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Title: ABC of Gardening
Author: Rexford, Eben E. (Eben Eugene)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         HARPER'S A-B-C SERIES


A-B-C OF HOUSEKEEPING.

     By CHRISTINE TERHUNE HERRICK

A-B-C OF ELECTRICITY.

     By WILLIAM M. MEADOWCROFT

A-B-C OF GARDENING. By EBEN E. REXFORD

A-B-C OF MANNERS. By ANNE SEYMOUR


                              16mo, Cloth


                      HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK



                                 A-B-C
                                  OF
                               GARDENING


                                  BY

                            EBEN E. REXFORD


                     HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
                           NEW YORK & LONDON



                 COPYRIGHT, 1915, BY HARPER & BROTHERS

                PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
                         PUBLISHED MARCH, 1915



                               CONTENTS


  CHAP.                          PAGE

      I. MAKING THE GARDEN                                    1

     II. MAKING A LAWN                                        5

    III. THE BORDER                                           8

     IV. ANNUALS                                             12

      V. VINES                                               15

     VI. SPRING WORK IN THE GARDEN                           21

    VII. MIDSUMMER IN THE GARDEN                             26

   VIII. WINDOW-BOXES                                        30

     IX. THE USE OF GROWING PLANTS FOR TABLE DECORATION      33

      X. DECORATIVE PLANTS                                   39

     XI. THE BULB-BED                                        44

    XII. GETTING READY FOR WINTER                            48

   XIII. BULBS FOR WINTER FLOWERING                          54

    XIV. THE WINTER WINDOW-GARDEN                            61

     XV. THE INSECT ENEMIES OF PLANTS                        67

    XVI. GARDENING FOR CHILDREN                              72

   XVII. HOME AND GARDEN CONVENIENCES                        75

  XVIII. GARDEN DON'TS                                       81

    XIX. A CHAPTER OF HELPFUL HINTS                          99



A-B-C OF GARDENING



A-B-C OF GARDENING



I

MAKING THE GARDEN


The first thing to do in making a garden is to spade up the soil to the
depth of a foot.

The second thing to do is to work this spaded-up soil over and over
until it is thoroughly pulverized.

The third thing to do is to add to it whatever fertilizer you decide
on using. This may be old, well-rotted manure from the cow-yard, if
you can get it, for it is the ideal fertilizer for nearly all kinds of
plants. But if you live in city or village the probabilities are that
you will be obliged to make use of a substitute. Bone meal--the finely
ground article--is about as good as anything I know of for amateur
use. The amount to use will depend on the condition of the soil to
which you apply it. If of simply ordinary richness, I would advise a
teacupful of the meal to a yard square of ground. If the soil happens
to be poor, a large quantity should be used. It is not possible to say
just how much or how little, because no two soils are exactly alike.
One can decide about this when he sees the effect of what has been used
on the plants whose cultivation he has undertaken. I speak of using
it by measure rather than by weight because the gardener will find it
easier to use a cup than a set of scales.

When the soil has been thoroughly pulverized and the fertilizer has
been well worked into it you are ready for sowing seed--that is, if
the weather conditions are favorable. It is always advisable to wait
until all danger from frost is over and the ground is warm enough to
facilitate prompt germination. At the North the seed of our hardier
plants can safely be put into the ground about the middle of May, but
the tenderer kinds can well afford to wait until the first of June.

In sowing seed don't follow the old way of making a furrow an inch deep
in the soil, by drawing the hoe-handle along it, and then covering
the seed deeply. Fine seed often fail to germinate when given this
treatment. Simply scatter the seed _on the surface_, and then sift
a little fine soil over it, or press the ground down firmly with a
smooth board, thus imbedding the seed in the ground to a depth that
is sufficient to insure enough moisture to facilitate the process of
germination.

Large seed, like that of the sweet-pea, nasturtium, mirabilis, and
morning-glory can be covered with half an inch of soil.

Weeding should begin as soon as you can tell the weeds and the
flowering plants apart. It is absolutely necessary to keep the beds
clean if you would have good flowers. Allow weeds to remain, and in an
incredibly short time they will get such a start of the other plants
in the bed that these will have received a check from which it will
take them a long time to recover, when given an opportunity to do so by
the removal of the enemy. There can be no compromise between weeds and
flowering plants. One must give way to the other, and weeds will have
it all their own way if given the ghost of a chance.

Every gardener should be the owner of a wheelbarrow, a hoe, a spade,
an iron rake, a watering-pot, and a weeding-hook. The last, which will
cost ten or fifteen cents, will enable you to destroy as many weeds in
half an hour as you could pull in half a day by hand, and it will leave
the soil in as light and porous a condition as would result from going
over it with rake or hoe.



II

MAKING A LAWN


Most home-makers labor under the impression that it would be useless
for them to undertake the making of a lawn, thinking it requires the
knowledge and experience of the professional gardener to make such an
undertaking successful. This is where they make a mistake. Anybody can
make a lawn that will afford a great deal of pleasure if he sets about
it, provided he is willing to do some hard work.

The first thing to do is to make the surface of the ground level. This
can be done by the use of spade and hoe. Take off the tops of the
hillocks, if there happens to be any, and fill the hollows with the
soil thus obtained.

When you have a fairly even surface, go over it with an iron-toothed
rake and make it fine and mellow. It is very important that all stones
and rubbish of every kind should be removed if you want a good sward.

After reducing the soil to the necessary degree of fineness, add
whatever fertilizer to it you propose to make use of, and then go over
the ground again with the rake and work this fertilizer in thoroughly.
It is necessary to have it evenly distributed. If it is not, there will
be patches where the grass will be thick and luxuriant, and others
where it will be scanty and poor. Such a result should be guarded
against by working the fertilizer into the soil so evenly that no part
of it will be without its proper share.

Then you are ready for sowing the seed.

The seed to sow is the very best kind in the market. This will cost you
a little more than the inferior kind that is offered each season, but
it is worth a good deal more, and it is what you must have if you would
make your lawn a thing of beauty. Procure it from some reliable dealer
who makes a specialty of "lawn-grass mixtures."

If you tell the dealer the size of your lawn and ask how much seed you
will need, he will give you what he considers a fair estimate. I would
advise you to double the amount, for this reason: a thickly seeded lawn
will have the appearance, by the middle of the first season, of a lawn
a year or two old. And because of the thickness of the grass it will
be better able to stand the effect of drought and heat. You will find
that the extra money invested in seed was a wise investment, and you
will never have cause to regret making it.

Sowing seems, to the amateur gardener, a matter of so little importance
that it requires no special attention. All there is to do is to scatter
the seed over the ground. But nine out of ten amateurs who do the work
with this idea in mind will speedily discover their mistake. When the
grass comes up thickly here and there, with vacant places between,
they will come to the conclusion that sowing grass seed evenly isn't
the easiest thing in the world, for the seed is so light that the
slightest puff of air will blow it away, and some will settle where you
want it to, and some will lodge where other seed has already lodged,
and the result will be very unsatisfactory. In order to prevent such
a condition of things as far as possible, I would advise sowing from
north to south, and then from east to west. Do this on a still, damp
day, if possible, and hold your hand close to the ground as you scatter
the seed. Don't attempt to broadcast it, as you may have seen some
gardener do, but be content to scatter it over a small portion of soil
each time you sow a handful of it. By doing this you will prevent most
of it from being blown away.



III

THE BORDER


The owner of a small lot is often puzzled to know what to do with
it. Of course there must be flowers, but where shall they be put? As
a general thing, they are set out here and there, indiscriminately,
and the result of such haphazard planting is far from pleasing. There
ought always to be at least a suggestion of system in all garden
arrangements. To scatter shrubs all over the lawn breaks up the sense
of breadth and dignity which should characterize it, however small it
may be. This being the case, the best place for shrubs and perennials
is at the sides of the lot, leaving the rear for the vegetable garden.

A border extending along the sides of the lot will serve as a frame for
the home picture, and will be found the most satisfactory arrangement
possible for small places. It ought to be at least four feet wide--six
or eight will be found much better if ground can be spared for it--and
a pleasing effect can be secured by letting it increase in width as it
approaches the rear of the lot. It will be far more attractive if its
inner edge curves a little here and there than if it is confined to
straight lines.

I would advise a "mixed border." By that is meant one in which
shrubs and perennials are grown together and where annuals and
spring-flowering bulbs can be used effectively to "fill in."

The soil for such a border must be made and kept quite rich, for almost
always we put so many plants into it that great demands are made upon
the nutriment contained in it, and in order to have fine plants they
must get all the food they can make good use of. You can't grow plants
to perfection unless you feed them well. Every season--preferably in
spring--manure should be applied liberally.

In setting out shrubs one should take a look ahead and endeavor to
see, with the mind's eye, what they will be likely to be when fully
developed. If this is not done we are pretty sure to plant them so
close that by and by we have a thicket of them, in which none of them
can properly display their charms.

Between the shrubs plant perennials and such summer-flowering plants as
dahlias and gladioli.

Plant the taller perennials at the rear, and those of medium height in
the center, of the row, with low-growing kinds in front. By doing this
we secure a sort of banklike effect which will be very pleasing. In
order to plant intelligently, study the catalogues of the florists, for
most of them give the height of each plant listed in them.

If I were asked to name the best shrubs for amateur use, I would choose
these: spiræa (especially the _Van Houttei_ variety), weigelia deutzia,
lilacs in variety, flowering currant, and golden elder--the last a
shrub with rich yellow foliage, capable of producing a most delightful
effect when planted among richly colored flowering plants like the
hollyhock and delphinium. From the perennial list I would select
peonies, phlox, delphinium, iris, and hollyhocks.

My selection would include the kinds named above because of their
hardiness and ease of culture as well as their beauty. There are many
other kinds which richly deserve a place in all gardens that are large
enough to allow of free selection, but the owner of the average home
lot will be obliged to draw a line somewhere, and he will be safe in
confining his choice to the kinds I have mentioned. They are among the
very best plants we have in their respective classes.



IV

ANNUALS


The owner of a garden that is so small that but few plants can be grown
in it naturally desires to confine her selection to such kinds as will
be likely to give the greatest amount of bloom and require the least
amount of care.

At the head of the list it is quite safe to place the sweet-pea. This
old and universal favorite blooms profusely and throughout the entire
season if prevented from ripening seed. It is beautiful, wonderfully
varied as to coloring, and so fragrant that it is almost a rival of
the rose in this respect. It requires a treatment so unlike that of
ordinary plants that it is really in a class by itself, if one would
secure the best results from it. It likes to get a start early in the
season and to have its roots deep in the soil, where they will be cool
and moist when the hot, dry, midsummer season comes. To gratify this
desire on the part of the plant we sow its seed in trenches four or
five inches deep, about the middle of April, at the North, or as soon
as the ground is free from frost. These trenches are V-shaped, and can
easily be made by drawing the corner of a hoe through the soil. Sow
the seed quite thickly, and cover with an inch of soil, trampling it
down firmly. When the young plants are about three inches tall draw in
about them some of the soil thrown out from the trench, and continue
to do this from time to time as the plants reach up, until the trench
is full. In this way we succeed in getting the roots of the plant deep
enough to prevent them from drying out if the season happens to be one
of drought. The best support for the sweet-pea is brush. The next best
is woven-wire netting with a large mesh.

Another plant that the amateur gardener cannot afford to overlook is
the nasturtium. It is a most profuse and constant bloomer. Its colors
run through all shades of yellow, orange, and red. It has a delicious
spicy fragrance quite unlike that of any other flower I have any
knowledge of. Fine for cutting.

The aster must also be given a place in all gardens, large or small,
because of its beauty, its wide range of color, and its ease of
culture. There are several quite distinct varieties, all good, but
none better than the long-stalked "branching" kind. This is the ideal
sort for cutting. Its flowers rival those of the chrysanthemum in
general effect and lasting quality.

_Phlox Drummondii_ is an old favorite that holds its own against any of
the new-comers. So is the verbena, and the calliopsis, and the good old
"bachelor's-button," which you will find masquerading in the florists'
catalogues as centaurea. It must not be blamed for this, as it has no
reason to be ashamed of its old-fashioned name. The seedsmen alone are
responsible for the change in nomenclature.

Other stand-bys among the annuals are poppies, larkspur, petunias,
ten-week stock, marigolds, scabiosa, mignonette, eschscholtzia (better
known as California poppy).

Of course the list of really desirable kinds could be extended almost
indefinitely, but I do not think it advisable to make mention of other
kinds here, because it is not the part of wisdom for the amateur
gardener to attempt growing "a little of everything." It is better
to confine one's attention to a few of the kinds with which success
is reasonably sure until experience justifies one in undertaking the
culture of those which are not so self-reliant and unexacting as the
kinds mentioned.



V

VINES


If any one were to ask me to tell him what vine I considered best
adapted to amateur culture _in all respects_, I would decide in favor
of the ampelopsis--better known in many localities as Virginia creeper.
My decision would be based on the beauty of the vine, its rapid growth,
its hardiness, and its ability to furnish its own support on walls of
wood, brick, or stone. Its foliage is very pleasing in summer, but
it is doubly so in autumn, when its green gives place to a brilliant
crimson and a rich maroon. At that season of the year all our flowering
vines are eclipsed by its magnificent coloring. It grows well in all
kinds of soil--better, of course, in a good one than a poor one--and it
will go to the eaves of a three-story house if given an opportunity to
do so, and cover every inch of the wall unless special efforts are made
to prevent it from doing this. If you do not want your windows hidden
under its luxuriance it will be necessary for you to cut away a good
many of its branches during the summer.

The Dorothy Perkins rose--one of the rambler class--is a most
charming vine when in full bloom, and it has the merit of being quite
attractive at other periods, as its foliage is a rich, dark, shining
green--something that cannot truthfully be said of some of the other
members of this class of roses. It is the only rambler I would advise
for use about porches and verandas. It blooms in wonderful profusion.
Its flowers are a soft pink, borne in large, loose clusters or sprays.
The general habit of the plant is all that could be desired. It is the
only member of the rambler class that is really vinelike.

There are two varieties of clematis that I am always glad to speak a
good word for. One is the native variety, catalogued as _C. flammula_.
This is a very rampant grower, and well adapted for use wherever a
dense shade is desired. It blooms in August. Its flowers are white.
They are succeeded by seed with a feathery tail which makes the plant
look as if covered with gray smoke. This variety is always greatly
admired because of this peculiarity. The other variety that I have a
special fondness for is _C. paniculata_. This is a late bloomer, being
in the prime of its flowering period long after the plants in the
garden have completed the work of the season. Its flowers are of the
purest white. They are small, individually, but they are borne in such
profusion that the upper portion of the vine will be completely covered
with them. It will look as if a fall of snow had tried to hide it. I
consider this one of our very best flowering vines. Unlike the hybrid
members of the clematis family, with their enormous flowers of rich
colors and scanty foliage, it is perfectly healthy, and it has ample
foliage to make a charming background for its blossoms.

The trumpet honeysuckle is a favorite wherever grown. It is one of our
best vines for porch use, as it does not climb to a great height. It
bears its scarlet-and-orange flowers throughout the entire season. It
is an especial favorite because its foliage is always clean and seldom
attacked by insects.

The good old morning-glory is, all things considered, our best annual
flowering vine. It grows rapidly, reaching to the windows of the
second story by midsummer. It is a free and constant bloomer. It is
excelled by no other vine in richness and variety of color--white,
pink, purple, blue, violet, and crimson flowers will make a veritable
"morning glory" of it. Care should be taken to provide it with stout
cord to climb by. A light twine is not strong enough to support the
weight of its heavy vines.

Another good flowering vine is the hyacinth bean. Why it should be
given this name I do not know, as there is nothing about it suggestive
in the remotest degree of the hyacinth. Its flowers are a brilliant
scarlet. It seldom grows to a greater height than seven or eight feet,
and is therefore well adapted to use about porches where a rampant
grower is not wanted.

The wild cucumber, catalogued as echynocystis, is a good vine for
covering tall buildings and screens. It will make a growth of
twenty-five or thirty feet in a season. Its foliage is pretty, as are
its white flowers, which make the vines look as if covered with foam.
These give place to prickly fruit, somewhat resembling some varieties
of cucumber, hence its popular name.

The wild grape that is found growing along creeks and rivers in
almost all parts of the country is a most excellent vine for covering
summer-houses and for planting where it can have trees to clamber
over. Its flowers are so small and so pale in color as to be scarcely
distinguishable, but they are so delightfully fragrant that every one
knows when the vine is in bloom without looking at it. Its fragrance
has much of the pervading quality that characterizes mignonette, and
is quite unlike that of any other plants I can call to mind. It seems
to have the very spirit of the spring in it--vague, elusive, and sweet
beyond description.

I would not class the crimson-rambler rose among the vines, though
the majority of our florists have done so. I treat it as a shrub, and
find it most satisfactory when grown in that manner. I allow the young
canes to reach a length of seven or eight feet. Then I nip off the tops
of them. This causes side branches to develop. A central support is
provided for these branches. In this way I succeed in getting flowers
all over the plant--in other words, of making it a shrub instead of a
vine. If it is used to cover summer-houses, the canes can be allowed to
grow to suit themselves.

Celastrus _scandens_, more commonly known as bittersweet, is a native
vine that can easily be domesticated. It is well worth a place about
every home. Its foliage is bright and clean, its flowers inconspicuous,
but its fruit makes the vine a favorite wherever grown. This is a
bright crimson, each berry being inclosed in an orange shell which
splits apart in three pieces, revealing the fruit inside. As this fruit
remains on the plant until late in the season, it makes the vine quite
as attractive as if it were covered with flowers at a time of the year
when bits of brightness are greatly appreciated in the garden.



VI

SPRING WORK IN THE GARDEN


There will be a good deal of work to do in the garden, no matter how
small it is.

A good deal of this work will consist in cleaning up and removing
rubbish, unless attention was given to this in the fall. The tops of
last year's perennials should be cut away close to the ground, and dead
annuals should be pulled up and added to the refuse-heap.

If a covering was provided for your plants, it should be removed
altogether or dug into the soil about the roots of the plants it
protected. Never allow it to remain upon the ground about the plants
unless it is of a kind that is not particularly noticeable.

This should not be done, however, until the season is so far advanced
that all danger of severe freezing is over. A plant that has had winter
protection will not be in as good condition to resist the effect of
severe cold as it would have been if that protection had not been given
it. Therefore do not be in that haste which may result in waste. Rome
wasn't built in a day, and spring isn't confined to a week. There will
be plenty of time for uncovering plants when the weather will justify
it.

The bulb-bed should not have its covering taken off until you are quite
sure that the weather will not be severe enough to injure the tender
plants just peeping through the soil. Of course one cannot be quite
sure when it is safe to do this, as our Northern seasons are subject
to frequent and sometimes severe relapses. But if we keep an eye on
the weather we can generally tell when uncovering is advisable. If,
after the beds have been uncovered, a cold spell happens along and
there seems to be danger in the air, spread blankets, old carpeting, or
something of a similar nature over them. But before doing this drive
pegs into the ground for the covering to rest on. Its weight should not
be allowed to fall upon the young shoots, which will be so tender at
this period as to be easily broken.

Go through the garden with a view to finding what changes can be made
advantageously. We often make sad mistakes in the location of our
plants, and do not discover them until it is too late to unmake them
that season. Sometimes a plant that has got into the wrong place so
disappoints us that we think of throwing it out, but if we give it
a place where its merits have an opportunity to assert themselves
properly it turns out to be extremely satisfactory. The aim should be
to get every plant into the place just suited to its peculiarities.
It may take several seasons to bring about so desirable a result, but
something along this line should be part of every season's work.

Old clumps of perennials will be greatly benefited by a division of
their roots about once in three years. Take them up, cut their roots
apart, discard all but the youngest and strongest ones, and reset in a
soil that has been made rich and mellow.

Shrubs should be looked over with a view to doing whatever pruning may
seem necessary. I do not advise much pruning, however. A shrub knows
better than I do what shape to grow in to be most effective, and I
prefer to let it train itself. About all the pruning I do is to cut
away weak wood and to thin out the branches if there seems too many of
them.

Early-flowering shrubs should never be pruned until after their
flowering period is over.

Manure should be applied to all plants each spring. The older it is
the better if you procure it from the barn-yard. On no account should
fresh manure be used. Spread your fertilizer out about the plants, and
then work it into the soil with spade or hoe.

You will doubtless find many seedling plants in the beds where they
germinated last fall. These should be transplanted to places where they
are to bloom as early in the spring as possible. All perennials that
got a start last year will bloom this season, but those grown from seed
sown this spring will not bloom until next year. Therefore make liberal
use of self-sown plants.

We are generally in such a hurry to do garden work in spring that we
begin it before the ground is in proper condition to make good work
possible. If it is spaded up before the surplus water from early rains
and melting snows has had a chance to drain out of it, no attempt
should be made to pulverize it then. It simply will not pulverize, but
the result of your attempt to make it do so will be a lot of lumps and
chunks. But if left exposed to the disintegrating action of wind and
sunshine and possible showers for a few days, it will be in a condition
that will make it an easy matter to reduce it to fineness under the
application of hoe or rake.

Plan your garden. Never trust to "the inspiration of the moment" in
making it. Go over the ground and decide where you think this or that
plant would be most effective. Make a diagram of it, locating each
plant that you propose to make use of, and when seeding-time comes you
will have something definite to work to. Haphazard gardening is never
satisfactory.



VII

MIDSUMMER IN THE GARDEN


We somehow get the impression that when our garden is made in spring
that's about all there will be for us to do. Our share of the work has
been done, and if Nature does _her_ share, well and good. But in our
endeavor to shirk further responsibility on to Nature we lose sight
of the fact that gardening isn't a thing of periods. It is, on the
contrary, a thing of one period, and that period covers the entire
season.

We soon discover that weeds will need attention every day. It really
seems, sometimes, as if the pulling of one weed gave a score of
others an opportunity to take its place, and that these were waiting
impatiently to step into the shoes of their predecessors, if such a
figure of speech is allowable in this connection. Neglect weeding for
a week and you will be pretty sure to find that your seedlings of
flowering plants are "out of sight" in more senses of the term than
one.

But weeding is not all that needs to be done. There will be more or
less transplanting to do in the early part of the season. This should
be done on a cloudy day, if possible. If no such day happens along at
the time when it is absolutely necessary that this phase of gardening
should be attended to, do it after sundown.

Before lifting the young plants, water them well to make the soil
adhere to their roots. As little exposure to the air as possible is
desirable. Also have the ground in which they are to be set ready to
receive them, that the work of transplanting may be completed with the
least possible delay.

Every gardener ought to provide herself with a little trowel that will
enable her to lift a plant without breaking apart the soil about its
roots.

Drop the seedling into the place prepared for it, and press the soil
about it firmly but gently. Then water well.

If the next day is a warm and sunshiny one, some shade should be given
the newly set plants. By tacking pieces of pasteboard six inches
wide and eight or ten inches long to sticks a foot in length a very
practical shade can easily be made. The stick to which the pasteboard
is fastened by carpet-tacks is to be inserted in the ground by each
plant. The pasteboard is to be bent over in such a manner as to prevent
the sun's rays from striking the plant. By this method the plant gets
all the protection it needs and the air is allowed free circulation
about it.

The hoe ought to be used daily in all gardens. If the season happens to
be a dry one, don't forego its use under the impression that stirring
the soil will result in its drying out. If you want to keep moisture
_out_ of the soil, there is no way of doing it more effectually than by
allowing it to become crusted over. But if you want to get all possible
moisture _into_ it, keep it light and porous. Such a condition will
make it possible for it to absorb whatever moisture there may be in the
air.

Make it a rule to go over your plants when they come into bloom and cut
off every faded flower, to prevent the formation of seed. Most plants
will give but one general flowering period if left to manage their own
affairs. All their energies will be expended in the production of seed.
As a natural consequence they will give you few or no flowers after the
early part of summer. But, thwart them in their seed-producing intent
and they will at once set about getting the start of you by making
another effort to carry forward to completion their original plan. The
result will be satisfactory to you, if it isn't to them.

See that all plants needing support are provided with it. Never allow
plants of slender habit to sprawl all over the ground. They give the
garden an untidy, "mussy" look, and constantly accuse you of neglect. A
bit of brush inserted by the side of such plants will furnish all the
support required by them.

In watering the garden in a dry season make the application after
sundown. This will allow the plants to get the benefit of the water
before the sun has a chance to draw the moisture out of the soil, as it
will rapidly do if watering is done in the morning.

What every gardener needs is a watering-pot with a long spout. This
will make it an easy matter to apply the water close to the plant,
where none will be wasted.

Never use a nozzle on your pot when watering plants in the garden. That
will scatter the water over a wide surface, and so thinly that but
little good will result from the application.



VIII

WINDOW-BOXES


Blessed be window boxes! They are excellent substitutes, on a small
scale, for a garden, and almost any woman can have them, while a
_real_ garden is out of the question for a majority of the women who
love flowers. A garden on the ground is one of the impossibilities for
most women in the city who could well afford one, so far as financial
ability is concerned, but she can make her windows so attractive with
flowers and "green things growing" that she will not greatly miss the
garden in a crowded city whose every foot of land is worth thousands of
dollars and therefore cannot be given up to anything as unprofitable,
from a pecuniary standpoint, as flower-growing.

The culture of plants in a window-box seems an easy thing to the person
who sees plants growing luxuriantly in it. But it is not as easy as it
looks, because the beginner in this phase of gardening seldom studies
conditions before undertaking it. It generally takes one or two seasons
of mistakes and consequent failures to make one a successful grower
of plants in window-boxes. But after repeated failures the amateur
generally discovers what was wrong in her treatment, and after that the
probabilities of failure are slight.

The cause of failure nine times out of ten is lack of sufficient
moisture in the soil. A box exposed to air on all sides, as most
window-boxes are, parts rapidly with the water that has been applied to
it, and before one suspects the actual condition of things the soil in
the box becomes so dry that the plants wilt. Then a little more water
is applied, and the plants revive temporarily, but next day they wilt
again, and shortly this alternation of a good deal of drought and a
small amount of moisture results in the death of the plants.

A box a foot wide and a foot deep and four or five feet long will
require a large pailful of water daily. If you want to grow good plants
in boxes don't form the habit which prevails to a great extent among
amateur gardeners--that of applying a small quantity of water whenever
you happen to think of it. A small amount makes the soil look wet on
its surface and deceives one into thinking that because it looks wet
there it must be in proper condition below. Examination will convince
you of this mistake. Always apply enough water each time to saturate
all the soil in the box, and make it a rule to do this every morning or
evening. If you go on the "every-time-you-think-of-it" plan the chances
are that you will not think of it at the right time or as frequently as
you ought to. Be regular in caring for your plants.

If those who complain of failure with window-boxes will use more water
and use it frequently, they will have no trouble in growing plants in
them, and growing them as well as they can be grown in pots. And they
can grow almost any kind of plant. The soil used should be rich, to
begin with, and later on in the season fertilizers should be applied to
keep the plants well supplied with nutriment.



IX

THE USE OF GROWING PLANTS FOR TABLE DECORATION


The woman who takes pride in making the family table attractive at all
times finds nothing quite so effective for this purpose as flowers, and
these she cannot always afford.

But she need not be without material for beautifying the home table if
she has windows in which plants can be grown, for there are many plants
that are quite as attractive as flowers. But a good many persons have
not yet learned that they can be made satisfactory substitutes for cut
flowers, because they have not taken the trouble to study the thing
out. They have heretofore depended on cut flowers for table decoration,
as have their friends, and it has not occurred to them to get out of
the rut they are in and think out new ways and means for making home
pleasant.

A well-shaped, medium-sized plant with fine foliage will add quite as
much to the appearance of any table as a vaseful of flowers that would
cost several times as much. True, it may lack the brilliant coloring
of the flowers whose place it takes, but that does not prevent it
from being beautiful, and beauty is what we aim at when we supplement
the attractions of fine table-linen, sparkling cut glass, silver, and
dainty china of the well-arranged table with the added attraction of
plants and flowers.

One of the best plants for this purpose is the variety of asparagus
catalogued as _plumosus nanus_. It is more commonly known as asparagus
fern, though it is not even a most distant relative of the fern family.
It has foliage so fine that it has all the delicacy of lace, and is
more like a mist of green than like ordinary foliage. It sends up
frondlike growth that spreads out symmetrically on all sides of the
pot. Pruning is seldom required to bring it into or keep it in proper
shape. A plant of it, with its pot hidden by a pretty jardinière or
wrapped in tissue-paper will be in perfect harmony with any table
fittings. If a bit of bright color is desired, three or four roses or
half a dozen carnations with their stems thrust into the soil in the
pot will furnish it. If the housewife provides herself with three or
four plants of this asparagus, she will at all times have something
at hand with which to make her table attractive. In this way she will
become independent of the florist and his fancy prices. These plants
are of the easiest culture, and succeed wherever geraniums can be grown.

At holiday-time several plants that make excellent table decorations
are on the market. One is ardisia, with rich, dark-green foliage, and
scarlet berries that are quite as brilliant as flowers. Another is
the Jerusalem cherry, with pretty foliage and a profusion of crimson
fruit. These plants remain in attractive condition for weeks, and the
woman who invests in them has something with which to make her table as
attractive as it would be if two or three dollars had been expended in
flowers that would last for only a few days. It will be seen that it is
economy to buy plants of this kind. Where there are several there is
opportunity for variety, thus ruling monotony out of the question.

_Cocos Weddelliana_ is a small-growing palm with delicate, feathery
foliage. One might call it a "baby" palm because of its small size. A
plant of it always adds distinction to the table on which it is used.
This, like the asparagus, the ardisia, and the Jerusalem cherry,
readily adapts itself to ordinary window culture.

_Begonia Gloire de Lorraine_ is a most beautiful flowering plant. It
bears its dainty pink blossoms so profusely and in such wide-spreading
panicles that the pot in which it grows is often entirely hidden by
it. Its color is charming by daylight, and under artificial light
it is lovely beyond description. I know of no other pink flower
that is as satisfactory by lamplight. When an especially dainty and
out-of-the-common decoration is wanted for the table, nothing superior
to it can be found. This begonia can be obtained from most florists in
fall. If care is taken to remove it from the table to the window after
it has done decorative duty, it will remain in bloom during the greater
part of winter. But it must not be left on the table long at a time.
Neither should any of the other plants named, for they will suffer if
kept away from good light very long.

_Primula obconica_ is a most satisfactory plant for table use when in
full bloom. Its trusses of pale lilac, soft pink, or pure white have
such a wild-woodsy air about them that they are always sure of such
attention as American Beauties seldom get. The baby primrose is a
miniature edition of _P. obconica_, and it is one of the most lovable
flowers imaginable. Like its larger relative, it is a free and constant
bloomer, and on this account will be found very useful as a table
ornament.

Small specimens of auricaria, with heavy, dark-green foliage much like
that of our native hemlocks and balsam, make a novel decoration. This
is the plant that the children delight in calling the Christmas-tree
plant, because of its shape and its evergreen foliage.

During fall and winter, when fruit and vegetables are plentiful, very
pleasing table decorations can be made from them. On Thanksgiving Day
such an arrangement will be found very appropriate.

A friend of mine who has no windows at which flowers can be grown
well, but who, in spite of that, is determined to make her table
attractive, lays in a supply of bittersweet berries during the fall,
and "everlasting flowers," like gomphrena, helichrysum, cockscomb,
and others whose petals are strawlike in texture, and from these she
contrives some really charming decorations for her table. Where there
is a will there is always a way, you know.

It will be seen from what I have said above that many plants can be
grown in the windows of the living-room that can be used with fine
effect in table decoration. I would advise making a collection of
such varieties as I have named for this especial purpose. With such
a collection to draw from no woman need be at loss for decorative
material, and while her plants are not doing duty on the table they
will be making her windows attractive, thus serving a double purpose.



X

DECORATIVE PLANTS


There are few homes nowadays in which at least one plant of ornamental
foliage cannot be found. I know of many in which some have had place
so long that they have come to be considered as members of the family.
Especially is this true among German people, who have an especial
fondness for bride's myrtle and English ivy. In many of these homes I
have found finer plants than I have seen in any greenhouse. I am not
sure that they do not get more care than the children of the family.

The myrtle to which I refer has small, fine foliage, evergreen in
character, of a rich, glossy green. It branches freely, and in two or
three years becomes a good-sized shrub. It does not bloom very freely,
but this does not detract much from the value of the plant, as its
flowers are small and not at all showy, though really quite pretty
in their snow-white purity. The real value of the plant is in its
foliage. It can be kept growing the year round, or it can be wintered
in the cellar. In summer a plant of this kind will be found very
effective for porch decoration.

The English ivy is our best evergreen vine. It is one of the few plants
that can be grown successfully in rooms where there is not much direct
light. Indeed, I have seen it trained across the ceiling, in German
homes, where the light seemed insufficient to meet the requirements of
any plant, and there its leaves were as dark in color as those of most
other plants are when standing close to the glass, and seemed to be
quite as healthy. Two or three times a year, the owners told me, the
vine was taken down, coiled up for convenience in transit, and taken
out of doors. There it was spread out upon the grass and left until the
rain had washed it clean. Because of the thick, firm, leathery texture
of its foliage it seemed immune from the bad effects of dust, hot, dry
air, and the absence of direct light. When well grown it is a plant
that any one might well be proud of. For training up about the ceiling
of the bay-window it stands at the head of the list of vines adapted to
house culture.

Sometimes scale attacks both myrtle and ivy. When this happens heroic
measures must be resorted to in order to head off permanent injury. In
the chapter on "The Insect Enemies of Plants" a remedy is suggested
that seldom fails to produce most satisfactory results.

Palms are universal favorites. There are but three varieties that I
feel justified in recommending for amateur culture. These are the
arecas, especially _A. lutescens_, _Latania borbonica_, better known as
the "fan palm," and the kentias, _belmoreana_ and _fosteriana_.

Of these three varieties I would advise the kentias for beginners
in palm-culture, as they are more robust than any of the others and
quite as ornamental. They are of somewhat coarser habit than _Areca
lutescens_, which is an almost ideal sort for general use. _Latania
borbonica_ has large, almost circular leaves borne on short, stout
stalks, thrown out from the center of the plants. It does not grow
tall like the kentias or the arecas. It is the variety from which our
palm-leaf fans are made. One who has never seen this plant can get
a fairly good idea of the shape of its foliage by looking at one of
these fans. The three varieties mentioned are all of comparatively easy
culture. Give them a loamy soil, well drained, and enough water to
keep the soil always moist. Keep them out of strong sunshine. Don't
experiment with them, hoping to hasten development. As long as they
keep on producing three or four new leaves during the year, let them
alone. If they lift the crown of the plant out of or above the soil,
and the roots give them the appearance of a plant on stilts, don't be
frightened, and repot them, setting them low in the soil to cover the
roots. It's natural for them to grow in that way. Wash the foliage at
least once a week. Add a little sweet milk to the water. This will give
a gloss to the foliage that will add much to its attractiveness.

Next to the palm in popularity is the Boston fern. This is a favorite
with every one who succeeds in growing it well, because of its great
profusion of fronds, three or four feet long, which droop over the
pot gracefully and make the plant a veritable fountain of foliage.
Another reason for its great popularity is its ease of culture. Give
it a light, spongy soil and a moderate amount of water and it will
make quite a rapid growth. It is not an exacting plant in any respect,
and will do well in almost any kind of soil except those which contain
a large amount of clay. But it does best in a soil that is light and
porous. Never give enough water to make the soil muddy.

The third place on the list ought to be given to the ficus, more
commonly known as rubber-plant. This is also of easy culture. It never
fails to attract attention by its large, thick, glossy, dark-green
foliage.

The aspidistra ought not to be overlooked. Because it does not grow
to a considerable height, like the ficus, it has not attained the
popularity of that plant, as yet, but it will be a universal favorite
as soon as its merits become fully known. Its great masses of
dark-green foliage are extremely ornamental, and the fact that it is
the one plant in the list of decorative plants suitable for amateur use
that can be said to almost take care of itself will appeal to those
who want something that can always be depended on to look well. Give
it enough water to keep the soil in its pot moist at all times, and
that is about all it will ask of you. It is not at all particular as to
the soil given it, and it seems to care very little for direct light.
It will stand more abuse and neglect, and flourish under it, than any
other plant I have any knowledge of.



XI

THE BULB-BED


The bulb-bed should be located in some part of the yard where there is
good, natural drainage or where it will be an easy matter to secure an
artificial one by excavating the soil to the depth of a foot and a half
and filling the bottom of it with material that will not readily decay,
such as broken brick, crockery, or crushed stone. The object is to
provide escape for surplus water from the soil above in spring. No bulb
can be grown successfully in a soil that is unduly retentive of water
about its roots.

In arranging for artificial drainage, after filling the bottom of the
excavation with five or six inches of drainage material, the soil that
was thrown out should be returned to it, working into it, as this is
done, a liberal amount of good manure. The best of all fertilizers
for all bulbs is old, well-rotted barn-yard soil. If this cannot be
obtained make use of some good commercial fertilizer. As soils differ
greatly, and not all commercial fertilizers are adapted to all soils,
I would suggest that some person in the community who understands
the nature of its soil and the kind of fertilizer which suits it
best should be consulted, and that the maker of a bulb-bed should be
governed by his advice as to what kind to make use of. It is not well
to let guesswork govern in the matter.

If possible, choose a location that slopes toward the south. This will
give the bed the benefit of sun warmth early in the season, and the
plants in it will be greatly helped by it.

It is quite important that the soil for bulbs should be made fine
and mellow and that whatever fertilizer is used should be thoroughly
incorporated with it. While it is true that most bulbs will do fairly
well in soils of only moderate richness, it is impossible for them to
do themselves anything like justice in it. Keep this fact in mind, and
be generous in your supply of plant food.

The proper time to plant bulbs is in late September and early October.
This enables them to make a strong root-growth before winter sets in.
Such a growth puts them in proper condition for flowering in spring.
Late planting does not admit of the completion of root-growth in
fall, consequently some of it has to be made in spring. This obliges
the plants to divide their work at that season between root-growth and
flower production, and as these processes ought not to go on at the
same time the result is an inferior crop of flowers and unsatisfactory
bulb-development. I cannot urge too strongly the advantages of early
planting.

The best bulbs for the amateur gardener are Holland hyacinths, tulips,
and the narcissus. These are very hardy and floriferous, and succeed in
almost all soils. And they are so beautiful that they deserve a place
in all collections. They should be set about four inches below the
surface, and about that distance apart.

Before winter sets in the bed should be covered with leaves, straw, or
coarse litter from the barn-yard. Let the covering be about six inches
deep. It will not prevent the ground from freezing, but it will prevent
it from freezing and thawing alternately. If this takes place the
bulbs are pretty sure to be torn from their places, and their tender,
recently formed roots broken off.

Of course there are other bulbs than those of which I have made mention
that are well worth growing, but they are not as well adapted to
amateur culture as those are, therefore I would advise the beginner
in bulb-growing to confine her attention to the hardiest and least
particular kinds until she feels that her success with them justifies
her in "branching out" and making an attempt to grow those which
require greater care and a good deal more of it.



XII

GETTING READY FOR WINTER


A supply of good potting-soil should be put into the cellar for use
during the winter if needed. Often a plant will have outgrown its
pot, thus making immediate repotting necessary in order to continue
the healthy condition of it, but if there is no good soil at hand it
will be obliged to do the best it can until spring comes, and by that
time it will have received a check from which it will be a long time
in recovering, and quite often it will die as the result of failure
to give it proper attention when it was in most need of it. If you
have a supply of potting-soil in stock there will be no excuse for not
caring for your plants promptly when the advisability of repotting is
indicated.

A very satisfactory potting-soil is composed of garden loam, two
parts; leaf-mold or its substitute, one part; and clean, coarse sand,
one part. To this should be added some well-rotted cow manure, if
obtainable. Work the compost over until all its ingredients are
thoroughly mixed. The quantity of manure required to make the compost
sufficiently rich to suit all kinds of plants will depend on the
quality of the loam used. If that is quite rich, do not add much manure
to it. If only of moderate richness, more can be used. This is a matter
which will have to be decided largely by results. If the plants you
put into the compost make a strong, healthy growth, the soil is rich
enough. If the growth does not seem strong, more plant food is required.

A good substitute for cow manure is fine bone-meal in the proportion
of a pound to a bushel of soil. A good substitute for leaf-mold will
be found in that portion of old sward from pasture or roadside which
contains fine grass roots. Turn the sward over and cut away this part
of it, to mix with the loam and sand. These roots will be found almost
as rich in vegetable matter as pure leaf-mold.

Some persons may wonder why I advise the liberal use of sand, which is
not supposed to contain much nutriment. I do it because I have found
from long experience in growing plants that sand not only facilitates
good drainage, but enables air to get to the roots of the plants as
it never can do when the soil is not light and porous. And sand is a
sweetener of soil, as is charcoal. Of course not all plants are alike
in their requirements. Roses, for instance, like a rather heavy,
compact soil. In growing them use the loam without sand. If I had to
choose between sand and manure in making potting-soil for nearly all
plants adapted to window culture, I would take the sand.

It is not too late to set out seedling plants of such perennials as
phlox and hollyhock if care is taken to lift enough soil with them to
insure against disturbance of their roots. Work of this kind can be
done to better advantage now than in spring.

Now is a good time to go over the shrubs and give such pruning as may
seem necessary. As a general thing, the less pruning given a shrub
the better, for if left to itself it will do a much better job of
training than we are capable of doing for it. But it is advisable that
all shrubs should have the old, weak wood cut away each season. This
is pruning for health--not for symmetry. Nature has a keener eye for
the symmetrical than we have, therefore we are justified in leaving
the training of our shrubs to her, or to the shrubs, acting under her
advice.

Oleanders, fuchsias, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums--in fact, all
hard-wooded plants that are summer and autumn bloomers--should be
wintered in the cellar. Here, if the temperature is kept low, they
will be practically dormant for several months, thus getting the same
kind of a resting-spell that comes to deciduous plants out of doors
during winter. Give just enough water to prevent the soil from becoming
dust-dry. Do not be frightened if some of them shed their foliage while
in cold storage; outdoor plants do that. If the place in which they are
kept can be made dark, all the better.

Dahlia roots should be spread out on swinging-shelves of wire netting
when stored away. Never heap them together, and never put them on the
cellar-bottom, for it is likely to be too damp there. Mold, which is
largely the result of dampness, must be guarded against, hence the
advantage of hanging-shelves which will allow a free circulation of
air about the roots spread out on them. Look them over at least every
week. If you find any that show signs of mold or decay, separate them
immediately from the healthy ones. If allowed to remain, the diseased
condition will surely be communicated to the entire mass of roots.

All plants that seem to need repotting should be attended to before
winter sets in. This will give them plenty of time to become thoroughly
re-established before the winter campaign is on, and it will not be
necessary to disturb them in the middle of the busy season.

All the windows at which plants are kept should be looked over before
cold weather comes, and made proof against cracks and crevices that
will let in cold air. It is a good plan to provide these windows with
storm-sash. If this is done, the plants can be allowed to stand with
their leaves against the glass, as the air space between window and
storm-sash will prevent frost from forming on the inner panes.

Gladiolus roots should be stored in boxes of perfectly dry sawdust or
buckwheat hulls and kept in a dry and rather cool place. Never put them
in the cellar. Be careful to see that no frost gets to them. Or they
can be wrapped in paper and put into paper bags and hung in a closet.
If kept in a very warm place over winter they frequently become so dry
that there is little vitality left in them by spring.

Tuberous begonias and gloxinias will most likely have ended their
flowering season by this time. Allow the soil in their pots to
become dry. Then set them away in a dark closet without in any way
disturbing the tubers. Treated in this manner, they winter much more
satisfactorily than when the roots are taken out of the soil. In
spring, when the plants are brought to the light and water is given,
they will soon send up new sprouts. Then the roots should be shaken out
of the old soil and supplied with fresh earth.

In covering roses do not make use of leaves if there happens to be
anything else at hand that will afford the necessary protection. Leaves
would make an ideal covering were it not for the fact that it is almost
impossible to keep mice from working in them. Last season I lost every
rose-bush that was covered with leaves. The mice had gnawed all the
bark from them. Covering the bushes with dry earth is preferable.



XIII

BULBS FOR WINTER FLOWERING


Whenever any one writes me that she is fond of flowers, and would be
delighted if she could have some in winter, but that she fails to get
satisfaction from the ordinary house-plant, I always advise her to try
bulbs. For I know that one is reasonably sure of getting fine flowers
from this class of plants, provided we are willing to give them the
right kind of treatment. One will get more flowers from them than she
can expect from the ordinary collection found in the average window
garden--we can have them through the entire winter if we plan for a
succession--and we have few flowers that equal those of the bulbs in
beauty. And, last but not least, they require really less care than is
demanded by the majority of house-plants.

Three things are essential to success in the culture of bulbs in the
house:

_First_--Good stock.

_Second_--Good soil.

_Third_--Root development before top growth takes place.

The first essential is readily met if you order your bulbs from
reliable dealers--dealers who have established a reputation for honesty
and the handling of bulbs of the best quality only. Each season we
see advertisements in which large collections of bulbs are offered at
very low prices. Beware of them. As a general thing the wonderfully
cheap ones are as cheap in quality as they are in price, and from such
a grade of bulbs you cannot expect fine flowers. The best bulbs are
imported ones, grown largely in Holland, where both soil and climate
are admirably adapted to the production of first-class stock, and
where the matter of bulb-growing has been reduced to almost a science.
These will cost a little more than American-grown ones, but they are
well worth the difference in price. Inferior stock will give inferior
flowers every time, and what one wants in forcing bulbs in winter is
the best flowers possible.

The item of good soil is a most important one. Bulbs can be grown,
after a fashion, in almost any kind of soil, but they can only be
grown to perfection in a soil whose basis is a sandy loam made quite
rich with some good fertilizer. Heavy soils can be made lighter by
mixing sharp, coarse sand with them until the mixture, after being
squeezed tightly in the hand, will readily fall apart after pressure is
relaxed.

The ideal fertilizer for all bulbs is old, thoroughly rotted cow
manure. On no account should fresh manure of any kind be used. But it
is not always possible to procure manure from the cow-yard, and those
who are unable to do so will find fine bone meal a good substitute. Use
this in the proportion of a pound to a half-bushel of soil. Whatever
fertilizer is used should be thoroughly mixed with the soil. Be very
sure that the latter is free from lumps.

In potting bulbs for winter use I would advise putting several in the
same pot. Fill the pot loosely with soil, then press such bulbs as
those of the hyacinth, tulip, and narcissus down into it just their
depth. As many can be used in a pot as can be set on the surface of
the soil in it so that they just touch one another. Do not attempt to
make the soil firm about them or beneath them. If this is done their
tender roots will often fail to penetrate it, and the consequence will
be that the bulbs are hoisted upward as the roots develop. This should
be guarded against by having the soil so light that the young roots
will find no difficulty in making their way into it. I advise the use
of several bulbs in the same pot because it gives a greater amount of
bloom in a limited space, and greatly economizes in soil, pots, and
labor.

When you have put your bulbs into the soil, water them well, and then
set the pots away in a place that is _cool_ and _dark_. Some persons
consider this unnecessary, and put their plants in the window as soon
as potted. This is all wrong. Storage in a cool, dark room until roots
have formed is absolutely necessary to success. The reason for it is
plain if we stop to think that the bulbs must have roots before they
can make a satisfactory growth of top. Roots first, flowers afterward.

As a general thing bulbs will have to remain in cold storage at least
six weeks before it will be safe to bring them to the windows in which
they are to bloom. But no definite time can be assigned. One must
examine the plants from time to time, and on no account should they be
taken to the light until the pot is filled with roots and indications
of top growth are seen.

It may sometimes be necessary to water them while in the dark
room, but as a general thing one watering--the one given at
potting-time--will be sufficient. Too much water while in the dark
may cause serious trouble. But this, like the length of time allowed
for root formation, is a matter that must be left largely to the good
judgment of the grower.

When plants have been brought from the cellar, or wherever they have
been placed while roots were forming, they should not be put into very
warm rooms. Too much heat, combined with the effects of light and
water, will result in rapid growth, which is not a healthy one. In warm
rooms the flowers will be short-lived.

I have spoken of planting for a succession of bloom. This is important
if you want flowers throughout the winter. Pot a few at intervals of
ten days or two weeks, beginning the middle of September or first
of October. If this is done it is an easy matter to keep the window
supplied with flowers from the holidays to the advent of spring. A
little calculation will enable one to plant enough to meet the demand
and to regulate the planting intervals in such a manner as to bring
about the succession necessary to cover the season.

What has been said above may seem so elaborate to the person who has
never grown bulbs for winter flowering that it may give the impression
that what is really a simple matter is too difficult for the amateur.
But if what I have written is read over carefully and given a little
thought you will readily see, I think, that most of what I have said
has been devoted to giving reasons for the treatment outlined, so
that the "whys and wherefores" may be understood. And it will be seen
that it all resolves itself into a very simple proposition--_viz._,
good stock, good soil, and cold storage until roots have formed--the
three essentials spoken of at the beginning of this chapter. Nothing
is required that the beginner in floriculture is not equal to. Potting
the bulbs is a much simpler matter than potting a plant, and the
preparation of soil for them involves no more labor or skill than the
preparation of a soil for a geranium to grow in.

Now as to kinds to grow. I advise the Holland hyacinth, preferably the
single varieties; the Roman hyacinth, the white variety only; early
tulips; and five varieties of the narcissus--Van Sion, Horsfeildii,
empress, trumpet-major, and paper-white--and the Bermuda, or, as it is
more commonly called, Easter lily.

The double Holland hyacinths are too double to be pleasing to a person
who likes individuality in a flower. The Roman hyacinth is more
graceful than any other member of the family. The early tulip is much
surer to bloom well than any of the others described in the florist's
catalogue.

The Easter lily requires a treatment somewhat different from that
advised for the other bulbs. It sends forth two sets of roots, one from
the base of the bulb and one from the stalk sent up from the bulb. In
order to give each set of roots a chance we have to set the bulb deep
down in the soil. Let the pot be only half filled with earth when the
lily is put into it, press it down as directed for the other bulbs, and
add no more soil until growth begins. Then, as the stalk reaches up,
put more soil into the pot, and continue to do this until it is full.
In this way give the two sets of roots the support they need.

If bone meal is used as a fertilizer, be sure to get the finely ground
article. Coarse bone meal is not what you need, as it does not give an
immediate effect.



XIV

THE WINTER WINDOW-GARDEN


In fall, when we bring in the plants that have been growing out of
doors during the summer, they usually look healthy, and we congratulate
ourselves that we are likely to have a fine crop of flowers from
them later on. But soon we see some of their leaves turning yellow
and falling off, and though they may make considerable growth, it is
unsatisfactory because it is spindling and weak. If buds form, they are
pretty sure to blight before reaching maturity, and, instead of having
the fine, floriferous plants we had counted on, we have a window-garden
that is more noticeable for its discouraged look than for anything else.

The owner of such a garden too often aims to remedy the unfavorable
conditions which exist in it by applying some kind of fertilizer to her
plants. By doing this she simply makes a bad matter worse, for the
application of any kind of plant food to weak and debilitated plants is
on a par with giving rich food to a person whose stomach is not in a
condition to make proper use of it. No fertilizer should ever be given
to a plant that is not in healthy condition; neither should it be given
to dormant plants. When active growth begins, then, and then only,
should they be stimulated to stronger growth by feeding them well. But
care must be taken to not overfeed them. Give only enough to bring
about a vigorous growth, but not a rapid one, for that is pretty sure
to be a weak one from which there will be a reaction by and by, from
which your over-stimulated plants will suffer severely. Most growers
of house plants are too kind to them. In this respect they are like a
good many mothers who injure their children by over-indulgence through
mistaken ideas of kindness.

In applying fertilizers, begin by giving them in small quantities.
Watch their effect upon the plants. If their leaves increase in size
and take on a rich color, be satisfied that you are feeding your plants
quite enough for their good.

The impression prevails to a considerable extent that by fertilizing
plants we secure more flowers from them than we would be likely to do
if no fertilizer was used. Such is not the case. Feed a plant rich food
and it will be likely to make a vigorous growth of branches and foliage
at the expense of flowers. The aim should be to simply keep the plants
growing well. If this is done, whatever flowers they produce will
share in the general benefit of the application, but they will not be
increased in quantity by it.

One reason why the plants in the winter window-garden fail at the time
when we think they ought to be doing their best is lack of fresh air.
If one stops to think about it one will not wonder that her plants have
a sickly look. We keep our windows closed tightly, thus keeping out the
air that the plants need, and we put storm-doors on every entrance.
In fact, we do everything in our power, seemingly, to prevent fresh
air from getting to them, and then we wonder why our plants do not
flourish. We lose sight of the fact that plants breathe, the same as
human beings do. A little intelligent consideration of the conditions
under which we undertake to grow them ought to convince us of the
mistake we make in expecting them to do well without a regular supply
of fresh air. While it is well to make the windows at which plants are
kept tight enough to prevent draughts of cold air from coming in upon
them, it is not only advisable but absolutely necessary, if we would
grow healthy plants, to give them a liberal supply of fresh air every
day, and preferably several times a day. This can be done by opening a
door or a window at some distance from them, and letting fresh, pure
air rush into and fill the room. If possible, let down a window a few
inches from the top on the side of the room opposite from where the
air comes in, to allow the vitiated air of the room to readily escape
before the onrush of outdoor air. In this way it is an easy matter to
completely change the character of the air in a room in a few minutes,
and in doing it we benefit the human occupants of the room quite as
much as we do the plants in it. If the owner of every window-garden
would make it a daily practice to give her plants an air-bath she would
be surprised at the speedy improvement that would be noticeable in them.

We weaken our plants, as we do ourselves, by keeping the temperature
of our rooms too high. We are not satisfied with a comfortable warmth.
We want heat enough to keep us constantly conscious of it by its
intensity. This is all wrong from the health point of view. What ought
to be done is to install a thermometer in every room, and so regulate
the amount of heat that all are kept at summer warmth by arranging
for a system of ventilation that will act automatically when the
thermometer goes above a certain point. This system is speedily coming
into general use, and gives most excellent satisfaction. Where it is
not in use, the temperature can be kept somewhere near where it ought
to be by opening doors or windows from time to time, as already spoken
of. Keep in mind that too much heat and too little fresh air will kill
almost any plant in time, and the two, working together, will, nine
times out of ten, make any window-garden a comparative failure.

Care must be taken in watering plants in winter. Those which are
dormant, or are making but little growth, will require very little
water. Those in active growth will need more. The only way to tell how
much to give is to watch your plants closely, and observe the effect
of the applications given. When the surface of the soil takes on a dry
look it is safe to conclude that the roots of the plant in the pot have
made use of most of the moisture in it, and that more water should
be given. Then give enough to make the soil moist all through, and
withhold further applications until the dry look appears again. Never
form the habit of watering your plants every time you happen to think
about it, and then apply just enough to make the soil look wet on its
surface. If this is done you will never grow good plants, for only the
surface roots will get the moisture they need. Have a stated time for
watering, and let the appearance of the soil govern the amount used.



XV

THE INSECT ENEMIES OF PLANTS


Every woman who attempts to grow flowers in the house will sooner or
later have to wage warfare against insects.

Perhaps the first battle will have to be fought with the aphis,
or plant-louse. This insect sucks the sap--the life-blood of the
plant--from stalk and leaf, and soon, if let alone, it will exhaust
the vitality of the plant to a degree that is wholly incompatible with
health. In fact, if allowed to have its way, it will kill your plants,
for it propagates its species with such rapidity that a plant will
soon be literally covered with them. We used to kill off these insects
by fumigating the plants infested with them with tobacco smoke, and
in doing it we made ourselves about as sick as the insects were, and
the nauseating fumes of it clung to everything in and about the house
for days. Nowadays we make use of the nicotine principle of tobacco
in our warfare against the aphis, but in a manner that leaves out
the objectionable features of fumigation. Tobacco manufacturers have
prepared an extract of the nicotine in the plant, and put it on the
market under the name of nicoticide. All we have to do when we want
to make use of it is to put a small quantity in water, and spray our
plants with the mixture. Every aphis that it touches will die, and
those that it fails to reach will take the hint that they are not
wanted and that their presence will not long be tolerated, and the
first you know they will have disappeared.

Instead of waiting for the attack of the enemy I consider it good
policy to anticipate it by frequent applications of the tobacco-bath.
It will be found easier to keep the enemy away than to rout it after it
has established itself on your plants.

The red spider is another insect that does deadly work in the
window-garden, especially in rooms where the temperature is high
and there is little moisture in the air--a condition that generally
prevails in the ordinary living-room. This pest is so small that its
presence is seldom suspected until considerable injury has been done to
the plants it works on. If you notice that leaves are turning yellow
and dropping off, and that more and more of them fall each day, you
had better look into the matter. Examine some of the fallen leaves.
If you find tiny webs on the under side of them you may be quite sure
that the spider is responsible for the condition your plants are in.
Look at some of the leaves that are yellowing, but have not yet let go
their hold, and you will be quite likely to find little red specks on
them. These specks resemble grains of fine Cayenne pepper more than
anything else. Watch them for a while and you will find that they are
living organisms. It seems hardly possible that such tiny creatures can
do much harm to a strong plant, but the fact is that there is no more
voracious enemy of plant life in existence. Here the tobacco-bath does
not come in play. Cold water is all the insecticide we need. Spray it
over every portion of the infested plants daily, until they again take
on a healthy look and begin to grow. The spider will not stay long in
a moist atmosphere. Make it moist and keep it so by the liberal use of
water sprayed upon your plants, and you will have very little trouble
with this dangerous pest. But if you neglect to use water regularly and
freely the probabilities are that your window-garden will look rather
sickly by spring.

Scale is an insect that often attacks plants having thick,
firm-textured foliage, like the oleander, lemon, ivy, ficus, and palm.
It is a flat creature, looking more like a fish-scale than anything
else, hence its name. It attaches itself to the leaf and sucks the life
out of it. The best weapon to fight this enemy with is an emulsion made
as follows: shave thinly half a pound of white soap; pour a little
water over it and set it on the stove to liquefy. When the soap is
melted, add to it a pint of water and bring to a boil. When boiling,
add a teacupful of kerosene and three tablespoonfuls of the tobacco
extract. These ingredients, under the effect of heat, will form an
emulsion that will unite readily with water. Use in the proportion of
one part emulsion to fifteen parts water. Apply to the infested plants
with a soft cloth or a camel's-hair brush. Be sure that some of it gets
to all parts of the plant. Two or three applications may be necessary.
Prepare a quantity of it and keep it on hand for use when needed.

The emulsion spoken of above is an excellent remedy for the ills the
rose is heir to during the early part of the season. If Paris green
is sprayed onto the plants the foliage is frequently burned by it.
If kerosene is mixed with water and applied, the oil will seldom
emulsify perfectly with the water, and wherever a drop of it falls
on leaf or bud it will do quite as much damage as would the bug or
worm you are fighting. Hellebore is never to be depended on. The
kerosene-tobacco-soap emulsion will be found safe and effective.

Worms in the soil of pot plants can be got rid of by the use of
lime-water. Put a piece of _perfectly fresh_ lime as large as the
ordinary coffee-cup in ten quarts of water. If fresh, as it must be
to be of any benefit, the water will seem to boil for a little while.
By and by a white sediment will settle to the bottom of the vessel,
and the water above will be clear. Pour this off and apply enough of
it to each plant to saturate all the soil in the pot. Plug up the
drainage hole in the bottom of the pot before the application is made,
that the water may be retained long enough to do its work. Repeat the
application if necessary.



XVI

GARDENING FOR CHILDREN


If you want to keep children out of mischief give them a little garden.
One that they can call their own will afford them far more pleasure
than they get out of working in _your_ garden. Of course they will not
be expected to go ahead with garden work at first and make much success
at it without assistance from some one, and by object-lessons, but they
will soon master the fundamental points of it, and when they have done
that they will surprise you by the facility with which they pick up the
information that grows out of their early experience and the amount of
work that they will accomplish all by themselves.

And you will be pleased to see how interested they are in the new
undertaking. It will not seem like work to them. It will be play, and
play of such a healthy character that you can well afford to ignore
soiled clothes, and hands that have caught the grime of the soil, and
faces on which sweat and soil have met on common ground and formed an
intimate partnership. The healthy color of the faces of the children
who work out of doors, and the excellent appetites that they bring to
the table, will convince you that gardening is the best of all tonics
for them.

And you will be gratified to know that they are learning more from the
great book of Nature than they would ever learn in the schools. They
are learning things at first hand, for Nature will take charge of the
little pupils and not trust her kindergarten work to an assistant.
Nine children out of ten who have a garden to work in will become more
interested in it than in all the fairy-books that were ever written.
For are not the processes of germination and growth going on before
their eyes akin to magic? The miracle of life is being performed before
them every day, and they are taking part in it. That is what will make
it so delightful to them. They have formed a partnership with Nature in
miracle-making.

Parents who have only a hazy notion of garden-work may think themselves
incompetent to teach their children. But if they set out to do so they
will soon find that they are daily learning enough to make them safe
teachers for the little folks. And the best of it will be that they
themselves are getting quite as much good and pleasure out of it as the
children are.

Give the boys and girls good tools to work with. Never ask them to make
use of those you have worn out or found worthless. Something quite as
good as you would provide for yourself is what should be provided for
them. They will appreciate a good thing, be very sure, and the fact
that they have it will be one of the best possible incentives to work.
Supply them with good seed. And do not fail to encourage them by giving
all the credit justly due them for what they accomplish. Children like
to know that their efforts are properly appreciated. We grownups and
the children are very much alike in that respect.



XVII

HOME AND GARDEN CONVENIENCES


There are many ways in which work in the garden and about the home
can be varied in such a manner as to give a variety of comparatively
new and pleasing effects with so little trouble and expense that the
amateur gardener and home-maker who would like "something new" will, I
feel sure, be delighted to undertake some of them.

One is a floral awning for the windows which are exposed to strong
sunshine. A frame is made of lath, the width of the window and half
its depth, by nailing four of the strips together in a square and then
fastening other strips across it in a diamond or lattice fashion.
Attach this frame to the top of the window-casing by door-butts. Then
push the lower part of it away from the window until you have it at
the angle at which a cloth awning would hang when dropped, and support
it in that position by running strips of wood from each corner to the
sides of the window-frame.

If such vines as morning-glory, flowering bean, and cypress are trained
up each side of the window until they reach these supports, it will
be an easy matter to coax them up them and from them to the awning's
framework, which they will soon cover with foliage and flowers. Such an
awning will be found quite as satisfactory as one of cloth, so far as
shade is concerned, and, as for beauty, there is no comparison between
them, for the ordinary awning of striped cloth is never ornamental. A
floral awning is to the upper part of the window what the window-box
of plants is to the lower portion of it, and the two can be used in
combination with most delightful results. Indeed, they belong together,
and one without the other only half carries out the scheme of window
decoration.

Such awnings will be found as satisfactory for exposed doors as for
windows. The boys of the family--or the women of it--can make them and
put them in place, and the cost of them will be so small, compared with
their ornamental and practical value, that one season's trial of them
will make them permanent features of home-beautifying thereafter. I
would advise planing the strips of lath and giving the frames a coat
of green or white paint before putting them in place. Green paint will
make them unobtrusive, and white will give a pleasing color contrast.
If they are taken down in fall and stored in a dry place over winter
they will last for a good many seasons.

       *       *       *       *       *

As a general thing the front gate, if there is one, is not particularly
ornamental. But it can easily be made so by setting posts ten or twelve
feet tall at either side, and attaching to the top of them a double
awning-frame similar to that advised for windows. Let these frames
meet at the top and slope outward and downward, roof fashion, and have
supports running to each outer corner from the posts. When vines are
trained up the posts and over the frames, and are allowed to droop in
graceful festoons of foliage and flower from them, the effect will
be charming. Here is where the wild cucumber--the most rapid climber
of all our annuals--will be able to do most effective work. I would
advise the use of hardy vines for positions of this kind, as they will
be attractive from the beginning of the season, while an annual has to
be given considerable time to grow before it becomes equal to the task
assigned it.

Garden-seats ought to be a feature of all home grounds large enough to
admit of them. And these seats can be made as ornamental as the gateway
just described by providing them with awnings large enough to afford
complete shade. Of course, where there are trees to furnish shade such
awnings will not be needed--and the logical place for a garden-seat is
under a tree, if there is one--but on grounds where there are no trees
to furnish shade, such protection from the heat of summer sunshine as
these awnings will afford becomes more a necessity than a luxury. As
it is, they are both ornamental and useful, and the ease and cheapness
with which they are made commends them to all who believe in the value
of "little things" in making home attractive and pleasant.

       *       *       *       *       *

Often it is desirable to furnish certain portions of the home grounds
with screens large enough to shut off the public view. These should
have frames of a size that guarantees strength. Lath put on in lattice
fashion will make a good covering for them, but it will not be strong
enough to insure durability in itself, hence the necessity of a more
substantial framework. It is always advisable to paint them before
covering them with vines. As screens of this kind are generally built
with a view to permanence, I would advise covering them with hardy
vines, like ampelopsis, _Clematis flammula_ and _C. paniculata_,
aristolochia, or trumpet honeysuckle.

       *       *       *       *       *

If low screens are wanted anywhere about the place, as a dividing
factor between the flower and vegetable gardens, for instance,
sweet-peas will make a charming covering for them.

Large screens that are intended to separate the ornamental portions of
the home grounds from the not generally attractive yards at the rear
can be made extremely effective by training rambler roses over them.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most attractive features about the home of the author of
this book is the fence which divides it from the property of his
next-door neighbor. When the lawn was made, cedar posts were set along
one side of it, and on these woven-wire netting was stretched. This
netting was about four feet wide and of a rather heavy grade of wire.
Small plants of ampelopsis were set out along it, about twenty feet
apart. As fast as branches were thrown out they were trained out and
in through the meshes of the netting. In one season the plants made
enough growth to meet one another, and the second season the netting
was completely covered. The result has been extremely satisfactory.
Throughout the summer this fence has the appearance of a closely
clipped hedge of luxuriant green. In fall it is a mass of scarlet
and crimson, quite as brilliant as the bed of geraniums near by. It
is vastly more ornamental than a fence of wood or iron, and makes an
entirely satisfactory substitute for a hedge that it would take years
to grow. In some respects it is more satisfactory than such a hedge
would be, as it requires no annual shearing to keep it in proper shape
and condition.



XVIII

GARDEN DON'TS


Don't let your springtime enthusiasm lead you to undertake more than
you _feel quite sure_ of being able to carry out. Keep in mind the fact
that there will be work to do all through the season in order to make
your garden a success, and think over what the result will be if you
fail to give your plants all the care they need after you have got them
well under way. Don't give them a chance to say that you haven't given
them fair treatment because your enthusiasm waned with the season.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't attempt to grow all the plants that the florists describe so
attractively in their catalogues. Concentrate your efforts on the best
ones--that is, the ones best adapted to amateur gardening. Give these
the best possible care. This advice applies with equal pertinence to
all phases of gardening, outdoors or indoors.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't pattern your garden after your neighbor's. Think out original
features for the garden you propose to make, if you choose to do so,
but don't aim to be so extremely original that the originality of
it will attract more attention than the flowers in it. These should
receive first consideration always.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't waste your time on "carpet-bedding" unless you make use of plants
with colored foliage in carrying out your designs. Flowering plants are
practically worthless for this purpose, as they have such a tendency
to reach out beyond the limits assigned them that all distinctness in
the outline of your pattern will soon be lost sight of. About all that
seems worth while for the amateur gardener to do in the arrangement
of her plant is to so use them that strong masses of color can be
produced. If care is taken to choose those of harmonious colors, these
can be so arranged as to heighten the general effect by contrast.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't set out to have a garden or to grow house plants unless you have
the true gardening instinct. By that I mean a love for plants and
flowers that would make you _attempt_ to grow them under circumstances
which your own judgment tells you make success impossible. The
woman who tries to grow a geranium in a tin can in a window four or
five stories up in the air because of her love for flowers would be
almost sure to make a splendid success of a garden on the ground if
she had one. But the woman who attempts to grow a plant because her
neighbors do so, and who is honest enough to say to herself that "it's
more bother than it's worth," will fail because she lacks the true
incentive. Such persons ought not to undertake the cultivation of
flowers. They cannot grow them with any degree of success, for flowers
know who loves them, and will absolutely refuse to flourish under the
care of those who do not want them for their own sweet sakes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't fill your windows to overflowing. Give each plant enough
elbow-room to admit of its displaying its charms effectively. A crowded
plant is never a symmetrical one, and one really symmetrical is worth
a score of poorly shaped ones. The fact is, a window of ordinary size
cannot satisfactorily accommodate more than eight or ten plants of
ordinary size without crowding. There should be space enough between
them to allow the sunshine to get to all portions of them. A free
circulation of air among them is quite important.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't be a plant-beggar. By that I do not mean that you are not to
"swap" plants with your neighbors if it is mutually agreeable to do so.
When I speak of a "plant-beggar" I have in mind the person who depends
upon her plant-growing friends for enough plants to keep her window
well stocked, and her garden also. As soon as she discovers that you
have a plant that she would like she does not hesitate to ask for a
root or a cutting of it. She never stops to think that you are trying
to grow the plant for your own pleasure. It doesn't matter to her how
much it interferes with its satisfactory development in complying
with her request. If she gets what she wants she is satisfied. The
probabilities are that when her plant gets to be as large as yours was
when she asked you to divide it with her she'll not hesitate to refuse
the woman who suggests that she'd "like one just like it--won't you let
me have a slip?" That there are persons quite as selfish as this cannot
be denied. But they ought not to be encouraged. Don't gratify them in
their unreasonable demands simply because you are afraid of being
considered "small" and "stingy."

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't fail to have a corner in your garden devoted expressly to plants
from which to cut for friends and the sick and shut-ins. Perhaps it is
more a fancy of mine than anything else, but it has always seemed to
me that plants grown for this purpose know what use they are to be put
to and do their best in order to help carry out the plan of the person
who grows them. If we who have all the flowers of our own that we care
for could only know what a vast amount of pleasure we can give our less
fortunate neighbors by dividing our supply with them, we would be more
liberal than we are.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't keep fuchsias in the window in winter, for they are not
winter-flowering plants, and the space they will occupy might better
be given up to plants from which we can reasonably expect blossoms.
They should go into the cellar in November, along with oleanders,
hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and plants of similar habit, there to
remain until March. Then they can be brought to the light, watered,
and again started into growth. It is well to cut most plants that
have been wintered in the cellar back at least half, and allow them
to renew most of their branches. While in cold storage they should be
given just enough water to prevent the soil from becoming really dry,
and no more. Keep them in the dark, if possible, and in a cool place.
Do not allow the temperature to go below the frost-point, however.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't think because you have only a little bit of ground that it isn't
worth while to attempt having a garden. Some of the most delightful
gardens I have ever seen were small ones. You will be surprised to find
how many plants can be grown in a very small space. Utilize all the
nooks and corners about the place for plants.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't depend on home-grown seed if you want the best in flowers. The
seedsman knows just what to do to secure the best results in seed, and
just how to do it. He also knows what _not_ to do in raising seed for
the market, and this the amateur gardener really knows nothing about.
While we often grow fine flowers from seed of our saving, the fact
remains that home-grown seed seldom gives entire satisfaction to the
person who wants the best.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't invest your money in new plants until you are satisfied that
they have all the merit claimed for them. As a general thing, the
"novelties" sent out every spring at a high price are greatly inferior
to the good old stand-bys. We seldom hear anything about them after the
second season. Put your money into plants that you know can be depended
on.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't attempt the culture of hanging-plants unless you are willing to
give them the care they must have in order to be satisfactory. Plants
suspended in the window, where the temperature is considerably higher
than at the sill, speedily dry out, and after this has happened a few
times they become diseased and finally die. It will be necessary to
apply water daily and in sufficient quantity to saturate all the soil
in the pot or basket. Because it requires special effort on the part of
the owner to get to suspended plants, they are generally neglected. It
is a most excellent plan to have them arranged in such a manner that
they can be let down into a tub of water and left there until the soil
has absorbed all the water it can retain. This can be done by cords
running over pulleys in the ceiling. Try it. Hanging-plants are always
pleasing when healthily grown, and the window-garden that is without
them is not living up to its privileges.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't "fuss" with your plants too much. See that they get all the
water they need, as much sunshine as possible, plenty of fresh air,
an occasional application of some good fertilizer, and shower them
frequently to keep them clean, and be satisfied with this treatment.
They object to being treated as some mothers treat their children, who
would be much better off if they were let alone after actual wants were
provided for. Don't coddle your plants.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't start dahlias into growth in the house early in the season,
thinking that you are going to "get the start of the season" by so
doing. We used to think that, because the dahlia came from a country
where the summer was long, we must get it to growing in March or April,
and we set the tubers out in pots and boxes and forced them to make a
rapid and weak growth so early in the season that long before it was
safe to put them out in the garden they were poor, spindling things,
with just enough vitality in them to make it possible to say that they
were alive. When they were planted out the change from indoors to
outdoors had such a debilitating effect on them that for weeks they
were undecided whether to live or die. If they lived we considered
ourselves fortunate if we got a dozen flowers from each plant. Nowadays
we understand the plant better. We don't attempt to start it in the
house. We wait until the weather and the ground are warm and then we
plant the tubers in the garden where they are to grow and bloom. We
make the soil very rich. The plants begin to grow shortly after being
planted, and in late August they come into bloom, and all through
September they yield such a profusion of flowers as we never thought of
getting from the plants when grown after the old method. The dahlia is
one of our very best late-summer flowering plants when well grown. It
must have a rich soil--it must not be allowed to get dry at the roots
at any time--and it must be given substantial support, as its stalks
are extremely brittle and easily broken down by hard winds and heavy
rains. Dahlias are very effective when planted in the border among
shrubs and perennials. There are few plants with a wider range of rich
and brilliant color. By all means give them a place in your garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't sow hollyhock seed in the spring expecting to get flowers from
your plants the same season. They will not bloom the first year from
seed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't allow your pansies to bloom--or _try_ to bloom--during the hot,
dry, midsummer season. They may produce _some_ flowers, but they will
be so inferior in quality that you will get no pleasure from them. I
would advise cutting away all the old branches the latter part of July
and encouraging the plants to renew themselves preparatory to fall
flowering. If this is done, and strong, healthy growth results from the
liberal application of a good fertilizer during August, you may expect
a generous crop of large, fine flowers all through the autumn. If it
is _not_ done, and the plants are allowed to keep on trying to grow
through the trying period of late summer, you will get few flowers and
no really good ones.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't allow any plant to develop seed if you want it to keep on
blooming after its first flowering period. The aim of all plants is to
reproduce themselves, and this can only be done by seed development. If
we interfere with the ordinary process of seed production by cutting
away all flowers as soon as they begin to fade, the plants will at once
make another effort to perpetuate their kind, and, as the first step in
this direction is the production of flowers, it will be readily seen
that it is possible to make many of them bloom all through the season.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't expect good flowers of any kind unless you are willing to give
them the care and attention they require. If you are not willing to
do this, or if, for any reason, you _cannot_ do it, don't attempt
gardening. Have enough regard for the flowers to not undertake their
culture unless you can do them justice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't throw away plants of any kind. Somebody will always be glad to
get those you have no use for.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't neglect a plant to-day and think you can make up for that neglect
by being very good to it to-morrow. Plants must receive care _when
it is needed_, and this care should be given regularly, instead of
spasmodically, to be effective.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't begin to water your plants in your garden in a dry season unless
you can keep on doing so as long as the dry spell lasts.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't fail to keep close watch of your asters. Of late years many
failures have resulted from the attack of a black beetle, which comes
from no one knows where--comes so suddenly and does such deadly
work in so short a time that the plants are often ruined before the
presence of the pest is suspected. There is but one way of getting
rid of this pest, and that is to make use of nicoticide, the standard
remedy for all plant troubles of this kind. A small quantity of this
extract of tobacco, diluted with water and sprayed over all portions
of each plant, will effectually rout the enemy if applied promptly
and thoroughly. Unless something is done as soon as the beetle is
discovered, it will destroy every plant. Be on the lookout for it
constantly, acting on the supposition that it will be sure to put in
an appearance some time during the summer. Get ready in advance for
prompt action against it by laying in a supply of the insecticide at
the beginning of the summer.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't think that your house plants need repotting two or three times
a year if they are growing in good-sized pots. Once a year is quite
often enough if you apply fertilizers at intervals of four or five
months. Plants in small pots may outgrow their quarters, and these
should be shifted to those of larger size when they have filled the old
ones with roots.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't make the mistake of putting small plants in large pots, thinking
that they will be benefited by it. Wait for them to signify a desire
for more room by filling all the soil of a small pot with roots. A
plant with a small, weak root-system is often seriously injured by
giving it a large pot to grow in, as it is not in a condition to make
use of all the nutriment in a large amount of soil. A plant treated
in this manner will often develop a sort of vegetable dyspepsia as a
result of giving it more food than it can digest properly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't be in too great a hurry to obtain results. Some persons think to
accomplish this by frequent applications of strong fertilizers in large
quantities. This will force plants to a rapid and always unhealthy
growth, from which, later on, there is sure to be a most discouraging
reaction. Be content with a healthy growth, and give your plants a
chance to make that naturally. More plants are injured by overfeeding
than from any other cause.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't think that you can learn all there is to know about gardening
from books. Books will furnish the theory. You must contribute
experience in order to attain success.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't neglect your plants while they are growing. Then is just the time
to give them the training that is necessary to make them shapely. The
fact is, plants are very much like children in the family. Let them
have their own way about everything while they are growing up and you
will find that when they have grown up they are not at all like what
you would like to have them, in many respects, and you don't see how
you are going to make them conform to your ideas of what they ought to
be, since it is impossible to make children of them again and give you
another chance at their development. Begin with the training of your
plants while they are small, and train them as they grow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't treat all your plants alike. Study their peculiarities and give
them such treatment as will fit those peculiarities. To illustrate this
idea: a calla likes a good deal of water; a geranium is satisfied with
a moderately moist soil; a cactus does best when allowed to get really
dry at certain seasons. If we were to treat these three plants alike,
what do you suppose the result would be? Don't ignore the peculiarities
of your plants if you want them to do well.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't neglect to prepare for an annual invasion of your roses by bugs,
worms, and insects. You can safely count on their coming, but if
you are prepared for it you can speedily put the enemy to rout. The
best plan is to act on the offensive. Head off the pests by making
applications of nicoticide before they make their appearance. You can
do this, for, if their advance-agent arrives and finds the tang of
tobacco all over the plants, he will go back and advise the others to
seek more agreeable quarters. Begin to spray your bushes early in the
season, and keep on doing so until after the flowering period is over.
There will be no likelihood of an invasion after that, as the enemies
of the rose do their deadly work early in the season.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't get the idea for a moment, as so many do, that all you need to
do to have a fine lot of plants is to put some soil--any kind that
happens to be handiest--in a pot, set out a plant in it, and, presto!
you will have just as fine a lot of plants as your neighbor who
searches here and there and everywhere until she finds just the kind of
soil that experience tells her the plants must have if she would have
good ones. She gives some of her time daily to caring for them, while
you expect your plants to take care of themselves. That will never
answer. If you do your share of the work the plants will do theirs, but
you must not expect them to do all, any more than you must expect them
to make a strong, healthy growth in a soil that is unsuited to their
requirements or sadly lacking in nutriment.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't build up a great fire in stove or furnace if you discover
that your plants have been nipped by frost, thinking to save them
by "thawing them out." Heat at such a time is the very thing needed
to complete the misfortune. Put them at once in a room where the
temperature can be kept just a little above the frost-point, and shower
them thoroughly with cold water. This will extract the frost from them
so gradually that it will be possible to save many of them unless they
are badly frozen. Keep them in a cool room for three or four days.
It may be necessary to cut away most, or all, of the branches of some
of them. Unless the degree of cold to which they were subjected was
sufficient to freeze the soil in the pot, many of them will throw up
new shoots from their roots after a little; therefore don't throw out a
plant that has been obliged to part with all its top until it has been
given a chance to make a new start in life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't put your house plants out of doors for the summer until the
weather has become warm and can be depended on to remain so. The first
of June will be quite early enough.

       *       *       *       *       *

Don't plant them out in the garden-beds, thinking thereby to save
yourself the work of taking care of them during the summer and of
benefiting them at the same time. Of course they will take care of
themselves there, and very likely make a much more luxuriant growth
than they would in pots, but when fall comes and you have to lift and
repot them you will find that more hard work is required of you than
you would have expended on them throughout the summer if you had kept
them in pots. As for the benefit to the plants--where will it come in?
They will have made such a rampant growth of roots that most of them
will have to be sacrificed in reducing the earth containing them to
the size of the pots you put them into, and this at the very time when
the poor plants ought to be at their best in order to successfully
withstand the unfavorable conditions resulting from the change from
outdoors to indoors. Plants treated in this manner receive a check that
they seldom fully recover from during the entire winter. Instead of
saving yourself work and doing a kindness to your plants, you have done
just the contrary.



XIX

A CHAPTER OF HELPFUL HINTS


In some of the foregoing chapters I have had something to say about the
advisability of using seed in which each color is kept by itself in
order to secure the greatest possible degree of color-harmony in the
garden.

Many persons tell us that they cannot afford to pay the extra prices
which the seedsmen put on unmixed seed. It is true that it costs more
than the seed in which all colors are jumbled together, and it is
also true that plants grown from it are really no better than those
grown from mixed seed, but the fact remains that it gives so much
more satisfactory results, from an artistic standpoint, that it is
not throwing money away, as some claim, to make use of it. Of course
if one gets as much pleasure from a mass of color without regard to
harmony as from fewer colors all in perfect harmony with one another,
it would hardly be worth while to invest more money in such seed. But
where the finest possible effects are desired I contend that unmixed
seed is cheapest, in that sense of the term that means the greatest
satisfaction.

There is a way by which unmixed seed can be obtained without its really
costing each person more than mixed seed. Every amateur gardener knows
that more plants of a kind can be grown from one package of seed than
a person cares for in the average-sized garden. Nine times out of ten
only part of the seed in the package is sown and the rest is either
discarded or given away to friends. Now if those who would like to
secure the best results in gardening will get up a seed club among
their flower-loving friends, and confine their selection to packages
in which each color is by itself, the seed in those packages can be
divided among the various members of the club, and each person will
have enough to meet her requirements, and this at a less price than she
would have to pay for ordinary mixed seed if she were to order alone,
because none of the seed would be wasted.

Try the seed-club plan for a season and see if it doesn't work out to
your satisfaction.

If you are likely to have more plants of a kind than you care for,
don't throw any of the seedlings away when you thin them out. There
are poor children in every neighborhood that would be delighted to get
them. Never waste any plants that are worth growing.

If a plant is wanted for low beds under the windows of the dwelling or
near the paths, portulacca is about as satisfactory as anything I know
of. It blooms with great profusion throughout the entire season. Its
colors range from pure white through pink, yellow, and violet to dark
crimson. It is a plant that seems to delight in locations exposed to
the hottest sunshine, and in soils so lacking in moisture that ordinary
plants would live but a short time in it. It is enabled to do this
because of the succulent nature of its foliage. Indeed, the portulacca
is a vegetable salamander so far as its ability to stand heat and
drought is concerned. Those who have had experience with purslane in
the vegetable garden will understand something about the nature of this
plant, for the two are closely related.

In furnishing support for vines that clamber over the walls of the
house, do not use strips of cloth, as so many do. The cloth is good
for a season only. After the vines have become large and heavy their
weight will be sufficient to tear the cloth loose from the tacks that
held it in place, especially after a heavy rain or in strong winds, and
down will come the plant. It will be found impossible to put it back
in place in anything like a satisfactory manner. For supporting large,
stiff vines I make use of screw-hooks, which are easily inserted in
wooden walls. Turn the hooks in until there is just enough room between
their points and the wall to admit of slipping the vine in. Not one
vine in fifty will work loose from the grip of the hooks.

Some vines are not adapted to this treatment. These I support by
using strips of leather instead of cloth. The leather should be
soaked in oil for twenty-four hours before using, to make it pliable
and water-resisting. Do not use small tacks, as these do not have
sufficient hold on the wood to make them dependable. Use nails at least
an inch long, with good-sized heads.

Some persons object to the use of vines about the house, especially if
it is of wood, claiming that they retain moisture to such an extent
as to soon injure the walls. I have convinced myself that facts are
directly contrary to this theory. The overlapping leaves act as
shingles--shedding rain and preventing it from getting to the walls
against which the vines are trained.

Try to interest the children in the making of a fern-garden and a
collection of native plants. A little encouragement at the beginning
will do this, and after the project is well under way it will not need
encouraging, for the little folks will be so fascinated by it that
there will be little likelihood of their abandoning the undertaking.
Take half a dozen or more children to the woods with you, with baskets
in which to bring home their specimens. Show them how to take up the
plants in such a manner that a considerable amount of soil will adhere
to their roots. Help them pack them snugly into the baskets to prevent
their being shaken about in transit, thereby losing the soil taken up
with them. If the day happens to be a warm and sunny one, have them
sprinkle the plants and pack some wet moss about them to keep them
as fresh as possible until they can be planted in the home garden.
Discourage them from taking large plants in preference to small ones,
as they will most likely be eager to do. Explain that the small ones
stand the best chance of living, and that nothing is gained by choosing
large ones, because these will be sure to lose their foliage, and that,
even if they live, which nine out of ten will not, they will receive
such a check by removal that the small plants will soon get the start
of them.

It will greatly add to the pleasure of plant-collecting if you make
a kind of picnic excursion of it. Take along something good to eat,
and spend half a day in the woods, if possible. You will enjoy it as
much as the children will. Don't dig your plants, however, until you
are about ready to start for home, for it is quite important that they
should be planted as soon as possible after being taken up. When they
are set out, water them well and shade them for several days.

Give all plants taken from shady places a location as nearly like that
from which they were taken as possible. A fern that grew in shade will
be pretty sure to die if planted in a place fully exposed to the sun.

It helps matters very much if you can have a load of woods earth drawn
to the home garden to plant these children of the forest in. They do
not take kindly to loam, after having been grown in loose, porous soil,
though many of them are strong enough to adapt themselves to ordinary
garden conditions.

I know of many neighborhoods in which clubs for collecting native
plants have been formed, and the children who are in these clubs have
become intensely interested in their gardens of native plants. This
is as it should be, for we have many beautiful wild flowers that are
better worth growing than foreign kinds for which large prices are
asked. Pride in our home plants ought to be encouraged, and there is no
better way of doing this than by interesting the boys and girls in the
making of a wild garden.

The tuberose is a plant which everybody admires, but which is seldom
seen in amateur gardeners' collections. I think the general impression
is that it is not an easy plant to grow. Such is not the case, however.
It can be grown successfully by any one who is willing to give it a
little attention. Tubers should be obtained in March or April. They
should be planted in pots containing sandy garden loam into which a
liberal amount of good fertilizer has been thoroughly worked. If the
tubers are small, two or three can be put into each seven-inch pot
used. Before planting them the mass of dried roots which will generally
be found adhering to the base of the tuber should be cut away with a
thin, sharp-bladed knife. If this is not done, these roots often decay
and the diseased condition will be communicated to the tuber and cause
it to die, or, if death does not result, to become so unhealthy that it
will fail to bloom.

The plants can be turned out of their pots when the weather becomes
warm, and grown on in the garden through the summer, but I would not
advise this, for it will be necessary to lift and pot them before
frosty nights come, as they are very tender, and a little disturbance
of their roots at this time may cause their buds to blast. I would
urge keeping them in pots throughout the season, as, if this is done,
you always have them under control. The flowers of the tuberose are
ivory-white in color. They are of thick, waxen texture, and have that
heavy, rich fragrance that characterizes the magnolia and the cape
jasmine of the South. They are borne in a spike at the extremity of
tall stalks, thus being very effective for cutting. Because of their
thick texture they last for a long time after cutting. Plants in pots
remain in bloom for a month or six weeks. Every lover of deliciously
fragrant flowers will do well to grow at least half a dozen of them to
do duty in the window-garden in fall.

A second crop of flowers need not be expected from a tuber that has
borne one crop. In order to make sure of bloom it will be necessary to
purchase fresh tubers each spring.

The abutilon is an old favorite among house plants, and its popularity
is well deserved. It is of as easy culture as a geranium. Give it a
good soil--preferably loam--drain its pot well, keep the soil evenly
moist but never wet, and that is about all the care it will require. It
may be necessary to prune it now and then during its early stages of
growth in order to secure symmetrical shape, but this is easily done
by pinching off the ends of such branches as seem inclined to get the
start of others, and keeping them from making more growth until the
others have caught up with them. Pinching back branches that do not
develop side shoots will generally result in their branching freely.
In this way you secure a bushy, compact plant. In order to make a
little tree of the abutilon--and it is most satisfactory when grown
in that manner--train it to one straight stalk until it reaches the
height where you want the head to form. Allow no side branches to grow
during this period of the plant's development. When three or four feet
tall, nip off the top and keep it nipped off until as many branches as
you think necessary have started at the top of the stalk. Allow none
to grow below. By persevering in this treatment you will succeed in
getting a number of branches with which to form a treelike head.

There are several varieties of abutilon. Some have orange flowers,
some red, some yellow, some pink, and some pure white. These flowers
are bell-shaped and pendent. One name for the plant is the Chinese
bell-flower because of its bell-like blossoms. Another is flowering
maple, because of the resemblance in shape of its foliage to our native
maple. There are two or three varieties with beautifully variegated
foliage in which green and white and yellow are about equally
distributed. I am always glad to speak a good word for this plant
because of its beauty, its ease of culture, its constancy of bloom, and
the fact that it is seldom attacked by insects.

Another most deserving old plant is the rose geranium. This used to
be found in nearly all collections of house plants. It is as easily
grown as the flowering geranium. Its foliage is very pleasing, being
as finely cut as some varieties of fern. It is delightfully fragrant.
A leaf or two will be found a most desirable addition to a buttonhole
or corsage bouquet. It can be grown in tree form by giving it the
pinching-back treatment advised for the abutilon, or it can be grown
as a bush by beginning the pinching process when it is only three or
four inches high, thus obliging it to throw out several stalks near the
base of the plant.

Old plants of oleander may easily be renewed when they have become so
large as to be unwieldy, or have outgrown the space that can be given
up to them. Cut away _all_ the branches to within four or five inches
of the main stalk, leaving nothing but a mass of stubs. In a very short
time new branches will be sent out. There will be so many of them
that it will be necessary to remove the larger share of them. If this
pruning is done in early spring, when the plant is brought from cold
storage, the new growth ought to bear a crop of flowers in late summer.
The following season the plant should be literally covered with bloom
during the greater part of summer, these blossoms being as large and
fine in all respects as those borne by the plant when young. I know of
no plant that is more tractable than this one, and certainly we have
few that are more beautiful. Large specimens are magnificent for porch
and veranda decoration in summer. In December they should go into the
cellar, to remain there until March.

Plants with variegated foliage are becoming more in demand yearly.
Japanese maize, with long leaves striped with white and cream, is very
effective when grown in a mass in the center of a bed. The Japanese
hop, with foliage heavily marbled with creamy white, is quite as
attractive without flowers as many of our flowering vines are. Ricinus,
with enormous foliage of a lustrous coppery bronze, will be found far
more "tropical" in effect then the cannas and caladiums we see so much
of nowadays. The leaves of this plant often measure a yard across. If
you want it to be most effective, plant it in some exposed place where
it will have plenty of room to spread its branches.

From what I have said in a preceding chapter it will be readily
understood that I am not an admirer of "carpet-bedding" except where
plants with small, richly colored foliage are made use of. These can be
pruned in such a manner as to keep each color inside its proper limit,
but flowering plants will straggle across the lines assigned them, and
all clearness of outline in the "pattern" will soon be lost. But when
plants are located with a view to securing color contrast, very fine
effects can be obtained from them. A circular bed filled with pink,
white, and pale-yellow _phlox drummondii_ in rows of each color will be
found pleasing, and it has the merit of being easily made.

If a round bed has scarlet salvia for its center, surrounded with
yellow calliopsis, or California poppy, it will afford a mass of most
intense color that will produce a most brilliant effect. A bed of
pink flowering geraniums--pink, mind you, not scarlet or any shade
of red--bordered with lavender ageratum, will be found extremely
attractive if care is taken to cut away all trusses of bloom from the
geraniums as soon as they have begun to fade. If this is not done the
bed will have a draggled, slovenly effect.

Scarlet salvia combined with euphorbia, better known as
"snow-on-the-mountain," will be found very effective, the white and
green of the euphorbia bringing out the scarlet of the salvia most
vividly, and affording such a strong contrast that a bed of these two
plants will always challenge admiration.

The euphorbia will be found a very useful plant for almost any place in
beds or borders where something seems needed to relieve the prevailing
color. It deserves more attention than it gets.

The impression seems to prevail that many plants ought to retain their
old leaves indefinitely. They will not do this, however. Leaves ripen
after a time, and the plant will shed them, as all deciduous plants
shed theirs in fall. Therefore if you find the lower leaves on your
ficus turning, yellow and dropping, don't be frightened. The plant is
simply going through one of the processes of nature.

But if a good many of the leaves fall all at once it will be well to
look for some other explanation of the plant's action. The loss of
foliage may come from lack of moisture in the soil, or the roots of the
plant may be pot-bound. Examination will show if either is the case.
If the soil is found to be dry, more water should be given. If the pot
is filled with roots, repot the plant, giving it more root room. The
owners of plants should take all these things into consideration before
coming to any conclusion as to what the cause of trouble is. Unless
they do so there will have to be "guesswork" relative to it, and that
is never safe or satisfactory. Trouble may come from overwatering,
or from lack of good drainage, or a soil deficient in nutrition. You
see, it is necessary to study these matters from several angles, so to
speak, as the trouble complained of may have its origin in any one of
the conditions mentioned, and not much can be done to remedy matters
until one has made an examination that brings to light the facts in the
case. These known, it will be a comparatively easy matter to determine
the treatment required, for the conditions that are found to exist
will, to a great extent, indicate in almost every instance the remedy
needed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some good vines for window-box culture are:

Madeira vine.--Heart-shaped foliage of a rich, glossy green. Very rapid
grower.

Tradescantia.--Green, green striped with white, and olive striped with
Indian red. Quick grower.

Vinca Harrisonii.--Dark-green foliage, edged with yellow.

Senecio.--More commonly known as German ivy. Pretty, ivy-shaped foliage
of a clear, bright green. Very rapid grower. Needs frequent pinching
back to make it branch freely.

Glechoma.--Green, variegated with bright yellow.

Othonna.--Better known as "pickle-plant" because of its cylindrical
foliage, which resembles a miniature cucumber. Has pretty yellow
flowers.

Saxifraga.--Leaves of graying olive sprinkled with white.

Ivy-leaved geraniums.--There are many varieties, some with pink, some
with white, and others with red flowers. These are excellent where
flowering plants of drooping habit are desired. A box edged with these
plants, especially the pink variety, with white Marguerites--better
known as Paris daisies--in the center, will be found especially
pleasing.

In window-boxes having a northern exposure such plants as Boston and
Whitman fern, _asparagus plumosus_, _asparagus Sprengerii_, and any of
the fibrous-rooted begonias will be found very effective. These plants
can be turned out of their pots and planted in the earth in the box,
or the pots in which they grow can be sunk in the soil. This is in
several respects the best way, as in fall, when the window-box has to
be discontinued, the plants will not have to be repotted.

Petunias are excellent plants for window-box culture. They can be made
to grow in upright form by giving them a little support, or they can be
allowed to droop over the sides of the box. A combination of purple
and white varieties will be found pleasing. This plant comes into bloom
early in the season, when grown from seed, and it continues to bloom
until cold weather comes.


                                THE END


                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

-Plain print and punctuation errors fixed.





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allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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