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Title: How the Garden Grew
Author: Maryon, Maud
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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Literature (Images generously made available by the Internet
Archive.)



HOW THE GARDEN GREW

BY

MAUD MARYON

    "Mary, Mary, quite contrairy,
        How does your garden grow?"


_With Four Illustrations by Gordon Browne_


LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

NEW YORK AND BOMBAY

1900



To

HIS REVERENCE



CONTENTS

                            PAGE

 SEASON I.--WINTER            3

 SEASON II.--SPRING          71

 SEASON III.--SUMMER        127

 SEASON IV.--AUTUMN         191

 INDEX                      253



ILLUSTRATIONS

                            PAGE

 WINTER                       2

 SPRING                      70

 SUMMER                     126

 AUTUMN                     190



[Illustration: WINTER]



HOW THE GARDEN GREW

SEASON I

Winter

"Now is the winter of my discontent."


I have not had charge of my garden very long; and I am not sure that I
should have undertaken such a charge had there been anyone else to do
it. But there was no one else, and it so obviously needed doing.

Of course there was the gardener--I shall have to allude to him
occasionally--but just now I will only mention the fact that his
greatest admirer could not have accused him of _taking care_ of the
garden.

Then there was his Reverence; he was by way of being in charge of
everything, me included, I suppose, and of course nominally it was so.
He had the parish and the church, and the rectory and his family, and
the men-servants and the maid-servants, a horse and a pony _and_ the
garden! He managed most things well, I will say, and the kitchen garden
gave some account of itself, but in the flower garden desolation cried
aloud.

I was moved one day to say I thought it disgraceful. "There are
no flowers anywhere; nothing but some semi-red geraniums and some
poverty-stricken calceolarias and scraggy lobelias. We have none of
those nice high blue things, what do you call them? or those yellow
round things with red fringes, like daisies, which are not daisies; we
have no sweet-Williams even, though they are the sort of flowers that
grow in every _cottage_ garden!"

There was a twinkle in his Reverence's eye.

"You seem to know a good deal about flowers, Mary; I can't even follow
your descriptions. I try my best with the carrots and onions. You must
acknowledge you have vegetables."

"Oh, vegetables!" I cried with a tone of contempt.

"Yes, vegetables! You don't seem to despise them at dinner."

"No, but vegetables! Anyone can buy vegetables."

"Anyone can buy flowers, I suppose, if they have the money to spend."

"They can't buy the look of flowers in the garden," I argued; "that is
what one wants; not a few cut things on the table."

"Well, I spend," began his Reverence, and then paused, and looked
through a little drawer of his table that contained account-books.

An idea struck me. I waited eagerly for his next words.

"Let me see," continued his Reverence, running his eye down long rows
of figures. "Ah! here is one of last year's bills for seeds, etc. Just
on ten pounds, you see, and half of that certainly was for the flower
garden. There were new rose trees."

"They are mostly dead. Griggs said it was the frost," I interpolated.

"And some azaleas, I remember."

"They don't flower."

"And bulbs."

"Oh! Griggs buried _them_ with a vengeance."

"Well, anyway, five pounds at least was--"

"Was wasted, sir; that is what happened to that five pounds. Now, look
here."

His Reverence looked.

"Give me that five pounds."

"That particular one?"

"Of course not. Five pounds, and I will see if I can't get some flowers
into the garden. Five pounds! Why, my goodness, what a lot of things
one ought to get with five pounds. Seeds are so cheap, sixpence a
packet I have heard; and then one takes one's own seeds after the first
year. Come, sir, five pounds down and every penny shall go on the
garden."

"Dear me! but according to you five pounds is a great deal too much.
I can't say that it has produced very fine results under Griggs's
management; but at sixpence a packet!"

"No, sir, it is not too much really," I said gravely. "I shall have to
buy a heap of things besides seeds, I expect. But you shall see what I
will do with it. I want that garden to be full of flowers."

His Reverence looked out of the study window. It was a bleak, windy day
towards the end of November. A few brown, unhappy-looking leaves still
hung on the trees; but most of them, released at last, danced riotously
across the small grass plot in front of the old red brick house, until
they found a damp resting-place beneath the shrubbery. The border in
front looked unutterably dreary with one or two clumps of frost-bitten
dahlias and some scrubby little chrysanthemums.

"Full of flowers!" The eye of faith was needed indeed.

"I don't mean before Christmas," I added, following his Reverence's
eye. "But there are things that come out in the spring, you know, and
perhaps they ought to be put in now. Is it a bargain?"

"Yes, Mary, it shall be a bargain. Here is the fiver. Don't waste it,
but make the best of that garden. You had better consult old Griggs
about bulbs and such-like. There ought to be some. I don't think the
few snowdrops I saw can represent all I bought."

"They never came up. I know they didn't. I believe he planted them
topsy-turvy. I suppose there is a right side up to bulbs, and if so,
Griggs would certainly choose the wrong. It's his nature. Can't we get
rid of him, sir? Isn't there any post besides that of gardener which he
might fill?"

His Reverence will not always take my words of wisdom seriously.

"What, more posts! Why, he is clerk and grave-digger and bell-ringer!
Would you like me to retire in his favour?"

"_I_ am speaking seriously, Father. If anything is to be made of this
garden it can't be done whilst that old idiot remains here."

"I fear he must remain here. I have inherited him. His position is as
firm as mine."

"Not as gardener!"

"No; but he can't live on his other earnings. No, Mary, put your best
foot foremost and make something of old Griggs and the garden and the
five pounds. And now take this bulb catalogue. I have not had time to
look it through, and perhaps it may not be too late to get some things
in for the spring. But don't spend all the five pounds on bulbs," he
shouted after me as I left the study.

And so I plunged into gardening, a very Ignoramus of the Ignorami,
and what is herein set down will be written for the edification,
instruction, warning and encouragement of others belonging to that
somewhat large species.

       *       *       *       *       *

I opened the bright-coloured catalogue. Oh! what fascination lurks in
the pages of a bulb catalogue. The thick, highly-glazed leaves turn
with a rich revelation on both sides. It scarcely needs the brilliant
illustrations to lift the imagination into visions of gorgeous beauty.
Parterres of amazing tulips, sheets of golden daffodils, groups of
graceful, nodding narcissus, the heavy, sweet scent of hyacinths comes
from that glorious bloom "excellent for pot culture"; and here in more
quiet letters grow the early crocus--yellow, white, blue and mixed--and
snowdrops. Ah! snowdrops, coming so early, bringing the promise of all
the rich glory that is to follow. And scillas, aconites, chionodoxa or
"Glory of the Snow"!

What were all those lovely, to me half unheard-of names that could be
had for two shillings and sixpence, three shillings or four shillings
and sixpence a hundred? They bloomed in February and March, they were
hardy and throve in any soil. Oh! how they throve in the pages of that
catalogue.

And anemones! My mind rushed to the joys of the Riviera, revealed in
occasional wooden boxes, mostly smashed, sent by friends from that land
of sunshine, and whose contents, when revived, spoke of a wealth of
colour forever to be associated with the name of anemone. To grow them
myself, rapture! "Plant in October or November." It was still November;
they must be ordered at once, "double," "mixed," "single," "fulgens";
they were "dazzling," "effective," "brilliant," and began to flower in
March.

I was plunged into a happy dream of month succeeding month, bringing
each with it its own glory of radiant bloom, very much after the manner
of Walter Crane's picture-books. Life was going to be well worth living.

So now to make my first list and secure all this treasure for the
coming beautiful flower-laden year.

I made a list; and then, mindful of the limited nature of even five
pounds and all that would be required of it, I made up a long row of
figures. This gave me an ugly jar.

Flowers should be given freely and graciously, not bought and sold, to
everyone by everyone for the promotion of beauty and happiness upon
earth. Any good Government should see to this. But present arrangements
being so defective, I had to remodel my list considerably. I cheered up
with the thought, however, that bulbs were not annuals, but on their
own account, so I had heard, grew and multiplied quietly in the earth.

What could have become of those planted by Griggs last year? Did worms
eat bulbs?

       *       *       *       *       *

I wandered round the garden, seeing possibilities and refusing to be
depressed by the sadness of sodden grass, straggling rose branches bare
of beauty, heavy earth that closed in dejected plants, weeds or what
not; I saw them all with new eyes and scanned them closely. Did they
mean flowers? Down in their hearts could those poor draggled, tangled
specimens dream of radiant blooms turned to the sun? I had not studied
my garden before; there were prisoners in it. Care and attention, the
right food and freedom, should bring new beauties to light. I had
grumbled and growled for over two years at the hopelessness of it,
and at the dearth of flowers for house decoration. Now all was to be
changed; the garden was to be beautiful! I thought of that catalogue.

Griggs was digging in the kitchen garden; not hard, not deep, still,
no one could say he was unemployed. He was himself very muddy, and gave
one the idea of working with all parts of his person except his brains.
My former interviews with him had been short if not sweet; but there
was no open quarrel.

He paused as I stood near him, wiping his spade with his hands, kicking
at the clods of earth round him as though they were troublesome.

"Is that for potatoes?" I asked, wishing to show not only interest but
knowledge.

He tilted his cap to one side and viewed the bare expanse of upturned
earth.

"Oi 'ad taters in 'ere last; thought oi'd dig it a bit. Diggin' allays
comes in 'andy."

"Oh, yes;" and then I made a fresh start. "I wanted to know about those
bulbs you planted last autumn. Did they come up?"

This was evidently an awkward question.

"Bulbs! Oh, there wur a few wot the Rector give me some toime back lars
year. They didn't come to much. Never knows with bulbs, you don't!"

"Oh! but bulbs ought to come up."

"Some on 'em do, some times. Don't 'old myself with them furrin koinds."

"What, not with Dutch bulbs? Why, they grow the best kind in Holland."

"Maybe they do; over there. P'haps this soil didn't soute 'em. Wot I
found diggin' the beds I put in them two round beds on the lawn. They
wasn't no great quantity. Most on 'em perished loike, it 'pears to me."

"Perhaps you did not put them in right," I ventured. "How deep should
you plant them?"

Oh! how ignorant I was. I did not feel even sure that I knew the right
side up of a bulb.

Griggs gave a hoarse chuckle.

"They don't need to go fur in; 'bout so fur," and he made a movement
that might indicate an inch or a yard; "but there's lots o' contrairy
things that may 'appen to bulbs same as to most things. En'mies is wot
there is in gardins, all along o' the curse."

Griggs was clerk; he never forgot that post of vantage. He looked at
me as he said the word "curse." I wondered if his mind had made the
connection between Eve and her daughter. But to return to the bulbs.
Were worms the enemies in this particular case?

I knew they buried cities and raised rocks, and were our best diggers
and fertilisers, because I had once read Darwin on the subject; but
were they the enemies of bulbs?

"I am going to take the garden in hand a bit," I said after a pause. "I
think it needs it."

"Well, I could do wi' a bit o' elp," and he wiped more mud from his
spade to his hands, and from his hands to his trousers, and then back
again, until I wondered what his wife did with him when she got him
home. "But I reckon a boy 'ud be more 'andy loike. There's a lot o'
talk," he added, half to himself.

I remembered with a feeling of pain how our old cook and factotum had
received the news that I was taking cooking lessons in much the same
spirit; but my newly-found energy was not going to be suppressed by
Griggs.

"I am going to order some more bulbs," I began.

"Ah! you might do _that_. The gardin needs things puttin' into it,
that's what it needs."

I looked at him sternly. "And things taken out of it too. I never knew
such a place for weeds."

"No more didn't I. It's fearful bad soil for weeds; but maybe if there
warn't so much room for 'em they'd get sort of crowded out."

"You have been here a good many years," I said, not without an
afterthought.

"Yes; that's wot I 'ave been. I come first in ole Mr Wood's time; 'e
was a 'and at roses, 'e was; somethin' loike we 'ad the place then, me
an' 'im. Then Mr 'Erbert took it, that's when ole Woods, 'is father as
'twere, doied. But 'e didn't stay long; went fur a missunairy 'e did to
them furrin parts and never come back, 'e didn't neither. Then come Mr
Cooper, ten years, no, 'levin, he was 'ere and never did a bit to the
gardin; took no interes', no cuttin's, no seeds, no manure, no nothink.
That's 'ow the weeds overmastered us."

"But at least you might have dug up the weeds."

"Allays callin' me away for some'ot, they was. The Bath chair for 'is
sister as lived with 'im, allays some'ot. Talk o' gardinin'! The weeds
just come."

Then his tone brightened a bit; the Bath chair had been an unpleasing
retrospect.

"But if the Rector looks to spend a bit, we might get some good stuff
in." A pause, and a searching look at the setting sun. "I must be
going. Got a bit to see to up at my place. Can't never git round with
these short days."

Griggs collected his implements and with fine independence walked off,
giving me a backward nod and a "Good evenin', miss. We could do wi' a
few bulbs and such loike."

I was to divide Griggs's time with his Reverence, but Griggs seemed
quite able to dispose of it himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

I opened a strong wooden box with much interest and examined the
result of my first venture in bulbs. Brown paper bags full of little
seeds in which were carefully packed the firm dry brown roots, big
and little, round and oblong. How wonderful that these "dead bones"
should be capable of springing up into the glories of sight and
smell foretold by my catalogue. This withered brown ball a hyacinth!
unfolding, unfolding, until green tips, broadening leaves, and at last
a massive crown of flowers appear. And the magician's wand to work this
transformation? Just the good old brown earth, the common rain, and the
wonderful work-a-day sun.

I was soon busy in the garden depositing my various bulbs in heaps
where I intended them to be buried.

I called Griggs and requested suitable tools for the work.

"I am going to plant daffodils under these trees," I said; "and I want
you to take that bag of crocuses and put them in all over the grass in
front. Put them anywhere and everywhere, like the daisies grow."

"What! front of the Rector's winder?"

"Yes; all over."

"'Ow many 'ave you got 'ere?"

"Three hundred; but they don't take long planting."

"'Ope not! I've got a good bit else to to do; can't fiddle faddle over
them."

"Put them in the right side up. I want them to grow," I called after
his retreating figure. Then I eyed my pile of bulbs.

Of course I did know the right side up of a bulb; of course everybody
did; and if anyone was likely to make a mistake it was surely Griggs,
so it was clearly no use asking him. Nice brown thing, why had you not
given just one little green sprout as the crocuses and snowdrops had
done, so that there _could_ be no mistake? And what would happen if
they were planted topsy-turvy? Could they send up shoots from anywhere
they chose? or would the perversity of such a position be too much
for their budding vitality? I did not wish to try the experiment; my
daffodils _must_ make their appearance next March. I ranged them out
in broad circles under one or two trees, in patches at the corner of
projecting borders, and walked away to see the effect from different
points; the effect, not of brown specks, but of sheets of gold that
were to be.

His Reverence found me with my head on one side taking in the future
from the drawing-room windows.

"You seem very busy, Mary."

"I am. You see, it is a great thing to place them where they can stay.
I like permanent things. It will be lovely, won't it, to see that
golden patch under the mulberry tree and another at the corner there;
and then under the chestnut just a sheet of white?"

"Oh, lovely! And what kind of sheet or wet blanket is old Griggs
preparing for my eyes in front?"

"Oh, the old owl! I must run and see he is doing as I told him. You
might be useful, sir, for a bit, mightn't you? and begin popping in
those daffodils under that tree exactly as I have arranged them. I will
be back directly."

His Reverence loved walking round with a tall spud prodding up weeds,
but it was a new idea to set him to work in other ways. I left him for
some time and came back with a heated face.

"Just imagine! Oh, really, sir, we can't go on with
that--that--unutterable idiot! He won't do as he is told. What do you
think he was doing? I told him to plant all that front piece of grass
with crocuses, you know--told him as plainly as I could speak--and
there he was burying my crocuses, by handfuls I think, in the border."

"Oh, well, he doesn't understand your ideas, you see, Mary; he has not
seen them carried out yet."

"Oh, but he did understand, only he said it would take longer to plant
them in the grass and they would come up better in the border. 'I want
that for tulips,' I said, and stood over him while he unburied all he
had done. Then he said, 'Can't stand cuttin' up the grass like this;
better put 'em straight 'long that shady border there, give a bit o'
colour to it.' 'I want them here, in the grass,' I said. 'And how
'bout my mowing? I shall cut 'em to pieces.' That was a bright idea,
he thought. 'You don't begin mowing until after the crocuses are well
over; that won't hurt.' And now I have spread them all over the lawn
myself and left him to put them in. He can't make any further mistake I
hope."

His Reverence was laughing. Old Griggs amused him much more than he did
me.

"How many have you done?" I asked, and I looked at the still unburied
bulbs. "Why, sir--"

"I have done two, Mary, really; but look at this pile of plantains! Oh,
these horrid things! you must clear the garden of them."

"I can't," I said sternly. "There is too much else to do. What we want
is colour, flowers everywhere. The plantains are green so they don't
disturb the harmony. But you may take them up if you like."

"Colour! harmony! If you talk to old Griggs like that he will think you
are mad. And, Mary, you bought _all_ these bulbs? Remember there is the
spring and summer to be reckoned with. How much has gone?"

"Two pounds. It ought to have been twenty. Seeds are cheaper, you
know. I must do a lot with seeds, I find. But bulbs go on, that is the
comfort of them. They will be there for always!"

"Well, I won't interfere. Don't bully my old Griggs." And his Reverence
walked off.

I proceeded, yes, I will confess it, carefully to open up one of the
bulbs he had planted. Yes, there it was, it had its point upward. Oh!
I hoped he really knew. And so all the others were placed snugly in
their narrow beds, and patted down with a kind of blessing. "Wake up
soon and be glorious, brilliant, effective."

       *       *       *       *       *

There were hours of deep dejection after all my planting was done. It
was December, and so much ought to have been done in November, October,
and even September. In fact, I ought to have begun nine months ago. And
those nine months could not be caught up for another year, depressing
thought! Wallflowers, polyanthus, forget-me-nots, sweet-Williams, all
the dear, simple things of which I wanted masses, instead of the one or
two stalky bushes that grew down a long herbaceous border, all these
should have begun their career, it appeared, last February or March if
I wanted them to flower next spring. I must wait. I had not set out on
my gardening experience to learn patience, it is always being rubbed
into one; but I warn you, O brother or sister Ignoramus! that of all
stocks you will need patience the most.

My garden was now a white world. Snow buried everything: hopes and
depressions were equally hidden. A fine time for castle-building, for
hurrying through the seasons and imagining how many treasures ought to
be, might be, should be hidden beneath that cold, pure coverlid and
warmly, snugly nestling in Mother Earth's brown bosom. What energy must
be at work, what pushing, struggling, expanding of little points of
life downwards, upwards, until they burst into resurrection with little
green hands folded as in thanksgiving.

In the meantime I turned to books, on gardening, of course. My
new "fad," as the Others called it, having announced itself in
plenty of time for Christmas, my pile of gifts presented a most
learned appearance. This was my first taste of that fascinating
literature. His Reverence had handed over to me a brown-clad work
on gardening--somewhat ancient I must say--at the beginning of my
enterprise. I had scanned it critically and compared it to an ordinary
cookery-book in which recipes are given, and unless you are already
familiar with the art you are continually faced with difficulties. The
cookery-books tell one to "make a white sauce of flour, butter and
milk," but how? Wherein lies the mystery of that delicately-flavoured,
creamy substance or that lumpy kind of paste? Just so my regular
handbook to gardening. For example:--

"They vary very much in habit, but should be of easy cultivation. The
compost required is rich, deep and moist. Any sourness in the soil will
be fatal to flowering. When planting supply liberally with manure, and
occasionally mulch in dry weather."

But what did it all mean? How test the soil and the sourness which
would be fatal to flourishing? The proof of the pudding would be in the
eating, but how prevent any tragic consequences?

But these other books, this literature on gardening! They are generally
better than the garden itself. Practical they are not, but why ask it
of them? They are the seductive catalogue turned into finest art. One
wanders with some sweet, madonna-like lady of smooth fair hair, mild
eyes and broad-brimmed hat, or with a courtly parson of the old school,
in a garden where the sun always shines. Green stretches of lawn (no
plantains), trees grouped from their infancy to adorn and shade and
be the necessary background to masses of flowering shrubs. Through
rockeries, ferneries, nut-groves, copses we wander as in a fairy dream.
Borders laid out to catch the sun, sheltered by old red brick walls
where fruit ripens in luscious clusters. Rose gardens, sunk gardens,
water gardens lead on to copses where all wild things of beauty are met
together to entrance the eye. Broad walks between herbaceous borders,
containing every flower loved from the time of Eve; sheltered patches
where seedlings thrive, a nursery of carefully-reared young. And in
this heaven of gardening land gardeners galore flit to and fro, ever
doing their master's behest, and manure and water, and time and money
may be considerations but are not anxieties. I ought to have begun
years ago; seven, nine, fifteen, and even twenty-five years are talked
of but as yesterday. I felt out of it in every sense. My garden lay
out there in the cold, grey mist; it had been neglected, it held no
rippling stream, no nut-grove, it ran upward into no copse or land of
pine and bracken and heather. It had a hedge one side and a sloping
field the other. The straight kitchen garden was bounded by no red
brick wall, and the birds from the convenient hedges ate all the fruit,
unless gooseberries and currants were so plentiful that we also were
allowed a share. Griggs talked of an 'urbrageous' border. But what a
border! Evening primroses, the common yellow marigold, a few clusters
of golden-rod, and other weed-like flowers that persist in growing of
themselves, with Griggs, five pounds a year and an Ignoramus to work it!

Oh! why had I so cheerfully undertaken such an apparently hopeless task?

But my honour was now at stake. I had said I would have flowers on five
pounds a year, and I could not draw back. Let me clear away the mists
that had arisen. After all, that tree down there was a pink chestnut,
and beneath it lay my sheet of snowdrops and blue scillas. Before it
burst into beauty they would have done their share of rejoicing the
eye. At that corner, where the field sloped so prettily downwards,
daffodils were hidden, and under the clump just over the fence more and
more daffodils. A row of stately limes, dismally bare now, carried
the eye down to the next field. There, where it was always shady, I
pictured future ferns and early wild-flowers, and maybe groups of
foxgloves.

I turned again to my gardening books. I too would have a garden "to
love," to "work in"; if not a "Gloucestershire garden," or a "German
garden," or a "Surrey" one, still a garden. Months with me, also,
should be a successive revelation of flowers; though I knew not a Latin
name I would become learned in the sweet, simple, old-fashioned flowers
that cottagers loved, and though I could not fit poetry on to every
plant, I would have a posy for the study table right through the year.

That was my dream!

       *       *       *       *       *

The first, the very first produce of the opening year in my garden was
a winter aconite.

The little dead-looking roots had been planted in a sunny shrubbery
border and had quickly thrust up their golden crowns, circled with the
tender green collar. Have you ever noticed how a winter aconite springs
from its bed? Its ways are most original. The sturdy little stem comes
up like a hoop; at one end is the root, at the other the blossom, with
its green collar drooped carefully over the yellow centre. Gradually it
raises itself, shakes off the loosened mould--you may help it here if
you like--lays back its collar and opens its golden eye.

I picked every one I could find. It seemed sinful, but occasionally
pride overcomes the most modest of us.

"There," I cried, "my garden is beginning already. Just look at them!
Are they not lovely?"

"What, buttercups?" asked one of the Others.

"No, oh, ignorant one! they are not buttercups. They are winter
aconite; note the difference."

"Let's look!" and the brown little fist of one of the youngest of the
Others was thrust forth.

"All that fuss about those! You wait a minute!"

He ran off, returning shortly with quite a big bunch of my yellow
treasures in his hand.

"Where did you get them? Jim, you bad boy! you must not pick my
flowers," I exclaimed.

"_Your_ flowers! and you hadn't an idea that they grew there. These are
from _my_ garden, and no one has given _me_ a fiver to raise them with.
Come, Mary, I shall cry halves. You had better square me!"

"Oh, Jim, where did you find them?" was all I could gasp.

I did square Jim, but it was in "kind," and then he showed me much
winter aconite hidden away in an unfrequented shrubbery, where his
quick little eyes had spied it. I thought of moving it to where it
would show. Everything with me was for show in those early days; but
these surprises hold their own delight, and I learnt to encourage them.

I suffered many things at the hands of the Others for spending five
pounds on winter aconite when already the garden held "such heaps
"--that was their way of putting it.

I began to hope that more surprises of such sort might be in store
for me. It is wonderful how one may avoid seeing what is really just
under one's nose. The Others might laugh, but I doubt if they even
knew winter aconite as the yellow buttercup-looking thing before that
morning.

Another yellow flower tried to relieve the monotony of that dead
season of the year. Struggling up the front of the house, through the
virginian creeper and old Gloire de Dijon rose, were the bare branches
of a yellow jasmine. From the end of December on through January and
February it did its poor best to strike a note of colour in the gloom.
But why was it not more successful? Judging from its performance, I had
formed the meanest opinion of its capabilities, until one bright day
in January my eye had been caught by a mass of yellow--I say advisedly
a mass--thrown over the rickety porch of old Master Lovell's abode.
Yellow jasmine! yes, there was no mistake about it, but the bare
greenish stems were covered with the brilliant little star-flowers,
shining and rejoicing as in the full tide of summer. I thought of my
bare straggling specimen and stopped to ask for the recipe for such
blossoming. Old Lovell and old Griggs had both lived in Fairleigh all
their lives, and there was an old-timed and well-ripened feud between
the pair.

"A purty sight I calls that," said old Lovell, surveying his porch,
"an' yourn ain't loike it, ain't it? Ah! and that's not much of a
surprise to me. Ever see that old Griggs up at th' Rectory working away
wi' his shears? Lor' bless you, he's a 'edging and ditching variety
of gardener, that's wot I calls 'im. Clip it all, that's 'is motive,
autumn and spring, one with another, an' all alike, and then you
'spects winter blooming things to pay your trouble! But they don't see
it, they don't."

"Oh! it's the clipping, is it? Well, then, how do you manage yours? It
is quite beautiful." I always dealt out my praise largely in return for
information.

"Leaves it to Natur', I do. You wants a show? 'Ave it then and leave
interfering with Natur'. She knows 'er biz'ness."

I did not feel quite convinced of this axiom; gardening seemed to be a
continual assistance or interference with Nature in her most natural
moods. So I said dubiously,

"Yellow jasmine should never be cut at all, then?"

"Look you 'ere, miss, at them buds all up the stem. If I cuts the stem
wot becomes of them buds, eh?"

Unanswerable old Lovell! But as I looked at the thick matted trailings
that covered his porch, it dawned on me that perhaps a judicious
pruning out of old wood at the right season would help and not hinder
the yellow show.

"Does it bloom on the new wood?" I asked with a thought most laudable
in an Ignoramus.

"Blooms! why, it blooms all over. Look at it!" And having sounded the
depth of old Lovell's knowledge, I left him with more words of praise.

So that was it! And my yellow jasmine might be blooming like that
if left alone, or better, if rightly handled; and doubtless the
poverty-stricken appearance of the white jasmine, the small and
occasional flowers of the clematis, were due to the same cause. Here
was a new and important department of my work suddenly opened up. I
determined Nature should have a free hand until I could assist her
properly. Until I knew the how, when and why of the clipping process,
the edict should go forth to old Griggs, "Don't _touch_ the shears."

On examining my own decapitated climbers I found that Griggs had indeed
been hedging and ditching in the brutal way in which the keepers of our
country lanes perform their task. It had often grieved my spirit to
see the beautiful tangle late autumn produces in the hedges ruthlessly
snipped and snapped by the old men, told off by some of the mysterious
workings of the many councils under which we now groan, to do their
deed of evil. That it ever recovers, that spring again clothes the
hedges brilliantly, that the wild rose riots, the wild clematis
flings itself, the honeysuckle twines, all again within the space of
six or eight months, is an ever-recurring miracle. But my creepers
and climbers did not so recover; their hardy brethren in the hedges
outstripped them. Griggs impartially clipped the face of the house in
the autumn when ivy is trimmed, and, now that I noticed it, the results
overpowered me with wrath. How extraordinary that people should let
such things go on, should live apathetically one side of the wall when
flowers were being massacred on the other; should have streamers of
yellow glory within their reach in December and January, and should
sit placidly by the fire when the iron jaws were at work and never
shout to the destroyer, "Hold!" Well, it was no use carrying every tale
of woe to his Reverence or the Others. Jim was fully informed, and
being, as I have often noticed, a person of immense resource, he very
shortly afterwards whispered to me that the "old guffoon" would have
great difficulty in finding his shears again. If I would obtain proper
advice on the point it was a department, he thought, peculiarly suited
to his abilities. I might grow giddy on a ladder, but as the navy was
to be his profession he thought the opportunity one to be taken.

There was nothing to cut of the yellow jasmine; it must grow first, and
then the older stems might be judiciously trimmed after its flowering
time is over. A year to wait for that, to Jim's disgust, but toward
the end of February we cautiously trimmed the Japanese variety of "old
man's beard," called by the learned "clematis flamulata." It grew
on the verandah, and one of the Others had driven Griggs off when
he approached with his shears. She said he looked like murder, and
whether it was right or not it should not be done. I had to give her
chapter and verse for it that this variety of clematis ought to have
a very mild treatment, a sort of disentanglement, and thus help it to
long streamers before she would allow Jim and me and a modest pair of
scissors to do ever so little work. Jim sighed for the shears, and I
had to warn him against the first evidence of the murderous spirit of
old Griggs.

       *       *       *       *       *

In one garden book of the most precious description I read of
"hellebore." Now I am writing for Ignoramuses. Do you know what
"hellebore" is? No! of course not, nor did I, but it was spoken of as
forming "a complete garden full of flowers in the months of February
and March," so of course I wanted it. Out-door flowers are scarce in
February, but I learned as time went on that most flowers announced for
an early appearance generally arrive a month late, at least it is so
with me.

None of the Others, not even his Reverence, had heard of hellebore. It
continued to haunt me for some time. February was near and I sighed for
that "complete garden."

       *       *       *       *       *

I was encouraging my snowdrops with welcoming smiles as they pierced
through the damp grass, and dreaming of hellebore, for the name
attracted me strongly, when his Reverence's Young Man joined me. He has
not much to do with the garden, though he often strayed into it--very
often, in fact--so he ought to be mentioned. As my book is about
my garden, only the people who either help or hinder there need be
introduced. His Reverence's Young Man was really his curate. Our parish
was not a large one, but very scattered, and a little distant hamlet
with a tiny chapel necessitated a Young Man. He was a great favourite
with his Reverence, who would often walk about with him, leaning on his
arm, and this had caused old Master Lovell, the village wit, to call
him his Young Man. Of course he had to see his Reverence occasionally,
and if he did not find him in the study he generally looked for him in
the garden.

"What is growing here?" he asked.

"Look!" I answered.

"Grass? It is grass, isn't it?"

"It is a comfort to find some people, and clever people withal, even
more ignorant than I am. Snowdrops and scillas."

"Oh! I see, you are making progress, at least, I beg pardon, _they_
are. I positively see some white."

"Now can _you_ tell me what are hellebores?"

"Ask another!"

"That is worthy of Jim. You don't know?"

"But wait a bit, I have heard of them, I really have. Isn't it deadly
nightshade, or something like that?"

I shook my head.

"It is worse to know wrong than not at all."

"But if you don't know, how do you know I am wrong?"

"Because they form a complete garden in February and March--there!"

"A complete garden! How wonderful. Doesn't anyone know? Doesn't Griggs?"

"I haven't asked him, of course he wouldn't know. Here he is, we will
see what he says. Griggs, do you know what flower is called hellebore?"

Griggs had no spade and no mud handy; he was very much nonplussed.

"El-bore!--did you say? Whoi, el-bore? Don't seem to have 'eeurd of 'em
before; not by that name leastways. You never can tell in these days;
lot o' noo-fangled words they call 'em. Oi might know it right 'nuff if
you could show me. Dessay it's a furriner. I must be goin'."

He wandered down the garden. There was not much I could give him to do,
but I knew from my gardening books that he should be trimming trees, or
marking those to come down, or cutting stakes, and lots of other useful
things. I possessed no woods, or groves, or copses, however, so I gave
Griggs over unreservedly to his Reverence, and he dug and banked up
celery.

"Shall I write and ask my mother?" said the Young Man. "She is quite a
gardener, you know; and when they divide up roots--as they do, don't
they?--she would send you some, I am sure. Geraniums and fuchsias
and--and lilies. They always divide them up, don't they? and throw away
half."

"I don't think they throw away half, not always. But would she really?
It would be awfully kind; and I might send her things when I had
anything to send. Only I don't want geraniums; I can't bear them, and
old Griggs has filled our one and only frame with nothing else. They
seem to me a most unnecessary flower."

I spoke in my ignorance, and I learnt the use of geraniums later on.

His Reverence's Young Man never smiled when I spoke of sending things
back to his mother; perhaps he did inside him, for she had a lovely
garden and half a dozen gardeners, but still was chief there. I was
overcome when I paid her a visit and remembered my offer; but again
I spoke in my ignorance and thought it showed the right gardener's
spirit, and perhaps it did.

His Reverence's Young Man grew to take the greatest interest in
gardening. He was one of my first converts; but I learnt about
hellebore from someone else.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now the Master must be introduced. I cannot tell what particular
month he came into my garden, but I remember when I first went into his.

He had a genius for flowers. I do not know if he looked at children
and animals with that light of fatherly love in his eyes, but I think
it must have been there for all things that needed his care and
protection. Flowers, however, were his "dream children."

His was no ideal garden, and he had never written about it. It was
scarcely larger or more blessed by fate than mine, but was as perfect
as could be. He knew each flower intimately; he had planted each shrub,
and I never met a weed or a stone on his borders. He had but little
glass, and no groves and copses and woods, or heather, or pine, or any
unfair advantages in that way; but when I looked at his herbaceous
border in the autumn I could not help thinking of harvest decorations.
Such a wealth of colour was piled up, it hardly seemed possible it
could all be growing on the spot. From early spring to late autumn
a succession of brilliant blooms reigned one after another in that
border; to look upon it was indeed "seeing of the labour of one's hands
and being satisfied."

And he had said, "There is no reason why you should not have it too."

I think that border sowed the first seeds of gardening love in my heart.

"But when you came here was it like this?" I asked.

"It was a pretty bad wilderness," he said with a look round.

"Oh! things take _such_ a time," I groaned.

"I have been here twenty-five years. I have planted nearly everything
you see, except the big trees."

"Twenty-five years! But I!--I can't begin planting things for
twenty-five years hence. It is too bad of one's predecessors to leave
one nothing but weeds and stones and Griggs!"

"Yes. Well, you have got to make things better for your successors. Not
but what you can get results of some sort under twenty-five years. All
this"--and he waved his hand to that wonderful border--"comes, at least
comes in part, with but eighteen months' careful tending."

Even eighteen months seemed to my impatient spirit too long; I wished
for a fairy wand. But fairy effects have a way of vanishing like the
frost pictures on the window pane.

"Well, if ever I try to make our wilderness blossom like the rose I
will just grow perennial things and pop them in and have done with it."

At which the Master laughed.

"Oh, will you? I don't think I shall come to admire your garden then.
Why are you so afraid of time? You are young. But I suppose that is the
reason."

After I had made the plunge we talked again on this matter.

"Most of these people who write of their gardens own them. They have
lived there and will live there always. But in a Rectory garden one is
but a stranger and a pilgrim. Don't you feel this?"

"No. We are growing old together, and perhaps it will be given me to
stay here; anyway, my garden is better than I found it. Is not that
something?"

"Oh, yes," I said discontentedly.

He laughed. "Ah! the spirit will grow; you are cultivating it just as
surely as you are the seeds."

"There are plenty of weeds and stones to choke all the seeds
everywhere," I answered. "Old Griggs's way of weeding is to chop off
the heads, dig everything in again, and for a fortnight smile blandly
over his work. Then he says that it is no use weeding, 'Just look at
'em again.'"

"Old Griggs seems to afford you plenty of parables from Nature, anyhow.
He is instructive in his way. But can't he be retired?"

"Alas, no! he is a fixture."

"And you the pilgrim! Well, go ahead. And now come and see what the
nurseries contain; there is always to spare in the nurseries."

Many of his spare children found their way to my garden, and it grew
quite a matter of course to turn to him in any dilemma. But Ignoramuses
must learn, in gardens as in everything else, to work out their own
salvation. So in fear and trembling, and a good deal of hope, too, I
made my own experiments; for hill and dale divided the Master's garden
from mine, and I doubt if even he could grasp the utter ignorance of
the absolutely ignorant.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ice and snow and thaw, and again thaw and ice and snow had held
their sway through January and early February, and my garden slept.
Another year I would have violets growing in the narrow border under
the verandah, and tubs--big green tubs--of Christmas roses under its
shelter. Were they expensive, I wondered? And thus I found out, by
the simple process of asking at a florist, that for one shilling and
sixpence or two shillings a root I could buy--why, hellebores! But for
me they will always be "Christmas roses." At present the verandah was
bare, oh, so bare! It needed more roses to climb up the trellis and the
newness of its two years' existence to be hidden. It held attraction
for the birds, however, this cold winter time; crumbs and scraps were
expected by them as regularly as breakfast and dinner by us. The pert
sparrow came by dozens, of course, but out of our four robins one knew
himself to be master of the ceremony. He came first, at a whistle,
the signal for crumbs, and he allowed the sparrows to follow, really
because he could not help himself. But should another robin come--his
wife or their thin-legged son--he made for them and spent the precious
moments pecking them away while the sparrows gobbled. His is not a
beautiful disposition, I fear, but oh! how gladly one forgives him for
the sake of his bold black eye, cheering red breast and persistent
joyfulness of song. The colder weather brought other pensioners,
chaffinch, bullfinch, even hawfinch, and, of course, the thrush
and blackbird; a magpie eyed the feast from afar, but the starlings
waddled boldly up, not hopping as birds, but right-left, right-left
like wobbling geese; and the tom-tits and blue and black-tits, came and
continued to come as long as they found a cocoa-nut swinging for their
benefit. None of the other birds would touch it. Next winter they shall
have hellebore for their table decoration.

       *       *       *       *       *

Oh! how lucky men are, they have so many things we women seem forever
to miss.

Very thick, sensible boots that won't get wet through; no skirts to
get muddy when gardening; the morning paper first, of course, because
they are men and politics are for them; voting powers, too, which on
occasions give them a certain very much appreciated weight; and money,
even if poor, always more money than their wives and daughters.

These reflections, and I notice you may reflect on most irrelevant
matter in a garden, were called forth by a boy-man who kindly took me
in to dinner one evening. I soon discovered he had a little "diggings"
and was going in for gardening "like anything." Yet was my soul not
drawn to him. "Bulbs, oh, rather! Had a box over from Holland the
other day, just a small quantity, you know. Mine isn't a large place,
but five thousand or so ought to fill it up a bit; make a mass of
colour, that's what I go in for. Told my man to plant 'em in all over,
thick as bees. Then I had great luck. Dropped in at an auction in the
City just in the nick of time, got a box-load of splendid bulbs for
half-a-crown--worth a guinea at the very least--shoved them all in too.
I shall have a perfect blaze, I tell you. Like you to come and look me
up in April if you go in for that kind of thing."

But I hated the boy-man. Five thousand bulbs! without a second thought.
And then--according to the rule that works so invariably among material
goods, "to him that hath shall be given"--this aggressive youth also
buys a guinea's worth of bulbs for half-a-crown. Think what I would
have given to be at that auction. But women can't "drop in" in the City.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards the end of February my snowdrops made their appearance. The
scillas followed a little later and with less regularity. They were
not quite the perfect sheet I had dreamt of, but each little bulb did
its duty manfully and raised one slender stem with its bell-like head.
One at every few inches over a space of some yards was not wealth; and
I almost wept when some of them were sacrificed for the drawing-room.
The Others said, "A garden should grow flowers for the house. Who
wanted them out there in the cold, where no one would see them!" But
I did, for out there in the cold they lived for weeks and in the warm
room a few days faded them. I must have more and more so that we may
all be satisfied. In the Master's garden I found sixteen varieties of
snowdrops, not very many of each, but he has no Others. What I longed
for was quantity; and as for quality, each snowdrop holds its own, I
think.

Up through the softened grass came the strong, pointed leaves of the
daffodils. My mass of gold promised to be very regular, but the small
crocus leaves were harder to find, and they had no sign of yellow
points as yet. And the anemones! What had happened to them? I nearly
dug them up to see.

Were the buds on the trees swelling? The birds were twittering busily
on the branches, as though they knew their covering would not be
long delayed, but the little brown knobs, so shiny and sticky on the
chestnuts, appeared hardly to have gained in size since they pushed
off the old leaf in the autumn. For in the time of scattering wind and
falling leaf it is well to remember that it is the coming bud which
loosens the hold of the old leaf. Life, and not death, which makes the
seasons and the world go round.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was busy again with catalogues. "Begin things in time," preached
the Master; but ah! I seem to have been born a month too late, for I
never catch up time in my garden, except when there is nothing to do,
and then you _can_ do nothing. Nature has cried a "halt," and all the
fidgeting in the world will not start the race before "time" is said.
So I studied my catalogue and made my list in February.

Stocks. I need them in plenty, but I must walk warily amongst such
luxuries with only three pounds to spend and so many other things to
buy. Wallflowers, red and gold; but, alas! the Master has warned me
these are for next year, as also many other things. The polyanthuses,
that I long to see in masses like a fine Persian carpet, the pansies
and violas, the forget-me-nots, even the Canterbury bells and
campanulas and sweet-Williams must be thought of now, and will need
the year round before coming to flowering time. Still, down they go on
my list. And gaillardias, too, they look so handsome in the picture
and promise so much: "showy, beautiful, brilliant, useful for cutting"
(there were those Others to think of), and they were perennials.
Blessed perennials! Then larkspur or delphinium, I should say, for I
did not want the annual variety. I could not wait, however, to grow
those tall, beautiful spikes of bright blue, Oxford and Cambridge in
colour, from seed, I must indulge in plants. Hollyhocks must also be
bought ready-made, and phlox. Oh! the poverty-stricken little specimens
that grew in my garden, flowers capable of such beauty. I had seen them
growing in the Lake country and marvelled at their upstanding mass of
brilliant heads. They were a revelation as to what the phlox family
could do.

And there were all the magnificent possibility of lilies, of gladiolas
and montbresias, and ixias. These must be bought. I must have them,
but oh! the years before I could make a home for all. I turned to
the annuals; they sounded as easy to grow as Jack's bean-stalk. What
a list! Antirrhinum--that is, snapdragon, but one gets used even to
spelling the other name--red, white and yellow; the taller kind call
themselves half-hardy perennials, but I don't believe they would stand
my winter, and the dwarf variety do their duty nobly for one summer.
Mignonette, that was a necessity; marguerites, annual chrysanthemums
sounded inviting; "continuous blooming" would suit the Others.

Convolvulus and heaps of nasturtium, canariensis and other little
tropoeoleum. Balsam and asters; no, though I liked the sound of balsam,
still I could do without it, and I must do without something! But of
sweet-peas I could not have too many, even though most of the "dukes"
and "duchesses" cost a shilling a packet. I pictured hedges and hedges
of sweet-peas in the garden, and bowls and bowls of blossom in the
house. Sunflowers again--"golden-nigger," "æsthetic gem," "Prussian
giant"--how could one help sampling such seductive names? And tagetes,
the Master had said, "Get tagetes, it is a useful border." Marigolds,
too, they were not a favourite of mine, but they lasted well into the
autumn, and I had to think of the failing months. Zinnias I could
not resist because they are so "high art" in their colouring; and
salpiglosis, the Master had a lovely group of these daintily-pencilled
belles.

Then I made up my list, threepence, and sixpence, and one shilling,
and one shilling and sixpence. How they mounted up. Thirty shillings
in seeds! and I had to buy plants and bulbs too. But I could cut out
nothing, though it had been very easy to make additions.

But now to get all these thousands of seeds sown. They could not all
be sown in the open; I knew so much. Those for coming on quickly would
need little wooden boxes and a place in the one frame full of bothering
geraniums; and when they were bigger they would need pricking out
in more wooden boxes, and could only be planted out permanently the
beginning of June.

Well, what for the open? Sweet-peas--thank goodness for that!--and
the wallflowers, Canterbury bells--cup and saucer variety had taken
my fancy--sweet-Williams, sunflowers, nasturtium, mignonette and
forget-me-nots, they could all be trusted straight to Mother Earth;
and I had enough of the dear brown bosom, bare of all children, down in
that long desolate border. And for the boxes and pricking out and glass
frame I would begin with antirrhinum, stocks, violas, tagetes, zinnia,
salpiglosis, lobelias, polyanthus and columbine. That must suffice for
the first year. But oh! what a lot of flowers there were to be had,
and how lovely a garden might be if only--well, if only one had a real
gardener, money, the sunny border, good soil, and--if they all came up!

And what flowers had I omitted? Of simple things that even an Ignoramus
may have heard. There were all the poppy tribe, Iceland, Shirley, the
big Orientals, Californian, though these are not poppies proper at all;
verbena, the very name smelt sweet; gypsophila, a big word, but I knew
the dainty, grass-like flower from London shops; penstemons, carnation,
scabious, or lady's pincushions. The only way was to shut that book
resolutely and go and write to Veitch.

The book said, and so did each little neat packet of seeds, "sow
in pots or pans," or "sow in heat," and talked of a cool frame and
compost, so, armed with this amount of knowledge, I took my seeds out
to old Griggs.

"Griggs, have you any wooden boxes or pans or things in which we can
sow these seeds?"

Griggs looked at me suspiciously; he did not like my energy, there was
no doubt of that, but since he was a gardener he recognised that flower
seeds, or such-like, ought to be in his line.

He took the packets.

"P'haps I can knock up a box or two. That frame's mostly full of
janiums, though. I've a nice quantity of them saved."

"But we can't fill the garden with nothing but geraniums, you know. I
want to have a great show this year; don't you? Wouldn't it be more
satisfactory to you to see the garden looking nice than like a howling
wilderness?"

Griggs laughed, positively.

"You've got to spend money if you wants flowers, and the old rector as
was 'e never put 'is 'and in 'is pocket for no sich thing as flowers.
I dunno 'bout a 'owling wilderness. My fancy is them janiums brightens
up a place wonderful."

I pushed open the lights of the long frame by which we were standing
and looked at the stalky, unpromising appearance of old Griggs's
favourites. There were other lean and hungry-looking plantlets there, a
bit yellow about the tips.

"What are those?" I asked, pointing.

"Oh, them's marguerites, white and yellow. I got Mr Wright up at the
'All to give me them cuttings. They wanted a bit of water this morning
so I give it em."

I pressed my finger on the sodden soil of the box that held the
drooping cuttings. "They have had too little, and now you have given
them too much," I said sternly. How could I trust my precious seeds to
this old murderer? "Griggs, if you would only _love_ the flowers a bit,
they would grow with you."

"Bless you! they'll grow, they 'aven't took no hurt. Let's look at your
seeds. Anti--rrh--well, what's this name?"

"Snapdragon."

"Oh, and violas and polyan--thus. Well, we can get 'em in. I've a box
or two."

But I grabbed all my packets quickly.

"All right, get the boxes ready and I will come and sow them myself."

The boxes were filled with a light soil, mixed with sand and leaf
mould. I turned it over myself to look for worms or other beasts,
and very, very thinly, as I thought, I scattered the tiny seeds over
the surface and gave them a good watering. Then out with some of the
scraggiest of Griggs's plants and in with my precious boxes.

I felt Griggs's hands must not touch them. He had something wrong about
him, for a gardener, that is to say. He always broke the trailing
branch he was supposed to be nailing up; he always trod on a plant in
stepping across a border; if he picked a flower he did it with about an
inch of stalk and broke some other stem; no blessing flowed from his
hand when he planted out the flowers.

I sowed the end of February, and in March little tiny green heads were
peeping up in most of the boxes. The violas still remained hidden. If
Griggs had sown I should have said he had done it very irregularly, for
the green heads came in thick patches and then again very sparingly;
but I knew, of course, it must have been the seeds' own fault, since I
had done it myself!

       *       *       *       *       *

I was standing with his Reverence at the study window watching a
squirrel swing himself from bough to bough, and I think we were both
envying him, when my eye caught some specks of colour on the grass
plot in front, that grass plot which ought to have a sun-dial in the
centre and a stately bed of flowering shrubs as a background instead
of laurels! What was it growing in the grass? White, yellow, purple,
a touch here and there, all across, straight across, in one horrid
straight line! Could it be?

"Look, Mary, there he goes! See him spring up that tree?"

"Look," I said in a tragic voice, "look at them! Do you think--can it
be--are they my crocuses?"

"Where? Oh, there! Yes, I thought they looked like a rather straggly
regiment this morning, marching single file. Was that your idea?"

"My idea! a straight line! Oh, how can you! That old fiend of a
Griggs!" And then I rushed out to see the full extent of the horror.

It was too true. In spite of my careful scattering the old ruffian had
drawn my crocus bulbs into line. I can see how he did it, striding
across the grass, clutching bulbs to right and left, sticking them in
under his nose, and probably sweeping up those outside his reach with
the dead leaves. What a show! Many had not come up, and many had no
flower, so the regiment was ragged. I could have cried.

Jim had joined me.

"Don't think much of this idea anyhow Mary."

"Don't you know how I meant it to be? Haven't you seen the Park?"

"Can't say I've given it my undivided attention lately. Shall I go and
pitch into old Griggs?"

"It would be no good. I must do that."

"That isn't fair, Mary. If I'm to help you I must have some of the fun."

"Jim! It is no fun to me. You can't _murder_ him, and nothing else
would be any good. What shall I do with them?"

I looked at my poor little first-fruits. They did look so forlorn and
battered. A crocus all alone, separated from its kind by a foot or so,
has a most orphaned and cheerless appearance.

"Let's have 'em up," said Jim, the man of action.

"No, they mustn't be moved in flower, not even till their leaves die,
and by that time the grass will be mowed and I shan't know where they
are, and then it will look like this next year too."

"Oh rot!" said Jim, "something has got to be done. Can't have these
stragglers roaming across the lawn and never getting home. I know,"
and off he was and returned with a lot of little sticks which he
proceeded to plant by the side of each crocus. "Now we will locate the
gentlemen and have 'em up when their poverty-stricken show is over."

Afterwards, when Jim saw in my account that crocuses were two shillings
a hundred, he said I did not value his time very highly. He thought by
my face we were dealing with things of value. But anyway we moved that
ragged regiment on and stationed them in clumps at the foot of trees,
where they will look more comfortable.

       *       *       *       *       *

March should be a very busy month, and old Griggs found employment in
the kitchen garden. I should have moved plants now, and arranged the
neglected herbaceous border of the autumn, but, alas! all the new green
things coming up were strangers to me, and I saw quickly that in their
present state Griggs was as likely to make mistakes as I. He hazarded
names with a scratch of the head and a pull at the tender green shoots
that made me angry.

"Them's a phlox, and them's--oi can't quite mind, it's purple like;
and them's flags, but they ain't never much to look at; too old, I
reckon. That's a kind of purple flower, grows it do, and that 'ere's a
wallflower." This was said with decision, and I too could recognise the
poor specimen of a spring joy.

So I left well, or ill, alone until the nature of the plant should be
declared, and then, if useless, out it could come later.

We prepared a long narrow bed alongside a row of cabbages, made a neat
little trench some three inches deep, put in a layer of manure and
mould on top, and there my first sowing of sweet-peas was placed, and
carefully covered and watered and patted down. I felt like a mother who
tucks her child in bed. Surely the pat did good! February, March and
April were all to have their sowing, and then the summer months should
have a succession of these many-coloured fragrant joys.

In March also the other annuals found resting-places; some in square
patches down the long border, some in rows that looked inviting down
the side and cross paths of the kitchen domain. It was encroaching, of
course, but no one used the spare edges, and it seemed kind to brighten
up the cabbages and onions, all now coming up in long thread-like lines
of green. I had added a few more seeds to my list, so a long row of
tiny seeds that were to be blue cornflowers, with another row in front
of godetia, would provide, I hoped, a very bright sight and be so
useful for cutting.

On Shirley poppies, too, I ventured. It seemed so easy just to sow a
few seeds and trust to Nature to do the rest. I did not then appreciate
the backache caused by the process "thinning out."

People may talk of sowing in February, but one cannot sow in either
frozen ground or deep snow. Some Februarys may be possible, but it was
the beginning of March that year before I committed my seeds to Mother
Earth, and even then it seemed a very unsafe proceeding. However, a lot
of tiny green pin points soon appeared, and the only havoc wrought by
birds, mice and rabbits--Griggs suggested every imaginable animal--was
amongst the sweet-peas. These had to be protected with a network of
cotton.

       *       *       *       *       *

So the winter slipped away very gradually, for even after the first
breath of spring, which comes to us from afar and thrills us as no
other fragrance of air, frost, snow, rain and biting winds triumph
again, and bud and sprouting green seem to shrink up and cower away.
Yet we know the winter is surely passing and the first trumpet-blast of
spring's procession has blown.



[Illustration: SPRING]



SEASON II

Spring

    "And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils."


Daffodils always make me glad. From the moment their strong, blue-green
blades pierce the grass, they give one a feeling of strength,
vigour, activity and determination to be up and doing, unmindful of
wind or weather; in fact, using all for their own purpose, bending
circumstances to their own development.

And when the big golden bell bursts its sheath of pale green it does it
with fine independence, and then swings on its strong stem, ringing out
lustily that the spring is here, the sun is shining, for the sun always
seems to shine on the daffodils, they reflect his glory under all
clouds, and depression flies before their sturdy assumption of "All's
well with the world."

And so I felt very hopeful as I saw my circles, my clusters, my rows
of daffodils, one by one, flashing up from the delicious blue-green
blades. They none of them failed me, none, bless them! So plant
daffodils, O friend Ignoramus! the single, the double, and any other of
that dear family, the narcissus.

The birds were singing, and oh, so busy making late love, building and
even nesting! The trees were bursting, the lilacs had a shimmer of
green. The larches had colour almost too dim to be called green, they
streaked the woods that still looked brown without looking bare; little
catkins hung and danced, the blackthorn looked like forgotten snow, the
grass was greener, and here and there a sweet primrose bud peeped up,
whispering, "We are coming."

Down under the row of limes bordering the sloping field I found many
pretty crumpled primrose leaves, and they gave me the idea to plant
more and more, and to have my wild garden here, with snowdrops and
cowslips, unseen things in our woods and fields. Ferns, too, of the
common kind must be collected, and foxgloves, the seeds of which
must be bought and sown. For the present there were the little wild
things that grow on their own account, and are so sparklingly green and
spring-like that one hardly likes to rebuke them with the name of weed.

Hope was in the air. Everything is young again once a year.

       *       *       *       *       *

I felt obliged to begin the second division of my year in a hopeful
voice, so I opened with my daffodils; but if March be taken as the
first month of spring, then indeed I should not have written of that
chime of golden bells. March holds February very tightly by the hand,
and cannot make up her mind to hurry on with her work of opening the
buds and encouraging the flowers. She blows cold winds in their faces,
nips them with frosty nights, occasionally wraps them up in snow, then
suddenly, repenting her of the evil, she opens up a blue sky and pours
a hot sun down on them. A most untrustworthy month.

There is plenty of work to do, particularly if February has not been an
open month, and for gardening purposes I really think it ought never
to be so considered, and still more particularly if much has been
neglected in the foregoing November. If you are an Ignoramus, and have
a Griggs as gardener, the chances are much will have been neglected.

My attention was called to the subject of roses by the arrival of a
rose-grower's catalogue.

Roses! I could only touch the very outer fringe of this magnificent
garment, but I felt I must, positively must, have one or two of the
cheaper sort of these dazzling beauties; and though they are better
moved in the autumn, in early spring it is not impossible. A crimson
rambler, the modest price one shilling and sixpence, tempted me to
indulge in three. The deep yellow William Allen Richardson, delightful
for buttonholes, which Jim assured me no garden should be without;
the thought of a red Gloire de Dijon or Reine Marie Hortense was also
quite overcoming. Our old yellow Gloire de Dijon was the only rose in
my neglected garden that did herself proud, and she flourished up the
front of the house and festooned one of the Others' windows, from which
Griggs and his shears had been summarily banished. "Cut where you like,
but never dare to come here," had been uttered in a voice that made
even Griggs "heed." If her red sister only equalled this "glory" that
half-crown would be well expended. Then two standards needed replacing,
for one could not have dead sticks down so conspicuous a row; though
standards were not my idea of roses, still there they were and I must
make the best of them. So off went my modest order. I had indicated the
whereabouts of each rose to Griggs, but was unfortunately not present
on their arrival. I think even an Ignoramus might have helped Griggs on
that occasion--but more of that anon.

The Others could see but little improvement in the garden, this they
let me know; they were full of ideas, and I found them as trying as
some Greek heroine must have found an unsympathetic chorus. "The
verandah was so bare! Was it really any use putting in that silly
little twig? Would it ever come to anything?" This of my new and very
bare-looking crimson rambler. And then, "Why had we no violets? Surely
_violets_ were not an impossibility? They grew of themselves. Just look
at the baskets full in the London streets. Such a bunch for a penny!
But it would be nice not to have to go to London for one's bunch of
violets!"

I took up the cudgels. They should see how that crimson rambler ramped,
yes, I prophesied, positively ramped up the archway. They should
be buried in a fragrant bower of ruby-coloured clusters, and they
might cut and come again. As to violets, I was giving them my best
consideration; the bed down the garden produced but a few--certainly
not a pennyworth--of inferior quality, because neither violets nor
anything else, save weeds, grew and flourished by the light of Nature
alone. The violet roots were choked with weeds, and I must have new
suckers and begin all over again; and that was not possible until the
violet season was over; then I intended to beg, borrow or steal some
good suckers, and buy others if I had any money.

"Mary, you speak like a book with pictures; but I hope there will be
_some_ result, and that the violets will be ready before they are
needed for our funeral wreaths."

I entreated them to find the patience I had thoroughly lost, and
hurried out to rage over the thickly weed-wedged violet plants, with
here and there a feeble bloom, and to imagine myself in years to
come bending over this same bed, picking one long strong stalk after
another, and scarcely lessening the store by the big bunch I should
carry away. Oh! a lifetime was not enough for all I should or could do
in a garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a row of standard roses skirting the lawn on one side, and
also a round bed of rose bushes. I had not much idea if they were any
good, for roses had been to a great extent spoilt the last two years
by very wet weather, still I had noticed the shoots they were sending
forth with great pleasure. Anyhow _they_ were growing right enough.
One day, the middle of March, I found Griggs busy down the row with a
large knife. What was he doing? Horror! All the long shoots were being
ruthlessly sacrificed.

"Griggs, what _are_ you doing?" I gasped, and afterwards I felt very
glad I said nothing stronger.

Griggs paid no attention to my tone; he took the words as showing a
desire for enlightenment.

"You 'as to cut 'em a bit in spring-time, you know; or p'haps you don't
know, missy."

This mode of address was one of Griggs's most unpardonable sins, but I
never had the strength of character to tell him not to do it.

"But do you cut off _all_ the new growth?" I said, with an inner
conviction that if Griggs were doing it it needs must be wrong.

"Well, you trims 'em round a bit, starts 'em growin' more ways than
one, d'ye see."

"But those aren't suckers?" I said, still feebly fighting with my
ignorance and incredulity.

Then Griggs laughed. He did not like me, and I suppose I ought not to
wonder, but he enjoyed laughing at me when he got the chance.

"No-a, they ain't suckers; suckers come from the root, leastways, they
start down there, and, bless yer! they be the ol' stock trying to have
a look in as you may say. I cuts them off soon as I sees 'em, as they
wastes the tree; but you _can_ see suckers as 'as got the upper 'and.
That rose front of the 'ouse is all sucker now. 'Twas a beautiful pink
rose I mind in old Rector Wood's time."

"That is very instructive," I remarked, feeling no gratitude to Griggs
for his information, as he felt no shame for the metamorphosis of the
once beautiful pink rose, which was now a wild one. We had wondered how
it came to be growing up with the clematis.

"And can't one cut back the suckers and let the pink rose grow again?"
I added.

"'Tain't likely," was all I could get out of Griggs.

I bicycled over that very day to the Master's garden, a hot and tiring
way of getting information, but a sure one, I knew, and one to which
I often had recourse in desperate moments. The Master was out, but his
garden was there, and all his rose trees were clipped. So I breathed
again.

I had a little good luck with violets a few weeks later.

A friend who had heard of my gardening efforts sent me several dozen
runners of the "Czar," and the Master spared me some others from his
frame. I was full of joy, and choosing a shady spot, saw it dug, raked,
helped out with a mixture of manure and leaf-mould, planted the violets
at six inches apart and liberally watered them. Shade, of course, for
the modest violet, I thought, carefully selecting for their home the
shelter of an overhanging chestnut. Well, well! one lives to learn, or
for some such purpose, I suppose.

The thick branches of that shadowing tree kept out sun as well as rain;
and, doubt it not, brother Ignoramus, violets, be they ever so modest,
like the sunshine and will only pine without it. So in the autumn
another move took place, and again I waited, whilst the Others bought
penny bunches and talked of funeral wreaths in the far future.

       *       *       *       *       *

The long herbaceous border grew more and more interesting. A
broad-leafed plant had been sending up tall stems, now it opened out
and a big daisy-like blossom of yellow shone in the sun. "Leopard's
bane," said old Griggs with decision, and "doronicum," said the
Master, both being right, but I know not why it was considered a bane
or healing, for the banes among the flowers are surely blessings. But
there it was, and very grateful and comforting at this early time of
year. As though conscious that a friendly eye had begun to watch over
them, the scattered old plants of polyanthus, wallflower, a group or so
of tulips and some clumps of London pride brushed up this spring and
cheered the eye.

I was studying the shooting green clumps, lilies here and there, golden
rod, autumn daisy, maybe a stray phlox, many, very much too many,
evening primroses, seedlings of self-sown foxgloves, and wondering
how to rearrange them and make room for the better company I intended
introducing, when his Reverence's Young Man came down the path laden
with a big brown hamper. He looked quite excited.

"Oh, Mistress Mary, do come and examine the contents. I hope you may
find welcome strangers here. I told my mother you needed anything and
everything except geraniums. Was that right? So she has sent this
hamper with instructions to get them in at once."

The Young Man was cutting away at string and fastenings, and rapidly
strewing the path with big clumps of roots in which a careful hand had
stuck a label.

I was divided between joy and reproof.

"How kind of her! But you should not have bothered her. How nice to
have such big, ready-grown plants! But why did you do it?"

"Mayn't I help the garden to grow? My mother promises more in the
autumn; it appears flowers like to move just before winter."

"It is kind of you. This border is such a weight on my mind. It needs
so much, I think. And what a lot the hamper holds!"

"Let me do the dirty work," cried the Young Man, as I hauled out a big
root. "You shall tell me where to plant them."

"The earth isn't dirty, it is beautifully, healthily clean; and don't
you love its 'most excellent cordial smell'? Shall I get Griggs and a
spade?"

"Oh, why bother Griggs? Won't I do as well? I know nearly as much and
am twice as willing."

"Yes, but think of--"

"Don't say parish. There is only old Mrs Gunnet and she will keep.
These plants demand immediate attention. My mother was most emphatic
about that."

It is very difficult to have a conscience as well as a garden and to
keep both in good working order. I could not think Mrs Gunnet and her
rheumatism as important as my garden; moreover, I felt I was carrying
out the teaching of Tolstoy in bringing man and his Mother Earth into
direct contact.

"Griggs could not come anyhow, he is digging a grave," I said
conclusively. "Let us do it."

So the Young Man fetched a selection of gardening implements and we
both set to work, he to dig and I to instruct.

"This is delphinium," I cried joyfully, handing him a big clump, "dark
blue, I want it badly." And in answer to an inquiring look, for the
Young Man knew less, much less, than I did, "That is larkspur and it is
a perennial, and this jolly big root means plenty of spikes."

"Spikes!" he echoed, patting the roots vigorously.

"Those tall spikes of flowers, you know, very blue. One looks so lonely
all by itself."

"Ah! that is a way we all have, we poor solitary ones."

"These are penstemons. They are, well, I forget, but I know I want
them. Suppose we put them further forward; they don't look like growing
so tall. Gaillardias, ah! I know, they are brilliant and effective. I
bought some seeds to suit the others. These will save time. Now, a big
hole; this is Tritoma. What on earth is that? I have heard. Grandis
means big but Tritoma?"

We both studied the label.

"Must it have another name? Is that the rule? I told my mother the
gardener was an Ignoramus. She might have written in the vulgar tongue."

"Did you mean me or Griggs?"

"Griggs, of course."

"Then you were wrong. But I remember now, I was studying its picture
this morning in the catalogue. Tritoma stands for red-hot poker. It
will look fine at the back."

"Well, you are getting on," said the Young Man, in tones of admiration.
"But why won't they say 'poker' and have done with it?"

"I wish they would. It is very trying of them. See what a lot you are
learning. This is much more improving for a son of Adam than visiting
old women and babies."

"_Much!_ And I like it much better, which shows it is good for me."

"Ah, I don't know about that. Still, it does strike me as absurd to
send a young man fresh from college to visit old women and babies. I
can't think what you say to them."

"I say 'Did ums was ums' to the babies. But I am not quite fresh from
college, you know. I talk some kind of sense to the mothers; at least,
I hope so."

He was making a big hole and I was holding out a big root to fill it.

"This is galega. It is rather tall and so must go at the back. I don't
mean you never talk sense, though I consider it insulting to address
a baby like that. They look so preternaturally grave that Greek would
suit them better. But I mean it isn't a man's work, it is a woman's."

"Galega! that means pok--no, larkspur! You see I am getting quite
learned. There, it fits in beautifully."

"Press the roots firmly or they don't take hold," I observed.

"So. I always find your conversation very improving. My mother says the
same things to me, I mean about old women."

I had walked down the path for another root. He went on when I came
back,

"But you know the old women, and young ones too, like a visit from
their clergy. The clergyman and doctor are great boons in their lives."

"Poor souls, I know they are very hard up. Even I am considered a boon,
especially when I go round with puddings and things."

"Or without!" and he looked up quickly, "_I_ should think so
if--but"--and his voice changed--"I do understand what you mean. _This_
is Adam's work, eh? Only the other is the vineyard too, and we, I--I
mean, need the experience it gives me. They live at the root of things,
touch life so nearly. It is something like coming in touch, actual
touch, with the brown earth. Do you see what I am trying to say?"

I looked up at him from my plants, at this tall young man in a
bicycling suit of semi-clerical cut, with his keen face and earnest
eyes, whom we had fallen into the way of treating in almost brotherly
fashion since his Reverence had adopted him as his Young Man as well
as curate. He had broken down in some Midland town from overwork and
come to Fairleigh to recruit and study and fill in a convalescent time.
As a rule we did not like the curates.

"I think you are right," I said, "but somehow I feel I am right too
in a way. One can't be saving souls all the time--one's own or other
people's--and here, as you say, is Adam's work, the brown earth."

He laughed. "And here is Eve naming the flowers! I am sure Eve kept
Adam to the digging while she picked the fruit."

"How men do love that old allegory! Personally I don't think they come
out of it so well that they need quote it so often. However, as it
gives them all the backbone, I feel quite absolved when I ask them to
use it!"

The Young Man rose up. "Ah! if Eve had had the spirit of her daughters!"

"Here is a very large phlox, please dig that hole bigger," I
interrupted, and as we carefully placed it in position, down the path
came his Reverence and the Master.

"Oh!" I shouted, "come and see all my new arrivals; I am going to cut
you out!"

The Master examined our work over his spectacles, and looked up and
down the border critically, ending his survey with an unpromising
"Humph."

Something was very wrong, evidently. My hopeful spirits sank.

"Have we been doing anything very ignorant? Don't you put plants
straight into the earth? Will they all die?"

The Master laughed.

"Let us hope things are not as desperate as all that. I was looking at
your border. Oh, what pauper fare! and what a lot of rubbish in it.
Licence has reigned here for many a long year."

"For over twenty," I exclaimed savagely. "Griggs has been here quite
that time."

"It used to look very well in Mr Wood's time, but that is many years
ago, and he devoted himself chiefly to his roses. It is a pity you did
not do it in the autumn."

"Oh, don't, Master!" I cried dolefully. "Nothing is more trying to my
temper than to be told of all the things that ought to have been done
months and years ago. I can't go back and do them!"

"No more you can. There is a great deal of sound sense in that remark,
only--"

"And don't tell me to wait until the autumn again. I can't always be
waiting for the other end of the year to do the things I want done now."

"Oh! then let us go forward at once," said the Master.

"What shall I do?" asked the Young Man, with as much energy as though
the afternoon were just beginning. "Shall I take out the roots we have
put in to begin with?"

The Master again looked up and down, and I could see he was again
regretting the autumn.

"If you won't wait it must be done," he said at last. "Have this border
thoroughly well turned over, two feet deep at the least, and work in
some of that savoury heap I saw in your little yard. You will find a
good deal of root to cut away from those trees; they take the food from
this border, but that can't be helped now. Then clear out the weeds and
those terrible marigolds I see springing up everywhere, and those poppy
seedlings. I think your new friends will have a better chance when that
is done."

"And the plants that are to stay, may they be touched?"

"You _must_ touch them, but do a piece at a time, and lift them in and
out with a good ball of earth round the roots so as to disturb them as
little as possible. Press them well in afterwards and water."

"Should Griggs put some of the savoury heap just round their roots?"

"No, no, let the whole border have a dressing. Later on any special
plant may be mulched if it is needed."

"Mulched!" said the Young Man, turning to me. "Do you know what that
is?"

I shook an ignorant head.

"Something to do with manure, I believe, but I don't know what."

"Griggs will show you," laughed the Master.

"No, he has his own vocabulary. I try the garden book words on him
occasionally and he looks quite blank."

"It is giving the plants a little extra food from the surface. So
it sinks gradually in or the rain carries it down with it. A gentle
process and the roots are not disturbed. The other process may produce
indigestion, you see."

Adam and Eve carefully replaced the unplanted roots in the hamper and
gave a sigh.

"Oh, dear! All our work. You might as well have gone to see Mrs Gunnet."

"Oh, no," said Adam, "because I have learnt a great deal and can help
you another time."

It was a good thing for me and the border that the Master had looked so
grave over it, for his Reverence was duly impressed with the necessity
of the case, and Griggs and a helpful stranger were hard at work next
day and the next, and by the end of that week the border lay smooth
and brown and neat with hopeful green patches at intervals. Jim and
I and the Young Man had been very busy arranging those patches, and I
hoped the front plants would not grow taller than the back, but a good
deal had been left to luck. The evening primroses and marigolds and
weeds had disappeared, I hoped for good. Time proved that this was too
hopeful a view to take of weeds.

And I will never forget the Master's parting injunction.

"Mind," with raised finger, "you ought never to take a spade near
your herbaceous border, only turn it over with a little fork, for the
well-established roots should not be disturbed. And good soil and
sufficient water ought to be enough as a rule. To-day we have been
dealing with an exceptional case, remember that!"

Oh! Master, yes. Mine is an exceptional case; but I guess there are
many would-be gardeners as ignorant, and, maybe, many gardens as
exceptional.

       *       *       *       *       *

But to return to my hopefully-growing seeds. I fear they were being
left anyway rather longer than was judicious, for one day about the
beginning of April it struck me my wooden boxes were very full and the
plantlets growing very leggy.

"Why is that?" I asked Griggs. I hated asking Griggs, but there was
no one else to ask. After all it seemed _impossible_ but that Griggs,
during the forty odd years he had pretended to be a gardener, should
not have gathered together some scraps of information concerning plants
and their ways.

"They wants pricking out, that's why they're so spindle-shankey.
'Tain't no good asking me for more boxes, I ain't got no more; and you
can't put 'em out in the open neither--leastways, they'll die if you
do."

"Of course not," I said with all the knowledge I possessed in my tone.
"But we must have boxes. They can be knocked up, can't they?"

"Not without wood, they can't. And just look at all them seeds wot
you've sowed. Why, they wants a sight o' boxes now."

It was a dilemma, but Jim revived my faint spirits.

There were boxes--old winecases--in the cellar, he said. Jim knew
every nook and cranny of the house; he would just ferret them out; no
one would miss them. Jim never asked leave, for experience had taught
him that a demand occasions a curious rise in the value of an article
absolutely unknown to the possessor before it was required by someone
else. And Griggs knocked them together, for Jim explained we had to let
the fellow try his hand occasionally.

We filled the new boxes with a little heavier diet than the baby seeds
had enjoyed, good mould from under some shrubbery, and then carefully
separated each stem; and carrying out Nature's law of the survival of
the fittest, I placed the most promising in the new environment.

I had done one whole box, it looked so neat, the little upright shoots
all about three inches apart, when Jim and the Young Man came round.

He had been away for a few days and was quite anxious to know how my
garden grew.

He had altered the old rhyme with which, of course, his Reverence and
the Others were always pestering me; but I don't think his version was
very original either--

    "How does the garden so contrairy
    Get on with its new Mistress Mary?"

I was seated on the corner of the one frame and the boxes were
precariously placed on the edge.

The Young Man's face beamed. "I have been learning to prick out; now,
let me see."

And to my horror he began to pull up my neat little plants.

"There, that's wrong, and that and that. No, that stands; but see, all
these are wrong."

I gasped, "What are you doing? Do you call that pricking out? I don't."

"By Jove! you'll catch it now, my dear fellow," said Jim.

"Oh! don't you see it's all right to do that, because it shows you you
have done them all wrong."

"I think you have misunderstood the idea of 'pricking out,'" I said
coldly.

The Young Man was so full of information he paid no attention to my
offended dignity or Jim's mirth.

"I learnt it on purpose to show you. I planted a box full at home and
the gardener came round and did that to my plants. I nearly whacked him
on the head."

"You're a parson," interrupted Jim, "you've got to think of that."

"I know, Jim. I managed to bottle my feelings nearly as well as
Mistress Mary did just now. I know what she is feeling."

But I was still dignified.

"Now will you tell me," I began.

"Oh, it's a first-rate dodge! You see, if they are firmly put in they
will stand that little pull, and if not it shows you ought to have
wedged them in better."

"Why," said Jim, "I bet I could tug out any you could wedge in."

"That's the art; you must wedge right and tug just enough."

"And why," I asked again, "why this tugging and this wedging?"

"Oh, because otherwise they don't catch hold properly and make
themselves at home. I didn't mean to spoil your neat box," he continued
penitently. "May I help you?"

"Why, of course you must," I said, brightening up. "Look at all that
has to be done. Jim, dear, fill those boxes nicely with mould, a
judicious mixture of looseness and compression."

"I've other fish to fry this afternoon. If his Reverence's Young Man
will do some beastly algebra for me I will stay and mess about with
you; if not, he has got to do the messing."

And so Jim deserted us, and we planted and pulled at each other's
boxes, and I certainly tried to get some of his out. And then the fresh
difficulty faced us where to put all these new boxes, for they had to
be protected from the still frosty nights, and also from any too heavy
rains which might, perchance, drown them. I wanted much more room than
the one frame afforded, even could I turn out all the scraggy geraniums.

"They must be protected somehow," I said despondingly, "and we can't
carry them in and out of doors, and oh! how heavy even these little
boxes are. There's the verandah, but the Others will never let me crowd
them out with these boxes. It is just getting sunny out there. What can
we do?"

The Young Man looked round and thought, and thought, and then it came,
an idea worth patenting.

"You don't want heat for them?"

"Oh, no, they ought to be hardened, you see."

"And it's only at night, or against heavy rains, that they want
protecting?"

"That's all."

"Well, then, I have it!" And he had it, the germ of the brilliant idea
that, with Jim's assistance and mine, and Griggs's for actual manual
labour, gradually evolved into an impromptu frame and saved us even
the making of new boxes.

This was the plan of action.

We cleared a space in the little yard where the frame lived, and the
manure heap in one corner, and one sunny border which held lettuce and
I intended should hold my plantlets later on. We made first a bed of
cinders (this for drainage), then a layer of manure (this for heat),
then good mould, and all were enclosed with four strong planks, and in
this protected spot we pricked out our nurslings. At night they were
covered with a plank or two and some sacking, and this also protected
them during any very heavy rains, until they grew strong enough to
weather them. The boxes already pricked out we protected in like
manner, only making no special bed for them.

It became truly a delight to see how day by day those tiny sprigs of
green grew and prospered, and to watch the development of the various
leaves. The pretty crinkly little round leaves of the polyanthus, the
neat spiky twig of the marigold and tagetes, the sturdy, even-growing
antirrhinum with pale green stalks for white, and yellow and rich
brown for the red variety, and the trim, three-cornered leaves of the
nasturtium, each after its kind, very wonderful when we realise all
that potentiality enclosed in a pin's point of a seed, and needing no
difference of treatment to produce either zinnia or lobelia.

I made all the Others, and everyone else too, walk round my nursery and
dilated on the promising appearance of my children.

"Wonderfully neat! but how tiny they all are. Do you mean to say you
expect those little things to flower this year? Why, it is like asking
a baby of six months old to ride a bicycle!" said one of the Others.

"But they are annuals! In comparison they are now twenty years old! Of
course they will flower this year, and be old and done for by October."

"Well, you are _very_ hopeful, but _I_ don't expect much result _this_
year."

"You will see!"

"Well, we have not seen much yet, have we?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The packets containing my biennial seeds, which, of course, means such
seeds as sown one year furnish plants for the next year's flowering and
then go the way of all "grass," instructed me to sow in the open from
March or April to June.

From what I have so far learned I would certainly advise sowing as
early as possible and not taking June into consideration at all. The
little plants get forward before the really hot weather begins, and
usually the clouds supply sufficient water at that time; but if not, on
no account must they go thirsty. I found watering a great necessity,
for my ground is as porous as a sieve; a substratum of nice cool
tenacious clay must be a great boon to those who happily have it. I
suppose it may have some drawbacks, but my imagination is not lively
enough to suggest any. Being light and poor, I usually doctored the
soil before sowing the seeds. I believe it ought not to be really
necessary; but a little manure mixed with leaf mould and some earth
from a convenient shrubbery or background place, and all dug well in,
was approved of by the plantlets. If by any chance you can lay aside,
from hedgerows, corners of field or other prigable parts, some rolls
of turf and let it stand aside until it rots, it makes most helpful
dressing, particularly for rose roots.

After the ground is ready make little straight trenches about one inch
deep, and thinly, because they are certain anyway to be too close,
scatter in your seeds. There for the present your work ends, and Mother
Earth commences her never-ending miracle of death and resurrection.
"Thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain, it may
chance of wheat or some other grain," and "that which thou sowest is
not quickened except it die," when, "God giveth it a body, to every
seed his own body."

Those little brown pin points, of which you hold hundreds in a pinch on
your palm, each one has its "celestial" body ready to spring into life
through the dark gateway of death. Surely St Paul must have had his
garden as a little boy, and sown his seeds, and marvelled, even as Jim
and I did, with eyes opening to the wonder of it all. A wonder that is
passed over in the matter-of-course way of the daily round, but that
startles one, almost as a revelation, when one's own hand holds the
seed, sows it, and then watches for the result.

To say it is just "life" or the "force of nature" or "the energy
that is behind all things," these are but words, the marvel remains.
Irresistibly the thought arises, "With what body shall _we_ come?" Not
with the old earth body for sure, if my seeds are to teach me anything.

So I sowed first the forget-me-nots, as this year they must come from
seed. Another year I will take the little shoots that are round the old
plant and, separating them, will prick them out in a nursery spot, and
so shall my plants for the following year be more mature, stronger,
and therefore better flowering; a first year's forget-me-nots are apt
to be straggling. Then the sweet-Williams, the wallflowers, red and
gold, Canterbury bells, silene, the little bright pink edging that
with forget-me-nots makes a border so gay in spring time, these were
my first year's venture in biennials; for though some of them may
be considered perennials, the best results may be hoped for from a
continuously fresh store.

The big sunflower seeds I placed just where I wanted them to come up,
sometimes a single one, so that the plant should have all its own way,
and wear as big a head as it knew how, and others in groups of four or
five.

Nasturtiums also I placed as a border to a lonely shrubbery. Some of
the seeds had been got forward in the impromptu frame, but those were
for my tree stumps and for creeping up the verandah. Canariensis the
same; the convolvulus also were planted freely to cover up deficiencies
wherever a creeping thing could grow.

It is wise to sow your perennial seeds early; they get settled in life
before they are called upon to face their first winter. So in another
spot, judiciously cribbed from cabbage-room--crib I had to for my
nursery ground--I sowed in like fashion the perennials, those which
had not already begun their career in wooden boxes and frame. There
were the big Oriental poppies, red and orange, for my impatience had so
far succumbed to the gardening spirit that I could bear to contemplate
sowing seeds with the hope of no immediate return, Brompton stocks,
penstemons, foxgloves and gaillardias; campanulas, too, short and tall,
white and blue; and those already started in boxes, the polyanthus
and columbines, nice sturdy little plants by now, were moved to this
division a little later, when frosty nights were a thing of the past.

These for my first batch of perennials; others would surely follow with
succeeding years. The thought of their permanence delighted me. Dear,
nice things! they would not need sowing year by year, but would yearly
grow more and more "in favour with God and man." So I hoped, even as a
mother hopes it for her children.

That long herbaceous border should one day be full of good stuff, one
day blooming with a succession of flowers; but face the fact, one day
is not to-morrow. The plants must grow; so, patience, patience, though
mine was threadbare.

       *       *       *       *       *

My other nursery of annuals sown in early March were growing apace and
the sweet peas needed sticking. It certainly spoils their appearance
for a time but is very necessary. I noticed all my seedlings growing in
bits of kitchen garden filched from his Reverence's province grew with
greater vigour than those down my own borders.

I suspected that amongst much neglect the vegetable ground had suffered
least, and so, in spite of his Reverence's outcry that I was robbing
him of at least a sack of potatoes, I continued to make little inroads
on his property. And thus I was brought in contact with the fruit-trees
bordering the pathways. They had been renewed, many of them, when first
his Reverence came to Fairleigh. They looked healthy enough, but very
few blossoms and no fruit ever accounted for their existence. I pointed
this out to his Reverence, and, full of newly-acquired knowledge, asked
him if he had heard of tap-roots. "Griggs planted them, so you may
depend that is what is the matter with them, and in the autumn we will
have them up."

"You are poaching," said his Reverence.

"You ought to be full of gratitude, but I can't take them in hand
myself, I only give you some of my overflowing knowledge. And we should
all like to eat our own apples and pears!"

Jim was much interested in tap-roots; he promised himself quite a good
time hacking away at them in the autumn. He wondered if the barren
fig-tree had a tap-root, but I could not enlighten him.

Everything was growing, we had had some good rain. I can feel for
the farmers now; I know what it is to _want_ rain. One of the Others
said she wished we would keep quiet, all we gardeners and farmers who
hankered after rain. She thought perhaps if we ceased the weather
might get a little settled and the sun shine week in week out. To her
mind that was far better than fields of corn or beds of even luxuriant
flowers. There were sure to be _some_ corn and _some_ flowers anyhow,
"so do let other people enjoy the sunshine in peace." Certainly if
the English climate is the result of conflicting desires, it would
be a good thing to have a national creed on the subject and make it
obligatory.

After the rain, however, in that particular month of April, came the
sun, and things grew apace.

Though not only my seeds and flowers. The enemy, who for many a long
year had sown, or allowed to be sown, weeds in my garden, had his crop
likewise.

"They're overmastering us agin," said Griggs, who had his friendly
moments; and sometimes, if we were working hard, quite enjoyed
standing near and pretending to help us.

"It's your fault that, you know," said Jim, who minced matters with
nobody. He was doubled up over the border surrounded with all kinds
of implements, for Jim liked everything handy. There was a big clasp
knife and a spade and rake, a trowel and little fork, and then he
generally used his hands. He was now "tracking home," as he said, that
evil-minded weed called, I believe, the ground-elder, and pointed out
with some heat, quite excusable under the circumstances, that Griggs,
who had just calmly and coolly cut off the head of the plant, had done
not a "blooming bit of good."

If you should ever want a really good back-aching job, take a trowel
or a little hand fork and begin a fight with those innocent-looking,
many-fingered leaves growing in and out in so friendly a fashion with
your flowers. You turn up the root, but its hold is still on the earth;
you pull a bit and find it belongs to that other cluster of leaves
some little distance off. You attack that, very careful not to lose
your underground connection, it also has sent long stringy branches in
all directions. Then you pull and tear and say "Oh, bother!" and "What
a brute of a weed!" Jim and I are careful not to say anything stronger,
though he has been known to indulge in "hang," but I feel sure Griggs
gives us the character of using "most horful languidge you never
heard." Still it goes on, and quite a heap of potato-like roots will be
out and yet its hold is not slackened. Finally it lands you in an iris
or lily root; it is not particular, but I find it prefers a solid root,
and there you get sadly mixed as to what is root and what is weed. But
if the job is to be done finally, these roots must be all taken up
and carefully disentangled, for all are twined together. This radical
measure is best, or rather least injurious to lilies and irises, when
their flowering time is over--July and August--and moving or dividing
does not disturb them.

Never in all old Griggs's reign of twenty years had he tracked a
ground-elder weed home; but I now know the look of those potato-like
roots better than any other in my garden.

I cannot say I like doing it. Boys are more invertebrate and do not
get so red in the face; and this I pointed out to Jim, suggesting a
division of labour.

"You do get jolly red," said Jim, "but really, you know, I expect it's
your stays."

"Jim!"

"Well, you needn't get up the steam. I only know when I was dressed up
for those theatricals as a beastly, I mean, as a girl, the fellows got
hold of some stays, I suppose they bagged their sister's, a precious
tight pair, too! and I just tell you, in confidence, they made me
absolutely sick. I had to retire looking like an unripe lemon. My!
never again!"

"You squeezed too much, Jim."

"That girl must have squeezed more; and you all do, that's my private
opinion."

In consideration, therefore, of the infirmities to which a rigorous
convention condemns my sex, Jim said he would do the thinning out for
me.

My promising annuals, designed for grand duty in the cutting line,
godetias and larkspurs and chrysanthemums and Shirley poppies, were all
most flourishing, but coming much too thick. They ought to have been
thinned out sooner, of course, but we had been too busy, so Jim devoted
his early morning hours to them, before the five minutes' rush on his
bicycle which took him to the station for Gatley, where he and some
other fellows were being crammed to pass the examination for the Royal
Navy.

Jim's days were always filled. He never neglected cricket, nor, in its
good time, football and hockey; but he was going to see me through with
my garden for the first year, he said, and his help and ideas were
never-failing.

On the thinning-out mornings Jim got up early; very early it seemed to
me when he bounced into my room and sent a flood of light full on my
face, or placed a damp sponge there.

"Now I am going to thin, and I can't do it with any satisfaction if you
are asleep. What you have to do is to think out any blooming thoughts
for this blooming essay on courage. Why the blooming idiot gives us
such rotten subjects I can't think. But you must jot down some headings
and be ready with them when I come back."

"Jim, what a worn-out old subject. I shall go to sleep over it."

"This won't do," and Jim strode to the washing stand and plunged the
sponge in water.

"Oh, don't, Jim, I am awake! There was 'the boy who stood on the
burning deck,'" I shouted hurriedly.

Jim came back and stood over me.

"Open your eyes then wide, so. You see you are wasting precious time
with your sluggishness."

I thought of those thickly-sown seedlings growing up so leggy, and I
roused myself.

"Well, 'the boy' will do, then; he is a good old stager."

"Yes, so he mustn't be left out. All the other fellows will have him in
for sure, and if I don't, 'old Joe' will think I don't know about him.
They don't want any originality, these chaps; they want you just to
stick on and learn what they learnt, then you see you can't put them in
a corner. So just rout out good old standing dishes."

Jim turned to go.

"All right; but, Jim, remember to leave the strongest plant."

"'Survival of the fittest,' yes, I've heard that before."

"And don't forget about eight inches apart."

"I prefer six; you turn your thoughts to courage."

"Primitive instinct, difference between man and woman, one has more of
the physical variety and the other of the moral," I shouted after him.

"No twaddle," said Jim, striding back. "Think of what _I_ should be
likely to say. Of course we all may pick up ideas outside as we have
to write the blooming thing in form, but it must sound like me, not
you."

"It will, Jim, after it has been through your mill, never fear. And I
think eight inches produces strongest plants."

And then Jim slid down the bannisters and I heard him whistling in the
garden; but that soon ceased, for you can't whistle when you are bent
double.

I must say the row looked very nice when I reviewed it after breakfast.
Jim had selected with great care! but the heaps of rejected plantlets
lying on the gravel path caused my motherly heart a pang. What a
shocking waste! Every tiny seed had come up and ten were growing where
but one could find sufficient support for full development, so out must
come the nine. Nature is wasteful, and so is human nature, but we can't
weed out the overcrowded families; and do the fittest there always
survive? Truly it would need courage to tackle that problem.

       *       *       *       *       *

A little later, in May, I found an employment in which I tried to
interest the Others, but it was no good. The only one I brought up to
the scratch, or rather the rose tree, fled with horror when I showed
her what was needed, and vowed she would rather never smell a rose
again than do such disgusting work. But his Reverence took quite kindly
to the job, I am glad to say, and it was a good sight in my eyes when
I saw his wideawake carefully bent over the standard roses, and then
a certain look of victory rose over his spectacles as he spotted the
enemy. This new enemy is a very vile-looking little green grub; one
variety is brown and fat, and then indeed I have felt inclined to flee
myself. I suppose his mamma lands him in an invisible stage on the
tender young rose leaves and he curls them round him for a cradle. Then
in some mysterious way, which I heartily wish Dame Nature had never
taught him, he rocks his cradle to the side of a juicy young bud, glues
himself to it and enjoys it. Not much bud is left. So his Reverence
unfolds the green cradle and carefully ejects the baby. I simply cannot
do that, I pick off the leaf; but in either case the end is rapid and
final.

And how prolific is that abominable butterfly! You may, in fact, you
_must_, visit your rose trees daily if you would hope to see a goodly
show.

At least, so it is in my garden. I can but speak from a limited
experience. I have often thought others may be more blessed than I am,
but you may not be one of them, friend Ignoramus.

Then there is the green fly, thickly swarming all over banksia or
cluster roses, at least, more especially favouring them. Jim would
have little to say to the green grub, though occasionally even he and
the Young Man had their steps gently led in that direction; and seeing
his Reverence's absorption, they too began and then somehow went on.
A kind of fatal fascination, I suppose, "Just one more!" The Others
would never give the spell a chance, but Jim grew to take the greatest
interest in green fly.

The Young Man suggested smoke for their destruction, but his cigarettes
did not seem to effect much, though he blew round a bush for quite a
long time while I picked the cradle leaves off another, and of course
my work was the most effectual. Jim was very keen on trying this remedy
too. I said the effect would be worse than his experience with the
stays, at which he asked me with dignity if I supposed he was as green
as all that! However, Griggs came out with an old syringe, and Jim said
that was the work for him. Soapy water and a good shove, and the Young
Man was simply deluged.

All Jim said was, "What a mercy it was only you. Think if it had been
his Reverence! Winkie! what a shine there would have been."

I thought the young man behaved beautifully, for a man, though he did
catch Jim and hold him upside down until he was gurgling.

But when the green fly got the douche very strongly given they too
objected, and vacated their position.

Afterwards I obtained a recipe for a douche which had even more
effectual results.

Take two ounces of quassia chips (you get them from a chemist for a
very small sum) and one ounce of soft soap, and pour on them about a
pint of boiling water. Leave it till cold and then add water to the
amount of two gallons. With this concoction syringe your green fly, and
its extreme bitterness will make them lose all fancy for your rosebuds.

       *       *       *       *       *

The lilacs were out, and the white guelder rose and the ash tree;
may and syringa and laburnum were soon to follow. Truly even a poor
neglected little garden has its happy moments!

I would rest some days looking around and enjoying the green so new
and fresh everywhere, and trying to shut the reformer's eye. But it
was growing too strong for me; the only way to shut it was to reform.
The shrubberies were terrible. Laurel was rampant everywhere. A nasty
greedy thing, it cannot live and let live, for it takes the nourishment
needed by its better brethren. I would have no laurel in my garden,
none, but that is a dream for the future. The elder tree too has no
manners, it shares this failing with its namesake weed; it shoves and
pushes all more gentle growth to the wall. It must be cut back hard.
And the syringas also, they need the judicious knife to prune out the
old wood and so give strength to the young shoots. And so does the
yellow Japanese rose, more learnedly called Kerria Japonica, which
in late March and April had given but a poor little show of bloom. I
guessed that its treatment had been that of the yellow jasmine. It had
been clipped in the autumn on the hedging and ditching principle, and
the young shoots with the promise of buds had disappeared beneath
Griggs's shears. Better for the plant to have razed it to the ground
after flowering, said the Master, for the vigorous young shoots would
soon have appeared; so following his instruction I this spring cut the
old stems right away, leaving only the new green ones springing from
the ground. I am hoping here, too, for next year.

It seems a gardener must always be living in the future, "possessing
their souls in patience," and "hoping all things." Truly it is a
liberal education, and I hope may prove very valuable to Jim and the
Young Man--and other persons.

It has done no good to Griggs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Spring slipped into summer. The sun shone longer and melted the iciness
in the wind's breath; the tender green of the trees gave place to
"leafy June" and the shade was grateful.

Jim found a waistcoat superfluous, and the head gardener donned a shady
hat and tried to wear gloves.

Yes, the spring was gone, and even with summer's glories to come one
turns a regretful glance back to the months when "Behold, He maketh all
things new."



[Illustration: SUMMER]



SEASON III

Summer

    "Knee-deep in June."


And knee-deep in work, too, for June will not give you anything for
nothing if you are running a garden. I had my hands full, not only with
the legitimate work of June, which is great, but May is sure to have
left you in the lurch; this "getting forward" process so much preached
by the Master is not seconded by May with at all a whole heart.

    "March ain't never nothin' new!
    Apriles altogether too
    Brash fer me, and May--I jes'
    'Bominate its promises.
    Little hints o' sunshine and
    Green around the timber-land,
    A few blossoms and a few
    Chip birds, and a sprout or two--
    Drap asleep, and it turns in
    'Fore daylight and snows agen!"[1]

[1] James Whitcomb Riley.

My poet is an American, but the complaint may be raised also in the old
country; only I do not "'bominate" promises. I love them, and as I am
perforce a gardener it is a good thing, for I often get nothing else.

But be the garden forward or not, how lovely a garden can be, even a
neglected garden, these last weeks of May and first of June.

The chestnuts are scarcely over, the laburnum is raining gold, the may
trees are like snow, a delicious reminder when the sun is doing its
duty brilliantly; the roses are just breaking from the bud, and now we
can congratulate ourselves on the wholesale slaughter of green grub and
green fly, without, however, giving up the pursuit.

But what was the matter with those newly-planted rose trees? The
crimson rambler, for one, that was to ramp up the verandah, had not
ramped an inch; it had only put forth some miserable, half-starved
leaves and not one bud. The Others derided it freely. William Allen
Richardson looked unhappy too; the new standards seemed more contented,
and the Reine Marie Hortense, who also was destined to cover the
verandah as rapidly as might be with pink Gloire de Dijon roses, had
really begun her work with a will. Why then had my much-vaunted crimson
rambler failed me? I had been told they disliked a wall, but not a
verandah. "A worm i' the root," suggested One; but I held to certain
laws of the Medes and Persians, and one was to leave the roots alone
until the right time; so if my rambler wished to flourish elsewhere it
must bide until the autumn; though in the front, over an old stump, and
down in the kitchen garden it was the same tale, the ramblers refused
to ramble.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the business of the month must not be kept waiting a day, in fact,
we began the last week in May, and that was promoting the nurslings
from their shelter to the open borders.

The two large round beds that were generally devoted to Griggs's
semi-red geraniums and scraggy calceolarias, and which were the only
regular planting-out beds the garden possessed, were now a subject of
much disquieting thought to me.

They were so terribly important. By them I felt my reputation must
stand or fall. They were plainly visible from everywhere. They needed
to be a brilliant mass of colour from June to October; no easy problem
for one lot of flowers to solve. I had set my face against Griggs's
geraniums bordered with calceolarias and lobelias, the refuge of the
destitute; any other refuge was to be mine, I resolved. And since it
had been no silent resolve, it had perforce to be kept.

At present those beds were an eyesore, but one for which I did not feel
responsible. Before I took in hand the reins of garden government,
Griggs had buried there a mixture of tulips and edged them with
alternate polyanthuses--the poorest of specimens--and forget-me--nots
that had weathered the winter in what Griggs termed a "spotty" way. It
was certainly a suggestive phrase for those particular plants. But I
had been able to join the Others in their chorus of condemnation. Now
the time had arrived for a change, and the responsibility appalled me.

I had had visions of those two beds with many various inhabitants.
At first the dream had been of violas, pale mauve deepening into the
dark purple, but to complete that idea some tall things with a strong
colour--red salvias or good red geraniums--were needed; these, planted
some eighteen inches apart, would bring out the delicate background.
But the dream vanished perforce. Apart from the lack of good red
anything, my violas had failed me, and some few dozen little plants
were all I could reckon upon. Why, I do not know; it was just this, the
seeds had not come up.

So then I dreamed of all my straight little antirrhinums; they would
surely make a fine glaring effect. I had red, yellow, white and a good
quantity. Jim liked the idea; red was to be the centre, and yellow and
white alternate, a broad border.

Griggs took his arrangement away. The dilapidated tulips were saved, of
course, and kept in a dry place stored for the autumn planting out.

On the polyanthus roots too I laid rescuing hands. They were not very
good colours, but needing so much I dared not waste. The best of the
lot I had noted, and now placed them down the shaded lime walk. They
could grow where the primroses grew, and in spring I should welcome
even their uncertain shades down amongst the bright green of the wild
things. The beds were turned over well, and a little fresh soil and
manure dug in; then, when neat, smooth and ready, I brought up the
first detachment of small antirrhinums from the nursery for their
adornment. These had grown to the height of from five to six inches,
but had still a slender air. I think it would have helped their more
rapid development had they been moved sooner from their first box. With
seedlings, friend Ignoramus, you cannot be _too_ particular. Never let
them have the slightest check; keep them watered, cared for, and as
they need it give them room. They will then reward you.

All one cool afternoon Jim and I planted out. We began in the centre
and made rings round with an impromptu compass formed by a stick and
string. In the rounds thus made the plantlets were steadily and firmly
placed, eight inches apart, though eight inches seemed a great deal of
spare room.

"They will grow," I persisted; "they are small for their age, but will
soon need elbow room."

"I feel I am playing with little tin soldiers, don't you?" suggested
Jim; "but they are strong little beggars and will grow bigger, won't
they?"

"Oh, rather! over a foot, though they are the dwarf kind, you know; but
they branch out like the wicked bay tree."

"Well, there's room for it," said Jim, and then we worked on steadily
until tea-time.

"What are you sprinkling that bed with those tiny green twigs for?"
asked one of the Others. "We want something a trifle cheering there,
you must remember, Mary. We have to look at it all the summer."

"We don't _want_ to have to regret Griggs's semi-red 'janiums," said
another of the Others.

"They will be a blazing mass of colour," I answered confidently as I
hurried over my tea. "Come, Jim, they must be got in."

"Remember it is for _this_ summer," shouted the Other.

"And not to adorn our graves, my dear," came after us.

What had happened in my short absence? I saw with new eyes, the eyes
not of the fond mother but of the critic.

"Jim!" and my whisper was awful.

"What's up? Have we done anything wrong?"

"Look at them!"

They looked absurd. They looked impossible. The bed so big and they
so small, so like tiny tin soldiers, that my faith failed me. The
Others would be confronted by little green twigs all the summer and
regret Griggs's _régime_. It was hopeless! they could never rise to the
occasion.

"They must come up, Jim."

"Oh, rot! Let's put 'em a bit thicker; they will flower all right, you
said so half-an-hour ago."

"I don't know what I said half-an-hour ago; I feel sure now that they
will take months to do anything! And what shall I do meanwhile? It's
the pricking out; we were behind with that, you see. They must come
up and go somewhere, where it won't matter so awfully. These beds
_must_ be a success, even if I spend every farthing I possess on buying
ready-made plants."

We took them up. Jim was impressed with my sorrow. We planted those we
had disturbed in the border in front as an edging.

"It won't matter so much here, they don't strike the eye, because other
things are coming here in clumps, but for those two beds!"

I had nightmares of tiny tin soldiers dressed in green who marched
round and round and disappeared, and then two bare brown beds loomed
up like giant's eyes, and the Others all shouted,

"Isn't it hideous? What did you do it for? Oh, Mary, what a mess you
have made of it!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Next afternoon Jim and I, his Reverence and the Young Man--who also
joined the Council--calculated exactly how many plants would be
required to really fill those beds with a desirable effect. I could
hardly believe it, the calculation ended in two hundred for each bed.
I sat down on the grass and looked and looked as though looking would
make the necessary quantity appear.

"It can't be done," I moaned in the bluest despair. "I don't possess
four hundred of anything; so there!"

"You might make a kind of pattern," began the Young Man.

"I hate a kaleidoscopic effect," I growled.

"You've jolly well got to have one," said Jim.

"There might be a border," suggested his Reverence.

"Really, you _may_ mix some flowers," ventured the Young Man, rather
fearful of having his head snapped off again.

"I have seen uncommonly pretty beds done that way. Why, in the Park
this year I noticed a background of small close blue flowers, and out
of them rose tall pink geraniums. The effect was excellent," said his
Reverence.

"'You may see as good sights many times in tarts,'" I remarked, and
they none of them knew, not even Jim, that I was quoting the learned
Bacon, but thought my temper was affecting my reason.

"Get up off the damp grass," said Jim, offering violent assistance,
"and come and contemplate the nursery. Great Scott! after all your
bragging to collapse like this. Aren't the babies there still?"

"I have hundreds of nothing, and they are all such tiny things it would
take _thousands_ of them to fill these _hideous_ big beds."

So rather a downcast procession wended their way round the shrubbery
to the little yard with its frame and manure heap and enclosures of
plantlets.

His Reverence drew out pencil and paper, and after making several very
shaky rounds to represent the two beds, he began to fill in with names
as suggested to him by Jim and the Young Man.

"Let us start with the biggest geraniums in the centre, a group of
six we will say, as they are not very big any of them. Now then, a
row next of those yellow daisies, that will fill up a good bit and
look bright, too. Then we might have those stocks, all colours are
they? Do famously. And then the little snapdragons, what do you call
them?--anti--anti--what? snapdragon will do for me. You say they are
too small! Oh, but they will grow. Red, then yellow, then white.
Why, see, Mary, the round is nearly full. Then a row of the smallest
geraniums, don't you think, and end up with an edging of blue lobelia.
That would be fine, eh?"

Jim saw my face and burst into laughter. I was in no laughing mood.

"Good heavens, sir! Imagine such a higgledy-piggledy assembly as
that--all sizes--all colours--all blooming anyhow!"

"Not at all, not at all. Now, Young Man, what do you say? Look here--"
And with the warmth of an inventor his Reverence read over his list and
grew more in love with his colour scheme than ever.

"Yes," said the Young Man, at intervals, "yes, that fills in grandly;"
and then he caught my eye, a flash of indignation, so he began to
hesitate and hedge. "Only, you see, your Reverence, that for flowers,
that is, for bedding out, it seems you need--you have to think--" and
he looked at me but got no assistance. "Perhaps there might be too many
colours, mightn't there?" he wound up feebly.

"Too many colours! Why, my dear fellow, it isn't for a funeral! Do you
want all the flowers to wear black coats like you and me?"

"No, no, sir, only, you see in one bed--"

"Bless the man, of course they are in one bed! Why, where is the harm
in variety? Just look here--" and we went through the scheme again.
"Now, come; if you don't like this, what can you suggest better, eh?"

The Young Man looked so nonplussed and uncomfortable, and his Reverence
was falling deeper and deeper in love with his arrangement, I saw that
I must at once take the matter in hand or it would be too late.

"I know," I said suddenly. I did not know, at least, not what I would
do, only what I would not, which is sometimes a great help in the other
direction.

"Well, let us hear your idea," said his Reverence, with enforced
patience, looking fondly at his scheme.

"The antirrhinums are too small and the violas too few," I began.

"Well, that is not much of an idea!"

"No, but I am thinking--" and so I was, for a thought had come.

Then his Reverence laughed. "Ah, well, you _think_. In the meantime
I will leave you my list and go and see after old Griggs." He linked
his arm in the Young Man's and walked him off. He, looking penitently
back, found no forgiveness; I had no use for the penitence of cowards.

Then I began to expound to Jim the idea that had come like a flash!
like a revelation! until Jim said, "Get on, let's have the idea. I
don't personally think his Reverence's scheme at all bad, you know. I
just laid low because I saw what a stew you were in, but _personally_ I
like a bit of colour."

Then I explained to Jim what a delirium those beds would be, and Jim
would have left me too had I not said he should do all the measurements
for the beds as I wanted somebody with an eye! How queer men are, even
in embryo. They always hang together, and it is only flattery that can
overcome their prejudices.

Jim grew interested. The idea was to be all yellow. I had those
marguerites of Griggs's cuttings developed now into fair-sized plants
in spite of their neglected childhood, for I had seen to them since.
They should grow in the centre; then should come my marigolds, which
were very thriving, two kinds of them, the big, rather clumsy African,
but with handsome colouring, and the smaller, neater, darker French
variety, and we would finish with a good border of tagetes.

They were all bushy plants, all hardy, and would bloom steadily through
the summer and autumn.

A basket of scabious--lady's pincushions--arriving from the Master
while I was planting out were also worked into my scheme, and worked
in well. The dark round balls of reds, browns, blues, with tiny white
pin-points, did not disturb the yellow harmony. Eventually I was proud
of those beds.

When first planted they did look slightly new and stalky, but they
filled out daily. His Reverence only remarked, "Well, well, have it
your own way; I suppose it is æsthetic! But my idea was more cheerful."

Griggs frankly said "yeller" was never his fancy. "Now, them 'janiums,
that gives a bit o' colour."

And I quite forgave the Young Man his past for his present admiration
was unbounded. He had been quite unable to think, he explained.

So that great difficulty was settled.

       *       *       *       *       *

Griggs's geraniums turned out one or two good dark reds among the
magenta hues, and these were put in the two old stumps that hitherto
had been given over to mere ramping nasturtiums, and my superior
seedlings of those useful flowers were encouraged to fall over the edge
and ramp downwards.

An old oil cask, cut in two, burnt out and painted green--Jim and
I and the Young Man enjoyed that artistic work very much--formed
two capacious tubs and were filled with more geraniums, the best
and pinkest, and they brightened up the shrubbery corner where the
daffodils had shone.

Stocks and other geraniums--even the mauvy-tinted ones looked quite
well away from all touch of red--with a border of lobelia, were
placed under the study window in a narrow bed running along the front
of the house, thus helping his Reverence to realise _his_ ideal.
Then by degrees we arranged all the contents of my nursery, some in
clumps, some in rows, down the herbaceous border, and others in the
front border, the border which had looked so dismal and unpromising
on that November day when I first took my garden in hand. There
had been a brushing up of old inhabitants--Michaelmas daisies and
chrysanthemums--but much was still left to be desired.

You cannot do everything in the first year. It is no use thinking you
can.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day, at the very beginning of June, I visited the potting-shed,
our one and only shed, which held a collection such as may be imagined
after the reign of Griggs for twenty years. In a dark corner I came
across some queer-looking roots sprouting away in a most astoundingly
lively fashion.

"Griggs, what on earth are these?" I called to that worthy.

"Them? Oh! them's daylers. Just stuck 'em there to keep dry for the
winter. They oughter be out by now, they oughter."

"Oh! I should think so," and then I marvelled on the nature of dahlias.

"Is this a good place for them during the winter? Don't they want
anything to eat or drink?"

"Bless yer! no, they takes their fill in the summer, but they oughter
be out by now; some'ow I've come to overlook them."

That these dahlias forgave the overlooking has always been a wonder to
me; perhaps they did not do so entirely. I believe more firmly than
ever in the thoroughness of the edict which rules "that what a man
soweth that shall he reap."

A child or a flower starved in infancy does not recover for some time,
if ever, and though my dahlias kindly bloomed and did their best, once
started in as good a bed as we could give them, they ought to have
been "potted up" in the beginning of May and kept from frosty nights;
then at the end of May or beginning of June they should have been
placed in their flowering position. So soon as frost touches them they
droop, as we all well know, in their own peculiar, utterly dejected
and forlorn manner. Then cut them down, dig them up, let them dry, and
place them for the winter in a dry and protected cellar or outhouse,
there to sleep until the spring calls them to fresh life.

       *       *       *       *       *

I watched the long herbaceous border with an anxious eye. The
poppies--those dazzling papaver--opened their large green pods and
shook out blazing red and rather crinkly leaves in the sunshine. They
made one hot, but happy, to look at them. For that first year in my
garden I think they did their duty well, but bigger clumps will look
better. Some little spiky leaves that I had not recognised--how
should I when no label accompanied them?--turned out to be the Iceland
variety. They had one or two dainty blooms made of yellow butterflies'
wings, but oh, dear! one or two! I needed a mass. The delphiniums
looked healthy and promised a spiky bloom or two; the lupins were
already in flower, nice, quite nice, when one has not much else, but
the blue is too near purple. I must get some other varieties; the
white would be prettier. The big thick leaves of the hollyhocks grew
well at first, and then some beast of sorts began to fancy them and
they developed a moth-eaten appearance. All Griggs could say was, "You
never could do nothing with 'olly'ocks in this gardin, you couldn't."
My other wiseacre, old Lovell, said, "They liked a bit o' wind through
'em." His own seemed to flourish, so mine must be moved from the
sheltering hedge where I had thought they would show up.

Everywhere still grew and flourished the ever-present weeds. They
needed no watering, nothing to promote their vitality, they grew apace;
and I could mention other varieties beside that champion grower, the
ground-elder. There is a sticky, burry kind of rapid, straggling growth
with tenacious hot-feeling leaves. Its hold on the earth is not strong,
but it is brittle, and eludes its death-warrant that way; also a kind
of elongated dandelion, that looks straight at you as though it had a
right to be there. Then the common poppy, last year's nasturtium seeds,
and the offspring of last year's sunflowers are as bad as weeds, and
indeed the latter gave me as much trouble. The strong tuberous roots
required a vigorous pull, and were growing everywhere, through the
centre of every flower; I took at least a dozen out of one clump of
golden rod, and vowed I would have every sunflower up before it had
a chance of seeding. Of course all such things must come up or they
exhaust the feeding capacity of the border.

It is all very fine to say "_must_," but I believe a poor soil is
composed of weed seeds.

I walked down the garden with one of the Others, one who loved flowers,
only in her own way. She arranged them beautifully when everything
was put ready to her hand; she loved picking one here and there and
sticking it in her waist-band, or playing with its soft petals against
her cheek, then, its brief duty done, it was forgotten.

I have seen people--even mothers--love children in the same way; but
flowers and children need a broader love than that.

We walked down armed with scissors and with an empty basket; I had said
that there _were_ flowers.

"My dear girl, what on earth _have_ you? when all is said and done.
You show me a green bush thing and give it a name"--I had mentioned
delphinium--"and it does sound aggressively knowledgeable, of course!
And then another isolated and flowerless specimen and give _it_ a name.
But wherewithal am I to do the dinner-table to-night? Will you tell me
that?"

"You have a most lovely bunch of poppies in the drawing-room, and I
cut the copper-beech, which was wicked of me. Very soon you shall have
roses and sweet-peas and all these seedlings; and next year you shall
have sweet-Williams and cup and saucer Canterbury bells and foxgloves
and--"

"_Next_ year! my dear. I am wanting some flowers for _to-night_."

"To-night! Oh, dear, let me think. Why won't the things make haste? You
must have _something_, of course."

What was there? A good many things in bud, but had they been out I
could not have cut them. Just the one first specimen! To cut from
a plant you need such a big show, and all the tall perennials were
no good anyway for the table decoration. The blue cornflowers were
coming; the godetias held promising buds of pinkiness; the Shirley
poppies, too, and the sweet-peas; but for to-night! Everything was for
to-morrow. Down the garden we walked, hope always deferred, and beyond
the garden shone a field of brilliantly deep red. I caught my breath.
"Isn't it lovely? It is old Mason's saint-foin; let us take some. And
see, there are white daisies in the hay there, mine aren't out yet. And
with grasses, those lovely, wavy grasses! don't you think that will
do?"

The table did look lovely, but small thanks to my garden, I felt;
though the Other One cared not for that, and comforted me by saying
that gardening had certainly developed my resources if not the flowers.

Nature's garden is at its best in June.

The wild rose and honeysuckle scent the hedges, the tall white daisies
shine in the grass, the ruddy chickweed, with the setting sun behind,
glows like the evening clouds; and the tall, dainty, white meadow-sweet
offers itself to one's hand. Were it a garden flower we should prize it
almost as we do gypsophila. But Nature does not mean her favourites to
be promoted to the drawing-room. Their rustic beauty fades at once, and
it seems truly unkind to cut so short their joyous sunny day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The dinner-table that had caused me so much anxiety was specially
needed for an American friend of one of the Others. She greeted the
pretty effect with, "My! how cunning! Do all these pretty things grow
in your garden, Mistress Mary?"

"In mine and Nature's," I added.

"You have a little rhyme about Mary and her garden, haven't you? And
her lamb, too. Have you a lamb?"

"Oh, yes," said one of the Others, "she has a lamb, the new version of
that rhyme, too, 'with coat as black as soot.'"

But what she meant, or why I grew hot, it passes my wisdom to say.

"Say now, do you grow nightingales in your garden, Mistress Mary?
I assure you, sir," turning to his Reverence, "I have never yet
compassed an introduction to that much-vaunted British institooshon,
the nightingale. I am just crazy till I hear those liquid tones, the
jug jug and jar jar: such vurry ugly equivalents they sound to me for
thrilling notes, but the best, I conclude, our poor speech can do in
imitation of that divine melody."

When our friend had quite finished--I noticed she landed herself
without fear in the longest of sentences, and brought them always with
much aplomb to the neatest of conclusions, an accomplishment in which
she must find the majority of her English cousins sadly deficient--his
Reverence promised her the wished-for concert; and he further dilated
on the beauties represented by jug jug and jar jar, until she assured
him that with him for her guide she would face that dark and lonely
walk of Mistress Mary's--she meant my lime trees--where doubtless she
would find a blue or white lady flitting past, with a sigh, wasn't it?
for some recalcitrant lover.

However, I noticed she walked off later with the Young Man, who dropped
in after dinner, and she asked him all about the jug jug and jar jar
with ever-increasing animation.

It certainly was very cool that night, as it can be in June even
after a hot day. We looked round to send Jim for shawls, but Jim had
vanished, to his work, no doubt. We strolled down the lime walk to see
if the nightingales would oblige us, which I doubted, as nightingales
are as careful of their throats in a cool wind as are prima donnas.

"You really mustn't talk," I heard the Young Man say.

"Land's sake! but do they want it all their own way? Though who could
talk when the whole night is throbbing with beauty? Just look at that
intense blue vault above us, and the calm stars shimmering down on us.
Say! doesn't it make you feel just too awfully small for anything? You
don't feel inclined to get up and preach now, do you? Just shut your
eyes and listen; that's about all one can do."

The figures wandered up and down under the overhanging lime boughs, two
and two, and presently the black and white ones ahead of us stopped.
When we wandered off again somehow we had changed partners, and Mamie
was arm-in-arm with her special Other One and the Young Man was walking
with me.

"I had such a lot I wanted to talk to you about," he began. This
sounded interesting, but he seemed unable to get further.

"About the Sunday school?" I asked gently, for we were still listening
for the nightingale.

It was almost a cross "No" that he muttered as we passed Mamie and her
friend.

"Oh, I know," I suggested; "it is about the garden. You haven't been
helping me in my garden for weeks and weeks. What can one talk of
better than a garden? I think it is the most interesting subject, and
you must want to know how the nurslings are turning out, now they are
started in real life."

I suppose Mamie had caught the word garden, for she began to sing in a
very high thread-of-silver voice,

    "If love's gardener sweet were I,
    I would cull the stars for thy pleasure."

"Say, tall and reverend sir, can you reach a star? Look how they
twinkle!"

The Young Man is so very English I half feared he would not understand
how to take her, but Mamie's freedom was infectious.

"All the stars are not up there," he said, "fortunately for my arms.
They are twinkling under these trees to-night."

"Why, you _are_ poetical! But these lively stars of white and blue
are not the kind to cull, are they, Mistress Mary? Land's sake! but
they might prove as big an undertaking as one of those fiery worlds
twinkling up there. 'How I wonder what you are!' Why, _we_ don't
wonder, we _know_. I learnt all about them at school. But who knows
what _I_ am composed of?"

"'Ribbons and laces and sweet pretty faces!' is what they taught me at
_my_ school," said the Young Man, calmly.

"Really, the nightingale _can't_ sing if we all talk so much. Do let us
try and be quiet for two minutes," I said.

But Mamie was walking away laughing, and saying the nightingale would
soon get used to her dulcet tones, and the Young Man stayed listening
with me.

"And yet it's true," he said, "what she says; how is one ever to know
about another person, particularly when that other person always turns
the conversation when one begins to talk about--"

"You are getting mixed," I interrupted. "Don't you like talking about
my garden?"

"Not always."

"Well, then, there's the parish."

"You only do that to annoy."

"I don't! But to please you I will talk of your last sermon."

The Young Man was very hard to please; he said he preferred to know the
exact ingredients of the stars, so I stopped Mamie to ask her, but she
said we were becoming prosaic; the stars were really little holes in
heaven's floor that the angels made to peep through. "That's what they
taught at your school, didn't they, Reverend Young Man?"

"They did. My education has greatly helped me to retain my fond
delusions and pet prejudices."

"Why, what an ideal education for a clergyman!"

"Since young ladies are taught to weigh the stars and won't listen for
nightingales, it does seem good to me."

"Now, don't you get rattled. Mistress Mary, you have been rubbing him
up the wrong way, and, mercy me! however can a poor Yank hear your
nightingale? That is a delusion I must part with unless he condescends
to commence soon."

"Well, wait, do wait quietly for one minute."

So for a brief pause there was silence; and the stir of the leaves
and little rustle of unseen creeping things could be heard, and then,
yes, there it was! We all raised a warning finger, but the throbbing
note broke through the stillness; a little gurgle, a break, and then a
longer effort.

"Oh, my! Is that it? It makes me creep all over. Oh, don't let us talk.
Will it go on?"

Yes, it went on. After some tentative "jugs" and "jars" it broke into
a full-throated throb, and even our fair visitor's exclamation did not
scare it.

"It _is_ singing to-night," said One; "really, it must be in honour of
you, Mamie. It seldom sings with such vigour!"

In the centre of the sloping field grew a fine clump of trees, birch,
chestnut and one or two straight pines; the nightingale had chosen this
for his stage, and now again quite distinctly rose the gurgling note,
and continued, too, right through Miss Mamie's piercing whisper.

"Why! it's purfectly lovely! I guess I must take one or two back to
Amurica. This grove of trees, the dense blue sky, the silence of all
you dear people, and just that one divine voice throbbing with love! It
makes me feel like melting. If anyone proposed to me now I should just
have no strength to refuse. Don't feel nervous, most Reverend Young
Man. I am really thinking of that fascinating Mr Jim. Say! has he gone
to bed?"

Jim! Where was he? I saw the Young Man give a start, and a quick glance
showed me we had both solved the mystery of that persistently gurgling
bird. "He ought to be doing his preparation," I said in firm tones.

"Don't, Mary! how you shouted. Now he has stopped. Oh, what a pity!"

The Young Man whistled softly, and after a pause a little answering
whistle came from another spot.

"What is that?" asked Mamie.

"Night-jar," suggested the Young Man.

We listened in vain for more warblings from the nightingale. He had
flown for good, and they all said it was my fault.

"Did you have a good concert?" asked his Reverence, as we returned to
the drawing-room.

And at the chorus of approval he laughed, and assured us the
nightingale had given him a dress rehearsal, and that was why we waited
so long.

Mamie declared his Reverence was the biggest dear she had met "this
side," for you never could believe a word he said. He and the Young Man
had both been to the same school, she reckoned.

Next morning she had a tale to tell of her own special nightingale
throbbing with love just below her window, and again in the early
morning hours at her door. When she laid great stress on the "throbbing
with love," Jim got bashfully red. Then she maintained she heard him
flutter downstairs just as she was going to pipe her love tale too, and
that always, always, she will love her English nightingale the best of
all British institooshons.

"You don't think she really knows," whispered Jim to me, "because if
she does, she is going rather far, isn't she?"

       *       *       *       *       *

How lovely a garden can be by moonlight, even a poor little garden.
The moon is merciful, she touches all things, even the weeds, with a
soft mystery; hallows the lily and every white bloom; in her light
the red and blue flowers are not faded or extinguished, but softened;
distances, shadows are intenser, more suggestive than in the garish
glory of the sun; soft voices, soft footsteps are needed for the
moonlit garden, and one may not think of work or gardeners. The flowers
are asleep, wake them not; all but those of strong sweet scent and
small blossom, like the jessamine and nicotina, which fittingly star
the night garden, and these are sweeter now than ever, and thus woo to
them the little moths, those flitting, dusky, silent lovers.

The lime-tree avenue became a favourite night walk. The path that was
once gravel, and by long neglect had become green in patches, was
encouraged in its overgrowth, and Griggs and a scythe will turn it in
time to quite a respectable grass walk, I hope. In the subdued light
the feathery tall weeds gave it quite a fairy glade appearance.

I can dream in my garden by moonlight, and perhaps not always of my
garden.

       *       *       *       *       *

The little perennial and biennial seeds sown in the open in April were,
at the end of June, ready for thinning. They had each developed the
"body" prepared for them, and nice, sturdy little "bodies" they were,
but growing too close together and needing more elbow room. I do not
think one ever sows seeds thinly enough, and this is not so much to
be regretted for economy's sake as for the sake of the tiny plants'
nourishment. Here again was a great waste of plant life, though, had
all been wanted, all could have been used, for they are none the worse
for this shifting. Still, half a row instead of two would have been
sufficient for my needs.

I selected the sturdiest, left some growing where they were, at about
six inches apart, and moved the others to a new bed, also allowing
them six inches; the rest were wasted, except a few, which found their
way to a corner of some cottage gardens. But this is not the time when
people are grateful for them; they like the well-grown plants in the
autumn, which can then be placed in their spring bed.

If the weather has been very dry it is a good plan to water the plants
well before beginning to divide them, which, of course, is done by
loosening the ground with a little fork and carefully selecting the
young root you want from the many. Water well, too, when your work is
finished, and continue to watch over them unless the rain comes to
bless them.

For these plantlets I chose a nursery that was not exposed all day to
the sun. One has to think for them; they repay it with quicker and
sturdier growth, which means better flowering capacity in the spring.

So all my wallflowers, forget-me-nots, Canterbury-bells,
sweet-Williams, silene, were thus attended to, and, added to my nursery
division of perennial seeds, which I now divided up in like fashion,
made a grand show, or promise rather.

His Reverence was brought to admire, but he looked at the patch I had
chosen and said,

"Do you know I had cauliflowers in here last year, and it is just the
very spot that suits them."

"I know," I said. "I hope it will suit my children too."

But his Reverence took quite another view of the matter, and talked of
"landmarks," so I fled, for I did not want to be told I must move them
all again. That was impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now, as the sun shone day by day both lustily and long, the great
difficulty of watering arose.

This was the time in the ideal gardens told of in my precious books
when the busy garden boy rolls his clanking watering-tank, unfurls the
sinuous hose, and from morning to night supplies the thirsting flowers.

In the Master's garden there was no lack, and his long tubes were even
emptying themselves, reckless extravagance! on the velvety lawn.

But for me, oh, lack-a-day! The ground felt like hot dust, the
seedlings drooped, and the Others told me not to pray for rain as they
were doing the opposite, lawn tennis being in full swing.

We had a rain-water tank, and in the stables water was laid on, but it
was a far cry from the stables to the garden, especially the kitchen
garden, and old Griggs was a slow mover. The watering-tank groaned its
way, but only the two most important beds got their daily draught. They
were beginning to turn yellow in an encouraging fashion, but it takes
some time for the eight inches apart to fill up and become the mass of
colour dreamt of.

Then I disorganised the domestic economy by insisting on the contents
of the household baths finding their way down to my rose bushes. At
first the housemaids liked the little jaunt, but soon there were
complaints of "'indering me getting on with my work, miss," and I began
to inspect possibilities of converging drain-pipes and establishing
receptive barrels; also I gave his Reverence small peace in those days
in my desire for a further laying on of water to the kitchen garden and
some yards of hose, but he said that these were big undertakings, he
must think, etc., and for that hot, dry summer we got no further than
thoughts.

Griggs hated me worse than ever, an unavoidable evil. We had one
pitched battle, and though it did some little good, the spirit of a
defeated foe is not one easy to work with.

In the dark winter evenings Griggs seeks his fireside as the light
fails, or even before if it suits him. Against this I have nothing to
say, but when the long days come with their need for more gardening
care, I object to the early tea-time departure.

I found my precious seedlings drooping and Griggs ready to depart for
his tea.

I love my own tea, so a fellow-feeling made me kind.

"But come back, Griggs, for some watering must be done."

"I can't come no more to-night, oi 'ave to see to things a bit up at
'ome."

"Griggs "--and my voice held dignified rebuke--"you are gardener
_here_, and these flowers are your first duty."

"There ain't no gettin' round with all them little plants wot you've
started. I did give 'em a watering two days ago!"

"Two days ago! Don't _you_ want your tea every day?"

"Maybe it'll rain soon, and that'll pull 'em round. They ain't human
critturs. Don't you fuss over them, miss. Oi knows their ways. Bless
you, I've been a gardener these forty years."

At this I rose.

And what had been the result? Would he care to have his gardening
capacity judged by the dearth that reigned at the Rectory? Did the
heavy weed crops speak well for his industry? Did the underground
interlacement of that pernicious ground-elder do him credit? Did the
roses, the jasmine, etc., etc. My pent-up indignation overflowed and
Griggs had the full benefit.

The only impression I conveyed was that "Miss Mary was takin' on in a
terrible unchristian spirit." Clerk Griggs never had a doubt of his own
uttermost fulfilment of the law. In his opinion, "young ladies should
play the pianny and leave gardening to them as knows." Griggs meant to
go home. I felt this was a decisive moment.

"You will come back and do the necessary watering," I said, "and I
shall be here to see it is done; you quite understand?"

With this I walked away, and Griggs came back. I got his Reverence to
support me, and we decided to give an extra hour's rest in the middle
of the day and insist on the watering, without which all previous
efforts are rendered, null and void.

       *       *       *       *       *

A useful little book, procured for the modest sum of ninepence, gave me
a more intimate knowledge of the dwellers in my garden. It is a plain
little book, though it reads like a fairy tale, with its stories of
marriage-customs and the wind and bees and flying insects as lovers.
Straightforward and interesting reading, and to those who begin to
desire more knowledge of their plant life, highly to be recommended
is this _Story of the Plants_, by Grant Allen. For surely if you love
your flowers it will not be from your own more or less selfish point of
view that you will regard them. Their aims and objects will interest
you; their growth and evolution be of importance; and, to come round
again to one's own advantage, what is best for them must also be best
for the garden, since flowers in their full beauty is the gardener's
object, and the plants' too.

But the plants go further; they wish to end in seed. All their fine
show, their sweetness and light, is with this object in view; and
here I for one must come in, in heartless fashion, and thwart them.
My scissors in those summer days were as much employed in cutting
off dying bloom as in selecting fresh ones. Not a sweet-pea, not an
antirrhinum, not a rose must hang fading on its stem. For I must lure
my plants on to further flowering and prevent the feeling of "duty
done" and a fine set of seeds with which they would fain wind up their
summer's career. And it is a business, this chopping off of old heads.
"No strength to go that way, if you please," I said to my flowers;
"keep it all for blossoms and growing purposes, and I promise that
your seed shall not cease from the earth, in spite of your particular
thwarted efforts." When I happen to want a seed pod preserved, I mean
to label it with brilliant worsted, but my garden must have grown
indeed before that good time comes.

The seedlings which, sown in the open, were now rewarding Jim's
matutinal thinnings-out, were a comfort and encouragement. The
intensely blue cornflowers furnished many a dinner-table, and though
they did not face the wind with all the backbone desirable, I had
not staked them, they formed a very good background to the less tall
pinky-white godetias, and these, too, in July were a boon to those
Others. They last very well in water, and, if diligently cut and not
allowed to seed, they continue a fine show of bloom into the early
autumn.

The Shirley poppies were pure joy. Sunlight or moonlight they were a
feast for the eyes; but, _N.B._, only those which had been properly
thinned out and cared for. Some had escaped this process, and the
result was invariably miserable little starved plantlets, who would
have been cut as poor relations could they have been seen by their
fine, stately, well-developed, gorgeously-attired sisters in a patch of
ground that they beautified with every shade of pink, and salmon, and
white, and rose. So dainty, too, were the bright petals, like crumpled
satin, delicately gauffered at the edges; and what matter that their
day was brief, as befits such delicate beauties. There were more and
more to follow; green bud on bud hanging their small heads among the
sage-green leaves, until the time came for them too to "come out" and
reign as beauties for a space as long as a butterfly's life.

There was a chorus of praise from the Others.

"Now, why don't you grow more of those?"

"Why did you not fill the two round beds with these? They make a much
finer show!"

"Are they very difficult to grow, or very expensive? Why not more?"

"Don't they last? Won't they come again? Oh, but I would make them!"

"You shall do the thinning out and watering," said Jim, grimly, while
I tried, but quite in vain, to explain that permanence was the chief
thing needed by the two round beds, and that my yellow design would go
on.

"They aren't half so effective," the Others murmured, "but of course
you will have it your own way!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The mignonette failed me; a few straggling plants and no bloom was all
that packet did for me. I thought it grew as a weed everywhere, and
my soil suits weeds! But I cannot master the mystery of what happens
to some things below ground. The anemones never gave a sign of life.
"They've rotted, that's what they've done," said Griggs, sagaciously,
as he dug the spot where they had been buried and found no trace of
anything. I intend to try again. Someone said damp had that effect on
their roots, so next time for a more open, more sunny spot; but maybe
that will prove too dry.

Those hot days of July and August! Alas and alas! how I and my flowers
suffered from the "too-dry." With the exception of my blazing yellow
beds and my nurslings for next year, which, after my interview with
Griggs, did receive a daily draught, my other flowers lifted withered
faces to a piteously sunny sky and dwindled away into little dried-up
sticks, all for the lack of water. A drop now and then is worse than
useless; it only brings their eager roots hastily to the watered
surface, and there the strong sun catches them and they are withered up
for good and all.

The sweet-pea hedge that had been a source of delight and use, and that
I had kept most diligently picked, during three days' absence converted
its blossoms into seed-pods and then gave up the ghost.

I tried to pick it back to life with the destruction of pods and a good
watering, but it was no good, and I had to turn my attention to the
other less advanced sweet-peas and try and keep them going; the heat
seemed to scorch the bloom and hurry on the pod.

The established perennials may survive the drought; later rains may
revive them, but to the poor little annuals it is good-bye for ever;
and many a zinnia, stock, lobelia, and even marigold, though it is more
hardy, had but a poor little starved life, and passed away with a tiny
drooping head.

It was heart-breaking. Another year I must not have so large a family
of these tender children. The hardy annuals which can be given
straight away to Mother Earth's care fare better, and coming quicker
to the flowering time are not so wasted. But those grown in boxes and
transplanted claim more attention, and they could not have it; though
to all water is a necessity, and they fade the sooner for its lack. The
poor salpiglosis needs other soil; heavier, damper, I suppose, and some
shade. I fear I must admire them in other people's gardens.

Griggs and the clanging tank on wheels was a poor substitute for the
"blessed rain from heaven" that falls on all alike, while his unwilling
steps could scarcely be induced to water those that lay nearest to
his hand; and I could not expect him--even I could not--to water
everywhere every day.

If I had water laid on! if I had a hose! how I would use it!

"Yes, and think of my bill," said his Reverence. I suppose this is the
way they talk of the revenue in India when the poor people are starving.

Well, well, poor folk should not have more children than they can
feed, so I must give my attention more especially to the deeper-rooted
perennials, though even they hang limp-leaved and will reward me in the
future only according to my treatment of them. It is the Law of the
Universe.

Some patches of seedlings in a neighbouring garden made all my resolves
to curtail expenditure in that direction fly in an instant.

These were Mother Earth's hardy babies; no boxes or transplanting
were needed. It was a mass of the bright-coloured heads of the annual
phlox which excited my admiration. They are more brilliant, though
smaller, than their perennial sisters, and for cutting they are quite
invaluable. They last, too, through three or four months. My garden
must have them.

Another yellow patch caught my fancy. (I have a theory yellow flowers
are hardiest; it is the primitive colour.) This was eschscholtzia,
Californian poppy in other words. These seem to me indispensable; their
grey-green leaves make the prettiest decoration.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Master's garden peace and plenty reigned. The hose played all
day long; the grass was a joy, green as perennial youth; the flowers
nodded at him in full satisfaction, and he sat and smiled at them,
"feeling good," as the Americans say.

I went home and noted the brown lawn, in which even the plantains
were beginning to turn colour, and thought of my border, and "felt
bad." Even the brilliant yellow of my two round beds, staring like
sunflowers, full among the starving, failed to comfort me.

It is always the one lamb crying in the wilderness that pulls the true
shepherd's heart away from the ninety and nine trim little sheep safe
in the fold.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jim was very busy those days and more or less deserted me. One of the
Others, a mankind from Sandhurst, divided his allegiance, and holidays
and cricket absorbed him.

"One has to slack off a bit," he said, "and old Griggs can water.
I'll come on again in the autumn; there will be some work with those
tap-roots, you know."

But when a question arose of how much to the good my reign had proved,
then Jim was with me at once. Even "Sandhurst" and the grand ideas that
are a necessity of that period of development, were not allowed to be
too snubbing.

"You look at those two yellow beds," said Jim. "That's one year's work,
good. Next year we will have a bit more, up to that style. You try and
get up some weeds yourself and then you can talk."

And indeed those two yellow beds were a satisfaction; they grew and
grew until not a spare inch was left between root and root, and they
flared away gorgeously in the face of the hottest sun. I kept all dead
heads cut down, for they were to go on right to the end of October.

The antirrhinums came on bravely, too; my little straight soldiers, now
no longer so thin and leggy, but beginning to branch out, and carrying
their stiff red, white or yellow spear of flowers bolt upright in the
centre. But they were still small, and I was glad that I had secured a
quicker effect with my yellow design. They performed a gay march past
in that forlorn old border in the front, but more toward the end of the
summer, owing really to the delay in pricking them out. His Reverence
said they consoled him for the disaster of the crocuses in spring.

I bought some little plants of creeping jenny, six at threepence each,
and put them in round one of the stumps holding a group of rather
mauvy-coloured creeping geraniums. They took kindly to the position,
and yellow and mauve go excellently well together. Also I added three
plants of gypsophila to my long border. I felt the Others would
appreciate them.

I often wanted to buy ready-made flowers, and a flower shop or nursery
garden became a real danger to me; but there was the five pounds to be
thought of, or rather the few shillings which remained, and oh! the
many things that were really necessities of the first order.

In August Griggs and I, friends for the moment, took cuttings of those
geraniums whose colours, for some reason Griggs failed to fathom,
pleased me. Of course those that I least liked offered the better
cuttings, but I was inexorable and told Griggs I had other uses for
that solitary frame. We "struck" the cuttings in some big pots, six
in each. They grew easily, and for next year I shall only have the
colours I like. Then, rather in astonishment at myself for patronising
geraniums, I bought a hundred cuttings of Henry Jacoby, a good dark
red, for six shillings. I can't help coming round to the opinion that
geraniums are an excellent stand-by. A dozen pink climbing geraniums
were given me. My eye of faith already sees them growing up the
verandah and causing even the Others to say pretty things to me. During
the autumn and winter, as little cuttings they will pass their time
making root in my frame. Yellow daisies and white, in wooden boxes,
were to join them there; and, in order to be really forward with some
things, a good supply of antirrhinum and lobelia cuttings. Naturally
they will be more forward and stronger than the seedlings of February,
but I have to face the question of room.

       *       *       *       *       *

There comes a time of lull in the life of a garden when, if only the
watering be seen to, it is possible for even the head gardener to take
a holiday. In August what has been done is done and cannot be altered;
and what left undone must remain so. It is too late now, and the hope
of "next year" is turned to eagerly, for "next year" is the only remedy
left.

I had been driven to "next year" quite early in the day, for all my
plants would be more established, and therefore I trusted more lavish
with bloom in their second year with me. They had done their best, I
doubted not, and to my eye the promise of growth at the roots began to
give as much satisfaction as the few blooms sent, almost tentatively,
up into their new surroundings. Ah! for the time when the blue
delphinium should be a massive background for the white lilies, and
these shine against a thick clump of red valerian; and then the eye
should catch the brilliant yellow of the tiger-lily and feel cool in
the clear purple of the Indian-pea. And then this scheme should repeat
itself, diversified with the stately hollyhock and flaring sunflower,
or the feathers of the spiræa, which should rival it in height. More
forward in the border should glow the warm-scented sweet-Williams
and the bright-headed phlox; the pure white campanula should nod its
bells, and the quaint Turk's head hold its own stiffly. Gaillardias and
gladiolas, ixias and montbresias should strike a strong-coloured note,
and clumps of Canterbury-bells, stocks, zinnias, penstemons, marigolds
and scabious should each in turn--and some take a good long turn--bring
their share of brightness; and the flowers of the past, the irises, the
bleeding heart, the columbines, the bright scarlet geum, the yellow
doronicum, should be marked by a patch of green that by diligent
growing gave hope of more beauty for the future. In this bright future
I was apt to wander and to lose sight of the rather meagre present. But
that needs must be one of the consolations of a garden.

And so, hoping all things for my garden, I went to pay visits to other
people's gardens.

One grand garden filled me with anything but envy. It was so terribly
trim, such rows of variegated geraniums, big calceolarias, featherfew
and lobelia. I determined never to treat any bed or border to edgings;
to mass even lobelia together and only break it with taller plants,
such as geraniums, of the pure good colours quite possible I found, or
salvias or fuchsias. Here was line after line, pattern after pattern;
surely they were the "goodly sights" Bacon had seen in tarts!

Grand beds of coleus and begonias there were, but these were beyond me,
savouring too much of the greenhouse, and all the flowers in the rooms
spoke of gardeners and hot-houses.

"I don't think my gardener cares much for herbaceous things," said my
hostess. "What flowers _do_ live out of doors? in this climate, I mean."

And I found out that a greenhouse gardener very seldom does care for
herbaceous things.

But another smaller garden made me envious. How the plants grew in that
blessed soil, with a little river meandering through. No difficulty
about water, and that was half the difficulty of flower cultivation
overcome.

I knew at once that all I wanted for perfect contentment was one small
stream and one small conservatory, then things should march; but I
suppose even that highly-blessed woman had a "but" in her lot.

Gardeners are so good to one another. I long for the day when I too
shall say, "Oh, I will send you some of that, wait until the autumn,"
and "You care for this? I can spare some." They must feel they are
really doing so much good in the world.

It was a proud moment when one said, "If you have Canterbury-bells to
spare, send me some; mine have failed me, they are wretched specimens,
and will never do any good."

And mine were sturdy; I knew that.

Old Lovell was another of my customers. He was to have some
sweet-Williams and some foxgloves, and I was to have two clumps of
Turk's head in exchange, and some of the many young plants surrounding
his big clump of that June joy, rosy red valerian. From my other
friends I had promises of many good things; the small perennial
sunflower, soleil d'or, some nice Michaelmas daisies, the useful pink
and white Japanese anemone, a yellow lupin and some of the white
variety. More delphiniums, too, I accepted with thankfulness, and I
felt my garden growing and growing as the kind promises flowed in.

       *       *       *       *       *

So back to my own garden with eyes terribly open to its deficiencies,
"a poor thing, but mine own," at least, "mine own" for a time, and
certainly "mine own" to improve; therefore the deficiencies were not
to appal me, though they were still the most striking feature of my
garden. The yellow beds still flared, the antirrhinums still marched,
and, perhaps most consoling of all, the little plants for next year,
and those for always, were well and thriving. The summer had not passed
in vain as far as they were concerned. No, nor passed in vain even
where it only chronicled failures, for Ignoramuses must take their
share of these too, as a necessary part of their education; and how the
spring and summer had opened my eyes!

The red ash berries strewed the ground; the birds saw to that, finding
pleasure in breaking them off with a knowing jerk of the head and not
a bit from hunger; the convolvulus, nasturtium and canariensis were
flinging themselves in wild confusion; there was a kind of riot even
among the flowers and weeds in the long border. A few roses, especially
the good old "Gloire," were giving a little after-show, but a touch of
finality had come to my garden, and when a hush passed over it, broken
only by an early falling leaf, I knew autumn had come, and I scarcely
paused to say good-bye to my first summer's gardening, so eager was I
for all that autumn meant in the way of work for the future.

       *       *       *       *       *



[Illustration: AUTUMN]



SEASON IV

Autumn

    "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness."


"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I
would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

So said George Eliot, and with all due reverence for her opinion, my
soul would fly in the opposite direction, seeking the spring. If the
autumn led straight on to spring I could love it more, but through its
stillness I hear the winter blast; its gorgeous colouring scarce hides
the baring boughs; day by day death lays a withering hand on flower
and tree; day by day the sun runs quicker to its golden resting-place.
Have you ever noticed how great a difference there is between the sun's
summer and winter march across the heavens? Note the tree behind which
he sinks in June and then again in November. A whole third of the
heavens separates the two; and what does that not mean to us of lack in
light and warmth? "Ah! would that the year were always May." And yet
there are days, such days of perfect beauty that the year could never
spare them. They come in early autumn, and it is as though a recording
angel passed, so sweet, so solemn is the hush, the pause, with which
Nature holds her breath and listens as she lays open her store of
harvest to the "Well done" of the voiceless blessing.

And then, the blessed rest-day over, she turns about. "To work!"
seems to be the order. "Away with these old flowers! No more need
for pod-making; wither up the annuals, cut down the perennials, stop
those busy youngsters and their growing process for a bit, shake off
the leaves, they will come in useful later on, but pile them up now
and let the children scuttle through them with happy feet, and have
a good clear-out before you go to sleep and wake up again in the
springtime--'the merry, merry springtime.' Away, you birds, and look
out for yourselves those of you who stay; get your nests ready and your
stores safely housed, my small friends of fur and feather, for my work
is now to purge and to winnow, to try and to test, and woe betide the
weaklings!" So the wind, Dame Nature's mighty broom-maiden, prepares
her best besom, and there is soon a thorough good house-cleaning, to
the great discomfort of the inhabitants.

Well, we have to put up with it; and the best plan is to do a little
of the same work on one's own account, that so, being in harmony with
Nature, one's temper is less sorely tried.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is enough to be done.

I hardly consider September an autumn month, but the calendar does, so
I will mention first one bit of work well worth doing. Sow a good long
row of sweet-peas. Make a shallow trench and prepare it as was done
in the spring, and before Nature stops all growth above ground you
will have a lusty row of little plants five to six inches high. These
I should stake before the winter, as a means of protection from frost
and snow; and next year, a month earlier than most of your friends, you
will have sweet-peas of a height, a size and profusion to make them all
envious. And that is, of course, a consummation most devoutly to be
wished.

Some people's autumn borders are things of great joy and beauty.
Looking on the Master's profusion, I felt like the Queen of Sheba, for
I expect she thought her own house and grounds a very poor show when
she got back to Sheba. But I did not, like that celebrated queen, turn
and bless him unreservedly. I felt more like--much more like--abusing
Griggs.

Let me tell you what an autumn border can be like; not in my own poor
words, but as a master-hand painted a Master's garden, and, though not
_my_ Master's garden, the description fits.

"Against the deep green of the laurels, the rhododendron and box are
sunflowers six feet high, lit up each of them with a score of blooms,
and hollyhocks, taller still, are rosetted with deep claret flowers and
mulberry and strange old pink. Between them bushes of cactus dahlias
literally ablaze with scarlet. In front are standard roses, only
crimson and damask, and now in October bright with their second bloom.
Hiding their barren stems, compact and solid, an exquisite combination
of green and purple, are perennial asters--a single spike of them, with
its hundreds of little stars, makes a noble decoration in a room--and
humbler, if more vivid, companies of tritonia. Here and again are old
clumps of phlox, of fervent carmine or white starred with pink, and, to
my mind, of singular beauty, the rudbeckias in brilliant clusters of
chrome yellow.

"Three times in the long border Japanese anemones, mixed white
and terra cotta, mark noble periods in the great curve of colour;
and at corresponding intervals, as you walk round, your eye
catches the beautiful response, set further forward, of clumps of
chrysanthemums, lemon yellow and Indian red, tiny flowers, no doubt,
'for chrysanthemums', but sweetly pretty in their profusion and
artless growth. Is that enough? Well, then, for more. There are the
snapdragons in every shade of snapdragon colour, and geums now making
second displays of flower, and penstemons; and salvias shaded in
butterfly-blue, and Iceland poppies, and the round lavender balls--like
the spiked horrors which genial Crusaders wore at the end of chains
for the thumping of Saracens and similar heathens--which the Blessed
Thistle bears.

"Can you see this October garden at all?"[2]

[2] _In Garden, Orchard and Spinney,_ by Phil Robinson.

Indeed, that must look something like a garden border; and after all,
friend Ignoramus, it is not totally out of your reach. Even with my
disadvantages some of those glories can be mine.

The sunflowers, of course, I had, and though rather roughly staked
by my old enemy, yet their golden heads were there, and by diligent
decapitation they continued until I "did up" the border. The dahlias
did fairly, and some of the poor little water-starved annuals picked
up a little and gave patches of colour, notably the marigolds. The
Michaelmas daisy--which is here called "perennial aster"--gave but
little bloom; all my bushy perennial plants will be better next
year. The golden rod, that old inhabitant, was fine and useful even
this first September. It kept the big jar in the drawing-room going
with dahlias and sunflowers, but the day came all too soon when even
these gave out, and then I fell back on Dame Nature and plundered her
hedgerows. Such leaves, such yellows and reds, and berries, black,
red and green, never was a bunch more beautiful than that provided
by the country lanes; and if only a garden would go wild in such a
fashion I should leave it to itself. But that is the trouble. When once
civilisation has laid her hand on flower or savage there is no going
back; one must progress, the primitive conditions are lost for ever.
Unless the new ideal be lived up to, the latter state is worse than the
first.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had been collecting ideas as well as had experience during the summer
months, and some of the ideas were greatly augmented by a Visitor who
came into the garden during the month of October. He had had varied
experiences during the years, not so many either, of his pilgrimage,
and after having claimed America, Australia, India as his fields of
action, and ranching, mining, pearl-fishing, architecture and the stock
exchange as some of his employments, I was not surprised to find he
had also made a thorough study of the art of Gardening; in fact, had
thought of landscape gardening as a profession.

His Reverence had said, "Get him to give you some advice; he knows all
about it."

So I sought this fount of knowledge.

My garden looked indeed a poor thing seen through his eyes.

He stood taking in the general effect.

"Hump!--ha!--yes!--you ought to have all that cleared away," waving
a hand towards a shrubbery which indeed looked as though it needed
judicious pruning; "it is in the wrong place, and it would add
considerably to the size of the lawn if it were done away with. And
that path, you notice the fatal curve. Why in the name of Reason make a
curve when a straight line leads quicker between two places? Curves and
circles are an abomination in a garden. Don't you see it?"

"Oh, quite, but I didn't make that path."

"No, but why tolerate it? I can assure you I could not live with that
silly crooked line waving itself aside like a fanciful damsel. Pah!
Get that altered for one thing, and then, _don't_ have it gravelled.
Between grass, what can look so staring and hideous as that patch
of yellow? Not that yours is very yellow, been down some time, eh?
Buy some old slabs of slate, quite easy to get. Go round to the old
churches; you are sure to find some Philistine parson removing the
old slate leading through the churchyard and putting down hideous,
gritty gravel! You can benefit by his crass stupidity. And then--ah,
yes--don't have wire fencing between the garden and that field.
Prettily-laid-out field that is, too. I congratulate you on that clump
of trees. Very nice! yes, very nice But that aggressive railing paling
thing! Away with it! and have a sunk fence if you need anything."

"Sheep are sometimes put in that field," I said timidly, for I felt, in
spite of that clump of trees, that I was responsible for a great deal
of fearful ignorance.

"Oh, well, a sunk fence will keep them out. Now let us walk on a
bit. Dear, dear, how those two round beds hurt one! Remind one of
bulls'-eyes, don't they? You must not have round beds, have them in
squares; two oblongs would fit in better there. But let me see, ah,
yes, that would be better. Now look here. Take away that hedge"--he
pointed to the holly hedge dividing the lawn from the kitchen
garden--"right away; make there a good border, that will give you the
colour, and you can do away with those beds."

"But the kitchen garden!"

"Don't you like the look of a kitchen garden? Nothing more beautiful.
Border everything with flowers, and think what a vista you have from
your window."

"Oh, I know. I want an opening somewhere."

"An opening! You want it _open_, not boxed in like this. The intention
of hedges was to shut out the roads or one's prying neighbours. You
have neither. For goodness' sake give yourself room. What is there so
attractive in that prickly hedge? But if you want a division, if you
must keep the vulgar vegetables in their place, why, put up a pergola!"

"Oh!" I exclaimed. Pergola somehow suggested fairy-land, or Italian
lakes at the least.

"Yes, pergola. Now just see it. Beautiful green lawn. By the way, you
must have this re-turfed, it is quite hopeless; good grass leading
straight down to that hedge, no pathway between," and he shuddered. "Do
away with the prickly hedge, have a border of bright flowers taking its
place; behind that a pergola of roses, through which you get vistas
of all the good sprouting green things, and clumps of flowers, hedges
of sweet-peas, banks of poppies, and everything bright and beautiful,
with suggestions of gooseberry bushes and strawberry beds, and feathery
carrots and waving asparagus. Now, how does that sound?"

"Delightful," I replied, sinking on a garden seat with a most doleful
sigh, and looking from that picture to the one that lay before me.

"Ah, yes," following my eye, "and don't forget that path; straight,
mind you, and slates. There is something about a wet slate bordered
with grass that gives you sensations of coolness and repose that really
consoles you for the rain. You try it! Now, I daresay I could suggest a
good many more things that need doing, but I suppose you won't manage
more this autumn."

"It is very kind of you," I began.

"Oh, not at all, not at all. I assure you it is a great pleasure to
suggest improvements. Now here you have a little garden, nothing much
about it, you may say, but at once I see what can be made of it. My
mind is full of the higher vision, until really sometimes it is a shock
to me to come back to real earth, as it were, and find how far it is
from the ideal."

"Yes, I should think so," I murmured.

"Of course that is what is needed for landscape gardening, to which I
gave special attention at one time. Flowers I have not yet taken up;
but shrubs! ah, well, I think I won't begin on shrubs, for I have to
catch that train."

Then we walked back to the house, and I wished I too had a train to
catch that I might never, never look at my garden again.

The Others said I was very depressed for some days, but at last I
resolutely faced my garden.

"You are all wrong," I said, "made wrong from the beginning, and I
can't alter you, but as you are the only one we have I must just make
the best of you. One thing I can do, and that is to have down the old
holly hedge and make a pergola."

So I approached the Others.

They agreed at once that we wanted vistas, and jumped at the pergola,
but Jim shook his head.

"No go," said he, and said no more.

"But I am not sure about a vista of cabbages and onions," remarked a
cautious One. "I don't like them in any form."

"But I should have borders of flowers everywhere," and the Visitor's
picture rose in my mind. "You don't mind asparagus."

"No, if you can keep your vistas to that."

"But a pergola! Mary, that sounds a large order."

"Yes. But this is a thing that affects us all, so we must all make an
effort."

"Does your effort mean £ s. d.?"

"Something very like it."

And there was a chorus of "Oh's" and "That's all very fine! _but_--"

"Well, you are all _for_ it, anyhow?" I said.

"Oh, yes, we are all _for_ it."

"Then I am going to tackle his Reverence."

"There he is, then, at the bottom of the lawn, with a slaughtered bunny
in his hand, so the moment should be auspicious."

But it wasn't.

I approached my subject delicately, mindful of the overwhelming sense
of impossibility with which the Visitor's suggestions had filled my
soul; but when it dawned on his Reverence that I wanted not only to
erect a pergola but to cut down the holly hedge, it then transpired
that the holly hedge was the joy of his heart and the pride of his
eyes; when other things failed, and snails ate the onions, _that_ hedge
was always there, always green, always solid, and always a consolation.

I explained my views and he explained his, and then we both explained
them together; he said I was very obstinate, and I said he was not
allowing me a free hand. He said he did, and I said, "Then may I do
it?" He said, "Certainly not," and I said, "Very good, then, I resign
the garden." I heard his laugh--a hearty one--as I marched with
dignity back to the drawing-room.

"Well!" the Others cried, "you look as though you had had a lively
time."

"I could have told you exactly what his Reverence would say and saved
you the trouble of a row."

I tried to squash Jim with a look, but nothing under many
hundredweights could do that. So I said coldly,

"We had no row; and little boys don't always know what their elders
will say."

"Bet you I know what _he_ said to you. And on the whole I agree with
him. It's no use taking a bigger bite than you can chew."

"It isn't a bigger bite than--Jim, you are very vulgar! But I don't
care now, I have given up the garden."

"Resigned your stewardship!" said Jim, tragically. "Anything over of
the five pounds? I wouldn't retire yet, you can't have saved enough."

"Don't talk nonsense, Mary. At least, it doesn't matter _what_ you
talk, you can't do it," said one of the Others.

"Can't I? we shall see," hardening my heart.

"What did his Reverence say to your resignation?"

"He--he didn't say anything."

"He laughed! I heard him," said Jim, "and he is splitting his sides
telling the Young Man all about it."

"He isn't! Jim, go quick, interrupt them. I won't let them talk of
m--my garden."

Jim is really a nice boy; he swaggered off with his hands in his
pockets, whistling, and joined the two men. I knew he would give the
conversation the turn I wished.

I began to cool down. It was easy to say I would "resign" the garden,
but could I? Putting pride aside, was not my interest in all those
young promising plants for the spring too deep for me now to desert
them? Had I not rooted, amongst other things, too much of myself in my
garden for me now lightly to withdraw?

While I pondered I strolled down the garden, and coming up the other
side ran into the group of three viewing the holly hedge from the back.

"It is one of the best holly hedges I have ever seen," his Reverence
was saying. "Cut it down! Why, it would be sheer madness."

Then the Young Man, without noticing me, began,

"All the same, you do want an opening somewhere. It is quite true that
fine hedge shuts you in very much."

"I like being shut in," said his Reverence; "but I might consider your
idea of an opening here, an archway in the middle, particularly as the
hedge is already rather thin in one place, only 'Mary, Mary, quite
contrairy.'"

"You had better not abuse me, because I am listening," I put in.

"Oh, here you are. I was going to say you had resigned."

"If you had heard all _your_ Visitor suggested you would have thrown up
the living."

"Bumptious fellow! I should not have listened to him."

"But you told me to."

"Because I had had enough of him."

"But what he said was true. It is absolutely immoral to have that
curveting path, that hideous paling, and this bisecting hedge."

"Well, Mary, I did give you credit for _some_ common sense."

"It's un-common sense I am blessed with, and I am trying to educate you
up to higher ideals for the garden."

But I had taken his arm.

"Then do it by degrees. The Young Man suggests a peep-hole through the
hedge. Will that satisfy you?"

"Well, may I have this gravel path up and make a border here?"

"What! more borders? However will you and Griggs manage those you have
already?"

"Perhaps if I have this I won't poach any more on the kitchen garden."

His Reverence looked at the gravel path critically. "I don't see that
we need this path very much, but it means a lot of work to take away
this gravel and bring in good mould. It is no use having a bad border
while you are about it. Who is to do it?"

"Griggs and--and help," I answered boldly, "and you shall direct."

"And you won't resign?"

"I will think better of my decision."

"And I may keep my holly hedge?"

"For the present, until I have educated you up to the pergola."

"Oh! thank you."

Then I explained fully to the Young Man the glories and delights of a
pergola and vistas; and he is quite ready to help fix the iron arches,
fasten overhead the wire netting, train the clambering roses, vines and
clematis, and--cut down the holly hedge.

His Reverence's education will take a little time, I expect. In the
meanwhile the archway made in the broad gap cut in his holly hedge will
help to train his eye to the beauty of vistas.

But how the Visitor would despise my compromising soul!

It was judicious of me to give his Reverence the direction of the new
border. I heard nothing of expense, and, once started, he went ahead
in thorough fashion.

The gravel was carted away, and some feet of stony earth. Then we came
to a layer of good though light soil. The backs of shrubberies, a small
wood at the bottom of a field, a bank in the kitchen garden were all
taxed for their share of the best soil we could get, and this, finally
mixed in with some old turf and manure, made a border that looked
promising. There was no need to begin with a layer of broken china and
sardine tins, for the drainage in my soil was more than sufficient, and
this disappointed Jim, who said he was ready with a fine collection,
had that substratum been necessary.

And then, my new border ready, I launched out.

It was to be partly herbaceous, partly for bulbs and annuals.

The promised plants, which began to come in, supplied me with some
delphiniums and small perennial sunflowers. I moved there some of my
young plants of oriental poppies, planting them near together until
they should have expanded. Then I selected my lilies. The auratum and
other delightful varieties I had to leave out, but the white Madonna
lily would thrive, and croceum, an orange-coloured bloom, and the
soft apricot shade of an elegans promised to be hardy. These were
placed in front of the delphiniums and room left for big sunflowers
in the spring. Half forward the Canterbury bells, sweet-Williams and
tall campanulas were placed in clumps, and in front of them, well
buried, were groups of the Spanish and English irises, meant, as they
succeed each other, to keep bright patches of yellow, purple and white
flowering there for some time. They are not very dear--five shillings a
hundred--and I now began to reckon on a new five pounds. Montbresias,
too, I launched into, and left spaces for groups of gladiolas to join
them in the spring. Then for early flowering I introduced my thriving
young wallflowers, always in groups, not rows, and some of the dear
narcissi and gorgeous tulips would, I thought, be admired before other
things had a chance. To end up with, and be gay to the verge of gaudy,
I had forget-me-nots and pink silene.

Even the thought of the Visitor could not disturb my satisfaction over
my new border. He had not given me his views on flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

The archway where the holly hedge was sacrificed for my vista was
formed of two iron staves bent into arches and joined with wire netting
of eighteen inches wide. The village blacksmith supplied the staves;
they measured some fourteen feet when they arrived, but were cut and
buried until the archway was at its highest point seven feet; and the
wire netting was fastened on by my usual assistants. The Young Man was
very neat-handed. Then we consulted as to its covering, and, had all
suggestions been taken, it would have had to bear a vine on account of
its foliage; a virginian creeper for the red leaves in autumn; a Gloire
de Dijon since it seemed to prosper in my soil; clematis, both montana
and flamulata, and any number of the coloured varieties; a wisteria,
as we had none; a pink and a white banksia; a W. A. Richardson and a
crimson rambler. My arch having but two sides I was obliged to offend
a good many voters, and, despite jeers as to my former failures, I
decided on giving the crimson rambler another try. I chose also a white
banksia and a clematis montana, with free promises of introducing other
clematis and annual creepers later on, and carrying out all ideas when
once I had my pergola.

       *       *       *       *       *

Even after this supreme effort my autumn's work was only just
beginning. There was the verandah with its failures to tackle. The
beginning of November I unearthed the ramblers that even still refused
to ramble, and soon the cause of their stunted condition was laid bare.

"Pot bound! Whoi," said Griggs, "so they are! Curious! I don't moind
'avin' see'd 'em look like that. Maybe I was drefful 'urried at the
toime and never paid no 'eed."

As he spoke he tore at the poor roots, confined with a web-like
substance just the shape of the pot they had come in.

Anyone, absolutely _any_ Ignoramus, must have seen the hopelessness
of planting a rose-tree with its roots cramped like that. It was
impossible for the poor plant to strike out, make itself at home, and
get enough nourishment to grow on. How it had managed to live was the
marvel. And they were all the same, W. A. Richardson and the other
ramblers yellow and red; the standards had not come in pots, so their
fate had been better.

It was soon done, and I felt that prisoners had been released. We gave
them turf mould and manure mixture to strengthen them.

But it was not only the roses; all the creepers, excepting one
clematis, had made but poor growth. At last the mystery was solved.

A spreading beech threw its grateful shade over half the house and grew
within three yards of one end of the verandah. How far-reaching were
its roots I now discovered, and their greedy feelers taking every bit
of nourishment, both deep and near the surface, my creepers fought an
unequal fight for their daily bread. The condition of the roots of a
poor honeysuckle reminded one of prisoners of the Bastille.

But how to circumvent the tree? how to teach it manners? For there it
must stay, and so must the creepers and plants. We could cut the roots,
but they would come again.

Griggs scratched his head. "It's Natur', that's wot it is, an' that ere
tree 'ave been 'ere longer than any of us. So you can't do nothink."

"We must do something. Young Man, are you thinking?"

"Hard," was the answer.

"Let's build an underground wall," suggested Jim. But we all shook our
heads and thought again.

"Let's sink something," said the Young Man.

"Oh! a tub, an oil tub!" I almost shouted.

"Why, yes," said the Young Man. "I was thinking of zinc, but that
sounds so airtight and stuffy."

"Wouldn't a wooden tub rot away, though? A coffin goes to pieces pretty
quick," said Jim.

"Well, it will give them a better chance, and perhaps the roots will
get accustomed to going round. Anyway they can be renewed," said the
Young Man, cheerfully. "If no other idea is forthcoming, let us go and
find some tubs."

Now, how long wooden tubs will last under ground I cannot say, but we
did then and there sink four tubs beneath the gravel, and filled them
with good mixture, making holes and placing stones at the bottom for
drainage, and there the roots of the poor starvelings had, at least
for a time, a good meal, and when growing time comes I expect the
honeysuckle, the roses and the clematis to do justice to their fare.

The further end of the verandah was almost out of reach of the greedy
roots, as the long white streamers of the flamulata proved.

It is a satisfaction when things grow and flower and flourish as books
and catalogues have led you to expect.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two of my green tubs were now emptied of the still rampant leaves of
the nasturtium and the strong-growing geraniums. It seemed a pity to
cut short any vigorous life at the dying season of the year, but Jack
Frost would feel no compunction, and I might as well try and live up
to the Master's maxim of "getting forward"; so after refilling my tubs
with as wholesome a mixture as I could, I planted in each four good
roots of my old friend hellebore, and had them placed just under the
verandah.

The Others at first looked askance. "Will they flower?" I bade them
examine the already formed buds. For I bought my hellebore in promising
condition at one shilling and sixpence each, and by moving them with
a good solid lump of earth round the roots I hoped not to check their
development. I bought the common kind of white Christmas rose,
niger, and also a pinky-purple kind, with tall graceful heads called
atrorubens.

And when the robins, the snow, the sunshine and my Christmas roses
all came together, my verandah realised a very pretty Christmas-card
effect, and the Others said, "That is not at all bad." Then the jasmine
growing under the verandah burst also into golden stars, its growth
of one year having been carefully left alone, and I received as much
praise as though I had done something wonderful, which is often the way
of the world.

    "Luck was with glory wed."

This, however, is very previous, and I must go back to the end of
October.

       *       *       *       *       *

I determined the Others should not complain next spring of lack of
colour. The sturdy little forget-me-not plants were placed all round
the narrow verandah border, and bright red tulips, I allowed myself
fifty for that purpose, were buried between their roots a foot apart.
That effect ought to be gay.

In the small inner border between the windows that open on to the
verandah I placed the violets from their too shady bed. By taking
them up with good balls of earth I hoped not to check any flowering
aspirations they might have, and as this was done in October they did
recover, and in November and December they kept the verandah sweet, and
ought to do even better in March.

Under the study windows I planted a good mass of my red and yellow
wallflowers, not only to delight the eye but to send up the fragrance
that fills one with the joy of life and spring, and that his Reverence
might open his windows in April and say, "Well, the garden _is_
growing;" I also gave him a touching border of forget-me-nots.

Then, too, the desolate front border needed attention. It was always
a trial, for it was the poorest of my poor soil, and much robbed by
laurels, laburnum and may in the background. I knew I ought to re-make
the whole border, and treat it as I had treated the new one; but
prudence bade me lie low and leave it for another year. I removed
the old things, the clumps of seedlings, marigolds, zinnias and the
gallant little antirrhinums, who had now marched their last march, also
geraniums and dahlias; the latter being carefully dried and stored in
an open wooden box in the potting-shed.

Griggs kindly gave it "a bit of a dig," and removed the stones that
struck even him as being rather heavy for a border. I wish the worms
could be taught to carry their useful work a little further and not
only dig up the stones but place them in piles by the wayside.

We supplemented the poverty of the border with a little of our manure
heap diet, and here I may remark that our savoury heap was composed of
all kinds of material besides that derived from the stable. The grass
mowings, border trimmings, leaf sweepings, also all refuse of roots and
vegetables, after having formed a bonfire, were carefully added to this
store. The bonfire reduces the bulk but makes valuable diet without the
danger of sowing unwelcome seeds. Though to the owners of big gardens
worth writing about, and limitless gardeners and purse, my one poor
means of improving the soil may seem very inadequate, still it was much
better than nothing at all, and about suited to my other equipment of
Griggs and ignorance and five pounds.

Griggs, who regarded me more and more as an interloper, gave grudgingly
of this store. "And wot 'ull I do for _my_ wegetables?" It was always
"_my_ wegetables" and "_your_ flowers." "The Rector 'ull be at me if
I let you finish hoff that 'ere 'eap. 'E thinks a lot more of 'es
wegetables than you do. An 'e's right. You can _eat_ wegetables. So I
ain't a-going to let you have no more."

I felt reference to his Reverence just then might be injudicious, so
I soothed Griggs and put up, or the border did, with pauper fare. The
hardiest things were placed here. Foxgloves in clumps, and white and
purple Canterbury-bells. Further forward I tried sweet-Williams and
lupins. I bought some of these, both white and so-called blue, at five
shillings a dozen, rather small plants, but though my friends fulfilled
their promises and sent me hampers, I had so much room, and all the
long border to think of. Some of my tulip bulbs from last year came in
handy, and I edged off with pink silene.

To get a border bright in May and June did not seem an impossibility
to me now, but to continue the array through the summer was
brain-splitting. But though looking forward and calculating is the very
essence of gardening, one must also remember that one cannot get two
seasons' work into one, and I tried resolutely to put the summer from
my mind and reckon only with the spring, leaving February and March to
tackle the further future.

I turned then to my two round beds. They had been a consolation even
after our Visitor had insulted them. "_Si on n'a pas ce qu'on aime, il
faut aimer ce qu'on a."_ Theoretically I hate compromises, practically
I live by them. And so I prepared two beautiful Persian carpets,
nothing to do with carpet bedding, for March, April and May. My
polyanthuses just filled in those two round beds, and Jim and I took up
the yellow harmony with feelings of regret.

"It was a jolly good idea," said Jim, "and you and I concocted it
together, you know, Mary. But, would you believe it, his Reverence was
talking the other day as though _he_ had evolved the whole blooming
show. I said, 'You had better let Mary hear you.'"

"Why, that is the biggest compliment the beds could have had, Jim. He
would not have claimed them unless they had been a success. I hope my
Persian carpets will come off as well; I am only going to give the
plants six inches to expand in. They are very neat and trim, and some
are forming buds already, which is foolish of them. Nip them off.
But things don't grow rampantly in this soil, it is no use deceiving
oneself."

"I never did," said Jim; "'excepting weeds' you should add."

Those beds had to be refreshed, and as Griggs was busy down the kitchen
garden, Jim enlisted the Young Man as he left the study and made him
help to wheel a barrowful of the "heap" on to the scene of action.

"I tell him it's a healthy smell," said Jim; "fancy, he didn't want to
come."

"Didn't he? Then, Jim, it is very forward of you to make him. His
Reverence's Young Man ought not to be worried. He has _much_ more
important things to do than plant polyanthuses."

"Oh, I dare say! but I wasn't going to lug all this smelly stuff about
alone, and you know _you_ won't do it, and Griggs wouldn't let you have
it if I had told him to do it, so who was there?"

"I am very pleased to be of any service to you, Mistress Mary, but I
didn't want to intrude," said the Young Man, and there was an east wind
in his voice.

"When a fellow was caught by the press-gang he didn't apologise for
intruding," said Jim, scornfully.

So the Young Man chased Jim round, and after the latter had screamed
_"Peccavi!_" they both came back heated and consequently thawed, and I
wondered over the boyishness of men.

I don't think I am a very good hand at digging; I let Jim feel the
superiority of his sex to the full when it comes to hard manual labour,
and I have to retract a great deal that I have said in less guarded
moments about the masculine hands and feminine head. Jim tried to lure
the Young Man into the discussion, but when the opponent lies down flat
there is nothing to be done. Jim said it was sneaky, and the Young Man
said, "No, feminine diplomacy," with a look that meant "that will cause
a rise"; but I was giving all the little brain I had to the work in
hand, and my only answer was,

"Oh, do dig that in quickly; if Griggs comes he will cart it all away
for those rapacious cabbages of his."

Jim is sometimes the Young Man's mouthpiece.

"Ha, ha! you funk having it out with him."

"Perhaps Mistress Mary is merciful because she is strong," said the
Young Man.

"You don't know her as I do, that's all. She is 'Mary, Mary, quite
contrairy.'"

I ignored Jim and turned to the Young Man.

"And why did you need the press-gang to make you come and help this
nice hard-working kind of an afternoon?"

Then the reason for the east wind became clear.

"I could hardly flatter myself you really wanted me. I have not seen
you, not been in the garden, I mean, for five days."

"Oh! but whose fault is that?" I asked mildly, for the heinousness of
the omission did not startle me.

The Young Man straightened up all his six foot and looked tragic.

"I offered to come last Thursday, you may remember, and I was told,
most politely, that I need not trouble myself."

"Now really that is scarcely fair! I only said, I know I said how kind
you were, but that you ought not to work too hard, and that, I remember
I said quite a number of nice and considerate things."

"I heard through all only the 'No,'" said the Young Man, giving a free
translation of a favourite German quotation.

"You know I value your help. The garden is much indebted to you, but of
course I don't like to bother people."

"That is quite a new idea," interrupted Jim, scraping his muddy little
hands and then plunging them in among the roots again. "I can't say I
have seen much result from it myself!"

"Don't you know it is no bother to me," continued the Young Man with
fresh earnestness. "Don't you know--"

"Oh, no, really I don't. I have been working so hard these last
few days, and I seem able to think of nothing but roots and bulbs
and--practical things like that."

"I am sure I wish to be practical. I wish for nothing better," he
exclaimed energetically.

"Then do finish that row of polyanthuses," I said, looking up with a
forgiving smile.

"The first sensible word either of you have spoken for the last five
minutes," remarked Jim, with decision. "The way you two palaver while
_I_ go steady ahead!"

But the Young Man interpreted my smile in his own way and went on
cheerfully, "That's all right, then. Now, Jim, look to your laurels;
these plantlets are going in with a rush!"

Weeks after, when contemplating the neat, regular little roots, my
thoughts went back, as thoughts will, to the conversation attached to
them, and I wondered what he meant by its being "all right." I had
never felt anything was wrong. Words are such clumsy mediums, and
sometimes even thoughts are too definite. There is a kind of inner
consciousness, vague and mystical, full of colour and sensation, but
without form or sound, and I think women develop it more strongly than
men.

The Young Man has a very definite character. His energy next took the
form of a large hamper of plants from his mother's garden, a godsend
for that half-empty, long border.

And my conscience, growing with my garden, I suppose, found a
safety-valve in ornamenting the window boxes of the Young Man's
sitting-room, lately filled with Mrs Jones's screen of geraniums,
with some spare bulbs. I do think they will look rather nice, but his
gratitude was quite absurd, for really Jim did most of the work.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am aware that to form a proper herbaceous border you should have a
colour scheme, or rather several colour schemes, in your mind's eye
from the very beginning. This is a counsel of perfection to which I
humbly hope I may some day attain. I confess to being still at the
stage where all flowers, all colours, and plenty of everything holds
great attraction for me. But, Ignoramus as I am, I do not want disorder
to reign; one must at least grasp the height and the flowering time
of each plant, and strive after a succession of bloom fairly well
represented over all the border and all the months. I thought therefore
of my background, the tall varieties; my middle distance of less
exalted growth, and my foreground of humble height. And then I took a
large sheet of paper and drew on it a long border with three divisions,
and proceeded to fill in these divisions with what flowers I already
had planted, and others yet to come.

Then I tried to imagine the plants in bloom, and what colours would
look well next each other, and how to repeat them as the eye follows
the length of the border.

In early spring, as in late autumn, yellow is the most prevalent
colour; but in spring the yellow mixed with all the budding green has a
most bright and young appearance. It is the sunrise, the promise of the
day that is to be; whereas in autumn, with the rich tints of departing
glory surrounding it, the suggestion is of "mellow fruitfulness."

The yellow doronicum in the middle distance will probably be the
first to break the greenness of the herbaceous border, unless there
are clumps of daffodils hidden, but I think the border may be full
enough without them, and they can be massed in so many places unfit
for border plants. Patches of polyanthus and even snowy London pride
are useful at that early season, and can be placed near the edge. I
saw one lovely effect, but cannot myself undertake to repeat it; it
would answer better in a more favoured garden. Instead of the usual
box edging the whole length of the border was given to violets, and a
delightful purple line as well as delicious scent was the result. It
needs more care than the trim box, but the close green leaves form a
very effective edging after the flowers have departed. The "bleeding
heart" should follow the doronicum very quickly, it also belongs to the
middle division; but the colour scheme is still mostly green, with just
these occasional breaks.

Then the paper border was quickly filled with a bright procession for
June and July. At the back delphiniums in numerous successive clumps
and all degrees of blue; valerian, several of the strong little roots
placed together to form a good show of delightful rosy red blossoms.
Foxgloves should rear their effective spotted heads between, and later
on lilies--Madonna's white and tiger's yellow--would take their place.
Lupins were also in this division, but a little more forward, each
division naturally sub-dividing itself into tall and taller. Galega,
both white and mauve, were to grow here, but hollyhocks well at the
back. The sunflower also, soleil d'or, with the thought of the annual
variety to follow in spring, and therefore a space to be left. The
smaller kind I kept for the middle division; it is a useful, neat
little bush, rigidus by name, and cost me sixpence a plant. Spiræa,
a strong, herbaceous variety, should come as a kind of break to the
regularity; it should grow so bushy and tall that it must be given two
divisions in which to expand. The phlox must be placed at the back,
also the hardy white daisy, several old plants of which had weathered
Griggs's reign; also the bright and useful golden rod, and some welcome
clumps of Japanese anemones. My friends dealt in larger clumps than the
mercenary florist, I found. We left a good space here and there for the
dahlias, and thus my background seemed fairly full.

I considered the iris roots for some time, and then determined to give
the German variety a place all to themselves. Strained political
relations had nothing to do with my decision, but when not on show the
knife-like leaves and twisting roots are not particularly pleasing;
so, before his Reverence could forbid, I had my iris row down a side
border. The kitchen garden is cut by a most convenient number of paths,
and Griggs has no objection to my taking from his space.

Then for the middle division I had some of my nurslings ready. More
oriental poppies, in groups of three for the present; campanulas, also
in threes, but with room for each one to expand; penstemons, but these
were cuttings that had been given me, and though promised a place here
they were kept for their first winter in the frame and only figured on
my paper border. Gaillardias, most promising plants, which even in this
their first year had given me one or two of their "effective" blooms,
were placed singly; my small and not very satisfactory chrysanthemums
were moved forward from the background, where they had been hidden.
Michaelmas daisies also were in this division, and my Canterbury-bells
and sweet-Williams, though they were not to be permanent plants, and
might come out year by year when their duty was done. The doronicums
were there and the bleeding heart, and old Lovell's two Turks' heads
in sturdy independence, and I added a few clumps of crown imperials.
Coreopsis, at five shillings a dozen, joined the show, and montbresias,
those that were over from my new border, and in time gladiolas also I
hoped, but I had to remember my limitations.

In front came groups of columbines and Iceland poppy, the small
roots of campanula, the geum already there; and I collected from its
scattered hiding-places all the Solomon's seal I could find, and
grouped it behind the geums, for I noticed how well those two bore
each other company. A few patches of Japanese irises I allowed myself,
and again I tried the anemones. Neat labels marked the burying-places
of those things that prefer to pass the winter with their heads
underground.

I think that border, in spite of its many disadvantages, ought to make
something of a show, not only on paper.

There are other things I hope to have in time for this my old-fashioned
border. There is honesty, almost nicer in sound than in reality; and
lavender must come here, or where will be the old fashion? Also the
"Saracen-head thumping balls" of the purple thistle, and the blue-green
sea-holly. Tritoma, called in the vulgar tongue "red poker," ought to
have a place in the background. Then rocket, purple and white, is a
neat, spikey little plant that should be represented, and I have no
doubt that I shall be introduced to many more. If I love them at all,
and if they can become at all reconciled to my soil, they shall find a
home here.

Of course, with so many alterations to be made, and so many new-comers
to be welcomed, I had again to break all rules and regulations
belonging to a herbaceous border. Griggs and a spade, fatal things both
of them, had to be tolerated, and roots disturbed, for in the spring my
arrangements had been very happy-go-lucky. Now, armed with a certain
amount of information, I hoped to settle things more permanently.

But when the length and depth of that border had been worked I felt
that my life's task was finished, and I never went near it for three
whole days.

       *       *       *       *       *

My one and only frame presented a more cheering appearance than it had
done the year before. It was a capacious frame, and possessed means for
heating. This was often Griggs's one duty in the winter, and a grand
excuse for not chopping wood. In the summer and autumn time an ignorant
gardener can always account for himself with unnecessary lawn-mowing
and diligent sweeping up of leaves that are instantly replaced by
others; in the winter, unless snow provides a little gentle exercise,
he is sore put to it to fill up his hours with a show of use. Thus the
frame with its stoke-hole was a boon to Griggs, and I felt that I too
should be much interested in its welfare this winter. For in their
winter quarters were my hundred deep red "Henry Jacobys" and sundry
other geranium cuttings far removed from Griggs's former favourites.
Square wooden boxes held my young penstemons, a nice lot of tiny sprigs
from the bluest of the lobelias, and three varieties of antirrhinum,
also cuttings of yellow daisies and white. I was trying if cuttings
from the not-successful violas would make better plants than those
grown from seed, so there was one box devoted to these. A few pots
held hyacinth bulbs and tulips, some choice arrangements that were to
astonish the Others, coming in a time of dire scarcity.

Griggs looked in with something like pride gleaming in his old eyes.
He always talked of "moi frame" and what he would allow me to put
there. But we had no ructions, and I must only guard against his pride
overflowing in too much water.

       *       *       *       *       *

One day I took his Reverence's arm and led him round the garden. I
steered him past the plantains, for he loves prodding at their stubborn
roots, and I wanted his whole attention. I pointed out the present, I
referred gracefully to the past, and I dilated on the future. "Now,
sir, the year is nearly up, say, 'how has the garden grown?'"

"Grown! Why, you wicked girl! I believe you have prigged yet another
border!"

"Oh! for those irises! Yes. I wasn't talking about that little path and
that little border: they will look very nice there by-and-by. I was
talking of the flowers."

And I led him away from that unlucky path and fixed him opposite my
legitimate and much-developed border.

"It looks much neater, certainly. I wonder, now, have you let Griggs
have any time for the vegetables lately?"

"Do you know, sir, the uninitiated might mistake you for a most
cold-hearted and callous parent. If you lived up to the ideal, you
would be saying beautiful things about my industry, and the conversion
of wilderness into rose, and Griggs's, well, not _his_ conversion, but
he has done more work this last year than for the twenty before. And
you would be saying that the five pounds--"

"Ah! I thought we were coming to that. It's quite gone, I suppose?"

"Gone! Goodness me! and so has a good deal of its successor. But it is
all right. I practically went the year round with that first fiver.
All I am doing now is for next year, you see. I have drawn you up a
statement of accounts and you will see that I even kept a little money
for summer bulbs, though they can only come on next year. Which was
generous of the first year to the second, you will perceive. But I
wanted so many things that it was too late to buy last autumn or I did
not know of them. And I have begged and borrowed as well as bought.
Don't you think the garden has grown?"

"Yes, Mary, I really do; and I conclude from your having entered upon
the second five pounds that you want it, and are not going to resign
the situation."

"I don't think you can do without me."

And his Reverence said, after a moment,

"I don't want to try."

The little statement of accounts that I formally laid upon the study
table was as follows:

 Bulbs              £2  0  0

 Seeds              £1 10  0

 Odd Plants          0  3  6

 Roses               0 13  6

 Geranium Cuttings   0  6  0

 Summer Bulbs        0  7  0

                    £5  0  0


His Reverence eyed it critically.

"How neatly it fits in. You have not been driven to arrange matters
with the usual feminine etcetera."

"Because I have paid those etceteras myself."

"Really, but what were the etceteras? I thought they were always
unknown quantities in ladies' accounts."

"That is one of the delusions of menkind. My etceteras were all the
pennies paid for hampers coming and going, for labels, for scissors,
three shillings those, without whose aid I could never have cut my way
through the summer; they hold the flowers as you cut and save much
backache. Then for sulphur, for quassia chips, for bast, for--"

"Hold! I will never ask what a woman's etcetera means again. I see
it is much the most important part of the whole account. I wish they
always paid it themselves. But why did you?"

"Oh, because, because five pounds is _so_ little, you can have no idea
how little, to buy everything with."

"Yes, but you started away with the idea it was a great deal."

"I said I could put _some_ flowers in the garden with it anyway, and so
I have. Even the Others allow that."

"Well, shall we say six pounds for this next year?"

"Will you really, sir? Oh, that is good! Now I shall go at once
and order a pound's worth of peonies. There was such an enticing
advertisement in this morning's _Standard_, and I have been resisting
temptation, because I really had to buy herbaceous plants and a good
many bulbs. They have made such a hole. But in time, you see, in time
the garden will get quite full."

Yes, peonies with the delicious description of "blush rose," "deep
carmine," "snowy queen" had held my thoughts for some time. That front
border ought to be devoted to all varieties of flowering shrubs, and
in time it should be. There was plenty of room for my peonies; so
they were quickly ordered and the border made as good for them as I
could manage. They like being well-treated. But when I thought of the
watering next year my heart failed me. Something must be done.

That advertisement and the extra pound lured me on to further bulbs.
Two hundred narcissi, mixed, and so cheap! only five shillings, were
buried in the grass down the shrubbery side of the lawn. How cheering
they would be in spring! A sweep of sweet nodding white and yellow.

"There is one thing you have utterly forgotten, Mary, and really no
garden should be without them," said one of the Others.

"I know you are going to suggest some greenhouse nursling. Remember
the frame is not a conservatory." And I hoped my bulbs were still a
surprise.

"Oh, you old Solomon! And since when do lilies of the valley refuse to
grow out of doors?"

"Lilies of the valley! Now, why didn't you speak sooner?"

"Is it too late? Why? You are still grubbing in things, aren't you?"

"I have shut the purse for the autumn. Honestly, I must keep the rest
for the spring."

"Well, look here, don't be alarmed, we won't do it often, but I looked
at your catalogue and saw they were six shillings a hundred, so 'we'
give them on the condition we may pick them."

"I like you! Where don't you pick? All right, I will gratefully take
the six shillings."

"A shady spot," I should have said a year ago, but no, not a bit of it,
after my experiences with the violets. A narrow border near a little
wall, but on which the sun did not flare continuously, and there we
prepared the ground, though it seemed pretty good on its own account
for a wonder; and the hundred fibrous roots were carefully spread out
and covered over. I thought of young "Sandhurst." If I give him lilies
of the valley for a button-hole he will think the garden is indeed
growing. Though if the lilies should fail! But why should they? Griggs
did not touch them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jim said,

"You are a fraud, Mary, that's what you are."

My thoughts flew to suggestions given for an essay on "The Heroic
Qualities" which Jim and I had discussed with much energy. But it was
not that.

"No, it was pretty footling, that essay, anyway; but the other fellows
did just as badly. You promised me a go at tap-roots, and even old
Griggs says we can't tackle them now. He says he thinks there are
probably jolly long ones, and I do think you might have thought of it
in time."

"I have been so busy, Jim, and it isn't my department proper. Let us
bike over and ask the Master if it is too late. Griggs doesn't really
know; he generally repeats what I tell him."

"He knows enough not to do things, does Griggs. I have found that out.
He is a champion skulker."

Jim was very despondent, but a good spin along the hard road, with the
bright sun that late autumn sometimes sees, raised his spirits.

The Master was in his garden, and oh! how neat and brushed up and
ready for its sleeping-time looked his garden. Not empty or dead,
but intentionally tucked up and ready for the snowy counterpane, and
protected from the biting blast.

It was late, he said, but the weather still held up; we might try
taking up one at a time and replacing it so that it should not take
cold.

Jim took the directions with great attention.

"I am going to boss this, Mary; you said it wasn't your department."

The way he worked and ordered about Griggs and the coachman, summoned
to give his unwilling help, promised well for his future as an admiral.
The whole roots of the young pear tree were dug up with the greatest
care; the tap-root, there it was sure enough, and all the vitality of
the tree going gaily to swell its dimensions, was cut away, and then
it was raised into a well-doctored hole, with a broad slab-like stone
under it to cut short any further aspirations after such a root again,
and all other branch roots carefully spread out to encourage growth and
general productiveness.

Jim worked himself and his men, and also the Young Man, hard; I was
an admiring onlooker until the operation was finished and the tree
standing up quite firm again. Then, as Jim was bent on yet another,
and refused to think it too late, I wandered down my lime-tree walk,
where snowdrops were now hidden. I had collected ferns there and more
primroses, and clumps of foxgloves on the sunniest side, just where
they would catch the eye from the garden.

A feeling of peace was in the air; one bird dropped a note and another
caught it up; not a ringing challenge of song, but a pleasant exchange
of compliments. "Going strong?" "Oh, rather!" "Berries look well."
"Prime!" "Good old world!" A squirrel frisked past up a tree with a
look down at me, saying, "Ah! don't you wish you could do it!" and then
off he went, terribly busy with his nut store. He and Griggs had had
a race over the small walnuts which adorned one tree, and I think the
squirrel could account for the better part. It was all right, all in
order, this going to sleep time, this baring of boughs, decaying of
vegetation, this "season of mists." A little while, only a little while
and the change would begin; after sleep would come the great awakening.
I picked a brown bud from the chestnut tree and cut it in half with
my knife. There was the promise, the great life spirit already at
work. Cushioned in the centre the embryo of the spiral-shaped bloom
for May was to be plainly seen. The spring was preparing right through
the winter. I heard Jim's voice, cheery and ringing, "Now then, you
fellows, heave away! Oh, I say, Young Man, don't scoot just yet."

Steps rustled behind me, and as he joined me we walked on under the
lime trees and I tried to talk of my garden, but he did not appear
responsive; and finally, when I could walk no further, for I was wedged
in the swing gate that opened on to the field he blocked the opening
and said,

"I don't the least want to talk of the garden."

"Well, talk of this," I said, and gave him the chestnut twig I had
broken off; "it is full of meaning."

"It is very bare and dead-looking."

"No. It is really full of life and hope. See its wonderful centre.
There, I will open one to give you a parable from Nature. We need hope
at this time of the year."

"I have been hoping so long," he would not be put off, "perhaps I am
tired of mere hoping. I want to progress."

"Try faith then," I suggested.

His eyes held mine.

"There is one thing better than faith, you know." I suppose the wind
was cold. I gave a little shiver and he placed his hand over mine.

Then I said, "I think faith ought to have its turn."

"What is faith in this instance?"

"Waiting, I should think," I answered slowly.

"But waiting with a knowledge of--"

"Ah! I must teach you another parable, I see. When the seed is sown in
the ground we have to wait for it to spring up; it has to grow, to
grow underground quite a long while before it comes to the light. It is
not good to uncover it before it naturally springs up."

"Can I be sure the seed is there?" he asked eagerly.

"Some seeds take longer than others too, don't they?" I answered
evasively. "The annuals come up quite quickly, but perennials are much
slower. I prefer perennials, don't you?"

"I will wait."

"The winter is such a good time for waiting," I remarked cheerfully.

"If faith be added to hope is the next step sure?" he questioned.

"Don't you know we cannot hurry the seasons. It is no good. If you are
in winter, in the faith time, why, be content."

"Yes, spring will come, I will wait," he said again, and I too knew
that spring would come.

I loosened my hand gently and we walked back under the bared boughs of
the lime trees, a tangle of grass, weeds and ferns, and a rustling of
brown fallen leaves at our feet. A hush as of going to sleep was in
the air, and a robin from a full throat seemed to assure us that each
season in its turn is good, and that spring never quite leaves the
earth.



INDEX


ACONITE, Winter, 29

Anemones, 10, 173, 235;
--Japanese, 186, 195, 233

Annuals, 54, 66, 113

Antirrhinums, 54, 57, 101, 131, 132, 179, 181, 238

Asters, perennial, 195, 197


BEGONIAS, 184

Biennials, 102

Bleeding Heart, 183, 232, 235


CALCEOLARIAS, 4, 183

Campanulas, 53, 106, 183, 212, 234

Canariensis, 55, 105, 187

Canterbury-Bells, 53, 56, 105, 164, 183, 185, 212, 222, 235

Christmas Roses, 47, 218, 219

Chrysanthemums, annual, 55, 113;
--perennial, 7, 144, 196, 234

Clematis, 35;
--Flamulata, 37, 217;
--Montana, 214

Coleus, 184

Columbines, 57, 106, 183, 235

Convolvulus, 55, 105, 187

Coreopsis, 235

Cornflowers, 66, 150, 171

Creeping Jenny, 179

Crocuses, 19, 62

Crown Imperials, 235


DAFFODILS, 20, 28, 52, 71

Dahlias, 7, 145, 233;
--Cactus, 195, 221

Daisies, autumn, 81, 233;
--white, 55, 150, 181;
--yellow, 181

Delphiniums, 54, 84, 147, 182, 211, 232

Doronicum, 81, 183, 231, 235

Dressing for rose roots, 103


ESCHSCHOLTZIA, 57, 177

Elder-tree, 121


FEATHERFEW, 184

Ferns, 72, 248

Forget-me-nots, 104, 130, 164, 213, 219, 220

Foxgloves, 72, 106, 222, 232

Fruit-trees, 108, 247

Fuchsias, 184


GAILLARDIAS, 53, 84, 106, 183, 234

Galega, 86, 182, 233

Geraniums, 4, 143, 180, 221;
--Henry Jacoby, 181, 238

Geums, 183, 196, 235

Gladiolas, 54, 183, 212, 235

Godetias, 66, 113, 150, 171

Golden Rod, 81, 197, 233

Green fly, 118, 120

Ground-elder, 110, 148

Gypsophila, 57, 180


HARDY ANNUALS, 175

Hellebore, 38, 47, 218

Hollyhocks, 54, 147, 182, 195, 233

Honeysuckle, 151, 216

Hyacinths, 18, 238


INDIAN-PEA, _see_ Galega

Irises; English, 212;
--German, 111, 183, 233;
--Spanish, 212, 235

Ixias, 183


JAPANESE ROSE, 121

Jasmine, white, 35;
--yellow, 32, 34, 37, 219


_KERRIA JAPONICA_, 121


LARKSPUR, 54, 84

Laurel, 120

Lavender, 236

Leopard's Bane, 81

Lilies, 81, 111, 182;
--Auratum, 212;
--Croceum,212;
--Madonna, 212, 232;
--Tiger, 182, 232

Lily-of-the-Valley, 244

Lobelia, 57, 101, 181, 238

London Pride, 81, 231

Lupins, 147, 186, 222, 232


MARGUERITES, 55, 59, 141, 181, 238

Marigolds, 55, 101, 141, 183, 197

Mignonette, 55, 56, 173

Montbresias, 54, 183, 212, 235


NARCISSI, 72, 212, 243

Nasturtium, 55, 56, 101, 105, 187

Nicotina, 161


'OLD MAN'S BEARD,' 37


PANSIES, 53

Papaver, _see_ Poppy

Penstemons, 57, 84, 106, 183, 196, 234, 238

Peonies, 243

Perennials, 106

Pergola, 204, 210

Phlox, 54, 82, 88, 183, 195, 233;
--annual, 176

Plantains, 22, 239

Polyanthus, 53, 57, 100, 106, 132, 224, 231

Poppies, Californian, 57, 177;
--Iceland, 57, 147, 196, 235;
--Oriental, 106, 211, 234;
--Shirley, 57, 66, 113, 150, 171

Primroses, 72, 248


ROCKET, 236

Roses, 74;
--Crimson Rambler, 74, 128, 214;
--Gloire de Dijon, 74, 129, 187, 213;
--Reine Marie Hortense, 74, 128;
--William Allen Richardson, 74, 128, 214;
--cutting, 77;
--Suckers, 79

Rudbeckias, 195


SAINT-FOIN, 151

Salpiglosis, 57, 175

Salvias, 184

Scabious, 57, 142, 183

Scillas, 28, 40, 51

Sea-holly, 236

Silene, 105, 164, 213

Snapdragons, _see_ Antirrhinums

Snowdrops, 28, 40, 51

Solomon's Seal, 235

Spiræa, 82, 233

Stocks, 53, 57, 106, 143, 183

Sunflowers, 56, 105, 182, 194, 196, 211, 233;
--Rigidus, 233;
--Soleil d'Or, 233

Sweet Peas, 56, 65, 107, 150, 174, 193

Sweet-William, 53, 56, 105, 164, 183, 185, 212, 222, 235

Syringa, 121


TAGETES, 55, 57, 101, 142

Thinning plants, 113, 163

Thistle, purple, 196, 236

Tritoma, 85, 236

Tritonia, 165

Tropoeolum, 55

Tulips, 81, 130, 132, 212, 220, 238

Turk's Head, 183, 185, 235


VALERIAN, 182, 185, 232

Verbena, 57

Viola, 53, 57, 60, 131, 238

Violets, 76, 80, 220

Virginian Creeper, 213


WALL-FLOWER, 53, 105, 164, 212, 220

Wisteria, 214


ZINNIA, 56, 57, 183, 221


THE END





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