants no imagination; the comprehension of it is
within the range of the most limited understanding; indeed its
prevalence for some twenty years or more must have had a deteriorating
influence on the whole class of private gardeners, presenting to them an
ideal so easy of attainment and so cheap of mental effort.

But bedding, though it is gardening of the least poetical or imaginative
kind, can be done badly or beautifully. In the _parterre_ of the formal
garden it is absolutely in place, and brilliantly-beautiful pictures
can be made by a wise choice of colouring. I once saw, and can never
forget, a bedded garden that was a perfectly satisfying example of
colour-harmony; but then it was planned by the master, a man of the most
refined taste, and not by the gardener. It was a _parterre_ that formed
part of the garden in one of the fine old places in the Midland
counties. I have no distinct recollection of the design, except that
there was some principle of fan-shaped radiation, of which each extreme
angle formed one centre. The whole garden was treated in one harmonious
colouring of full yellow, orange, and orange-brown; half-hardy annuals,
such as French and African Marigolds, Zinnias, and Nasturtiums, being
freely used. It was the most noble treatment of one limited range of
colouring I have ever seen in a garden; brilliant without being garish,
and sumptuously gorgeous without the reproach of gaudiness--a precious
lesson in temperance and restraint in the use of the one colour, and an
admirable exposition of its powerful effect in the hands of a true
artist.

I think that in many smaller gardens a certain amount of bedding may be
actually desirable; for where the owner of a garden has a special liking
for certain classes or mixtures of plants, or wishes to grow them
thoroughly well and enjoy them individually to the full, he will
naturally grow them in separate beds, or may intentionally combine the
beds, if he will, into some form of good garden effect. But the great
fault of the bedding system when at its height was, that it swept over
the country as a tyrannical fashion, that demanded, and for the time
being succeeded in effecting, the exclusion of better and more
thoughtful kinds of gardening; for I believe I am right in saying that
it spread like an epidemic disease, and raged far and wide for nearly a
quarter of a century.

Its worst form of all was the "ribbon border," generally a line of
scarlet Geranium at the back, then a line of Calceolaria, then a line of
blue Lobelia, and lastly, a line of the inevitable Golden Feather
Feverfew, or what our gardener used to call Featherfew. Could anything
be more tedious or more stupid? And the ribbon border was at its worst
when its lines were not straight, but waved about in weak and silly
sinuations.

And when bedding as a fashion was dead, when this false god had been
toppled off his pedestal, and his worshippers had been converted to
better beliefs, in turning and rending him they often went too far, and
did injustice to the innocent by professing a dislike to many a good
plant, and renouncing its use. It was not the fault of the Geranium or
of the Calceolaria that they had been grievously misused and made to
usurp too large a share of our garden spaces. Not once but many a time
my visitors have expressed unbounded surprise when they saw these plants
in my garden, saying, "I should have thought that you would have
despised Geraniums." On the contrary, I love Geraniums. There are no
plants to come near them for pot, or box, or stone basket, or for
massing in any sheltered place in hottest sunshine; and I love their
strangely-pleasant smell, and their beautiful modern colourings of soft
scarlet and salmon-scarlet and salmon-pink, some of these grouping
beautifully together. I have a space in connection with some formal
stonework of steps, and tank, and paved walks, close to the house, on
purpose for the summer placing of large pots of Geranium, with sometimes
a few Cannas and Lilies. For a quarter of the year it is one of the best
things in the garden, and delightful in colour. Then no plant does so
well or looks so suitable in some earthen pots and boxes from Southern
Italy that I always think the best that were ever made, their shape and
well-designed ornament traditional from the Middle Ages, and probably
from an even more remote antiquity.

[Illustration: GERANIUMS IN NEAPOLITAN POTS.]

There are, of course, among bedding Geraniums many of a bad, raw quality
of colour, particularly among cold, hard pinks, but there are so many to
choose from that these can easily be avoided.

I remember some years ago, when the bedding fashion was going out,
reading some rather heated discussions in the gardening papers about
methods of planting out and arranging various tender but indispensable
plants. Some one who had been writing about the errors of the bedding
system wrote about planting some of these in isolated masses. He was
pounced upon by another, who asked, "What is this but bedding?" The
second writer was so far justified, in that it cannot be denied that any
planting in beds is bedding. But then there is bedding and bedding--a
right and a wrong way of applying the treatment. Another matter that
roused the combative spirit of the captious critic was the filling up of
bare spaces in mixed borders with Geraniums, Calceolarias, and other
such plants. Again he said, "What is this but bedding? These are bedding
plants." When I read this it seemed to me that his argument was, These
plants may be very good plants in themselves, but because they have for
some years been used wrongly, therefore they must not now be used
rightly! In the case of my own visitors, when they have expressed
surprise at my having "those horrid old bedding plants" in my garden, it
seemed quite a new view when I pointed out that bedding plants were only
passive agents in their own misuse, and that a Geranium was a Geranium
long before it was a bedding plant! But the discussion raised in my mind
a wish to come to some conclusion about the difference between bedding
in the better and worse sense, in relation to the cases quoted, and it
appeared to me to be merely in the choice between right and wrong
placing--placing monotonously or stupidly, so as merely to fill the
space, or placing with a feeling for "drawing" or proportion. For I had
very soon found out that, if I had a number of things to plant
anywhere, whether only to fill up a border or as a detached group, if I
placed the things myself, carefully exercising what power of
discrimination I might have acquired, it looked fairly right, but that
if I left it to one of my garden people (a thing I rarely do) it looked
all nohow, or like bedding in the worst sense of the word.

[Illustration: SPACE IN STEP AND TANK-GARDEN FOR LILIES, CANNAS, AND
GERANIUMS.]

[Illustration: HYDRANGEAS IN TUBS, IN A PART OF THE SAME GARDEN.]

Even the better ways of gardening do not wholly escape the debasing
influence of fashion. Wild gardening is a delightful, and in good hands
a most desirable, pursuit, but no kind of gardening is so difficult to
do well, or is so full of pitfalls and of paths of peril. Because it has
in some measure become fashionable, and because it is understood to mean
the planting of exotics in wild places, unthinking people rush to the
conclusion that they can put any garden plants into any wild places, and
that that is wild gardening. I have seen woody places that were already
perfect with their own simple charm just muddled and spoilt by a
reckless planting of garden refuse, and heathy hillsides already
sufficiently and beautifully clothed with native vegetation made to look
lamentably silly by the planting of a nurseryman's mixed lot of exotic
Conifers.

In my own case, I have always devoted the most careful consideration to
any bit of wild gardening I thought of doing, never allowing myself to
decide upon it till I felt thoroughly assured that the place seemed to
ask for the planting in contemplation, and that it would be distinctly a
gain in pictorial value; so there are stretches of Daffodils in one
part of the copse, while another is carpeted with Lily of the Valley. A
cool bank is covered with Gaultheria, and just where I thought they
would look well as little jewels of beauty, are spreading patches of
Trillium and the great yellow Dog-tooth Violet. Besides these there are
only some groups of the Giant Lily. Many other exotic plants could have
been made to grow in the wooded ground, but they did not seem to be
wanted; I thought where the copse looked well and complete in itself it
was better left alone.

But where the wood joins the garden some bold groups of flowering plants
are allowed, as of Mullein in one part and Foxglove in another; for when
standing in the free part of the garden, it is pleasant to project the
sight far into the wood, and to let the garden influences penetrate here
and there, the better to join the one to the other.

[Illustration: MULLEIN (VERBASCUM PHLOMOIDES) AT THE EDGE OF THE FIR
WOOD.]

[Illustration: A GRASS PATH IN THE COPSE.]

Under the Bracken in both pictures is a wide planting of Lily of the
Valley, flowering in May before the Fern is up. (_See page 61._)



CHAPTER XXIV

MASTERS AND MEN


Now that the owners of good places are for the most part taking a
newly-awakened and newly-educated pleasure in the better ways of
gardening, a frequent source of difficulty arises from the ignorance and
obstructiveness of gardeners. The owners have become aware that their
gardens may be sources of the keenest pleasure. The gardener may be an
excellent man, perfectly understanding the ordinary routine of garden
work; he may have been many years in his place; it is his settled home,
and he is getting well on into middle life; but he has no understanding
of the new order of things, and when the master, perfectly understanding
what he is about, desires that certain things shall be done, and wishes
to enjoy the pleasure of directing the work himself, and seeing it grow
under his hand, he resents it as an interference, and becomes
obstructive, or does what is required in a spirit of such sullen
acquiescence that it is equal to open opposition. And I have seen so
many gardens and gardeners that I have come to recognise certain types;
and this one, among men of a certain age, is unfortunately frequent.
Various degrees of ignorance and narrow-mindedness must no doubt be
expected among the class that produces private gardeners. Their general
education is not very wide to begin with, and their training is usually
all in one groove, and the many who possess a full share of vanity get
to think that, because they have exhausted the obvious sources of
experience that have occurred within their reach, there is nothing more
to learn, or to know, or to see, or to feel, or to enjoy. It is in this
that the difficulty lies. The man has no doubt done his best through
life; he has performed his duties well and faithfully, and can render a
good account of his stewardship. It is no fault of his that more means
of enlarging his mind have not been within his grasp, and, to a certain
degree, he may be excused for not understanding that there is anything
beyond; but if he is naturally vain and stubborn his case is hopeless.
If, on the other hand, he is wise enough to know that he does not know
everything, and modest enough to acknowledge it, as do all the greatest
and most learned of men, he will then be eager to receive new and
enlarged impressions, and his willing and intelligent co-operation will
be a new source of interest in life both to himself and his employer, as
well as a fresh spring of vitality in the life of the garden. I am
speaking of the large middle class of private gardeners, not of those of
the highest rank, who have among them men of good education and a large
measure of refinement. From among these I think of the late Mr. Ingram
of the Belvoir Castle gardens, with regret as for a personal friend, and
also as of one who was a true garden artist.

But most people who have fair-sized gardens have to do with the middle
class of gardener, the man of narrow mental training. The master who,
after a good many years of active life, is looking forward to settling
in his home and improving and enjoying his garden, has had so different
a training, a course of teaching so immeasurably wider and more
enlightening. As a boy he was in a great public school, where, by
wholesome friction with his fellows, he had any petty or personal
nonsense knocked out of him while still in his early "teens." Then he
goes to college, and whether studiously inclined or not, he is already
in the great world, always widening his ideas and experience. Then
perhaps he is in one of the active professions, or engaged in scientific
or intellectual research, or in diplomacy, his ever-expanding
intelligence rubbing up against all that is most enlightened and astute
in men, or most profoundly inexplicable in matter. He may be at the same
time cultivating his taste for literature and the fine arts, searching
the libraries and galleries of the civilised world for the noblest and
most divinely-inspired examples of human work, seeing with an eye that
daily grows more keenly searching, and receiving and holding with a
brain that ever gains a firmer grasp, and so acquires some measure of
the higher critical faculty. He sees the ruined gardens of antiquity,
colossal works of the rulers of Imperial Rome, and the later gardens of
the Middle Ages (direct descendants of those greater and older ones),
some of them still among the most beautiful gardens on earth. He sees
how the taste for gardening grew and travelled, spreading through Europe
and reaching England, first, no doubt, through her Roman invaders. He
becomes more and more aware of what great and enduring happiness may be
enjoyed in a garden, and how all that he can learn of it in the leisure
intervals of his earlier maturity, and then in middle life, will help to
brighten his later days, when he hopes to refine and make better the
garden of the old home by a reverent application of what he has learnt.
He thinks of the desecrated old bowling-green, cut up to suit the
fashion of thirty years ago into a patchwork of incoherent star and
crescent shaped beds; of how he will give it back its ancient character
of unbroken repose; he thinks how he will restore the string of
fish-ponds in the bottom of the wooded valley just below, now a rushy
meadow with swampy hollows that once were ponds, and humpy mounds, ruins
of the ancient dikes; of how the trees will stand reflected in the still
water; and how he will live to see again in middle hours of summer days,
as did the monks of old, the broad backs of the golden carp basking just
below the surface of the sun-warmed water.

And such a man as this comes home some day and finds the narrow-minded
gardener, who believes that he already knows all that can be known about
gardening, who thinks that the merely technical part, which he
perfectly understands, is all that there is to be known and practised,
and that his crude ideas about arrangement of flowers are as good as
those of any one else. And a man of this temperament cannot be induced
to believe, and still less can he be made to understand, that all that
he knows is only the means to a further and higher end, and that what he
can show of a completed garden can only reach to an average dead-level
of dulness compared with what may come of the life-giving influence of
one who has the mastery of the higher garden knowledge.

Moreover, he either forgets, or does not know, what is the main purpose
of a garden, namely, that it is to give its owner the best and highest
kind of earthly pleasure. Neither is he enlightened enough to understand
that the master can take a real and intelligent interest in planning and
arranging, and in watching the working out in detail. His small-minded
vanity can only see in all this a distrust in his own powers and an
intentional slight cast on his ability, whereas no such idea had ever
entered the master's mind.

Though there are many of this kind of gardener (and with their
employers, if they have the patience to retain them in their service, I
sincerely condole), there are happily many of a widely-different nature,
whose minds are both supple and elastic and intelligently receptive, who
are eager to learn and to try what has not yet come within the range of
their experience, who show a cheerful readiness to receive a fresh
range of ideas, and a willing alacrity in doing their best to work them
out. Such a servant as this warms his master's heart, and it would do
him good to hear, as I have many times heard, the terms in which the
master speaks of him. For just as the educated man feels contempt for
the vulgar pretension that goes with any exhibition of ignorant vanity,
so the evidence of the higher qualities commands his respect and warm
appreciation. Among the gardeners I have known, five such men come
vividly to my recollection--good men all, with a true love of flowers,
and its reflection of happiness written on their kindly faces.

But then, on the other hand, frequent causes of irritation arise between
master and man from the master's ignorance and unreasonable demands. For
much as the love of gardening has grown of late, there are many owners
who have no knowledge of it whatever. I have more than once had visitors
who complained of their gardeners, as I thought quite unreasonably, on
their own showing. For it is not enough to secure the services of a
thoroughly able man, and to pay good wages, and to provide every sort of
appliance, if there is no reasonable knowledge of what it is right and
just to expect. I have known a lady, after paying a round of visits in
great houses, complain of her gardener. She had seen at one place
remarkably fine forced strawberries, at another some phenomenal frame
Violets, and at a third immense Malmaison Carnations; whereas her own
gardener did not excel in any of these, though she admitted that he was
admirable for Grapes and Chrysanthemums. "If the others could do all
these things to perfection," she argued, "why could not he do them?" She
expected her gardener to do equally well all that she had seen best done
in the other big places. It was in vain that I pleaded in defence of her
man that all gardeners were human creatures, and that it was in the
nature of such creatures to have individual aptitudes and special
preferences, and that it was to be expected that each man should excel
in one thing, or one thing at a time, and so on; but it was of no use,
and she would not accept any excuse or explanation.

I remember another example of a visitor who had a rather large place,
and a gardener who had as good a knowledge of hardy plants as one could
expect. My visitor had lately got the idea that he liked hardy flowers,
though he had scarcely thrown off the influence of some earlier heresy
which taught that they were more or less contemptible--the sort of thing
for cottage gardens; still, as they were now in fashion, he thought he
had better have them. We were passing along my flower-border, just then
in one of its best moods of summer beauty, and when its main occupants,
three years planted, had come to their full strength, when, speaking of
a large flower-border he had lately had made, he said, "I told my fellow
last autumn to get anything he liked, and yet it is perfectly wretched.
It is not as if I wanted anything out of the way; I only want a lot of
common things like that," waving a hand airily at my precious border,
while scarcely taking the trouble to look at it.

And I have had another visitor of about the same degree of appreciative
insight, who, contemplating some cherished garden picture, the
consummation of some long-hoped-for wish, the crowning joy of years of
labour, said, "Now look at that; it is just right, and yet it is quite
simple--there is absolutely nothing in it; now, why can't my man give me
that?"

I am far from wishing to disparage or undervalue the services of the
honest gardener, but I think that on this point there ought to be the
clearest understanding; that the master must not expect from the
gardener accomplishments that he has no means of acquiring, and that the
gardener must not assume that his knowledge covers all that can come
within the scope of the widest and best practice of his craft. There are
branches of education entirely out of his reach that can be brought to
bear upon garden planning and arrangement down to the very least detail.
What the educated employer who has studied the higher forms of gardening
can do or criticise, he cannot be expected to do or understand; it is in
itself almost the work of a lifetime, and only attainable, like success
in any other fine art, by persons of, firstly, special temperament and
aptitude; and, secondly, by their unwearied study and closest
application.

But the result of knowledge so gained shows itself throughout the
garden. It may be in so simple a thing as the placing of a group of
plants. They can be so placed by the hand that knows, that the group is
in perfect drawing in relation to what is near; while by the ordinary
gardener they would be so planted that they look absurd, or unmeaning,
or in some way awkward and unsightly. It is not enough to cultivate
plants well; they must also be used well. The servant may set up the
canvas and grind the colours, and even set the palette, but the master
alone can paint the picture. It is just the careful and thoughtful
exercise of the higher qualities that makes a garden interesting, and
their absence that leaves it blank, and dull, and lifeless. I am
heartily in sympathy with the feeling described in these words in a
friend's letter, "I think there are few things so interesting as to see
in what way a person, whose perceptions you think fine and worthy of
study, will give them expression in a garden."



INDEX


    Adonis vernalis, 52

    Alcohol, its gravestone, 12

    Alexandrian laurel, 16

    Alströmerias, best kinds, how to plant, 92

    Amelanchier, 52, 182

    Ampelopsis, 43

    Andromeda Catesbæi, 37;
      A. floribunda and A. japonica, 50;
      autumn colouring, 128, 165

    Anemone fulgens, 57;
      japonica, 109, 207

    Aponogeton, 194

    Apple, Wellington, 12;
      apple-trees, beauty of form, 25

    Aristolochia Sipho, 43

    Arnebia echioides, 56

    Aromatic plants, 235

    Artemisia Stelleriana, 104

    Arum, wild, leaves with cut daffodils, 58

    Auriculas, 54;
      seed stolen by mice, 260

    Autumn-sown annuals, 113

    Azaleas, arrangement for colour, 69;
      A. occidentalis, 70;
      autumn colouring, 128;
      as trained for shows, 246


    Bambusa Ragamowski, 102

    Beauty of woodland in winter, 7, 153

    Beauty the first aim in gardening, 2, 196, 244, 248, 253, 254

    Bedding-out as a fashion, 263 and onward;
      bedding rightly used, 265

    Berberis for winter decoration, 16;
      its many merits, 21

    Bignonia radicans, large-flowered variety, 110

    Birch, its graceful growth, 8;
      colour of bark, 9;
      fragrance in April, 51;
      grouped with holly, 152

    Bird-cherry, 182

    Bitton, Canon Ellacombe's garden at, 206

    Blue-eyed Mary, 44

    Books on gardening, 192 and onward

    Border plants, their young growth in April, 51

    Bracken, 87;
      cut into layering-pegs, 98;
      careful cutting, 99;
      when at its best to cut, 106;
      autumn colouring, 127

    Bramble, colour of leaves in winter, 20;
      in forest groups, 44;
      in orchard, 181;
      American kinds, 182

    Briar roses, 80, 104

    Bryony, the two wild kinds, 43

    Bulbous plants, early blooming, how best to plant, 49

    Bullfinch, a garden enemy, 262

    Butcher's broom, 151


    Cactus, hardy, on rock-wall, 119

    Caltha palustris, 52

    Campanula rapunculus, 257

    Cardamine trifoliata, 50

    Carnations, 94;
      at shows, 243

    Caryopteris mastacanthus, 102

    Ceanothus, Gloire de Versailles, 205

    Cheiranthus, alpine kinds, 62

    Chimonanthus fragrans, 229

    Chionodoxa sardensis and C. Lucilliæ, 32

    Choisya ternata, 63, 71, 205

    Christmas rose, giant kind, 144

    Chrysanthemums, hardy kinds, 144;
      as trained at shows, 245

    Cistus laurifolius, 37;
      C. florentinus, 101;
      C. ladaniferus, 102, 206

    Claret vine, 110

    Clematis cirrhosa, 14;
      C. flammula when to train, 24;
      wild clematis in trees and hedges, 43;
      C. montana, 71, 203;
      C. Davidiana, 95, 205

    Clergymen as gardeners, 175

    Clerodendron foetidum, 110, 206

    Climbing plants, 202;
      for pergola, 215

    Colour, of woodland in winter, 19;
      of leaves of some garden plants, 21;
      colour-grouping of rhododendrons, 66;
      of azaleas, 69;
      colour of foliage of tree pæonies, 73;
      colour arrangement in the flower-border, 89, 109, 207;
      colour of bracken in October, 127;
      of azaleas and andromedas in autumn, 128;
      of bark of holly, 152;
      study of, 197;
      of flowers, how described, 221 and onward

    Copse-cutting, 166

    Corchorus japonicus, 50

    Coronilla varia, 259

    Corydalis capnoides, 50

    Cottage gardens, 4, 185;
      roses in, 79

    Cottager's way of protecting tender plants, 91

    Cowslips, 59

    Crinums, 206

    Crinums, hybrid, 110, 119;
      protecting, 146

    Crocuses, eaten by pheasants, 261


    Daffodils in the copse, 34;
      planted in old pack-horse tracks, 48

    Dahlias, staking, 114;
      digging up, 133

    Delphiniums, 89;
      grown from seed, 90;
      D. Belladonna, 91

    Dentaria pinnata, 46

    Deutzia parviflora, 103

    Digging up plants, 139

    Discussions about treatment of certain plants, 3

    Dividing tough-rooted plants, 53;
      spring-blooming plants, 85;
      how often, 136;
      suitable tools, 136 and onward

    Dog-tooth violets, 33, 47

    Doronicum, 53

    Dressing of show flowers, 243

    Dried flowers, 17

    Dwarfing annuals, 249


    Edwardsia grandiflora, 206

    Elder trees, 83;
      elder-wine, 84

    Epilobium angustifolium, white variety, 86

    Epimedium pinnatum, 16, 46

    Erinus alpinus, sown in rock-wall, 121

    Eryngium giganteum, 93;
      E. maritimum, 93;
      E. Oliverianum, 93, 209.

    Eulalia japonica, flowers dried, 17

    Evergreen branches for winter decoration, 16

    Everlasting pea, dividing and propagating, 138

    Experimental planting, 183


    Felling trees, 162

    Fern Filix foemina in rhododendron beds, 37, 106;
      Dicksonia punctilobulata, 62;
      ferns in rock-wall, 120;
      polypody, 121, 165

    Fern-pegs for layering carnations, 98

    Fern-walk, suitable plants among groups of ferns, 107

    Flower border, 133, 200

    Forms of deciduous trees, beauty of, 25

    Forsythia suspensa and F. viridissima, 50

    Forget-me-not, large kind, 53

    Foxgloves, 270

    Fungi, Amanita, Boletus, Chantarelle, 111

    Funkia grandiflora, 212


    Galax aphylla, colour of leaves in winter, 21

    Gale, broad-leaved, 101

    Garden friends, 194

    Garden houses, 215

    Gardening, a fine art, 197

    Garrya elliptica, 202

    Gaultheria Shallon, value for cutting, 16;
      in rock-garden, 165

    Geraniums as bedding plants, 266 and onward

    Gourds, as used by Mrs. Earle, 18

    Goutweed, 257

    Grape hyacinths, 49, 258

    Grass, Sheep's-fescue, 69

    Grasses for lawn, 147

    Grey-foliaged plants, 207

    Grouping plants that bloom together, 70

    Grubbing, 160;
      tools, 150, 261

    Guelder-rose as a wall-plant, 71;
      single kind, 129

    Gypsophila paniculata, 95, 209


    Half-hardy border plants in August, 108, 210

    Happiness in gardening, 1, 274

    Hares, as depredators, 260

    Heath sods for protecting tender plants, 91

    Heaths, filling up Rhododendron beds, 37;
      wild heath among azaleas, 69;
      cut short in paths, 70;
      ling, 106

    Hellebores, caulescent kinds in the nut-walk, 9;
      for cutting, 57, 144;
      buds stolen by mice, 260.

    Heuchera Richardsoni, 53, 135

    Holly, beauty in winter, 8;
      grouped with birch, 152;
      cheerful aspect, 154

    Hollyhocks, the prettiest shape, 105

    Honey-suckle, wild, 43

    Hoof-parings as manure, 133

    Hoop-making, 166, and onward

    Hop, wild, 43

    Hutchinsia alpina, 50

    Hyacinth (wild) in oak-wood, 60

    Hydrangeas, protecting, 146;
      at foot of wall, 206

    Hyssop, a good wall-plant, 121


    Iris alata, 14;
      I. foetidissima, 120;
      I. pallida, 129

    Iris stylosa, how to plant, 13;
      white variety, 14;
      time of blooming, 33, 164

    Ivy, shoots for cutting, 17


    Japan Privet, foliage for winter decoration, 16

    Japan Quince (Cydonia or Pyrus), 50

    Jasminum nudiflorum, 164

    Junction of garden and wood, 34, 270

    Juniper, its merits, 26;
      its form, action of snow, 27;
      power of recovery from damage, 29;
      beauty of colouring, 30;
      stems in winter dress, 31;
      in a wild valley, 154, and onward


    Kitchen-garden, 179;
      its sheds, 179, 180


    Larch, sweetness in April, 51

    Large gardens, 176

    Lavender, when to cut, 105

    Lawn-making, 146;
      lawn spaces, 177, 178

    Leaf mould, 149

    Learning, 5, 189, 190, 273

    Lessons of the garden, 6;
      in wild-tree planting, 154;
      in orchard planting, 183;
      of the show-table, 241

    Leucojum vernum, 33

    Leycesteria formosa, 100

    Lilacs, suckers, as strong feeders, good kinds, 23;
      standards best, 24

    Lilium auratum among rhododendrons, 37, 106;
      among bamboos, 106

    Lilium giganteum, 95;
      cultivation needed in poor soil, 142

    Lilium Harrisi and L. speciosum, 106

    Lily of the valley in the copse, 61

    Linaria repens, 259

    London Pride in the rock-wall, 120

    Loquat, 204

    Love-in-a-mist, 251

    Love of gardening, 1

    Luzula sylvatica, 61


    Magnolia, branches indoors in winter, 16;
      magnolia stellata, 50;
      kinds in the choice shrub-bank, 101

    Mai-trank, 60

    Marking trees for cutting, 151

    Marsh marigold, 52

    Masters and men, 271

    Mastic, 102

    Meconopsis Wallichi, 165

    Medlar, 129

    Megaseas, colour of foliage, 17;
      M. ligulata, 103;
      in front edge of flower-border, 211

    Mertensia virginica, 46;
      sowing the seed, 84

    Mice, 260, 261

    Michaelmas daisies, a garden to themselves, 125;
      planting and staking, 126;
      early kinds in mixed border, 135

    Mixed planting, 183;
      mixed border, 206

    Morells, 59

    Mulleins (V. olympicum and V. phlomoides), 85;
      mullein-moth, 86, 270

    Muscari of kinds, 49

    Musical reverberation in wood of Scotch fir, 60

    Myosotis sylvatica major, 53


    Nandina domestica, 206

    Narcissus cernuus, 12;
      N. serotinus, 14;
      N. princeps and N. Horsfieldi in the copse, 48

    Nature's planting, 154

    Nettles, to destroy, 259

    Novelty, 249

    Nut nursery at Calcot, 11

    Nut-walk, 9;
      catkins, 11;
      suckers, 11


    Oak timber, felling, 60

    Old wall, 72, 116 and onward

    Omphalodes verna, 45

    Ophiopogon spicatum for winter cutting, 16

    Orchard, ornamental, 181

    Orobus vernus, 52;
      O. aurantiacus, 62

    Othonna cheirifolia, 63


    Pæonies and Lent Hellebores grown together, 76

    Pæony moutan grouped with Clematis montana, 70;
      special garden for pæonies, 72;
      frequent sudden deaths, 73;
      varieties of P. albiflora, 74;
      old garden kinds, 75;
      pæony species desirable for garden use, 75

    Pansies as cut flowers, 57;
      at shows, 243

    Parkinson's chapter on carnations, 94

    Pavia macrostachya, 103

    Pea, white everlasting, 95

    Pergola, 212

    Pernettya, 165

    Pests, bird, beast, and insect, 259

    Phacelia campanularia, 63

    Pheasants, as depredators, 261;
      destroying crocuses, 261

    Philadelphus microphyllus, 103

    Phlomis fruticosa, 103

    Phloxes, 135

    Piptanthus nepalensis, 63, 206

    Planes pollarded, 215

    Planting early, 129;
      careful planting, 130;
      planting from pots, 131;
      careful tree planting, 148

    Platycodon Mariesi, 108

    Plume hyacinth, 49

    Polygala chamæbuxus, 164

    Polygonum compactum, 136;
      Sieboldi, 258

    "Pot-pourri from a Surrey garden," 18

    Primroses, white and lilac, 44;
      large bunch-flowered kinds as cut flowers, 58;
      seedlings planted out, 85;
      primrose garden, 216

    Primula denticulata, 184

    Progress in gardening, 249

    Prophet-flower (Arnebia), 56

    Protecting tender plants, 145

    Pterocephalus parnassi, 107

    Pyrus Maulei, 50


    Queen wasps, 63

    Quince, 128


    Rabbits, 260

    Ranunculus montanus, 50

    Raphiolepis ovata, 204

    Rhododendrons, variation in foliage, 35;
      R. multum maculatum, 35;
      plants to fill bare spaces among, 37;
      arrangement for colour, 64 and onward;
      hybrid of R. Aucklandi, 69;
      alpine, 165

    Ribbon border, 266

    Ribes, 50

    Robinia hispida, 203

    Rock garden, making and renewing, 115

    Rock-wall, 116 and onward

    Rosemary, 204

    Roses, pruning, tying, and training, 38;
      fence planted with free roses, 38;
      Reine Olga de Wurtemburg, 38;
      climbing and rambling roses, 39;
      Fortune's yellow, Banksian, 40;
      wild roses, 43;
      garden roses: Provence, moss, damask, R. alba, 78;
      roses in cottage gardens, ramblers and fountains, 79;
      free growth of Rosa polyantha, 80;
      two good, free roses for cutting, 80;
      Burnet rose and Scotch briars, Rosa lucida, 81;
      tea roses: best kinds for light soil, pegging, pruning, 82;
      roses collected in Capri, 105;
      second bloom of tea roses, 110;
      jam made of hips of R. rugosa, 111, 184;
      R. arvensis, garden form of, 129;
      R. Boursault elegans, 192;
      China, 205;
      their scents, 235

    Ruscus aculeatus, 151;
      R. racemosus, 152

    Ruta patavina, a late-flowering rock-plant, 107


    Sambucus ebulis, 258

    Satin-leaf (Heuchera Richardsoni), 53

    Scilla maritima, 14;
      S. sibirica, S. bifolia, 32

    Scents of flowers, 229 and onward

    Scotch fir, pollen, 53;
      cones opening, 54;
      effect of sound in fir-wood, 60

    Show flowers, 242

    Show-table, what it teaches, 241

    Shrub-bank, 101;
      snug place for tender shrubs, 121

    Shrub-wilderness of the old home, 100

    Skimmeas, 101, 165

    Slugs, 262

    Smilacina bifolia, 61

    Snapdragon, 251

    Snowstorm of December 1886, 27

    Snowy Mespilus (Amelanchier), 52

    Solanum crispum, 204

    Solomon's seal, 61

    Spindle-tree, 127

    Spiræa Thunbergi, 50, 104;
      S. prunifolia, 104

    St. John's worts, choice, 103

    Stephanandra flexuosa, 103

    Sternbergia lutea, 139

    Sticks and stakes, 163

    Storms in autumn, 122

    Styrax japonica, 101

    Suckers of nuts, 11;
      robbers, how to remove, 24;
      on grafted rhododendrons, 36

    Sunflowers, perennial, 134

    Sweetbriar, rambling, 39;
      fragrance in April, 51

    Sweet-leaved small shrubs, 34, 57, 101

    Sweet peas, autumn sown, 83, 112


    Thatching with hoop-chips, 169

    Thinning the nut-walk, 10;
      thinning shrubs, 22;
      trees in copse, 151

    Tiarella cordifolia, 53;
      colour of leaves in winter, 21

    Tools for dividing, 136;
      for tree cutting and grubbing, 150;
      woodman's, 158;
      axe and wedge, 159;
      rollers, 160;
      cross-cut saw, 162

    Training the eye, 4;
      training Clematis flammula, 24

    Transplanting large trees, 147

    Trillium grandiflorum, 61

    Tritomas, protecting, 146

    Tulips, show kinds and their origin, 55;
      T. retroflexa, 55;
      other good garden kinds, 56


    Various ways of gardening, 3

    Verbascum olympicum and V. phlomoides, 85

    Villa garden, 171

    Vinca acutiflora, 139

    Vine, black Hamburg at Calcot, 12;
      as a wall-plant, 42;
      good garden kinds, 42;
      claret vine, 110, 205;
      Vitis Coignettii, 123

    Violets, the pale St. Helena, 45;
      Czar, 140

    Virginian cowslip, 46;
      its colouring, 47;
      sowing seed, 84


    Wall pennywort, 120

    Water-elder, a beautiful neglected shrub, 123

    Weeds, 256

    Wild gardening misunderstood, 269

    Wilson, Mr. G. F.'s garden at Wisley, 184

    Window garden, 185

    Winter, beauty of woodland, 7

    Wistaria chinensis, 43

    Whortleberry under Scotch fir, 51, 61

    Woodman at work, 158

    Woodruff, 60

    Wood-rush, 61, 165

    Wood-work, 163


    Xanthoceras sorbifolia, 103


    Yellow everlasting, 120

    Yuccas, some of the best kinds, 91;
      in flower-border, 201



THE END


    Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
    Edinburgh & London



Transcriber's Notes:

  1. Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been retained from the original.
  (where both are acceptable usage)
  2. Inconsistencies in the use of capitalisation and spelling within
  botanical names have been retained from the original (where both are
  acceptable usage).
  3. Punctuation has been normalised.
  4. Page numbering format in the index has been standardised.
  5. The following words have been changed:

  p. 52 Amelancheir to Amelanchier: The snowy Mespilus (_Amelanchier_)
  p. 89 at to as: such as Globe Artichoke
  p. 93 Olivieranum to Oliverianum: useful is _E. Oliverianum_
  p. 109 Rudbekia to Rudbeckia: _Rudbeckia Newmanni_ reflects
  p. 110 accomypaning to accompanying: the accompanying attacks
  p. 100 Ailantus to Ailanthus: and Ailanthus and Hickory
  p. 138 Olivieranum to Oliverianum: and _Eryngium Oliverianum_.
  p. 206 foetidium to foetidum: Hydrangeas, _Clerodendron foetidum_
  p. 209 Olivieranum to Oliverianum: _Eryngium Oliverianum_ has turned
  p. 281 ladaniferns to ladaniferus: C. ladaniferus, 102, 206
  p. 281 Olivieranum to Oliverianum: E. Oliverianum, 93, 209
  p. 285 Coignetti to Coignettii: Vitis Coignettii, 123

  6. p. 170 in the bill of sale, a "letter" best described as an inverted
  V, is here represented by [V]: IIXXX·I·, IIXXXX·II[V] IIII[V]XX, IIXX





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