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Title: A Garden with House Attached
Author: Brooks, Sarah Warner
Language: English
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[Illustration: The Hollyhock Bed]



  A GARDEN WITH HOUSE ATTACHED

  BY SARAH WARNER BROOKS AUTHOR OF "MY FIRE OPAL," "POVERTY KNOB," ETC

  "I never had any desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that
  one which I have had always, that I might be master at least of a small
  house, and a large garden."--Abraham Cowley.


  BOSTON: RICHARD G. BADGER The Gorham Press 1904


  Copyright 1904 by Sarah Warner Brooks

  _All rights reserved_

  PRINTED AT THE GORHAM PRESS BOSTON, U. S. A.


TO MY SUMMER CHILD



CONTENTS

                                    Page

_CHAPTER ONE_
_A Garden with House Attached_        5

_CHAPTER TWO_
_The Man with the Hoe_               10

_CHAPTER THREE_
_The "Lady's" Conservatory_          14

_CHAPTER FOUR_
_The House Garden, The Selection,
Arrangement, and Culture of House
Plants_                              20

_CHAPTER FIVE_
_At Easter-time_                     35

_CHAPTER SIX_
_Burglar-proof_                      37

_CHAPTER SEVEN_
_Perennials_                         40

_CHAPTER EIGHT_
_Hollyhocks and Violets_             68

_CHAPTER NINE_
_The Rose_                           74

_CHAPTER TEN_
_Border Bulbs_                       84

_CHAPTER ELEVEN_
_Annuals_                            88

_CHAPTER TWELVE_
_Climbers_                           94

_CHAPTER THIRTEEN_
_Gardens "in Spain"_                 99

_CHAPTER FOURTEEN_
_The Cerebral Processes of Plants_  108

_CHAPTER FIFTEEN_
_"Auf Wiedersehen"_                 115



A GARDEN WITH HOUSE ATTACHED



CHAPTER I

"_A Garden with House Attached_"


When, by an unlooked-for sequence of events, I became manager of "The
Garden with House Attached" (as an important preliminary) along with
"The Third Son"[1] I went over from Cambridge to take account of its
possibilities. And here be it stated that from the time of his first
trousers "The Third Son" had been my assistant gardener; and in all my
horticultural enterprises, might still be counted in as "aider and
abettor."

"Mother," said this astute young person--on our return from this
inspection--"It is a big job; but there is yet another week of my
vacation. Let us make a beginning."

In shaping the ground plan of this quaint old garden, its long-dead
projectors had shown a capability which came within an ace of genius
itself! Hence, so far as laying out went, there was absolutely no call
for improvement.

All had been so well and effectively outlined, that the landscape
gardener himself must have approved.

The long South walk--leading past the front door of the "Mansion
House"--passing orchard and kitchen garden on its way up the long,
gradual ascent towards the western boundary of the estate, and then
turning a corner, followed the low stone wall hedged with sturdy purple
lilacs (free to all the country round) and making a second turn, skirted
the low northern ledge, where in June the locust hangs its tassels of
perfumed snow, and, in autumn time, the wild barberry perfects its coral
clusters. There, all summer long, the wind blows cool and sweet, and,
resting on low, mossy boulders, you may sight, on the left, Middlesex
Fells, and, across the blue distance, glimpse Tufts College on its
broad, grassy hill, with the Mystic River (if the tide be in) creeping
leisurely between you and that ancient seat of learning.

Following the walk down the lazy declivity, you take a turn with it
beneath two aged pines, with the big lily-of-the-valley patch nestling
in their shade; and (hard by) the well-appointed triangular flower plot,
from time immemorial "bedded out" with "The Lady's" house plants.
Turning on your track, you take a stroll through "The Lover's Walk"--a
little, lilac-embowered pathway--and turning, follow, past the back of
the house, the long, rocky ledge, with its glorious crown of white
lilac trees--their tall tops touching the very ridge-pole of the roof.

There orange toadstools, like fairy parasols, push up through the damp
mosses. There a giant Norway spruce drops its cones and spreads its
brown carpet of needles; and in summer-time you may dream away the hours
upon the cool stone steps and, harkening to an ancient pine singing its
slow song, may

    "Eat of the lotus, and dream, and forget."

The rough wagon road on the East takes you from the high road to the big
old-fashioned barn, beneath whose eaves, year after year, the punctual
swallow nests; while, high among the rafters within, immemorial pigeons
rear their toothsome squabs.

The flower-borders of this garden--anciently edged with box (which, of
late, gave up, piece by piece, the long struggles of existence)--had, no
doubt, in their prime, been well worth seeing. Lovely blue-eyed
Periwinkle yet wandered among the tangled shrubs. A persistent Day-lily
and a stunted Flowering Almond still held their own; and in May-time a
single root of double English Violet made shift to perfect a scented
flower or two,--"dim, but sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes."

Thrifty old-time shrubs still flourished in the wide borders. Alicanthus
sent far and wide its fruity odor. Yellow Globe flowers straggled here
and there. Waxberry bushes stoutly thrived, and, in early springtime,
an aged Pyrrhus Japonica put on its blaze of scarlet bloom. Big domes of
Tartarean Honeysuckle--all rosy pink with bloom--yet held their own.
Creamy Syringas made sweet the summer air, and as for Lilacs (white and
purple) they were like "the rats of Bingen," _everywhere_--dominating
the entire grounds!

It was a blessed day for us all when, in the sixteenth century, this
darling Persian shrub was introduced into English gardens. In Persia
they called it the "lilag" (which means simply a flower) and from this
we have our word _Lilac_. Surely, "by no other name"--save by the dear
country one of _laylock_--would it "smell as sweet."

The native West Indian has a pretty superstition in regard to this
familiar flower. He holds that lilac branches, when in blossom, if hung
up around the room, protect from malignant influences. He believes that
the "jumbies," or evil spirits, will not enter a house where there are
lilac blooms. I like to borrow from the pagan this harmless belief; and,
each morning throughout their flowering time, I cut big "bowpots" of
blown lilacs, and setting them about the house, idly fancy that--thus
kept at bay--no evil thing "with spell or charm" may enter the dear
home. And, further to guard it, I have named our place "The Lilacs."

A garden is hardly complete without the restful shade of trees--the
loveliness of interchanging sunshine and shadow.

Therefore was it good to find trees, many and thrifty, hobnobbing
together in our new holding.

A big sturdy hornbeam, with song-birds nesting high among its branches,
shaded the eastern lawn, while close beside the kitchen porch a graceful
rose-acacia reared its slender trunk, and every May-time wove its
garlands of rosy bloom.

All about us grew maple and ash trees. Tall pines to hold the song of
the wind among their boughs. Spruces and Arbor Vitæs (these absolutely
upon their last legs, but still persistent), and, fairest of them all,
two glorious tulip-trees towering upward, like sturdy masts, towards the
blue heaven, flinging to the winds their high leafy boughs, like pale
green pennants, picked out (in blooming time) with shapely miracles of
color.

Here and there an apple or a pear tree had strayed from orchard to lawn;
and in the very midst of things a huge cherry tree rendered its yearly
tale of juicy blackhearts--enough and to spare for neighbors and
robins, and for our own preserve jars. On a bleak northern rise behind
the house, an ancient juniper (like another "Cleopatra's needle") stood
slenderly against the sky--as perfect a pyramid as if shaped by the
gardener's shears, instead of the keen-edged winter wind.



CHAPTER II

"_The Man with the Hoe_"


As before our advent at the "Mansion House" the man-of-all-work--after a
long administration of its out-door affairs in the soft service of an
easily-gratified mistress (the dear "Lady of the Wheeled Chair") had
been abstracted from the family circle, the first step in our gardening
was to call in the local "Man with the Hoe." This useful personage (let
it here be said) was not--like Mr. Markham's terrible hero--"Brother to
the ox." His "jaw" and "forehead" were all right, and, owing to the use
of a hoe with proper length of handle, "The Weight of the Centuries" had
not disturbed the contour of his back. One could not swear that he knew
his "Plato" (alas, how few of us _do_!) and as to "The Swing of the
Pleiades," it was not his immediate concern.

His it was, rather, to interest himself with the hoeing and edging of
graveled walks, the weeding of kitchen and flower-gardens, the pruning
of shrubs and vines, and the "making of two" lilies "grow where but one
grew before." And so far from being (like Markham's man) "fraught with
menace to the universe" _our_ "Man with the Hoe"--in that small section
of it within his immediate radius--was considered a positive _blessing_!
Was it not on _his_ good right arm that we--"the deserving poor"--to
whom Providence had apportioned vegetable patches, flower-borders, and
bits of lawn with intersecting graveled paths, and denied the luxury of
a resident "hired man"--depended for the presentability of our
"outdoors"? Poor Millet! one fancies his astonishment at Markham's
terrible presentation of his peasant model! Himself of their guild, he
painted his brother peasants in all honesty; and being neither pessimist
nor anarchist, but working simply from the standpoint of the artist, has
so made them immortal.

But to return to our own undertaking--our first task was the dislodgment
of the stubborn tangle of persistent thimbleberry vines, sturdy saplings
of ash and chestnut, and long-established waxberries. This done, we
made, on the south, facing the "king's highway" and near enough to give
delight and perfume to the foot-passenger, a brand new flower bed. In
the middle of each square of lawn a raised circle, edged with stone, was
made for the spring hyacinths and tulips (these to be succeeded later
with cannas and bright summer flowers). Relegating the kitchen garden to
a less conspicuous place, we prepared the cabbage-patch for our little
rose-garden. All this heavy work done--"The Man with the Hoe" was, for
the time, discharged.

Our Cambridge home had, for nearly two decades, been the property of one
who in the Harvard Botanical Garden had "a friend at court" and had thus
found it possible to secure for his grounds many choice shrubs
and hardy herbaceous plants. Himself a skilled and enthusiastic
horticulturist--after twenty years of painstaking cultivation, his
garden close, with its mellow low-lying site and unobstructed southern
exposure, had become a miracle of productiveness.

It had not, like the Medford garden, been "laid out." Flowers, fruit,
and vegetables, were all in a riotous jumble; yet each the perfection of
its kind. The marvel was that one small garden could carry such a load
of growth!

Pears, early and late, of the juiciest and sweetest; big yellow quinces,
currants, white and red, raspberries, thimbleberries, and blackberries
by the bushel! And (crowning glory of all) a huge gravenstein with fruit
fair as the famous golden apples tended by the "Daughters of the Evening
Star." To this garden, for many years, my good husband had devoted his
leisure hours. Two years before our removal to "The Garden with House
Attached" he had left us for the far-off Unknown Land; and it was
therefore with tender touch that we uprooted the shrubs and plants of
his care--together with the flowers that _I_ had tended. The cold frame
was full of thrifty seedlings--Primroses, Iceland poppies, and other
beauties. In the open, there were Lilies, Peonies--rose-pink and creamy
white--big Drummond Phloxes, and Roses _ad infinitum_--two heaped
cartloads in all--carried over by "The Third Son," and before the
earliest frost, so well bestowed by his able hands, as to have rooted
themselves in the mellow soil of the new garden.

Not one of these succumbed to the perils of transplantation--not even
the five-year-old peach tree, whose certain dissolution all had
prophesied, but which bravely withstood the risk of removal, and now,
each spring, puts on its crown of pink splendor, which duly turns to
juicy fruit beneath the sun that shines upon the grave of him whose
hand, long years ago, planted its tiny stone.

Later on, we put in the tulip and hyacinth bulbs, and, when at last
the entire garden, beneath its warm coverlet of dressing and
leaves, composed itself for a long winter nap--like the poet's
"goose-woman"--we

    "Blessed ourselves, and cursed ourselves,
    And rested from our labors."



CHAPTER III

_The "Lady's" Conservatory_


Meantime, the dear "Lady" (who had anticipated our coming to the Mansion
House, by a sudden resolve to commit her burden of housekeeping to
younger and abler hands--and retain of her old establishment but a
single personal attendant--as faithful friend, companion, and
amanuensis) wheeled into the very thick of action--had watched with
anxious eyes this removal of ancient landmarks--this general upheaval of
things. An almost helpless invalid--wheeled daily through eight patient
summers into her beloved garden--she had sat with her beautiful silver
hair arranged in careful curls, a big white sun-bonnet shading her kind
old face, to receive her friends (both gentle and simple) with a cordial
hospitality, and an old-time courtesy in fine keeping with herself and
her surroundings.

Innately conservative, the Lady was scarce in touch with innovation of
any sort. A passionate lover of flowers, but scantily endowed with
horticultural talent, and without a spark of creative genius, she smiled
with dubious complacency on this awful devastation--comforting herself
with the sweet anticipation of spring tulips and summer roses, in her
very own garden! Dear Lady--her absolute trust in my gardening ability
was indeed touching! One must "live up to the blue china" of one's
reputation; so I did my very best; and when all was done, and the
out-door darlings nestled safely beneath their winter coverlet, came the
pleasure of looking after the house-plants--(by this time well-recovered
from the vicissitudes of repotting and removal) and the bestowal of each
in its winter quarters; and this leads me to a description of "The
Conservatory."

In a warm southwestern angle of "The Mansion House" there nestled a
narrow piazza-like structure--opening, by long French windows, from both
drawing and sitting room, and leading by a short flight of steps into
the old garden.

This erection--having been enclosed by sash-work of glass--and furnished
with rugs, a big easy chair, a round table, and a penitential hair-cloth
sofa, and supplied with rocking chairs, was, when the temperature
permitted, the favorite lounging place of family and guest.

Though warmed only by the sun, it had always been known as "The
Conservatory" (probably because herein every autumn, the Lady's
geraniums and fuchsias, taken in from the early frost, stood on the
corner table, recovering from the fall potting on their way to winter
quarters on the broad ledge of a sunny south window of her own bed
chamber). Through the winter this unwarmed place was neither available
for plant or man.

Long before the possibility of ever moving to the Mansion House had
entered my head, I had looked upon this conservatory with loving eyes,
and, in fancy, pictured it, warmed and filled all winter long with
lovely flowering plants.

A Conservatory had been the dream of my life! And when _this_ fell to my
lot, and, abolishing the stuffy cylinder stoves that had, heretofore,
warmed the Mansion House, we put in a big furnace, I had directed the
leading of a roomy pipe to this glass-enclosed quarter, and the out-door
work well over, I pleased myself with arranging this new winter home for
my darlings. The light sashes--warped by Time--had become "ram-shackly."
I wedged them securely, and stuffing gaps with cotton batting carefully
listed the outer door against

    "The west wind Mudjekeewis,"

and when all was done delightedly watched the vigorous growth of my
well-housed darlings. Alas! short and sweet was my day of content.

One fatal January night the mercury dropped suddenly to zero, and (as
luck would have it) the furnace fire followed suit, and, in the morning,
I awoke to find my precious plants stark and stiff against the panes.

We promptly showered them with ice-cold water ("a hair of the dog that
bit you" advises the old proverb). In vain! The blighted foliage stood
black and shriveled in the morning sunshine!

    "All the King's horses and all the King's men
    Couldn't bring Humpty Dumpty up again!"

All that could be done was to clip away the frost-bitten members, mellow
the soil, and await a fresh supply of sap from the uninjured roots.

As a matter of course the slowly recuperating plants could no longer be
left to the random winter gambols of tricky "Mudjekeewis," but must be
relegated to the old-time safety of window-seat and flower-stand.

Thus ended my day-dream of a conservatory!

Under this dispensation I consoled myself by nursing the invalids back
to health and comparative prosperity, and, in late February, they amply
repaid my care by abundant leafage and wealth of bloom.

Meantime, the Freesias, and Narcissi, the Hyacinths and Tritelias, came
one after another from the dark cellar, to sit in the sun, and cheer our
wintry days with odor and bloom, and give delight to the dear invalid
Lady.

And here let me say that of all winter gardening I have found the house
cultivation of bulbs most interesting and repaying.

First there is the eager looking over the autumn catalogues and the
well-considered selection of your bulbs. If your purse is long enough to
warrant it, you may put on your list the costly _named_ varieties of
your favorite colors among the hyacinths; if otherwise, you may still
have the satisfaction of making a dollar or two go a long way; since
after putting on your list a few choice bulbs, you get, at the
department store, oceans of five-cent hyacinth bulbs, and, taking your
chance as to color, have the added pleasure of the surprises thus
secured.

As the other desirable bulbs are comparatively inexpensive, you can
finish your list from the catalogue, and thus have as many as you
desire.

The Oxalis has, presumably, been saved over from last winter's stock,
and so, too, have the best of the Freesias. These are, no doubt,
well-started about the first of September.

Early in October some of the newly bought Freesias and some of all the
other bulbs may be planted. The remainder may be potted in instalments,
two or three weeks apart, the _last_ as late as December. You may use
for hyacinths, at a pinch, quite small pots--say four-inch ones; but
success is more certain in the five or six-inch sizes. The smaller bulbs
may be planted in clumps in such sized pots as you like, about two
inches apart. You may use prepared soil furnished very reasonably by the
florist, or, if preferred, prepare it yourself after this formula:
one-half mellow garden loam, one-quarter well-rotted cow manure, and for
the remainder use leaf-mold, well-pulverized peat, and a good
trowel-full of fine beach sand. Bulbs, though needing rich food, should
never come directly in contact with their manure supply.

In potting the larger bulbs leave about quarter of an inch above ground,
but entirely bury the smaller ones.

The big bulbs should be pressed firmly down, as they have a way of
working up from the covering soil.

Water well, and set in a cool, dark cellar. The oxalis and freesia
sprout more quickly, and must not be left to send long pale shoots up in
the dark, but the hyacinths and narcissi, though promised in six weeks,
are often two months, and even longer, getting ready to come into the
light.

This should be done with caution, as they must first be greened in a
shaded window, and not until later exposed to the direct beams of the
sun. They may be given water in moderate supplies, and I have sometimes
found a weekly allowance of "Bowker's Flower Food" desirable.

My own selection of house bulbs usually comprises oxalis, freesia, the
narcissi, hyacinth, and tritelia; many other desirable ones are to be
had, but with a good supply of the above-named varieties, including a
generous number of such inexpensive bulbs as the Paper-white Narcissus,
and the Yellow "Daffies," one may count on a sweet succession of bloom
from Christmas to May-time.

In this connection I add a reprint of a paper long ago published in the
"American Garden."

It was originally prepared by me for the "Cambridge Plant Club," whose
members were so kind as to assure me that they found it helpful and
entertaining. It was copied from the "Garden" by the _Cambridge
Tribune_, but may, nevertheless, be new to the present reader:



CHAPTER IV

_The House Garden. The Selection, Arrangement, and Culture of House
Plants_


Apart from that æsthetic satisfaction which house plants afford, the
principle of growth, which they exemplify, has its own strong and almost
universal attraction. Thus it is that we behold in dust-blurred windows
of squalid tenements rows of dented tomato cans, desolately holding
their stunted geraniums, fuchsias, and other feeble bits of greenery.
Such half-pathetic attempts at floriculture are, indeed, "touches of
nature" that "make us kin" to the forlorn inmates of these shabby,
ill-conditioned dwellings who, amid poverty and its possible
degradation, have still courage for, at least, _one fine endeavor_.

The sole purpose of this paper is to impart some simple knowledge gained
through a long and earnestly-loving experience in the beautiful art of
plant-culture. Our first step is the choice of our plants; and we shall
do wisely to select such as will best accommodate themselves to the
somewhat adverse conditions of furnace-heated and gas-lighted rooms such
as most of us occupy. First and foremost in our collection should stand
sweet-scented plants; not only because these impart to our rooms a
delicious air of summer, and etherealize the atmosphere of our homes,
but also because of their sanitary value, medical authority having
distinctly declared that the perfume of growing flowers, exhaling on the
in-door air, tends to neutralize fever and other disease-germs. For
delicacy of perfume and continuity of bloom the heliotrope may take the
first rank among odorous house plants. Its very name--derived from two
Greek words, Helio, the sun, and trope, to turn--is charmingly
suggestive of summer-time. The plant does not belie its name. It cannot
have too many sun-kisses. As a cut-flower it is perishable and
unsatisfactory, but its growing bloom lasts long, and holds its odor
even in decay; it is delightful up to its very last breath.

To secure good winter bloom from the heliotrope, begin in early summer
with the plant while in the ground, and by repeated pinching-back make
it sturdy and robust. This done, choose some cloudy afternoon, about the
middle of August, for potting. Your soil should be thus prepared:
one-third good loam, one-third leaf-mold, and one-third well-rotted
manure; a few pinches of soot may be added, and enough white sand mixed
through the whole to keep it light and dainty. Pot carefully, and with
as little root disturbance as may be. Water thoroughly, and keep the
plant in shade until its leaves recover their tone. After this it may
stand in the sun, if given plenty of water, for a week or two, while
the buds get under way.

Be sure to house before the faintest suspicion of frost, as this
sun-lover is extremely tender, and the slightest nipping harms it. Give
it a southern exposure in your room, and place close to the glass; and
if you have not a double window, leave the fly-screen in to save the
leaves and blossoms from immediate contact with frosty panes. A
heliotrope should never once become wholly dry, and should have a weekly
drink of manure-water, which must be about the color of moderately
strong coffee. For insect pests, dust the leaves with a light
feather-brush, and then wash thoroughly. This process must be repeated
as often as the insects appear.

The odorous sacred lily of China we all, no doubt, grow yearly in water,
with a bottom layer or two of pebbles. It is well to make incisions
lengthwise of the bulb with a sharp knife before planting, and there
should be lumps of charcoal among the pebbles to keep the water sweet. A
single bulb, thus treated, will give one seven flower-stalks. The
old-fashioned plant, the calla, though less common than it was twenty
years ago, if grown in an artistic vase and given an entire window, is
beautiful.

It has been said of the calla that "it needs water like a mill, heat
like a furnace, food like an army, and absolute rest during the summer."
"Keep its feet in water," says the florist. In its native habitat it is
in water to the depth of a foot or more, in broad open sunlight, and in
soil as rich as decayed vegetation can make it. Soon after flowering
season the water subsides, and the soil becomes as dry as it is possible
to get in the tropics. Here, nature teaches us how to cultivate the
calla. The canna thrives admirably as a house plant, and has a happy way
of accommodating itself to circumstances, which makes it especially
desirable for decorative effect. In a sunny window it will flower all
winter if given abundant heat. In a north window of the same room it
will give one beautiful foliage, and it will, "at a pinch," take a back
seat and hold its own in the shade, grouped with the statuary and
screens, where, with its large, handsome leaves, it will impart to the
drawing-room a certain air of oriental languor and magnificence. The
canna should be lifted early in September and placed in rich loam, in a
large, well-shaped pot or vase, and kept for a week or two in the open,
in partial shade, and well watered. It must be carefully housed before
the lightest frost appears. Its vigor and beauty are increased by the
addition of wood soot to the soil.

All the begonias thrive well as house plants. My experience with the new
and choice varieties has not been sufficient to enable me to give
valuable advice in regard to their culture. I had formerly supposed that
a north window might suit a begonia. It was a mistaken impression. The
plant, I find, needs sunlight and a warm atmosphere. It must be
regularly and carefully watered, and I have found it best to give the
small-leaved begonia its water from the saucer. The smooth-leaved
begonias are said to affect a Sunday morning cup of coffee by way of
gloss to their foliage. I have seen a superb one thus treated, but have
never tried the experiment. The plant likes an occasional watering with
soot tea while making its summer growth in the garden.

The coleus, as a window plant, affords fine color effects, but the plant
is too tender to be agreeable for house-culture. It requires an
invariably high temperature, a fair amount of sunlight, regular
moisture, and very rich soil. This given it will grow superbly, but if
overtaken, in some unguarded hour, with the slightest chill, it loses
its beauty and vigor. The house coleus is almost sure to become infested
with mealy-bugs. These may be picked off, and thereafter the plant
should be given a careful wash of kerosene water, which must be repeated
as often as the pests appear. The formula for this spray, which is used
for roses at Mount Auburn, was thus given me by an expert. It is simply
one wine-glass of kerosene oil to a gallon of water.

Ferns, as decorative plants, are beautiful and easily grown, though all
do not succeed with the maidenhair. All ferns should have an abundance
of light, but not too much sun. I have found an eastern exposure the
very best possible. Ferns should be placed in the full light of a
window, given a high temperature and watered evenly, but not too much.
The soil should be partially renewed annually, and care should be taken
with the roots, which do not like disturbance; especially is this to be
observed with the maidenhair, which, if possible, should _never_ be
transplanted, and should have its stated period of entire rest, during
which it should be kept almost dry. The fuchsia is, properly, an
out-door bloomer, but with care can be brought to flower in winter. To
this end, pinch back in summer, and in September house, and place in a
north or east window. Give much light, water freely with warm water, and
give liquid manure and soot tea about twice a week. If given an entire
window both flower and foliage will be superb, with this treatment. Time
would fail me to enumerate all the desirable plants for house-culture;
there is the orange tree, the costly palm, the delicate asparagus, the
achyranthes, anthericum, and curculigo, the aspidistra, cyclamen, and
many more equally beautiful and practicable, and last, but not least,
the inevitable rubber plant, a little stiff and heavy perhaps, but as a
single plant decidedly effective. In arranging a table or stand of mixed
plants, care should be taken to give each its proper growing place
without marring the general effect. Heliotrope, that ardent sun-lover,
should have the front row, close to the window-glass. Beside it should
sit a begonia or two, and some flowering geraniums. A petunia and a
bridal-rose might come next--the petunia twined among the others to hide
its scraggy limbs. A nicotiana, well in the light, might make the
evenings sweet with its perfume, and if the room be not over-warm, a pot
of mignonette might sweeten the air by day, and at night be removed to
cooler quarters. In the "middle aisle" an achyranthes or two may stand
with sunlight sifting through its fiery leaves, which have thus all the
color-effect of blossoms without their perishability. Further back,
anthericum may flourish, with curculigo spreading queenly its fluted
palm-like leaves, and always craving moisture. And in the "pauper's pew"
Wandering Jew will contentedly sit, like charity, kindly covering the
entire defects of staring pots that needs must hold its betters; and on
the floor, at the foot of all, aspidistra may seem to "choose darkness
rather than light." If you need a growing amaryllis or two to eke out
your foliage display, they will take a shady place, though to bring them
into flower you need a strong, steady sunlight.

Nicotiana, or tobacco plant, is another fragrant and desirable plant. It
thrives in about the same soil as the heliotrope, but needs an entirely
different exposure, being one of the few plants that flower perfectly in
a sunless window. Experimenting with the nicotiana as a house plant, I
found that in a south window the plant was not robust, was scant of
bloom, and the flowers quite perishable in comparison with the blossoms
in a north window, where the plants grew to a height of more than five
feet, and, together, produced one hundred and fifty-six flowers.
Through the entire winter no ray of sunlight reached them. They were
trained on stout strings quite close to the glass of a double window,
kept moist, and given an even temperature of from sixty-five to seventy
degrees, and were watered well with liquid manure.

[Illustration: The Circle on the Lawn]

At evening the blossoms expand, and all through the night it is as if
the room were

    "Perfumed from an unseen censer, swung by angels."

Among the sweet-scented tribe mignonette ranks high as an out-door
plant, and as a window bloomer it is exquisite. It rarely outlives
transplanting, but may be sown in pots about mid-summer, and pinched
back for the house. Another method is to obtain the plant from the
florist when in bud. The cost is trifling, and if kept cool and in a
sunny window, it will continue in bloom for weeks. Mignonette needs much
sunlight, but not too high a temperature, and the plant is much weakened
by a single day's omission in watering.

Another--now almost obsolete--fragrant house plant is the night-blooming
jasmine. Its odor is peculiar and intense, and--as its name implies--is
only emitted by night. Its foliage is not especially delicate, but
nothing can be more dainty than its slender spikes of pale,
greenish-white bloom. It is a thrifty plant, making in a single summer a
growth of five or six feet. It is a shrub, but one could fancy that,
ages ago, it must have been a "sport" of a climber, so slender and rapid
is its habit of growth. After flowering-time, which begins late in July
and continues until late in October, it drops most of its foliage, which
is soon replaced by young, delicate shoots and fresh leaves and buds.

The Daphne odora, which combines in its small clusters of bloom the
exquisite perfume of many sweet flowers, may not be lightly passed by.
It is not an easy plant to manage, and often drops its buds just as they
seem ready to open. By placing it in the sunny window of a cool room,
and watering evenly and not too copiously, it may be brought into
flower; and then nothing can be finer than its fragrance.

The more homely and familiar hyacinth is not only delightful in form,
color, and odor, but may be recommended as a "safe investment," as it
seldom fails to flower and needs comparatively little care.

The mahernia is another desirable fragrant plant. It is very effective
in a hanging-basket. It comes in flower about the first of February, and
its tiny yellow cups are brimful of delicious odor. A home-bred mahernia
makes fine foliage, but seldom blooms abundantly; it is, therefore, best
to procure the plant from the florist when fully budded. It will then
flower well in a sunny window, and for three or four weeks one's room
will be as sweet as summer. The wax-plant, though properly a summer
blooming plant, sometimes flowers in winter. Its blossoms are very
odorous, especially by night, and in structure and color they are
exquisite. It is a long-lived plant, easily raised and tended, and,
being a climber, may be tastefully trained on a trellis, where,
with its glossy, rubber-like leaves, it is very effective. The
petunia, as a window plant, blooms freely, and the white variety is
fragrant--especially by night. The plant is rather ungainly in its habit
of growth. To conceal its scragginess of structure twine its stems among
other foliage on your stand, and place it close to the glass, and you
will find it pretty and effective. And now that sweet-smelling plants
are under consideration, may I not give you the details of an experiment
with the common lilac as a house plant? It was made some fifteen years
ago, and before I had the slightest knowledge of lilac-forcing, which is
now quite common among our florists.

Early in December a stout, low bush of the hardy purple variety was,
with the aid of a pickaxe, dislodged from the frost-bound earth, and
with its frozen ball of sod still adhering, thus treated: a large
nail-keg, having an auger-hole in its bottom on which some bits of crock
were strewn, was filled to about half its depth with warm stable manure;
on this the dry leafless bush, with its frozen soil, was set, and the
keg filled in with mellow loam. After a good watering, the keg was
placed in a deep pan, which was then filled with boiling water, and the
whole set near a huge hall stove. The hot water was daily renewed at the
bottom, and before many days leaf and flower-buds began to swell on the
hard, bare stems of the bush. When these were well formed and the tiny
buds quite distinguishable among the pale green foliage, the lilac was
removed from its dim corner beside the stove, and given an entire east
window in the long hall, where the temperature ranged from forty to
sixty, and sometimes as high as seventy degrees. In about two months
from the time of housing fourteen large and perfect clusters of
pearl-white lilacs rejoiced our eyes. These blossoms were far more
delicate in odor than out-door lilacs, and made a delightful atmosphere
of spring-time in the homely old farm-house which was then our
dwelling-place. We had, too, the novel pleasure of surprising our
friends with clusters of fresh lilac in February.

French florists, who give much attention to lilac-forcing, lay great
stress upon the necessity of keeping the bush in the dark in order to
bleach the flowers--white lilacs being most marketable, and the common
purple lilac most available for forcing on account of its superior
vitality. Fortunately I stumbled upon the right treatment, and mine
seemed to come white of their own sweet will.

For a hanging-basket use the oxalis, of which there are many beautiful
varieties. It flowers abundantly, but as the season advances, must be
stimulated with repeated applications of liquid manure and soot tea,
that its foliage may not lose its vigor and become straggly. Wandering
Jew, though structurally coarse, is a good hanging plant, and will
accommodate itself to any exposure, really doing its very best in a
north window. Ivy geranium is another hanging plant, beautiful in
structure, and with its double rose-pink blossoms, as in the improved
varieties, most fair to see. It demands strong food, much moisture, and
oceans of sunlight. Madeira vine and German ivy both make effective
hanging-baskets. The latter is too alluring to the green fly to make its
house-culture easy or satisfactory. Smilax, if trained on strings, in a
sunny window, is exquisitely delicate, and its blossom is odorous. The
English ivy, as in-door greenery, is delightful. I have attempted its
culture, but my experience being but a series of ignoble defeats, is not
commendable. I wish it were! The odious scale has at last compelled me
to abandon the field. I must also confess to repeated failure with
in-door geraniums. Mine have not bloomed well, and a geranium without
its blossoms is a poor affair (not including the scented varieties).
Last autumn, after having tried many methods with many kinds, I turned
over a new leaf in geranium culture. All my best geraniums were
consigned to an upper room, where no furnace heat could reach them, and
where, in cold nights, the temperature falls perilously near to freezing
point. The plants have a southern window, and through the day the room
is moderately warmed from the ascending heat of the kitchen. Geraniums
(and fuchsias and nasturtiums as well) have taken kindly to this low
temperature, the geraniums blooming as finely as in the open during
summer. Many of us have, no doubt, seen floating about in print, the
little story of that pot of geranium which was the sole bequest of a
dying man to his family, who carefully tended this precious, though not
pecuniarily valuable legacy. When spring came the pot was reverently
committed to the cemetery lot to summer close beside the grave of the
buried husband and father. On removing it in autumn, the plant was found
to have outgrown its quarters, and was tenderly dislodged for repotting.
To the great surprise of these good people a hollow false bottom was
found in the original pot, and on its removal a little fortune in bank
notes was disclosed, which, as the story ran, had obligingly kept
themselves intact for the heirs in this odd storing-place. This tale has
been cited of late by a scientific floriculturist, as evidence of the
deplorable ignorance of the common mind in regard to absolutely
necessary conditions for growth demanded by a plant. "A geranium," he
authoritatively tells us, "cannot exist without drainage, hence an
account which asserts that one has for months survived the ordeal of a
tight-bottom pot can have no foundation in fact." So we have been
taught, but, alas for the infallibility of time-honored theories! In the
material world new discoveries are continually upsetting old
conclusions; and we are now told that our geraniums and fuchsias have a
natural affinity for tight-bottomed tomato cans! The finest geranium in
my present collection has the proud distinction of growing in a
water-tight lard kettle. Though a young and blooming plant, it was held
in light esteem by its owner because of a vicious tendency to magenta,
and in the autumn, no pot being at hand, was given this apparently thin
chance of survival. Not only has it carried its buds and blossoms
straight on through the entire winter, but it has graciously overcome
its perversity in the matter of color, changing from a glaring magenta
to a deep and lovely rose. In the same group is a large white geranium
three years old, which, after blooming all summer in the garden, has
never once, throughout the winter, been out of bud and blossom. This
well-behaved plant grows in an old butter tub which stands squarely on
its "own" sound "bottom," unmutilated by gimlet or auger. The plant had,
in late winter, ten clusters of bud and bloom, while its small neighbor
of the lard kettle had six. A nasturtium, in the same window, flowers
abundantly, and a fuchsia beside it is a paragon among plants. All these
have had weekly applications of manure water and soot tea, and have not
been kept over-wet. Especially is this true of the geraniums--which may,
perhaps, partly explain their dispensing with drainage. The finest
hyacinth I have ever grown in the house perfected in a handleless fancy
pitcher which had no outlet at the bottom. Having no pot of the right
size, some lumps of charcoal were thrown into this make-shift affair,
the soil tossed in, and the bulb, not without serious misgivings,
carefully planted. It flowered late, but its foliage was abundant and
its bloom exquisite. It gave me five perfect rose-colored spikes. These
all, in common with my other plants (excepting ferns and aspidistras)
were well fed with liquid manure and soot tea, and, in potting, a little
wood ashes was added to the soil.

That very old-fashioned plant, the bridal-rose, is a free winter
bloomer, and has a kindly way of sending up a perpetual supply of shoots
for one's neighbors and friends. But, taking roses altogether, they are
not profitable house plants. The constant battle with insect pests is
fatiguing, and one cannot spray and fumigate and spray and fumigate
incessantly, as the florist does. Now and then, after hard labor, virtue
has its reward in the shape of an exquisite rose or two, but even then,
"the play is scarce worth the candle."

The same may be said of carnations, which not only teem with insects,
but require a much lower temperature than we have in our living rooms,
as also do winter violets.

As to the finer uses of house plants, I have but time to suggest, in
conclusion, that whoever cultivates them from sheer material
satisfaction in their growth, from mere pleasure in their structural
perfection, or with an eye single to their market value (as a florist
naturally must), overlooking their poetical--I had almost said their
religious side--has grasped but a small portion of the delight to be
derived from floriculture, and has wholly missed that divine
inspiration, that mental help, which emanates from "a thing of beauty"
and makes it "a joy forever."



CHAPTER V

_At Easter-time_


April was two weeks old. Already Passion-week had come. Easter-time
would soon begin. Crocuses dotted the short new grass on the lawn. Mated
robins chose nesting places in the old orchard, and the big cherry tree
had put on its crown of snow-tipped buds.

On that cheery spring morning--wheeled out for her daily airing--"The
Lady" looked expectantly at the bulbs' circles, where the newly
uncovered hyacinths and tulips--pushing vigorously up for the sun's warm
kisses--already showed bud and leaf of pale tender green.

Dear patient Lady! Would that God had spared her to see another "Spring
put on its bloom," but ere the day had done He called her to the

    "Immortal gardens where angels are the wardens."

With scarce a pang, her tired old heart ceased beating.

It had been the fancy of this dear cousin of my husband to select me
among her relatives as the superintendent of her funeral--to "lay her
away," as she quaintly expressed it--and it had long been impressed upon
me that I must "save myself" for that responsible trust. Often when I
came over from Cambridge to share her mid-day meal, she looked
compassionately at my tired face, as I arranged the big basket of
flowers brought for her vases (among which she especially doted on the
pansies, with their charming variety of color), and holding up a warning
finger, said discouragedly: "Cousin, you over-work. Take more rest, or
you will pass on before me, and _then_, who will lay me away?"

And so it was, that on Easter Sunday--not altogether without that "pomp
and circumstance" which, from time immemorial, had attended the Mansion
House funerals--I arranged her burial. With the sweet spring air coming
in at the open sunny window--flowers perfuming and brightening the house
and clasped loosely in her folded hands, and with so sweet a smile upon
her lips that it half seemed a welcome to the neighbors and friends who
looked their last upon her benignant face, still untouched by "the
finger of decay"--I gave her grudgingly to the cold dark grave, where
among her dear kindred (in a self-chosen site) we laid her--"ashes to
ashes, dust to dust."

The simple head-stone appointed by herself marks the spot; it holds this
tender legend, prepared by one who knew her:

    "Her life was sweet with charity and patience."

I like to fancy her "homing shade" still, in the long summer afternoons,
haunting the old garden of her love; watching, as of old, the flitting
of butterflies, listening to the glad singing of birds, and marking upon
the lawn the lovely shadows lengthen in the west'ring sun.

    "Only the forgotten are dead."



CHAPTER VI

_Burglar-proof_


That strain in the New England make-up which manifests itself in "taking
care of things" ran in the blood of the dear Lady.

Her provident forbears--intent upon "getting the best" of any burglar
bent upon the acquisition of the family silver--had protected many of
the first floor windows with prison-like bars of iron. Later on, when
the "Conservatory," with its long southern exposure of glass, had been
added to the Mansion, there arose the necessity of some invincible
protection of _that_ quarter from midnight prowlers.

To this end, Jacobs--the family carpenter--was called in. This good man
having constructed six stout wooden trellises--all precisely alike--they
were set along the southern flower border, giving upon the exposed glass
stretch of conservatory.

In front of these trellises were planted six thrifty young _"Akebia
Quinata" vines_--funereal of flower, and dense and clover-like in
foliage. These greedy feeders, gradually crowding out the more dainty
flowering perennials, were ultimately joined by a tangled growth of
coarse encroaching shrubs and vigorous self-sown saplings, the whole
interlaced by a strong poison-ivy vine.

Meantime, the outer door of the conservatory had but the protection of a
common lock, at which, as we all know, any enterprising burglar would
derisively snap his capable fingers. Be that as it may, the dear Lady
found in this leafy barricade her chief defense against midnight
robbery.

Now that the conservatory was to be widened and made into a
piazza--early one May morning, during the "Third Son's" week of
vacation, he put his capable shoulder to the wheel, along with that of
the "Man with the Hoe"--who, like the Sexton in Cock Robin, equipped
with "his little spade and shovel," fell upon this tangled border.

Although in most respects a very lion of valor, the "Man" would run like
a frighted girl from a troop of Yellow Jackets--and before Poison Ivy he
"shook in his shoes."

So work was delayed while he went for his pruning gloves, and thus armed
and equipped, came stoutly to the onset.

And now carefully removing the few bulbs of Japan Lily that year after
year found strength to hold their own on the outskirts of this jungle,
the two fell mightily on the trellised vines, the shrubs, the young
trees, and the insidious ivy, and when the town clock that day told the
hour of noon, the "burglar barricade" was among the things that _had
been_, and were _not_; and the unharmful ashes of poison ivy lay
blackened on its funeral pyre. Since the dear Lady had gone where the
burglar ceases from troubling, we held it no disrespect to her honored
memory to demolish the "barricade" preparatory to the widening of the
old conservatory, and the turning of the whole into a roomy
piazza--where, all summer long, one may take after-dinner coffee and
naps, may read, write, and sew, have afternoon tea with friend or
neighbor--breathing, meantime, invigorating out-door air.

And now began the earnest work of "putting to rights" the entire garden;
and if in this little account of that undertaking (without adding one
iota to the reader's botanical knowledge) I may furnish some useful
hints to the amateur, and may, incidentally, entertain with such various
bits of information in regard to the works and ways of flowering plants,
the origin and fitness of their names, and their relations to human
life, as come of the "reading of many books," and so encourage in my
fellow-woman that habit of spending much time "with body and with
spirit," in "God's out-of-doors," which is one of Van Dyke's beautiful
steps "in the footpath of peace," my end in making this book will be
well attained.



CHAPTER VII

_Perennials_


To begin with the hardy perennials--which, to be effective, should be in
a border of their own. At the outset, this should be made free of
stones, then mellow the earth as far down as two feet. At the bottom put
in about one foot of well-seasoned manure. Now add leaf-mold, a little
peat, a sprinkling of wood ashes, and a top layer of sifted garden loam.
If the soil be clayey, add some fine pure sand, to keep it friable.

Seeds of perennials are naturally slow in germinating--their time of
coming up being a period varying from one week to two months. It may
here be stated that all perennial plants undergo a period of rest. It is
not certain that this "_rest_" is in any sense a recuperation. It is
supposed to be a hereditary trait induced by natural environment--a
means by which the plant resists untoward circumstances of climate. In
the tropics, plants rest during dry seasons, in much the same manner as
during our Northern winters.

Investigations--so far--show that this hereditary trait has not been
entirely overcome by culture. Any attempt of the cultivator to ignore
this resting period is apt to injure the plant, from the fact that any
energy used in abnormal development may be subtracted from subsequent
growth or development.

Before I had taken this "old-time garden" in hand--fashioning new
borders, and freeing the old from encumbering jungles--many plants, both
annual and perennial, had, no doubt, found place in it as before stated.
Groups of blue-eyed periwinkle still held their own among usurping
forces. A discouraged day-lily looked forlornly out of the tangle, where
year by year a courageous double English violet shyly perfected a
blossom or two. Here and there a straggling bush of blush roses reached
out for the June sunshine, and, to my delight, I found--half strangled
among the over-growth--my old acquaintance, a pink flowering almond. The
dear old thing was "on its last legs." We carefully removed it to
kindlier quarters.

Straightway it took heart, and sending up new green shoots, gave us,
that very year, upon "the parent stem" a tuft or two of rosy bloom.

Now, after ten years of high living, it has become an illustrious shrub;
and to sit in the old garden in the May-time while the shadows and
sunshine dance together on the lawn and vernal odors sweeten all the
air, watching the long pink wreaths of flowering almond sway in the
south wind, is to lend one's self to the divine gladness of spring, and
know that simple joy in living, that is the birthright of all God's
creatures in this--His beautiful and perfect--world.

The flowering almond has been often divided, and all about the garden
its rosy wreaths may now be seen.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, too, was another old friend, the Yellow Globe flower--a shrub too
large and straggling of habit to find a home in the perennial beds. It
has taken a front seat among the tall shrubs and repeated itself many
times. It has a long period of blooming, and is a most satisfactory
inhabitant of the garden.

And now, as a possible help in the selection and arrangement of the
perennial border, let me tell you what I have learned in regard to those
under my care, in respect to their habit of growth, their treatment, and
characteristics.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Rose is, as we know, crowned queen of the flowers, and has her own
separate place in the garden; but as the Lily kindly fraternizes with
all her sister-flowers, and is easily Queen among the _social
perennials_, I give her the first place in this catalogue of my border
favorites.

The Lily--we are told--derives its name from the Celtic word
_li_--signifying whiteness and purity. Quick to seize upon symbolic
accessories to their art, the old painters put in the hand of the
angelic messenger who brought to the Virgin Mary tidings of her divine
motherhood, this chaste and exquisite flower. Hence the _Lilium
Candidum_ was known as the "Lily of Annunciation" and as the Madonna
Lily, which last is, I think, the more poetic and beautiful of the two
names.

As the genus _lilium_ embraces about fifty distinct species one may not
aspire to a large show of lilies in a moderate-sized garden.

"It does not seem necessary," says Mr. C. L. Allen (an expert in lily
cultivation) "to improve, or rather, to attempt an improvement on that
which is already perfect, as the lily is, wherever found in its natural
habitat. It seems to us that nature has exhausted her resources in the
perfection of the species, and regards as an interference all efforts of
man to improve her work."

"L. Candidum," says the same authority, "is older than history, as the
first notice made of plants speaks of it as a 'well-known plant.' It is
the loveliest, as well as the oldest, and if we were to have but one
lily Candidum would be the one." I quite agree with this decision. The
Madonna has ever been the lily dearest to my heart. Although its native
habitat is the Levant, the Candidum has adapted itself to our colder
temperature, and is easily perfected in our temperate climate, and in
the hardy garden.

Some twenty years ago this lily was extensively forced for the Easter
market.

In the present decade the Bermuda Lily (L. longiflorum) is almost
exclusively forced for the Easter trade, and popularly known as the
"Easter Lily." Its cultivation for that April festival has now become
one of the established industries of that lovely clime. The bulbs--there
grown in wide flowery fields--are, early in autumn, received by our
florists and directly potted for the Easter harvest.

A lady passing the winter in Bermuda brought from that island some bulbs
of L. longiflorum, which finally coming into the possession of Mr. H. K.
Harris of Philadelphia, he honored the flower by bestowing upon it his
own name, and as L. Harrisii, brought it into prominent notice among our
florists, who now force it for Easter-time. The Bermuda-grown bulbs are
preferred by them to the Dutch-grown ones, as they are earlier ripened
and come into bloom quicker.

For myself I prefer the Madonna, with its more open flower, to the
trumpet-like Bermuda. It is, too, an old acquaintance, has a more
delicate odor, and hangs its sprays more gracefully. The Bermuda needs
much coaxing to live through our bleak Northern winters, but the
Candidum is absolutely hardy.

The Madonna holds to her corner with the tenacity of a family cat--she
is a long time settling herself in a "strange garret."

Mine had undergone the vicissitude of three moving days before settling
in their present quarters. I distributed them well through my sunniest
border. Their next neighbors were some elderly Bee Larkspurs. The first
and second year the lovely blue Delphiniums did most of the blooming.

After that the Lilies and Larkspurs punctually celebrated together the
"great and glorious Fourth"--the tall Madonnas (some years in throngs of
two hundred) leading the fair procession--the Larkspurs like swarms of
blue butterflies flitting about among the snow of the lilies. Then, for
a time, every friend in the neighborhood had a dainty spray of summer
lilies for decorative uses. Finally, it befell that the coarser
perennials elbowed the lilies too closely. They grew chary of bloom, and
sometimes the bulbs quite gave up the struggle for existence. Then it
was that, calling in the aid of "The Man with the Hoe," I made for my
"Queen Lilies" a new home, with better drainage.

The Madonna after her July flowering takes a rest. Her favorite moving
day is about the last of July.

I have not an extensive knowledge of lily-culture, having but few
varieties of this lovely plant in my garden.

All, excepting the Japanese (Lilium auratum) take kindly to my borders,
and "increase an hundred fold." My list includes a few plants of the
Japanese found here in the purlieus of the old "burglar barricade." I am
indebted to Mrs. Ely for this information in regard to L. auratum: "As
soon as planted in this country a microbe disease attacks the bulb and
they gradually disappear under its ravages." This, no doubt, accounts
for the unhealthy appearance of my few L. auratums, their scant tale of
blossoms, and their sad tendency, year by year, to "grow beautifully
less." America, after all, is but the step-mother of this charming
flower, and Nature somewhat repudiates this much calumniated tie.

In English gardens they are said to thrive well, which may, in part, be
due to better climatic conditions.

In my borders the _Candidum_ takes the front seat. Here and there I make
place for L. Tigrinum (the well-known tiger-lily). In shady places sits
the Day Lily. I have a single plant of the tall Nankin-colored Lily,
variously named (Lilium Excelsum, Testacum, Isabellinum). The stalk is
sometimes nearly five feet high, and produces from three to twelve
reflex flowers of a dainty Nankin hue--delicately shaded and fragrant.
In flowering it immediately follows the Madonna. The Excelsum is not of
Japanese origin. How, when, or where it was born is yet unknown.

It is said to be easy of culture, and this season I intend to remove
mine to a less crowded situation, as I should long ago have done, but
for dread of taking chances with the one plant.

There may be a garden where Nankin Lilies are "thick as blackberries,"
but it has been my fortune to see but one plant, and I have found that
the flower is a stranger to all who have met it in my border.

The Nankin Lily came from our Cambridge garden, and presumably was
originally grown in the Harvard Botanic Garden. I have, too, the
old-fashioned, sweet-scented, early-blooming Yellow Lily. I have never
known it by its Latin name, but believe it to be Hansoni--a Japanese
lily, as it answers in every particular to the description of that
plant.

Were the flower more lasting it would be more desirable. Its bloom,
which comes in clusters, has, singly, but the short life of a day.

With delight I found this dear lily of my far-away childhood in one of
these old-time borders.

It is perfectly hardy, and wonderfully prolific in bulbs. My garden has
now scant room for all its Yellow Lilies, and _this_ after friends and
neighbors have kindly relieved me of some of this "embarrassment of
riches."

The Lilies-of-the-valley must be kept to their own beds, where they
double and treble themselves incontinently. Last, but not of least place
in my heart, comes that flower thus charmingly vended by "Perdita"--in
"Winter's Tale"--

    "Lilies of all kinds--the Flower de Luce being one."

The familiar old-time Flower de Luce, a vigorous clump of which I found
in the "Attached Garden" (growing along with the Yellow Lily and the
"live-forever" plants), is with us a native product, and absolutely
hardy. The smaller varieties grow wild in swamp and meadow, and are, I
think, invariably, blue as the noon-day heaven. These are sometimes
known as "Flags." The cultivated hardy Irises are of several colors.
Mine is a lively blue, shading off to bluish white. In these days we
grow in our gardens many lovely foreign Irises--some of them so
beautiful that they have been called "the connecting link between the
Lilies and the Orchids." The flower of the Spanish Iris is very lovely
and of various colors, quite fragrant, and appears in June. It is
classed by Dutch bulb growers as perfectly hardy, but in our trying
climate needs to be protected by a slight winter covering.

The (so named) English Iris is a native of the Pyrenees, but, as we are
told, has been common in English gardens since 1571. The flowers are of
varied color--blue, white, lavender, crimson, and yellow.

_L. Germanica_, or German Iris, is one of the most valuable of the
early-flowering sorts for the herbaceous border. This Iris is
bulbous-rooted, easily propagated, and (though classed as hardy) is
greatly benefited by a light winter covering of leaves. In color the
flowers are blue, bright yellow, purple, of all shades, and white.

Japanese Iris (I. Kæmpferi) is with us fully acclimated, a gross feeder,
and a strong grower, and an abundant bloomer. Its flowers are from six
to ten inches in diameter, in various shades of color--pure white, dark
purple, porcelain blue, maroon, violet, plum, and so on--all with very
distinct pencilings and marblings, and exquisitely beautiful. I have no
Japanese Irises in my garden, but a kind neighbor sends me superb
cut-blooms from his perfect Iris border. Mr. Allen says that the
well-cultivated seedling of Japan Iris "has no superior in the floral
world."

Iris is named from Iris, the goddess of the rainbow--in classic
mythology the swift-footed Olympian messenger.

The root of the Florentine Iris is fragrant. It has a charming
violet-like odor, and is the well-known sweet Orris root (the name
corrupted from Iris) of commerce.

In Shakespeare's day the Iris and the Daffodil were both included among
the lilies. Some species of Iris have from early times been called
_Fleur de lis_, or in English, Flower de luce. The Fleur de lis adopted
by Louis the VIIth of France as the emblem for his shield during the
Crusades was, probably, the White Iris. Older monarchies in Eastern
countries, considering the Iris an emblem of power, used it--in a
conventionalized form--as an emblem, on their scepters, and in this form
the manufacturer still patterns it on table-linen.

In the mysterious representations of antique Egypt the Iris was placed
on the brow of the Sphinx. Altogether considered it is a most desirable
ornament of the garden, and a flower "of mark and likelihood."

It is recorded in the Greek legends that the physician Pæon cured Pluto
of a wound with the common Peony; hence it is called after him in almost
every country in Europe.

The ancient Greeks are said to have held the plant in high repute,
believing it to be of divine origin, and an emanation from the moon.
Pagan superstitions die hard, and in our Christian civilization still
hold their own among the ignorant masses.

Mrs. Pratt tells us that in England "the lower classes turn beads of the
Peony root, which form necklaces for their children, and are supposed to
aid dentition, and prevent convulsions."

We learn from her that at the end of the 16th century the double red
Peony--at that time introduced into Antwerp from Switzerland--was too
expensive a flower for any but the rich man's garden, a single plant
selling for twelve pounds! "The Mongols," she tells us, "use the seed of
the wild Peony in tea, and flavor their broth with its roots."

Among ourselves no garden is complete without this lovely hardy
perennial.

From my childhood the big red Peony--coming in late May-time--has been,
to my mind, the very embodiment of Spring! Of all the Peonies this
flower of my early love is most precious--beloved less for its dear
blowsy self than for its sweet associations--memories of by-gone springs
when life and joy went hand in hand, and grass was not greening on the
graves of my dead.

I have in my borders but four colors of this fine flower--red, white,
pink, and pink with white center--this last a single variety, and an
indefatigable bloomer. The red, white, and rose pink are all the
doublest of their kind, and the two latter are deliriously odorous. Of
late, Peonies of many colors are to be had from the seedsman--pink,
purple, and salmon-colored varieties of exquisite form and color.

The Peony is greatly disquieted by removal, and, though sturdily
tenacious of life, refuses for a year or two after transplanting, to "do
its level best." It is increased by division of tubers, or may be
propagated by seed. The division and replanting should be done in
October, and one should see that there is, at least, one eye on each
tuber.

The Peony may be commended to the perennial grower, not only as a lovely
flower, but as a plant to "tie to." It never gets winter-killed,
blossoms punctually, and has no pernickity notions in regard to
situation. It will grow in any soil, but to do its best requires to be
well fed and to have the loam about it kept loose and friable, the same
as for the rose.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Foxglove (Digitalis) beautifully repays one's care. Unhappily it has
a tendency to succumb to the harshness of our climate, and often gets
winter-killed; surviving this ordeal, it is--with its charming spikes of
white, purple, and pinkish lilac bloom--the pride of the garden. Four
years ago I had, in the western end of a southward-facing border, a
superb clump of this lovely biennial. Many times a day I went to look at
these exquisite flowers. As I stood before them in admiration a friend
often joined me, and while we stood admiring them, I thought of the
Persian flower-worship--an account of which I had come across in my
reading and stored in my collection of "Useful Clippings." Here it is. I
cannot now recall the name of its author:

"A Persian saunters into a garden and stands and meditates on each
flower before him, as in a half vision.

"When the vision is fulfilled, and the ideal flower sought for found, he
spreads his mat and sits before it until the setting of the sun, then
folding his mat he goes home.

"The next night he returns with friends--in ever-increasing troops, and
they sit before it playing the lute, or guitar, and then all together
join in prayer.

"After prayer they still sit before it sipping sherbet and chatting late
in the moonlight, and so again every evening until the flower dies."

This oriental vein of plant and flower-worship seems to have been found
in all Persians--even in royalty itself! It is related of Xerxes the
Great that he lost a battle by delaying a whole day with his army under
the shade of a gigantic plane tree, which so charmed him that he caused
it to be adorned with a golden circlet.

But, to return to the Foxgloves--five or six years ago one in my border
made a new departure. It "sported"!

It should perhaps be explained that to _sport_ is to produce a flower,
or a shoot, of abnormal growth. Long ago I read a most interesting paper
"On Sports."

I do not remember the name of its writer, nor of the English magazine in
which I found it, and after an exhaustive search in our town library
have not been able to find a second paper on the subject, or to obtain
further information in regard to this curious tendency from any
botanist.

I remember that the English article stated that this tendency in plant
or shrub to ignore Nature and take things into its own hands, was
sometimes utilized by the horticulturist as an opportunity to propagate
from the "Sport" a new variety of the normal plant, or shrub. Here then
was my chance! From the seed of this enterprising _digitalis_ (which
bore at its apex a flower almost as flat as a daisy) I would develop a
new variety--a radiate Foxglove.

I confided my ambition to a friend who, although himself a teacher of
botany, had never included in his research the subject of "Sports." This
botanical expert took great interest in my "Sport"--watching it with me
from day to day.

Alas, vain were my hopes of giving to the world a new flower!

The radiate Foxglove declined the honor of reproduction; dropping its
mottled petals, and slowly shrinking away without forming a seed pod!

A queer characteristic of the "Sport" was thus asserted in the English
article before mentioned: "When a plant _sports_, all plants of its
kind, wherever growing, also _sport_." Now one may admit the fact of a
single plant having (as it were) flown in the face of Mother Nature, but
when it comes to the whole family--"all the aunts and cousins," from Dan
to Beersheba, joining in the frolic, one can but wonder and doubt the
Munchausen-like statement.

Calling that summer on a Cambridge friend (a member of our Plant Club,
whose flower-garden is a miracle of beauty):

"One of my Foxgloves has sported," I proudly boasted. "So has one of
_mine_," she said, "and it is the first _sport_ I have ever seen."

So the magazine statement was, after all, believable! Yes, away across
the Atlantic, in English gardens, the Foxglove--obedient to this
marvelous natural impulse of its being--was trying its hand at a radiate
flower! I find it well that my _sport_ did not germinate, since the
regularly formed Foxglove suits the tall spike "to a T," and is far
lovelier than any freak of a flower could be.

Since making a record of my Foxglove _sport_ I have learned that this
flower often produces at the tip of its blossom stalk an abortive
radiate flower. I wonder if the Foxglove did not originally start out as
a radiate, and if this freak is not a wild tendency of the plant to
escape that evoluted form (which is its civilization) and lapse into its
primitive barbarism?

The Foxglove comes in bloom late in June and continues flowering about
four weeks.

Though classed as a biennial, it sometimes lingers on through a third
summer, and continues flowering.

It is named from its finger-shaped corolla. The dried leaf of _Digitalis
Purpurea_ is a specific for disturbance of circulation, and is used in
heart disease.

Its colors are pure white, white mottled with pencil-color, purple,
lavender, from the palest to the deepest shades--some almost pink--all
curiously mottled on the inside of the flower, which grows in tall
spikes.

Sow Foxgloves in seed bed about last of April, and, late in September,
transplant to their permanent place. They will bloom the following year.

Both Foxgloves and Canterbury Bells sow themselves profusely if stalk is
left to perfect its seeds.

The self-sown plants are said to be stronger than the hand-sown ones,
and may be transplanted for the next year's blooming.


CANTERBURY BELLS, _Campanula medium_

It has been suggested that "the name of Canterbury Bells may have been
given to the giant species of Campanula from its resemblance to the
hand-bells which were placed on poles, and rung by pilgrims while
proceeding to the shrine of Thomas à Becket."

Chaucer, in his "Canterbury Tales," has described in detail these
processions to the tomb of the "blisful martir."

The Canterbury Bell is, like the Foxglove, a biennial, and may be sown
in the seed bed at the same time, or the self-sown plants may be used.

It needs winter protection (not too heavy), for it is easily
winter-killed.

I have, at times, had in my garden most lovely Campanulas--both double,
single, and "cup and saucers." The most beautiful variety is the single.

In color mine were white, purple, and lavender, of many shades, but the
pride of my heart was a rose-pink Canterbury Bell.

"Beautiful as a dream!" said the garden visitor, moved to admiration at
the sight of these pink beauties.

Lovely as they are, Canterbury Bells have not the grace to die nicely.

Their dead blossoms cling, withered and unsightly, to the parent stem,
and unless one has time and patience to go among the plants daily and
remove the dead bells it is, for this reason, well to cultivate them in
inconspicuous beds apart by themselves.

Another most desirable plant for the perennial border is Phlox (from the
Greek _flame_). Time was when we had but the white and purple, the
latter tending to that odious color magenta, which some one has happily
said is "a color that has no right to be." The above varieties I found
in the old border, growing amicably together. It is not without touches
of remorse that I deliberately uproot anything that bears the name of
flower, but, since I could remember, there has been a deadly feud
between purple Phlox and myself. I keep a single root for old-time sake,
which it gives me a megrim to look at. The white has been transplanted
and has grown apace, until there are oceans of it in my borders.

I have, too, some of the fine varieties of "Phlox Drummondi." One of
them, a deep salmon red, with a dark eye, is literally a bit of
"_flame_." There are pinks with maroon-colored eyes, whites with pinkish
eyes, pure white, lilac shaded with carmine, and light salmon with
wine-colored eyes. I love best the pure white and dark salmon pink, but
scarce could spare any of these from my color-scheme. The Phlox is the
hardiest of herbaceous perennials, easily propagated by division, or
from seed. With me, the seed-grown Phloxes have not come true in color.
It is, I think, wisest to select plants in flowering time among
varieties in a florist's collection, and order them at once. They are so
tough that any moving day suits them, and one can scarce have too many,
as they begin blooming in early August, when the border is somewhat
forlorn, and last until frost.

       *       *       *       *       *

Day-lily is the common name of a species of the Asphodelus. The ancients
planted Asphodels near graves to supply the manes of their dead with
nourishment. The poets, probably taking their cue from this, have
celebrated the Asphodel in song as the flower of the immortals. I have
thought that the bloom of the Day-lily, exquisite in form and odor,
needs but the added charm of immortality to fit it for

    "Angel gardens,"

but alas, its only defect is its evanescence--a single day bounds its
life on this planet.

Its foliage is very ornamental, and for grouping with perennials it is a
plant greatly to be desired. It is easily propagated. From one sickly
root found in the old garden I have grown for my own garden Day-lilies
ad infinitum, and easily spared many for those of my neighbors. It needs
to be well fed, and will accept any respectable situation, and, though
doing well in the sun, is most eligible for shady spots where other
plants refuse to grow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Sweet-William--Dianthus--is hardy enough and perennial enough,
profuse of bloom, and gay in color, yet nevertheless from the show
places of my garden I have banished it "for good and all," because of
its tendency to sprawl about the borders after flowering time, wan and
withered, and making faces at the freshly-gowned Foxgloves and
Canterbury Bells, then thronging the borders.

The Sweet-William has quietly taken a back seat, and, owing me no
grudge, contentedly blooms on, as if to "blush unseen" were its special
province.

[Illustration: The Man with the Hoe]

With those tough little members of the Dianthus family, China Pinks, I
have been most successful. It is a perennial, but too low-growing to
make any marked show among the taller flowers. It is prettily varied in
color, but lacks the odor of the Clove Pink. It is a profuse bloomer,
and makes a desirable pot-plant for the window garden.

"The flower of the family" is the old Clove Pink, to which the parentage
of our Carnation is by some accorded. The Elizabethan poet Drayton calls
these sweet-smelling flowers "Cloves of Paradise," and Lawson--at the
close of the sixteenth century--thus extols it: "Of all the flowers save
the damask rose they are the most pleasant to sight and smell." "Their
use," continues he, "is much in ornament, and comforting the spirits by
the sense of smelling."

A syrup made of Clove Pinks (with the probable addition of some
stimulant) and called by our English forbears "Sops-in-wine," because of
its use in giving flavor to the festive cup, gave to this flower its
rather material appellation of Sops-in-wine. Thus sings Spenser:

    "Bring Carnations and Sops-in-wine
    Worn of paramours" (lovers--wooers).

Bacon informs us that "Sops-in-wine, quantity for quantity, inebriate
more than wine itself."

A precious Clove Pink of Botanic Garden origin, for a time bloomed in my
border. It has, long since, died of old age.

       *       *       *       *       *

Shakespeare says in Othello:

        "Not poppy, nor mandragora,
    Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
    Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
    Which thou had'st yesterday."

Keats and many others have immortalized it in their verse.

Burns thus points a moral with the flower:

    "Pleasures are like poppies spread,
     You seize the flower, its bloom is shed."

The Papaver family has wrought much ill in its day. It is from P.
_somniferum_, one of its members, that the opium of commerce is
collected. It is the milky juice of the capsule, or of any other part of
the plant which exudes from incisions in the cortical part. This juice,
scraped off, is worked in the sun's heat till it is of a consistency to
form cakes.

The Oriental and Iceland Poppy are both perennial. Although like the
Irishman, "not born in their own native country," they take kindly to
our soil. Ten years ago I carefully sowed some seed of Oriental Poppy.
Two of them consented to germinate, and now, from this small beginning,
I have in my garden Orientals galore. Last spring these beauties kept my
borders all aflame with their splendor. I counted, in a single border,
eighty-five buds and blooms, and felt well-repaid for their careful
nurture. Nevertheless, Oriental Poppies raised from seed mean much
patient care, and many failures, but once thoroughly established they
are "real estate," and have a kindly way of sowing themselves. As the
Poppy, with its long "_tap_ root," is most impatient of removal, this
habit especially commends them to the grower.

The Iceland Poppy, though far less considerable in size, is very hardy,
and with its dainty bloom of lemon, orange, red, and white, makes a
pretty show in a bed by itself; and the Iceland is one of the few
poppies available for one's vases.

Mrs. Thaxter, in the beautiful account of her Isle of Shoals gardening,
tells us that by cutting poppies in the dew of the morning, with the
right hand, and plumping them straight into water with the left, she had
great success with them as cut flowers.

Following her method--unsuccessfully--I am forced to believe that the
long and beautiful survival of her cut poppies depended largely on the
crisp cool air of her Island home. Here the summer is many degrees
hotter, and has far less moisture in its air, and, though morning after
morning, tempted by their exquisite shades of color, I gather Shirley
Poppies for the house, and like the Persian, fall down and worship them;
in their slender vases they scarce outlive the day.

A friend making a pilgrimage to Stratford-on-Avon brought me some seed
supposedly from Anne Hathaway's garden.

I sowed Madame Shakespeare's poppies with reverent care, but these
English-born seeds patriotically refused to quicken in alien soil. No
matter! they may have been but half-wild wind-sown things, and with my
Shirleys, Icelands, and glorious Orientals, I can spare them.

With the ancient Greeks, the poppy with its crowded capsules was an
emblem of fertility. Cybele, the mother of the gods, wears a crown of
poppies.

In Roman gardens Somnus, the god of slumber, was anciently figured as
reclining on a mass of snowy poppies, with a posy of these emblems of
oblivion in his motionless hand.

Mexican Indians are pictured as returning home after a day of toil,
dancing and singing to the music of a guitar, and crowned with wreaths
of this "forgetful flower."

In the shops of Constantinople poppy juice mixed with rich fruit syrups
is sold as a sweetmeat, or in the form of small lozenges on which are
stamped "_Mash Allah_" (the work of God). Tartar couriers, traveling
immense distances, and with marvelous speed and endurance, often, it is
said, take no other nourishment than the famous "Mash Allah" of the
Turks, in which the juice of hemp is mingled with that of the poppy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Columbine (Aquilegia) is a desirable plant for the border. Mine came
from choice seed sent the Plant Club from Mr. Childs, a Philadelphia
florist. They soon germinated, but were two years coming to bloom.

There are now many beautiful colors to be had. I have but the yellow and
white, the purple and white, and pure yellows.

Once well-established, Columbines come to stay, and are most lovely! the
garden plants flowering from the middle of May until late in June, and
having the same graceful carriage of the wild variety, with flowers
double their size, and with elegant long "spurs."

Its name is from the Latin Columbinas (dove-like) so called from the
beak-like spurs of its flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

In my mention of early-blooming perennials I had forgotten the Crown
Imperial. It is a resident of most old gardens, and has the distinction
of remote antiquity. Mention is made of it in an Herbal of 1596 for its
"stately beautifulness," and the herbalist accords it a "first place in
the _Garden_ of _Delight_."

I have but a single plant of this early flower, which punctually leads
off in the spring procession along with its neighbor, the red peony.

The Eupatorium is not, I think, extensively cultivated in the garden. It
is one of the hardiest of the later perennials. Mine was raised from
seed. Having but one clump of it, I am always meaning to sow and to
raise more plants of this dainty white flower, which comes with the
Phloxes at the most flowerless time of the borders, but (to borrow an
excuse from my slack old colored woman-of-all-work) "I haint jus' fetch
roun' to it."

I find the Eupatorium's name in my seed catalogue. It is not, there,
classed with the hardy perennials. It grows high enough to make a fair
show among the border plants.

As will be seen, I have not in my borders a large assortment of
perennials. My purse forbids a costly collection, and I think it well to
undertake no more plants than can be well cared for in my hands, when
much extra help cannot be afforded.

To my list let me add a few low-growing beauties.

The Italian peasant twines wreaths of the Periwinkle around the head of
the departed infant or young maiden, and calls it _Fler di morte_
(Death's Flower). Because of the laurel-like tint and texture of its
glossy leaves the Greek has termed it _Daphnoides_.

In olden times it was highly valued for its medicinal virtues. Lord
Bacon tells us that, in _his_ day, bands of green Periwinkle were bound
about the limbs to prevent cramps. By Americans it is often miscalled
_Myrtle_. It carpets finely the bare spaces in borders, especially the
shady ones, where other perennials will not thrive.

The Periwinkle is not an "up-to-date" plant. The seedsman of today gives
it no place in his catalogue. I have several thrifty clumps of this
pretty blue-eyed darling, and delight greatly in its bloom and its
glossy trailing foliage.

Periwinkle is one of the oldest flowers of the English garden. Chaucer
in describing a garden of the olden time speaks of it as "Fresh
Periwinkle, rich of hue," and places it on the same plane with the rose
and violet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Forget-me-not is another low-growing perennial which may prettily
carpet the bare spots between the taller occupants of the border.

We have all associated the name of this charming little flower with the
story of the chivalrous knight who wandered beside a stream with the
lady of his love. In the attempt to procure for her some of its
much-desired flowers growing on the opposite shore he was borne away by
the current while returning to her side with the gathered blossoms, and,
making a last effort, threw them on the margin of the engulfing flood,
and crying "Forget-me-not," sank beneath the waters.

Miss Strickland gives a less romantic but more probable narrative of the
origin of the name. The exiled Henry of Lancaster, whose fortunes are
related by Shakespeare in "King John," according to this writer, first
gave to the Forget-me-not its emblematic meaning by writing it on his
collar with the initial letter of his _mot_, or watchword, and on his
restoration from banishment continued this heraldic use of the flower,
adopted in his homesickness, even when raised to the fatal eminence of a
king.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some of the showiest of the annuals may be, in June, transplanted from
the seed beds to brighten the borders through August and September, as
the Yellow Marigolds, the Zinnias, the Nicotianas, the Cosmos, and the
seedling Single Dahlias, which will bloom the first year, and if that
dictum of Linnæus ("a double flower is a vegetable monster") may be
accepted, are the beauties of the family. They are certainly more lovely
for one's vases than the double Dahlias, and the white ones are, as a
table decoration, scarce less charming than the white Cosmos.

The Dahlia is named after Andrew Dahl, a Swedish botanist, and is a
native of Mexico and Central America.

It shows a natural disposition to _sport_ from its original form
(single).

Florists directed their attention to raising new forms of this flower.
First attempts finally resulted in semi-double varieties, and early in
the 18th century M. Doukelan, botanic gardener at Louvain, produced from
seed three perfectly double plants. These are said to be the very first
double Dahlia plants ever produced. The Dahlia is decidedly progressive.
Its up-to-date achievement is the elegant Cactus variety. I sowed, this
year, some seeds of double Dahlia. It is now October and a few of them
(some very beautiful and quite Cactus-like) are in bloom.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once upon a time there were in this garden thrifty borders of Box. These
the dear Lady tried hard to keep intact.

Every spring the failing rows were reset with small plants from the
ancient stock, and were, first and last, the plague and despair of "the
man's" busy life. At first I made the same futile attempt to restore the
Box bordering. Now I have given up this idea of repairing the withered
sections, but some six or eight large plants still in their beautiful
perfection delight my heart. Some there are who object to the odor of
Box, to others it is very pleasant and grateful. I am very fond of it,
partly, I suppose, from its association with some much-admired gardens
that I knew in childhood.

Common Box has but two varieties, one of which is the Dwarf Box, used as
an edging for flower-beds--the other (Tree Box) is described as of
surprising thickness, and as tall as the beech tree. This tree is of
great antiquity. It is mentioned in the Bible, with the fir tree and the
pine, as affording wood for the temple of King Solomon. The wood of the
Box tree is very valuable and durable. Virgil has thus sung its virtues:

    "Smooth-grained and proper for the turner's trade,
    Which curious hands may carve, and steel invade."

Mrs. Pratt tells us that "in the North of England the old custom of each
mourner carrying a sprig of Box at a funeral and throwing it in the
grave still lingers."

Wordsworth thus baldly refers to this practice, in his verse--

    "Fresh sprigs of boxwood, not six months before,
    Filled the funeral basin at Timothy's door."

In Turkey, the widow, who goes weekly to pray at the tomb of her
husband, plants a sprig of Box at the head of the grave.



CHAPTER VIII

_Hollyhocks and Violets_


Hard by the Lover's walk, in an old-time bed, a blue Flower-de-luce,
some roots of white and purple Phlox, a bunch or two of "Leaf-for-ever,"
and another of scented yellow Lilies, had long stoutly held their own.
Here, every spring-time, the Lady caused to be planted her Dahlia
bulbs--by no means the choicest of their kind, but taking amicably to
the situation, and every autumn generously contributing their scarlet,
lavender, and purple bloom to the color scheme of the big bowpots that
adorned the side table in the "Mansion House" hall.

Four years ago, late in July, to deaden the pain of a new bereavement, I
prepared this bed for the reception of a few dozen Hollyhock plants. It
was the place suggested for this use by him who had left me, and with
many tender thoughts of the beloved one I undertook the carrying out of
his wishes. Removing to other quarters the old inhabitants of the bed
"The Man with the Hoe" dug deep and spared not for manure. This done, on
a cloudy day we set the young plants. It seemed a risky undertaking to
transplant at midsummer, but, covered for a time from the sun and
faithfully watered, they all adjusted themselves to their new home, and
have, ever since, thriven to my heart's content. The bed is long and of
moderate width. The plants were set in two rows, about one foot apart,
and in the space between the outer rows we put, here and there, smaller
plants. In late autumn they all had a covering of litter and boughs, and
were made snug for their winter nap. As the situation is high and
exposed to "all the airts the wind may blow," it was not without
misgivings that I waited for the spring uncovering and the after
development. In due time the hardy darlings showed their pretty green
shoots, and before midsummer they stood up in budded rows, ready to be
staked, and about the thirteenth of July the bed burst into splendid
bloom. My color scheme called for but two colors, pink and white, and
wonderful it was to see the shading of the roseate flowers, varying, as
it did, from wine color to such faint pink as lives between the dainty
lips of a sea shell.

On some stalks (more than eight feet high) the flowers came double as a
cabbage rose; on others they were half double, and the out-and-out
single ones had the sheen of satin and the transparency of gauze, and
all were more or less creamy or lemon-hued at the center.

I think it must be from the old association of Hollyhocks with village
Fourth of July celebrations that the flower has to my mind a distinctly
festal appearance. Standing at the end of my bed and looking down the
rows of pink and white is to me like watching a holiday procession. Not
a commonplace ordinary one, keeping step to the music of a brass band,
with doughty policemen hustling the hoodlums in its rear, but one of
chaste and joyous maidens gowned gayly in pink and white, such as may of
old have been led by "Jephthah's daughter," what time she "went forth
with timbrel and dances" to meet her rash, exultant father fresh from
his victory over Israel's uncircumcised foes. Yes, the Hollyhock, though
lacking the delicacy of the Lily and the fragrance of the Rose, is a
flower "most fair to see." The yellows and purples are both beautiful,
but for massing give me the reds, pinks, and whites.

Sow in the seed bed each spring and thus have new plants to supply
places made vacant in the show bed, and to bestow on neighbors who are
starting rows of this fine hardy perennial.

Hollyhock--O E holihoc--"holy mallow"--"blessed mallow"--is probably so
named because brought from the Holy Land.

       *       *       *       *       *

No garden is complete without its Violet bed. Ours was started eight
years ago. We selected for it a spot "half in shade and half in shine,"
with a southern frontage, sheltered from the north by tall shrubs.

Two packets of choice Russian Violet seed were then sown in friable
soil, well sifted, and made rich with a bottom layer of old cow manure.
The bed had been laid out, prepared, and sown by the dear hands of one
whose gardening is now "all done."

After all his care the seed never germinated, and early in the following
autumn the bed was set with well-grown double Russian Violet plants
bought of the florist. For a year or two these plants throve finely,
blossomed abundantly, and increased fourfold. The third year the flowers
degenerated in size and beauty, and though still, at May-time, the bloom
punctually puts in an appearance, the Russians are, on the whole, far
less satisfactory than the single English Violets brought from the
Cambridge garden and growing in the end of the same bed. These flower
most generously and come into bloom about ten days earlier than the
Russians.

The Violet has an obliging way of sowing its own seed, projecting them
from its capsule with dynamic force. My English darlings have a lavish
habit of scattering themselves about the lawn, in that fashion, and
filling in the bare places in the bed. The Russians choose rather to be
propagated from runners. Friends I have who grow year after year big
velvety Russian Violets. Would that I had the skill to do likewise, but
to me heaven denies the power of bringing these beauties to perfection.
Yet (such as they are) I hold my Violets dear, and without them spring
would scarce be spring.

In all the old floral usages of the English the Violet holds a place
next to the Rose. It was used at weddings, and had its place in other
and sadder religious ceremonials.

With the Troubadours it was an emblem of constancy. Their prize of a
golden Violet to the best versifier of the flower's graces and beauties
proves in how much esteem they held this April blossom.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pansy, one of the _Violas_, was much celebrated by the elder English
poets, who gave it the charming name of "Heartsease."

Pansies may be easily grown from seed. As they are less troubled by cold
than most flowers--being half hardy--the seedlings may be treated as
biennials. Transplant them from seed bed in September, and in November
cover well with old manure, then add piled leaves and evergreen boughs,
and the minute spring opens uncover.

The young plants should not be allowed to flower in the autumn. Pick off
the buds as they appear and they will be likely to give you bloom all
summer long. I confess to an impatience that prompts to the buying of
many baskets of Pansies in May, and thus securing flowers on the spot,
besides selecting my favorite colors. These plants will not achieve much
after their first season, but will grow "beautifully less" in size, and
finally become like Lady's Delights, those pretty plebeian Violas that
accept any soil, or situation, and show their cheery little faces among
the cabbages, and even in the skimpy soil of the gravel walks.

"There's Pansy, that's for thought," says Perdita, in "Winter's Tale."

Pansy--French _pensee_, fancy or thought, from _penser_, to think.
Heartsease--ease of heart--tranquillity of mind--is the poet's name of
the flower. Of the common names one may choose between "Johnny Jump-up"
and the more elegant Lady's Delight.

The Violet, though but a tiny unassuming flower, is (both in verse and
prose) often classed with the regal Rose. Both are delightful in
perfume, and in that respect equally popular.

Having small knowledge of rose-growing I do not presume to hold forth on
"Rose Culture." Books on that subject are many and excellent, and I
should but say with "Denis," the "Minister's double," when his turn
came to make a speech at the committee meeting: "So much has been said,
and so well said, that I will not further pursue the subject."
Nevertheless, my next chapter shall be devoted to this "Queen-flower."



CHAPTER IX

_The Rose_


The Rose is no mushroom Queen. Her ancestry dates away back to the
Garden of Eden, and if Eve did not there gather a rosebud _boutonniere_
for Adam, it was because that primitive young man had not a buttonhole
"to his name."

The Rose of all flowers has been most praised by poets. From Isaiah's
day to our own they have celebrated its charms. In English history it
figured as the badge in the feuds between the houses of York and
Lancaster. Among the ancients the Rose was the symbol of secrecy, and
was hung up at entertainments as a token that nothing there said was to
be divulged--hence the well-known phrase "under the rose" (sub rosa).
The Romans at their voluptuous entertainments suspended roses in golden
network from the ceiling, which, throughout the feast, fell slowly upon
the reclining guest. All day, while the skillful Roman _chef_ busied
himself with his _ragouts_ of flamingo tongues, his _patés_ of locusts
and honey, and his roasts garnished with "chilled mushrooms," slaves, in
garden or forcing-house (as the season might be), wove fresh wreaths of
roses for the invited guests, which beautiful youths, with hair in
golden nets, waiting at the door of the _triclinium_, put upon their
heads, warning them, as the custom was, to pass the threshold "right
foot foremost." One sees, in fancy, the couches of these recumbent
feasting voluptuaries, with the roses dropping, dropping, all night
long, while the wine cup brimmed and "the hours went by on velvet feet."

The flower-loving Persians held annually a "Feast of Roses," which, we
are told, continued the whole time of their remaining in bloom, and
still another known as "The Scattering of the Roses." Groups of
beautiful children then went through the streets strewing these
delicious flowers.

Tom Moore tells us that "every part of the city was then as fragrant as
if a caravan of musk from Khoten had passed through it."

My own rose garden is not much to brag of, having been made up of such
miscellaneous rose bushes as were (without outlay) attainable. The
greater part of these had come over with us from the Cambridge garden.
Most plentiful of all are the Blush Roses. (Bushels of their scented
petals are yearly cured by me for Potpourri.) One or two bushes of it
still straggled on in the old-time border, and brought up to their
possibilities by transplantation and sufficient food, soon became good
to see, as also did the lone rose bush from the edge of the grass-plot,
dear to the Lady's heart as the gift of a dead friend, and, summer after
summer feeding the delusive hope of bloom, nursed in her optimistic
soul. Now there is a second bush of its kind, both bravely blooming.

I have never learned the name of the Lone Rose. It is so very double
that I have fancied it might be a descendant of the Persian "Gul sad
buk," the Rose of a hundred leaves, a particular species much prized in
the Vale of Cashmere. Be that as it may, it is a lovely flower. Its
petals are legion, and its buds so rounded and compact as to have the
appearance of big pink "alleys." More exquisite still is a single rose
rescued from choking in a snarl of waxberry bushes.

It has since taken to itself a big slice of the rose garden, and,
enlarged by good living to twice its ancient size, its daintily shaded
flowers, for decorative use, are simply perfection. Unhappily their
bloom is evanescent. They seldom outlast in water a day and a night.

Among the Cambridge roses was a little half-wild pink darling "unknown
to fame." I found it at Farm Hill (Weymouth Town), where it ran riot
among the vegetables in a carelessly ordered garden patch, and
straggling through the picket fence, held its own among the
seldom-trodden wayside weeds and grasses. Its color is bright pink, and
it has the size and habit of the Scotch Rose, and is in full bloom when
other roses are but buds.

Another early pink rose which we found in the Cambridge garden is the
next earliest. It flowers about the 9th of June. I have no clue to its
name. It must have been one of the Botanic Garden roses. Its blossom is
exquisite in form, but not over fragrant. In habit it is straggling,
almost a climber, and does not take kindly to pruning. Then there are
the well-known Damask Roses, which must have come long, long ago from
the Harvard collection. In their own habitat the Damasks are cultivated
for their mercantile value, being, as we are told, the special roses
from which the costly foreign Attar is obtained. I had thought that the
Damask Rose had in the family three colors, but Bacon sets me right. He
says: "It is large, _pink_, hardy, and has not been known in England (at
the time of his writing) above one hundred years." It is by no means a
distinguished-looking rose, but seems to have conserved within its sweet
heart the perfume of a thousand summers.

A Yellow Scotch Rose takes kindly to my garden. A rose bought of a
Cambridge florist for the beloved daughter, gone home to God (whose
latest care it was), and now known as "Mary's Rose," bore well its
second uprooting. It has come to be a tall bush, bearing abundant
clusters of deep pink bloom, and all summer putting forth crisp shoots,
with leaves red as a sunset cloud, and lovely as flowers for decorative
uses.

A Sweetbriar--rifled years ago from the wildwood--after a fourth
transplanting knew three summers of thrifty growth in its latest home,
and then gave up, without notice, the experiment of being cultivated.
Not so a sturdy wilding brought all the way from Maine, as a dear
souvenir of happy seaside "days that are no more." It still
accommodates itself to Massachusetts soil and bears with fortitude the
exigencies of Massachusetts "culchure."

Last and best is my heart's joy--the white rose of my childhood.

It has never revealed to me the secret of its botanic name; I simply
know it as the "White Rose."

Fifty years ago its sister roses might have been found in many
dooryards--side by side with ragged pink cinnamon roses--thriving
untended, loaded with bloom, and covering the low fronts of roadside
farm-houses. Its flowers are lovely in form, with creamy petals, and
just the faint suspicion of a blush at their heart.

Its odor is all its own--a strong, chaste, wholesome scent, yet sweet
withal as the "honey of Hymettus."

All my life long it had been the desire of my heart to have a bush of
this old-time white rose in my _very own_ garden. Time after time I had
bought and planted it, but to watch it die; at last, when half a century
of my life had gone, it surprised me in the Cambridge garden! The bush
had evidently seen its best days, and when we moved to The Lilacs
opinions varied as to the wisdom of transplanting so old a settler. We
could but try, and so we tried and succeeded. The big scraggly bush is
(ten years after) bravely holding its own, and summer after summer
scantily bearing the same dear old roses. A second bush, propagated
from the parent root, has been put in our Mt. Auburn burying lot. It is
one of my idle fancies to have a white rose tree near my grave. Surely
when "petals of its blown roses" fall upon the grass above my head

    "My heart will hear them and beat
    Tho' lain for a century dead."

And now it is on my conscience that, in this authentic history, I have
not yet confessed my disgraceful failure with Perpetual Roses. In the
little bed, started ten years ago, but six decadent specimens now "hold
the fort."

I cannot state whether this shameful fact is the result of unfitness of
soil, mistaken pruning, insufficient winter protection, or simply the
malice of opposing Fate.

Innumerable "Rose-grower's Guides" have been consulted in regard to
loam, manure, and phosphates since I made this venture. Naturally, then,
the soil cannot be greatly at fault, and as to "winter protection" I
have, as directed, stacked the bushes in straw, covered the ground with
good manure, topped by a covering of leaves held in place by strips of
board. This failing, I have tried omitting the stacking, and using
manure, leaves, and boards, and finally have fallen back on manure and
leaves as a permanent "winter arrangement." In regard to pruning I have
consulted many authorities, but "who shall decide when doctors
disagree?"

My Perpetuals have been pruned in early spring, at mid-summer, and in
autumn--have been pruned a little and pruned a good deal, and with the
same dreary result, and my ultimatum is--_prune not at all_.

This final decision is in direct opposition to the convictions of "The
Man with the Hoe," who, once the pruning shears are in his hand, is
prone to emulate the insatiate old fellow of the New England Primer,
commended to our childish attention by this awesome couplet:

    "Time cuts down all,
    Both great and small."

This propensity to "trim things up" is the one flaw in the character of
this useful person. On such days as he takes up his shears I follow
anxiously in his wake, and with mild remonstrance stay his ruthless
hand.

So many Perpetuals have, first and last, lived out their little day in
my garden that my poor brain refuses the task of recalling their names.
Of the six bushes that still survive, two are Jacques, one an unreliable
pink rose (name forgotten), which blooms when "so dispoged," usually
drops its shrunken buds right and left, and, if quite convenient,
perfects annually two or three lovely flowers of delicate pink and of
marvelous size.

Next in order are the two cherished white roses, the gift of a kind
neighbor, that, regardless of early frosts, bear their pretty clusters
up to the very last days of October. Lastly comes the tall thrifty bush
procured years ago along with five sister bushes in the prize collection
of a florist; the latter all died young. I cannot recall the name of the
survivor, nor tell its color, for never once has it put forth bud or
bloom. Hope, however, dies hard in the plant-lover's breast. Like the
scriptural proprietor of the barren fig tree I still "dig about and
dung" this incorrigible rose.

Last year I sowed Single Dahlias in the bare spaces in this untoward
rose bed, and when these and the two obliging white roses blossomed
together I looked with complacency upon the effect and thanked Heaven
that matters were no worse. Meantime my flower-loving neighbor, summer
after summer, is bringing Perpetual Roses into perfect bloom--red roses,
pink roses, and roses of waxy whiteness--large, fragrant, and altogether
exquisite! To walk among his Tea Roses and sniff the scented air is like
going out to "afternoon tea." The fine foliage of his bushes (in itself
only less beautiful than their bloom) is the result of neither
hellebore, insect powder, nor emulsion, but is simply kept immaculate
with pure cold water. At early morning the bushes are vigorously
showered. At nightfall the ever-ready hose is again in play. Under this
heroic treatment the red spider gives up the fight and hostile insects
of every variety hide their diminished heads. For the rest I think this
marvelous success (which extends to every plant, shrub, and tree in his
garden) is mainly due to a wise understanding of their individual needs,
a fond love of them all, and a never-tiring patience. I have never
cared for the Standard Roses. Like boys walking on stilts their
performance is odd, but unbecoming.

From Isaiah's day to our own the Rose has been well praised by poets.
Here are some of the many stanzas, lines, and couplets that celebrate
this beautiful Queen:

    "The desert shall blossom as the rose."
    --_Isaiah._

Before the Hebrew poet sung Eve was thus pictured in paradise:

    "Veiled in a cloud of fragrance where she stood
    Half-spied, so thick the roses blushing round
    About her glowed."
    --_Milton._

    "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may;
    Old Time is still a-flying,
    And that same flower that smiles today
    Tomorrow may be dying."
    --_Herrick._

    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet."

    "But earthlier happy is the rose distilled
    Than that which, withering on the virgin stem,
    Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness."
    --_Shakespeare._

    "Die of a rose in aromatic pain."
    --_Pope._

    "The budding rose above the rose full blown."
    --_Wordsworth._

    "The rose is sweetest washed with morning dew."
    --_Scott._

    "As though a rose should shut and be a bud again."
    --_Keats._

    "You may place a hundred handfuls of fragrant herbs and flowers
    before the nightingale, yet he wishes not in his constant heart for
    more than the sweet breath of his beloved rose."
    --_Janie._

There is an Eastern legend telling that when Paradise was fading from
earth an angel plucked and saved a single rose, which from that day has
transmitted to its kind an immortal fragrance.

No other flower has so many intimate relations to our humanity. It goes
to the altar with the bride--to the tomb with the dead. Young happy
hearts rejoice at its coming, and aged pulses ("slowed down" by Time's
relentless hand) quicken anew with memories of long-past Junes. In the
primal garden Eve herself must have given it its lovely, fitting name,
and Juliet was wrong--by no "other" would it "smell as sweet."



CHAPTER X

_Border Bulbs_


The Salvias, grouped in the perennial border, make a fine color show.
Coming when the earlier brightness of the season has passed, their
scarlet clumps last from late August to the time of frost. Raised from
seed their flowering season is briefer, and, as the plants are
comparatively inexpensive, it is well to get their full worth by setting
out well-grown Salvia plants in early June.

The Gladiolus is another effective flower, and should find place in the
perennial borders. Plant bulbs about the middle of May, and again in
July, and thus secure a long flowering time, as a light frost does no
harm to the plant. Gladiolus prefers a light loam, or a _moist_ sandy
soil. Fresh manure will prove injurious. Mr. Allen tells us, in his book
on "Bulbs, etc.," that "flowering bulbs of this plant may be produced
from seed with a certainty of a greater variety and a chance for some
remarkable forms. There is," declares he, "no other pleasure in
gardening equal to that which comes from the growing of Gladiolus from
seed." It is claimed for the Gladiolus that if cut for decorative use
when the first flower on the stalk opens the spike will develop better
in water than if left out in the open sun. I have no experimental
knowledge of this assertion. Take up early in October, and store bulbs
in cellar.

"The Gladiolus belongs to the genera Iridaceæ. The genus contains about
ninety species, nearly all of which are natives of the Cape of Good
Hope."

The Tuberose may be used in the garden with the same effect as the
Gladiolus. Mexico is the land of its nativity, and two species make up
the genus. In a quaint old book published in 1629 and entitled "The
Garden of Pleasant Flowers" it is classed with the "Greater Indian
Knobbed Hyacinth." "I have," says Parkinson (an old-time author),
"thought it best to begin with this Jacinth (Hyacinth) because it is the
greatest and highest, and also because the flowers hereof are in some
likeness neare unto a Daffodille, although his root be tuberous, and not
bulbous, as the rest are. The Indian Jacinth hath a thicke knobbed
roote, yet formed into several heades, somewhat like unto bulbous
rootes, with many thick fibres at the bottom of them. The toppes of the
stalkes," he goes on to inform us, "are garnished with many faire,
large, white flowers, each whereof are composed of six leaves, lying
spread open as the flowers of the white Daffodille, with some short
threads in the middle, and of a very sweet scent, or rather strong and
headey."

As may be seen in the above statement the Tuberose was first known as a
"Jacinth" (Hyacinth) and was at that time a single flower. The double
variety was raised as a seedling by M. Le Cour of Leyden, in Holland,
who for many years would not under any circumstances part with a root of
it. Even if after propagating a desired quantity, there was a surplus,
he would cause every tuber to be cut in pieces and destroyed, in order
to be the only possessor of so valuable a plant, and one which he
considered the finest in the world.

The Tuberose is a gross feeder, and succeeds best in light loam, but
will grow in any moist rich soil.

Its complete requisites are heat, water, and manure. If these are
proportionate, no matter how much there may be, the plant will consume
it.

And here is an incident in Tuberose culture (backed by good authority)
where Nature, scorning slower methods of evolution, "got on a hustle"
and produced a new variety on the spot. I copy it verbatim from Mr.
Allen's book: "In 1870 John Henderson of Flushing, N. Y. (a Tuberose
cultivator), discovered growing in his field a number of plants of
strong habit of growth, and with dark broad foliage. These he determined
to keep apart from his main stock in order to see what the result would
be.

"Cultivating them in the same manner as his other Tuberose bulbs he
discovered a distinct type of dwarf habit and much larger flowers. This
he at once named the 'Pearl,' and from the then small stock the trade in
what is known as 'Excelsior Pearl' is now wholly supplied. The Pearl is
the favorite of the buyer, and takes the first place in the seedsman's
catalogue."

The Single Dahlia, flowering as it does after the early summer beauties
have had their day, is an inexpensive "stop-gap" for the perennial
border. One may plant, in late April, kept-over bulbs or propagate from
seed sown first of May, and sure to flower the same year. The Nicotiana,
though an annual, may be used freely in the perennial border. It is an
evening bloomer and opens an hour or two before sunset, and looks and
smells its divinest by the light of the full round moon. The young
plants take kindly to removal, and may, with care, be changed from seed
bed to border while flowering.



CHAPTER XI

_Annuals_


A well-ordered garden is, in a measure, dependent upon the annuals,
coming in bloom (as they do) after most of the perennials have had their
short summer hour.

As February days lengthen the seedsman's catalogues come pouring in.

Turning a resolute back on the allurements and temptations of "Prize
Collections" I find it safer to pin my hopes to some well-tried
seedsman, and selecting in accordance with experience and the length of
my purse, send in an early order. Time was when I anticipated the season
by starting, in early March, window boxes of asters, petunias, cosmos,
and nasturtiums; experience has since taught me to await the slower seed
time appointed for me by wise Mother Nature and sow in the open about
the first week in May. The nasturtiums and sweet peas may be soaked over
night and put in earlier, the _latter_ the moment frost is out of the
ground, the _former_ about mid-April.

If one can command a cold frame still earlier sowing of transplantable
annuals is desirable. Seedlings thus raised are hardier than window
growths and may be set in the open bed before May is over; with the
house-sown annual one loses more of vigor than is gained by
"forehandedness."

Most annuals may be sown in the seed bed, which is the necessary
appendage to the show beds--indeed, all excepting the cosmos and poppy,
which cannot well bear removal. The transplanting may be done late in
June, and, indeed, if a cloudy day be chosen for the work, on any
afternoon throughout the summer. I have found that not only annuals but
herbaceous plants, vines, and even shrubs may be moved at one's
convenience without regard to the popular idea which restricts one to
spring and fall transplanting. My own method is--first, have a coolish
cloudy day, then dig holes and put oceans of water in them. Having made
the soil of the seedling quite wet one may keep a little ball of it
about the plant. Cover quickly with moist loam, then screen from sun
with newspaper, a big basket, or a box in which airholes have been made,
and keep well-watered until apparently rooted. A few high-growing
annuals, as marigolds, coxcombs, zinnias, and four-o'clocks, may be used
with effect in the empty spaces in perennial beds, where Oriental
poppies and candidums have died down and have had their stalks cut. For
this purpose let not the stiff-necked zinnia be despised. Easy of
culture, ready to move at any date, and without a moment's notice and
(if one save seed) in such cheap abundance that the undesirable colors
and shades may be pulled up as soon as the blossom shows its face and
cast aside with the weeds. The dreadful magentas are never once
permitted a foothold in my garden; the whites, yellows, true pinks,
salmon-pinks, and bright scarlets are all effective.

That out-of-date annual, dear to our grandmothers, the Four-O'Clock
should find a place in the perennial border. As will be inferred from
its name, it is an afternoon bloomer. "Motley is its wear," and its
color surprises more than repays one for the pains of raising. It has a
faint delicate odor all its own, recalling the enchanted gardens of
one's childhood, and that time of day when "school was out," and one
went skipping home to pull nosegays. I lack space to give here the long
list of desirable annuals.

Most of these are low-growing and look best in their own beds, as
Mignonette, Lady Slipper, Escholzia, Poppies, and so on. Centaurea
(Bachelor's Button) should especially have an entire bed to itself.

Mrs. Pratt tells us that in Germany it has been brought from the field
to the garden bed, and by the gardener's skill has increased the number
of its flowerets, and sometimes varied their hue.

"It is the pet of the German ladies, who have given it the pretty name
of _Bluet_. With us it is sometimes known as the 'Corn Flower.'"

The Centaurea, according to Pliny, "is that famous hearbe wherewith
Charon, the Centaure, as the report goeth, was cured; at what time
having entertained Hercules in his cabin he would needs be handling and
tampering with the weapons of his said guest so long, untille one of the
arrows light upon his foote and wounded him dangerously."

To this legend the plant may probably refer its name.

[Illustration: Winter Corner at The Lilacs]

Some of the low-growing annuals may effectively border the show beds
where late in May the geraniums are set on the removal of spring bulbs,
which I find it best to lift and dry off for fall planting.

Clumps of Narcissi and Daffodils may remain permanently in the borders
to make their summer growth, and the half-grown bulbs may be put in beds
made in some out-of-the-way place for their especial propagation.

In central positions on the lawn build raised circles for show bulbs;
border with stone. Avoid turf borders, which imply a continual fight
with tough grass roots.

Have good loam, sifted fine, and well enriched with old cow manure. Make
holes four inches deep, and put in each a sprinkling of fine sand to
prevent the bulb coming in direct contact with manure in the soil. Plant
bulbs in October, but do not cover with the final dry leaves and pine
boughs until the very last of November, and be sure to uncover in spring
as soon as the young sprouts push up for the sun.

In summer, with two or three choice cannas in the center, some bright
geraniums, and coleuses next, and a filling out of asters, petunias, and
low Drummond Phlox from the seed bed, the circles will make a lovely
show of color up to the very last day of summer and all through the
month of September, and, on their groundwork of green lawn, be indeed
fair to see. In back places of the garden sow seed for flower-cutting;
among the best of these is the "White Branching Aster," the single
Dahlia, and (if one can bring enough of these beauties into bloom) the
white Cosmos.

The yellow Daffodil, although in our climate it does not, as in
Shakespeare's England,

    "Come before the swallow dares
    And take the winds of March with beauty,"

is among the earliest of our spring flowers and laughs our raw east
winds to scorn.

"Yellow," says Mrs. Jameson, "symbolizes the goodness of God." We cannot
be better reminded of this divine attribute than by the Daffodil's
smiling face looking up to us from the edge of perennial beds. The
single white variety of Narcissi, known as Poet's Narcissus, must, I
think, be the identical flower into which the vain beautiful youth of
mythological notoriety (enamored of his own image reflected in a
fountain) was changed. The gods did well by him. To this day it makes
our May-time sweet, and as a cut flower it is perfection itself. Later,
as the plants die down, one can remove its dead tops and sow Shirley
Poppies above the bulbs, while they increase beneath and get ready for
the next "spring opening."

The Asphodel of the Greek poets, by some declared to be the Day Lily, is
by others supposed to be the _Narcissus Poeticus_.

The Tulip, as a bulb, is historically famous. It was brought to Europe
from Persia in 1559 and was cultivated at Constantinople. From this city
it found its way over Europe under the name of the Turkish Tulip.

About a century after its first introduction it became, as we know, the
object of commercial speculation. It is said that enormous prices were
paid for a single bulb, and that as much as $3,000 was offered and
refused in one instance. Speculators were even more excited and reckless
than the growers, and many of the Dutch florists were ruined by their
ventures.

This mania happily wore itself out and the industry finally assumed a
healthy tone. At the present time, according to the statement of Mr. C.
L. Allen, to whom I am indebted for the above facts, more than seven
hundred acres of Dutch soil are devoted to Tulip culture.

Tulips have been grown from the seed by the millions. The named
varieties are so great that it would be impossible to enumerate. One
dealer alone boasts of more than eighteen hundred varieties.

The seed bed's important part it is to furnish fresh plants to take the
place of such perennials and biennials as are winter-killed or have
outlived their flowering time.

It should have light rich soil and, if possible, should have half the
day in shade.



CHAPTER XII

_Climbers_


The originator of the "Mansion House" was compelled to obey literally
the scripture injunction and "build upon a rock." A substratum of that
safe "foundation" lay directly beneath the site chosen for his home and
must have been hewn or exploded out previous to the placing of its
corner stone. Consequently within a good foot or more of the house there
is found but a thin layer of soil, where climbers may not obtain a
foothold. I had formerly great success with perennial vines and
creepers, among them may be counted Bignonia Radicans (Trumpet Creeper),
"Baltimore Belle" (rose), Matrimony (now nearly obsolete), which I once
trained with yellow Flowering Currant over the entire length and breadth
of a veranda. This method of growing the Currant I claim as entirely my
own. We latticed the piazza with copper wire, and its combination with
the Matrimony (or "Tea Vine") was most effective and made a very dense
screen. My Prairie Rose was also a marked success. So was my Hop Vine,
my Scarlet Honeysuckle, and a pink climbing rose given me by a
neighbor. I cannot recall its name, but well remember how it ran riot
over an entire lattice, arched over the long French window in my first
parlor, and how the June west wind blew its petals in from the raised
window, in scented showers, about the parlor floor.

Among the annual vines I have had fine Coboea Scandens--climbing like
"Jack's bean" to the very top of things. With Moonflower I have failed,
although I soaked the big seed over night and sowed with great care. It
is an exquisite flower, and I have seen it brought into beautiful bloom.
The common native Morning Glory, which "grows and takes no care," as a
matter of course does well with all.

Not so the Japanese (Ipomoea Imperialis). Lured by the seedsman's
pictures of this wonder, year after year I waste good money on seed
packets of that disappointing flower. My seed germinates after a fashion
and sometimes I get a flower or two a trifle larger than those on the
native vines, but about the same in color. Three summers ago I potted a
seedling and gave it a small trellis. To my great delight it bore a few
precious flowers of cerulean hue daintily striped with white. Thus
encouraged I still include Japanese Morning Glories in my list of
annuals, ordering them from one seedsman after another, if,
peradventure, I might hit the man who furnishes the marvels which I have
read about--the fluted, fringed, and rainbow-hued, the _bona fide
Ipomoea Imperialis_.

When, fifteen years ago, after a long absence, I went for a summer
outing to my native town it was the time of Honeysuckles--the evening
air was loaded with their perfume, for _there_ not to have a Honeysuckle
is to be poor indeed.

Glad was I to walk in the June moonlight and again revel in the dear
familiar odor. When I again left my old home I bore with me three
thrifty roots of this lovely vine given me by kind friends. These were
carefully planted in a sheltered corner of our Cambridge garden. From
that hour I have had Honeysuckles to spare. Grown to big precious vines
the three came with us to this garden, where they now cover four wooden
trellises, a bit of the garden wall, and an irregular arch at the end of
our piazza. Their runners have supplied the entire neighborhood with
young vines, twelve of which have already come into bloom, not counting
one in Malden and another in Chelsea. Last winter in common with many
others I suffered a partial loss of my Honeysuckles from winter-killing.
The roots were, however, still intact, and, though we missed their full
bloom, their foliage is now (middle of August) as fine as ever.

It is but lately that I have learned that the Honeysuckle and the
Woodbine of England are one and the same.

The English Honeysuckle blooms monthly; the Japanese Honeysuckle is
_not_ a monthly bloomer. It blossoms with the June roses, and sometimes
bears a spray or two of bloom in late autumn. It differs in other ways
from the English--has not its pink shading nor its dainty scent. Milton,
in Lycidas, calls it "the well-attired Woodbine"--perhaps this is
because of its continuous flowering. The oriental variety has in this
day superseded the English. More rapid in growth and easier of culture
it falls in with the hurrying sentiment of the time. It has been my good
fortune to possess in my day three English Honeysuckles--_now_, mine are
_all_ Japanese. The poets, from Chaucer down to Wordsworth, have sung
the praises of the Woodbine.

The elder poet drew his image of constant affection from the clinging
nature of the Woodbine (or "bind") and its enduring hold on the wedded
tree. Contrary to the habit of most other vines the Honeysuckle follows,
in its windings, the sun.

The Weigelia, a shrub belonging to the Honeysuckle family, was
introduced from China, and is named after Weigel, a German naturalist.

Here end my hints in regard to the selection and culture of such
everyday herbaceous plants, shrubs, annuals, and vines as are attainable
to the garden-lover of moderate means. Many rarer specimens are (as a
matter of course) within reach of one with a longer purse, who holds
(with me) that Victor Hugo "hit the nail on the head" when he
paradoxically asserted that "the beautiful is as useful as the useful,
perhaps more so."

To me one of the beautiful uses of flowers is to cut them for interior
decoration.

Our grandmothers had no vocation for out-of-door life. A garden was to
them a place to "grow things" in, to work and walk in, but to sit in?
never! All the same the big "bowpots" were duly filled, and although
less artistically arranged than the vases of today, were a part of the
housewife's plan of living, and bore witness to the divine truth that
"man cannot live by bread alone."

Lafcadio Hearn tells us that "to the Japanese the arranging of a bough
of blossoms is a serious act of life. That the placing of flowers is
indeed an exact science, to the study of which a man may devote seven
years, even fourteen years, before he will be acknowledged a master."

As a rule avoid painted china vases in arranging cut flowers. Let the
vase be artistic in shape and well adapted to the flowers it holds, but
never so gay in color as to rival them. Single flowers arrange best,
and, as a general rule, put each variety in a glass by itself. Roses,
Nasturtiums, and Sweet Peas seem especially well-suited to table
decoration. They are all "good enough to eat."



CHAPTER XIII

_Gardens "in Spain"_


The poorest of us have our "castles in Spain." Why not have our
_gardens_? Such a garden I have "in my mind's eye," but before I make
bold to describe this airy creation (which, for lack of leisure and
"hard cash," is doomed never to materialize) let me explain that my
garden in Spain is not purely ornamental; that its beds and walks,
although tastefully laid out, are strictly devoted to "the useful," to
culinary and medicinal ends. In earlier times our _Materia Medica_
(including though it did the unsavory pills and potions now become
somewhat out of date) pinned its faith largely to Nature's ready-to-hand
specifics. "Simples," as these herbs were then called (probably in
contradistinction to the complex preparations of the doctor), were even
in our own generation zealously gathered by our grandmothers; and I well
remember the time when to be without dried herbs--Boneset, Hoarhound,
Wormwood, Motherwort, Catnip, and Gentian--was to be shiftless indeed.

In laying out this imaginary garden plot I have covered a good half acre
of rich soil, which I have, in fancy, divided into pretty beds of
various size and shape, with neat intersecting gravel walks. There I
have sown or planted such herbs as once hung in generous bunches, drying
leisurely, in all respectable garrets, when such minor ailments as
"flesh is heir to" were cured on the spot and only on alarming occasions
the doctor, with his pill boxes, his blisters, and lancet, called in.

Various are the uses and virtues of these medicinal herbs. "Gentian,"
says an old herbalist, "will worke admirable cures for the stomache and
lungs. It is also a special counter-poison against any poison, as
against the violence of a mad dog's tooth."

Modern physicians find one species of Gentian soporific and use it to
procure sleep for the weary sufferer. G. Latea is the Gentian of
commerce, and is used as a tonic. The old herbalists commend the Common
Centaury as a cure for jaundice and ague, and tell us that an infusion
of the plant removes freckles. Of Jacob's Ladder (a plant of the genus
Smilax) Pliny tells us that the name by which it is known to us is
derived from Polimis (war), because two kings having each claimed the
merit of discovering the great uses of the herb had recourse to arms to
settle the disputed question.

The old "Simplers" (herbalists) commend Penny Royal tea as a remedy for
coughs and colds--"goode and wholesome for the lungs"--and add that "a
garlande of the plant worn about the heade will cure giddeness."

Foxglove (Digitalis) was praised by old herbalists for its various
medicinal uses, "divers having been cured thereby of falling sickness."
Later, skillful practitioners have discovered its power over the action
of the heart, and Digitalis has come to be a highly-valued medicine.

Common Vervain rivals the Mistletoe in its occult usages. "Many old
wives' fables tending to witchcraft and sorcerie," says Gerarde, "are
written of Vervayne."

"The Druids," according to Pliny, often used Vervain in "casting lots,
telling fortunes, and foreshadowing future national events." Its
gathering was attended with peculiar ceremonies. "It was to be sought
for at the rising of the great Dog-star, and when plucken an offering of
honeycomb was to be made to the Earth as a recompense for depriving her
of so goodly an herb." The ancients believed that "if the hall or dining
chamber be sprinkled with the water wherein Vervain lay steeped all that
sate at the table should be very pleasant, and make merry more
jocundly."

The Romans considered it a sacred plant, placing it in the hands of
ambassadors who were about to enter on important embassies; and the
floors of their houses were rubbed with Vervain to drive away evil
spirits. In England, at a later time, the plant was called "_Holy
herb_," and had its superstitious usages intimating a belief in its
magical properties. Of late years it is there tied round the neck as a
charm to cure ague.

Vervain is still believed to possess great medicinal virtues, and is
described as a remedy for thirty different maladies. It had of old the
expressive name of "Simpler's Joy."

The Verbena tribe of this plant is cultivated in our gardens for its
showy clusters of pink, purple, white, and dazzling scarlet blossoms,
and the Lemon variety for its delicately fragrant leaves.

According to the old "Simplers" "the roote of the Caraway may be eaten
like the parsnip, and helpeth digestion and strengtheneth the stomaches
of ancient (aged) people exceedingly, and they need not make a whole
meal of them neither."

In some countries Angelica is (we are told) called by a name signifying
the "Holy Ghost." In ancient times its leaf stalks were blanched like
those of celery and eaten as a salad, or they were dried and preserved
as a sweet-meat, "Candied Angelica." The Laplander believes that the use
of Angelica prolongs life, and chews it as he would do tobacco.

The Highlanders have the same opinion of the virtues of Lovage. The
simplers have advised "gentlewomen" "to nourse it up in their kitchen
gardens to helpe their own family and their poore neighbors that are
faire remote from phisitions and Chirurgeons." They also affirm that "if
a man carry about him Angelica root the witches doe have no power over
him."

The nourishment in the roots of wild herbs has often kept the Indian
tribes from starvation in times of scarcity of game, when they had to
depend on these and on crows, eagles, and devil fish to sustain life
while awaiting the "coming of the salmon," that in fishing time leaped
in prodigious numbers in their rivers.

I remember reading of an especially providential instance where in a
region desolated by grasshoppers the people were, for the time,
sustained on the _roots_ of herbs which these greedy cormorants had,
necessarily, left intact.

For an interesting and exhaustive treatment of this branch of botanical
information the reader is referred to Anna Pratt's "British Flowering
Plants," a work from which much of my own knowledge has been obtained.

"If," says an old writer, "I shoulde set down all the sortes of herbes
that are usually gathered for sallets I should not only speake of garden
herbes, but of many herbes which grow wilde in the fieldes, or else be
but weedes in a garden."

George Herbert, in his "Priest to the Temple," while enumerating the
duties of the parson and his family, thus writes: "For salves his wife
seeks not the city, but prefers her gardens and fields before all
outlandish gums; and surely hyssop, valerian, adder's tongue, melilot,
and St. John's-wort, made into a salve, and elder, comfrey, and smallage
made into poultice, have done great and rare cures." And he piously
adds: "In curing of any, the Parson and his family, use to premise with
prayer; for this is to cure like a parson, and this raiseth the action
from the Shop to the Church."

Catmint or Catnip is the "New Wine" of the Grimalkin family. It is said
that it is not intoxicating to them until its odor is perceptible to
their smell by breaking or bruising the plant.

Catnip is fabled to make the most gentle human beings fierce and
wrathful, and it is related of a certain pusillanimous hangman that he
only gained courage to perform the duties of his wretched vocation by
chewing catnip root.

One who experimented with Catnip as an incitement to ferocity assures us
that "for 24 hours after a dose of this root she retained a perfect
equanimity of temper and feeling."

But enough space has already been given to the healing herbs that plant
themselves in my Garden in Spain, and now let me tell you of the dear
little imaginary beds devoted to my sweet-scented "pot-herbs." In these
I please myself with tending Coriander, Mint, Anise, and Cumin, Dill,
Lovage, Thyme, Lavender, Angelica, Sweet Sicily, Rosemary, Comfrey,
Fennel, Sweet Basil, Penny Royal, and Balm.

Here, too, may be found less poetical herbs of solid worth in the
cuisine--as Sage, Parsley, Summer Savory, Sweet Marjoram, and so on.
Many fragrant pot-herbs are dear to my heart simply from long
association, others are widely distinguished by historical eminence.

Coriander has the especial claim of "long descent." Its pedigree dates
back to the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and it is possibly coeval
with the Sphinx and the pyramids. It would seem to have been in common
use among the Hebrews at the time of their exodus from Egypt, as Moses,
in the Book of Numbers, tells us that Manna was in appearance like
Coriander seed. It is said to have been in use by the ancients both as a
condiment and a medicine. In our day it forms an ingredient in Curry
powder, and is used in confectionery.

Mint, Rue, and Cumin have each a delightful flavor of antiquity. The
tithe or tax upon these ancient herbs paid so scrupulously by the
Pharisees bears testimony to their commercial value full nineteen
centuries ago. To think of these miserable hypocrites having mint-sauce
to their "spring lamb" and, possibly, "peppermint creams" to their
dessert! It is, however, good to know that the dear little babies of the
time were privileged with anise seed tea in the stress of colic. How
bitter-flavored cumin served them I cannot say, but it is to be hoped
that these "Scribes and Pharisees" (whom even their imitators frankly
anathematize) what time they had "spring feelin's" were not let off with
homemade decoctions of innocent "Simples," but were mercilessly dosed,
by the "Holy Land" doctors, with nasty potions of Senna and Salts.

Lavender, Rosemary, Basil, and Sweet Marjoram have all been celebrated
in verse. Keats has sent cold shivers down our backs with his gruesome
story of "Isabella" and her flower-pot of Sweet Basil, with its ghastly
hiding:

    "And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
      And she forgot the blue above the trees,
    And she forgot the dells where waters run,
      And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
    She had no knowledge when the day was done,
      And the new moon she saw not: but in peace
    Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
      And moisten'd it with tears unto the core."

Sweet Marjoram in England produces its fragrant blossom at such
elevations as to have gained the pretty name "Joy of the Mountains."
Shakespeare has added interest to it by making it the password in the
tragedy of "King Lear."

In fancy one can see the faithful Edgar with his mutilated father, the
duke, climbing to the "dread summit of that chalky bourn," and hear
Edgar saying to his father:

    "Hark! do you hear the sea?"

"The swete marjoroms," says an old writer, "are not only much used to
please the outward senses in nosegaies, and in the windows of houses, as
also in swete powders, swete bags, and swete washing waters, but are
also of much use in physick, to comfort the inward members."

Caraway calls up the cookies dear to childhood, and a spray of green
Fennel brings back, as if by touch of the enchanter's wand--"Minister
Garner" in the old meetin'-house under the big "sounding board"
(relentless as fate) pursuing his theme to the bitter end, while seated,
in the pen-like box pew, beside our devout grandmother, we tone
ourselves down to the solemn occasion, with no higher aspiration than
the wish to be butterflies sailing gayly in the outside sunshine. Virtue
has, at last, its reward. At about the minister's soporific "fifthly"
our grandmother catches herself nodding. Opening her roomy black silk
workbag she gives herself a saving nibble of fennel and passes a
delicious spray of this spicy herb to each of her three grandchildren.

Dear old grandma! a full half century ago her soul went home to God, yet
still I recall my childish picture of her angel sweeping with wide wings
the blue eternal spaces, with never-withering sprays of fennel in her
hand.

One lingers lovingly over these pretty "Herbs O' Grace," of which the
half has not here been told. But, already it is time to write _finis_ at
the end of this vagary--"My Garden in Spain."



CHAPTER XIV

_The Cerebral Processes of Plants_


I find it good to think of plants as mysterious fellow-existences, about
which the half is not yet known--to speculate on their psychological
properties--on what has been called "The cerebral processes of plants."

Darwin has thus expressed himself on this interesting question:

"It has," he says, "always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of
organized beings, and I therefore felt especial pleasure in showing how
many and what admirably well-adapted movements the tip of a root
possesses.... It was impossible in accordance with the principle of
evolution," he goes on to say, "to account for climbing plants having
been developed in so many widely different groups, unless all plants
possess some slight power of movement of an analogous kind. This I
proved to be the case."

In his "Power of Movement in Plants" he still farther expresses this
conviction: "The tips of all young growing parts of the higher plants
continually revolve, bowing successively towards every point of the
compass." And he declares that "it is hardly an exaggeration to say that
the tip of the radicle endowed with such diverse kinds of sensitiveness
and having the power to direct the movements of the adjoining parts,
acts like the brain of one of the lower animals, the brain being seated
within the anterior end of the body, receiving impressions from the
sense-organs and directing the several movements."

Great truths gain ground by inches. This assumption of the great
scientist is not yet generally admitted, although, as I think, well
established by experimental proof. An interesting paper in "Forest and
Garden," prepared by T. D. Ingersoll of Erie, Pennsylvania, and entitled
"Signs of Intelligence in a Madeira Vine."

I here copy verbatim:

"Two or three years ago I began, without any great seriousness, an
experiment on some Madeira Vines, which presently began to prove more
interesting than was anticipated. Before this my attention had been
attracted to peculiar movements made by this plant in the course of its
spiral ascent of a stick. If allowed to grow a few inches above the
support the extremity of the plant will sway backward and forward a few
hours and then will enter upon a regular revolving movement, always from
right to left, or contrary to the direction in which the hands of a
watch move. One revolution consumes about three hours. One of my plants
began to grow on April first, and at the end of fourteen days was twelve
inches tall and showing signs of uneasiness--now bending away from a
vertical position and again standing nearly upright. On the 16th it was
eighteen inches high, and, being too top-heavy to stand erect, it began
to fall away from the pot, which stood upon a table, towards the floor.
This was done gradually and apparently with conscious care. It seemed to
feel at times that it was letting itself down too fast, when it would
stop with a jerk, like a nodding child half asleep. When near the floor
it began describing ellipses, about three inches in diameter, with its
upturned extremity. On the 19th it was twenty-six inches in length, and
would describe a crescent-shaped loop, seventeen inches in length by six
inches in breadth, in about two hours. On the 23d it was three feet four
inches long, revolving with less regularity, and at times drooped as if
weary or discouraged in trying to find something upon which it might
entwine itself. Thus far no opportunity had been given the plant to
climb, since it was desirable to see what it would do to meet the
absence of some support. On the 26th a new route of traverse was
undertaken at 6 a.m., and at nine o'clock the extremity, which was near
the floor at the left side of the pot, had described a circle six inches
in diameter. It then slowly swept around to the right side and made
another irregular circle, and then returned to the left side of the pot;
these movements occupied just twelve hours. The track of the tip of the
vine was carefully traced with a pencil upon a sheet of paper laid
beneath it, and the entire line of traverse measured no less than six
feet nine inches. During the evening the plant became quiet, and
probably remained so all night. At 10 a.m. the next day, however, it
began pointing its tip in various directions, and at noon assumed the
form of a corkscrew, about four inches long, which posture it retained
until night and then straightened out. On May first the vine was lifted
and tied to a vertical support--a large thread--where it remained
entirely quiescent for two days. Then it began growing again as if it
had recovered from what had been for six days a condition near the point
of death.

"Another vine was observed carefully during several days of cloudy
weather. It uncoiled itself from the stick and reached away toward the
light at an angle with the horizon of forty-five degrees. It was
carefully recoiled about its stick, but after it had grown some three
inches more it unwound itself and stood away toward the window as
before. Time after time during the continuance of the cloudy weather it
was brought back to its support but invariably left it. Then followed a
fortnight of bright sunny weather, during which the vine showed no
disposition to escape from its stick or stop its twining growth.
Attempts were made to induce another plant to twine in the direction
opposite to its normal one, but no ingenuity could deceive the plant as
to its proper course. All the experiments seemed to show how much like
an animal was the plant in its sensitiveness, not only to changes of
light and temperature, but to harsh treatment. Whenever restrained or
forced, no matter how tenderly, out of its natural method of growth,
all progress was retarded and the health of the vine disturbed in a
marked degree. Plants seem to be creatures of feeling and the similarity
of movement and apparent purpose between them and the lower orders of
animals are used to strengthen their theory by those who hold to the
doctrine of the identity of life in the two kingdoms."

Dr. Dwight, in his paper in "Scribner's" entitled "Right-handedness"
still further develops the theory of brain power in plants. "The spiral
growth," says this writer, "of a graceful climbing plant, at first
sight, suggests nothing like right or left-handedness, but the analogy
when once seen is very striking. As the young plant begins its upward
course it is clear that to make the coils which it is its nature to
describe, it must either turn to the right or left. It might be supposed
that its deviation to either side is the result of an accident, but this
is impossible, for, though the individual plants of some kinds do twine
indiscriminately to either side, some only curl to the right and others
to the left. More remarkable still, some species twist in the opposite
direction to that of the larger families to which they belong, and
finally, sometimes a particular plant grows the wrong way. This is
analogous to being left-handed."

From Mrs. Pratt's "Flowering Plants of England" I take this account of
the curious movements of the seed-vessel of the "Musk Stork's Bill."

It is a relation of Mr. Mallet of Dublin of his personal observation of
the capsule movements of this remarkable flower. "Each seed," says the
writer, "of which there are five to each flower, is enclosed in a
carpel, attached by its upper extremity to a tail or awn, which
possesses the most wonderful hygrometric sensibility, as, indeed, does
every other part of the plant. These five awns lie in grooves in the
receptacle of the flowers, and this receptacle is central to and is the
axis of all parts of the flower and the fruit.

"When the whole system has arrived at a certain point of aridity the
awns, which are provided with an exquisite power of torsion, hoist
themselves out from their grooves and at the same moment a number of
downy filaments, hidden in the back or inward face of the awns, bristle
forth; they all now become detached and fall to the ground. But here
they still continue to twist, and from the position in which they always
lie keep tumbling over and over, and thus receding from the parent plant
until at length they become perfect balloons, ready to be wafted away by
every zephyr."

The theory that "plants can see," or, at any rate, manage to find food
and support by some special sense, which the unscientific mind cannot
better name than to call it sight, has been corroborated in the "Rural
Press" by Mrs. King, who thus describes her husband's observation of
this interesting habit on the part of a creeping plant in India:

"He was sitting on the veranda, with one foot up against a large pillar
near to which grows a kind of convolvulus. Its tendrils were leaning
over into the veranda, and, to Robert's surprise, he presently noticed
that they were visibly turning toward his leg. He remained in the same
position and in less than an hour the tendrils had laid themselves over
his leg.

"This was in the early morning, and when at breakfast he told me of this
discovery we determined to make further experiments. When we went out
into the veranda the tendrils had turned their heads back to the railing
in disgust. We got a pole and leaned it up against the pillar quite
twelve inches from the nearest sprays of convolvulus.

"In ten minutes they had begun to curve themselves in that direction and
acted exactly as you might fancy a very slow snake would do if he wished
to reach anything. The upper tendrils bent down, and the side ones
curved themselves until they touched the pole, and in a few hours were
twisted quite round it.

"It was on the side away from the light, and, excepting the faculty of
sight, we can think of no other means by which the tendrils could be
aware that the pole had been placed there. They had to turn away from
the light to reach it, and they set themselves in motion visibly within
a few minutes of the pole's being there."

My own experience with climbing plants has long since convinced me that
they have "a will of their own," and that if their will differs from my
own no amount of coaxing will induce them to take the path which is
laid out for them.

Well, if plants had but tongues they could, no doubt, tell us things
well worth hearing in regard to their special mode of existence.



CHAPTER XV

"_Auf Wiedersehen_"


It seems but yesterday that the punctual year brought back her
Daffodils--that Hyacinth and Tulip pushed up green shoots for the spring
sunshine--and now the Syringa bushes are white with bloom.

In one short week midsummer will have come, that beautiful holiday of
the summer solstice, whose festal observance is, in England, of great
antiquity.

The old practice of lighting bonfires in London and in other towns (and
even in villages) is probably a remnant of the pagan rites once observed
on that day.

Later, the Christian monks dedicated this festival to one of their
saints, and, accordingly, the people on that day made their houses gay
with St. John's-wort and other flowers and at evening kept the "vigil of
St. John the Baptist," lighting bonfires in honor of this saint. Every
man's door was then hung with birch boughs and lamps of glass, whose oil
burnt on through the night. An old parish entry--dating so far back as
the reign of Edward IVth--thus stands: "For birch at Midsummer VIII d";
and again, "Various payments for birch bowes at Midsummer."

Old English poets commemorate in verse the hanging at this season of
birch branches over the sign boards of shop doors.

Perhaps in our increasing demand for holidays we may yet adopt this
charming festival of our English forbears, as we have that of their
Yule-tide. It would fall at the same season as did that pretty Persian
festival, "The Feast of Roses."

Today, in after-dinner "idlesse," with the unread morning paper in my
hand, I sit beneath the blossomed Tulip trees, taking in so much of the
beauty and perfection of the hour as my limited being will hold. Shadow
and sunshine interchange upon the lush green lawn, where today the
Syringa sprinkles its first light snow. The breath of blown Peonies
scents the summer air along with the languorous odor of the mock-orange
flowers. Yonder, in the old pear tree hard by the Lover's bowery walk, a
happy thrush sings out his little heart while his silent mate broods
patiently the family nest. A distant robin pipes cheerily among the
apple boughs, and somewhere among the treetops a gurgling oriole
sings--sings as if in this whole wide world of ours there were neither
pain nor death, but only life, and joy, and never-ending summer.

Last night a Damask Rose opened in the garden--

    "God's in his Heaven; all's right with the world!"

For myself--attuned to the blessed influences of the hour--I am at peace
with all mankind. My enemies, one and all, are forgiven on the spot, and
I meekly consider the advisability of "turning the other cheek" for a
second "smite." For what saith the old herbalist--combining in his
ancient book floriculture and ethical instruction? "Flowers, through
their beautie, variety of color, and exquisite forme, doe bring to a
liberal and gentlemanly minde the remembrance of honestie, comeliness,
and all kinds of virtues. For it woulde be an unseemly thing for him
that dothe looke upon and handle faire and beautiful things to have his
minde not faire, but filthy and depraved."

The Japanese, in their days of heathendom, celebrated with great care
their ancient "Festival of Departed Spirits." A fire was then built in
front of every house in the empire as a signal or invitation for all the
departed members of the house to revisit their old homes.

So tonight, with pulses slowed down to peace, musing in the quiet of
this sleepy garden, I keep the "Festival of Departed Spirits," and,
signaling to the unseen, hear in the tender silence faint footfalls of
the departed along the familiar garden ways.

Said the dear Lady (who at one time in her life was much fascinated by
Spiritualism, and wont to map out with great accuracy the "Undiscovered
Country" with its pursuits and privileges), referring to that time when
this house and garden should no longer know her in the flesh: "I shall
not forget my home on earth, I shall still be around."

And thou, "my summer child"[2] (best loved and last to go), born with
the roses and gifted with the sunny sweetness of a thousand Junes, but
yesterday we trod together these garden paths, whose improvement was thy
latest care. The echo of thy parting footfall yet lingers in this
garden, making it "holy ground." "They sin who tell us Love can die."

"Auf wiedersehen," my "summer child."


FOOTNOTES:

[1] A nickname suggested by this item in a bill of our German
cobbler--which ran thus--"To souling shues for _Tird sun_ 50 sense."

[2] Miss Bremer in "The Home."



       *       *       *       *       *


TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES

The following variant spellings are used in this text:

1) midsummer (3 times) and mid-summer (twice)

2) springtime (once) and spring-time (twice)

3) sweetmeat and sweet-meat (once each).


The two occasions on which the [oe] ligature is used have been rendered
as "oe": "Coboea" and "Ipomoea", both on p. 95.


The following amendments to the text have been made:

1) "remaider" changed to "remainder" on p. 18.

2) "Eastern" changed to "Easter" on p. 43.

3) A double quotation mark (") has been added after "shrine of Thomas à
Becket" on p. 55.

4) "Stratford-on Avon" changed to "Stratford-on-Avon" on p. 61.

5) A double quotation mark (") has been deleted before "O E holihoc" on
p. 70.





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