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Title: The Book of Town & Window Gardening
Author: Bardswell, Mrs F. A.
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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Internet Archive)



    HANDBOOKS OF PRACTICAL GARDENING--XIX

    EDITED BY HARRY ROBERTS


    THE BOOK OF TOWN AND WINDOW
    GARDENING


[Illustration: A WINDOW BOX IN JUNE]



    THE BOOK OF
    TOWN & WINDOW
    GARDENING

    BY

    MRS F. A. BARDSWELL

    JOHN LANE: THE BODLEY HEAD
    LONDON AND NEW YORK. MCMIII



WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER I

    TOWN-GARDENING
                                                                    PAGE
    London in summer-time--Bought flowers _versus_ growing
      plants--Plants that do well in towns--Gardens of the
      suburbs--Some of their joys                                      1


    CHAPTER II

    THE EARLY WINDOW-BOX

    Spring gardening in the window-box--Bulbs: gold, white,
      and blue--Moss carpets, dainty beds--Flowers that grow
      well together--Some combinations--Encouragements                 8


    CHAPTER III

    “THE SEASON” WINDOW-BOX

    Not to start summer flowers too soon--Not to buy plants
      that have been forced--Not to be like everybody else--_Asparagus
      Sprengeri_--A kitchen window-box--Herbs--The
      watched pot--Prize window-boxes at Exeter--The
      nursery window-box--Seed Song                                   14


    CHAPTER IV

    BALCONY-GARDENING

    Pot-plants--Climbers--Tubs--London in June--The pleasant
      balcony--Practical hints                                        20


    CHAPTER V

    ROOF AND BACK-YARD GARDENS IN THE CITY

    St Andrew’s Rectory garden, Doctor’s Commons--“Struggles
      in Smoke”--Roof-jungle at the Home for Working Boys,
      at Bishopsgate Street, E.C.--Amateur gardening among
      the slates and chimney-pots--City gardens--Tempting
      the sea-gull, land-bird, and butterfly                          26


    CHAPTER VI

    PLANTS FOR THE CITY POOR

    Window-box Society, St. Cuthbert’s Lodge, Millwall--Mr.
      Cadbury and his operatives--Town board schools--Gardening
      at Crook’s Place Board School, Norwich--Country
      board schools in England and in Germany--Helping the
      poor--Miss Jekyll and the factory lad                           31


    CHAPTER VII

    THE BEGINNER

    Choosing the window-box--Making it--Placing it--Filling
      it--The hanging basket--Cleansing--Watering--The
      Fern window-box--Virginia Stock                                 36


    CHAPTER VIII

    FOLIAGE PLANTS FOR TOWNS

    The window-box and the man in the street--The advantages
      and merits of the foliage-plants--Which to order                44


    CHAPTER IX

    FOG, FLOWERS, AND FOLIAGE

    Air--Fog--What urban fog is made of--Darkness--Poison--An
      analysis from Kew--Can we counteract effects of fog?--Mr.
      Toope at Stepney--Fog-filters--What plants suffer
      least?--Professor Oliver’s report on ferns in fogs--Bulbous
      plants--Precautions--Coal-smoke Abatement Society--Resolutions  48


    CHAPTER X

    THE LADY DECORATOR AND THE FLOWER-GIRL

    Arranging flowers--Balls, dinner-parties, weddings--Fashions
      in flowers--Dyed flowers--Flowers as symbols--Primrose
      Day--Floral trophies--The early and mid-Victorian
      bouquet--Street-selling flower-girls--Buttonhole-making--A
      skeleton parasol in France                                      55


    CHAPTER XI

    THE SMALL SUBURBAN GARDEN

    A good word for it--The motor-car--Corner houses--Making
      the most of a small garden--Turf--Trees--Back and
      front gardens--Individuality--Good taste                        62


    CHAPTER XII

    “NEXT DOOR”--A PARENTHETICAL CHAPTER

    Garden etiquette in Suburbia--Codes and
      customs--Barriers--Brides--Music--Children--Bonfires--The
      family wash                                                     71


    CHAPTER XIII

    GRASS, GROUND, OR GRAVEL

    The new suburban garden--The restful garden--_Country Life_
      on English and Continental suburban gardens--The lawn
      and flower-beds--Grass walks                                    75


    CHAPTER XIV

    FERNS AND WILD FLOWERS

    The hardy fernery--How we made our own--Wild flowers for
      the fernery--The fernery all the year round--Amusing
      May--The Pale Osmunda--The neglected fernery of
      London and the suburbs--Roadside Ferns and hedge-haunters       80


    CHAPTER XV

    CREEPERS AND CLIMBERS

    The Vine and Fig-tree--_Ampelopsis Veitchii_--Trellis-work--Wire
      netting--Supports--Roses, Jasmine and Magnolia--The
      Passion-flower--Hops and Honeysuckle--Morning
      Glories--“Ivy Lane”                                             88


    CHAPTER XVI

    EASY ROCK AND WALL GARDENING

    How to get “rock” and place it--Alpine and English rock-plants--Mr.
      Barr’s nursery ground--Encrusted Saxifrages--The
      double wall--Thrift, Wallflower, and Red Valerian--One
      pleasing Thought                                                95


    INDEX                                                            103



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    A WINDOW-BOX IN JUNE                                  _Frontispiece_
        _Photo by Mrs. Bardswell_

                                                            TO FACE PAGE

    DOUBLE AND SINGLE PYRETHRUMS                                       2
        _By courtesy of Messrs. Barr_

    MICHAELMAS DAISIES                                                 6
        _By courtesy of Messrs. Barr_

    OVERLOOKING THE TOWN                                              16
        _Photo by T. W. Scott_

    A HANGING BASKET                                                  20
        _Photo by Mrs. Bardswell_

    A BOAT-SHELTER WITH CERASTIUM ON ROOF                             26
        _Photo by D. T. Fish_

    AN EAST-END ROOF GARDEN                                           28

    A ROOF GARDEN                                                     30
        _Photo by D. T. Fish_

    POOR MAN’S WINDOW-BOX AT MILLWALL                                 32
        _By courtesy of Mrs. Richard Frere_

    POOR MAN’S HOUSE-FRONT, WITH INSIDE PARLOUR GROUP, AT MILLWALL    34
        _By courtesy of Mrs. Richard Frere_

    SPRING IN THE CROOK’S PLACE BOARD SCHOOL GARDEN, NORWICH          36
        _By courtesy of Mr. Edward Peake_

    PANSY BED IN CROOK’S PLACE BOARD SCHOOL GARDEN, NORWICH           38
        _By courtesy of Mr. Edward Peake_

    PART OF ROCK-GARDEN, CROOK’S PLACE BOARD SCHOOL, NORWICH          42
        _By courtesy of Mr. Edward Peake_

    A WATER GARDEN                                                    50
        _By courtesy of Messrs. Barr_

    LILIES IN LORD ILCHESTER’S JAPANESE GARDEN, AT HOLLAND HOUSE,
      KENSINGTON                                                      54
        _By courtesy of “Country Life”_

    BULRUSHES AND BOG BEANS IN SMALL TANK IN GARDEN                   58
        _Photo by T. W. Scott_

    IN A SMALL SUBURBAN GARDEN                                        62
        _Photo by John Scott_

    LATE SUMMER                                                       68
        _Photo by T. W. Scott_

    EARLY AUTUMN                                                      74
        _Photo by T. W. Scott_

    A TOWN FERNERY                                                    80
        _Photo by Mrs. Bardswell_

    THE OSMUNDA IN MAY                                                84
        _Photo by Mrs. Bardswell_

    VIRGINIAN CREEPER OVER PORCH                                      88
        _Photo by Mrs. Bardswell_

    A ROCKERY                                                         96
        _Photo by John Scott_

    A ROCKERY IN EARLY SUMMER                                        100
        _Photo by John Scott_



_Acknowledgment is due to the Editors of “The Garden,” “The
Lady,” and the “Pall Mall Gazette” for their courtesy in permitting
the reproduction in this book of certain chapters which appeared as
articles in their respective journals._



CHAPTER I

TOWN-GARDENING

    “I’ll take the showers as they fall,
      I will not vex my bosom;
    Enough if at the end of all
      A little garden blossom.”


Courage is wanted to write a book about Town-gardening. Is there such
a thing? Some would say “No; cats, fogs, and smuts forbid.” Yet how
inseparable from London is the thought of flowers! Can we picture
the West End on a summer’s day without them? The dust-laid, freshly
sprinkled squares and streets, where behind half-drawn blinds there
is the fragrance of many blossoms; the bright harness of horses
jangling as they champ the bit, a knot of flowers at every bridle;
flower-sellers with baskets at all convenient corners, and along the
roadway carts of Palms and growing plants bending and waving in the
wind; every man one meets has got his button-hole, and every maiden
wears her posy; even the butcher-boy holds a bud between his thumb and
finger, twirling it and smelling at it as he goes.

The love of flowers and an almost passionate delight in cultivating
them has ever been a feature of English life, and of late years the
old taste has been renewed and strengthened: no mere whim of fashion’s
fancy is it, but the outcome of a nation’s feeling, deep and true;
and what the English people love and long for, that they will have,
despite all difficulties. Thus it comes about that London’s heart is
gay with flowers. They strew our parks and open spaces, they fill the
cheerful window-box and seed-sown area, and make the cold grey balcony
to blossom as the rose; even where London’s traffic roars the loudest,
one lights upon the pathetic back-yard garden, hemmed in by church and
factory walls, the high-hung garden of the roof and parapet, the little
beau-pot of the window-sill, the poetic window-plant, that shares its
owner’s only living-room,--everywhere flowers, flowers, for rich and
poor, especially for the rich.

    “There’s never a delicate nursling of the year,
      But our huge London hails it, and delights
    To wear it on her heart or at her ear,
      Her days to colour and make sweet her nights.”

Buying flowers is easy enough, it is the growing of them in big towns
that is so difficult; but the struggle is not a hopeless one, there is
much that may encourage. When we hear of what others have done, still
more, when we have seen their successes for ourselves, despair gives
way to animation and activity.

No one will deny for a moment that there is more real joy to be felt
over one plant that we have grown for ourselves than over ninety and
nine bought ones; and this is not only because attending to its needs
has made us love the flower as we love children and other pets and dear
dependents--there is another reason. In shop-flowers the method of
growth (one of a plant’s greatest beauties) is a charm left out. Sweet
Peas, for instance; we buy them squeezed up in tight bunches, all pink
ones massed together, or all white or purple. Where is the grace of the
clinging tendril, the tender poising of the dainty blooms?

[Illustration: DOUBLE AND SINGLE PYRETHRUMS]

I have seen these beauties where Sweet Peas were blowing and growing
in the depths of a London area along with white Pinks, Candy-tuft, and
the gold-flowered Canary Creeper, but never have I beheld them in
the shop: bunches of Cornflowers and even Roses, will be laid against
a trail of Smilax, or something else that does not belong to either
of them, such as the ever-present “French Fern” or New Zealand grass.
Flower-artists of Japan, who willingly spend hours in coaxing each
separate twig and flower to show its natural grace and habit, would
not much care to arrange the cut flowers we buy in towns, that have
been divorced completely from the stems and branches where they grow;
and to say this is not to grumble at the florists, who cannot do
impossibilities, but to accentuate the fact that cut flowers cannot
take the place of growing ones.

Happily for the town gardener, many plants and flowers do well among
the chimney-pots. Annuals less so than some, perhaps, but many of
these flower satisfactorily if thinly sowed. Nasturtiums, Virginia
Stock, Coreopsis, Marigold, Scabious, Sunflower, Lupin, Love-in-a-mist,
Candy-tuft and Larkspur never fail us, nor Sweet Pea, if we can keep
the sparrows from eating the seeds. Some town-folk tell me they think
Carnations really like smoke, so well they thrive in it. Pyrethrums,
both single and double, are among our best town flowers, and will grow
almost anywhere and in any ordinary garden soil. The one drawback to
their well-being is slugs, who find the young growths too enticing;
but we can circumvent this enemy if in autumn we sprinkle ashes, soot,
or lime around the crowns. In London it is never difficult to get
soot, though, oddly enough, every chimney-sweeper considers _our_ own
home-made soot _his_ perquisite, and makes _us_ pay for it. The really
best way to get rid of slugs is to catch them in orange-peel traps,
made of empty half-oranges, under which they crawl, and can then be
killed. Sliced potatoe is another good bait, or beet-root. The drawback
of using traps is the danger of attracting the enemy. On the other
hand, ashes, soot, and lime are unsightly, and may spoil our plants
if allowed to touch them. A pail of salt and water we find the least
unpleasing medium when culprits must be executed.

In a town garden where there is room for them, no plants do better than
the Star-worts or Michaelmas Daisies. They are so easy of cultivation
and so comforting late in the season, when the “bedders” of every
public and private garden have succumbed to cold and wet. Later there
are Chrysanthemums.

Lilies and all bulbous plants show unexpected hardiness. Our parks both
east and west familiarize us with Snowdrop, Crocus, Jonquil, Narcissus,
and Daffodil; and to see how happy Valley-lilies can make themselves
within earshot of the bustling Strand, we need only turn our footsteps
towards the dim green gardens of the Temple, where banks and parterres
of them unfold their verdant cloaks beneath every April sky. Farther
west, if eyes could pierce the trees and shrubs that guard the gardens
of the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace, or those round Marlborough
House, they would see Lilacs, Laburnums, Pinks, and Roses; and from
the knife-board of a Bayswater omnibus, if our field of vision were
a little broader, we should catch glimpses of Lord Ilchester’s fair
gardens about Holland House, where languorous Lilies of Japan luxuriate
in all their native splendour, and much of their native wildness; and
this but a stone’s throw from the Great Western Railway Station and the
World’s Fair of William Whiteley.

Among the gardens of the suburbs most of our town difficulties
disappear; the many nursery, and market, and Rose, and Rock, and
Daffodil gardens that flourish in London’s outskirts abundantly prove
this. Once away from fog and smoke, there are few limitations except
those that come of want of space; but land is dear, and there is little
ground to spare, except for public and general gardens, where again
individual joys are lost.

The suburban garden, in spite of all the hard things that have been
said of it, is really not so much to be despised, and so large a part
does it play in the social life of the twentieth century, that it is
worth a moment’s thought.

Suburban gardens are of many kinds; there are all manner of notes in
the scale. The squalid ones--alas! some are squalid--we see in London’s
shabbiest border-lands. They often belong to houses filled with many
different families, and are a kind of no man’s land. Hardly can we call
them gardens; little enough is grown in them, though sometimes among
the straggling Runner-beans and rubbish-heaps there will be a tree, a
beautiful spreading tree, like a green-winged angel. Then there are
the tidy patches of the fairly well-to-do workman; some made hideous
by mounds of shells and grottoes, others filled with useful and pretty
plants. So we go upwards, step by step, to the good-sized strip or more
ambitious villa garden. Wonders are done in these. Many a busy City
man, whose garden is not far from the Marble Arch, knows all about
Roses, and might give lessons on Grape-growing and Orchid-forcing to
his relations in the real country.

Suburban gardens naturally have not the same good chances as are
enjoyed by country gardens, but they do know some joys that may be
envied. One is the birds. It is not that there are more of them, but
those there are, are such a pleasure. When a new bird of a rarer kind
than ordinary is coaxed into the precincts of one’s own domain, how
great the interest, and how many friendly traps are laid for him in the
way of food, water, and material for building. And wild flowers; when
unfamiliar seedlings appear, one knows not whence, here is another joy.
Few people in country gardens know every leaf and blade by heart as
do the owners of the small suburban garden, so carefully watched, so
tenderly made the most of.

There is many a quaint touch about these gardens of the suburbs. They
are often, like blouses and children’s frocks after sale-time, made of
remnants. Some large old holding is cut into blocks. Block A gets bits
of orchard; Block B, a piece of garden-ground with Roses and blossoming
trees, Block C may have nothing but Briars and Blackberries. Or in
another place a stately avenue has been cut down for building, and
some magnificent Elm or Oak or Cedar has been spared, and is stranded,
a forlorn-looking prisoner, in the back garden of some modern villa.
Well, he is a blessing to somebody; little children may still play
about beneath his sheltering arms, where the rooks yet cling to their
old haunts, croaking cheerfully as ever.

Nor is it altogether unpleasing to have a garden near the busy haunts
of men; the roar and rattle of the streets, that sound like the humming
of innumerable bees, the strange glow of lights in the distance, the
pealing of bells and the striking of many clocks, the thunder and
whistle of the trains that link us with friends far off, the stir and
throb of human life, that chimes in, not inharmoniously with the calmer
life of Nature--all these things combine in making up the unexpressed
enjoyments of the dwellers in gardens that lie close to the heart of
towns.

    “Not wholly in the busy world, nor quite
    Beyond it, blooms the garden that I love.
    News from the humming city comes to it,
    In sound of funeral or marriage bells.”

[Illustration: MICHAELMAS DAISIES]

My own belief is, that ever such a small garden is better than none,
and that life without its flowers is not worth living. Should this
little book be found a help or encouragement to any town-dwellers who
love plants and flowers well enough to wish to see them as they live
and grow, as well as to enjoy their beauty and sweetness when they are
cut, the pleasant time of writing it will not have been ill spent. In
every case, where possible the fruits of practical experiences have
been given, imagination and exaggeration have been excluded.



CHAPTER II

THE EARLY WINDOW-BOX

    “Yet sun and wind, what can ye do
    But make the leaves more brightly show?”


Since Londoners have learned that life without scent and colour is
not worth living, England’s capital has become a City of Flowers. It
is not only Covent Garden and the great floral shops of the West End
that blaze with blossoms; the same idea has spread into every little
outlying suburb, wherein no self-respecting greengrocer, however small
his frontage, would fail to fill a shelf or two with fresh-cut flowers
several times a week. Here every careful housewife holds her Saturday
marketing incomplete till she has bought the bunch of sweetness that
is destined to adorn the Sunday sitting-room or grace the midday meal.
Cold winds of wintry spring may blow, but, wrapped in folds of pale
green tissue (which sets them off amazingly), bright yellow Daffodils,
purple Violets, white Narcissus, or branches of the almond-sweet
Mimosa, are carried through the streets by thousands.

All this is delightful; but cut flowers, lovely and decorative as they
are, can never satisfy the deeper necessities of the soul. We admire
them, we enjoy them, but it can hardly be said we love them; they
are too strange to us, like new friends that we have not had time to
cultivate, but must let go ere we know them. As we agreed just now,
really to enjoy a flower we must have grown it.

In London and all large towns gardening has its trials. Many will not
attempt the task, and rely wholly on the cut flowers of the florist
or the daintily filled pots and baskets he sells us, the blossoms in
which last hardly longer than those we buy by handfuls. What are the
inhabitants of flats and tall town tenements to do when they long for
the joys of a little gardening--real gardening--and have not so much as
a bit of a back-yard to call their own? Well, even in towns and cities,
where there is a will there is a way. One or two alternatives are open
to us; one is the Window-box, another is the Roof-garden, and there is
the Balcony.

The window-box is both the easiest and the most general, but, common
as are these town adornments, it is a matter of fact that very little
“gardening” is done in them. For the most part the man in the street
gets as much æsthetic enjoyment out of a window-box as its owner, and
often, except in the matter of payment, has about as much to do with
it. The lordly mansions, in front of which are displayed the most
beautiful colour-schemes during the fashionable season, are often
closed at other periods of the year, while their owners are away
enjoying flowers in distant places. It is of the window-gardening
of that far larger class that lives in London all the year round we
would say a word or two. Window-gardening might become ten times more
interesting than it is now if people only woke up to a sense of its
possibilities.

Too frequently the window-boxes of the million follow the fashions that
are set them by the “ton,” and come out radiant only with the dawn of
summer. True, in some cases, the baldness of winter and early spring is
mitigated by the planting of a few small shrubs, green or variegated;
but not infrequently so little interest is taken in them that the poor
things are allowed to wither on their stems, either parched with thirst
or frozen with cold. One would almost prefer the sight of the clean,
quite empty flower-box, which does, at any rate, give a sense of rest.

Can nothing better than this be done? Why should not everybody who owns
a window-box make and enjoy a spring garden in it? Nothing is easier,
and it may be done in an endless variety of ways. To begin with, a
whole chapter could be written about Bulbs for the window-box. These
friendly little plantlets, if we invite them, will keep us bright for
the first three months of any year.

Gold, white, and blue,--these are the colours we will choose, and we
will start with a very cheap and simple scheme. Nothing is better for
planting at the same time (quite early in the autumn) than Winter
Aconites, Snowdrops, and blue Scillas. These give us brilliant colours
in quick succession, and, what is more, they overlap each other, and
the grass that belongs to each plant helps to make a background for the
rest. In planting Snowdrops I would counsel everybody to put in two
kinds, not one double and one single (to my mind a Snowdrop doubled
is a Snowdrop spoiled). What we like is to place a long-stalked and a
short-stalked flowerlet side by side, so as to give the same appearance
of lightness we aim at in the arrangement of cut flowers in the house.
For a long-stalked Snowdrop, Mr. Barr’s _Galanthus Whittalli_ could not
be improved upon. It never looks prettier than when rising from a bed
of its lowlier sisters, just the little common kind we are so familiar
with in London shops and baskets, where, for some inscrutable reason,
they are generally bound up stiffly with twigs or box, which do their
best to overpower the fresh sweet scent that properly belongs to every
Snowdrop.

If our window-box is in a sunny position, these little flowers of
early spring will peep up at us even during the frosts of January.
The golden Aconite cares nothing for the cold of a London winter; he
is used to Himalayan snows, and shows his schoolboy shining face and
frilled green collar so early that he invariably takes us by surprise,
though we have been looking for him. Next come the flake-white
Snowdrops, “offering their frail cup of three leaves to the cold sun;”
lastly the Scillas, brightly, beautifully blue.

To set these flowers off to the best advantage one must have given them
a dainty bed on which to lie. When the Bulbs are planted some tufts
of hardy, free-growing, flowering Moss should be put in at the same
time. The common Iceland Moss does very well; it stands any amount
of cold, and spreads out thickly as the days grow light. Every scrap
of soil is hidden, and the flower-spikes look doubly pretty pushing
through the green. If Ivy-trails are wanted, this is easily managed,
but _great_ care has to be taken with Ivy. Once started, it grows so
strongly, and may injure other things. Crocuses of every hue blend well
with any of the flowers just mentioned, and bloom about the same time.
Another window-scheme is charming, but will be at its best a little
later, through the months of April and of May. Instead of Moss (or as
well as Moss, if we like both) we can make our carpet this time of
Forget-me-not, through which white Cottage Tulips grow delightfully,
and so do white or pale pink Hyacinths. Thus grown the Hyacinth loses
the look of stiffness, which is its only fault. White Arabis is another
grounding flower, which sets off scarlet Tulips (Van Thol’s we choose
by preference) to perfection. The double Arabis is even prettier than
the single, and very nearly as hardy. Either with or without the
addition of bulbs, a very inexpensive yet pleasing combination for
the window-box, that will be a joy through the most inclement May,
is London Pride and Forget-me-not growing side by side. The tender
pinks and blues blend charmingly, and when gathered last a long time
in water. Miss Jekyll says one of her favourite combinations is London
Pride and St. Bruno’s Lilies. We have not tried this for boxes, but can
well believe it; London Pride is such a sympathetic little flower, and
sets off everything it accompanies.

We have sometimes let the delicious Poet’s Narcissus (Pheasant’s-eye)
spring up amid these charming flowers of later spring; tall, fair, and
gracious, they give an added charm. If a tone of pink is wanted, not
a better spring flower can be chosen than Silene, sometimes better
known as the Campion or Catchfly. It can be bought in clumps at any
flower-market.

If we like, it is quite possible to grow the very early bulbs along
with all these flowers: they do not interfere with each other in the
least. Every one takes his turn to “show off” like the ballet-dancers
of grand opera, and does his part to keep a window-box bright with
blossoms right on from January to the end of May.

For the encouragement of those who have to grow their spring flowers
in window-boxes instead of in the open, I may quote some wise words
written by one who knows.

“The window-gardener,” he says, “equally with the possessor of
extensive flower-borders, may enjoy the early spring flowers, and in
almost as great variety as his more fortunate neighbours. Bulbous
plants will grow equally well in well-drained boxes, filled with
soil that is fairly good, as in the open border. They may, indeed,
grow better, for window-boxes are invariably sheltered to a great
extent, and bulbs in the border have sometimes much to contend
with--insufficient drainage, insect enemies, inclement weather, to
which they are fully exposed, etc.”

Every one can vary his flower-scheme as he likes, season by season.
Anemones, some Irises, Jonquils, and Daffodils, must never be
forgotten, nor yet the simple Primrose, which looks so fair near
beds of heavenly blue (Grape-hyacinth, Forget-me-not, and Bluebell,
are contemporaries), and we should start our window-garden as soon
as we come back from seaside holidays, say in the quiet days of late
September.

Through the long winter nothing gives a more delightful sense of
restful expectation than a box or border we have filled with bulbs
and covered comfortably with some simple greenery. It secures for us
a taste of the real pleasures of gardening. Our part is done; Nature,
even in towns, will do the rest.

    “The bulbs lie close
    In the earth’s warm keeping;
    But when Spring wakes,
    That now is sleeping,
    Crocus and daffodil,
    Hyacinth and jonquil,
    Their dreams unfold
    In blue and gold,
    For lovers reaping.”



CHAPTER III

“THE SEASON” WINDOW-BOX

    “The summer approaching with richness--
    And the infinite separate houses.”


The spring months over, and our early blossom faded, how joyfully one
hails the crowd of summer flowers, that appear as if by magic, begging
us to buy them. Market-carts and barrows filled with “bedders” meet
us at every turn, and their wafted sweetness in square and street is
intoxicating. We must clutch these old joys and hold them. How now
about the window-box?

To be practical, two courses are open to us. Bulbs are not at all fond
of being moved; they like to rest in peace while their grass grows
long and straggly, to feed the bulblets underground; but this does not
look pretty, so if we have any place where we can store the spring
flower-box, we may remove it bodily, and leave the rest to Nature. If
not, we had much better clear it all out ruthlessly, and start afresh.

One mistake that should be guarded against is that of filling the
summer window-box too soon. People are in such a hurry; they want to
smarten up their houses with growing summer flowers, even before the
end of May. To put it on the lowest ground, this is waste of money;
but worse, it is cruelty. We might as well stand our darling occupants
of the warm nursery outside their open windows, with nothing on but
pinafores! All these summer flowers have been grown in a hot place.
At all times it is well to know the previous history of each plant we
buy, and something of its pedigree. Plants have their pasts as well as
people, and they should be considered. We want those that have been
brought up hardily, not forced.

In early summer the multitude of floral beauties before us to choose
from is bewildering, yet nearly every one fixes his affections on the
same flowers year by year, and no doubt will continue to do so, for
they never fail to please. London would not be itself without its
windows framed with clusters of white Marguerites and bright Geraniums
(generally pink), with a neat edging of Lobelia. There will be slight
variations in the kind and colour of the flowers, and sometimes
trailing Ivy-leafed Geraniums will add a note of grace. For a lovely
pink nothing surpasses the Geraniums “Christine Nielson” or “Olive
Carr.” But variety is the spice of life. Why cannot some of us, for a
change, choose white Geraniums--“Queen of Whites,” for instance--and
fill the spaces in between with Petunias, single and double? Petunias
are now brought to the greatest perfection, and may be had in splendid
colours, shading from palest pink to the deepest crimson, and the
fringed blossoms are exquisite. The freedom of their growth is a
welcome set-off to the stately deportment of Geranium “Queens.” And we
might have yellow Marguerites, with Marigolds and Nasturtiums deepening
to brown and orange, Fuchsias with Heliotrope (only we must keep the
Heliotrope out of a draught), or gold and spotted Calceolarias mingled
with white Daisies. But is it of any use to advise Calceolarias? They
are so unpopular nowadays, though some of them are not so bad, even if
they do remind a little of the gaping, wide-mouthed toad. One would
gladly see more Musk used; it is delicious billowing over pots of dark
red Roses. Some say Carnations do well in window-boxes. We have never
tried them. They are capricious always and anywhere.

Walking or driving about the streets and squares of the West End
of London on a June day, when all the window-boxes are at their
gayest, it is amusing to notice how some localities favour certain
flowers. At Queen’s Gate for several seasons past there has been what
shopkeepers call “a great feeling” for white Marguerites and Genista.
Here, again, I use shopkeeper language. “Genista” is London shop for
the almond-scented, yellow-flowered Citisus which, though really a
conservatory plant, deigns to brighten the window-boxes of London
façades, reminding delightfully of the golden gorse-blossoms that
have the same sweet smell, and are blooming at the same moment about
the heaths and waste-lands of the country. Genista _must_ have the
sunny side of the street; we should bear that in mind. Some Clubs,
too, adopt certain flowers and colours, remaining very constant to
their specialities. It would be interesting to reckon up the number
of Daisies that bud and blow in town during the “season.” Never need
Londoners quit the region of bricks and mortar to count the “daisies
of the dappled field;” there are nearly as many of them to be seen
in town. The Daisy is such a human flower. Nettles, they say, are
never met with but near the haunts of man, and we are really very
much obliged to them, for boiled Nettle is nearly as good as Spinach,
and Daisies are just as friendly. I have seen them on the golf-links
of Norfolk in chill December, their fringed and yellow eyes gazing
benevolently at the golfers. Wordsworth knew all about the Daisy.

    “Methinks that there abides in thee
    Some concord with humanity
    Given to no other flower I see
            The forest through.”

[Illustration: OVERLOOKING THE TOWN]

One very charming scheme that has been adopted with great success
for the sunny side of the street is to have the whole house painted
white, and to fill every box and balcony with the lovely tendrils
of _Asparagus Sprengeri_, and nothing else. This ripples over most
luxuriantly; to look at it makes one feel cool on the hottest day.
After two hours’ eye-strain at the Royal Academy no sight could be more
refreshing. The Sprengeri is often used for pendant baskets, which it
furnishes to perfection.

However handsome may be the receptacle for our flowers, no arrangement
is really so pretty as that which gives them trailing blossoms and
greenery to hang and cluster over the hard edge. Campanulas are always
ready to do this gracious task, and can be had either in pink or white
to suit every requirement.

If we live in a flat that has a good many windows and aspects, we
may enjoy a great number of different growing plants. Before the
kitchen-window I should have a box for parsley and a herb or two. They
make for grace as well as use. Some herbs grow very prettily, and their
aromatic, refreshing scent (so unaccustomed in a town drawing-room)
will please more than that of the costliest exotic. I have sometimes
amused myself by making a nosegay out of nothing but herbs. In a
sick-room it is priceless. Wormwood--the herb that in France is used
for making absinthe--is a very graceful grower, of pale grey green not
unlike Southernwood or Old-Man, but finer, and it has a more delicate
and subtle scent. Another herb, Sweet Cicely, is often mistaken for a
fern, though it is softer and bears flowers. Mint, Balm, Sage, and Rue
make a pleasing bunch, and these herbs will grow anywhere; they are not
afraid of London smoke. Parsley is more difficult to manage, but is
just as tricky in the garden as in the box. It is perhaps as well to
buy this with our cabbages and cauliflowers. Some of the other herbs
are really not procurable in towns, however gladly we would pay their
price, so it is worth while trying to grow them for ourselves, and it
can be done.

All town gardeners must make up their mind to contend with
difficulties. The worst of them are smoke and smuts. Smoke, however, is
not nearly so bad in summer as in winter, nor are there then so many
flying children of the soot. We must wash and sponge and syringe, and
we must use soft water. Oh, the magic of soft water in the plant-world!
but how often the dry and panting flowers sigh for it in vain. We
forget or omit to store the water heaven sends us, though nothing is
simpler to arrange than a pipe leading from the gutter on the roof
down to the ground. Instead of feeding our plants with rain-water
we turn the nearest tap, and torment them with hard water from the
main. This is what Londoners do, anyway; I hope it is not the same in
other towns. On the whole, growing plants give very little trouble,
and make slight demands upon our time, but, like children, they are
ruined by alternations of petting and neglect; the little care we give
them must be constant, and, as usual, experience is the best teacher.
“The watched pot never boils,” they say, and picnic experiences have
taught us to believe the proverb; but it does not apply to plants and
flowers, which always do better for being noticed. It has come to be a
family fiction, in which we more than half believe, that flowers will
not thrive unless they are watched. Looking at them seems to make them
grow, which of course is only another way of saying that they pay for
close attention, and the stitch in time that saves.

At Exeter, already one of the most beautifully kept of English towns,
the window-box bids fair to become a striking feature. An enthusiast
in horticulture, anxious to improve its southern entrance, is offering
prizes for the best window-sill gardening in that locality. Three
months are allowed for exhibition, and consolation prizes give a chance
to all. The idea is a good one, and almost sure to be imitated in
other places. I have often wished that every nursery-window in London
might have its window-box for simple flowers. A child’s delight in the
first shoot above the ground is a pretty thing to see, and after that
there is the miracle of the bud and bloom. How much more meaning has
the pretty “Seed Song” to a town child who has himself with his own
hands sowed the little seedlets and watched the wonder of their birth
in his very own window-box! I borrow two half verses of it, for the
benefit of those to whom it is unfamiliar.

    “Little brown seed, oh! little brown brother,
      Are you awake in the dark?
    Here we lie cosily, close to each other:--
      Hark to the song of the lark!

    “Little brown seed, oh! little brown brother,
      What kind of flower will you be?
    I’ll be a Poppy--all white like my mother.
      _Do_ be a Poppy like me.”



CHAPTER IV

BALCONY-GARDENING

    “Visions of blue Violet plots,
    White Daisies and Forget-me-nots.”


Some of us have a balcony as well as a window-box. Here is a field
indeed; we have more space, more opportunity for display. Rescued from
the hands of the florist, balcony-gardening becomes one of the most
interesting of occupations. Here we may aspire to creepers and climbers
in a good aspect, even to Roses. Imagine it in London!

    “Rose-trees, either side the doorway
      Growing lithe and growing tall,
    Each one set, a summer Warder
      For the keeping of the hall.”

Climbers in pots that make thick summer growth are easiest to manage;
these we can get fresh every season, and they greatly brighten up the
old friends that have lived with us from year to year through the
adversities of frost and fog. Major Convolvulus and the perennial
“Morning Glories” do well, also Canariensis; but all these must have
sun.

[Illustration: A HANGING BASKET]

For a town wall-plant nothing can surpass the Winter Jasmine, whose
yellow blossoms cheer the dullest months, and in summer we welcome its
long green trails, which we must not forget to cut back every autumn,
or it will get too straggly. It is always the year’s young shoots
that are wanted for beauty. Forsythia, with its golden flowers of
February and March, delight us sometimes on the fronts of London houses
in very early spring, but the foliage is not so decorative afterwards,
and for the balcony we must have summer beauty. The Virginia Creeper,
that we have brought from the generous West (along with other pretty
things and people), is now so familiar that we forget that it is really
a new-comer. It was in 1841, at the back of a house in Rutland Gate,
that the Virginia Creeper made its first appearance in London. Since
then how much it has done to beautify our towns, both the common kind
and the small-leaved Ampelopsis Veitchii, whose habit of self-clinging
renders it so invaluable. Some critics think we use this Creeper too
freely, but I do not agree with them. Either on grey stone or brick,
or trellis-work or rails, its light festoons of green, or red, or
crimson--as the sun has dyed them--give summer grace and autumn colour.
Of the Ivy there is no occasion to speak, except to remind that there
are more kinds than one. Good balcony shrubs for backgrounds are easily
found, and in many contrasting tints of green and gold. With respect to
pot plants, Mrs. Earle gives a suggestion that is worth following up:--

“One day outside a dining-room window of a London house I noticed some
large, heavy, oblong Japanese flower-pots planted with single plants.
They looked very well, as one was able to see the growth of the plants.
The pots were glazed, and much thicker than the ordinary flower-pot.
This lessens evaporation, and their weight prevents them from being
blown over.”

Ordinary flower-pots are not suitable in our climate for outer windows
and balconies.

I am convinced that for furnishing the balcony there is a great future
for strong, well-made, handsome pots. It is wonderful what can be grown
in them. No one understands this better than the flower-lover who has
ever lived in any of the West Indian Islands, where there is no soil,
and everything has to be grown in pots and tubs. Tubs are charming, so
cheap, so easy to manage, and so decorative when tastefully painted.
Plants always take kindly to tubs, and both tubs and pots can be
arranged and moved about with ease--a great convenience when ladies
undertake the work.

But tubs and pots are not the only receptacles that are useful for
balconies, verandahs, leads, and window-doorways. Italian oil-jars
answer very well, either whole or sawn in half to make two. Seakale
pots serve the same purpose. For painting them in colour, nothing is
better than a low-toned green, which harmonizes with all else. There is
a certain dull red that pleases some tastes; but red is a colour that
tires.

The quality of the material of which the receptacles are made must
be considered, as it has a great deal to do with the amount of water
the plants will require. Ordinary flower-pot ware is very porous, and
plants grown in large flower-pots require more frequent watering than
when grown in anything else. The evaporation through plain wood is not
nearly so great as through unglazed earthenware, and when the wood
is painted it is still less. Glazing an ordinary flower-pot makes it
more protective. Old petroleum barrels (when the oil has been turned
out) and butter-tubs are excellent plant-holders, but of course must
have ample provision made for drainage, and several good-sized holes
must be pierced at the bottom. If the tub or pot has not much depth of
room underneath, it should be set on bricks, or raised in some other
way. This assists drainage, and keeps the holes from being blocked
by worms or otherwise. Re-potting is very seldom required if in the
first instance good compost is freely given. The best way of feeding
our tub plants and shrubs is very clearly explained in a paper on
“Tub Gardening,” by Mr. Alger Petts in _The Garden_ of September 21,
1891. It is well worth study by those who mean to take seriously to
tub-gardening; but most likely the tub-gardeners of the London balcony
do not expect their plants to live long. They would do so, however,
if properly looked after and given a fair chance. One great advantage
about flowering pot and tub plants is that they bear more blossoms
grown in this way than if they were in the open border; the strength of
them goes to blossom instead of root, as everybody knows.

London in June! How beautiful it is, especially at the West End, the
best End! and who can doubt it owes much of its beauty to plants
and flowers? There they are, in shops and dairies, even among the
delicate confections of the modiste, pots of green Ferns, even fragrant
blossoms. On a summer’s day in Bond Street I have sometimes stopped
involuntarily to feast my eyes on the artistic arrangement of a
shop-front, where blocks of ice and silvery white-bait, the scarlet
lobster and the subtle pinks of salmon mingle with trails of grass and
seaweed green. This is delightful, but we should like more of it. Why
should not our streets be even gayer than they are now, and sweeter?
Over the shop-fronts and on leads, as well as in the window-box or on
the balcony, we would see something fresh and growing. Cut flowers are
all very well, but they make only for beauty. The growing plant is a
health-helper, as well as pleasing to the eye, for the carbonic fumes
that kill us are positively good for plants; they live on and enjoy
them. Trees and all green things are good; but trees, unless a street
is very wide indeed, take up too much room, robbing us of light and
preventing the air from circulating.

Balcony-gardening need never do this; we can keep to low-growing things
and creepers. Many a town house has balconies large enough to lounge
in. On a July evening, under the delicate thin curve of a new moon, or
in starlight, how sweet the summer dusk, even in London, and flowers
are just as fragrant here as in the country. Where so welcome as in
cities are “pointed blossoms rising delicate, with the perfume strong
we love”?

I was once a frequent visitor at a London house which was always kept
full of growing plants, and could never enjoy one of them. Why? Because
I knew each one was dying every moment. They were treated exactly like
furniture. A dark corner would be “lighted up” by the splendour of a
Scarlet Geranium in full bloom; (it did not remain scarlet long); a
Daphne showed its fragrant stars on a davenport close to the fireplace,
and a long way off the window. No one ever picked off a dead leaf or
gave the plants so much as a cupful of cold water. Every few days the
florist’s man came round, took away the invalids--for such they had
become--and arranged a fresh lot. Poor plants, they had my sympathy! I
do not think this treatment of flowers shows the least real love for
them; better were it to grow the humblest blooms out in the open air,
upon the balcony.

In a lady’s paper the other day I chanced to see some practical hints
on how to convert a London balcony into a miniature garden, and thought
them worth transcribing.

“One of the first things to be considered is what flowers will flourish
in the smoky atmosphere. I have noticed that the ivy-leaf Geranium
does well, and this makes a brave show, and grows rapidly. Close to
the front of the balcony have some narrow boxes made of wood, painted
green, and fill these with plenty of plants, which can be trained to
the rails of the ironwork, and thus make quite a screen. A striped
awning should be fixed to the wall of the house just above the
drawing-room windows, and this can be made removable by driving iron
staples into the wall and sewing rings on to the canvas awning. In the
front three iron uprights must be fixed to the balcony, one at each
end, and one in the middle. The top of each upright can be bent over to
form a ring, and the awning can be tied on to these with strong tapes.
Two large hanging baskets of ferns should be suspended from a thin rod,
which is passed from end to end of the iron uprights, and if two more
baskets are hung from the lowest rail of the balcony in front, the
bower will be complete. With some matting on the floor and two lounge
wicker chairs, this will make a charming retreat on a hot day and a
cool lounge on a sultry evening.”

I can exactly picture such a balcony as this, and would edge the box
with plants of musk, the smell of which would be delicious in the
drawing-room, especially on a summer’s afternoon, just after it had
been watered.



CHAPTER V

ROOF AND BACK-YARD GARDENS IN THE CITY

    “High over roaring Temple Bar
    And set in Heaven’s third story.”

    “O, green is the colour of faith and truth.”


When one comes to write of roof and back-yard gardens the pen must run
less glibly; such oases in the dust and drouth of towns are few and
rare. The roofs of English houses are not shaped well for gardening,
and if there happen to be a back-yard, it is often more like a well
than a garden; not a dripping well lined with fern and soft with moss,
but a well walled round with smoke-black bricks, and not much of a
sky above it. Yet garden-lovers do make their little plots somehow,
even in London’s heart, and live there happily tending their flowers.
In the broad City thoroughfare that leads from Blackfriar’s Bridge to
St. Paul’s Cathedral stands a church among the shops and marts--an old
church built by Sir Christopher Wren. Behind this building, up a narrow
street--little more than a passage--is a Rectory-house hemmed in at
back and sides with factories; yet, hidden away in this strange corner
may be found a bower of greenery. Mrs. Clementi-Smith, the Rector’s
wife, shall tell the story of her City garden in her own words. We must
imagine it to be in the month of March.

[Illustration: A BOAT-SHELTER WITH CERASTIUM ON ROOF]

“The foreground of our garden consists of a bank of rock work,
interspersed by hundreds of the very finest Crocuses which one
could find anywhere, mostly purple, bright mauve, pure white, and a
few yellow. These were put in last autumn, and have certainly done
splendidly, in spite of smuts and smoke. The only grievous thing about
them is that, when the flowers are over, the bulbs will have to be
pulled up and thrown away, as we have found that one season is quite
enough for them; they would not flower again if left in for another
year.”

In gardens such as this bulbs do better than anything else; they give
back the treasure that was stored up by them when living in the air
and sunshine. A little greenhouse between the wall and rock garden is
full of ferns. Geraniums will not grow, but Cyclamen and Palms are well
content, and Azaleas manage to bloom for one year--not more, as there
is not enough sun to ripen the new wood. One fair-sized tree stands
in the middle of the plot, a Lime; not a good town tree, because its
foliage fades and falls so soon. This one is to come down and make room
for an apple-tree.

The annals of another City garden are worth recording because so
instructive. They were confided to the sympathetic ears of the editor
of _The Garden_ under the title of “Struggles in Smoke.” Every reader
sympathized. This garden, too, lay in the shadow of a cathedral, but in
the north of England.

“Everything we touched was black, and how strong it all smelt of smoke
and the mingled fumes of fried fish and burnt shoe-leather from the
small shops that backed on to it! The garden was at the very edge of
a wind-swept hill, the ground falling away so suddenly below it that
the tops of the chimneys of the City beneath were just at the proper
level to pour their smoke right into it. When the wind blew from the
south, the thick clouds from the foundry and factory chimneys made it
impossible to see across the garden. Then we had to set to work.”

Nothing teaches so well as an object-lesson. Let us hear what flowers
were persuaded to grow in this garden of difficulties, where cats and
sparrows, we learn, were nearly as troublesome as the smoke.

“Tiger Lilies seemed to love us best. These grew and spread and
triumphed, till at times the garden glowed with an orange glory. Their
cousins, the White Lilies, would have nothing to do with us. Naturally,
bulbs were the most satisfactory things, and Crocus, Narcissus and
Tulip were joyful, but soot-coloured Snowdrops were not inspiring.
We felt rich when the Lilies of the Valley were in bloom--there were
always enough to give away. We revelled in the carpets of Woodruffe and
white Periwinkle, from which sprang great clumps of the yellow Trollius
and the silvery stars of Astrantia. Auriculas, Double Daisies, Violas
and Pansies did their best to make up to us for the lack of Violets
and Mignonette.” A good list, and there is more to follow. “Christmas
Roses did well, but very few bedding plants answered. Various Irises,
Campanulas, Monkshood, Canterbury Bells, Lychnis and masses of
_Epilobium-Angustifolium_ made things bright. The old pink Cabbage
Rose and Gloire-de-Dijon flowered well. Cornflowers and Larkspurs were
happy, and one small Pear-tree yielded fruit.” What love and toil must
have gone to give such rich results, and how great the joy, can only be
guessed by those who have had a like experience.

[Illustration: AN EAST-END ROOF GARDEN]

Roof-gardens are even rarer than yard-gardens. One that is full of
interest may be seen in Bishopsgate Street, E.C., at the Home for
Working Boys. Trees of quite a respectable size are grown in it;
Sycamore trees twenty feet high, Limes from eight to ten feet, with
Nut and Cedar, Chestnut, Holly, Fir, and Plane. Cats are, of course,
a hindrance, but the wire netting which keeps them out is hidden in
summer by Virginia Creeper, and on the parapets and in tubs and boxes
are Evergreens and Orange plants, and bushes of Rose and Lilac. Eight
or ten sorts of flowers bloom freely, Petunias doing best of all.
Gardening operations, as carried on by the boys and Superintendent, are
an unfailing source of amusement to the children of the surrounding
poor. A pond and fountain with spray rising sixteen feet high are
crowning glories of this shady jungle, where, but a few years since
there was nothing to be seen but a bare zinc roof, some twelve yards
square. The place has now been pet-named “Pelham Park.”

A private roof-garden at the back of a London house, four stories from
the ground, is graphically described by an amateur gardener, who says
he “fights for failure,” but he does so cheerfully. There are some
points, he says, on which the many-acred owner of a country garden
might envy his rival on the roof. One is his personal intimacy with his
garden kingdom and its subjects.

“Up among the chimney pots he has watched each plant through all
difficulties struggling up into timid blossoms; he has washed away
daily smuts and combated incessant sparrows with cotton entanglements,
and now knows every flower, nay, every petal, with a personal love.
He will tell you which day of the week the Pansy lost its second
bud through the sparrows, just when it looked certain to be quite
as good as the flower he got last year; or he will show you how the
Canariensis, baffled by the same marauders last Friday week, has tried
again with a second shoot which will be out before Wednesday; those
Pansies were specially bought at Covent Garden; as for the Sweet Peas,
they came as seedlings, not a tenth their present size, and they will
be even better in a fortnight. The Solanum is a special prize, and
comes from a country garden; but dearer than that is the Geranium,
grown from one of his own cuttings, a real scion of the family.”

A Geranium among the slates and chimney stacks! This was a triumph
indeed; enough to make the Clementi-Smiths at St. Andrew’s Rectory
envious.

In these roof-gardens there are joys undreamed of by the stranger.
A real honey-bee buzzing and working over the flower-beds, even a
spider--a real garden spider, with a shining web, a country-looking
weed, a stinging nettle,--a lively one that knows how to sting, and on
one bright still evening, when the sunshine lingered on the gas-work’s
chimneys, a humming-bird hawk-moth fluttering well-pleased among the
flowers.

After these flights among the tiles and chimney-stacks it is tame work,
talking of the City gardens of the level ground; but, after all, they
are the commonest and most generally useful. The dreary churchyards
now made into play-grounds, where a few simple flowers bloom, and
there is a shrub or two; we may see such any day at St. John’s in the
Waterloo Road. And there are the old, old gardens about the Temple and
the Law Courts; how many generations of lawyers they have cheered (not
one space can be spared); and who has not felt a thrill of joy when
nearing St. Paul’s Cathedral, to see the fresh green of the trees and
the indescribable beauty of the rustling, swaying boughs, so strangely
sweet in such a spot.

Not the least good done by our City gardens is the welcome given by
them to bird and butterfly; even the seagulls did not come to London
till after we had planted trees on the Embankment and laid down turf.
The more gardens we make, the more country visitors will come to them,
gladdening the Londoner with rural sounds.

    “A cuckoo cried at Lincoln’s Inn
    Last April, somewhere else one heard
    The missel-thrush with throat of glee;
    And nightingales at Battersea.”

[Illustration: A ROOF GARDEN]



CHAPTER VI

PLANTS FOR THE CITY POOR

    “Along the dense-packed cities all, and the teeming wharves and
    ways--every leaf a miracle.”


A kindly K.C. of my acquaintance is always telling us we ought to
provide pianos for the poor. “So elevating”--this is his argument. Mine
is, that pianos want too much practising--poor people have no time
for it; much better give them window-boxes and a spade. A taste for
gardening raises the most uneducated, and the mixed elements of chance
and skill secure perennial freshness, giving a zest to the pursuit that
makes it like the best kind of game.

Mrs. Free, of St. Cuthbert’s Lodge, Millwall, is doing an excellent
work in encouraging a love of flowers among her poor. About four years
ago, through her efforts, a Window-box Society was started. Members
(there are now about seventy) pay twopence annually, and in return
receive gifts in kind of bulbs and plants. Prizes are awarded for the
best display of flowers. Few families, alas! possess the smallest bit
of garden ground, and many have no space for a window-box, but must
make the best of a few plants indoors, on a table as near the light
as possible. This arrangement, often as I see it, never fails to give
a double pang. The first is for the owners, and the second for the
plants, that, although taking up more room than ought to be allowed
them, are themselves starving for want of air and light.

Last summer, travelling by railway in the heart of London, a
poorish-looking, but respectable man entered our carriage, carrying a
basket of really beautiful flowers. He had grown them all himself, in a
narrow little plot of ground where every single flower was a personal
acquaintance. His Lilies were as fragrant as if from a cottage garden
in the country. The Madonna-Lily always does grow well for poor people,
as we have noticed in many a country garden.

Many good-hearted people have tried to bring the pleasure of plants
and gardens to the City poor. Many of the schemes set out are quite
Utopian. We cannot build cities after a plan, they grow, but individual
enterprise may do much. I had enjoyed Mr. Cadbury’s well-made chocolate
for many a year, before I found out a very good, and to me quite new
reason for liking it. For forty years the good man had watched the
class of people who worked for him in Birmingham, and came to the
conclusion that the only practical way of raising them up from the
degradation of their surroundings was to bring the factory-worker out
on to the land, and give him a piece of garden, in which he could enjoy
that most delightful of all recreations--the coming in touch with
Nature on the soil. So he withdrew his great cocoa manufactory from the
town, and established it in the pretty village of Bournville. The move
was a great success.

[Illustration: A POOR MAN’S WINDOW-BOX AT MILLWALL]

Town board schools in some places are doing what they can to give their
scholars practical instruction in Nature knowledge. In cities this is
very difficult. Seeds do not germinate well in pots indoors. A school
garden, however small, is worth anything; results are so much more
satisfactory. The boys’ garden at Crook’s Place Board School, Norwich,
is an example of what may be done in a town. The enclosure measures
50 yards by 20, and was formerly an ugly and uninviting corner of the
Chapel Field. Builders’ rubbish has been cleared away, and replaced
by good soil. Friends have sent seeds and bulbs and plants; stones have
been gathered for a rock-garden, the boys work with enthusiasm, and the
Norwich school-garden in summer is as bright a spot as one could see.

The young gardeners are instructed for an hour a day three times a
week, and show great aptitude in learning. What a pleasant change from
books and slates, and how educating in the best sense of the word!
No occupation brings to light the better qualities of the mind so
much as gardening, even if it is on ever so small a scale. Patience,
forethought, sympathy, and tenderness all belong to the gardener--they
must do so or his work will be a failure.

It has often struck me that country board schools are not doing the
good they might, in the way of influencing their scholars to love the
land and take an interest in it. Children are very happy in their board
schools. They hurry away as early in the morning as possible, from
comfortless stuffy cottages to the well-warmed, well-aired school-room,
where they find the joys of emulation and intelligent companionship.
In the afternoon it is the same, with intervals for football or games.
What time is left to help with work in their own little garden-patches?
These lie neglected, while vegetables and garden-produce are purchased
by mother from the travelling market-cart, dearer and less fresh than
if home-grown. When the boys come home they pore over a borrowed book,
or practice sums and easy drawing. Every one of them “means to go
to London,” and live by his brains, not at all by his hands; and he
is no more at home with a spade or a pitchfork than if he came out
of a London slum. There must be something wrong about this, and the
something could very easily be remedied.

At the risk of being digressive, I cannot help saying that I am afraid
that Germany is ahead of us in the matter of school-gardens. The
clever educationists of the Fatherland have found out that book-work,
valuable as it is and dear to the heart of a schoolmaster, is barren
and unproductive while divorced from the labour of the hands.
Garden-schools are established up and down the country, with courses of
instruction; elementary village-schools are provided with educational
garden-ground, and even town schools have their garden-plots. As usual,
these good and useful efforts are most successful where personal
practical influence is brought to bear on them.

With regard to supplying the very poor of London and other towns
with plants for their little yards and gardens and window-boxes, I
have often thought how easily this could be done if owners of large
or even moderate-sized gardens did not mind the little trouble of
giving to them of their abundance. We all know how hardy things come
up of themselves, and are thrown away as weeds by the gardener unless
we prevent it. Forget-me-nots among the Cabbages, Violets under the
Gooseberry bushes, Creeping-Jenny, Foxgloves and Evening-Primroses
wherever they can find a footing. Why not at every change of season
send off hampers and baskets to those who would find priceless treasure
in our rubbish? Better with them than on the burn-heap.

Londoners are surprisingly clever in cultivating flowers. A poor woman
in the City had a small plant given her, and was not very sure what
it was, but put it in a sunny place on a parapet outside her garret
window. It grew six feet high, and turned out to be a Sunflower!
Eventually the best blossom was presented as a contribution to the
harvest decorations at a neighbouring church.

[Illustration: A POOR MAN’S HOUSE FRONT IN MILLWALL]

Miss Jekyll, in _Home and Garden_, tells the prettiest story I know of
plants given to the poor. A factory lad in one of the great northern
manufacturing towns had advertised in a mechanical paper that he wanted
a tiny garden in a window-box; he knew nothing--would somebody help
him with advice? That some one was Gertrude Jekyll. Little plants of
mossy and silvery Saxifrages and a few small bulbs were sent him, also
some stones, for this was to be a rock-garden. It had two hills of
different heights, with rocky tops, and a longish valley, with a sunny
and a shady side, all in a box that measured three feet by ten inches!

Imagine the delight of the factory child when he saw the milk-white of
the modest Snowdrop and the brilliant blue of the early Squill as they
came up, jewel bright, in the grey, soot-laden atmosphere of the smoky
town! The boy’s happy letters showed that, in his childish way, he
shared the rapture of the poet.

    “The simplest flower that blows can give
    Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.”



CHAPTER VII

THE BEGINNER

    “When spring unlocks the flowers.”


Now and again we meet with beginners who really seem hardly to know one
end of a plant from another. Always buying their flowers in bunches,
they have no idea how they look when growing, and seeing flowers placed
side by side that have been sent from the widest different zones and
climates, they are not even very sure which of them may be claimed as
English grown. Shiploads of flowers from warmer latitudes keep London
and other large towns far in advance of the seasons as seen in country
districts, and it is misleading. At last some enterprising spirit
begins to long for the pleasure of the growing plant. It is a trial to
be always buying and bringing home fresh flowering plants only to see
them die off in their new quarters (for this is what they generally
do), so a balcony or window-box is started.

We will suppose its owner to be living quite in town; country, and,
as I think, even suburban folk with gardens have little need of
window-boxes, which are make-shifts, after all, though not to be
despised on that account.

The enterpriser must now choose his window-box, and is lucky if his
house is built handily for it, and if his aspects are favourable.
But what is one plant’s good is another plant’s poison. No aspect is
without some advantages, if only it has light and air; even shady
places can do with Ferns.

[Illustration: SPRING IN THE CROOK’S HILL BOARD-SCHOOL GARDEN,
NORWICH]

The style and material for our window-box must depend on
circumstances--size, for instance, and the style of the house.
It may be rustic, severe, or plain, and made either of wood, or
tiles, or cork. All are good in their way. Some modern builders
arrange the stone-work of the window-sills purposely to facilitate
window-gardening, and it is to be hoped this good fashion will be
continued and improved upon; it is a great assistance. There will often
be an amateur carpenter who is quite capable of building his window-box
for himself. It is nothing but a strong wooden case, in which holes
must be bored at the bottom; the box once made, it is easy to tack on
pieces of virgin cork. This can be bought, seven pounds for a shilling,
and nothing looks neater. Last spring I noticed all the window-boxes in
a row of small semi-detached suburban villas. The prettiest were made
of cork, and were filled with blood-red Tulips and Wallflowers almost
exactly the same shade, and lovely they all looked among the Wallflower
green. The next-door boxes were made of upright lengths of bamboo,
and had a very stiff appearance; they were filled with Tulips only,
packed very close together, and mostly yellow; the effect was anything
but good. By good luck we chanced to see the identical row of pretty
small houses again in early June, when our old admiration was furnished
afresh with summer flowers. The photograph we begged for, and were
kindly allowed to take, has become our frontispiece.

Having settled about our box, the next point to be considered is the
mould to fill it. This we can buy either by the load or sack. Good leaf
mould can be had for six shillings a load, or some get it by the sack,
and give two shillings for that. Under the box should be a plate of
zinc to prevent drips making the house damp. I have known enthusiasts
to bring mould from the country to town places in boxes like ordinary
luggage. Except in extreme cases, when a particular soil is wanted for
particular plants, I do not recommend this plan, especially now that
the railway authorities are so strict about the weight of luggage; and
besides this, plants often enjoy a change of soil; it does them good.

It is a good plan personally to superintend the first filling of the
box. To cast the mould into it and shake it down, as if we were filling
a pudding-basin, would never do. Drainage is necessary, so we must
fill the bottom of the box with crocks. Old flower-pots broken up do
excellently, but must be perfectly clean, and a few lumps of charcoal
are useful to keep all sweet. Then we can lay the mould in with a clear
conscience.

To those who would like to economize by using the mould from their own
little back-yards, if they have any, I would emphatically say “Don’t!”
It is sure to be poor stuff, and full of soot and other undesirable
things. Soot, by the way, is a capital stimulant; if kept some time
till it has lost its first crudeness, and mixed with water till the
liquid is about the colour of beer, here is an excellent tonic which
will invigorate many weakly plants. But no plants like to live on
physic, any more than we do.

Now for the flowers, or, if winter is coming on, the shrubs. Small
Conifers do very well in winter-boxes, or Golden Privet, or Acuba, or
tiny Box-trees. There is the widest range. Suppose we choose a set of
the prettiest shrubs we can get, and plant between them and in front of
them hardy bulbs, with a sprinkling of small-leafed Ivy to hang over
the edge of the box. This will give us something pretty to look at
throughout the winter and the early spring. We must water carefully, as
required, and keep all foliage quite clean. There are hundreds of other
schemes. The difficulty is to choose between them. It is a capital
plan to take in a gardening paper. Many excellent journals can be had
for one penny weekly, and any of their editors, when written to, are
ready to give advice. They will tell us what are suitable plants for
special situations, and ease our path by smoothing difficulties as they
arise.

[Illustration: PANSY BED IN CROOK’S HILL BOARD-SCHOOL GARDEN, NORWICH]

In April the time approaches for a quick change. We find shrubs no
longer satisfy, and the early bulbs are over. We now want spring
flowers, and can buy small ones ready to be planted at Covent Garden,
or from any good florist near at hand. We can propagate them ourselves
if we have ever so small a garden to fall back upon--if not, why, then
we must buy from the shops and market-gardens. Aubrietia, Wallflowers,
Anemones, Narcissus, Myosotis, Tulips, and Iris will all be coming on
now, and their flowers are charming. At this season a little fresh
mould may be advisable, and a good clean up.

In May we can make up hanging baskets for the balcony. Large ones do
better than small, as a good body of soil can be kept in a more equable
state of moisture. Fuchsias are lovely for the basket, and so are all
kinds of trailing geraniums. Moss is of course indispensable, and small
pieces will soon spread. Daisies, both white and yellow, are always
ready and welcome. Alpine Strawberries hanging or trailing over a
basket look very pretty.

June is here before we know where we are, and the long sweet summer
days. Even our miniature gardens will keep us busy. Watering, staking,
thinning out, and weeding--all these things will have to be done, as
well as cutting off dead leaves. If a plant looks sickly, do not let
that make us too sad. We had better take it out from among its fellows
and nurse it up elsewhere. In Paris, there is a hospital for invalid
plants, where they are taken care of and restored to health. I am
afraid no one has yet started a Flower Hospital for London.

Petunias come on later, and are splendid plants for town people; they
are brilliant, and do not put themselves out because of smoke and
smuts. They climb about, and fling themselves all over the place, so
it is a good plan to associate them with sturdy plants for a contrast,
and the filling up of gaps.

Insects must be destroyed as they appear, but soap and water will keep
them from appearing at all. A daily wash is the best thing in the world
for town plants, and if we cannot give it every day, we must give it as
often as we can.

Watering is always a difficult matter with beginners. No exact rules
can be laid down. It is not like clock-winding or anything mechanical.
Plants must be watered just when they want it, and if we give it
them when they don’t, it makes them sick. Still, they must never be
forgotten; if once allowed to get dust-dry, it is an injury from
which they will not recover. We must watch them carefully, and shall
thus soon learn their needs. Weather has a great deal to do with it.
Wind and sun are wonderfully drying. During the heat of summer it is
a good plan to water in the evening, so that the plants enjoy the
moisture through the night. One axiom is drummed into the heads of all
beginners, “Never water in the sunshine.” But sometimes one must do
it to avoid casualties, and no harm need come of it if we water the
ground thoroughly without touching the leaves or flowers. Let it be a
good soak. To give water in driblets is fatal. After a _little_ water,
the upper surface of the soil may cake and dry and harden, and the
plant be worse off than ever, or the water may run through some dry
channel in the mould and never reach the roots at all. It is best to
water pot-plants by standing them in a pail or tub, the water coming
quite over the rim; the leaves can be washed separately, and should
not be left too wet, which rots them; efforts must be made to get soft
water. If we really are compelled to use hard, some good may be done by
standing it for a time in shallow pans, or even in the water-pots we
are going to use. This improves its temperature; it will be far better
for the plants than cold hard water from the tap. Baby’s bath-water,
when he has done with it, is excellent to water with.

Sometimes one sees the beginner put his pot-plants out in the rain,
thinking it to be ever so generous to them. See that the leaves do not
get all the wet, leaving none for the soil; this often happens, and the
poor plants suffer thirst in the midst of plenty. We want to keep the
leaves washed clean, so that the skin of the leaves can breathe (they
are full of pores), but it is through their roots that plants drink in
the water. Our interest in tending plants is enhanced tenfold by the
study of their nature. Then common sense comes in to help us; anything
like good gardening without this is nearly as impossible as it would be
for doctors to cure their patients without having first been through a
course of training in physiology and physics.

Plants in pots set out on the balcony do well if we stand them on a
layer of coke ashes, or, indeed, any ashes that are going. Of course,
we must hide them in some cunning way. Little pots of Campanulas, pink
or white, drooping about are a help, and always decorative. So is
Musk--delicious, delightful, shade-loving Musk! What a treat when the
time for the Musk comes round! But Musk wants a great deal of watering,
and we must never water its flowers, only its leaves; and no plant
scorches up so easily in a hot sun. It just wants care, and to be in a
sheltered, yet not altogether sunless place.

For the autumn many people like Asters. I am not very fond of Asters
personally; but they are gay, and will pass in a crowd. Small Myrtles
are helpful, but our Geraniums and Petunias, Ferns and Daisies may be
relied on to keep us going till flower-time is over and we begin to
be thankful for the small mercies of the evergreen old Ivy, and enjoy
the colours of the Virginia Creeper, more beautiful than ever when
reddened by the fiery fingers of the frost.

It is hardly fair to end without a word or two about the open-air
Fern-box. For beginners, and in fact for everybody, nothing requires
so little trouble to cultivate as Ferns. Let us suppose a young
lady’s room in a north-east aspect, or north-west with only afternoon
sunshine. Here is the very place for a Fern window-box. All Ferns and
nothing else. Nothing but the common Harts-tongue looks lovely; so do
Male Ferns and Lady Ferns growing together. Ferns want more drainage
and more water than flowers, and that is all they do want. When in the
autumn they die down, the old fronds must not be cut off. Let them be,
and give a very little water now and again to prevent an utter dryness.
In the spring they will come up again as good as ever, and would be
glad of a sprinkling of fresh leaf-mould over the top just as an
encouragement for the fresh growth.

When the new fronds appear we shall find them folded at the base very
tight and cosy. Then, and then only, must last year’s dead leaves be
removed. They have protected and even nourished.

It is better not to arrange the Fern-box for a very conspicuous room;
people get impatient during the resting-time of the plants, and want
to turn them out, which is too bad. Nothing and nobody can be _always_
at its best, not even human beings. The only remedy is a second box,
and to put the Fern-box away to go through its dormant stage unseen.
The danger of this is that it may be forgotten, like canaries are
sometimes; but the Fern-box is worth trying for. In summer it is a
treat, and its fresh green never looks prettier than in a case of pale
blue tiles; I like this better for Ferns than the more conventional box
of rustic-work.

[Illustration: PART OF ROCK-GARDEN, CROOK’S HILL BOARD-SCHOOL, NORWICH]

Seeds are fascinating, but I cannot cordially recommend them for
window-box use; there are too many chances of failure. But if
there are any who wish to make the experiment Nasturtiums are the
hardiest, and Californian Nemophila is pretty and easy to grow; but
my favourite of all, and the most unfailingly good-tempered, is
Virginia Stock, which does equally well in all aspects. Give it good
ground and sufficient water, and its pretty, simple, many-coloured
flowers will not fail to please. They always remind me of the sugar
hundreds-and-thousands of our youth, one colour blending with another.

A modern poetess has written about these flowers very prettily, and the
good character she gives them is the outcome of no poetical license; it
is simple truth.

    “The Lily’s ignorant white is glad of cheer,
    But these are high of courage; glad are these,
    Against all changes of the changing year,
    Untempered sun or overshadowing trees.”

    “Lilac and lavender and hoar-frost white,
    My border waves its colour to the sun.
    Virginia Stocks grow low, but every one
    Gives all her colour to the questing light.”



CHAPTER VIII

FOLIAGE PLANTS FOR TOWNS

    “Oh, give me the sweet shady side of Pall Mall.”

    “Sweet leaves to the air.”


We have said a good deal about Flowering Plants for town decoration;
there are also non-flowering sets of plants to choose from, which are
just as lovely and far more uncommon; I mean the grand array of foliage
plants.

Some years ago it was my good fortune to be present at one of the
prettiest weddings of the season. Not one of the bridesmaids wore a
flower. Every bouquet was made of leaves, shaded, striped and coloured;
they were as bright as they were graceful, the effect was indescribably
fresh and charming, and was a lesson for ever on what can be done with
leaves.

Furnishing the box or balcony with foliage-plants may be more costly
than flowers in the first place, and they require more consideration
in arrangement; but they have useful qualities which render them
invaluable. They are much more durable than flowering plants, and less
affected by accidents of weather.

About their beauty there is no question, and their variety, even if we
exclude Palms and Ferns, is endless. Luckily for their admirers, it
is found that many of those we have been taught to consider hot-house
nurslings do just as well in the open air. Nor is there any difficulty
in marketing for them. Growers are quite alive to the situation, and
those who can afford the luxury have nothing to do but make their
choice.

Covent Garden market, that fairyland of flowers, is, I suppose, at the
head and front of the forward movement in the sale of plants. Twenty
years ago only about thirty growers attended and sold plants there. Now
there are over three hundred; and it is no exaggeration to count the
plants and flowers yearly sold by them in millions.

With cordial sympathy we note the small green painted window-box on
the garret window-sill of the artisan. It generally consists of a
neat row of palings with a realistic stile or gateway in the middle,
and bubbles over with Creeping-Jenny and Nasturtiums; the man in the
street who passes the costly window-gardens of the rich, how he must
sympathize with them, and revel in the sights we give him! This is
the best of window-gardening, it is such an unselfish pleasure. Every
passer-by is made happier by it. In the love of Nature and of flowers
we all join hands, meeting on common ground. “Oh, the joy of the vast
elemental sympathy which only the human soul is capable of generating!”
Few things call it forth more pleasantly than the mutual enjoyment of
earth’s fair treasures, plants and trees and flowers.

Nowadays we have learned to expect great things from the wealthy people
who live in the many-windowed mansions of our Capital. When spring
comes back again with sunshine, like an old smile, we look for the
flowers outside the houses as well as those that grow in the Parks,
and we are not disappointed. But there are one or two districts that
still want waking up. Some people are content to spend their money and
display their taste only now and then at great entertainments or on
special occasions, when enough is lavished in one night to furnish the
whole roadway for a season!

If we could read the annals of some of our great floral firms, we
should be startled to see what immense sums are paid for one month’s
decorations only by one family. Several thousand pounds are soon
dispensed, when the flowers for a single entertainment have cost
five hundred. Orchids and Roses cannot be had in huge quantities for
nothing, and it is all good for trade, so nobody need pretend to be
shocked or call out about extravagance. We all love the best when we
see it, and why not secure the same--those who can? but I do not think
that people who have made their ball-rooms into bowers of beauty, and
transformed their houses into paradises for one night, have done their
duty till they have contributed their quota to the street.

Yet it never looks well when outside decoration is overdone. All should
be in keeping, and never an obtrusive glare. Here our foliage-plants
come in well. They look so good and so refined. A list of plants to
choose from may be useful. I will cull one from a paper on “Plants for
House Decoration,” read by Mr. John Wills, F.R.H.S., at a meeting of
the Horticultural Society on March 8th, 1892, and published January,
1903. Even if one cannot remember the Latin names very well, it is easy
to make a copied catalogue to show our florist when giving orders. He
always does his best for those who show an intelligent interest and
appear to know what they are talking about.

Among Palms, _Corypha australis_, _Latania borbonica_, and _Cocos
Weddelliana_ are recommended, especially this last; it is so graceful
and enduring, and has been known to last for more than two years in a
draughty room. _Kentia Belmoreana_ is another good plant of the same
habit.

Any of the following are also available for room or flower-box
decoration: _Areca Baueri_, and _A. lutescens_, _Cocos flexuosa_,
_Geonoma gracilis_, _Ph[oe]nix reclinata_, _P. tenuis_ and _Thrinax
elegans_.

So much for the Palms. Now for the coloured and ornamental foliage
plants. The following may be relied upon as being very useful and
satisfactory, as well as possessing the quality of endurance: _Ananassa
satina_, _Asparagus plumosa_, and _A. procumbens_. These last are the
most graceful, feathery, branching things in the world, delighting
everybody. Many handsome Crotons mix in well, and may be used with
impunity, out-of-doors. The following Dracaenas are also pretty, and
hardy enough to brave an English summer. _Dracaena australis_, _D.
fragrans_, _D. linita_, _D. Goldiana_, and many other varieties.
Bromeliads may be freely planted, and will retain their beauty for a
long time. Tillandsias, _Aspidistra lurida_ and its variegated form,
are most useful and never-failing plants. Several of the Fittonias
are also pretty. The never-dying Ophiopogon, any number of Ferns, and
various other decorative foliage-plants too numerous to mention, are
available for either house, balcony, or window-box purposes. We might
add Kentias of different kinds, _Nidularium fulgens_, and Bamboos.
Every plant mentioned will keep in good looks from June to the end of
October.

Anybody who wants more sorts than these, had better consult his
florist. I do not think I could resist adding some old-fashioned
scented-leaf Geraniums for the sake of their delicious fragrance; both
the Oak-leafed, the Peppermint, and the Musk, all of which are more
valuable for their foliage than their flowers. So “out of fashion”
these are now, that it is quite difficult to get them from the
Nurseryman; we must invade the floral sanctums of our friends, where
a pot or two may often be found hidden away in a Melon bed, or in a
corner of the Peach house, or keeping company with the sweet leaves of
the Grape-vine.



CHAPTER IX

FOG, FLOWERS, AND FOLIAGE

    “Air, air, fresh life-blood, thin and searching air,
    The clear, dear breath of God that loveth us.”


Air is invisible, and earth a very tangible thing indeed, which makes
us forget sometimes how much air does for us, to feed and nourish. We
do not only live in it, we live of it; and by _we_ I mean all breathing
creatures, whether men or lower animals or plants. What brings the
truth most home to us is having to do without air--in a London fog, for
instance.

We have been talking a great deal about the flowers and plants of
London. Alas! very few of them are grown there; most of them have to
be imported. During the winter months fog is too terrible an enemy, so
insidious is it, playing havoc even with our indoor and conservatory
plants.

It is interesting to learn from the researches of the savants, that
the evil effect of urban fog on flowers and foliage is twofold. The
injuries are produced in two quite separate ways: one is the presence
of poison in the atmosphere; the other, the reduction of light, which
is the invariable result of the fog of cities and manufacturing towns.

Darkness and poison! Does not this sound worse than a plague of Egypt?
Yet we town-folk suffer it without much grumbling, and scientists
spend as much time in learning what the poison consists of, and in
tracing exactly how the injuries come about, as would suffice, one
would imagine, to discover a cure. Oddly enough, more poisons are
found in fog than even coal-burning altogether accounts for; the exact
nature of some of the substances which are present in the atmosphere of
foggy weather is a matter about which scientists themselves confess to
ignorance.

Still, there is one thing on which all agree, and that is the perfect
harmlessness of clean mist. Neither mountain nor country mists do any
wrong to plant life, and from the coasts of Kent and Sussex, Essex and
Norfolk, come assurances of the innocuous character of sea-fogs.

Of the known impurities of town-fog the following list gives most
of those suspected of being inimical to plants. “Suspected” is the
scientific way of putting it. Our scientists are wary; they must be,
for they know how everybody weighs their words; and besides that, they
can never be sure what fresh discoveries will be made to-morrow; the
latest are oftentimes upsetting.

The amount of miscellaneous ingredients that enrich a London fog is
startling. Our list is taken from an analysis of the deposits left on
the glass roofs of plant-houses at Chelsea and Kew during the severe
fogs of February, 1891:--

Carbon, hydrocarbons, organic bases, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid,
ammonia, metallic iron, and magnetic oxide, with other mineral matter,
chiefly silica and ferric-oxide. Sulphuric acid, it seems, is the
principal cause of injury to trees and shrubs, and sulphurous acid to
herbaceous and soft-wooded plants.

The effects of fog are seen sometimes in the breaking-down of the
plant, sometimes in its discoloration; leaves gradually turn yellow,
progressing from below upwards, and they drop off in the order in which
they showed the change of colour. Thus two things have happened:
destruction of the green colouring matter, and structural injury at
the point where leaf meets stalk. Where is the London flower-grower
who has not watched these processes with sad eyes? When an ill wind
blows soot-laden fog towards Kew or Chelsea--places where so many of
our choicest plants and trees and flowers are cherished--loud are the
lamentations because of damage done.

Mr. Watson, assistant curator of the Royal Kew Gardens, says he gathers
up bushels of leaves in the palm-houses every morning while a bad fog
lasts, and after a long spell of it many hard-wooded as well as the
more delicate plants are reduced to an unsightly condition of almost
bare stems, blotched and discoloured leaves, and fallen foliage. Among
certain groups even the soft stems disarticulate at the nodes.

Mr. W. Thiselton-Dye, Director of Kew Gardens, describes the substance
deposited on his glass-houses as a solid brown paint, weighing about
twenty-two pounds to the acre, or six tons to the square mile. This
makes our fog enemy appear a very real thing indeed; no wonder it
breaks plants down, and is the ruin of many fruit and floral industries
in the south of London.

Are there any means by which town cultivators may counteract these
malign influences? Only by very expensive appliances. The grower wants
an air-tight greenhouse, with definite openings where the admitted air
can be filtered. Filtering foggy air may counteract or even keep out
poison, but even then one has to make up for the darkness. This can
only be done by a generous installation of electric light.

[Illustration: A WATER GARDEN]

Horticulture thus carried on is extremely interesting from a scientific
point of view, but is not commercially desirable, nor could the
ordinary flower-grower afford it. Fog-annihilators, and the use of
chemicals in conservatories have also been tried, the latter with
very scant success. Charcoal seems to be by far the best filtering
medium. There is a Mr. Toope, who, in a small conservatory at his
offices at Stepney, is endeavouring to cultivate a collection of
orchids and other stove plants in safety by the use of charcoal filters
and warmed air.

The method he uses is ingenious. Boxes containing open-work trays,
upon which sticks of charcoal are loosely placed, are set upon the
floor under the staging. These communicate with the exterior by means
of apertures which can be opened or closed at will. The air (fog and
all) is led from outside through these trays, passes the charcoal,
impinges upon the hot-water pipes, and is then allowed to reach the
plants. Draught is regulated by valves. Results so far are considered
very encouraging, but not convincing. Mr. Toope has other things to
occupy his attention, and sometimes has to trust his pets to others; if
it were not for this, he thinks he would ensure a greater measure of
success.

It seems curious to think of plants taking to respirators, just as
human beings have discarded them; but the use of charcoal does sound
common-sensible. We are all familiar with the extraordinary power
charcoal has of absorbing and oxidizing the products of decomposition
of organic matter, and of rendering harmless the greater number of
easily alterable gases and vapours. A few years since, after some
nursing lectures at the Royal Hospital for children and women at the
Waterloo Road, the following examination question was put to the
students: “How would you ventilate a room of a smallpox patient on
the night of a dense fog?” The question puzzled us all. We were told
the right answer afterwards. “Open the window at the top, and hang up
a blanket.” This appeared to me to be a stifling arrangement; as at
present advised, I would treat patients as Mr. Toope treats his plants,
and give them charcoal filters instead of the blanket. The chemist
Stenhouse has devised a respirator for human beings on the charcoal
principle, for use in districts smitten with cholera or yellow fever.


_What Plants suffer least from Fog?_

This is such an important question for town people that I have given
it a separate heading. Here is the answer: Ferns and bulbous plants.
The latter have but a short reign ere they die off, so that we must put
down Ferns as the Londoners’ greatest stand-by. Considering the tender
and delicate nature of their foliage, this is one of the things we
should deem a miracle if we were not used to it, but the frailty of the
Fern is only in appearance.

Professor Oliver, in a Report to the Scientific Committee of the Royal
Horticultural Society, says, “At Kew Gardens I have examined the
various Fern-houses after spells of severe fog, when the collections of
stove plants in adjacent houses were completely disfigured from this
cause, without remarking any damage to the Ferns to speak of.”

How is this? Ferns are shade-loving plants, so that darkness, such a
terrible foe to most plants, is to them comparatively harmless. Other
things being equal, the more greedy a plant is of sunlight, the more
will it suffer when its illumination is reduced. There is another point
that tells in favour of the Fern. During the sunless months of autumn
and early winter the vitality of most flowering plants is lowered,
which renders them unfit to bear a strain--they are “run down,” and,
like ourselves in the same circumstances, liable to “catch” anything,
and go under. Ferns, on the other hand, meet the enemy and battle
with it in good condition; no doubt their excellent constitutions are
largely inherited from early forefathers who lived in an age that was
far too rough for flowers; they were giants in those days.

Bulbous plants stand fog well for a different reason. They rely on
the stores collected, each one for himself, in his own compact small
body. No squirrel nor dormouse is more thrifty, nor better understands
the art of making hay while the sun shines. This is how it is that
Londoners are so successful in growing bulbs. Look at the parks in the
spring-time, with their sheets of Crocuses, Snowdrops, and Tulips.
Allium, too, and Narcissus and Hyacinth, are just as happy close to,
and even in the midst of towns, showing very little injury after being
exposed to fog. Flowers and flower-buds are the first parts of any
plant to evince suffering; six or seven hours of a bad fog will suffice
to leave a scar, but the flower that shows the blemish is pretty sure
to be growing on a plant that has no useful bulb set at its base.

London fog is often the signal for much burning of gas. The usual
hardiness of the Fern deserts it here; no plants have a greater dislike
to fumes of gas; they resent them as much as any other of God’s
creatures who were meant to live and breathe in the sweet air which is
heaven’s best gift.

What precautions can be used in foggy weather? Experience shows that
a low temperature and a moist atmosphere are most conducive to the
well-being of plants indoors. It is not very easy to secure these
conditions; glass roofs are a source of dryness in cold weather. The
temperature of a roof is lowered by the external air, in consequence
of which, the moisture of the hot-house air is precipitated upon the
inside of the glass, whence it runs down in the form of “drip.” Drip
and dryness, what plants can put up with these? We must guard against
them.

The more one reads about and learns the ways of fogs, the more one
longs to scotch the snake itself, instead of endeavouring to cure its
bites. Why does not the Coal-smoke Abatement Society wake up and try a
little harder to do _something_?

At a meeting of this society at Grosvenor House, presided over by Sir
W. B. Richmond, there was a good deal of talk that was well worth
listening to. Principal Lodge moved that, “The injury and waste caused
by the escape of coal-smoke in cities demand the strict enforcement
of the laws existing for its elimination, and the adoption of such
further remedies as it is within the present power of science to
devise.” Very good, all that, but he went on to say that he thought the
continuance of the evil was largely due to the apathy of the public.
This resolution was seconded, and carried unanimously. _The Apathy of
the Public_--that means you and me, reader. What can we do to express
our feelings?

Sir W. B. Richmond moved another resolution, which was also agreed
to. He said the clause of the Public Health Act, 1891, which related
to the smoke nuisance, was practically set aside by many authorities
entrusted with its execution. “Three strong obstructions to the purity
and cleanliness of London air were--apathy, vested interests, and
insufficient fines for breaking the law.” An account of this meeting
was published in _The Garden_ of December 14th, 1901, where I read it
with mingled feelings of anger and amusement, but my conscience did not
accuse me of apathy.

[Illustration: LILIES IN LORD ILCHESTER’S JAPANESE GARDEN AT HOLLAND
HOUSE, KENSINGTON]



CHAPTER X

THE LADY DECORATOR AND THE FLOWER-GIRL

    “Pink, primrose, valley-lily, clove-carnation;
    Red rose and white rose, wall-flower, mignonette,
    The daisies all--these be her recreation,
    Her gaudies these.”


During the rush of the London season many hostesses, much as they love
to have their houses made sweet and beautiful with flowers, find it
impossible to attend to the work of decoration themselves; they must
entrust the task to others. To meet the want of _châtelaines_ such as
these, there is the lady decorator, with her train of flower-fairies,
ready to fill the breach.

And they will not only bring us flowers; lights, too, they can adjust
at will, not fire-flies but electric, which, after all, are most to be
depended on.

Arranging flowers is one of those things that every woman in the
world thinks nobody can do but herself; she is as much addicted to
self-esteem in this direction as a man is over mending the fire; and
who does not enjoy the pleasing excitement of setting out the flowers
for a ball or dinner-party? The very smell of the wet moss, the cool
feel of the stalks, the bunches of pliant fern, the baskets ready to
be unpacked, every circumstance is in itself a pleasure, but it is not
so nice if you are hurried and interrupted. Better by far is it for
very busy people to think out the scheme of decoration with one of the
above-named fairies, who will appear exactly at the right moment,
while you are resting, and scatter your board with beauty.

One of the most experienced among these lady-workers has told me
that, of all colour-schemes, the best for lighting up well at night
is pink and silver. Pink Roses in silver bowls are lovely, but
invisible receptacles, meandering about a table, are pretty too.
Sometimes, at the last moment, the particular flower desired will not
be procurable--the market has been cleared--and pink Sweet Peas or
Pelargoniums must take the place of Roses, purple Stock do duty for
Pansies, or Scarlet Geranium for fallen Poppies. It is anxious work.

The lady decorator is wonderfully quick. She has to be. James the
First--all the Jameses, indeed--plushed, powdered, silk-stockinged, and
calmly insistent, say, “You cannot have the table till such-and-such
an hour.” Very well; then all the flowers must be prepared before
they are packed to bring--every single leaf and every blossom, all
must be wired. This makes them go much further, besides keeping them
in their places, and it does give the effect of lightness; but it
is a thing to which I am never able to reconcile myself. You take a
Lily-of-the-Valley from its vase, attracted irresistibly by its scent,
and find it fast set in a _corsetière_ of steel--each leaf and stalk,
almost each separate blossom, wired. This gives you a horrid feeling;
you idly untwist the cruel bonds, and then the poor flower droops or
falls to pieces.

In the ballroom dreadful things are suffered by the Roses. Fancy a
curtain all made of these lovely flowers, wired together in long trails
to match the festoons that wave softly overhead!

The lady decorator is pleasant to work with; she will use your own
flowers if you like, so that one’s country-houses can send their quota,
and one always enjoys the things from home. She is equally ready to
fill your window-box or balcony, to furnish your dwelling-rooms with
flowers both cut and growing, to smarten up your concert-platforms or
theatrical scenes, to dress your bazaar-stalls for you, to make your
Court bouquets, or sprays for hair and dress; she will even help you
to decorate your churches; and, after once experiencing the delight
of skilled assistance, few ladies in the world of fashion take these
graceful duties entirely on themselves. A lady flower-decorator is
almost as much wanted as a lady type-writer, and has a far pleasanter
time of it. But, like all trades, this one has to be learned. I believe
an apprenticeship of two years is considered necessary.

It is at a wedding, perhaps, the flower-lady is at her best. The
entire dwelling of the bride is made whitely beautiful, and the church
becomes a green and scented sanctuary. Palms and Ferns are lent. I hope
I am right in saying that the lady decorator never dyes her flowers.
I am certain she would not do so except to order; but the present
year, which promises to be one of Eastern magnificence and gorgeous
colouring, has begun badly in the matter of flower-dyeing; even the
simple spring flowers have not escaped the ban. Early in March, when
pacing Regent Street, and pausing, as one cannot help doing, to admire
the display of flowers in certain shops, it was with a shock of horror
one beheld dyed daffodils! They formed the upstanding group of blossoms
in crosses and garlands, the groundwork of which consisted entirely
of Wallflower; and the dye that reddened the Daffodils, leaving some
of the petals their natural colour, matched the red-brown of the
Wallflowers exactly. For one moment it was a puzzle--only one. Shade
of Herrick! who could mistake a Daffodil? A dyed Daffodil is several
degrees more agonizing than a green Carnation, and nearly as bad as a
blue Rose.

The fashion for certain flowers and colours at different seasons is
quite harmless, though one may smile at it; but sometimes there is a
reason behind the mode. For instance, one could understand the use of
national colours in Coronation year, and yearly is London brightened by
St. Patrick’s Day, St. George’s Day, and the unforgettable day of the
Primrose.

It is human nature, and ever has been, to use flowers as symbols;
they express our feelings better than anything, and more pleasantly.
Happily, the “wearin’ o’ the green” is a privilege no longer denied
to any of our Irish soldiers. It is a smaller thing, but still
worth noticing, as a proof of the part flowers play in daily life,
and the way they illustrate feeling, that at the Eton and Harrow
cricket-matches it is a flower that is worn for party-colour--a
Corn-flower or a Parma Violet--and in a less degree, two shades of blue
in flowers stand for Oxford and Cambridge colours on boat-race day.
Herein we do but follow the fashion of our forefathers and of days
still older, when crowns of Olive, Myrtle, Bay, and Violet were worn
symbolically. Time was when rival Roses, red and white, grew wild,
and soldiers gathered them for badges, where now the Temple Gardens
stand; and every nation has its patriot flower--for France the Lily,
for Germany the Linden, and for us the Rose. It is unfortunate that St.
George’s festival of Roses comes so early in the year. April Roses are
plentiful enough in florists’ shops, but not elsewhere; few of them
have been grown in England. Primroses come more seasonably; of them we
need only wear true home-grown blossoms, nor need a scarcity be feared
while country hedgerows continue to provide such yellow millions.
Primrose Day in London, independently of its meaning, is always
enjoyable;

    “That subtle smell the spring unbinds--
    The faint sweet scent of Primroses”

is everywhere, and Primroses, like Violets, want no arranging, but look
their best in simplest bunch or basket. An Irish poetess sings a
song about it, which I give, as it is always a pleasure to see London
through a poet’s eyes.

    “Make me a song for Primrose Day.
    Along the streets of London town
    A Primrose snowstorm settles down,
    And makes each street an amber way.
    Here are tall baskets that o’erbrim
    With posies bound for one day’s whim.
    Here are shrill voices that would drown
    All singing, crying their gold wares;
    And many buy, if no one cares
    How lonesome are the country places
    Deserted by these Primrose faces.”

[Illustration: BULRUSHES AND BOG BEANS IN SMALL TANK IN GARDEN]

Thus it has been for more than twenty years on April the 19th, and
whether the pretty flower was really loved best by its hero as a
salad or as an ornament does not matter. The Primrose, so plentiful,
so popular, as a memory-flower is perfect, none the less so because
Shakespeare has pervaded it with a touch of sadness.

Floral trophies are, in my opinion, little to be admired; dreadful
things are done in their name. Flower hearts and harps and crowns, and
cushions with cords and tassels, made by stripping Violets from their
stalks and stringing them on lengths of wire like beads--how terrible
are all these! And so it is to see in Christmas churches chains of
Holly-berries hung about like rosaries, though of the two one would
rather stab a berry than a Violet.

Ballroom bouquets are less fashionable now than in early and
mid-Victorian days, when a pretty girl would have as many as a dozen
sent her on one evening by different admirers. What changes, too, in
the method of arrangement! Instead of the trailing posy or picturesque
bunch, every flower individualized, one had then stiff circles of
blossoms tightly packed. Violets and white Camelias thus arranged
were very popular, and one Camelia, with a glossy leaf or two, would
be worn upon a smooth and shining head of hair, dressed in bandeaux
(bandolined--that is, gummed down if necessary), long, loose ringlets
(the Alexandra curl), or rolled back _à l’Imperatrice_. The prettiest
nosegay of that period was the ample bunch of pink Moss-rose buds;
nothing modern could be lovelier than that, nor sweeter.

I have often wished that London’s bevy of street-selling flower-girls
were more picturesque. Why cannot the Society for beautifying London
do something in this direction? The snowy caps of the grisette, or
the Italian kerchief--anything would be better than the feathered hat
and grimy jacket, and I would like neat shoes instead of boots. W.
E. Henley, another poet who finds inspiration in London streets, has
sketched her with vivid pen--

              “Forth from Drury Lane,
    Trapesing in any of her whirl of weathers
    The flower-girl foots it, honest and hoarse and vain,
    All boot and little shawl and wilted feathers,
    Of populous corners right advantage taking
    And, where they squat, endlessly posy-making.”

If we watch the working-up of the button-holes--a thing I have often
done--what a joyless, monotonous task it looks! Two ivy-leaves
picked from the stalk with as little joy as if they were oakum,
wired together, and flung into a basket like malefactors’ heads. Two
more, and then two more, _ad infinitum_. When the basket is quite
full, to each pair of leaves a little cluster of Violets is added,
or a Rose-bud, or a few Pinks, or a Primrose or two, according to
the season. Later on, it will be sprigs of Maiden-hair. Oh dear,
that Maiden-hair! When will it cease to remind of Harry and Harriet?
Neither of these good folk feels fully dressed without the spray of
Maiden-hair; yet it soon dies, and its latest breaths are bitter--we
know exactly the smell of it, in its death-throes, mingled with that of
cheap tobacco-smoke.

But the love of flowers is such a good thing that one must, one should
not, begrudge any one of its manifestations; there is something
beautiful even in the worst of them. The bunch of Violets is a natural
and graceful gift, the birthday posy an offering the most fastidious
will not refuse, the basket of flowers the sweetest present to the
_dèbutante_ or the _diva_. In a French town I once saw a skeleton
parasol, trimmed with flowers, opened and handed to a lady-singer
on the stage. I did not admire that, but the general applause was
deafening, and it was impossible to repress a smile as the encore song
was gravely given beneath its shelter.

There is room in our towns for both the lady decorator and the
flower-girl; to both we cry a welcome!



CHAPTER XI

THE SMALL SUBURBAN GARDEN

    “The size of a garden has very little to do with its merit,--it is
    the size of the heart and brain and the goodwill of the owner that
    will make his garden either delightful or dull.”--G. JEKYLL.


The small Suburban Garden--it is time some one said a good word for it.
What other place has been so much abused, maligned? It may, it does, in
fact, go on improving with the march of time and the general up-waking
of the gardening world; but the ill name sticks, and will most likely
continue to do so till the cult of the motor-car drives everybody out
of the towns to live in the suburbs. Yet, if the truth were known, for
the last thirty years at least the little garden spaces that skirt our
towns have, for the room they occupy, given more pleasure and done more
good than the like area in any other part of the King’s dominions.

[Illustration: IN A SMALL SUBURBAN GARDEN]

The suburbs of London are certainly looking up. Thanks partly to the
motor-car, they are no longer the _terra-incognita_ they used to be,
for it is impossible for people to drive out in any direction without
making acquaintance with them. Travelling by road in this way, one gets
a much better idea of the capacities of the suburban garden than is
possible from the windows of the railway-carriage. These, especially
as we are just leaving London, show us only the pathetic garden of
the flowerless kind, belonging mostly to the very poor; some with
a stunted cabbage or two, other with a rabbit-hutch or a handful of
dilapidated fowls, another with clothes hanging out to dry. Sometimes
there will be a summer-house, but very seldom anybody sitting in it,
nor does one often catch sight of children playing happily about; they
prefer the more exciting street or the playground of their school.

But travelling by road, what do we see? Whether we steam along the
great high-road to Acton and Ealing, or towards the hills of Highgate
and Hampstead, or rattle through Richmond to Wimbledon, or _viâ_
Kingston’s quaint old town to Surbiton and its precincts, it is always
the same; hundreds and thousands of villas and small houses are met
with, each of which is a castle to some Englishman. Interspersed with
them are large gardens of older houses; but these, as a rule, are
hidden from view by high walls and trees. They have a different story,
are sometimes of great beauty, and do not belong at all to the class we
are now considering.

Before every one of the small suburban houses, certainly before all
that are detached, there is a little plot of ground with trees and
shrubs. These plots are typically suburban, and are often very severely
censured by careless critics for their monotony and gracelessness.
Unjustly so, I think; it appears to me that, in most cases, pains have
been taken to make the most of opportunities, and considering that in
a whole row of small gardens every one has a different owner, and a
different mind behind it, it is wonderful things are not more patchy
than they are.

Let us look at some of these suburban highways on a smiling day of very
early summer; it is a cheerful prospect. There will be flowering and
foliage trees, neat gravel paths, and carefully kept shrubs. Lilacs,
Syringas (properly called Mock-orange), Laburnums dropping fires,
Rowan-trees that by-and-by will be brilliant with berries, bronze-brown
Copper-beech trees, Guelder-roses tossing up their creamy balls, the
White May and the rose-pink Double Thorn--all these are as common along
the road as are the nursery-maids and perambulators upon the sidewalks
and pavements. If our survey had been taken either earlier or a good
deal later in the year, so far as the season would allow, the outlook
would have been just as pleasing. We should have seen the Fire-thorn’s
splendid red, the Cotoneaster’s softer crimson, the gold flowers of the
Winter Jasmine, the bare-branched Almond trees kindled with rosy fire,
or brick walls blazoned with yellow blooms of February’s Forsythia,
above borders brimming with the gallant Crocus. The people who live in
the houses behind these fore-courts (if we may not call them gardens)
are not very rich perhaps, but may be educated folk of taste and
culture, doing their best to make beautiful their surroundings, though
often but birds of passage who look forward to a time not far away,
when the little home will be left for larger borders. Many are presided
over by the wives of barristers and other men of business or of law,
who prefer renting a small house away from town to living in the whirl
and dust of London; or sometimes by the widows and daughters of country
clergymen, who do not possess too much of this world’s goods, but
cannot exist without some of their former favourites growing around
them in their new suburban homes.

We are so much accustomed to the scenes I have described that we do
not take much heed of them; they are a matter of course, but they do
surprise the stranger that is within our gates. People I have met
abroad, both in Germany and Switzerland, have told me that one of the
things that struck them most in England was the beauty of London’s
outskirts, owing largely to the little gardens before each private
house. We must hope the fashionable flat will not rob us wholly of this
charm.

Whenever I see a pretty front suburban garden, a wild curiosity as to
the back premises arises within me. Herein are opportunities for the
most dreadful mistakes and the most wonderful successes; all depends on
the presiding genius.

Corner houses are the luckiest; they get more room, and the gardens
are of quainter shapes. But we will begin by considering the ordinary
strip. It may be long, it is almost sure to be narrow--anyhow, no
expansion is possible; we must make the best of what we have. A general
consensus of opinion has decided on having a border for flowers all
round the edge against the outer wall or paling, fronting this a gravel
path; and the centre is turfed over and called the “lawn.” In very
small gardens it is difficult to improve on this plan, though other
suggestions are made--such as gravelling the garden entirely, and
having a large bed for flowers in the middle, and a bank at the end. In
practice, this does not make a garden so comfortable to sit and to walk
about in. One does want pathways, and to be able to get at the flowers
easily.

If the garden is long enough, it is a very good plan to turf quite up
to the wall or paling, on the shady side, and have a bank raised across
the middle of the garden about halfway down it. A path may then be
carried all round the remainder of the plot where we can walk on firm,
dry ground. Behind the bank we can revel in Currant and Gooseberry
bushes and fruit trees, and grow Violets and Crocusses underneath them,
and Parsley and all manner of herbs that love the partial shelter of
the bush. Near where the bank comes, a Willow tree may be planted. The
common Weeping-willow grows faster than anything, and will soon give
enough shelter for enjoyment. I much prefer the loose growth of the
common Willow to the tight little tents made by some Willow trees that
are considered more choice. Under the shadow of a simple tree like
this, father, mother, and little ones may sit and enjoy the beauty of
the sun-flecked turf and leaf-entangled sunbeams, as well as if they
were in the grandest gardens that could be imagined.

It is often objected that turf does not do well in suburban gardens.
Turf does not do well anywhere, unless it is looked after, and put
down carefully in the first place. People seem to think grass has
no roots. I have seen the jobbing gardener, as well as the amateur,
lay his squares of new turf on anything that came first! This is to
court disaster. Turf wants feeding as much as anything else. It is, of
course, useless to expect it to do well right under the shadow of a
house, or under most trees; but I love grass so much that I consider
it indispensable even in the smallest garden, and would not begrudge
the trifling expense of laying down fresh turves, where wanted, every
season. We should not hesitate to spend the same sum on a book or a
theatre-ticket; why refuse it to the garden which we shall very likely
be looking at and living in the summer through?

If one ever has a chance of viewing a roadful of _back_ suburban
gardens when their owners are not there to distract attention,
nothing could be more entertaining. Through the medium of a friendly
railway-track, I once enjoyed this treat. Houses looked pretty much
alike, but the gardens were strikingly dissimilar. In some cases the
minds of the owners were pleasingly reflected in their gardens; in
others one saw nothing but the tracks of the jobbing gardener; in none,
except the empty and ownerless, did one see neglect--so much must be
said for all of them.

One or two things that were noticed were worthy of remark. It was
abundantly clear that the best results came about where owners
themselves had personally shared in the gardening work; it is quite
easy to pick out those cases where mere neatness ended, and mind came
in, and taste.

One garden (by no means among the largest) was particularly attractive.
Nothing much was attempted in it, but the little that was attempted was
so well done. The turf was of the finest, like dark green velvet, soft
to the foot. Only a few kinds of flowers, but all of the very best.
Choice Roses clustered against the west wall--not nailed to the wall,
but trained carefully on wood against it; in front of these grew dwarf
standard Rose trees, and before them again stretched a long border
of Carnations, ready to bloom when their turn came. The grey-green
spears were beautiful already, and a pleasure to see, even before a bud
among them was unfolded, because so well kept and so healthy. Massed
richly in one corner near the house the still bright foliage of the
Lily-of-the-Valley showed that a wealth of these flowers must have
made the garden sweet in June. A tree or two at the far end (I was
peeping through them) gave the shelter and comfort no garden should be
without. This little strip, small as it was, deserved the lovely name
of “garden.”

One could not help observing with amusement that in some cases back and
front gardens did not match; like goods in a shop-window front, the
best had been put out for the public. The public is very much obliged
for the show, but how about the family, if there is one? No pretty
flowers for them, no comfortable nooks, no pleasant sward, no borders
of white Pinks nor clumps of Mignonette. Next door, perhaps would be
seen the other extreme--too much fussing, too much detail, too many
rustic shelters, even the flowers too much crowded together; but to
gardens that err in this way much may be forgiven, for much they have
been loved.

There is nothing like individuality for making a small garden
attractive. Few gardens are too small for the careful cultivation of
one particular flower or series of flowers. A sunny little patch
entirely given up to rock and wall plants would be an interest and
education to one’s neighbours as well as to one’s self; or a system
of tubs and tubes might result in a pond-garden for many kinds of
water-flowers; or one might have a Carnation garden, or a garden where
all the Star-worts had a chance--there are now so many varieties that
well repay for cultivation; or there could be a collection of the best
Violas, Sweet-peas or Columbines;--any of these would afford the sort
of hobby that occupies and makes content the man of leisure as much as
it refreshes him who has to work.

Miniature rock and water gardens are among the latest and most
pleasing developments (it would be unfair to call them fashions) of
the gardening world, though for obvious reasons they are not well
represented at our flower-shows. To begin with, it is impossible to
cart about the kind of plants that belong to them, and they are never
suitable for exhibition; unlike the placid Roses and smart Orchids,
who are used to being stared at, and appear to like it. But we can
enjoy the “Rockies” and the Water-plants at home. One gentleman of
my acquaintance--by profession a man of law, by taste a gardener
and engineer--has so arranged his small suburban plot with rills
and fountains that in it Pond-weeds and Water-lilies are waving and
lolling. No Joseph Paxton ruling the length and breadth of the Crystal
Palace grounds could be more content than he is with his small domain.

[Illustration: LATE SUMMER]

It is strange how the owners of small suburban gardens, where every
inch is of importance, idealize the gardens of their country cousins.
Did they but know it, these are often nothing but disappointments.
What opportunities are lost for want of enterprise! Instead of all
that might and could be done in them, nothing _is_ done. Bushes and
trees and shrubberies are allowed to overgrow; poultry are considered
of more importance than Peonies, or any other flowers, and are
allowed to get through hedges and scrape about among the borders. The
troublesome things are hustled away, after a fashion, but are under
no real control, and two or three eggs are supposed to atone for the
severest damage. The old herbaceous plants that have been growing and
spreading for years attain to any age and size, which does not improve
their shapes or blossoms. The country garden is lovely sometimes of its
own sweet wayward will, but its owner might frequently do worse than
take a lesson in up-to-date gardening from the proprietor of the small
suburban patch.

A writer who always says the things I wanted to say first, has just
confided to the public the particulars of the arrangement of his own
small garden near a town, and seems astonished at himself to find how
fond he gets of it. It would not astonish me. We all get more fond of
small gardens than we do of large ones--great lawns and shrubberies are
for the crowd--the brilliant crowd; we crave a niche in which to work
and live, a little corner of our very own, to plan, to perfect, and to
stamp with our own impress. So if we happen to have “grounds” instead
of gardens, why, then, to put things right, we make a garden within a
garden, and it is in this small spot we feel at home; it is familiar,
and it fits us, like the old friend or the long-worn glove, and in our
eyes it is beautiful as Corisande’s own garden when she picked the
Rose. As to beauty, either real or fancied, it is lucky that size is
not everything. Here are a few words I found the other day in a book
called “Art out of Doors.” It was not meant for the suburban garden,
but well applies to it:

“Two trees and six shrubs, a scrap of lawn, and a dozen flowering
plants, may form either a beautiful little picture, or a huddled
disarray of forms and colours.”

On our own taste it depends whether the little garden is to be the
“picture” or the “disarray.” Perhaps if it is the latter we shall not
be aware of it, for love is blind; anyhow, even bad players may enjoy
the game, and, happily, like chess, the gardening game is one that can
be played, and played well too, with little pieces on a tiny board.



CHAPTER XII

“NEXT DOOR”--A PARENTHETICAL CHAPTER

    “United, yet divided.”


One matter of the deepest import confronts the owner of the small
suburban garden, from which his prototype in the country is generally
free; it is the question of “next door.” Inevitable, critical,
all-important, almost uncontrollable as it is, “next door” has to be
faced and made the best of.

Sometimes the best is very good indeed; sometimes there is no best,
but a thorn. In the suburbs a kind of etiquette exists which helps to
smooth the way. People must not stare at each other, children must not
throw things over the wall. Nobody should play games on Sunday, or
make much noise if one or other of the neighbours has a garden-party.
(Suburbia revels in garden-parties.) Snails must never be dropped over
the fence, nor stones, and boughs that hang over are not to be robbed
of fruit; rules as to fallen fruit vary, but are not so strict as some
others. These codes prevent much friction. The discordant apple is as
tempting in the suburban garden as ever it was in Eden. I have known a
generous apple-tree owner present the rights of an overhanging branch
in perpetuo to a family where there were schoolboys, thereby securing
their lifelong friendship. Such acts of grace as this make next-door
neighbourdom a pleasant thing.

And there are customs. It is allowable to borrow garden-rollers, but
not brooms, nor spades, nor lawn-mowing machines; this is considered
encroachment, and “going too far.” Neither is it considered ladylike
or gentlemanly to pass unsolicited remarks about the next-door garden,
even in praise; nor is it good form to scrape acquaintance across the
fence--proper introductions in the drawing-room must be waited for;
windows must not be looked out of obtrusively; and lost balls must be
searched for by going round to the front gate and ringing the bell--no
short cuts.

Putting up barriers to shut out “next door” is liable to offend.
Man[oe]uvring is here advisable, and wire netting comes in useful. It
is insidious. At the outset barely visible, as creepers clamber over
and cover it, the screen becomes impervious imperceptibly; there is no
grievance.

It is not thought good manners to work too hard on Sundays;--not like
a navvy, and the shirt-sleeve would annoy. Anything like serious work
should be done before breakfast. Pruning and light gardening, however
(in the Sunday coat), may go on at any time, and one may see friends
and give them tea; but decorum must prevail, and loud laughter is
avoided by the well-behaved.

Yet great happiness has resulted from, and many a friendship been
cemented by, handshakes across the garden-wall; children have thus
found playmates, and older people kindred souls.

To the little houses of Suburbia come many brides. What an interest the
new bride takes in the one-year-longer-married matron of the next-door
garden as she paces round it with the nurse-maid and the brand-new
baby. By-and-by what comparisons and friendly talks, what advisings
and what exchanging of plants and flowers, what sage remarks from
the old inhabitants to the new, what pleasant evenings in the summer
dusk, when husbands appear upon the scene in restful undress with
tobacco-smoke, the spark of cigarette, and the latest news from town.

There are no unwritten laws about music and practising in Suburbia.
Every one plays as loudly and as much as he can or likes. This is a
pity, but it is difficult to see how it can be prevented.

“Sound loves to revel in a summer night,” says the poet; indeed he
would have said so if ever he had sojourned in the suburbs; but many
of the sounds are pleasing. There is the indescribable hum of the
distant City, which seems to match the red glow on the sky-line of its
countless fires; there is the chime of clocks, the ringing of church
bells, the thrum of the banjo from a holiday group, the trumpet call
and drum of the Salvationist.

But it is not for sentimental or ethical reasons alone that “next
door” exercises so great, so extraordinary an influence; horticultural
affairs of the deepest moment are also implicated. Imagine somebody,
a yard or so removed from your most cherished border, planting a row
of Poplar trees close on to the very boundary fence. Nothing can stop
it--the hungry roots may burrow as they choose. They are not liable to
the law of trespass; there is no redress. Or for years you have been
enjoying some comfortable nook under the shelter of your next-door
neighbour’s Elm or Oak tree. One fine morning you get up to find it
has disappeared in the night, and with it your cosy corner; but this
you must take in good part. It was your neighbour’s tree, not yours.
Or upon the next-door frowning house-wall you have (on the sly) been
planting Ivy. What a trial to see this carelessly or ruthlessly cut
down, or injudiciously lopped; again you have to suffer in silence.

It is extraordinary how most children idealize “next door,”
particularly if it so happen that the inhabitants thereof are
personally unknown. Everything beyond their own wall is pervaded by
a sense of mystery. They see a halo round every flower, which blooms
more brightly than any in the home patch; the lawns are greener, and
the trees and bushes give a pleasanter shade. Things half seen and only
guessed at are fraught with breathless interest, and stray glimpses
from the top of a dust-bin are heaven itself. The barriers of reserve
once down, more than half of the excitement and all the glamour have
departed.

Then there is the question of bonfires. Some people enjoy bonfires--I
do myself--but the smoke of burning weeds in an adverse wind is liable
to be too choky for choice. I have known the bonfire to rankle. As
regards the hanging out of clothes to dry (smoke reminds me of them),
I am informed that in the lease of many a suburban house a clause is
inserted to forbid the family wash. I am quite sure, were such a thing
attempted, the breach of good manners would not be tolerated for one
moment in polite suburban circles. In one suburban house I knew, the
coachman’s wife was allowed--once a week--to dry her linen for two
hours of the very early morning, before the world was up. She was quite
alive to the fearful necessity for punctuality, and this is really all
I know about “next door,” except that, oddly enough, it is possible to
live for thirty years without making any acquaintance with a neighbour
of the next-door garden, and this simply for accidental reasons. In the
thirty-first year the neighbours may meet abroad and find themselves
dear friends! Such are the fruits of the whimsical juxtaposition of
small suburban gardens--“United, yet divided.”

[Illustration: EARLY AUTUMN]



CHAPTER XIII

GRASS, GROUND, OR GRAVEL

    “Where a green, grassy turf is all I crave.”

    “A turf of dull, down-trodden grass
    Brings summer to my heart.”


When people first take possession of the new suburban garden, be it
ever so small or empty, three things are sure to be found in it; even
the builder bestows as much as that upon them, though it may not be
much to boast of either in quantity or quality. The three things
are grass, ground, and gravel; grass for the tiny lawn, ground for
the flower-beds, and gravel for the paths. Now, how are these to be
apportioned? Some people crave for nothing but flowers and vegetables,
so they are keenest about soil and ground; others desire to have a dry
place always ready to walk about or sit in, cheap to keep up, and handy
for their dog-kennels and other fancies. They are gravelites. Another
set of folk are only to be made happy by grass, and I am of that number.

One of the most extraordinary things in the world is that so many
garden-lovers who are kind enough to give advice about suburban plots
seldom have a good word for grass. I always think it must be because
they have never had to do without it themselves. The love of green turf
is, I think, one of the most deeply rooted feelings of human nature;
maybe it is a heritage from the days when pasture-land meant more to
us than it does now, and the coming or withholding of the green blade
spelled life or death. “The king himself is served by the field.”

The restful charm of the grassy garden appeals to me so much, that with
a tree or two, the simplest of flowers, and a rose-bush here and there,
I could content myself with nothing else, so I (for once ) cannot see
eye to eye with Mrs. Earle when she says, “I am all for reducing lawns
and turf except for paths in small gardens;” and elsewhere we are
advised to have red gravel or a bricked or tiled square to sit on while
we admire a wide border of flowers all round the edge. I should not
like such a garden as this at all, and could never feel at home in it.
Fancy no kindly turf to throw one’s self down upon in the noonday heat,
with a book in hand and a tree overhead, or if not a tree, a parasol.
If we had no lawn to be cut and trimmed, where would be the sounds that
most do “rout the brood of care, the sigh of scythe in morning dew,” or
the less poetical but still soothing monotone of the mowing-machine?
And what a loss never to smell the fresh scent of the new-cut blades
of grass as they are collected in box or barrow, and used to mulch the
wilting flowers; nor to note the deliciously neat appearance of the
well-rolled, carefully swept grass-plot, looking so much like a good
child that has just been washed and dressed, and repays so fully for
the sweet trouble it has given.

A writer on the subject of very diminutive gardens has described one
that belonged to a small suburban villa. It captivated my fancy. Narrow
was this tiny plot and very old, but it was grassed all over, and at
one end a child’s swing had been left standing, which was covered with
a thick growth of Ivy. How quaint and cool and pleasant on a summer’s
day, and what a setting for a touch of white or scarlet! Any flower
would look its best in such a garden.

Not long ago a contributor to _Country Life_ wrote an article on
English and Continental suburban gardens that interested me very
much, but I am sorry to say there was no mention whatever in it of
turf. Certainly there was not much room for grass in the plots that
were described, and in some of them the gradients were too steep for
grass-growing. The garden I liked best out of those mentioned was a
mere strip about thirty yards long by about ten or eleven yards wide.
In this small space (little more than a courtyard) was a border with
vines and fruit trees and flowers, a broad brick path, and then a
pleached alley of small Lime trees, the outer row close against the
boundary wall. This is another of the small gardens I have read of that
live in my memory and are a pleasure to think of.

Under the circumstances, it is difficult to see how its arrangement
could have been improved upon. I am sure the owners, being people of
taste, would have had turf also if possible, and I am still wondering
what was done _under_ the Lime avenue. The trees must have been sweet
when in flower, but alas! Lime foliage falters and falls down with the
first touch of frost, and then what a litter it makes. But no trees are
more delightful in summer; the wind stirs so gently in the boughs, with
eloquent soft speech of leaves.

It is now a good many years since it fell to my lot to plan and lay
out a new suburban garden, fortunately not one of the smallest, and
happily placed, inasmuch as the ground ran down to a railway cutting,
at that period almost sylvan in its wildness, with scattered Birch and
Fir trees and banks of Primroses. How many of this garden’s inhabitants
have been grateful since for the good broad stretch of turf that then
was carefully put down and has gone on improving and mellowing with
time and age. Blackbirds and thrushes have hopped about all over it,
finding many a meal, and so have round-eyed robins, though not at the
same moment; croquet and tennis have been played upon it,--first
croquet, then tennis, then croquet again in the cycle of the _môde_;
dainty tea-cups’ cheerful chink has softly sounded over it, and oft has
it been dinted by childish feet. In the morning it has been dim with
early dew, at noon a carpet all alive with shadows flung from leaves,
and in the evening warm and smooth and barred by sunshine. The lawn has
been as good as a sun-dial for telling the hours; the trees are the
pointers, here a Willow and there an Oak, and the dial-plate is the
grass itself. Whether in shade or sunshine, the lawn is always soft to
the foot and pleasant to the eye.

In this garden grass was made the keynote. Turf is the favourite
bordering for the shrubbery--a good wide border, that makes a handsome
edge and is pretty for flowers to tumble over; grass again where there
is room for another little lawn, that can be given up to flower-beds.

How much is said now about the dreadful practice of cutting up a lawn
to stick flower-beds in it, “shrieking spots of colour set down here
and there with little thought.” An authority I revere says “a lawn is
a place for grass; to spot bright beds all over it is to ruin it.” I
quite admit that to “spot,” if there is only room for one lawn, is
gross Vandalism, but I am quite as firmly convinced that no garden is
complete without some flower-beds set in turf. What else shows the
colours to so much advantage? Flower-beds in gravel, with a stiff
edging of Box, do not please me at all; they are formal, and the effect
is hard. Even these can be improved by a broad edging of grass to every
bed. Herbaceous borders are delightful; we cannot live without them,
but we do want beds too, they are so brilliant, so useful, and so
well-behaved. “Bedders” are the good children of the garden, herbaceous
plants the wayward. To manage them is like playing a game of croquet
with Wonderland Alice’s live flamingoes for hoops and mallets; the
plants have the same habit of taking their way, not ours, and this puts
us more than ever in conceit with our little plots of green enamel, set
with coloured flowers like jewels.

A grass walk, where there is room for it, is another charming feature.
In dry weather, when well kept, nothing is so pleasant to walk on. But
no small suburban garden can hope for this luxury; it is only to be
attained in large gardens, that have other walks for everyday wear and
tear.

One of the gardens haunted by me as a child had a very long grass
walk. There was a flower border on each side of it, and behind the
borders there were trees. How we all delighted in this part of the
garden-ground; how many were the friendships sworn along that silent
scented pathway. It was said, moreover, that every engagement in the
family dated from it.

Perhaps it is going too far to praise turf because it is healthy, and
poetry is no argument; but Fuller, about 1620, said that “to smell to
a turf of fresh earth is wholesome to the body.” Ruskin in his best
prose speaks lovingly of its “soft and countless peaceful spears,” and
Shakespeare simply revels in grass. The Bible, too, generally the first
poem a child loves and is influenced by, may be responsible for some
of the fascination of the green herb: “Like rain upon the mown grass;”
“Thou shalt lead me in the green pastures;” “He maketh the grass to
grow upon the mountains.” No wonder one loves and even idealizes grass.



CHAPTER XIV

FERNS AND WILD FLOWERS

    “Wood-sorrel and wild violet
    Ease my soul’s fret.”


“How I do envy you your bank of Ferns” is the remark made to me almost
daily during the summer months when the green background of our outdoor
fernery looks so pretty as it throws up the colours of the flower-beds
on the little lawn that flanks it. This is the brightest bit of the
whole garden, and its beauty is very largely due to the Ferns. Then
we get talking about Ferns, and everybody says, “What a pity Ferns
are out of fashion.” This is what I think. There was a Fern-craze
about five and thirty years ago, when crinolines were worn, and long
riding-habits, and every drawing-room had its tank of sea-flowers;
but times have changed, and the day of the outdoor fernery is over.
One reason given for its disappearance is what people say is its
untidiness. “We cannot have Ferns near the house, because they look
ragged in autumn and winter.” This is what I am told so constantly, but
do not agree with at all. In the first place, to my way of thinking,
Ferns are picturesque all the year round, not less so when they are
brown and yellow than at the time of their greenest luxuriance, and
hardy Ferns are the very best things in the world for Londoners to
cultivate, because their foliage is so tolerant of smoke-poison, even
in the most aggravated form of it known as “urban fog.” No town nor
suburban garden, however unfavourably placed, need be without its Ferns.

[Illustration: A TOWN FERNERY]

It was against a blank wall facing east, in a brand-new garden of the
suburbs, that our own fernery was started, and turned despair into
delight. This part of the garden had looked so hopeless. What were we
to do with it? We knew that flowers would not bloom there, and yet we
wanted something cheerful to look at, because the door-windows of our
favourite sitting-rooms “gave on to it,” as the French say, and it
would always be in sight. Then some one suggested ferns, and it was
felt at once the right note had been struck. Between the house and the
wall there was chaos for about sixty-five feet; then the bare wall.
Behind that in the next-door garden were an Oak and one or two Apple
trees, that gave some shelter. Beside the house we made a terrace, high
and dry, and planted a Magnolia against the wall, and Rose trees. Then
came a gravel path, and beyond the path we laid a little lawn; this
left room for a four or five-foot border by the wall. Here was to be
the fernery.

Good drainage was secured by digging down and filling up with crocks
and broken tiles and cinders. Then we got together a goodly store of
stones, tree-stumps, and gnarled roots, choosing Oak when possible,
because of all woods it is the least liable to decay. Oak will even
resist damp, though damp is a thing a fernery should never be. That
is the mistake most people make. Ferns want a great deal of water,
but never to be water-logged--always dewy, fresh, and sprinkled. Now
it was time to think about the soil. We got in leaf-mould, loam, and
a little peat, which in those days was easier to get than it is now.
The building up of all these good materials was a pleasant task. It is
so nice to work _with_ one’s gardeners. We cannot expect them to have
the same cultivated tastes as some of ourselves, who have travelled,
and read, and thought, and got out of old grooves; but they can do
the hard work, and are quick to take ideas. Our Fern-bank was not
allowed to be grotto-y. Not a scrap of clinker, nor a flint, nor a
shell--least of all a fossil--was permitted to come near it. We waved
the border up and down in quite irregular fashion with hills and dales
and comfortable crannies to hold the plants when they should come. A
month or two had to pass before we could plant, and this was fortunate
in a way, as things could settle down. We had made the fernery in the
spring, and in the autumn we furnished it--a good time for doing so,
for in the autumn holidays one finds so many treasures to bring home in
box or basket. This was what we did; and besides that, had ordered a
good many beautiful and hardy Ferns from some growers in the south of
England.

I do think this is such a good plan. The more frequented country places
have been so depleted by the careless Fern-hunter and the over-zealous
field-class, that really there are now few wild Ferns to spare.
Whenever I come across any, growing in all their beauty, my impulse is
to leave them, not to take them away, especially delicate Ferns like
Tricomanes, or the Sea or Bladder Spleenwort; nor would I ever rifle
a lake-side of the Royal Osmunda, unless in Ireland, where it might
be growing like a weed. Quite common things we may take a portion of,
with care--not the whole root--the Male and Lady-Fern for instance, the
Blecknums, the Hart’s-tongues from the well-side, and the Polypodies
of the wood and hedgerow. Ferns can be moved and planted with safety
either in spring or autumn. In the garden for dividing and replanting,
we find February the best month.

In making a Fern-bank it must never be forgotten that, though the hardy
kinds stand cold well, they do hate draught. We carried our border
round a little at both ends, and planted shrubs so as to make it quite
a cosy corner. The wall itself had been stocked with climbers--Ivy,
Virginian Creeper, and some Briar Roses and Honeysuckle--the latter not
with the hope of flowers, but for a change of foliage. In October the
brown and yellowing fronds, with green and gold and red and crimson
leaves behind them, are splendid. Our ugly patch is now the best part
of the garden--the flower-beds on the turf a little formal, perhaps,
but always bright either with spring or summer flowers. Both grass
and blossoms are in clover here; they get a sideways benefit from the
constant spraying of the bank, and the close-cut turf grows very fine
and soft, keeping its greenness through the hottest weather.

Has any one noticed the beauty of the growth of fresh young pale-green
Fern-fronds, among the old dark foliage? Sometimes we secure this by
leaving the Fern-bank for a dry hot day or two without much water, then
we give it a deluge over-night. Next day new growth begins to show, and
the fernery, so far from being cross at so much teasing, puts on its
fairest smiles, and looks prettier than ever.

But one of the greatest delights of a fernery in London or suburban
gardens is the opportunity it gives of growing wild flowers. There are
so many of these one longs to have, but there is no room for them. In
the herbaceous border they would be pulled up as weeds, and on the
rockery they would overgrow the other things. What the dear weeds want
is a place where they can rest harmless and unmolested. The outdoor
fernery is their Promised Land; there they are good and happy. Many a
wilding has a home in ours.

Sometimes we wonder how they get there, for generally they are not
of our own planting. Some, of course, are “stowaways”--vagrants that
have travelled with Fern-roots sent from far; others may be wind or
bird-sown--there is no lack of bird-life in suburban gardens. Any way,
the weeds are welcome. Amongst the strangers are Wind-flowers, wild
Hyacinth, Wood-violets, and Celandine. Enchanter’s Night-shade is a
visitor that is inclined to be too pushful, but we like a little left,
to study its life-history as related so delightfully by Grant Allen.
Under the Osmundas there is a carpet of Oak and Beech Fern, but below
the hardy common Ferns we let the Alpine Strawberry run about--how
bright its scarlet berries in the cool green leaves!--and Wood-sorrel,
that most engaging weed, claimed by many as the true Shamrock of St.
Patrick. There is no wild flower more interesting; its triune leaflets
are so sensitive, closing if startled, or if the wind be chill, and on
hot summer afternoons it is amusing to listen for the cracking of its
tiny artillery as the seed-pods burst, to fling their harmless contents
all around.

In very early spring Blue-bells and the constant Primrose find warm
corners on our Fern-bank, and show bright faces sooner than elsewhere.
It is here the “spotted Orchis takes his annual step across the
earth”--why is this plant so walkative? Wood-sanicle is another weed
we allow no one to pull up; it is to us a living lyric of copse and
woodland. Such simple plants are doubly sweet when growing in the small
suburban garden, houses to right of us, houses to left of us, and
houses over the way.

[Illustration: THE OSMUNDA IN MAY]

And now a word or two to those who fear to make a fernery too near the
house. Here is an extract from my garden log-book, written in December
1901: “The Fern-bank against the Ivied wall is looking almost as
well as in August. The plants are simply revelling in the moist still
air. The undergrowth of Oak, Beech, Limestone and Bladder Fern is
gone, and some of the Lady Fern is yellowing, but the Hart’s-tongues
are greener than ever; their bosses show up well, and the Male Fern
and hardy Polystichums and Polypodies are still flourishing, many of
them growing from a centre like gigantic shuttlecocks. The Osmunda is
a little withered, but in its golden yellow stage is very lovely.” The
present prevailing fashion of a lingering autumn and mild December
leaves the Fern-bank beautiful through October, November, and the
months that follow, till the very hard frosts come, which nowadays
is generally not till the days have begun to lengthen. In sheltered
corners many plants are green the whole year round. So things go on
till January, when some few heads are lying low, but even then the bank
is quaintly pretty. February is, I admit, the least attractive month
for the Ferns themselves, but by that time the little lowly flowers
that grow among them are coming up, and a careful look will show how
fast the fronds are spreading and thickening amid the Wood-violets’
gentle blue and the pale stars of the Primrose. May is here the most
amusing month; in their growing-up stage Ferns are funnier than
schoolboys, and more uncouth. How tall and lanky is this pale Osmunda;
he has shot up too quickly, and there is nothing but a little bullet
head at the top of every attenuated stalk. He bends this backwards,
the colour changes, and lo! the round ball opens into the splendour
of branching leaves. Warm rain of a day or two will do this and many
another miracle will it work; the rolled-up, wriggling snakes and
viperlings that hid away in white and woolly fleeces, and seemed so
frightened of coming out too soon, one by one now show themselves to
be the Scolopendriums, Aspleniums, Polypodiums and Polystichums that
were so beautiful last July--it would really be mean to remind them in
summer-time of how they looked while yet unfledged.

The great charm of a fernery, well kept and long-established, is now
forgotten by most, for it is seldom seen. What we do see in many a
London and suburban garden is the extinct or neglected fernery, an arid
spot, most likely under a tree or trees, which have drained every drop
of moisture from the soil. People have such odd notions about Ferns;
they do not discriminate. All kinds are lumped together, and expected
to look after themselves and do all right, if they are given a few
stones or a clinker or two to play with. I do not think under trees the
very best place for Ferns, for the trees get all the moisture. When we
know that one fair-sized Oak tree will draw up as much as a hundred and
twenty-three tons of water in a season, we cannot wonder that there is
not much left to nourish the plants beneath; and then the rain, the
kindly rain that drops from heaven upon the earth beneath, how are the
poor overshadowed Ferns to get that? Speaking generally, all Ferns
like shade and moisture, but different members of the Fern family show
as many individual tastes and likes and dislikes as we should find in
any school or nursery. Some are for the cool depths of the woodland,
some for the breezy heath or open moor; others sun themselves like
chameleons on a dry and stony wall, where they live on nothing but
lime and light; and there are the lake-lovers, who, poet-like, would
sit with their feet in the brook, and gaze at the blue of the sky;
and the mountain-climbers who hide under the slates of Skiddaw; and
the roadside Ferns that grow beneath, and sometimes upon, the bossy
branches of Elms and Oaks. These hardy hedge-haunters were for a long
time the only Ferns that would not grow for us; at last we discovered
the reason why. They will not drink anything but soft water, sooner
would they die.

All the other Ferns I have mentioned live as happily in a suburban
garden as they did in their native haunts, and attain to an even
greater size and luxuriance. They give no trouble, most of them do
not mind hard water, but this is much better if sprayed or sprinkled
than if hosed. Sprinklers can be bought for a shilling or two at any
ironmonger’s shop, and are most useful. Even the Holly fern, and the
Hay-scented, and the pretty _Polystichum-proliferum_ that most people
consider a greenhouse plant, come up every year, punctual as the
morning sunshine, and want nothing but water, and some fresh leaf-mould
to grow into, now and then. Sometimes in the autumn we scatter them
with dead leaves, and always leave the fronds to wither as they will;
no tidying up is allowed. Here Nature holds her sway, and the touch of
wildness in an otherwise well-ordered garden is refreshing.



CHAPTER XV

CREEPERS AND CLIMBERS

        “Our tallest rose
    Peeped in at the chamber window.”


No cottage, villa, hut, nor any other human dwelling, however small
and gardenless, need be without some leaves and flowers, for it must
have walls, and up them may the Ivy wander and the Jasmine cling.
Quaintly enough, both Vine and Fig tree are tolerant of town air, and,
suggestive as they are of sylvan and patriarchal life, might flourish
in Seven-Dials if there were room enough for them to grow. The Vine,
in fact, is one of the best climbers it is possible to find for London
and the suburbs; one regrets that it is not oftener made use of, for,
to say nothing of its fruits, the foliage is so exquisitely decorative:
in summer of a pure green, and in autumn rich in yellows, reds, and
browns. The Fig tree is another handsome plant, well worth growing if
only for the sake of its comfortable triple leaves that in Eden were
found so useful. There is no occasion to mention Virginian Creepers;
everybody already knows and appreciates them. The large-leafed, loosely
flowing, common kind is preferred by some, but is not so neat and
compact as the small-foliaged _Ampelopsis Veitchii_, which clings
wherever it can place a finger with extraordinary tenacity, and never
needs a nail. Naturally, this clinging habit makes the Veitchii very
popular where gardeners are scarce.

[Illustration: VIRGINIAN CREEPER OVER PORCH]

In planting creepers and climbers we find it the best of methods
always to put in two or three at a time; winter and summer ones grow
happily side by side; after one has had his turn, another takes the
floor, and things are always lively. Even in drear November there are
berries, whose shining colours are cotemporary with the bright yellows
of the Winter Jasmine, and these together provide a feast of colour
from October to the end of January.

On taking possession of a house near town, or in any of the suburbs, we
must consider well its different aspects before we choose our creepers,
and after that must settle on the best means of training them. Some
people like to have a trellis-work of wood against the walls, and upon
grey, or white, old-fashioned houses this looks very well. Others will
stretch wire-netting against the walls, a method convenient in one way,
because a width or two can always be added as it is wanted, and it is
cheap; but wire is not a very genial support to live on. Many plants
do not like it, and I am not at all fond of it myself; but it comes in
useful sometimes if a very ugly, bare side wall has to be hidden by
degrees. Virginian Creepers do not disdain to use it when they want to
climb; but others turn from it most amusingly. The other alternative is
the ordinary garden-nail and shred, and a very good one, too, it is.
Every gardener should be generously supplied with nails of different
sizes and strong, clean shreds of cloth. In stormy weather they save
many a wreck. Sometimes stout string will be required, and stakes,
and something in the nature of a pad to soften the rub of the support
against the stem. Cloth shreds must be looked to now and then, and
renewed when necessary, for the ravages of moth and rust are only to be
expected. It is wise to use tarred string, which is very wholesome and
durable. Many plants that find a place on walls can neither climb nor
creep; these must be strongly held in place. Of such are the Cape and
Winter Jasmines, many Roses, Forsythia, the Fire-thorn (_Pyracanthus_),
and Cotoneaster, whose soft berries, with a crimson bloom upon them,
are a pleasant change from the Fire-thorn’s brilliant red and the
scarlet of the Holly.

Roses certainly do better against wood than when growing flush against
the brick of any wall, especially if it happens to be an old one: they
keep more free from insects. How different from Ivy, whose feelings are
deeply hurt and injured if it is torn from its dear walls, where it so
gladly feeds on lime and air, and makes a clustered home for twilight
moths.

Jasmines and other plants that have the same habit of growth must
not be allowed to run too much to riot. They should be well cut in
every autumn, as soon as frost is threatening; the new growths of
each recurring season amply suffice to provide the graceful trails
that hang about with great luxuriance, and will be full of flowers.
Two years running a pair of spotted fly-catchers built their nests in
the Jasmine-withes close to our windows; by June the new growths were
already thick enough to hold their tiny homes.

A delightful plant to cover a house-wall, and one that is quite
content to live in London and its suburbs, is the evergreen _Magnolia
grandiflora_. Our own was planted, in the first instance, against a
south wall, where afterwards we put a Passion-flower, and have now two
kinds of Jasmine. In this aspect the Magnolia did not thrive at all.
Then we moved it to the west, where it started growth at once, and rose
with wonderful rapidity house-high and thickly branched. It is a lovely
place for blackbirds; they never fail to build in it, so we get music
as well as scent; but the birds have flown before the flowers come.
These bloom from August to October, sweetening every dwelling-room that
is near them, and every one loves to watch the big white buds as they
unfold so slowly to show their satin linings and the big gold jewel
that lies inside each cup.

Both on our north and south and west walls we plant Gloire-de-Dijon
Roses along with purple Clematis, not for a succession of flowers, but
so that they may bloom together. Few things in nature are more truly
satisfactory than the way these two plants have of blossoming at the
same time; the colours contrast so perfectly.

Passion-flowers and _Clematis Montana_ are two creepers that, as a
rule, do well on warm south walls. For a long time we revelled in these
upon the house; but both are delicate. Even so far south as Surrey we
found a very cold, damp winter would kill them, and it is dreadful to
see an empty wall which once was full of leaves and blossoms, so we
now grow these creepers in some sheltered corner; arch of door and
window-mullion must have stronger plants.

No creepers are hardier than the Virginians, nor could any look
prettier as they wreath above a porch. More than once the shelter of
ours has been chosen for a rare bird’s nesting, and the author of
a gardening dictionary was so taken with it that he begged for its
photograph, as an illustration of that particular creeper, in his
book. I have never known anything to kill this plant except drought or
sunstroke. Do give it a little water in dry, hot weather. Our south
wall has been the scene of many adventures in the plant world. There
is a family legend about the Passion-flower that for years grew high
enough to look in (along with the roses) at our chamber windows. It
did not survive the foot-treads of Mr. Peace, the thief and murderer,
who, one fine day at the luncheon hour, climbed up by it over a portico
and into a bedroom, whence he made off with all the jewellery he
could find; die the Passion-flower certainly did, and that before the
following winter’s frost.

Another creeper of great value to the suburban gardener is
Honeysuckle; the Dutch variety for its sweetness, the Japanese for its
leaves of yellow, green, and gold. Not for the house, but for pergolas,
or as a blind to hide “next door,” or for a rustic arbour, what is more
cheerful than the Hop, which climbs to the height of many yards in one
season, and drops its pretty blooms, that have so queer and pleasant a
smell, as merrily in a sunny corner of any town garden as if it were
clambering up the hop-poles of Kent or Sussex? Hop-bines might be used
a great deal more freely than they are to hide unsightly outhouses
and barren places, but even Hops want a little care; they must have
some good stuff to grow into, and they do like sunshine. Gourds are
magnificent for all these purposes. I know one gentleman who so much
admires the leaves and flowers of the common domestic Vegetable Marrow
that he cultivates it as an ornament and not for eating, much as the
King of Siam grows carrots, with whose charming foliage he fell in love
when sojourning in England.

Of all creepers we are familiar with, _Clematis Montana_ is least
tolerant of the knife. If we happen to meet with a very old one, that
has been allowed to wander unchecked all over the place, and is untidy
at the bottom, it is quite useless to attempt to cut and prune it into
shape. Such treatment would be certain to destroy; it is better to take
it away bodily and put in a new one. The yearly pruning already spoken
of may be pursued in safety. Honeysuckles behave much in the same way
as to their dislike of too much cutting, otherwise they give no trouble
at all, and thrive in any garden soil that is fairly good. Sometimes
one has to deal with old house-walls whereon neglected creepers show
unsightly stems, and yet we cannot part with them, because of the value
of the upper growth. The best thing to be done--so we find--is to plant
some gay perennial climber that will hide defects. One of the best is
the Morning Glory (_Ipom[oe]a_) If given a sunny place, this creeper
will throw up long free garlands every summer. The leaves are prettily
shaped, and each new morning brings new buds, wonderful, twisted,
spiral buds, that open into cup-shaped flowers, pink, or white, or
blue, or streaked, or crimson.

Ivy deserves a chapter all to itself; it is the kindest and most
beneficent climber in all the world, never shabby, never tired,
blooming in November and December, when flowers are scarcest; and it
owns such an endless variety of leaf-forms and colours that one might
make an interesting garden by filling it with nothing but different
kinds of Ivy. And the same Ivy behaves so differently at different
periods of its life, that sometimes one can hardly believe one is not
being cheated by a changeling. See the Ivy that is busy climbing up a
tree or wall, how tightly it catches hold, and how industriously it
wins its way to the very summit. No leisure now for play or flowering,
it is a steady onward march--eyes right, no looking round; but once the
top is reached there comes a change. Like a successful man of business,
whose work is done, it has time now for life’s graces; the Ivy settles
down and clusters, and bears flowers and berries. It loves pretty
shapes and pictures--in short, takes kindly to the Arts.

For the borders of shrubberies no edgings are prettier than Gold
and Silver Ivies trailed over stones or rock-work, and Irish Ivy is
invaluable to fill bare patches under trees on lawns, where nothing
else will grow, or for covering up old tree-stumps or unsightly barns
or sheds. Ivy at first grows slowly. Any one who is impatient for
immediate effect had better buy well-rooted plants of it in pots; by
this means a good length can be secured at once. If a small piece is
planted, a little lime-rubbish in the ground helps very much, and so
does watering for a week or two till well-established, after which
any Ivy can be trusted to look after itself. Ivy in London is no new
favourite. Close to St. Paul’s Cathedral is a thoroughfare where
once the Prebendaries of St. Paul lived peaceful lives in quaint
old-fashioned houses, whose walls were smothered in it; houses and Ivy
have disappeared, but the old name lingers--it is “Ivy Lane.”



CHAPTER XVI

EASY ROCK AND WALL GARDENING

    “The stems are faithful to the root
      That worketh out of view,
    And to the rock the root adheres
      In every fibre true.”


A rock-garden, even in a simple way, is a great joy, and there is no
reason why we should not try to possess one even in a town or in the
suburbs. Writers in the best horticultural papers are sometimes a
little discouraging; they tell us that the rock-garden near a house
is out of place, and that it should never be made near trees, nor
buildings, nor any other objects, but stand apart in stony isolation;
they also tell us by no means to make a rockery ourselves, any more
than we should try to mend a broken limb without the doctor: we are
to call in an experienced garden-artist blessed with good taste, a
knowledge of rocks, and the requirements of Alpine plants.

No doubt, the owners of large grounds and long purses will do well to
take this advice, but people must cut their coats according to their
cloth, and no one who does not mind taking a little trouble need
despair. It is not so very difficult a matter to build a home for, and
to get together, a pretty collection of Alpine and other rock-plants.
One’s pains are well repaid, for no class of growing things is more
interesting; besides this, we shall be in the fashion.

In our own garden, which I have said before is not a large one
(close to other people’s houses, and much too full of trees), we have
contrived to make two rock-gardens, one in shade and one in sunshine.
Neither of them is far from our own house, and one is much too near
some Fir trees; but the plants do not seem to mind either of these
things in the very least.

The first thing we have to consider in establishing a rockery (after
settling where to place it) is the rock, and “rock,” as we all know,
is geology for every kind of earth and stone. Limestone is about the
best rock we can choose; there are so many plants that love to live in
it, and it is easier to procure than granite. Need it be said that we
must not dream of using clinker? Stone is a little difficult to get,
and dear to buy and cart about, but we lighted upon a cunning plan in
getting ours. We looked up a neighbouring builder, and for a trifle
and the cartage he let us have a number of disused steps and sinks and
stones that came out of old houses, and to him were so much lumber;
they were just the thing for us, and were already nicely weathered.

I think we knew the right way to build a rockery, for we had read many
papers on the subject in _The Garden_, and also possessed Miss Jekyll’s
delightful book on “Wall and Water Gardens,” the pictures in which are
very helpful; and though we could not do all the best things that might
be done, for want of room, we succeeded fairly well, but we had to
superintend and do all except the heavy work ourselves. No gardener of
the ordinary jobbing or suburban type can be trusted to make a rockery.

[Illustration: A ROCKERY]

The natural soil of our garden made drainage requisite, so we began
with that; then we laid in a store of loam, a little leaf-mould, and
a great deal of coarse sand. Rock-plants look as if they grew on the
surface, lying on it like water-flies upon a stream. This appearance
is deceitful; they have particularly long roots, which strike down
any distance in search of food. No one, therefore, need expect to
have a successful rockery who first dumps his stones down in a heap,
and then piles the earth on the top of them. Each stone or piece of
rock must be planted firmly, ends pointing downwards, as in building a
flint wall, so that roots can run down easily through the soil between
them; and it is best to work after a plan, arranging the “rock” in a
sort of orderly disorder like a stratification, with here and there a
“fault.” So anxious were we to make our rockery look natural, that we
referred to one of Mr. Geikie’s geology books, and chose our style of
stratification from that.

It was a long time before we managed to place the stones exactly to
our minds, but we did succeed at last, after one or two trials and a
few alterations. Then came a period of waiting till things had settled
down. We gave temporary lodgings among the rocks to tufts of London
Pride, the pretty pink Saxifrage, that so well deserves its name and is
so invaluable a plant in any difficult garden, as it will grow anywhere
and remains in bloom so many months. Creeping Jenny was another
stop-gap, quite as hardy as London Pride, and flowering almost directly
after you plant it, if it is given a little water and some sunshine;
Lung-wort and common Campanulas we put in too, with odds and ends of
all the weedy things that inhabit every garden and consider themselves,
as it were, joint owners of it. We robbed the Herb-border, too, of bits
of gold and silver Thyme, that so much loves growing on a bank and is
so fragrant; these latter were allowed to stay, and we would have had
Balm too, had space permitted.

Later on came a visit to Mr. Barr’s nursery-ground, from whence we
drove home the richer by a number of little sandy pots, in each pot a
treasure. Whenever I visit this flowery region in search of Daffodils,
I never can find time to admire the Daffodils because of being so
taken up with rock plants. They are grown so beautifully here; with
nothing but flat fields to work upon, a stretch of rocks has been
imported into them so skilfully as to wear a very natural look, and one
cannot walk among them without taking an object-lesson on the beauty
of bold effects. After falling in love with wide expanses of trailing,
creeping, rooting, and clinging Alpine and native rock-plants, one can
visit the open frames where small pieces of them are growing in pots.
Nothing could be more convenient or pleasanter than the choosing of
these and the bearing of them away in safety to individual hearts and
homes. Grown in pots, the most delicate things can be moved in safety.

The great danger among so much that attracts is that of being tempted
to buy more sorts and kinds of plants than can have justice done them
in a small garden; much wiser is it to choose but a few of the best,
and let those have space to grow and spread. A cranny can always
be found for any rarity, but no “scrappy” rockery, any more than a
“scrappy” garden, will ever make for beauty.

In a gardening paper the other day there was a piece of advice that
amused us by its _naïveté_. It was, “never to buy plants, but always
to get them given you by friends, because that way you get much bigger
pieces.” Certainly friends who have a well-established rockery can
assist greatly, and a hamper sent us one October was a treasure-trove
indeed, not only for the plants we saw and handled, but also for its
waifs and strays. Like the magic ferry-boat, that hamper had brought
more travellers than eye could see. Next summer they appeared. One was
a vigorous plant of bright pink Yarrow, another a fairy Flax (oh, what
a delicious blue!), and one day a weird-looking stranger popped up
suddenly. He had a beautiful cream-coloured suit, and peacock’s eyes,
which the gardener said quite frightened him. His name we discovered
afterwards was Calochortus, a Lily from California, which is supposed
to require a good deal of warmth and some care, so we were very proud
of his appearance in our rockery.

We contrived to find room for many pretty things: _Campanula Bavarica_,
in falls of azure blue; the white Iberis and Arabis, double and single;
yellow Alysum; Aubrietia, pink and mauve; as well as one or two Rock
Pinks and some crimson Thrift. The Bird’s-eye Primrose, and Rock
Primulas, and Alpine Poppies (these are lovely), we could not run to
for want of space.

Saxifrages are a blessing in the shady rockery. Here, as well as the
sunshiny one, mossy and encrusted Saxifrages do very well. Some of the
mossy Saxifrages are early bloomers, opening in February with large
white flowers, in striking contrast to their tufted dark-green leaves.
The encrusted Saxifrages are the most wonderful of rock-plants; any one
unfamiliar with their shining silver edges might fancy the foliage were
frosted; but the edging is really an incrustation of lime. In some form
or other lime is a food these plants must have, or they cannot thrive;
it is pretty to see them using their food-stuff to adorn themselves
as well as in support of life. Some small Saxifrages we liked are _S.
sancta_, with yellow flowers, _S. oppositifolia_, with red-purple
blooms, and the double-flowered native _S. granulata_. Perhaps the
handsomest of all is _S. longifolia_, which grows in huge rosettes,
throwing from the centre of each a panicle of creamy white flower
nearly two feet long.

Wall-planting is easier to manage in the small garden than the rockery
because it so economizes space. Many, in fact most, rock-plants do well
in walls if made with mould enough to give root-room. A double wall
is a delightful thing. On the broad top of it Roses can be planted,
and soft-stemmed Roses look even prettier when falling down than when
climbing up. Pink blossoms are lovely on grey stone. Cerastium’s grey
foliage should always rove about among the green things; grey leaves
are so pretty, and there are many plants of this colour. The Cotton
plant, often called French Lavender, is a good one. _Anemone apennina_
is a wall and rock plant that ought to be mentioned first instead of
last; _Anemone sylvestris_ and _hepatica_ also love the stones, and
so do the homely Houseleeks that remind us of cottage roofs, and the
grey-green Cobweb-leeks that are smothered in downy thread.

It would be quite easy to make a beautiful rock or wall garden without
going away from our own country to people it; many of our common
native stone-loving plants are so good. Snap-dragons are grand, and we
could have Foxgloves, the great Mulleins and the delicate Stitchwort,
the shining Crane’s-bell--so scarlet of leaf as summer wanes--the
Wall-Pennywort, and the pink-flowered tiny Toad-flax. Some Ferns, too,
could find a place in it, Cetrach and Wall-Rue in the sun, and Polypody
and the black-stemmed _Adiantum nigrum_ anywhere. Polypodies run freely
about the joints of walls, and will keep green all the winter.

The three commonest of our English wall-plants are those we love most
dearly; they are Thrift, Wallflower, and Red Valerian. Our own Valerian
was brought from the top of a castle-wall in the Isle of Wight, close
to the sea, wind-swept and bathed in sunshine. There were masses of
it, in patches of deep crimson; we took some while it was in full
flower, in spite of the risk. No easy matter was it to get a root, so
deeply had every one gone down between the stones, but we managed to
secure one or two with fibre on them, and these have grown and spread.
Wallflowers are never so happy as on stone-work with air and light all
round them, and they are all the better for the slight protection given
by a wall. Ivy-leaved Toad-flax was growing merrily near the Valerian,
and was not half so difficult to get out. All of these are now quite
content in the suburban garden to which they were brought, and in
which they thrive and bloom, the red Valerian a special joy to every
pussy-cat.

[Illustration: A ROCKERY IN EARLY SUMMER]

One pleasing thought may cheer the most disheartened while going
through the troubles of making a rockery; it will be a delicious salve
to one’s conscience when running away with roots of dainty little
plants from wall, or moor, or mountain, either in England or abroad, to
know that at home a comfortable shelter is awaiting them where not even
the Edelweis need feel the pangs of Heimweh. Flowers we bring home that
live and grow are about the pleasantest log-books it is possible to
possess.

    “Oh, to what uses shall we put
    The wild weed-flower that simply blows?”

This is what Tennyson says, and the question is easily answered by
another: Could it have a better use than to bring happiness to those
who dearly love the country and its flowers, but are obliged by stress
of circumstance to live their lives in towns?



INDEX


    _Ampelopsis Veitchii_, 21, 88.

    Analysis of fog at Kew and Chelsea in 1891, 49.

    Apathy of the public about fog, 54.

    Arabis, double and single, 11.

    Area garden, 2.

    “Art out of Doors,” 69.

    _Asparagus Plumosa_, 47.

    _Asparagus Sprengeri_, 17.


    Back and front gardens, 64, 67.

    Balcony-fitting, 25.

    Barr’s, Messrs., rock-garden, 97.

    Birds and butterflies in London, 30.

    Bournville, workman’s village, 32.

    Bonfires, 74.

    Bulbs for the window-box, 10.

    Bulbs after flowering, 14.

    Bulbous plants in smoke, 28.

    Bulbous plants for parks in town, 4.

    Bulbous plants in fog, 53.

    Button-hole bouquet-making in London streets, 60.


    Campanulas, 4, 17, 41, 97.

    _Campanula Bavarica_, 99.

    Candy-tuft (Iberis), 99.

    Charcoal filters for fog, 51.

    Children’s window-boxes, 19.

    Children’s ideas of “Next-door,” 73.

    Choosing the window-box, 37.

    Cleansing foliage, 38, 41.

    Clean mist, 49.

    _Clematis Montana_, 91.

    Clementi-Smith’s, Mrs., rectory-garden in the City, 26, 30.

    Climbers, 89.

    Climbers in pots, 20.

    _Country Life_ on suburban gardens, 76.

    Country board schools, 33.

    Covent Garden Market, 45.

    Coal-smoke Abatement Society, 54

    Crocus, 11, 64, 65.

    Crook’s Place Board School, Norwich, 32.

    Creepers, 89.

    Cut flowers from the florist, 3


    Daisies, field, 16.

    Daisies, Michaelmas, 4.

    Double-wall gardening, 99.

    Dracaenas, 47.

    Drainage for window-box, 33.

    Drainage for fernery, 81.

    Drainage for rockery, 96.

    Dyed flowers, 57.


    Early and mid-Victorian bouquets, 59.

    Encrusted Saxifrages, 99.

    Establishing a rockery, 96.

    Etiquette in suburban gardens, 71.

    Exeter prize window-boxes, 18.


    Factory-lad’s window-box and Miss Jekyll, 35.

    Ferns for window-box, 42.

    Ferns at Kew after fog, 52.

    Ferns all the year round, 80.

    Ferns and gas, 53.

    Ferns under trees, 85.

    Flower Hospital, 39.

    Flower-girls of London, 60.

    Flowers as symbols, 58.

    Flower-beds in turf, 78.

    Flower-pots, 21, 22.

    Floral trophies, 59.

    Foreign opinions on English suburban gardens, 64.

    Fog filters and annihilators, 50.

    Foliage plants, 44.

    Free’s, Mrs. Richard, Window-box Society at Millwall, 31.

    Front and back gardens, 64, 67.

    Furnishing the fernery, 82.


    Garden-schools in Germany, 33

    Gardens we grow fond of, 69.

    Genista, 16.

    Giant Snowdrop, _Galanthus Whittalli_, 10.

    Giving away our surplus plants, 34.

    Grassy gardens, 76.

    Grass walks, 79.


    Hanging baskets, 39.

    Herbs in the window-box, 17.

    Honeysuckle, 92.

    Hops, 92.

    Home for Working Boys, roof-garden at, 28.


    Impurities of town fog, 49.

    Individuality in gardens, 67.

    Injuries from fog, 49.

    Iberis, candy-tuft, 99.

    Insects, 40.

    Ipom[oe]a (Morning Glory), 92.

    Ivy, 11, 93.


    Jasmines, 90.


    Kitchen window-boxes, 17.

    Kew Gardens, fog at, 50, 52.

    Kew and Chelsea, fog at, 49.


    Lady decorators, 85.

    Lawn, the, 65, 76, 78.

    Lilies, Japanese, at Holland House, 4.

    Lilies in poor man’s garden, 32.

    Limestone for rockeries, 96.

    London in June, 23.

    London flower-girls, 60.

    London Pride, 11, 97.

    Love of small gardens, 69.


    Maiden-hair sprigs, 60.

    Making a balcony-garden, 25.

    Making a rockery, 96.

    _Magnolia Grandiflora_, 90.

    Michaelmas Daisies, 4.

    Miniature rock and water gardens, 68.

    Moss, 11, 39.

    Musk, 15, 25, 41.


    Narcissus, 12, 39.

    Nasturtiums, 3, 43, 45.


    Open-air fern-box, 42.

    Ornamental foliage plants, 47.

    _Osmunda Regalis_ in May, 85.

    _Osmunda Regalis_ in autumn, 85.


    Passion-flowers on south wall, 91.

    Palms, 46.

    Petunias, 15, 29, 39.

    Pelham Park (Home for working boys), 29.

    Plants for house-decoration, 46.

    Poplar trees next door, 73.

    Pots for balconies, 21.

    Pot-plants, watering, 41.

    Precautions in foggy weather, 53.

    Primrose Day, 58.

    Pruning creepers, 92.

    Public Health Act, 54.

    Pyrethrums as town flowers, 3.


    Queen’s Gate window-boxes, 16.


    Rain-water, 18, 86.

    Rock-gardening, 95.

    Rock-plants, hardy English, 100.

    Roof-garden in Bishopsgate St., 28.

    Roof-garden on London leads, 29.

    Roses, 4, 20, 56, 58, 67, 90.


    Saxifrages in rockery, 99.

    Seeds for window-box, 42.

    Seed Song, 18.

    Shop-front in Bond Street, 23.

    Shrubs for window-box, 38.

    Silene (Campion or Catchfly), 12.

    Slugs, 3.

    Snowdrops, 10.

    Smoke-poison, 48.

    Soil for window-box, 37.

    Soot, 3, 38.

    Study of plants, 41.

    Stone for rockery, 96.

    Suburban gardens, 4, 62.

    Suburban highways, 63.

    Sunflower, a city, 34.

    Summer flowers for window-box, 14.


    Tiger Lilies, 28.

    Town board schools, 32.

    Tubs for verandahs and balconies, 22.

    Turf for small gardens, 66.

    Turf, love of green, 75.

    Turf, flower-beds in, 78.

    Turf for games, 77.

    Turf for bordering shrubberies, 78.


    Urban fog, 48.


    Valerian, 100.

    Villa window-box in March and June, 37.

    Virginia Creeper for bird’s nests, 91.

    Virginia Stock, 43.


    Washing leaves, 41.

    Watering, 40, 81, 83.

    Weeping Willows, 65.

    Weeds that are welcome, 30, 83.

    Winter Jasmine (_nudiflorum_), 64, 90.

    Winter Aconite, 11.

    Wild flowers in the garden, 83.

    Window-box in spring, 10.

    Wire netting, 89.

    Wired flowers, 56.

    Wormwood, 17.



Handbooks of Practical Gardening

Under the General Editorship of

HARRY ROBERTS

_Price 2s. 6d. net, each. Crown 8vo. Illustrated. Price $1.00._


  Vol. I.--The Book of Asparagus. With Sections on Celery, Salsify,
    Scorzonera, and Seakale; and a chapter on their cooking and
    preparation for the table. By CHARLES ILOTT, F.R.H.S., Lecturer on
    Horticulture to the Cornwall County Council.

    _The Speaker._--“The work of a specialist. Mr. Ilott gives us--for
    a matter of half a crown--the ripe experience of a life-time.”

  Vol. II.--The Book of the Greenhouse. By J. C. TALLACK, F.R.H.S., Head
    Gardener at Shipley Hall.

    _The Outlook._--“A serviceable handbook for the practical gardener,
    written with exceptional knowledge of horticultural work. A special
    chapter deals with the little town greenhouse.”

  Vol. III.--The Book of the Grape. Together with a chapter on the
    History and Decorative Value of the Vines. By H. W. WARD, F.R.H.S.,
    for twenty-five years Head Gardener at Longford Castle.

    _The St. James’s Gazette._--“A mine of useful information.”

  Vol. IV.--The Book of Old-Fashioned Flowers. By HARRY ROBERTS, Author
    of “The Chronicle of a Cornish Garden.”

    _The Bookman._--“All who wish for a real old-fashioned garden
    should certainly study this most excellent and practical book.”

  Vol. V.--The Book of Bulbs. By S. ARNOTT, F.R.H.S., of Carsethorne,
    near Dumfries. Together with an introductory chapter on the Botany
    of Bulbs by the Editor.

    _The Scotsman._--“Skilled and instructive. It notably enriches the
    series in which it appears.”

  Vol. VI.--The Book of the Apple. By H. H. THOMAS, Assistant Editor
    of _The Garden_, late of the Royal Gardens, Windsor. Together with
    chapters by the Editor on the History and Cooking of the Apple and
    the Preparation of Cider.

    _The Spectator._--“This is a most useful volume, which every
    grower, whether for his own use or for the market, should consult.”

  Vol. VII.--The Book of Vegetables. By GEORGE WYTHES, V.M.H., Head
    Gardener to the Duke of Northumberland. Together with chapters on
    the History and Cookery by the Editor.

    _The Morning Post._--“Thoroughly practical. The book can be highly
    recommended.”

  Vol. VIII.--The Book of Orchids. By W. H. WHITE, F.R.H.S., Orchid
    Grower to Sir Trevor Lawrence, President of the Royal Horticultural
    Society.

    _The Scotsman._--“There are few writers so well qualified to write
    with authority upon these flowers.”

  Vol. IX.--The Book of the Strawberry. With chapters on the Raspberry,
    Blackberry, Loganberry, Japanese Wineberry, and Allied Fruits. By
    EDWIN BECKETT, F.R.H.S., Head Gardener at Aldenham Park.

    _The Morning Post._--“Mr. Beckett deals with his subject in a
    thorough practical manner, ... and fully maintains the general
    excellence shown in the previous volumes of this series.”

  Vol. X.--The Book of Climbing Plants. By S. ARNOTT, F.R.H.S., Author
    of “The Book of Bulbs.”

    _The Scotsman._--“This is a concise, practical, and well-informed
    exposition of skilled knowledge as to the training of creepers,
    &c.”

  Vol. XI.--The Book of Pears and Plums. By the Rev. E. BARTRUM, D.D.

    _The Scotsman._--“The writer knew as much about the growing of
    Pears and Plums as Dean Hole knows about the cultivation of Roses.”

  Vol. XII.--The Books of Herbs. By LADY ROSALIND NORTHCOTE.

  Vol. XIII.--The Book of the Wild Garden. By S. W. FITZHERBERT.

    _The Scotsman_ says--“Mr. Fitzherbert indicates very clearly how
    the most satisfactory results may be brought about, and how the
    most charming effects may be produced. The volume has a number of
    very beautiful illustrations.”

  Vol. XIV.--The Book of the Honey-Bee. By CHARLES HARRISON.

    This book will be of great assistance to the beginner as showing
    the practical side of bee-keeping. The handbook contains numerous
    illustrations which will be of interest to experienced bee-keepers
    as well as to the novice.

  Vol. XV.--The Book of Shrubs. By GEORGE GORDON, V.M.H., Editor of _The
    Gardener’s Magazine_.

    A special feature of this book lies in the distinction which
    it makes between shrubs and trees peculiarly suited to garden
    cultivation, and those appropriate to the park and woodland. The
    author desires to encourage the culture of shrubs in gardens, and
    indicates those most suitable for various purposes and situations.

  Vol. XVI.--The Book of the Daffodil. By the Rev. S. EUGENE BOURNE.

    The author supplies valuable information on the cultivation of
    daffodils gained by the results of his own personal experience. “It
    is to be hoped,” he says in his introduction “that the information
    may help the lover of Daffodils, not only to grow good flowers, but
    also to maintain his collection at a high standard, and generally
    to hold his own with other Daffodil people.”

  Vol. XVII.--The Book of the Lily. By W. GOLDRING.

    A description of, and a practical guide to, the cultivation of all
    the lilies usually found in British gardens.

  Vol. XVIII.--The Book of Topiary. By CHARLES H. CURTIS and W. GIBSON,
    Head Gardener at Levens Hall.

    A textbook of the topiary art, together with some account and
    famous examples of the application of that art.

  Vol. XIX.--The Book of Town and Window Gardening. By Mrs. F. A.
    BARDSWELL.

    A handbook for those lovers of flowers who are compelled to live
    in a town. The book should be helpful even to those who are quite
    ignorant in the art of growing plants, and advice is given as
    to the most suitable plants to grow under the various adverse
    conditions which town gardens afford.

  Vol. XX.--The Book of Rarer Vegetables. By GEORGE WYTHES, V.M.H., Head
    Gardener to the Duke of Northumberland, and HARRY ROBERTS.

    This work deals with a number of vegetables possessing choice
    flavour, that are little grown in modern gardens. Not only does the
    book explain the best methods of cultivation, but also describes
    the ways in which the several vegetables should be cooked and
    dressed for the table.

  Vol. XXI.--The Book of the Iris.

    A practical guide to the cultivation of the Iris, and also a
    description of and key to all the garden species and varieties. The
    book will interest equally the botanical student, the practical
    gardener, and the lover of beautiful flowers.

  Vol. XXII.--The Book of Garden Furniture. By CHARLES THONGER.

    A practical handbook to the selection, construction, and
    arrangement of the various buildings, trellises, pergolas, arches,
    seats, sundials, fountains, and other structures which necessity or
    taste may suggest as additions to our garden ornaments.


    JOHN LANE, PUBLISHER,
    LONDON: VIGO STREET, W.
    NEW YORK: 67, FIFTH AVENUE.



The Country Handbooks

_An Illustrated Series of Practical Handbooks dealing with Country
Life. Suitable for the Pocket or Knapsack._

EDITED BY HARRY ROBERTS

Fcap. 8vo (6-1/2 by 4 in.).

Price 3_s._ net, bound in Limp Cloth. $1.00 net.

Price 4_s._ net, bound in Limp Leather. $1.20 net.


  Vol. I.--The Tramp’s Handbook. By HARRY ROBERTS. With over fifty
    Illustrations by WALTER PASCOE.

    A volume written in defence of vagabondage, containing much
    valuable advice to the amateur gipsy, traveller, or cyclist, as to
    camping-out, cooking, etc.

  Vol. II.--The Motor Book. By R. T. MECREDY. With numerous
    Illustrations.

    An invaluable handbook that should find a place in the library of
    every motorist, or even in the car itself.

  Vol. III.--The Tree Book. By MARY ROWLES JARVIS.

    Containing varied and useful information relating to forests,
    together with a special chapter on Practical Forestry.

  Vol. IV.--The Still Room. By Mrs. CHARLES ROUNDELL.

    A book of information upon all subjects pertaining to preserving,
    pickling, bottling, distilling, &c., with many useful hints upon
    the dairy.

  Vol. V.--The Bird Book. By A. J. R. ROBERTS.

    A guide to the study of bird life, with hints as to recognising
    various species by their flight or their note.

  Vol. VI.--The Woman Out of Doors. By MÉNIE MURIEL DOWIE.

    A book of practical value and interest to every sportswoman, lady
    gardener, and out-of-door woman of every kind.

  Vol. VII.--The Stable Handbook.

  Vol. VIII.--The Fisherman’s Handbook. By EDGAR SHRUBSOLE.


JOHN LANE, LONDON AND NEW YORK



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“‘ONE & ALL’ GARDENING,”--A popular Annual for Amateurs, Allotment
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  I. The Natural History of Selborne. By GILBERT WHITE. Edited, with
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    Correspondents: Daines Barrington and Thomas Pennant.

*** _This volume includes White’s “Observations on Nature” and “Poems”;
also some interesting Notes by Samuel Taylor Coleridge._

  II. The Compleat Angler. By ISAAC WALTON and CHARLES COTTON.
    Edited, with an Introduction, by RICHARD LE GALLIENNE, and
    containing 237 Illustrations by EDMUND H. NEW, and Photogravure
    Portraits of Walton and Cotton.

*** _Mr. Edmund H. New spent some two years in following the footsteps
of the Father of Angling, and the present edition includes drawings of
the majority of the places mentioned in the text. A special feature is
the drawings of fish._

  III. Memoirs of Mademoiselle des Écherolles. Translated from the
    French by MARIE CLOTHILDE BALFOUR. With an Introduction, Portraits,
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*** _These “Side Lights on the Reign of Terror” were originally
published under the title of “Some Years of My Life”; and M. de
Lamartine, who consulted them when writing his “Histoire des
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he had never met with one so interesting. There is contained in Mdlle.
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  IV. Memoirs of Lady Fanshawe, Wife of the Right Hon. Sir Roland
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    with an Introduction, by BEATRICE MARSHALL. With New Portraits,
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    JOHN LANE, PUBLISHER,
    LONDON: VIGO STREET, W.
    NEW YORK: 67, FIFTH AVENUE.



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  Seven Gardens and a Palace. By “E. V. B.,” Author of “Days and
    Hours in a Garden.” Illustrated by F. L. GRIGGS and ARTHUR GORDON.
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    _Third Edition._

  The Chronicle of a Cornish Garden. By HARRY ROBERTS. With Seven
    ideal Illustrations by F. L. GRIGGS. Price 5s. net. Crown 8vo.
    Price $1.50.

  Of Gardens: An Essay. By FRANCIS BACON. With an Introduction by
    HELEN MILMAN and a Cover-design and Frontispiece by EDMUND H. NEW.
    Demy 16mo. Price 2s. 6d. net.

  A Garden in the Suburbs. By Mrs LESLIE WILLIAMS. With Eight
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  Stray Leaves from a Border Garden. By Mrs MILNE-HOME. With Eight
    Illustrations by F. L. GRIGGS. Price 6s. net. Crown 8vo. Price
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  My Vicarage Garden. By Canon ELLACOMBE, Author of “In a
    Gloucestershire Garden,” &c. With Illustrations by F. L. GRIGGS.
    Price 5s. net. Crown 8vo. Price $1.50.

    JOHN LANE:
    LONDON: VIGO STREET, W.
    NEW YORK: 67 FIFTH AVENUE.



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Text in italics is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Superscripted text is preceded by a carat character: L^{TD}.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Archaic or alternate spelling that may have been in use at the time of
    publication has been retained.

  The illustration on page 28 was omitted from the List of
    Illustrations. It has been added in this eBook.





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