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Title: All About Miniature Plants and Gardens Indoors and Out
Author: Brilmayer, Bernice Gaines
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "All About Miniature Plants and Gardens Indoors and Out" ***

    _By the same author_:


                           BERNICE BRILMAYER

                               ALL ABOUT
                           MINIATURE PLANTS
                              AND GARDENS
                            INDOORS AND OUT

                    _Sketches and Landscape Designs
                          by Fritz Schaefer_

                         _Additional Art Work
                          by Kathleen Bourke_


    _For my family, again and again.
    The future is coming closer._

    _Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 63-18225
    Copyright © 1963 by Doubleday & Company, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved
    Printed in the United States of America
    First Edition_


                    AUTHOR’S NOTE                                  9

                    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS                               13

    _Chapter 1_     MINIATURE WINDOW GARDENS                      17


    _Chapter 3_     MINIATURE GARDENS IN CONTAINERS               38

    _Chapter 4_     MINIATURE GARDENS IN GLASS                    53

    _Chapter 5_     MINIATURE GREENHOUSE GARDENS                  61

    _Chapter 6_     MINIATURE HOUSE AND GREENHOUSE PLANTS         74

    _Chapter 7_     MINIATURE ROSES, INDOORS AND OUT             137

    _Chapter 8_     MINIATURE SINK GARDENS                       150

    _Chapter 9_     MINIATURE PLANTS, BONSAI-STYLE               159

    _Chapter 10_    MINIATURE GARDENS IN THE LANDSCAPE           177

    _Chapter 11_    MINIATURE ROCK AND WALL GARDENS              183

    _Chapter 12_    MINIATURE POOLS AND WATER PLANTS             199

    _Chapter 13_    MINIATURE WOODLAND GARDENS AND PLANTS        211

    _Chapter 14_    MINIATURE TREES AND SHRUBS                   226

    _Chapter 15_    MINIATURE PERENNIALS AND ROCK PLANTS         251

    _Chapter 16_    MINIATURE ANNUALS                            277

    _Chapter 17_    MINIATURE GARDEN BULBS                       288

                    EPILOGUE                                     299

                    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                 300


                    INDEX                                        307

                         List of Illustrations

                    _By the author except as noted_

                                                       BETWEEN PAGES

    Formal garden in a wash-boiler lid                         32–33

    Tiny tropical garden with pool                             64–65

    Achimenes, a beautiful gesneriad                           96–97

    Twenty-three varieties of miniature and dwarf geraniums  128–129

    Streptocarpus, Weismoor hybrid                           160–161

    Rose and miniature rose                                  192–193

    Garden in the landscape                                  224–225

    Rock garden effectively composed                         256–257

                            BLACK AND WHITE
                    _By the author except as noted_

    Miniature geraniums in uniform rows                           20

    Mexican motif with cacti in window box                        21

    Child’s cactus garden over radiator                           21

    Small plants in a lighted bookcase                            25

    An indoor “jungle garden”                                     26

    Light-case planted with various small plants                  28

    Light shelves with begonias                                   29

    Kenilworth ivy in gnome strawberry jar                        40

    Pawnbroker’s planter with ivy                                 41

    Pruning a dish garden                                         43

    Apple-tree root with pocket for plants                        45

    Miniature plants in fish bowls                                54
      (_Industrial Photographic Specialists_)

    Converting a cider jug into a terrarium                    56–57

    Commercially produced terrarium (_Russ Stone_)                65

    Author’s succulent garden                                     68

    Rampant greenhouse                                            69

    Unusual propagation box                                       87

    Sprouted stem cuttings of dwarf geraniums                     88

    ‘Spaulding,’ bushy dwarf begonia                              98

    Group of dwarf begonias                                       99

    _Caladium humboldti_                                         108

    Miniature climber, _Cissus striata_                          112

    Ivy meagheri                                                 119

    _Helxine soleiroli_                                          121

    _Leuconeura massangeana_                                     123

    _Oxalis hedysaroides rubra_ (_Merry Gardens_)                125

    Three dwarf geraniums (_Merry Gardens_)                      127

    Dwarf geranium, ‘Robin Hood’ (_Merry Gardens_)               127

    Creeping _Pilea depressa_                                    130

    Hardy _Saxifraga sarmentosa_                                 133

    _Sinningia pusilla_, miniature of miniatures                 135

    A miniature rose grows                                   146–147

    Miniature garden of dwarf evergreens                         152

    Rock garden in a wash-boiler lid                             157

    Variety of bonsai trees                                      162

    Bonsai in citrus                                             163

    White poppies in a tiny garden                               178

    Raised flower bed                                            186

    Saxifraga seedlings                                          188

    Trimmed lemon thyme and ivy                                  194

    Constructing a no-cost pool                              204–205

    Wild garden in New York City                                 213

    Bloodroot                                                    214

    Juniper with pansies                                         245

    Planted cold frame                                           257

    Author in her $00.00 greenhouse                              279


    Dream greenhouse (_Kathleen Bourke_)                          66

    A fancy to build on (_Kathleen Bourke_)                       67

    Foliage details of five popular miniature trees and shrubs
      (_Fritz Schaefer_)                                         237

    Construction diagram for low-cost greenhouse
      (_Hal Gearhardt_)                                          280

                             AUTHOR’S NOTE

Naturally, the children’s welfare was the compelling reason for moving
our family out of New York and into Connecticut. But we can’t deny that
we also had visions of more expansive gardening. So we set out to find
an old (meaning dilapidated--not antique), spacious, window-rich house
with acres of neglected land where we could indulge our yen for flower
borders with delphiniums by the dozens, sweeping green expanses of
lawn, even obese bullfrogs on lily pads in a modest lake.

These naïve notions were quickly canceled by the orbital prices of
Connecticut real estate. In order to achieve our principal purpose,
we had to make concessions to the second. The house we settled for is
small; its windows are few and runty; and it has less than an acre
of cultivatable land. It is one hundred feet at its widest, nearly
six hundred feet long, and less than a hundred feet level in any
one expanse. In other words, we got split-level land instead of a
split-level house. But it is charming. Neighbors with great expanses of
gardens and lawns actually envy us for our “natural setting.”

Actually, my favorite landscape architect, who happens to be my
husband, Bob, would be lost if given a perfectly flat piece of land of
equal length and width. He would have no contours to follow and would
probably go fishing. As it is, both of us have plenty of challenges and
the fun of running up and down ridges in our plantings. The acreage is
ample for two persons who have little more than so-called “spare” time.

From this quick summation of facts, it is obvious why we gave up our
grandiose ideas of immense perennial beds, a half-acre vegetable plot,
naturalized bulbs by the thousands. Instead, we’ve learned how to tuck
little gardens into odd corners; to compensate for limited space with
intimate miniature perfection; to hunt for and find the small plants
that are in sympathy and in scale with our small house and landscape.
Cramped growing quarters indoors have even led us to collect miniature
house plants. And when, some sweet day, we have our own personal
greenhouse on the place, it’s bound to be in scale with the rest of it.

Fortunately, we are by no means a minority. More small homes than
large are being built today, and on more small lots. Gardeners
are intensifying their demands for small plants of all sorts; and
hybridists and suppliers are working nobly at filling the need. We
now have four-inch ‘Wee Willie’ sweet William, tiny Twinkle Phlox,
other dwarf annuals and perennials. Some nurseries are beginning to
feature dwarf trees and shrubs. Florists and greenhouses are giving us
minuscule house plants such as _Sinningia pusilla_ and orchids
with one-inch flowers. The charm and intimacy of the miniature is
replacing the magnificence (and oppressive maintenance) of the massive.

There you have the beginning of this book and the reason why it
contains many quite new projects. They would be illustrated as “before
and after,” except that the “after” is yet to be written. Regardless of
how long miniature gardening has been practiced, we feel the greatest
developments are yet to come. Small houses and small plots of land
force us to this conclusion.

Admittedly many of our personal opinions are based on experience and
observations in Northeastern gardens. However, whenever possible we
have included reliable information for other climates. You will, of
course, make your own interpretations and adaptations. This a reader
must always do, no matter where an author lives and gardens. And there
is always your county agent to consult or your local garden-supply
florist with whom to discuss your particular situation. Always an added

                            PLANTS INCLUDED

As the author, I have used two criteria for including or omitting
plants at the time of writing. I am concerned with those that are
readily available from florists, nurseries, and the suppliers listed in
the Appendix; and those that in my opinion are suitable for miniature

Except for the specific art of bonsai, I have not included plants that
are unnaturally dwarfed by pruning or other means. I have omitted
plants that look like miniatures when they are young, grow slowly, but
eventually get out of miniature proportions if given time. I have not
attempted to differentiate between miniatures and dwarfs, nor have
I set up restrictive dimensions. Sizes vary with types of plants. A
miniature orchid may be three inches high, a miniature shrub three feet
or more.

                              PLANT NAMES

This book has been written by an amateur gardener for other amateurs;
and I have made it as readable and enjoyable as I could. But in the
interests of clarity and accuracy, Latin botanical names are used in
preference to the vernacular. This is the only way to be sure plants
are correctly identified. Popular names are confusing. Kenilworth ivy,
grape ivy, and English ivy certainly sound as if they were related
in some way; but when you use botanical names (_Cymbalaria muralis_,
_Cissus striata_, and _Hedera helix_, you know they are not. By using
the botanical names you are more likely to find the ivy you want in a
reference book or catalogue.

For most plants, _Hortus Second_ has been used as the authority
for identification and spelling of names; but in the interests of
readability, the double _ii_ ending has been reduced to a single _i_.
For a number of plants that have become available since _Hortus_ was
last revised (1941), I have referred to _Exotica II_, by A. B. Graf.

Unless a plant name is complete (genus plus species--plus variety, if
any), it is neither capitalized nor italicized. (The caladium is a
favorite foliage plant.) Complete botanical names are italicized, but
only the generic name has an initial capital letter, even when the
specific name has been derived from the proper name of some person or
place. (The diminutive _Caladium humboldti_ needs humidity.) When you
see a plant name in italics, you will know that this is a recognized
botanical species or one of its varieties, and not a man-made hybrid.

The names of recognized hybrids, seedlings, and mutations of either or
both are not italicized, but are capitalized and enclosed in single
quotation marks (caladium ‘Little Rascal’). Common or popular names are
set in regular type with initial capital letters only for proper nouns,
when they appear in text. In separate listings each word is capitalized.

                            BOTANICAL TERMS

In order to make a gardening book completely accurate and
understandable, it is almost mandatory to use some so-called
“scientific” terms which should really be as much a part of a
gardener’s vocabulary as “annual” or “evergreen.” The following words
are used in their technical sense:

_Genus_ (plural, _genera_)--A group of plants related to each other
by botanical characteristics. The name of the genus is like a human
family’s surname, Smith, but it is written first instead of last.
_Oncidium_ is a genus of orchids.

_Species_ (plural, _species_)--A plant that differs from others
within a genus, usually occurring in a natural state and capable of
reproducing itself in identical form. The name of a species is like a
person’s first name, Alice, but is written last. _Oncidium pusillum_ is
one of several species in a genus of orchids.

_Hybrid_--Generally the result of fertilizing the flowers of one plant
with the pollen of another; the resulting seedlings are hybrids.

_Mutation_ or _sport_--A variation in any part of a plant that remains
constant when that part is severed and propagated.

The word _variety_, however--although it has a strict botanical
application--has been used more loosely and may often be defined here
simply as “variation.”


I wonder if anyone ever wrote a book without being indebted to many
persons for some sort of help or inspiration. Certainly, I couldn’t
do it. Subtract the encouragement and time-consuming assistance of my
family, friends, and horticultural acquaintances, and this would be
less a book.

I am deeply grateful to: Fritz Schaefer for landscape designs
and drawings of rare delicacy, and for letting me benefit by his
wide horticultural training and talents; to Kari Berggrav for her
enthusiastic contributions to the manuscript and for all sorts of help
with plants and photographs; to Mrs. John Lee and to F. H. Michaud
of Alpenglow Gardens for their help and the use of their artistic
photographs; to Adolph Adukas of the Julius Roehrs Company for his
talented arrangements of dish gardens; to Kathleen Bourke for her
fanciful drawings and to Elvin McDonald of McDonald and Bourke for
his assistance and advice; to _Flower and Garden_ for allowing
me to adapt material that had appeared in that magazine; to Mary
Ellen Ross of Merry Gardens for her assistance and the photographs of
miniature plants she allowed me to use; and to all the friends and
tolerant gardeners who allowed me to put my camera tripod in the midst
of their plants--Mr. and Mrs. H. Lincoln Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Alex
O’Hare, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Cherry, and our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs.
Henry Fuller. To Ernesta Ballard and Peggie Schulz, well-known garden
writers, and Mrs. N. E. Dilliard of Tropical Gardens, my gratitude for
your assistance. I thank my mother, Alice Gaines, and her keen eye for
catching my witless errors.

                               ALL ABOUT
                     MINIATURE PLANTS AND GARDENS,
                            INDOORS AND OUT

                              _CHAPTER 1_

                            WINDOW GARDENS

In a living room so small that two dogs asleep before the fire must be
roused to let you pass through, monstrous cut-leaf monstera would be
out of place--literally and most certainly no asset. In our house, to
be truthful, anything larger than a three-inch pot begins to get out of
proportion. When we were buying the place, we called it “quaint” and
“cozy.” But when we moved in our favorite house plants, it was just too
crowded for words.

This was the origin of our intense interest in miniature house plants.
But limited space is by no means the only reason why these little
fellows are such cheerful and desirable indoor decorators.

First, of course, there’s the charm of the diminutive--the same lure
that leads some people to collect figurines or doll’s furniture. But
plants are alive and growing; you can pore over each leaf and flower as
it matures to small-scale perfection.

Because miniature plants occupy little space, you can grow more of
them, and in greater variety. Three dwarf geraniums will bloom their
heads off where a single large one might be crowded. Modern, narrow
window sills are adequately spacious for a dozen or so two-inch pots
of colorful cacti. One cattleya orchid can be replaced by several
equally exotic, and much more personable, dwarf “botanical” orchids in
delightful variety. Where full-sized narcissus and “daffy’s” that have
been forced often seem to be just that, “forced,” miniatures fit in,
add gaiety and color, along with naturalness.

Most important, miniature plants and gardens are thoroughly in tune
with today’s decorating trends. They’re in scale with small rooms and
low ceilings, in harmony with the spirit of suburban homes, mobile
enough to facilitate change and rearrangement, even functional because
they’re more carefree. And they certainly go along as we leave last
year’s stark, bare, uncluttered look behind and move toward the warmer,
more personal décor that once more allows us to display snapshots of
the children on the mantel.

Miniature plants are often less costly than large specimens, and
require less care. They grow slowly, require fertilizing and repotting
less frequently, don’t outgrow bounds, and seldom need to be renewed or

When I first started to collect miniature house plants, I had no idea
how many were available, or in what delightful and wide varieties.
There are miniatures in almost all of our best-known plant families,
and there are some groups that have almost nothing but miniatures
to offer. There are small-scale trailers, climbers, creepers; leaf
rosettes or bushlets; tropical plants and mountain-dwellers; those
with striking foliage, spectacular foliage, or both. Once you discover
the wealth of Lilliputian plants you can grow in your home, I warn
you, your will power had better be strong, else you never will stop
following this fascinating hobby of raising the little fellows. It will
run away with you before you know it.

                            WINDOW GARDENS

The window is the place most naturally suited for a living garden. It
is nearest to the fresh out of doors and brings the plants closer to
the environment where they are at home. By creating a transition, the
plants in turn seem to bring the outdoors inside. A window is often,
also, the only place where indoor plants can get the daylight and
sunlight they need to keep in good condition.

But a real window garden is not a motley assortment of plants in pots,
haphazardly arranged (or not arranged at all) or lined up in precise,
military rows. It is an artistic composition, a grouping of plants
with some sound design in mind--an arrangement of plants and their
containers for pretty and refreshing effect. The more natural the
plants look, the less obvious or contrived the lines of the design, the
more decorative the result. This principle is, of course, integral to
all kinds of gardens, indoors and out; but it is particularly vital in
a window where our eyes stray a dozen times a day.

With miniature plants I find it easier to achieve good
composition--much easier than with large ones. There are more elements
with which to work; there is more opportunity to rearrange, a wider
choice of colors, textures, and forms--the possibility of blending or
playing them against each other. I recall a small window in an old
country house, deeply recessed by the width of the thick stone wall.
Three or four large or medium-sized plants might have stood on the
two-foot-deep sill. But there were a dozen or so dwarfs and miniatures
all blended and accented by two small baskets of miniature ivies. The
display was so lovingly arranged and cared for, the effect was more of
a garden than an obvious decoration.

(In a rich selection such as this one, there is a natural danger of
“too-muchness.” Don’t crowd these plants. Just the addition of one
extra pot can spoil the effect of a perfect garden. Miniatures are not
meant to be massed. When crammed close together they can look like a
weedy, unmown lawn. Give each plant enough space to set off its modest
charm, then you’ll find each one doubly charming in its space.)

And so an assortment of small potted plants can be arranged as
effectively in a window as perennials can be in a flower border. There
should be a careful selection and placing of colors for both contrast
and harmony; the interplay of foliage forms and textures; the blending
of plants into one design with eye-catching accents where accent is
needed. For a container, use a shallow galvanized metal tray made
to fit the window sill and painted a matching white. It should hold
about an inch of water with a layer of pebbles thick enough to keep
the pots above the water. The evaporating moisture humidifies the air.
Use miniature plants of several families but all needing approximately
the same amount of light and sun. For color, there are the flowers of
begonias and impatiens; for foliage contrast, peperomias; for accent,
taller plants; with _Ficus pumila_ ascending the window frame and
small-leaved creepers dangling over the edge to soften harsh lines and
blend the garden into the room.

There is equal charm in a collection of miniature plants of the same
general type and of nearly the same size. Neat rows of cacti and other
succulents in small pots look gay and colorful lined up on the sill and
on glass shelves in the window above it--glass, of course, to permit
all possible sun to reach the plants. Between the pots, at irregular
intervals, set a collection of crystal wine glasses or figurines. Or
line up impudent miniature geraniums as in the photograph. Here, the
pleasure comes, not from the artistic composition, but rather in the
uniformity of the rows of small-scale pots and plants.


   Miniature geraniums arranged in uniform rows]

For an indoor version of the outdoor window box, use a box made to
fit on the sill, gaily painted and decorated in the Mexican spirit of
the cacti growing in it. It should be deep enough (about four inches)
for healthy root growth. The cacti are not potted, but planted in the
sandy soil in the box. These indoor window boxes can be of all sizes
and shapes--large enough to cover the sill of a big window plus the
radiator under it; triangular, to fit in corner windows; suitable for
the top of a child’s play table in a sunny bedroom or playroom.

All of these gardens are planned for windows with full sun, or nearly
so. With less sun the choice of plants changes. For example, miniature
gesneriads (African violets, streptocarpus, episcias) might be combined
with ferns and other foliage plants; a selection of the widely varying
types of peperomias would be effective where sun is very scarce indeed.


   Mexican motif with cacti in a homemade window box]


   Child’s cactus garden over a radiator--fine for a playroom]

                           WINDOW GREENHOUSE

Available light, or sunlight, is the first consideration in selecting
plants for a window area, or in selecting the window for the plants
you have or want. Light can be brighter (it even comes from overhead)
inside a greenhouse that extends out from the window. You can buy these
in all combinations of measurements, ready-made and assembled, or ready
to be assembled. Or you can make them, or have them made, from the
materials sold in most hardware stores for those who build their own
screens and storm windows.

The greenhouse fits flush to the outside of the window frame and is
sealed with a calking-gun after it has been screwed firmly in place.
It may rest on the outside of the sill, or be supported by metal or
wooden brackets on the underside. The top lifts open for ventilation,
and the opening is covered with a screen. Glass shelves permit light
to penetrate fully. A tray at the bottom holds moist vermiculite to
humidify the air.

The window sash can be removed or not, as you wish. You can install an
inexpensive, thermostat-controlled heater for extra warmth in winter.

If the light is right, and if humidity can be kept high enough,
an installation such as this can contain not only all sorts of
window-garden plants, but also many of those recommended for the
greenhouse in Chapter 6.

A window greenhouse filled with growing, blooming plants is an
attractive outdoor decoration on almost any house. Its effect indoors
is always cheerful and refreshing. And it is especially suited for
miniatures. Numerous small plants make a better decorative effect than
a few large ones.

(_For suitable plants, please refer to list at end of Chapter 6._)

                              _CHAPTER 2_

                           MINIATURE GARDENS
                         WITH ARTIFICIAL LIGHT

The three tiny rooms of the Greenwich Village apartment possess a
total of two narrow, old-fashioned windows; yet in its darkest corners
bloom some of the most gorgeous gesneriads I’ve ever seen. In similar
fourth-floor quarters on New York’s dreary 41st Street, miniature
orchids and other tropicals make a flamboyant jungle. In an attic in
Levittown, a cellar in Bayside, a heated garage in Westchester, plants
make it look like July in January, living their life cycles over and
over again without ever seeing the sun. The life they must have for
existence is supplied by electricity.

Time was, when windows were the only place in the house where plants
could be grown. But since government scientists first grew corn to
maturity under artificial light at Beltsville, Maryland (back when I
had more interest in boys and dating than in gardening), that picture
has certainly changed. Now, all sorts of plants can flourish in the
most unlikely places. Home decorators can use plants ornamentally
wherever they look best, and create the conditions in which they grow
best. The hobbyist who can’t afford a greenhouse can have a most
satisfactory and inexpensive substitute in unused places in the house.
And a greenhouse owner can double his growing space without adding
another section of glass.

Naturally enough, scientific research in this field has been aimed at
helping florists, farmers, and others to whom plants are a business;
but amateurs have benefited, too. The principle of photoperiodism--that
some plants set buds and flower only when nights are long, some others
only when nights are short--led to delaying the flowering of commercial
chrysanthemums by interrupting the long night with a period of light.
Amateurs have used the same principle to force tuberous begonias
to flower in winter by lengthening the day with several hours of
artificial light.

The discovery and isolation of a light-sensitive enzyme, photochrome,
has been applied to cyclic lighting--a less costly method of regulating
flowering by flashing lights on and off at intervals. Probing the
mysteries of photochrome has also given orchid fanciers a better
understanding of their plants’ blooming habits and has even made it
possible, with some species, to have flowers twice or three times a
year, rather than just once.

If I may be permitted a slight prejudice, it’s these amateur benefits
that make me happiest. I love plants; and I think millions of other
people do. From the windows of my commuting train I see New York
tenement tenants wistfully watering morning glories that pathetically
climb fire-escape trellises. More prosperous Manhattanites spend small
fortunes on florists’ plants to bring the breath of green life into
their sterile apartments; and their disappointment, if the plants die,
is pitiable. Suburbanites have a yen to make a hobby of collecting
plants. And now they can. I know, because I did.

In our roomy, old-fashioned cellar in Bayside we had triple-decker
shelves fitted with fluorescent lights where we grew everything from
begonias (finally, a collection of more than 350 varieties) to annuals
for the gardens out of doors. That was some years ago. The information
about lighting was sparse, inconclusive, and often confusing. Our light
intensity was inadequate, and there were other deficiencies which we
would correct were we setting up that cellar greenhouse today. But our
successes were fascinating, our failures a challenge. And the hours
we spent working with those plants in the cellar often were our only
moments of refreshment and relaxation.

The hobbyist, with his dividends of fun, is not the only one who
benefits from this new concept of light and plants. There is the home
home-decorator, the woman of the house, who finds in plants the sort
of ornament the entire family enjoys. She’d like the graceful lines of
a vine tumbling down from the mantel, jewel-like flowering plants on
the shelf of a corner cupboard, a garden of green atop the room divider
between the living and dining areas. Frustratingly, she discovers that
where the plants are most effective, too often they won’t grow and
flourish. It is usually because there is insufficient light for their
life processes. But now, she can set up a light on the mantel, install
fluorescent tubes beneath cupboard shelves, or let ceiling lights flood
the plants above the room dividers. Such lighting has a double effect,
it enables the plants to flourish, and it gives a dramatic accent to
the décor of the house.


   Interesting combination of bookcase and lights for African
   violets and begonias of several varieties]

Artificial lighting is a help even for the casual grower--one who has
only a few plants, whether by happenstance, for the fun of it, or
simply because “a house is not a home” without a plant or two. Table,
desk, and floor lamps can be used to supplement the natural light from
windows. Too often windows are shielded by trees or the house next
door, or perhaps it is winter and there isn’t enough light to keep most
plants in a thriving condition. Just turning on a lamp so that the rays
fall on a plant can lengthen the hours of light enough to bring out
bloom that might otherwise be impossible.


   Tropical plants with controlled light, heat, and moisture make a
   “jungle garden”]

Miniature plants and gardens are, of course, shining prospects for
growth under artificial light. They take so little space, and since
there is a limit to the height, width, and depth a single installation
will illuminate, you can make the most use of it if you are growing the
little fellows.

Here’s how the “jungle garden” came to be our source of continual
refreshment and pleasure. Our living and dining rooms, both rather
small, are separated partially by deep shelves. The previous owners of
the place, devout music-lovers, used the shelves for their hi-fi set
and stacks of phonograph records. Our record player--pardon me, our
stereophonic hi-fidelity music box--has its own cabinet, and that left
a gap in the divider between the two rooms. We naturally thought of
plants, particularly the tender tropical miniatures I collect. Since
we still hope to do extensive remodeling, the garden was not built
permanently into the shelves, but was constructed as a separate case.

We are fortunate in having a generous friend who loves to work with
fine wood, and can make cabinets with the precision of the real
professional. The case he turned out is a beauty. It measures eighteen
inches by twenty-four inches inside. The top rests on strong metal rods
at the corners. Window glass slides horizontally in the grooves cut
in the top and bottom, enabling us to open or close the case as need
be. The inside of the top is painted white, thus reflecting the light
from the lamps downward on the plants. We use both fluorescent and
incandescent lights which are mounted on the underside of the top. The
bottom of the cabinet is lined with the heaviest plastic we could find.

At first the case was used as an indoor greenhouse for many potted
plants that need protective warmth and humidity. Several inches of
vermiculite in the plastic lining were kept moist constantly, with the
sides being opened or closed for ventilation.

Later, we filled the bottom with rich potting soil and put the plants’
roots right in it--climbers, creepers, tiny bush-shapes and trees.
This turned out to be more of a “jungle” than we expected. Some
notably delicate residents seeded themselves and started families. A
dainty cissus strung itself langorously from one end to the other. The
creeping fig nearly strangled the frail, whiskery bertolonia. But the
planting was a source of delightful surprises--a bud here, a flower
there, increasing colonies of some delicacies we hadn’t been able to
grow at all, before.

Several years ago a bookcase which I set up in my office as a garden
was the object of considerable attention--how much I never realized
until I dismantled it and gave away the plants. Then, I was bombarded
with questions--and even some complaints that I had taken away this
spot of greenery. From the night watchman up to the president of the
company, people missed those plants. Some even thought I must have been

There is a little house in Levittown, one which I always enjoyed
visiting. The second floor has two finished rooms, one of which then
was the office-den of the hard-working Elvin McDonald of _Flower and
Garden_. (He has since moved to Kansas City.) His tiered plant table
with fluorescent lights was there for a functional reason, but it had a
decorative value as well. In other homes I’ve seen plants growing by
hundreds under lights in unused bedrooms, single specimens displayed
in shadow boxes with circular fluorescent tubes, decorative gardens
thriving in all sorts of dark corners. With artificial lighting taking
care of the space problem, just about anyone can grow plants.


   The author’s New York office light-case planted with gesneriads,
   begonias, and other plants]

However, before your enthusiasm flies too high, consider this sobering
caution. Like anything else, artificial lighting works best only when
it is properly planned and executed. Light must have the quality,
intensity, and timing that plants need. Specific, accurate, up-to-date
information is not always easy to find. Despite many fascinating
discoveries and developments, this is still a relatively new
horticultural principle, and there is still much more to be learned.
Before he begins, the newcomer should locate the very latest and most
reliable information; and the experienced grower should keep posted
on the constantly changing rules. It has been my pleasant discovery
that the big power-and-light companies, ever alert to develop new
outlets for their product, are keenly aware of the possibilities
of artificial-light plant propagation. Many of them are setting up
departments to help horticulturalists. If you are puzzled, try your
light company for information. It may take a few phone calls and
letters, but eventually I know you will find some likeable chap wanting
to help you.


   Light shelves of medium height with begonias of many sizes and
   varieties (note miniatures down front center)]

Although it is not necessary to become a botanist, I feel it is urgent
to have a clear conception of how plants grow, and particularly how
they use light. While we can’t all be electrical engineers, it is also
helpful to have some basic facts about electric lights and how they
relate to plant growth. But if it were possible, I think I’d consider
writing the facts I have with invisible ink. Who knows but what today’s
list of rules will be obsolete, and outmoded by new discoveries, before
this book can be published?

_Botanical Principles_

For normal growth and flowering, plants must have light of the proper
sort, intensity, and duration. Thus the leaves can perform their
function of making starch, then sugar--the mysterious process called
photosynthesis. Besides normal growth, plants require an extra supply
of sugar and starch for producing flowers. True, plants need light, but
they also need dark to convert food into energy and growth. And this
means complete dark. It has been shown that if light falls on so much
as a single leaf, the entire plant continues to operate as if it were

For normal growth and flowers, plants require a certain balance of the
red and blue rays of the spectrum. In general terms, blue rays are
especially effective in developing leaves, stems, and other vegetative
growth, and often in greater proportions for seedlings as compared
with mature plants. In general, the red rays keep plant growth sturdy,
regulate the development of buds and flowers, affect the germination of
seeds and the rooting of cuttings.

For normal growth and flowers, different sorts of plants need light of
different intensities--depending usually on available light in their
natural habitat. Again in a general sense, light of more intensity is
needed for flowering as contrasted with the needs for healthy foliage.
But light intensity requirements vary with various types of plants.

For normal growth, and flowers, some plants need dark periods of
greater duration. This is the principle called photoperiodism. By
now a good many plants have been classified as to this requirement,
but there are many others whose needs are yet to be determined.
Chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and Christmas cactus, for example, will
set buds and flowers only when there are more hours of dark and
fewer hours of light. These are called _long-night plants_.
Tuberous begonias, and other summer-flowering types, come into flower
when nights are of short duration, and are called _short-night
plants_. Those plants that don’t seem to care one way or another
are called _day-neutral_. For the sake of consistency you might
even call them _night-neutral_. It is also thought that there
is some relation between the duration of light and dark periods and
temperature. Thus it can be seen how much research is yet to be done. A
challenge of course, but that is what makes our scientists great.

_Electrical Principles_

Artificial light is not the same as daylight--it doesn’t have to be.
It needs only to supply the right kind of light (blue and red rays)
of suitable duration and intensity. Because it is constant, and
consistent, the intensity (as measured in foot-candles) does not have
to equal the brightness of a sunny day at high noon. Daylight waxes and
wanes from dawn to dark every day, and may be very dim on cloudy and
rainy days. Artificial light, coming from generators, is not dimmed by
clouds or other external conditions. Duration is controlled by a light
switch, or a time clock.

Incandescent bulbs are an adequate source of red rays for plants, but
give little blue. They get burning hot, are comparatively expensive,
and actually are inefficient to operate. Incandescents are also a
source of far-red rays that delay flowering on long-night plants
and operate in reverse for short-night plants. According to U. S.
Department of Agriculture scientists, incandescent light used as a
supplement to fluorescent light “improves the growth habits of many
kinds of plants, but is seemingly not required by others.”

Until the introduction of the new Gro-Lux tubes in 1961, fluorescent
lamps have given light with more blue than red, and in varying
proportions according to the types of lamps. Fluorescent tubes do not
get burning hot, and they are comparatively inexpensive to operate,
and also efficient. In using the older types, those created especially
for illumination, it is important to come as close as possible to the
proper balance of the red and blue rays needed by plants. For some
plants it has been sufficient to use only fluorescent tubes. For some
of the other types many growers use 10 per cent of the wattage in
incandescent bulbs.

But the new Gro-Lux fluorescent tubes, developed by Sylvania Electric
Products, Inc., are especially for plants and not for illumination.
They give a lavender-looking light made up of red and blue rays which
are carefully balanced to suit plant needs. Growers who have used them
report a spectacular improvement in plant appearance, in plant health,
in faster rooting of cuttings, and in increased flowering. If demand
warrants it, no doubt other electrical manufacturers will introduce
their own brands of fluorescent tubes for plants.

Obviously, in growing plants under artificial light there are so many
variable elements it is impossible--and extremely unwise--to set down
hard-and-fast rules. The types of plants to be grown, whether the
installation is primarily decorative or functional, and the possibility
of continuing research outdating your work, all should be taken into
consideration when any installation is set up and put into operation.


Again, I must write in general terms. I have neither the knowledge
nor the experience to explain the intricacies of wiring, ballasts,
circuits, and the like. This technical information is available from
your electrical supplier and from equipment manufacturers, and often is
on the cartons in which the parts are packed. Our installation was so
outrageously large we had to hunt up a friendly contractor for help. He
was a sympathetic man who loved plants and was fascinated by the idea
of growing them under lights. Also, he was a cautious person, mindful
of the fact that our electrical system was about twenty-five years
old. And that stamped it as being an antique (as your light-and-power
men will tell you). Since our basement floor was likely to be damp at
times, heavy waterproof cables with special plugs and outlets were
used, and grounded to prevent shocks, etc. Be careful about your
electrical system, especially if you are going to go into anything
as elaborate as our first enthusiasms. Don’t build a firetrap for
yourself. It’s hard on the plants, not to mention the old homestead.

Whether your plants are to be grown in a garden, or in pots on benches,
on shelves, or in a greenhouse-like case, the lineal proportions will
be determined pretty much by the space that is available in your house,
basement, greenhouse, or perhaps, as was in my case, your office. In
small decorative planters twenty-five-watt fluorescent tubes (two feet
long) are used most frequently. However, it is important to use enough
of them, lined up closely to each other, to give a light of sufficient
intensity. In fluorescent tubes the light is most intense in the
middle and tapers off sharply at the ends. Since short tubes have more
end--and less middle--they give off less light. The “shorties” are less
efficient, as your plants will tell you.


   Miniature roses, begonias, a birdbath, and ground cover made
   this charming little formal garden.]

The distance between the tubes and your plants also affects intensity.
The closer they are, the stronger the light. If possible, hang your
fixtures on chains so that they can be raised or lowered. Adjust them
to accommodate the taller plants and then raise your “little fellers”
on upended pots, bricks, or boards so they will not be cheated of their
share of light. Please remember, the greater the distance between light
and plant, the more tubes you will need. Distance determines the number
of tubes!

For greater intensity, and efficiency, forty-watt tubes (four feet
long), or even larger, are usually recommended. If these are to be
hung from the top of a case or cabinet, the simple strip fixtures are
sufficient. If there is to be no “ceiling” directly above the lights,
or if it is a decorative arrangement where glare might hurt the eyes
of those who see it, use the industrial fixtures with shield-like
reflectors. (In planning your light-garden, please don’t forget that
the fixtures are a few inches longer than the actual tubes.)

If the case which you may be planning can be enclosed, at least on
three sides, it will be easier to maintain the needed humidity. If
the enclosing sides are opaque, they--and the “ceiling” above the
lights--should be treated so the light rays are bounced back and the
plants receive the extra benefit. In our cabinets we usually applied
several coats of flat white paint on the inner surfaces. But once,
under the blandishments of the aluminum industry, I lined a cabinet
with their foil. It was plain foil, not the crinkled sort, so I did my
own crinkling. Then I smoothed it out and fastened it in place with a
staple gun. Plain foil, like high-gloss white enamel, seems to reflect
the light every place except where it should be, on the plants.

In one of the installations we had at our place on Long Island I found
it impossible to put in enough fluorescent tubes for the plants we
wished to grow. Since they were day-neutral varieties, we made up for
the lack of intensity by increasing the length of time the lights were
used. Up to a point, increasing the light-hours will help to compensate
for the lack of intensity--just to a point, however, and then the old
law of diminishing returns takes over. Plants must not be under light
so long that they fail to get their necessary periods of darkness. It
is as essential as sleep is to a human being--perhaps more so.


In planning a light installation try to squeeze out a few extra dollars
for an automatic timer. It will help to guarantee success for the
operation. You’ll have a certain peace of mind if you tend to be
absent-minded. No more will you fret through a P.T.A. meeting, a movie,
or a concert wondering if you turned off the lights on your plants.
The timer will have done it for you. If you happen to have an enclosed
case--one tight enough to conserve the humidity--you can very easily
go away on a short trip (a day or two at most) and feel confident your
pets will not suffer. If you have postponed buying a timer--actually,
they are not expensive--and have to leave your plants for a day or
so, it is better to turn off the lights completely. They’ll suffer
less than if the lights are going full blast. But for peace of mind,
particularly that of the plants, we’ve always used automatic timers.
At one time we had three of them. When I was ordering one from a
mail-order company, my husband was buying me one as a birthday gift.
And at the very same time the electrical contractor who redid out
light system donated one in the interests of our begonias. We had them
popping on and off at all hours of the day and night. We even hooked a
percolator into one for the morning coffee.

As I look back over our experiments of a few years ago, I find
there are more plants which are day-neutral (night-neutral if you
prefer) than plants which are short-night or long-night. For these
day-neutrals, fourteen to sixteen hours of fluorescent light (of
sufficient intensity) every day, all year round, will keep them happy
and thriving. They won’t know the difference between winter and
summer, spring and autumn, Florida or Long Island. That has been our
experience, but now I find opinions vary on whether hours of light
should be lengthened or shortened in spring and autumn for these
seasonal changes. (There is still plenty of room for experimentation.
For instance, the light requirements for many plants are still to be
worked out--even for closely related plants within various types.)

Some growers, those who specialize in plants for which they know the
light requirements, turn on the lights at dawn and turn them off at
nightfall. This is a year-around schedule. Others who have plants of
assorted types, or of undetermined light requirements, maintain a
constant fourteen-hour growing day. And they are often surprised by
even second, or third, bursts of bloom. A nice surprise, if you ask me.


Here again we find the needs of plants vary and fluorescent-light
setups vary accordingly. If possible, measure the light in your growing
area. The readings of a photographic light meter--the same instrument
you employ in your photography--can be translated into foot-candles. Or
you can get a meter that registers foot-candles. For advice, consult
your camera dealer, or check with your local power-and-light company.
Here in Redding we find the Connecticut Power and Light Company vitally
interested in artificial-light plant propagation.

Again “in general,” house plants that require “full sun” when grown
in a window need 1200 to 1500 foot-candles of artificial light, and
for fourteen hours a day. Foliage plants will get by with 500 to 600
foot-candles. At about 1000 to 1200 foot-candles many plants, and I’m
thinking of begonias and gesneriads in particular, will be robust and

Should you find it difficult to figure light intensity as suggested
above, you might follow the formula worked out by an old friend on
Long Island, Elaine Cherry (Mrs. Norman Cherry, the wife of one of
our engineering friends). Her formula is easy to follow. “A single
forty-watt tube will serve a space approximately four feet long by six
inches wide.” Small plants that need intense light can be set up close
to the tubes.

Here is a tip--ever notice how your television picture is dim but
brightens appreciably when you take a dust rag to the surface of the
glass? The same is true of your light fixtures. Wipe them off now
and then. Clean tubes give more light than dusty ones, and new tubes
give more light than old ones. When a tube darkens at the ends, that
means it has seen better days and should be replaced. According to
Mrs. Cherry, it is a good policy to replace tubes after five thousand
hours of service and not wait for the dwindling light to curtail the
rays your plants need. While you are at it, it’s smart to insert new

                            TYPES OF TUBES

Until the introduction of the Gro-Lux lamps, we had to choose types
designed primarily for illumination. And there were as many choices
and combinations as there were tube types. In a private and somewhat
limited survey, I’ve found that when only one type of tube was used,
cool white was to be preferred. In combinations of equal or two-to-one
proportions, some growers use daylight and natural tubes; others prefer
daylight and de-luxe warm white. And there are those who go for cool
white and de-luxe warm white. Those who supplement their lights with
10 per cent incandescent light seem to favor all daylight fluorescent

The object of all these different combinations is to get the most
favorable balance of red and blue rays. If you are a hobbyist who grows
plants for the love of them, and not necessarily for their value in
interior decoration, the new Gro-Lux tubes are less complex and less
troublesome. You don’t have to be a light expert to get results and
have fun with your light-garden.

                            CARE OF PLANTS

Temperature, humidity, soil, fertilizing, potting--almost without
exception, plants growing under artificial light need the same care as
window-garden plants. But since the light is an artificial substitute
for natural sun and light, watch for signs that the plants are not
entirely satisfied with it. When they stretch out, get long and lanky,
or the foliage has a weak, wan color, set the plant up closer to the
tubes, or over toward the center where the light is strongest. You
might do well to make room by shifting some of the plants that have
been in the center. Sometimes when a plant has too much light it will
become stunted. Until a more exact rule book is written, you will have
to use your own good common sense.

Here is the big worry many growers have; the failure of their pets to
flower. More often than not that means insufficient light, insufficient
red light, or perhaps both.

As of this date it is probably ten years since we first started toying
with plants under artificial lights. I say “toying” because it was just
that--purely for fun. We kept no records. When frost was in the air we
dug up flowers and brought them indoors. My husband even brought in
eleven goldfish which he feared would be glacéed in an outdoor pool. We
put everything under lights with the fish in terrariums. Eventually he
spent thirty dollars for a pool in an untidy corner of the living room.
Thirty dollars, not counting the electric bill, I felt was a little
expensive for a dollar’s worth of goldfish. I sold twenty dollars worth
of photographs of that pool and then included one of them in my book
_All About Vines and Hanging Plants_. Eventually he allowed me,
very grudgingly, to place episcias around the pool. Mites moved in on
them. He sprayed for the mites and killed all of the fish. He replaced
the fish with eleven others. Thus the cycle continued.

All the time we had those indoor plantings our neighbors kept asking us
what plants were good for lights and what lights were good for plants.
Frankly, we couldn’t answer. Ten years ago that book hadn’t been

We tried just about everything less than five feet tall. We had
wonderful results with African violets, begonias, orchids, and
gesneriads. We even had a morning glory which singed itself on a steam
pipe. All of them loved the kilowatts.

(_In Chapter 6 I have indicated certain plants which are suitable for
propagation under artificial lights._)

                              _CHAPTER 3_



House plants are usually considered more or less lasting indoor
decorations. But they can also be used the same as cut flowers for
temporary and changeable displays, and then, like cut flowers, can be
discarded when they begin to fade. They cost less and last much longer
than bouquets, but because they’re temporary decorations, they cause
less worry and require less care than the permanent inhabitants of
window sills or artificially lighted gardens.

That sounds rather heartless, I know. But it’s a defense I’ve built
up--and a perfectly logical one--against the wails of those who take
beautiful florists’ plants, place them on dark mantels, or in other
thoroughly unsuitable growing areas, neglect them wholeheartedly, and
then “can’t make them grow.” How many people do you know who buy lovely
Christmas begonias, poinsettias, or cyclamen for the holidays and
expect them to bloom the following season?

Honestly, I can’t see any reason why plants must be immortal, why they
can’t refresh and beautify the home as long as they remain healthy and
attractive, and not one minute longer, and then be discarded. I do
object to stringy, leafless stems of expiring philodendron, dried-up
dish gardens, or any plant or combination of plants that has become
undecorative because it is dying. Actually, some florists’ plants, such
as greenhouse primulas and calceolarias, are annuals that come into
full bloom only once, and having had their big moment are supposed to
die peacefully afterward.

Do I treat my plants in the house so very cruelly? Well, no ... not
exactly. My budget includes no allotment for florists’ fripperies.
I have a different system, and I have a constant supply of healthy
plants to use for indoor decoration. My plants spend most of their
lives in growing quarters where cultural conditions are good--in bright
windows, in the window greenhouse, or on our small sun porch. They
are brought in for a few days (never more than a week), then quickly
returned to their more healthy, healthful homes. Having done their
duty, they go back to grow and prosper. I do this with single potted
plants, placed in attractive containers, with dish gardens, model
landscapes, and combinations of plants. They are beautiful and charming
as table centerpieces, mantel ornaments, displays for the coffee table,
shadow box, or bookcase shelf.


In the past few years my preoccupation with miniature plants has led
to some pleasurable rummaging and shopping for containers in which
to place them to make compositions for a bedside or telephone table,
for the narrow window sill above the kitchen sink, and for the small
bric-a-brac shelf in the foyer.

As any flower-arrangement artist knows, small-scale compositions are
often more intricate and more difficult than full-scale affairs--every
detail is subject to separate scrutiny. However, patience, good taste,
and an artistic flair will unite a plant and a container with an
affinity that looks casual, even accidental, but actually is cunningly
contrived. Container and plant become one picture--neither outshining
the other--the container setting off the plant, and not sacrificing its
own importance.

People who are intrigued with these miniature compositions usually
collect containers in wide variety. Some of them are even made for
the express purpose of holding plants--from wood, bronze, copper, all
sorts of chinaware, glass, and ceramics. But the containers that give
the most fun are those made for entirely different purposes. I’ve seen
tiny bird cages, little woven baskets, glass lamp shades, odd-ball
ash trays, punch cups, unusual tea or coffee cups, soup tureens, and
even an ancient Buick hub cap which a little girl “borrowed” from her
father’s collection of automobile antiquities. Some gourds are just the
right size and shape, and with a nice wartiness, to lend enchantment
for growing plants. Our cat keeps us well supplied with the tins in
which his food is sold--spray them with paint and they are ideal for
many plants. Some cocktail or champagne crystal looks precious with
miniature vines drooping over the side.

  [Illustration: Strawberry jar resembling gnome, planted with
  Kenilworth ivy]

Once for our P.T.A. fair I collected a dozen or so unmatched liquor
glasses, put a half-inch of soil in the bottoms, and planted tiny
_Sinningia pusilla_. They sold immediately, with people wanting
more. A plant sale at such an affair is a rather convincing test of
popularity, and whether you have created a good arrangement.

Another favorite I have discovered for unusual containers is
_Cymbalaria muralis_, the nostalgic Kenilworth ivy. I planted some
in a small strawberry jar. Look at the jar from the right angle and it
resembles a round-cheeked dwarf with a sparse green wig. I wish I could
remember where I bought that jar--so many friends have wanted one. The
“pawnbroker’s” planter cost five cents in a local junk shop. I also
planted it with ivy.

Inexpensive hanging containers and wall brackets for miniatures are
available in a wide variety at five-and-dime stores. But hanging
baskets are not so easy to handle, as they must be suspended from
wire or screwed to the wall. I’ve seen a doll’s hat used delightfully,
and also some nice little woven baskets. Or try anything of metal or
ceramic if it has a lip to hold a wire or chain--or a two-handled
consommé bowl; or a soup ladle with its handle fastened to the wall.
You can easily punch holes in most plastic containers--and without
cracking--by using a red-hot awl or old-fashioned ice pick.

  [Illustration: Pawnbroker’s planter set with ivy]

Occasionally I have seen props or accessories used in these miniature
plant-and-container compositions that were successful, but only
occasionally were they in perfect scale and harmony. More frequently,
the silk, wood, or ceramic butterfly, bee, or bird is an unnatural and
disturbing intrusion.

Be careful when you water plants in decorative containers. If possible
keep the plant in its original pot so it can be lifted from the
container and taken to the sink, where excess water will drain away.
Otherwise, hold off on your watering until you are positive the plant
won’t wait any longer; then stop before the soil gets soggy and wet.
Excess water, trapped by a container, can cause roots to rot, in fact
will promote rot in most cases.

Be daring, be creative, be artistic when planning container projects
and arrangements. If a fat little fern looks right for a teacup, let
the cup be squat and fat; or let it be fluted gracefully and flared
up to the delicate frond-fans. If a miniature orchid looks like a gem
without a case, set it on pebbles in a clear crystal bowl; or perhaps
invert a dome-shaped watch glass over it. If a succulent makes you
think of a tough little gnome, for goodness sake don’t plant it in one
of those grotesqueries which is the hump of a camel’s back or a cavity
along the spinal column of a ceramic cat. (Remember how ridiculous a
Venus stomach clock looks.) Use a little imagination. Perhaps you have
something at hand--a droll bucket, a miniature fishing creel, a butter
tub. Interesting containers make interesting compositions if you use
good taste and imagination. Try to achieve the quality and feeling that
the plant and container were “made for each other.”

                             DISH GARDENS

A dish garden is the combination of a group of living plants and the
container holding them. It should be designed and planted with artistry
and originality, but without artificiality. Each dish garden should
look distinctive--certainly without any resemblance to the ones which
florists seem to make by formula. It should be neither crowded with
too many plants, nor cluttered with accessories or small ornaments. It
should be eye-catching but not brazen, harmonious but not dull, unusual
in some manner and yet comfortably natural.

Like cut-flower compositions, dish gardens are arranged so that plant
and container together complete an artistic design. And like any
artistic design, these gardens follow (or have a good reason for not
following) certain basic principles:

Plants and container blend into one pleasing picture.

Elements of the design interlock, overlap, or otherwise hang together.

The number of elements is limited by restraint and good taste.

All parts of the design are in pleasing relative proportion.

There is one focal point, or center of interest.

  [Illustration: Pruning a dish garden to keep elements in size and

If the design has formal balance, the focal point is in the center,
with elements of equal weight at the sides.

For informal balance, the focal point is off-center, with heavier
elements to balance it.

A design becomes fluid, rhythmic, with the dynamic use of line, and
with pleasing contrast of colors, textures, and structural forms.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of first importance, of course, is the container. It should be of
proper size, shape, texture, color, and mood for the plants that
will fill it. Rustic pottery is suitable for desert cacti and other
succulents; glazed white, or lightly tinted, pottery for dainty
flowering plants; copper, pewter, wooden bowls for an arrangement of
heavy, masculine-looking foliage plants.

Containers can be of any shape--round, square, rectangle, triangle,
ellipse, irregular. If possible they should be at least three inches
deep so there is space in which to pack the roots of your plants.
And they should not make themselves conspicuous with bold ornament,
texture, or color. Plain design and subdued colors bring out the beauty
of the plants.

Very few artificial accessories look well in a dish garden; but natural
garden or landscape features such as interesting rocks or bits of old
wood are often quite successful.

Before you begin to plant a dish garden, set the plants (in their pots)
in the container, and then shift them around until they begin to look
right. This will give you a rough idea of how an arrangement will turn
out. For formal balance, set the tallest or most striking plant in
the center, with some low ones nestled around its base. For informal
balance, set the accent plant in one corner of a rectangle and let a
large expanse of unadorned sand, gravel, or ground cover spread out
toward the diagonal corner.

Turn a sharply curved leaf or branch so it falls against a straight
up-and-down plant. Play rough foliage against smooth; feathery against
solid; bright colors against dull; pattern against plain leaf. Try
lifting out one plant to see if the effect is cleaner. To blend plants
with the container, let a creeping or hanging plant fall down over the
edges. These beforehand experiments will help you avoid having to shift
plants later, during the actual planting.

Although not strictly dish gardens, there are some attractive
variations that can be composed without benefit of soil, or of a dish
to hold it. In the pockets of a small piece of smooth, silky old
root, or driftwood, tuck osmunda fiber (orchid-potting material) for
the roots of epiphytic (air growing) plants--most are bromeliads.
Terrestrial (soil growing) plants, such as the miniature begonia, are
best in sphagnum moss. Or try tiny orchids; some will creep slowly
over the surface of the wood. Fasten the plants firmly in place with
inconspicuous fine florists’ wire. This will hold the plants until
their roots penetrate the fiber and attach themselves to the soft wood.
If you supply liquid fertilizer at regular intervals, the plants will
grow normally. Water by dunking plants and log in a pan or the sink.
Feed by adding soluble fertilizer to the water.

Plants will often grow from cavities and crevices in rocks. If the
rock is “limy,” stick to lime-tolerant plants. Tufa, if you can find
it, is especially malleable for gardens like these. It is soft and
porous, easily cut and shaped, and with ready-made cavities to hold
roots and small amounts of soil or moss. It is perfectly acceptable to
acid-loving plants.

Conch shells, and another large shell of a similar type which we used
to find on the beach--the sort kiddies hold to their ears when playing
the game of “listening-to-the-sea”--offer interesting possibilities.
Pack the cavity with moist sphagnum moss and plant with several
smallish plants. Water with extreme care, and fertilize only slightly.
Almost any moisture-compatible foliage plant that is available will
live and grow this way for months.

  [Illustration: Root from an apple tree, with a pocket for osmunda
  and a bromeliad]

                           MODEL LANDSCAPES

Although these indoor gardens also follow the rules of good design,
the result is a different effect. Montague Free once called them
“an idealization in miniature of an outdoor scene.” They are not
arranged to give an artistic impression, but to re-create some part
of the out-of-doors on a small scale. Their charm lies in their
diminutiveness, intricate detail and, often, in their whimsy.

The elements are: container; tiny plants (for the purist, all must be
living) to represent trees, shrubs, grass, and flowers; and props Or
accessories such as miniature pools, fences, and other landscape or
architectural features. I suppose rocks would be called accessories,

Each garden should have a theme, and all elements should be in harmony
with the theme and help to carry it out. For example, it’s difficult to
combine buoyant hybrid pansies with shy wild flowers. A contemporary
garden is best in a container with clean lines, but an old-fashioned
garden is fine in a platter with high fluted edges. A desert scene
calls for a container that’s bare and stark. A white plastic trellis
doesn’t belong in a woodland scene. And please, no green bath towels
for grass.

Visualize your garden first--sketch the plan on paper. If you can draw
it to scale, it will help in the selection of container, plants, and
props. It is crucial that each element should be in proper proportion
to all others. One element not in scale can ruin the entire effect.

In some gardens a plant or small group of plants will be the object of
interest; in others it may be a particularly charming and important
feature such as a rustic bridge or a shrine. In gardens of moderate
size or less, one feature is usually sufficient, and not more than two
in larger ones. Select your main feature first, place it, and make sure
all other elements are in scale. For example, a fence should not be
more than one and a half inches high under a tree of six inches.

The variety of plants, props, and containers from which you can select
can be as wide as your enthusiasm and ingenuity want to make it. Here
are a few suggestions.


Upright plant with a single stem-trunk, foliage at the top, usually
taller than it is wide. If the tree is to be the object of interest,
look for plants with character rather than symmetry--bent, twisted,
gnarled trunk; interesting, lopsided shape; especially lacy foliage;
tipsy tendency to lean. There are a number of useful house and
greenhouse plants, and more to be found in the woods and fields. For
deciduous trees, it is often permissible to use twiggy branches stuck
in the soil. I find leafless pieces of mountain laurel very effective.


Upright plants of bushy habit and branching. You’ll find many suitable
house plants and some in the wild.


Tiny-leaved, bushy plants that can be set close together and clipped to
shape. The tiniest boxwoods will also do if they are carefully thinned
and each extra leaf is removed separately.

_Flowering and Foliage Plants_

Miniature house plants are best for these indoor gardens, although you
can achieve temporary success with some annuals like alyssum.

_Climbing and Trailing Plants_

These are needed for training over walls, but even more necessary for
planting at the container’s edge so they will fall over and softly
blend the garden and the container.

_Ground Cover_

A cover for bare spots in the garden--get sheet moss from the woods. Or
plant grass seed and keep it mowed with sharp scissors. Use your own
ingenuity. You may very likely come up with something more appropriate.


Use thimbles, thumb-pots, miniature vases.


These can be built with Sakrete or plaster of Paris. Or sink a sardine
can--painted blue-green--an ash tray, soap dish, or plastic cheese


A path should always be going somewhere, preferably to the point of
interest. Make paths with sand, fine gravel, small pebbles, perlite.
If your garden is a formal one, make cement sidewalks with Sakrete.
(Please, we have no financial interest in Sakrete--don’t even know who
makes it--but have always found it a most useful material around our
gardens for patching, fixing, and repairing.)

_Bridges, Fences, and Gates_

Here is another chance for your personal ingenuity--and the more
ingenuity you use the greater will be your pride when the job is done.
Use matchsticks, toothpicks, balsa wood (it is available in hobby
shops, but you can very likely snitch a few pieces from some model
airplane the kiddies are making). In my office I get coffee from the
corner drugstore, each container having a stirring stick. I save those
sticks. It is wonderful what one can do with them--picket fences and
the like. A little whittling is all that is necessary.


Please, don’t use chunks of broken concrete. Hunt around for smooth,
interesting specimens, eroded and rounded stones of the correct size.
If you happen to come upon one with a lichen, you have a real prize.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are as many themes for these gardens in miniature as there
are outdoor scenes--cultivated or natural--in the world. The only
necessity is, once you have decided on a plan, stay with it. See that
every plant and prop you use is in harmony. See that every plant has
the same cultural requirements--especially if your garden is to be a
lasting thing. Here are some general ideas:

_Formal Garden_

This is probably the easiest to execute, chiefly because it is based
on perfectly mathematical balance. The plan is basically geometric--a
rectangle with a birdbath in the exact center; walks straight and
precise; pairs or quadruplets of plants that are identical in size
and shape; hedges that are neatly trimmed. How about trying something
different?--an Old World herb garden; perhaps a scene from Colonial
Williamsburg; or something from the Elizabethan age.

_Informal Garden_

Re-create your own garden, or something you hope to have around your
house and grounds. It will help you to visualize it in advance. Get a
container the shape and proportions of your lot--do a planting with
the lawn you want, build up patios and terraces. Build a model of your
house and duplicate the plantings you want on a miniature scale. This
sort of garden will give you a real thrill.

_Old-fashioned Garden_

I wonder if you ever had a wonderful grandfather and grandmother--I
wonder if they had a trim house with a picket fence--white of course.
If you did, how about trying to duplicate it. If you didn’t, do a
little dreaming. Dream about what you would like to see--picket fence,
billows of bloom from flower beds, climbing things on the walls and
fences. Please, let yourself go and improvise à la dream. Next to
your own home, I can think of nothing more satisfying than trying to
duplicate an old-fashioned garden in the manner of that wonderful past
generation. Use your imagination. You’ll be happy that you did.

_Contemporary Garden_

The central figure could be a miniature vase, to represent an urn, at
the edge of a square or rectangular pool. Small boxes can be made like
redwood planters. To be purely functional, use gravel or paving instead
of grass. Plant sparsely and with an eye for modern design.

_Oriental Garden_

Here is a garden that can fool you with its simplicity. It calls for
fewer plants, more minutely perfect props, figurines, stones, and moss.
It may be built around a pool with a Japanese bridge. Outwardly, it
looks so easy and simple, but it isn’t. Just get one feature out of
proportion and you will be unhappy. Remember, the Oriental artist is
a person of great perfection, one with thousands of years of artistry
behind him. Before attempting an Oriental garden, better get some good
photographs or drawings. It will help you achieve a good picture and
you will have a lasting satisfaction. Good luck.

_Tropical Garden_

This one should be lush with tropical creepers and climbing tropical
trees, as pictured in the color section of this book. The container is
a bowl from an overhead light fixture--the sort that used to hang above
the dining-room table. (It cost ten cents in a junk shop.) The back is
a masonry wall, made of pebbles and Sakrete, as is the irregular pool.
Paint your pool blue-green. Since your plants will very likely require
acid soil, separate the construction material from the soil by strong

_Desert Garden_

Little but cacti and kindred succulents can grow here, and sparsely at
that. _Sedum multiceps_, little Joshua tree, has a picturesque
tree-like character. Use a suitable soil mixture completely covered
with a layer of desert sand, or very fine gravel. Build a dune perhaps.
Or make an oasis with a few palms around a pool--an irregularly
shaped pool like one might see in a mirage. How about a few strands
of grass--maybe not quite in tune with the setting but it might be
considered as bamboo. A little faking is permissible.

_Rock Garden_

This usually calls for building up a rocky slope supported by hardware
cloth in the rear and lined with moss to keep the soil from falling
through. Follow good rock-gardening rules--rocks of the same kind but
of varying shapes, with their layers, or strata, running horizontal. At
the base of the slope you might contrive a small pool overflowing into
a plastic-limed stream. Make a rustic gate and bridges with evergreen
twigs wired and glued together.

_Woodland Garden_

Naturalistic arrangements of woodsy plants, rocks, moss, fallen logs.
Seedling evergreens are fine. Artificial props are out.

_Meadow Garden_

A gate might open through a split-rail fence to a winding, foot-trodden
path through a field of waving grass and flowers. At the back leafy
trees line the edge of the imagined cow pasture.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Most containers for dish gardens and model landscapes are watertight.
That is wonderful for any furniture on which they might be placed,
but not so good for the plants. There is that eternal danger
of overwatering. Roots rot when they stand in mud or water. In
tight-bottomed containers it is wise to start with a thick drainage
layer--pieces of broken flower pots, pebbles, brick, coarse sand, or
even small pieces of charcoal. That gives the excess water a place to
go. Cover this bottom layer with burlap or moss to keep the soil from
sifting down.

The soil mixture should be suitable for the type of plant which is
going to live in it--acid or alkaline, sandy or humus-rich--and should
be moist--not muddy--at planting time. One at a time take your plants
from their individual pots, set them in place, and make the soil firm
enough to support them. Add dangling-edgers and ground cover last. Mist
the finished garden with a fine spray of water, thus washing off any
dirt and refreshing the foliage. Set the garden in a shaded, protected
spot until the plants have recovered from transplanting shock.

Watering these gardens can be tricky. The soil may feel dry on the
surface and yet be boggy underneath. Find a small bare spot where you
can insert the handle of a spoon or a fork. Dig down to the bottom to
make sure that water is really needed. And water with the greatest
of care--enough to moisten the soil, but not enough to leave water
standing in the bottom. No puddles, please.

Now supposing your hand has slipped--the hand holding the
watering-pot--and you have overdone it. If the planting will allow,
put the container on its side for a half-hour or so. But, please be
careful--actually, I shudder to give you this piece of advice. I’m
afraid you might find your creation out of its container and a muddy
mess in the kitchen sink. All right, here is something else you can do;
dig a hole in a bare spot--a small hole the size of a pencil and in the
deepest part of your garden. Suck up the extra moisture with a pipette
until the hole is dry. What, no pipette in your garden kit, then try a
medicine dropper. No medicine dropper either--try a soda straw, but you
had better be nimble or you will get a taste of dish garden. They don’t
taste as good as they look.

If your garden is only a temporary decoration, you have given it your
all and that is all the care it needs. But I feel you are going to
love it so much you’ll want to keep it growing as long as possible.
That changes the rules considerably. Place it, not on the coffee table,
but in a window where it will get the light and sun the plants need,
and where the temperature and humidity are to their liking. (Specific
recommendations and plant preferences will be given in Chapters 6 and
16.) Hardy outdoor plants should be kept as cool as possible. You might
set them in a cool room, or on an unheated porch, at night and bring
them in only for the day. Fertilizing is usually not necessary, except
when roots are severely crowded or you are trying to force a plant to

Keep the garden immaculately clean and neat. Remove faded flowers and
tired leaves. Trim those plants that have a tendency to grow too large
or straggly. It might be smart to remove any that refuse to stay within
proper size. Train your climbers and creepers as you want them to grow.
Keep your pools filled with clean fresh water. Mist foliage daily to
keep it fresh and dust-free.

The dish gardens and model landscapes you plant this way are easy to
care for, but those ones from a florist may present some problems. Now
let’s be fair to florists--their gardens and landscapes are turned
out on a commercial basis in order that they may make money. (Outside
of a few fancy floral outfits, none of them gets rich, particularly
when one considers the long hard hours they spend on the job.) In the
interest of economy they often combine plants of complete cultural
incompatibility--dry-growing succulents with moisture-loving aroids;
African violets that need sun for flowering with ferns that scorch
in it. Too often these dish gardens are crammed with too many plants
for the amount of soil; and the roots have been bruised and broken
in handling. The florist knows that two-thirds of the customers
who buy his product are going to abuse it anyhow. So he takes a
“what-the-dickens” attitude. Make it pretty for the moment, for
tomorrow it is going to die anyhow. One more word in praise of my many
florist friends--just let the man with the green paper, the ribbons,
and the carnations sense that you love plants, understand them, and
care for them, and he will go to bat for you. He will help you in
every possible way. I’ve never known it to fail. Actually, they are a
soft-hearted profession.

All right, so you have a typical florist-shop dish garden. Uncle
Charlie bought it for you as an anniversary present because it looked
cute in the shop window, and he couldn’t think of anything else. For
all he knows that green stuff is spinach. As soon as Uncle Charlie has
gone home, start remodeling the garden. Check over the plants and
remove any that don’t agree with the majority of the other plants on
light, moisture, and soil consistency. Pot up the good ones that you
want to keep and thin out the others. Remember, those plants are going
to do a lot of growing and must not be crowded. Use your ingenuity and
common sense. Dig in the soil with that silver-spoon handle and see how
much moisture is needed. Set the garden where light and humidity are
right for the plants. You will have made yourself a new garden. Care
for it as though it were your original creation. And when your next
anniversary comes around, and Uncle Charlie comes around with another
present--most likely a Chinese silent-butler--he will look at the dish
garden and praise you for having a green thumb.

(_In the plant list in Chapter 6 you will find plants that are
suitable for decorative containers, dish gardens, and model landscapes.
In Chapter 16, which is devoted to miniature annuals, you will find
additional possibilities._)

                              _CHAPTER 4_

                           MINIATURE GARDENS
                               IN GLASS

From a terraced garden in a huge brandy snifter, or perhaps in a fish
bowl, to a single orchid under an upturned tumbler, there are many
kinds of glassed-in gardens to be planted and enjoyed--terrariums
if you like. This includes the old-fashioned partridgeberry bowl,
bottle gardens, and today’s version of the classic Wardian case. In
any glass container a terrarium is literally a miniature greenhouse
in which the temperature and humidity can be controlled. Dish gardens
and model landscapes can be a great pleasure, so these terrariums add
the additional joy of permanence and variety. Most plantings will live
and thrive for twice or thrice as long, and you can grow many delicate
plants that wouldn’t last a day in the dry, drafty air outside.


Most terrariums are small-scale replicas of woodland scenes with native
plants, pools, streams, and rocky cliffs. These are charming and
refreshing; and if there is good light, small outdoor plants will live
through the winter into spring. But there are other possibilities--tiny
tropical plants that love steamy warmth; miniature begonias,
aroids, and marantas that are compatible under glass--in fact, that
compatibility includes two-inch orchids and other dazzling epiphytes
that need extra protection and humidity indoors.

Depending on your plants, your container, and your whims or desires, a
terrarium can be a Lilliputian reproduction of a landscape, an artistic
composition, or perhaps merely a single perfect plant enhanced by a
crystal setting. Since proportions and sizes are more strictly limited
as compared with gardens which are minus glass walls, the selection of
your container should come first.


Ready-made, practical, and not undecorative are the fish bowls and
tanks of all sizes. The flat-sided and octagonal bowls are inexpensive,
though not always of good glass. Very large, round bowls and brandy
snifters of all sizes are slightly more costly, but of much better
quality. Rectangular fish tanks are in good proportion for miniature
landscapes, easy to plant, and roomy.

Or perhaps you have an heirloom bell jar; a glass candy dish or bowl;
an apothecary jar; a bottle laid on its side (rather tedious to plant.
You have to reach through the neck of the bottle with long tweezers and
iced-tea spoons, but a good job is very rewarding). You can still buy
the traditional round, pear-shaped, and “Ming urn” covered jars for
partridgeberries. If your container has no glass cover, cut one from
window glass. Buff down the sharp edges. Terrarium glass is best clear,
not tinted.

  [Illustration: Inexpensive fish bowls planted with ferns and
  other miniatures]

In the do-it-yourself department you can make bell jars out of cider
jugs with the burning-string procedure. Soak a piece of string with
lighter fluid or gasoline, wrap it around the jug where you want it
cut, light the string, and when the flames are gone, dunk the jug in
cold water. The first few attempts may not work--I had three tries
before I got a nice clean break. But for fifteen cents’ worth of cider
jugs I got a nice container. If the edges come out rough and jagged,
buff them with an emery cloth or a file. But, please be careful, don’t
get splinters of glass in your fingers.

For a miniature-garden-minded child, simply build up a container with
window glass and a flat or box. Cut the sides and ends to match the
dimensions of the flat or box; then bind the corners with adhesive
or masking tape. Fold tape around the top edge and the cover. That
will prevent cut fingers. We made one for our children. Just to add
interest, we included a turtle and a salamander. They liked their new
home so well they dug into the moist soil and hibernated all winter.
These tailor-made terrariums can be constructed to fit whatever space
is available--long and narrow for a window sill, short and squat for a
table top.

History’s largest and most elaborate terrarium probably was the Wardian
case, invented (or discovered) over a hundred years ago. It is, of
course, too monstrous for today’s interior décor. But the principle can
be applied in designing an indoor greenhouse that is decorative and in
good taste--something to fit near a bright window, or to be fitted with
fluorescent light if it is to be in a dark corner. It is surprising how
a little extra light will often make a deeply shaded spot habitable for
plants. In these cases, of course, the plants usually remain in their
individual pots. A tray with water and pebbles, or sand, humidifies the

Today’s adaptation of the Wardian case can be of almost any size
or shape. One company manufactures a glass-enclosed box about two
feet wide, four feet long, and three feet deep, with detachable
furniture legs. I have seen a large coffee table, designed to sit
before a picture window no doubt, fitted with plate-glass sides and
accommodating a dozen or so medium-sized plants. I’ve seen several
homemade cases as decorative as culturally practical, and sadly I must
admit, I have seen some that were neither. I seem to have said before,
in plantings of this sort let your plants be the stars.

  [Illustration: Converting a cider jug into a terrarium: a. Tie
  string at desired level and soak with lighter fluid b. Light
  string and immerse jar in cold water when extinguished]

  [Illustration: c. Lift off top of jug]

  [Illustration: d. Terrariums in use]

                            AQUATIC GARDENS

Any watertight, glass-sided container can also be used for a
fascinating water garden with fish and plants and many types of
colorful decorations. To me, the most pleasing are those re-creations
of natural underwater scenes with coral reefs, rocks, and the fantastic
aquatic plants sold at aquarium supply stores. Quite honestly I’m
bothered by the suited underwater diver who brandishes a spear and
spouts bubbles at intervals. I’m bothered by the obviously artificial
remnants of a wrecked ship, or the opened treasure chest spilling out
coins and jewels. It is artificial to the point of being phony.

The planting and care of these underwater gardens has become an
intricate science and art and requires knowledge of the delicate
balance of plant and animal life, the proper supply of oxygen, and
other technical matters beyond my ken. About all I know is, I love a
beautifully executed aquatic garden. If you have a yen for one of these
gardens, find an expert who knows his subject and ask his advice. If
you can’t find an expert, there are many excellent books on the subject.

                        PLANTS AND ACCESSORIES

Rocks, twigs, bits of decaying wood, and other naturally indigenous
materials are suitable for gardens in glass. Tufa rock is always good,
whether the plants sink their roots into it or not. If you happen to
live near an old ironworks, you’ll find fascinating pieces of slag in
many sizes and colors.

But many of the figurines offered for sale in stores--bridges, benches,
and the like--are questionable, even doubtful, in a setting with native
plants. If they are to fit at all, they must be artistic, believable,
and in exquisite harmony with everything else in the woodland scene. If
you want to try it, set them in place, look at them from all angles,
and think it over carefully. Decide whether they “belong” or are
merely cute. Cuteness is something that lasts for a moment--beauty is
something that is forever.

Just as with dish gardens, model landscapes, and other gardens where
plants live and grow together, terrarium plants should be chosen first
for their cultural compatibility. In fact, the principle is even more
vital here because terrarium gardens are usually meant to be lasting.
Think for a moment--you wouldn’t tuck a dry-growing peperomia in the
soil beside a moisture-loving fern, or a cool-growing wild flower
beside a tropical selaginella. They just aren’t meant to live with each

Next, size up your plants as to height--larger and bolder plants for
the background or for accent, creepers for blending. In between should
come the many flowering and foliage plants that make your garden a
thing of beauty.

Many of these plants can be bought at florists’ shops or variety
stores. Others are available by mail, including the wildlings. The
woods are always a source, but conservationists urge all of us not to
destroy plants carelessly or move them out of their native haunts to
unfavorable locations.

I find that the plants available from mail-order specialists are
reasonably priced and are always good sturdy stock. More on this in
Chapter 13.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Whether your glassed-in garden is an artistic arrangement of plants or
an actual garden, give your design a tryout by placing the plants on a
temporary basis. Put them in place and appraise the arrangement. Don’t
rush. You’ll save time by not having to do it over later.

In the case of containers rounded on the bottom, line them with thin
sheets of moss. Turn the green side out. Next add an adequate layer
of pebbles or sand, for drainage. A sprinkling of broken charcoal is
particularly desirable. The close humid air may cause soil to grow
“sour” without it.

Soil may be acid or not, heavy or light, sandy or humus-rich. It all
depends on the type of plant to grow in it, and it will be moist when
you use it. Please, make the soil deep enough to give the plants
root-room. If you want to make it interesting, build it up gently into
slopes or natural mounds. Flat land is dull, not nearly so interesting.

As you put in the plants, add the stones, pebbles, paths, or
pools--whatever you have in your design. May I warn you--don’t dirty
the inside of the glass. Once dirty, it is almost impossible to clean
up later. Plant sparsely. Remember, your plants are going to grow.
The finishing touch will be the addition of “sod” or moss on the bare
areas. Most of the suggestions for dish gardens and model landscapes in
earlier chapters apply here. Finally, polish the glass and spray the
plants with a fine mist to clean off any soil that may be on leaves and
stems. Water very gently.

According to tradition, partridgeberry bowls are arranged differently.
The base of the bowl is lined with moss, and covered with drainage
layers, charcoal, and then soil. Then the berried plants and any others
to be combined with them are placed, one layer at a time, with their
faces against the glass. Their roots are toward the center and covered
with soil. Finish the top layer facing up; sprinkle any loose berries
on top; mist the foliage gently; cover with glass, and deck out with a
big bow of Christmas ribbon.

For a few days after planting, set a terrarium where the light is
not bright. After that, it needs light or sunlight according to the
requirements of the plants. If they grow lank, limp, and leggy, they
are usually stretching out for more light. Window-sill plants may
lean toward the window--remedy: simply turn the terrarium around, and
alternate it every few days so that both sides get an equal share of

Temperature also depends on the plants. Hardy outdoor natives are best
at 60 degrees or less, even if they are moved to a cool spot at night.
Tropical plants, and many others, are happy at the usual living-room

Watering can be tricky, but not if you are careful and rational.
Obviously, if the top of your container is covered tightly, not much
moisture can escape. It will condense inside the glass and drop back
into the garden. Water will be needed less frequently. But don’t be too
happy about this. If there is excess moisture, if too much collects on
the glass, if the soil is always soggy, mildew and root-rot may result.
Lift off the top for a while and let the inside dry out a little. Keep
the soil on the dry side if the cover fits too tightly.

Here is another warning--soil should never become completely dry. (I
am afraid I have you walking on a tightrope.) Again, take that handle
of a spoon or fork and dig down through a bare spot so you can see how
wet the soil is at the bottom. If water is needed, add it very gently.
Remember, the small plants must not be deluged and dislodged; use
just enough water to moisten the soil, not soak it. Sorry, but it is
impossible to write down any definite schedule for watering. Frequency
and quantity depend on the size of the terrarium and the size of the
plants, on the outside temperature, and on other environmental factors.
Even the weather and the season of the year are important. But, I’ll
bet you need watering much less frequently than you think. You may feel
you should fertilize the plants so they will grow more vigorously. Here
is a word of warning on that score--few woodland plants appreciate
chemical fertilizers (the powders you buy at the hardware store or
in the horticultural supply shops). If you want to feed your plants,
the best thing to use is a weak solution of manure water. I am always
bundling up manure in gunny sacks, soaking it in a watering pot, and
then using the water on my plants.

Glass-covered terrariums usually keep themselves clean inside,
because dust just can’t get into them. You may need to remove fading
flowers and leaves. If you have any plants, particularly creepers,
that threaten to take over and smother the others, get a sharp pair
of embroidery or manicure scissors and begin pruning. Aliens such as
earthworms and slugs are out. Put on your sharpest-pointed heels and
step on them.

                              _CHAPTER 5_

                          GREENHOUSE GARDENS

As far as I am concerned, the first part of this chapter is a dream.
It is such a precious dream I shouldn’t even publish it until it comes
true. I am afraid I must confess that parts of it have already been
published in _Flower and Garden_. I was so carried away with the
idea I rushed it into print, just so I could tell the world about a
dream. It is a dream I hope you will dream with me. The magazine has
given me permission to repeat the article I wrote for them.

The whole thing started when I began to get bored with prissy rows
of pots in my own greenhouse. It is a forty-by-twenty-foot house and
really isn’t ours. (It belongs to a neighbor who used to use it for the
chickens. The chickens didn’t like being dispossessed, but they adapted
themselves to the horse barn, where they are much happier.) My dream
picked up emphasis when I tried a few “potless gardens” with plant
roots unconfined and running freely in the soil. I immediately saw how
much happier the plants were and how much more naturally they throve. I
am a working girl. I have but a few years to go on my retirement plan,
and then I can retire. Hence, I dream about my own personal greenhouse.
My dream greenhouse.

I picture it as an extension of our recreation room so I can look out
through the large window to the glassed-in garden a dozen times a day,
every day of the year. There will be a convenient door for the many
times I’ll be lured away from my typewriter. Any moment I wish, I can
step into my garden to watch a bud unfold, tuck a wandering tendril
back around a support, breathe in the fresh, moist fragrance only a
greenhouse has.

My garden will be tropical. I love it that way. You, my reader, may
wish a desert planted with fabulous cacti, or perhaps a cooler garden
for alpine and hardier plants. But I love the exotics; and I will plant
each one where it will grow according to its natural whims. Please,
no more neat rows of pots on benches. My creepers will be planted
where they can clamber over the soil and an occasional rock or rotted
log. Climbers will have some picturesque support on which to climb.
Epiphytes will have trees to perch on; and the danglers, baskets to
hang from.

There will be variations of light, from full sun to patches of dappled
or deep shade. If I can manage it, somehow I’d like to have variations
in temperature in the different parts of my dream greenhouse. Some
plants like the vigor of a cool corner; others revel in tropical
warmth. Then there is the matter of moisture. For dry-growing plants
there would be rock gardens and raised beds; for moisture-lovers there
would be sunken, humus-rich bogs.

But you can’t have a greenhouse, dream or otherwise, without having
utilities, heating plant, water pipes, and potting places. Those I
would conceal under the shade of flowering vines. I think I should
allow myself the luxury of a stool--perhaps even a rocking chair--where
I can sit down to pot or propagate my plants.

Of course, there would be a pool in my greenhouse garden, with a water
lily to flower in it. Around the edge would be arranged rocks to make
a home for friendly frogs, salamanders, and turtles. I would teach
them to be so friendly I could take them to safe quarters when I had
to spray or fumigate. Restful ferns would frame that pool. A fountain
would make the musical sound of splashing water. Perhaps the overflow
would run into a tiny, winding stream. I’ll have to ask Fred, our
plumber, about that.

I don’t know much about birds, but I’d like to have a canary housed in
a cage. He’d be there only when the vents were open. Otherwise he’d be
free to fly. I might even have a parakeet for his company. I’d have
a radio to play softly--only classical, gentle music. Nothing with
brass--mostly violins and soft ones at that. No telephone--never. I’d
have a bench for my guests--wrought iron very likely, since I think
it would fit the décor, but the sort that is comfortable. Somehow,
I’m going to have to figure out a way of labeling my plants so the
labels will not show. Perhaps, we can do it electronically. As I have
said, I would have a rocking chair, an old and battered one. And the
grandchildren--this being a dream I can have grandchildren (our own
youngsters are still young). There would be a curiosity corner for
them where they could touch the mimosa and see it fold, watch a pitcher
plant catch a fly, pick fluffy bolls of cotton, or dig a small peanut

My garden will be full of surprises. Any day of the year a visitor
will find something new--a miniature orchid flowering on the branch of
the bromeliad tree; iridescent _Selaginella uncinata_ stalking on
stilt-roots under a dwarf banana; carved columns, old urns, pieces of
ceramic art I expect to pick up in my travels. Here, perhaps an old
tree trunk sunk naturally in the soil; there, a log half buried as it
would be in the woods; and then some stepping stones, two or three at
the most to entice guests to look down on a mound of oxalis in full
flower; overhead, a moss-lined basket of flamboyant epiphyllum in

My planting, of course, will be carefully planned, but the plan will
not be obvious. The shaggy fishtail palm, _Caryota urens_, would
be placed in the perfect spot. The Mexican tree fern would look as
if it had lived there always. The bromeliad tree would seem to have
lived and died in my indoor jungle, and the plants rooted in its
branches would look as if they had planted themselves, as they do in
the tropics. Luscious-leaved philodendrons would climb and cover any
obvious walls. Vines would be trained to soften sharp corners and
provide some shade. In irregular beds I’d plant a natural arrangement
of upright flowering and foliage plants--begonias, fuchsias, oleander,
all kinds of aroids, a dwarf citrus or two. A walk might be edged with
the tiny, delicious Corsican mint, _Mantha requieni_.

In a warm, partly shaded area I’d go crazy with gesneriads--flaming
episcias covering the ground, tube-flowered aeschynanthus spilling down
from above, fiery-flowered columneas in all their glory. And yes, I’d
have African violets--not in pots, but in baskets, in strawberry jars,
or sunk in the soil.

If (when?) I have my greenhouse, there are some plants I wouldn’t
be without. Among vines--silver-leaved _Cissus striata_ with
its swinging curtain of stringy aerial roots; _Clerodendrum
thomosoniae_, its blue-green leaves smothered in red-hearted white
flowers in spring; _Passiflora coccinea_, the red passion flower,
for glamour. I’d hang baskets of the new soft-hued fuchsia hybrids, and
my favorite floriferous begonia, ‘Shippy’s Garland.’

For fragrance, I’d plant a jasmine, _Stephanotis floribunda_,
and _Osmanthus fragrans_, the precious olive. For early spring
refreshment, I’d force miniature and dwarf daffodils, bringing in
pots of them from the cold frame and sinking them in the soil. I’d
want the silky-soft foliage and royal-purple flowers of _Tibouchina
semidecandra_, the glory bush; but I’d pinch and prune it, to
keep it fairly low. I’d want a large basket floating airy fronds,
one of the davallias, or rabbit’s-foot ferns, and a smaller basket
for the variegated _Abutilon megapotamicum_, because I love its
gold-splashed leaves strung neatly along wiry stems, and its dangling
red-and-yellow lantern flowers.

Just one more thing to complete my dream. Near the door of my
dream-greenhouse garden, I’d have a special box for my guests, a box
filled with small plants from which they could choose a parting gift.
(I know if this greenhouse works out as I picture it, I shall have
guests. I shall be happy to see them come, and a bit wistful when they
leave. I will feel better if they take a small token of my gardening
with them as they go.)

Frankly, this idea of a dream greenhouse came upon me quite casually.
Much as we love our home here in Redding, Connecticut, we discovered
a place which we felt we would like even better--a manor sort of
place with stables, pools, formal gardens, a very charming old house,
and seemingly endless rock walls. My husband and I fell in love with
it--he, I think, because of a quarter-mile of trout streams, I, because
it had a most charming greenhouse, the one I have been dreaming about.
At this writing the entire project is still very much in the future,
but we have hopes.

To be reluctantly honest, my greenhouse garden is not a brand-new
idea. Mammoth conservatories are often planted as gardens, and so
are the “plant rooms” now built into the more luxurious contemporary
homes. Both are often show places, with plants brought in for display
at the peak of their flowering beauty and, as they begin to fade,
returned to spend the rest of the year in more utilitarian growing
quarters. My garden would be a year-round project, the plants allowed
to live through their natural cycles of active growth and rest without
disturbance. We follow this procedure out of doors when we plant
annuals over the spring-flowering bulbs; why not indoors, too?


   Tropical garden in early stages with room for creeping ground
   cover and growing trees.]

And, of course, there must be many hobby greenhouses already planted as
gardens. I saw one near Boston, a fairly large one set into the side of
a steep hill. It was a perfect piece of a desert, with the soil made
suitably sandy and the curious cacti and other succulents growing as
naturally as though they had never left home. Mrs. Ernesta Ballard has
a small tropical greenhouse so realistically planted you feel as if
you are in an exotic jungle the minute you step inside the door. But
both of these places lack one important asset--room for the rocking
chair and the radio with its soft music, things I hope I won’t have to
be without.


   A miniature garden in a glass-covered terrarium]

This complete greenhouse garden may not appeal to you, or it may not
be practical or possible. In that case, I urge you to try a smaller
naturalistic planting of some sort, if only to get that “garden
feeling” and see how happy it makes your plants.

As a substitute for that Boston desert garden, I filled a small section
of one of our greenhouse benches with a suitable soil mixture and
planted it with small cacti and other colorful succulents, with here
and there an interesting rock or two. These plants never flowered so
freely when confined in pots, never showed off to such advantage. But
I made one big mistake. I failed to make allowance for the more lusty
growth, and planted the garden much too thickly. In just a few months
the garden looked not the least like a sparse and frugal desert, but
more like a menagerie of scrambling, hoydenish pets.


    Dream greenhouse, delightful and enchanting]

Another garden that is not quite so wild and reckless is planted
around a small pool under a greenhouse bench. The pool is actually a
large plastic basin that must be emptied and cleaned with fastidious
regularity. It would be better, of course, dug out and cement-lined,
with a drainage pipe at the bottom. The plants are tropical, because
they are in the warmth near the heating pipes; shade-loving, because
a bench (even though it is slatted and admits some light) is above
them. This is an excellent place for ferns, upright or climbing foliage
plants, soft ground covers like selaginella. If I were to install
fluorescent lights, I could add a number of flowering varieties.

  [Illustration: A fancy to build on in the Oriental manner]


   The author’s succulent garden]

A soil-filled bench is the site of my husband’s pet project, a grove
of miniature fruit trees. There always seem to be flowers or fruits on
the small orange, lemon, kumquat, and pomegranate trees. But again,
we erred. We did not realize how vigorously these trees would respond
to having their roots free in soil. The dwarf banana and ever-bearing
fig now threaten to exceed dwarf proportions at any moment, even to go
through the roof.


   Rampant greenhouse with citrus trees, banana tree, and birch
   trunk covered with bromeliads]

A naturalistic planting that occupies a minimum of bench space is a
bromeliad tree fitted with a sturdy stand to hold it upright. (The
stand we are using actually is a Christmas-tree stand.) For the tree
itself, we selected the top of a birch tree which blew over in the
woods behind our garage. The tropical green contrasts nicely with the
white bark of the birch, otherwise our selection wasn’t too wise. Birch
wood is soft and doesn’t last too long, hence we have been propping
and wiring branches to keep them in place. Cracks, crotches, and
pockets created for the purpose are packed with osmunda fiber tightly
wrapped around the base of all kinds of brilliant bromeliads, some few
orchids, a staghorn fern, and other epiphytic plants. The plants need
not even be rooted if the osmunda is packed tightly around the base; if
they’re wired in place so tightly that the spray from the hose can’t
loosen them, they’ll soon be at home on the tree. Their roots will
grow through the osmunda and they will attach themselves to the tree.
Of course, the osmunda must be kept moist until the roots form. Once
rooted they are fed by dusting the outside of the sphagnum with soluble
fertilizer and watering it in. As a finishing touch, we threw strands
of Spanish moss over the branches. The misty-gray moss thrives, and
even flowers.

As further proof that many plants prefer freedom to being confined
in pots, try planting just one creeper--an episcia, for example--in
the center of a spot filled with suitable soil. See how soon it will
garland the top with lush foliage, how freely it flowers. Many plants
recommended for hanging baskets are really creepers and are better off
when treated this way.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Large or small, a greenhouse garden, like any other, should be designed
carefully and never planted until you have the plan firmly in mind.
Each plant should be given room in relation to all the others, and
not merely at planting time but with maturity time in mind. Allow
plenty of space for spreaders to spread and creepers to creep; and
make sure every climber has its support. And, of course, plants in
close proximity should have compatible cultural preferences in soil,
moisture, light, and the like.

_Light and Sunlight_

It shouldn’t be difficult, in a complete greenhouse garden, to arrange
for areas of full sunlight, partial or dappled sun, and shade, and to
do it in a natural manner. Tall plants will get the sun first and for
the longest time; but you could also build a slope, a sand dune, or a
rock garden that would face the sun and get the most of it. Partial-sun
plants could be placed where they are only lightly shaded by other
plants or, if necessary, by shadings on the sections of glass above
them. Shade-loving plants can grow under small trees and bushes.

Almost any greenhouse, in any area, should have shading applied to
the glass in early summer. Several shading compounds are available, in
white or green, and are mixed and applied with either a wide brush or
a sprayer. These compounds are constituted so that they slowly weather
away during the summer and leave the glass clear by autumn. But if you
happen to have plants that need all of the winter sun possible, it is
wise also to clean the glass.


Greenhouses are generally classed as cool (40–60 degrees), moderate
(50–70 degrees), or warm (60–80 degrees). This refers to the minimum
night temperatures at which the thermostat is set to regulate the
furnace or heater. In warm climates where an air-conditioner is used,
it follows the same scale. Greenhouse plants are usually classified
similarly. But if other cultural conditions are favorable, many plants
will tolerate a much wider range.

In order to grow the widest variety of plants, I set my greenhouse
thermostat at 60 degrees in winter. This is a little warm for some
cool-growing items such as geraniums, and causes outdoor garden plants
(annuals, perennials, and vegetables started from seed) to grow
slightly leggy and lank. But they recuperate in a hurry when they
are moved outside. This temperature is slightly cool for subtropical
plants; some gesneriads merely hold their own through the winter,
neither growing nor flowering; some extremely tender begonias are
forced into dormancy, from which they awaken in warm spring weather.

_Humidity and Ventilation_

With such a motley assortment of plants, I try to keep relative
humidity at 75 per cent or higher. The minute the gauge dips below that
mark, we wet down the walks and benches. Of course, this happens only
on bright, sunny days. During dark, gloomy weather we water and mist as
little as possible.

Constant circulation of fresh air is extremely important all year long.
Our doors and vents are wide open in summer. On quiet winter days
we may open doors or vents just a crack for a short time. Automatic
ventilation is a marvelous convenience in late winter and early spring
when the sun suddenly seems to get very hot and threatens to scorch
everything under the glass.


Whether a greenhouse garden is a small flat, part of a bench, or a
large ground bed, soil should be prepared carefully to suit the kind
of plant that will grow in it. You’ll find “recipes” of all kinds in
any authoritative greenhouse garden book. Prepared soil mixtures should
be at least a foot deep for beds in which you plan to grow plants of
moderate size. For fruit trees and other larger plants, make it even


The fertilizing schedule which works so well for my house plants,
seems to do equally well for my greenhouse plants. I shall stay with
it until I find something better. But it does seem possible that a
large greenhouse garden, with large areas of carefully prepared and
nutritious soil, would probably need feeding slightly less frequently
than plants in pots. I shall have to try this, when my dream greenhouse
comes true.


One of the “musts” in my dream greenhouse will be both hot and cold
water, and a provision for mixing them as they flow into the hose.
Thus, watering will be like a gentle summer rain. I’ll have an
extra-fine nozzle to break the stream into a delicate mist. Warmed
water in a fine spray surely should not injure tender foliage in
any way. And think what fun it would be to water a garden this way,
enjoying the slightly musty fragrance of a warm summer night when soil
is moistened by rain--and all of this in January when the snow is piled
deep in drifts and banks outside the house.


These are the little everyday pleasures of gardening in a
greenhouse--snipping back a wandering branch, chiding a creeper and
pulling it back from crawling over a neighbor, picking off a faded
flower, supporting a branch heavily laden with flowers or fruit. It
is real fun, and makes the difference between an overgrown mass and a
carefully tended garden in which each plant appears at its best and
in harmony with the others. Cleanliness--the removal of all organic
matter before it rots, the rinsing away of dust and dirt--is the best
protective measure against infiltration of insects and disease.

_Insects and Disease_

When my retirement time comes, I may have to make a choice. Which do
I want most--the convenience of fumigation with greenhouse “bombs,”
or the presence of pet frogs, ladybugs, friendly insects, chameleons,
and the like among my greenery? I am sure I will choose the latter,
because I will have plenty of time to tend my greenhouse garden; and
it’s not too much trouble to “spot spray” any plant that shows signs of
problems. Anyway, it’s risky to use strong fumigants in a greenhouse
that is attached to a dwelling, unless it is tightly closed in and
has no cracks or fissures for leakage. And who could be sure of that.
Anyhow, if I killed all the insects, what would the frogs find to eat.

                        GREENHOUSE PROPAGATING

Actually, I have two propagating cases in our large greenhouse. One is
completely enclosed in plastic to keep the humid air even more humid.
It has three or four inches of perlite on top of an electric coil to
give it gentle bottom heat. The cuttings are inserted in rows so they
are easier to manage and remove when their time comes. Here I root all
cuttings from delicate plants and those with large leaves that need
high humidity to keep from wilting and drying while roots are forming.
My little plastic boxes of difficult seeds are also set there, where
they will keep warm and protected.

The second propagating box is wide open--merely an extra-large flat
filled with sharp sand. Here I root the more rugged, or succulent,
plants, such as cacti, geraniums, semperflorens begonias, and
anything that may rot if kept too moist. Indeed, the sand may dry out
occasionally, but they don’t seem to mind. Both cases are shaded by
some old bamboo blinds.

(_All of the window-garden plants listed in Chapter 6 do very well in
greenhouses. See also the forced bulbs in Chapter 13._)

                              _CHAPTER 6_


My gardening friends certainly vary as to ability, inclination, talent,
and aptitude. At one extreme there is Aunt Minnie, whose green thumb
injects magic into every pot and for whom every plant grows to buxom,
blooming perfection. At the other end of the scale there is the poor
soul who tries so hard but can’t keep a plant alive no matter what she
does. Why do some plant-lovers never fail, while others never seem to
win? There are a number of reasons, including a difference in growing
conditions, variations in the types of plants, and even the amount of
practical experience or common sense Aunt Minnie is blessed with.

The truth is that there is no single, incontrovertible secret to
success, but rather a combination of many factors of equal, or nearly
equal, importance. The best soil in the world won’t make plants flower
unless temperature and sunlight are right. The frequency with which
you water plants should be affected by indoor temperature, humidity,
and pot size. And don’t think it is Aunt Minnie’s favorite brand of
fertilizer alone that keep her plants in good health.

In our house, and in countless others, it is not possible to make
growing conditions as perfect as a plant might wish; but we try to come
as close as we can, and find most plants are willing and able to make
concessions. One more thing we do. We learn all about each plant’s
natural home--desert, steamy jungle, Mexican mountainside--so we’ll
know what combination of conditions it likes best.


_Light and Sunlight_

Plants need daylight to make energy; they can’t grow without it, or its
equivalent in artificial light. They need some sunlight to set buds,
and can’t flower without it or a substitute. Intensity and duration of
light should vary according to each plant’s preferences.

No plant of ours is left to waste its life away on the fireplace
mantel, where the light is too dim to read the printing on a book
of matches. Granted, we might set it there for a day or so as a
decoration, but we would return it to its bright window sill before it
began to stretch out weakly in search of light. These are the signs
of insufficient light--weak, lopsided growth; leaves that feel limp
and look pale; new leaves, if any, growing progressively smaller and
smaller; long leaf stems and long internodes.

Our window greenhouse, which faces south, is reserved for flowering
plants that need all the light and sun we can give them, particularly
in winter. This is Connecticut, remember; the winter sun seldom
gets very hot or stays bright very long. And there are days on end
when the sun simply does not show its face. California’s “shade
plants”--begonias and fuchsias, for example--require full sun during a
Northern winter.

For plants that are not quite so greedy for sunshine, we have the
east-facing playroom picture window, which is lightly shaded by a
high-branched deciduous tree in summer. For foliage plants, and a few
others that will thrive on little or no sun, there are several other
windows around the house where there is plentiful daylight, but the sun
is seldom seen.

Your situation may be entirely different--perhaps a glassed-in
porch that’s brighter than our window sills ever will be; or a
contemporary-style glassed-in entry that lets sun stream in all winter
long. Keep in mind that various plants have varying needs for light and
sunlight; and the only sun that benefits a plant is that which falls
directly on it. A south window may actually be shady in summer, and
this is truer the farther south you go.


Some plants grow their healthiest when the thermometer reads 50 to 55
degrees at night and 5 to 10 degrees higher during the day; some tender
tropical _émigrés_ suffer a chill when the mercury dips under 60
degrees at night. But the greatest number will tolerate a fairly wide
range, and are quite content with whatever the house has to offer. This
again assumes that other conditions, such as humidity, are kept up to
the plants’ requirements.

Temperature tolerances are directly affected by the humidity in the
air. Many plants will accept a temperature that is higher than average
if the air is moist. Some will accept a temperature that is below
average if the air is not too moist. In air that’s too hot and dry,
leaf edges will often turn brown and crisp; when it is too cool, a
plant may stop growing temporarily; when it is both too cool and too
moist, there may be danger of rot. Don’t trust the thermostat that
governs your house heating system to tell you whether the temperature
is right for a plant; measure it on the very spot where the plant is


This is often a more crucial factor than temperature, and one that
is more troublesome to change. Relative humidity is a measure of the
amount of moisture in the air as compared with the maximum amount of
moisture the air can hold at a given temperature. It is expressed in
percentage figures.

Most plants find it difficult to breathe in dry air; they need some
moisture around, on, and in their leaves. (People are better off when
they have it, too.) Alone, or teamed up with unsuitable temperature,
low humidity can cause leaves to wither, buds to drop before they open,
and even an invasion of mites or some other pest.

A humidity gauge is not nearly so familiar a household item as a
thermometer, but it is equally useful, usually better looking, and not
much more costly. And it can come up with some eye-opening information.
The humidity gauge will tell you very quickly, for example, when an
air-conditioning system is missing its recommended mark of 50 per cent
relative humidity. It will stop you from overwatering in muggy weather.
It will show you that humidity can be dangerously low in the window
where your plants are growing, even though it is perfectly acceptable
three feet away. (Perhaps there is a radiator beneath the window.)

What you do to increase humidity depends on how low it is, and on what
type of plant you are growing. At our house we have three systems
for the humidity problem--the lazy, the halfway, and the necessary
nuisance. The lazy way works fine for dry-air-type plants such as most
cacti and other succulents. We simply grow them where the hot blasts
from the radiator are strongest. They don’t wither, and when on sunny
days we water them, we also mist them with a fine water spray. (For
an easy misting device, we have an old Windex bottle with a spraying
attachment in the cap. It does a fine job. Of course, there are other
commercial products with built-in sprayers. Perhaps you have one in
your kitchen.)

To go “halfway,” you set up some simple humidifying device. The
containers which you fill with water and hang behind the radiators are
effective to some extent. But don’t forget to keep them filled. Pans
of water on top of the radiator also help. A steam kettle, such as you
use when the kiddies have a chest cold, can be used for a few hours.
But remember, that steam is hot, so be careful not to get it too close
to your plants. Just keep it in the general vicinity; please, not too
close! Here is something else we often use--put some gravel, sand,
perlite, or vermiculite in a plate or platter, pour in some water, and
put your flower pot in it. The water will evaporate and moisten the
air around your plant. If you have a number of plants, get a metal or
plastic tray. If you have a decorative garden, you might want to have
a tray made to order, to fit your space. Paint it a pleasing color.
I have seen such trays decorated with decals, but personally, I’d
rather rely on my plants for the necessary decoration. In having a tray
made--we’ve had several made by our tinsmith--the larger the tray, the

The “nuisance” system is usually necessary only for very delicate
tropical plants that flourish in highly humid jungles and rain forests.
They will need the platter, or tray of moist sand, plus some enclosure
to hold in the moist air. For a single small plant, this can be an
inverted bell jar, or a tent made from a polyethylene bag (the sort
vegetables are often packed in) and propped over the jar and plant.
A larger bag can be used to protect several plants. You can even use
kitchen-type plastics such as Saran Wrap. A collection of tropicals
almost calls for an indoor greenhouse, like the oldtime Wardian case.
In our window greenhouse we can close the inside sash and, with the aid
of pans of water, keep the humidity just about where we want it. On
cold nights the electric-coil heater isn’t always adequate, so we open
the sash to get the benefit of the heat of the room.

The plants that need this extra humidification are definitely in the
minority; most are content with simple measures, or none at all.


When I first became interested in a wide variety of indoor plants, I
prepared soil mixtures with the care and precision I had used in making
the formulas for our children. It involved trips to the woods for leaf
mold, sifting and mixing ingredients, and sterilizing the ordinary soil
which we used in order to kill the seeds that are found in almost all
soils. In our Long Island home we had an extra stove in the basement
which we used for canning and other secondary purposes. I’d fill the
oven with old baking pans and other receptacles which contained my
potting soil, and light the burner. Frankly, it “reeked” and the reek
was all over the house. It was as though we were burning feathers in
the fireplace. Now that I am less energetic, and somewhat wiser, I buy
prepared soil.

I find that for a reasonable number of plants the prepared soil is not
costly and saves a lot of time and preparation. Of course, if you are
a professional you may have your own ideas about soil, and your own
formulas for a mixture. I’ll admit I do a little mixing on my own, but
that is because I grow many different kinds of plants in pots, and each
has individual preferences. Most cacti and succulents need something
sandy that doesn’t hold moisture too long, as is natural in their
desert homes. Tropical plants need a light, porous medium that is rich
in moisture-holding humus, like decayed leaves on the jungle floor.
Some plants get nourishment only from acid soil, some need alkaline
soil, some like soil nearly neutral. I’ve found Michigan peat moss a
good starting base regardless of requirements of individual plants.

I like to dish it right out of the bag. When done, I always pull the
plastic inner liner together to keep it moist. In extra dry weather
I often wet a sponge and put it on top of the mixture. Potting is a
pleasure, because Michigan peat feels so soft, silky, and clean. At
repotting time I discover well-developed, healthy root systems.

For plants that require better-than-average drainage--mostly
succulents--I mix peat moss with builders’ sand. (Want to know
where I got my last batch of builders’ sand?--from a contractor who
was building a house down the road. He and his wife happen to be
begonia lovers and he was charmed to know about my book _All About
Begonias_.) The formula for the mixture is two-thirds soil and
one-third sand. For even greater aeration, I may throw in a moderate
ration of crushed charcoal.

On the other hand, some of my plants insist that their soil always be
moist. For them I add coarse vermiculite, perlite, or Pelonex, and
in a similar ratio. These soil conditioners have the ability to hold
moisture without making the soil muddy or soggy.

There is another item on my potting-soil shelf--a jar of horticultural
lime. This is for plants that dislike acidity. I either add it to the
potting soil--a scant teaspoon per three-inch pot--or mix it with
water, to be applied later. With or without these added ingredients, I
feel that a good potting soil has sufficient nutrients for almost any
plant for several months; so I seldom mix in fertilizer of any kind.


When and how to repot a plant should be the least of a gardener’s
problems. Here is a case where hovering, pampering, and fussing
usually does more harm than good. Plants are often better repotted
_mañana_ than today.

I know many of my plants have benefited from the fact that I have been
too busy to repot them whenever the impulse came over me. I hate to
think how many I have killed with kindness in my less active years.

Remember my Aunt Minnie? She embarked on a big repotting spree every
spring, but not very often in between. Some of her most handsome
specimens have lived in coffee tins and large juice cans for years.
Instinctively she knows when a plant should be repotted. Don’t ask me
how she knows it. And when that time comes, she goes about it in a
firm, no-nonsense manner, firmly but tenderly.

There is one sure way to tell whether a plant needs a new pot. Turn
the old pot upside down, tap the contents loose, and examine the soil
ball. If it is completely covered with a network of roots, get busy
with a larger pot. If not, don’t repot, just slip it back where it was
before and give it a loving pat. If you happen to have a seedling you
have great hopes of raising to a beautiful maturity, it will have to be
repotted more often.

The kind of pot is a matter of personal choice. Plastics are lighter
in weight, easier to clean, and capable of keeping soil moist for a
longer period of time. This makes them suitable for moisture-loving
plants, or for gardeners who have a tendency to forget the watering
pot. Clay pots are porous, and because they let air seep into plants,
they dry out faster. This makes them best for dry-growing plants, and
for overwaterers (like me).

Actually, the size of the pot is more important than the type. It takes
an expert to know how to water a plant when it is overpotted. You are
not doing your plant a favor by housing it in a pot several sizes too
large; in fact, you may even be signing its death certificate. As a
rule, the new pot should be only one size larger than the previous
one, thus leaving just enough room around the roots for some fresh
soil. Pack the new soil firmly with your finger tips, a pencil, or a
slim piece of wood. Be sure there are no empty air-pockets. Water it
thoroughly and set it in a light, but not sunny, spot, for about a
week. This will give it time to recover from any transplanting “shock.”

This discussion about overpotting applies to plants in general, but it
is even more important with miniatures. Smaller pots will keep them
down to natural, miniature size.


Many people who have fewer plants than I--and more time--tend to make
a fetish of fertilizing. I am afraid my methods are haphazard, and not
to be recommended. Anyway, I will tell you what I do. Follow it if you
like, but quite possibly you may have a better method which you prefer.

I keep two kinds of house-plant fertilizer on hand--a reliable brand
of soluble commercial chemical plant food (it dissolves in water and
has the note “trace elements added” on the label) and an organic
food. This organic food is either manure water or fish emulsion. The
fish emulsion comes bottled and is diluted with water. As an amusing
sidelight, our tomcat goes slightly out of his mind when around a
potted plant that has had fish emulsion for its dinner. The cat just
can’t find the source of that aroma. Manure water, on the other hand,
has no such fascination. It is easy to prepare. Simply wrap a portion
of well-rotted manure in a section of cheesecloth or burlap, and steep
it in the watering pot long enough to produce a “tea” fluid. Better do
this out of doors, in the garage, or in the tool shed. It is usually
“olfactorily offensive.”

Once a month I make a solution of the chemical fertilizer, at half the
strength recommended on the label of the package, and feed plants as I
water them. Two weeks later, and once a week after that if they need
it, I feed with the organic solution. This, I think, constitutes a
“balanced diet” for most types of plants.

Like overpotting, overfertilizing can lead to lost plants. It is my
observation that an underfed plant usually doesn’t die quickly. It
simply slows down until you have time to feed it. It is particularly
important _not_ to fertilize plants that have been repotted
recently, plants that are unhealthy or are plagued by insects or
disease, plants that are resting right after flowering, plants that are
dormant or semidormant, as some of them are at certain times of the
year. _Do_ fertilize plants that are in active growth, setting
buds, or in full bloom, plants that are aglow with good health, plants
whose roots have filled, or nearly filled, their pots.


My children, who are learning to care for plants rather early, have
been grounded in one fundamental fact--feel the soil in the pot to
see if the plant needs water. If the soil is dry, fetch the watering
pot (succulents can be an exception). I have been told my kiddies have
had arguments at school about watering the plants which cluster on the
sunny window sills. The usual procedure in our Redding school is to
assign the care of the plants to a different child each day. He, or
she, floods everything with water and then retires to his, or her, desk
with the feeling of having done his, or her, good deed for the day.
Plants, alas, are not like goldfish. They don’t care for swimming.

This brings up a question I am frequently asked about house plants:
“How often should they be watered?” Even an IBM calculator with a
thousand cards feeding through its maw couldn’t come up with a better
answer than this simple statement: “Water them when they need it.”

At the risk of repeating myself, I will sum up my thoughts on this
problem, and then go on to other subjects. Test the soil with your
fingers, if it is dry, you can most likely water with impunity. If
moist, more water is inviting root rot. When you water, make sure
the entire soil ball is so saturated that excess water runs out the
drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Miniature plants are likely
to require more frequent watering, because their pots are small and
they are small. Frequency of watering: Here we get into an awful lot
of tangibles, and some intangibles. There are such things to consider
as the type of plant and its moisture needs, size of the plant and its
pot, what sort of soil is in the pot, is the plant root-bound or not,
is it in active growth or dormant, what is the weather like out of
doors--is it warm or blustery, clear and sunny, dark and humid, or just
another day. Remember, on hot dry days the moisture is going to slip
away into the atmosphere. On cloudy days it will hang around longer;
humidity will take care of that. If you feel your plant needs water and
you are afraid of flooding it, you might try another device. Put some
moist peat in a larger pot--or you can use vermiculite or perlite--and
set the plant and its pot inside this larger pot.

Right now you may be wondering about hanging baskets and those plants
that are wrapped in osmunda and mounted on slabs of wood. Give them a
good dunking in the kitchen sink but let the excess water drain off
before you hang them again, out of deference to your carpeting and
furniture. Actually, the plants don’t care whether they spot your
furnishings or not.

If all of this is confusing, may I sum it up in a phrase: “Just use
your common sense” (horse sense may be a better term). I know I have
written a few books about plants and gardening, and countless magazine
articles, but here is a very candid confession. Until a very few years
ago I knew practically nothing about the subject. What I know I learned
by reading books and magazine articles, and “doing.” I know I killed
a few plants out of ignorance, but I killed more with kindness. Every
time a plant withered and died I felt badly. But I considered it a
lesson in what to do, or not to do. I tried to find the cause for the
demise. Today I have the satisfaction of having raised thousands of
plants to beautiful bloomhood, and largely because of the sacrifice
of some obscure begonia, or petunia, a few years back. I have been
acclaimed as having a “green thumb.” Actually I do not have a green
thumb. No one has. I thoroughly dislike the term. I dislike the
implication that a person has a God-given quality which makes plants
grow. Making plants grow and prosper is largely the mastering of a
few rules, and the use of a lot of common sense. I’ll grant you, much
of your common sense comes the “hard way.” But it is fun. I bow most
respectfully to those plants which I killed with ignorance and kindness.


This is the “beauty-parlor” treatment for your plants. Fading flowers
and dying leaves are as unattractive on a plant as those unruly
ringlets in a woman’s coiffure. In fact, they are even worse. They take
strength from a plant and are unsanitary. Remove them as regularly as
you can. You’ll be adding to the welfare of your plant. If the plant
is of a type that needs to be pruned or pinched to keep it comely and
compact, perform the operation before the branches get that gangly,
middle-aged spread. Pinching out the new growing tips, either with
sharp fingernails or sharper scissors, usually produces two new
branches. If you pinch out the tips of these, you will most likely get
four new branches and your plant will become pleasingly plump. The
exception is the plant that blooms from the ends of new growth. Stop
your pinching before the bud-setting season.

Not many miniatures need staking to keep them upright. If stake you
must, do it as inconspicuously as possible and tie the stems neatly in
their natural growing manner. Train miniature creepers in the direction
you want them to grow, and miniature climbers up their supports. Rinse
foliage with a fine spray (use that discarded Windex bottle I described
earlier) as often as you can to wash away dust and dirt. Please, may I
throw in a plea right here--recently I saw a commercial product which
some people use to make their plants more green. It is a spray for
foliage. For the moment it makes plants look green with its sheen. But
it also clogs the pores on the plant and its leaves. For the moment it
is beautiful; for permanency it is harmful. Decide, do you want your
plant to live for the moment only?

_Insects and Disease_

Not long ago, when visiting a friend, I was taken out to her sun room
to see her plants. She was proud, but I was shocked. What I saw was the
most amazingly bug-ridden collection of fuchsias and geraniums I have
seen in many a moon, plus a few poor distorted other flowers which were
trying to survive. My poor hostess, honestly, I think she had no idea
of her problems and the future of her plants. In fact, they had little
future. I thought over that problem for a spell, and then told her the
facts of life. Fortunately, she was able to save much of her greenery.

That poor gardener was on one end of the spectrum. On the other end
are the overanxious ones who treat their plants with so many sprays
and dusts that the leaves never get a chance to breathe pure air.
Fortunately, in between there are the sane, sensible growers who are
able to cope with the insects and diseases which beset house plants. As
for myself, I have been at both extremes.

I now find prevention is the best protection. That is an old saw, but
the best one I know. I keep plants and pots clean, remove dead flowers
and foliage before they decay, and use germ-free potting soil. People
often give me plants. I accept them most politely, and gratefully;
but I am cautious about mingling them with my other residents of the
greenhouse and window garden. I keep them in a quarantine section for a
few weeks. No use asking for trouble, and I trust my friends understand.

For immediate and reliable treatment, I rely on an “all-purpose”
house-plant spray or a dip. As long as I am careful to keep it up, I
seem to have no great problems. When I get careless, as humans are wont
to do, I regret it.

It is very convenient to rely on the new aerosol bombs--those that
are specifically marked for house plants, and not those for household
insects. There are several reliable brands, each listing on the
label what they are to be used for. If there happens to be an added
fungicide, so much to the good. That will cover just about everything.

A few words of caution about the use of aerosol bombs. Follow the
instructions on the label to the letter. Hold the bomb at least
eighteen inches away from your plant, maybe more. Some of those fluids
come out of the can at a very low temperature and have the same effect
as a blowtorch on foliage. Try to make sure the spray hits all parts of
the plant. Remember, leaves also have an underside. Don’t let bugs use
that underside as a hide-out.

There was a word of caution on each aerosol container I have seen: “Do
not throw into an open flame when empty.” My husband wondered what
would happen if he did. He tossed an empty can into the trash burner
and got behind a tree. The explosion sounded like a hand grenade left
over from World War II and he had to get a new lid for the burner.
Please take my word for it and don’t take that chance. Let him be crazy
if he likes, but not you. I don’t like to lose readers so early in my

I know I take precautions, but in spite of everything my plants become
infected at times. When that happens it’s helpful if you can recognize
the symptoms, diagnose the ailment, and apply the cure. With your
interests in mind, I have put together a list of sorts which includes
the most prevalent house-plant insects and diseases, the telltale signs
of their arrival, and the insecticides and fungicides which will send
them to their happier hunting grounds. If I have skipped anything, my
apologies. If you are having special problems, phone your local county
agricultural agent. He is a good man to know anyhow. But please, unless
you have something that is out of hand, don’t bedevil the man. He is
probably concerned with ticks on sheep, ringworm, hog cholera, breachy
cows, grubworms, and forty people who want to know why their hollyhocks
didn’t bloom.

                       PROPAGATING HOUSE PLANTS

It’s hard to tell which provides the warmest pleasure, to give a friend
or visitor a rooted, potted cutting of some plant she has admired,
or to come home with a gift cutting of a new plant you have admired
and coveted. There is a thrill also in adding a new plant to your
collection by growing seed from a seed house. And I always have another
thrill when the church or the school asks me to contribute plants for
the annual bazaars. Fortunately, I usually am able to anticipate these
requests far enough in advance to have a supply ready and waiting.

                          PESTS AND TREATMENT

                        _Symptoms_                 _Treatment_

    Aphids           Little louse-like        This is an easy one to
    (Nasty plant     insects.                 get rid of, but likely
    lice)            Green in color in        to return if you don’t
                     our area.                watch out. Use a solution
                     Clustered on new         of Black Leaf 40
                     leaves, on flowers,      (nicotine sulfate) in a
                     and around stems         combination spray with
                                              lindane or pyrethrum and
                                              malathion. Or you can use
                                              any of them alone

    Mealybugs        Little white dabs of     Dip an artist’s paint
    (Don’t let them  cotton clinging to       brush or a cotton-wrapped
    frighten you)    tender joints, stems,    toothpick in a solution
                     and the underside of     of malathion. Remove the
                     leaves                   pests one by one

    Mites            Buds and new leaves      Dip plants in a solution
                     are puckered and         of malathion, Kelthane,
                     distorted. The           or Tedion according to
                     underside of the         the directions on the
                     leaves may show fine,    label
                     white silky webs

    Mildew           Silvery dust             Dust plants with sulfur,
                     disfigures the           or spray with one of the
                     leaves, most likely      new fungicides like
                     in dark, muggy summer    captan, zineb, etc. Give
                     weather                  plants more space and
                                              increase air circulation

    Scale            Hard brown, or green,    Dip plant in a solution
                     scales irregularly on    of malathion. Repeat
                     the underside of         according to directions

    Slugs            Slimy villains, like     Use special slug-bait
                     shell-less snails,       containing metaldehyde
                     which hide in soil or    according to package
                     under pots by day and    directions
                     come out to chew
                     holes in leaves at

    Thrips           Brownish blotches        Dip or spray with
                     under leaves.            malathion all-purpose
                     Disfigured flowers       mixture containing
                                              lindane, pyrethrum

    White Fly        Minute flies swarm       Spray or dip in
                     in the air about the     malathion, or an
                     plant when disturbed     all-purpose mixture

Since I fashioned my first crude propagating box--a square cake-tin
with a rickety frame covered with kitchen plastic--I’ve always had
some sort of similar device in operation. They have been of many sizes
and shapes, and have included an aquarium vacated by the children’s
goldfish, and a fruit crate from the grocery with cut-to-measure glass
sides and top (I use masking tape to hold the corners). The one thing
common to all of these boxes is the three-inch layer of some moist
propagating medium, ready to receive seeds and cuttings.

The latest and most attractive box I’ve used is the Gro-Master--a
ready-made plug-in propagator with an electric coil in the bottom to
provide gentle bottom heat. Several similar devices are also available.
With something like this one can hardly miss germinating even the most
difficult house-plant seeds, or rooting even the most delicate cuttings.

The choice of a propagating medium is all yours. I’ve used vermiculite,
perlite, and Pelonex with unqualified success. I tried sharp sand but
discovered that it dried out too fast for anything but succulents. Peat
alone, or mixed with sand, tends to pack and rots rather quickly. I
tried a blend of equal parts of peat, vermiculite, and perlite. It held
up rather well, but I seldom bother to mix it. Regardless of what you
prefer to use, have the medium moist when you use it, and water just
enough to keep it barely moist during the rooting process.

Of course, with many types of plants, you can root “slips” in a glass
of water on your kitchen window sill. But in any kind of propagating
box, where the air is kept humid and the delicate plants are protected
from drafts and drying-out, you have a better chance.

_House Plants from Seed_

African violets and other gesneriads, all types of begonias and
geraniums, and many other indoor plants can be grown quite easily
from seed. I like to plant each variety in its own small plastic
refrigerator dish with a half-inch or so of soil (moist, sterilized
soil that is) in the bottom of the dish. Sometimes I use plastic
ice-cube trays. When planting powder-fine seeds, I usually add a thin
layer of moist, finely-milled sphagnum moss and make it very smooth.
Dust the tiny seeds over this surface, but don’t cover them with soil.
Larger seeds should be covered with soil or more moss. Next, cover the
container tightly and set it in a warm spot. That is when you will
appreciate a propagating box. If the moss and soil begins to dry out,
moisten it by gently running drops of water down the sides of the
container. Please be gentle and tender. Tiny seeds and seedlings should
not be disturbed.

When the seedlings have developed one or two true leaves of fairly
substantial size, pick them out very gently and transplant them to
another “community” container, or to individual thumb pots. Keep them
humid and protected until they are big enough to need transplanting
again. After that, they should be nearly ready to become adjusted to
grown-up growing conditions in a window, or some other indoor garden.

One of the neatest tricks of the year is the Water ‘N’ Watch indoor
garden developed and sold by Peggie Schulz, an attractive plastic
planter complete with soil and planted with fourteen types of seeds.
You simply follow her instructions, add water, and watch the seedlings
germinate and grow. Gradually you remove the plastic dome when the
plants are large enough. At transplanting time, remove the seedlings to
separate pots, or leave a few to mature in the planter. This device is
just about as work-free a method of growing house plants as there is.

  [Illustration: Propagation box developed by Peggie Schulz, author
  and garden columnist]

  [Illustration: Sprouted stem cuttings of dwarf geraniums]

_Stem Cuttings_

This is the most familiar way to propagate house plants, and the
method that works best for most kinds of plants. With the exception
of miniature orchids, stem cuttings can be taken from any house plant
mentioned in this book, and your chances for success are very good if
you have a propagating box for them.

Generally, stem cuttings are the ends cut from branches that are in
healthy, active growth. Each should be more than a mere tip, and have
at least two nodes, or “joints.” The large, bottom leaves are stripped
off very gently and the cut end of the stem is inserted, to about half
of its length, in the propagating medium. When you see evidences of new
growth, or when roots have developed, dig under it with a spoon and
remove it for potting. (Here is the test to determine if roots have
developed: Pull on the cutting, very gently of course. If you feel
resistance you know it has roots which are holding it down.) Pot your
new plant very carefully in soil that is suitable for it; and please,
don’t add fertilizer to this soil.

For stem cuttings, and most other methods of propagation, there are now
certain hormone rooting preparations. They speed up rooting, make it
more certain, and help to develop larger and healthier root systems. Be
sure you get the correct type for softwood cuttings, or indoor plants.
In using these new hormones, follow the directions on the package

_Leaf Cuttings_

It is a well-known fact that African violets will reproduce themselves
from a single leaf. However, it is not so well known that there are
dozens of other plants that will do the same. For example, more than
once I have taken a succulent leaf, laid it out flat on moist sand, and
had it grow roots and a small new plant. Leaves of peperomias, and many
other plants, can be cut, with or without a piece of stem, and will
grow bushy new plantlets. Some kinds of begonias will send out roots
from the end of the stem, or new plants from the point above where stem
and leaf join.

Except for some succulents, leaf cuttings are usually inserted with
their stem ends in a moist propagating medium, with their leaves
standing nearly upright above. (Again, you are safer if you have a
propagating box, even though it be a crude one.) When they are well
rooted and the new plants are of fair size, the cuttings are potted
with the old leaves intact. The parent leaf is removed only when the
new plant is strong enough to grow on its own. Of course, in the case
of African violets, where more than one plant is produced at the end of
the stem, the babies must be separated and each put into its own pot.

_Root and Rhizome Cuttings_

Sections of roots are sometimes cut to propagate house and greenhouse
plants, but the practice is more common with hardy garden plants. But
pieces of thickened, stemlike, or rootlike rhizomes can be taken from
many types of indoor plants. Rhizomatous begonias, and rex begonias of
rhizomatous habit, are familiar examples. Each piece of rhizome should
have at least two, but preferably three, “eyes,” or scars from which
leafstems have grown. The piece is placed half in and half out of the
moist medium in the propagating box. Roots grow from the bottom down
into the medium; stems and leaves shoot up from the eyes on top.


There are two general methods of layering, and in each case the plant
is completely rooted before it is cut away from the parent. In “air
layering” a thick stem, or cane, is slit, wrapped with moist sphagnum
moss, and enclosed in plastic until roots are produced. This method is
usually practiced on large, overgrown plants such as dieffenbachias,
and truthfully is not necessary, or practical, for most miniatures.

But ground layering is a safe and sure way to propagate almost any
plant with lax stems, and is particularly useful on temperamental
plants such as some miniature ivies, which are reluctant to strike
roots on stem cuttings. It is very simple. Just pin down the stem, not
too far from the growing tip, in the soil beside the mature plant. If
you like, you can put it in a pot of its own and thus be one jump ahead
by having the roots where you want them. I usually steal a hairpin out
of my “bun,” but a section of wire bent into a _U_ will do. When
the stem has rooted, cut it off on the side next to the parent plant.
Unless it is already rooted in a pot, dig it out and plant it.

_Division of Crowns and Roots_

One African-violet plant may grow several crowns, or main stems
complete with rosettes. Since single-crown plants usually are more
shapely and bloom more abundantly, the extra crowns can be cut off and
rooted like ordinary stem cuttings. This is one of the more popular
methods of dividing an old plant and getting several new ones from it.

Some plants will eventually make such dense, bushy growth that they not
only look obese and unattractive, but are prey to all sorts of rot.
Root division not only gives these plants a new lease on life, but also
provides several new plants. Remove the overgrown plant from its pot,
and very gently, try to split the matted roots and stems into separate
sections. Do this with your fingers and not a metal instrument. If you
work slowly and with care, several will most likely pull free. If you
can’t do it with your fingers, you may have to resort to a clean sharp
knife, in which case cut down past the stems and through the roots,
making several separate sections. Discard any damaged leaves. Pot up
the divisions, and keep them shaded and protected for a week or so
until they recover from the shock.

_Runners, Stolons, and Offsets_

Many plants are continually propagating themselves by producing new
plants in clusters around the old ones, sometimes at the ends of
underground stolons or above-ground runners. _Saxifraga sarmentosa_ was
named “Strawberry begonia” because it continually produces new plants
on runners, strawberry-style. Episcias and chlorophytums are other

Any of these offsets make new plants easily. Pin them down in soil,
give them time to root, and then cut them off and insert them in a
propagating box. Next, you pot them. Sometimes you’ll find the roots
have already formed and the new plant is ready for potting and you
didn’t even suspect it.

                      DESCRIPTION OF HOUSE PLANTS

Some pages back I told you that the question asked of me most
frequently is “How often should I water plants?” A close runner-up is
the question, “Where can I get out-of-the-ordinary plants?” Believe
it or not, that question is easier to answer. Local florists and
greenhouse people often have plants tucked away--something exotic and
special. Most of the people in the industry cherish these plants and
are hesitant to part with them to run-of-the-mine customers. But if
the person is a genuine plant-lover, a sale can usually be made, even
though it is a reluctant sale. Just demonstrate that you are vitally
interested and you will be surprised at what you can buy. Try it.

I have a number of catalogues from mail-order suppliers in all parts of
the country who carry unusual plants, and in a variety that increases
year by year. Do you know where I came upon their names?--from small
advertisements in horticultural magazines. Read those small ads. Often
the advertiser is so small, and so specialized, that he can’t afford
too much space. But he has the treasures you want.

Mail-order plants are naturally young and small. Large plants are too
difficult to pack and ship for any distance. Plants that are small
usually cost less, and you have an extra dividend in the pleasure of
seeing them grow to maturity. You would be amazed at the progress that
has been made in packing and shipping in the past few years. Plants
that I have ordered recently have come through the mails in from
excellent to perfect condition--even plants from the Pacific Northwest.
You simply unpack them--carefully, I’ll admit--water them if necessary,
and keep them out of hot, bright sun and draft for a few days until
they are acclimated to their new surroundings. Should any plant seem
weak or mildly injured, pop it into the propagating box and usually
it will be back on its feet again in a few days. If the damage is too
serious, report it to the post office, the express company, or the
shipper. I have yet to register one of these complaints.

I have been general in the preceding pages of this chapter. Now I
will be more specific and offer a list of plants and their growing
requirements. All of the following plants can be grown in the
greenhouse. But given proper light, humidity, and/or other special
care, they can be grown in the house where you live--even the most
delicate types. The information on culture is abbreviated, but
consistent use of the same terms, I feel is justified. The following
are used in the sections on care under each plant.

_Full sun_

The sun actually falls on the plant for most of the day.

_Partial sun_

The sun touches the plants for only a few hours in the early morning or
late afternoon in summer, but for longer periods in winter (tropical
areas excepted).

_Little or no sun_

Bright daylight is sufficient to keep some plants healthy.


Any figures that are quoted are for daytime. Night temperatures can
usually drop about five degrees. (Cool is 40 to 60 degrees; moderate,
50 to 70 degrees; warm, 60 to 80 degrees.)


This is noted if the plant needs more than average humidity (50 per


The plant may prefer a potting mixture that is _humusy_,
extra-rich in organic matter; _average_, like the potting soil I
have described on other pages; _sandy_, with an extra ration of
sand, or a similar substitute. Or it may be _epiphytic_ and grow
in some suitable medium such as osmunda fiber or sphagnum moss.


Let the soil dry thoroughly before watering.


Water when the soil in the top of the pot feels dry to the touch.


Never allow the soil to dry out.

       *       *       *       *       *

Methods of propagation are also summarized and, if possible, listed
in order of preference. The terms are the same as those used in the
sections on propagating house and greenhouse plants.

For most plants, there are short notations on special uses for which
they are especially suited, i.e., growing under artificial lights, dish
gardens, model landscapes, terrariums and other gardens under glass.
Included also are some small tropical trees and shrubs for the small
greenhouse. Among the precious miniatures described in Chapter 17,
varieties suitable for forcing are so noted. Forcing procedures are
also covered.

=Abutilon hybridum savitzi= _Malvaceae_ Flowering Maple

Delicate tropical shrubs with thin, soft, maple-shaped, dove-gray
leaves lavishly splashed with creamy white, and sometimes white
all over. (I’ve never seen it produce the typical dangling lantern
flowers.) It grows slowly, keeps plump and bushy, and is content with a
small pot for several years.

CARE. Full sun, moderate temperature, and average soil kept constantly

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens, model landscapes,

=Achimenes= _Gesneriaceae_

A large group of utterly charming plants related to, and grown like,
African violets--except that their scaly rhizomes (like minuscule pine
cones) are completely dormant in winter. Most have velvet-soft leaves
and all produce an overwhelming display of tubular flowers flaring
wide-open at the end. None grow to great size. A single rhizome would
probably be happy in a two-inch pot; several are usually planted
together for a bigger show. The following are among the smallest
varieties, upright unless otherwise noted.

   ‘Charm’--Luscious pink flowers, gold in the center.

   _coccinea coccinea_--Trailer with notched, oval leaves and
   plentiful flowers of deepest scarlet, half the size of a dime.

   ‘François Cardinaux’--Flowers in two tones of blue.

   ‘Little Beauty’--Similar to ‘Charm,’ but in another glowing
   shade of pink.

   ‘Masterpiece’--Flowers royal, reddish purple.

   ‘Miniata’--Ruffled flowers in changeable violet tones.

   ‘Misera’--Many small white flowers spotted with drops of wine,
   yellow in the throat.

   ‘Patens Major’--Orange throat blending into rich plum petals.

   ‘Peach Blossom’--New dwarf with peach-pink flowers.

   ‘Violacea Semi-Plena’--The only semidouble-flowering variety in
   deep, glowing purple.

CARE. Partial sun, warmth, humusy soil kept moist. In late
winter, or early spring, pre-root the tiny rhizomes in a light, porous
mixture such as vermiculite and peat, barely moist and over bottom
heat, or in warmth (65 to 70 degrees). When new growth is about two
inches high, pot in light soil enriched with leaf mold or some similiar
organic material. Pinch out any growing tips or trailers once or twice
to encourage branching. In early fall, after flowering has ended, let
the pot and soil dry out gradually. Clean the rhizomes, and store them
in a polyethylene bag filled with dry peat at a temperature of 50 to 60
degrees. Check the little fellows occasionally. You may be amazed, but
sometimes they’ll send out new sprouts in this dark, dry storage, and
want to be rooted and begin growth again.

PROPAGATION. Rhizomes will multiply spontaneously. Also use
stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light.

=Acorus gramineus variegatus= _Araceae_

Neat, sweet little water-lover, like a miniature grass, with flat fans
of slender, four-inch leaves striped lengthwise with sparkling white.
It spreads eagerly.

CARE. Partial sun, cool, average soil kept wet.

PROPAGATION. Division of creeping roots.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens, terrariums.
Pretty bog plant for the miniature garden pool.

=Adiantum bellum= _Polypodiaceae_ Bermuda Maidenhair Fern

Elfin version of the maidenhair fern with ruffly leaflets like
upside-down wedges, the points attached to the dark, wiry six-inch
stems. The foliage is surprisingly dense for such a delicate, airy

CARE. Little or no sun. Warmth, humidity, humusy soil (lime if
acid), kept moist, and wet in winter. The plant seems to rest in summer.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, terrariums.

=Allophyton mexicanum= _Scrophulariaceae_ Mexican Foxglove

Perky combination of oval, dark-green five-inch leaves beneath
upstanding stems bearing several long-tubed, flaring half-inch flowers
of pastel lavender blending into white, violet in the throat. Blooms in
spurts throughout the year.

CARE. Partial sun, moderate warmth, humidity, average soil kept moist.


SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens.

=Alternanthera= _Amaranthaceae_ Joseph’s Coat

Enthusiastically branching, bushy plants with leaves of many colors,
and convolutions, like small, contorted coleus. They’re often kept
dwarfed by regular shearing, so the white flowers seldom form.

   _amoena_--Bushlet with crisp, oval leaves haphazardly
   daubed with bright shades of red and orange. It seldom tops four

   _bettzickiana_--Tongue-shaped leaves blotched with cream,
   yellow, salmon, and red. This is the one that’s used for formal
   carpet bedding. Its green-and-gold variety, aurea nana, makes a
   round three-inch mound.

   _versicolor_--A gnome with gnarled, wrinkled leaves. It is
   basically green but brightened with shocking pink and white. It
   can grow six inches high, but stays lower if pinched regularly.

CARE. Full sun (for best color), warmth, average soil kept moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings, division of roots.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens, model landscapes,

=Anthurium scherzerianum= _Araceae_ Flamingo Flower

This is a baby in a family predominantly of giants, but it won’t
outgrow a three-inch pot for years. This exotic tropical plant has
leaves like varnished green shields and flowers like a golden Jack
preaching from a flamingo-pink pulpit.

CARE. Little or no sun, warmth, humidity, humusy soil kept moist, or
even wet.

PROPAGATION. Division of suckers and seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial lights.

=Babiana stricta= _Iridaceae_

Winter-flowering, South African bulb for forcing in the greenhouse.
Grown outdoors only in frost-free climates. Clusters of red or lavender
fuchsia-like eight-inch stems above fuzzy, slender leaves indented at
the veins. A dwarf variety, ‘Blue Gem,’ has deep-blue blooms.

CARE. Full sun, moderate warmth, average soil kept moist. Plant in fall
for winter flowering.

=Begonia= _Begoniaceae_

There are enough miniatures in this big happy family of plants
to make a sizable collection, and enough variations to keep the
collector fascinated. Botanically, begonias are divided into three
classes--fibrous-rooted, rhizomatous, and tuberous-rooted. Among
the tuberous types, the best-known are the summer-flowering garden
beauties--not available, as far as I know, in miniature. Each of the
other classes contains miniatures that divide naturally into two
general types of begonias with separate personalities, habits, and
cultures. You could almost consider each type a completely distinctive
group of plants, only technically related to the others.

                        SEMPERFLORENS BEGONIAS

Fondly known as “wax begonias,” and often called “America’s favorite
house plant.” These are bustling, buxom, freely branching plants
with watery stems and crisp, nearly round leaves gleaming with a
high polish. They cover themselves with continual bursts of white,
pink, or red flowers. The furiously flowering singles are the oldest,
best-known, and toughest, often used for edging semishady garden beds.
The semidoubles (crested or thimble type) have a raspberry-shaped
center extending out from a circle of petals. The doubles (rosebud or
camellia-flowered) are fluttery, full-petaled spheres. Foliage may be
clean green, bronzy, or mahogany.

   ‘Adeline’ (‘Improved Darling’)--Free-blooming soft, single pink;
   green leaves.

   ‘Andy’--Deeper, more luminous pink flowers; green leaves.

   ‘Little Gem’--Double, rosy-pink flowers; very dark red leaves;
   small, slow-growing.

   ‘Pied Piper’--Baby pink, semidouble flowers, the crest sometimes
   touched with gold; bronzy leaves.

   ‘Snowdrop’--Smallest I’ve ever seen, has never topped three
   inches for me, just grows bushier and bushier. Double white
   flowers like minute snowballs; dark-red foliage.

   _tausendschoen_ (‘Thousand Beauties’)--A group of
   green-leaved, single-flowering dwarfs available in red, pink, or
   white. Easily grown from seed.

   ‘Winkie’--Fully double, old rose flowers; masses of dark leaves.

CARE. Partial sun, moderate warmth, average soil kept on the dry side.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings (best taken with a branch, so the plants
will be self-branching), seeds (singles), division of root and crown.


Some miniatures are of the angel-wing, cane-stemmed type; some are from
the hirsute, hairy-leaved group; some can’t be categorized.

   _albo-picta_--Small angel wing with low, arched branches;
   silver-spotted, sharp-pointed slender leaves; clusters of
   off-white flowers.

   _bartonea_ (‘Winter Jewel’)--This one’s a flirt, flaunting
   its leaves and tiny pink-tinged flowers one wintry day,
   collapsing completely the next. It can’t bear dry air or chills
   but will grow up again cheerfully from the roots. The foliage is
   finely scalloped on the edges, washed with russet in the center
   and along the veins, and completely overlaid with silver sheen.

   ‘Dainty Spray’--Impudent dwarf with little angel-wing leaves,
   bouquets of face-powder-pink flowers dripping from the drooping

   _dregei_--Maple-leaf begonia with sharply cut,
   thumbnail-sized leaves bronzy with purple veins, white flowers.
   This is a semituberous type, the main stem swelling to look like
   a bulb above the soil at the base. Pinching regularly keeps it
   fairly small. May be dormant in winter. The variety macbethi has
   smaller leaves completely green, white flowers.

   ‘Dwarf Houghtoni’--For me, this stays under six inches high
   and covers itself with pointed leaves upholstered with sheer,
   tawny-pink velvet. The clusters of large white flowers with pink
   whiskers are almost too heavy for the branches to hold.

   ‘Medora’--Miniature angel wing with two-inch, flat
   silver-spotted leaves and white flowers. Also available as
   ‘Green Medora,’ with plain green leaves and watermelon-pink

   _richardsiana_--Another semituberous maple-leaf type, the
   leaves smallest of all and deeply cut almost into lace. Flowers
   are faint pink.

  [Illustration: Achimenes, one of the most beautiful gesneriads.]

CARE. Partial sun, moderate warmth, average soil kept on the dry side.
The semituberous types take more moisture during the active growing

PROPAGATION. Seeds (for some species), stem cuttings, division of root
and crown.

                         RHIZOMATOUS BEGONIAS

Here’s where the hybridists are creating the most intriguing new
varieties, because they have more miniature parent species to work
with. The leaf and flower stems grow straight up or out from the
rhizome, a swollen, scarred rootstock that creeps over the top of
the soil, usually sending down roots as it goes. Sprays of trembling
flowers stand well above the foliage in late winter or early spring.

   _aridicaulis_--Mounds of tiny, sharp-pointed, lettuce-green
   leaves seldom over three or four inches high. Small, white,
   two-petaled flowers like fairy pocketbooks.

   _boweri_--Better known as the “eyelash begonia” because of
   the black stitching around the edge of the lettuce-green leaves,
   marked with bristly black hairs. Flowers are small, baby-pink,
   and plentiful. This is the seed parent of a whole group of
   popular namesakes; star-leaved ‘Bow-Arriola,’ chocolate-stitched
   ‘Bow Chance,’ dark-complexioned ‘Bow-Joe,’ bronzy ‘Bow-Nigra.’
   All have the eyelash edging and pink flowers, and are happy
   plants for the window garden or greenhouse.

   _hydrocotylifolia_--“Miniature pond-lily begonia” for the
   terrarium or shallow basket or pot. Shiny, penny-like leaves
   overcast with bronze, dark along the veins; pink flowers on
   six-inch stems.

   ‘Maphil’ (‘Cleopatra’)--Most famous boweri offspring, more dwarf
   than miniature, just right for small window gardens and baskets.
   The starlike leaves are satiny, irregularly marked chocolate on
   chartreuse; the flowers, rich pink.

   _mazae_--Bronzy, half-dollar leaves with light veins that
   meet at the stem end to make a white eye, wine-red beneath.
   Pale-pink, red-spotted flowers.

   _rotundifolia_--Very similar to hydrocotylifolia except for
   the bronzy cast and dark veins. May be the smallest of all.

   ‘Spaulding’--Extra-bushy dwarf with medium-green leaves shading
   to dark green, edged with whiskers, and oxblood beneath. Showers
   of pink flowers.

   ‘Virbob’--Reddish star leaves with yellow-green leaves, bright
   red beneath. Short stems hold the leaves close to the pot.

   ‘Spaulding,’--an extra-bushy dwarf begonia]


In the past few years, Mrs. H. E. Dillard of Tropical Paradise
Greenhouse has introduced a number of delightful new dwarfs and
miniatures. Among them:

   ‘Baby Perfection’--Star leaves splotched mahogany on green.

   ‘Black Falcon’--Darkest red-brown star leaves, silvery along the
   veins, whiskery along the edge.

   ‘Chantilly Lace’--One of my favorites, with cupped, chartreuse
   leaves stitched with black around the edge.

   ‘China Doll’--Pointed yellow-green leaves striped brown along
   the veins.

   ‘Kathy Diane’--Pointed oval leaves brown splotched with

   ‘Midget’--Nearly black star leaves silvery green along the veins.

   ‘Oriental Music’--Dwarf with pebbly apple-green leaves.

   ‘Persian Brocade’--Green star leaves intricately laced with
   black along the edge.

   ‘Raspberry Parfait’--Pointed, velvety, olive-green leaves
   lighter along the veins; new leaves flushed with bright pink.


   Group of dwarf begonias: _lower left_, ‘China Doll’;
   _upper left_, ‘Silver Jewel’; _upper center_,
   ‘Bow-Chance’; _upper right_, ‘Bow-Arriola’; _lower
   right_, ‘Bow-Nigra’; _center_, ‘Chantilly Lace.’]

CARE. Partial sun, moderate warmth, humusy soil kept moist.

PROPAGATION. Rhizome cuttings, leaf cuttings (slow), seeds (for some

                        MINIATURE REX BEGONIAS

These begonias are also rhizomatous, but the brilliant patterns of
their leaves put them in a class by themselves. Few other foliage
plants have such startling combinations of peacock colors.

   ‘Baby Rainbow’--Crinkly, jewel-like leaves with bands of royal
   purple, emerald green, silver, raspberry, amethyst. Grows and
   shows off best in glass.

   ‘Dew Drop’--Thin, ivy-shaped leaves completely overlaid with
   shimmering, lavender-pink mother-of-pearl.

   ‘It’--Branching, upright rex type with silver-splotched green
   leaves, multitudes of large pink flowers. Likes some sunlight.

   ‘Lorraine Closson,’ ‘Louise Closson,’ ‘Lucille Closson,’ ‘Lucy
   Closson’--A group of aristocratic dwarfs with taffeta-textured
   leaves in varying patterns of black, purple, red, pink, silvery

   ‘Pansy’--Small, pointed, deep-green leaves with sharp zone of
   lighter metallic green.

   ‘Peacock’--Jet-black and scarlet leaves on short stems. Stays
   small if fed sparingly.

   ‘Red Berry’--Sheer, shimmering satin leaves of unrelieved claret.

CARE. Little or no sun, warmth, humidity, humusy soil kept moist. Many
rex begonias may go partially or completely dormant in winter, dropping
some or all of their leaves. Simply keep them warm, with the soil
slightly dry, until signs of new growth appear.

PROPAGATION. Rhizome cuttings, leaf cuttings. Seeds will produce an
unpredictable mixture, seldom like the parent plant.

=Bertolonia= _Melastomaceae_

The slowly spreading stems look like fat little top-of-the-soil
rhizomes; but the foliage is like nothing else on earth. Perfect
pointed ovals seem fashioned of sheerest silk; the skeleton of veins
is sunken and strikingly marked. Such daintiness, to be endowed with
bristly whiskers! Wee flowers cluster at the top of short upright
stems. None of the bertolonias are very large; these are the available

   _maculata_--Sheer leaves deep green shading to light,
   pencilings of silver along the lengthwise veins, wine red

   _pubescens_--Many veins pucker the leaves like small-scale
   seersucker. Colors are copper over green, plum purple down the

CARE. Partial sun, warmth, humidity, humusy soil kept moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings (in warmth), seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, terrariums.

=Boea hygroscopica= _Gesneriaceae_

Six-inch tropical gesneriad with fresh green, quilted leaves and
clusters of violet-like flowers campanula-blue, with yellow centers, on
willow stems.

CARE. Partial sun, moderate warmth, humidity, humusy soil kept

PROPAGATION. Division of crown, seeds.

=Bouvardia longiflora humboldti= _Rubiaceae_

Two-foot tropical shrub to perfume the dream greenhouse in fall and
winter. The luxuriant, glossy, evergreen leaves are a fine foil for
the celestial white flowers--trumpets with long, slim tubes flaring
out into perfect four-pointed stars. Florists grow the larger-flowered
variety, ‘Albatross,’ for cutting.

CARE. Full sun, moderate warmth, humidity, humusy soil kept wet except
when the plant is resting after bloom.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings of new wood with heel (in warmth), root
cuttings in early summer.

SPECIAL USES. Greenhouse shrub.

=Buxus microphylla japonica= _Buxaceae_ Box, Boxwood

Slow-growing boxwood with small, prim, shiny green leaves filling out
the plump shrub shape. It is hardy outdoors, but nice in pots and
frequently found at plant counters in variety stores.

CARE. Full sun, cool temperatures, average soil mixture kept moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings of half-ripe wood.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens, model landscapes,
terrariums, indoor bonsai.


Generally, I prefer to grow a spicy variety of plants. But I am
certainly in sympathy with the hobbyists who find enough stimulation
in this one group to keep them collecting for a lifetime. Such a weird
assortment of shapes, from barrels to humping inchworms. Such unusual
patterns and colors of either leaves or stems that have taken on the
shapes and functions of leaves. And such flowers! Some like daisies or
water lilies, in incredible neon-bright colors, sometimes three times
the size of the plant.

Among cacti and similar succulents are some of our smallest plants,
plus plenty more that grow so slowly they’re miniature for many years.
Here are selected samples, only a small portion of the number available
from specialist-growers and other sources.

CARE. Most succulents need full sun, moderate warmth, a sandy
soil mixture (not pure sand) kept on the dry side. They need more water
and warmth in summer, less in winter when they are resting. If soil is
very acid, neutralize with lime.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, division of root or crown,

SPECIAL USES. Dish gardens, model landscapes (with other dry-growing
plants), a few for indoor bonsai.

=Aeonium caespitosum spathulatum= _Crassulaceae_

Clump-forming succulent with rosettes of leaves like the
hen-and-chicks, silvery green sparsely spotted with darker green.

=Agave victoriae-reginae= _Amaryllidaceae_

Miniature “century plant” with a stiff rosette of thick, sharp-pointed
dull-green leaves with white piping along the edge and streaked with
white between. Mature size, six inches.

=Aichryson (Aeonium) domesticum variegatum= _Crassulaceae_

I’m not quite sure how high and wide this pretty succulent will grow
if left to its own devices. Mine has stayed in a two-inch pot for more
than a year, and filled itself out with thin, round green leaves edged
with creamy white, blushing faint pink in warm sun. The leaves huddle
in tight, overlapping rosettes all around the branching stems.

=Aloe= _Liliaceae_

Symmetrical clusters of thick, heavy, sharp-spiny leaves; fall and
winter flowers held aloft like a torch. One of the smaller species is
_A. brevifolia_, with leaf rosettes about three inches across.
_A. variegata_ can eventually reach a foot high, but very slowly;
and its white-marbled leaves are striking in the meantime.

=Aptenia cordifolia (Mesembryanthemum cordifolium)= _Aizoaceae_

Creeping, clustering succulent with thinnish, round-pointed, gray-green
leaves in pairs along the stems; brilliant fuchsia-purple daisy-shaped
flowers. The variety variegata is embellished with creamy-white leaf

=Astrophytum= _Cactaceae_ Star Cactus

Thick stem-bodies divided neatly into five sections but still attached
together, growing very slowly to four inches across. Outlandishly
large, flat, daisy flowers in summer. Try _A. myriostigma_, bishop’s
cap, or _A. asterias_, sand dollar, both spineless; or silver-dotted
_A. ornatum_, with swirling lines and tufts of curved spines.

=Cephalocereus senilis= _Cactaceae_ Old Man Cactus

A good bet for beginning collectors. This is a columnar cactus covered
with a shaggy coat of snow-white hairs, growing up to forty feet high
in the desert, but approaching that height at a snail’s pace indoors.
Flowers are rosy-pink, about two inches across.

=Chamaecereus silvestri= _Cactaceae_ Peanut Cactus

Gay ground-hugger, sending out in all directions thick green two-inch
joints with soft white spines, and keeping its miniature proportions
except when it’s top-heavy with long-tubed orange-scarlet flowers.

=Conophytum= _Aizoaceae_

Very tiny succulents with clusters of plump bodies that are, actually,
two leaves joined completely except at the tip. The plant barely
reaches one inch high and is content in a three-inch pot for years.
Ridiculously large and brilliant flowers pop out through small slits
in early fall. Then the leaves look like little dumplings sitting
under a daisy. Of the several species available from specialists,
_C. ornianum_ is light green with darker freckles, lavender-rose
flowers; _C. aureum_ has gold flowers.

=Coryphantha vivipara= _Cactaceae_

Symmetrical two-inch sphere covered with evenly spaced bumps, each
like a miniature sun with white rays and a spine sticking up from the
center. The fringed rosy or carmine flowers pop out on top, in June;
bright-red berries appear in fall. Native to, and hardy in, Manitoba,
down to Texas. In time it will form clustered mounds.

=Crassula= _Crassulaceae_

An oddly assorted group of succulents including many roguish miniatures
of fascinating form. _C. cooperi_ has tufts of small, pointed
leaves with black blotches, little clusters of pale-pink flowers. _C.
lycopodioides_ mimics the club moss of the woodlands, with slim
stems encircled with little needle-like leaves. ‘Morgan’s Pink’ is a
variety of dense clusters of spear-shaped leaves, crinkled like gray
seersucker, coral flowers. _C. schmidti_ makes a three-inch mat of
pointed, pinkish leaves, with generous glowing pink flowers.

=Echeveria= _Crassulaceae_

Perfect rosettes of succulent leaves in many lustrous colors, some
silk-velvety or contrastingly trimmed on the edge. Clusters of
brilliant tubular flowers top short stems. The following grow low, with
four-inch rosettes.

   _derenbergi_--painted lady--Translucent green leaves with
   silvery sheen, touched with red at the tip, yellow-orange

   _elegans_--Mexican snowball--Light blue-green leaves
   frosted with white, pure white on the edge, coral-pink flowers.

   _pulvinata_--chenille plant--Dusty-green leaves of sheer
   velvet, trimmed with brick red on the edge, scarlet flowers.

=Echinocereus melanocentrus= _Cactaceae_ Hedgehog Cactus

Small, spiny globes with brilliant carmine flowers from the side of the
ball. At its three-inch maturity, the flowers are still larger than the

=Echinopsis= _Cactaceae_ Easter Lily Cactus

Small, round plants with thick ribs and formidable spines, the
lily-like flowers usually opening in the evening. A popular species is
_E. kermesiana_, with glowing red flowers. _E. grandiflora_
is described as only two or three inches across, with five-inch
rose-pink flowers.

=Euphorbia= _Euphorbiaceae_

Two small relatives of the poinsettia that show little family

   _caput-medusae_--Medusa’s head--Sneaky, snaky-looking plant
   with tangles of twisted, gray-green branches, occasionally
   tipped with small leaves.

   _splendens bojeri_--dwarf crown of thorns--Compared to
   the sprawly species that grows four feet tall or more, this
   is really a midget. Mine has kept its six-inch bushy contours
   for nearly two years. The upright grayish branches are fairly
   well supplied with roundish, dark-green leaves; the scarlet
   flower-like bracts are plentiful at intervals all summer and

=Faucaria= _Aizoaceae_ Tiger Jaws

Low, crowded succulents with thick, triangular leaves toothed with
spiny hairs, unmistakably resembling an animal’s mouth. In late summer
or early fall, golden daisy-like flowers pop up and make fun of the
plant’s ferocious appearance.

   _tigrina_--Silvery green leaves flecked with white,
   two-inch yellow flowers.

   _tuberculosa_--Darker green leaves with little white knobs.

=Fenestraria= _Aizoaceae_ Baby Toes

Clusters of cylindrical leaves, larger at the top, like little
flat-tipped baseball bats. The nearly colorless tops feature tiny
transparent “windows.”

   _aurantiaca_--Three-inch orange daisy flowers more than
   twice as wide as the clustered leaf-colony.

   _rhopalophylla_--Leaves more blunt, smaller white flowers.

=Gymnocalycium mihanovichi= _Cactaceae_ Chin Cactus

Just one of many available miniature, globe-shaped cacti with spines
on regular shelves, or “chins.” This one produces chartreuse flowers
bigger than its body, starts to bloom while quite young.

=Haworthia= _Liliaceae_

Tight pinwheels of thick, pointed leaves intricately studded with
varied patterns of pearly pinheads. The whitish flowers are not a main

   _fasciata_--Zebra-striped succulent often seen in dish

   _margaritifera_--Slightly larger, dark green with a more
   scattered pattern of white dots.

=Kalanchoe= _Crassulaceae_

Among these congenial succulents are several that grow to considerable
size in their native homes, but keep pleasantly small in pots or dish
gardens. The leaves are fleshy, with indentations along the edge.
Lantern-shaped flowers appear in winter.

   _blossfeldiana_--Well-branched bush with overlapping, fresh
   green leaves, flowering in winter when days are short and nights
   are long. ‘Tom Thumb’ is a dwarf variety that smothers itself
   with scarlet blooms for Christmas. Greenhouses grow it from
   seeds sown in spring, and so can you.

   _marmorata_--penwiper plant--Leaves fold in around the stem and
   are spattered on both sides with purple blotches.

   _pumila_--Leaves like a doll’s spoon, notched on the edge and
   sugar-frosted; plum-colored pitcher flowers.

   _tomentosa_--panda plant--Fat leaves covered with white felt,
   distinctly marked with chocolate at the teeth on the edge.

   (_Kitchingia_) _uniflora_--Miniature creeper or dangler for
   small hanging baskets, with round green leaves marching up and
   down the stem and rosy or red urn-flowers hanging from thin,
   short threads.

=Kleinia= _Compositae_

Curious even among succulents, each of these oddly shaped or strangely
decorated plants has a personality of its own and no need for
daisy-like flower heads to make it interesting.

   _pendula_--inchworm plant--Weird, round, leafless stems snake up
   and down over the soil; flowers brilliant red.

   _repens_--Low and somewhat trailing, with thick leaves like long
   canoes, unbelievable blue.

   _tomentosa_--Cylindrical cocoon-like leaves tapered to sharp
   points and covered with pure-white down; gold or orange flowers.

=Lobivia aurea= _Cactaceae_ Golden Easter Lily

Squat, round, prickly cactus like a small echinopsis, except that this
one opens its friendly water-lily flowers in the daytime. Dozens of
different species and varieties are available.

=Mammillaria= _Cactaceae_ Pincushion Cactus

There are many mighty midgets in this group, and in fascinating
variety. They’re mostly round, from squat to columnar, but all are
primly neat. The spines may be soft or not, but are always arranged in
a perfect pattern. The flowers are not overlarge, but are arranged in a
crown and ripen into attractive, berry-like fruit.

   _bocasana_--powder puff--Soft, white-woolly globes, only
   one and a half inches across when mature; beige flowers.

   _elongata_--golden lace--Small branching pillar, nicknamed
   for its tatted pattern of bright-yellow spines.

   _hahniana_--old lady--Fond name for a small, white-haired

=Notocactus= _Cactaceae_ Ball Cactus

Plump balls with prettily colored spines and large, showy flowers in
late spring.

   _apricus_--sun cup--Golden-yellow flowers, Oxford-gray

   _graessneri_--Butter-yellow spines and flowers.

   _ottonis_--Indian head--Reddish spines.

   _rutilans_--Rosy flowers.

=Opuntia= _Cactaceae_

This is a “crazy, mixed-up” group of cacti. They come in so many sizes,
shapes, and forms that any generalized description is impossible. Many
optunias are hardy even in Northern gardens.

   _mamillata_--boxing gloves--Resembles a little tree whose
   branches turn into cockscombs at the tip.

   _microdasys_--bunny ears--Flat, long-oval pads with tiny
   tufts of soft yellow hairs.

=Parodia= _Cactaceae_

Fat little balls covered with glistening spines and sending out
unbelievably large flowers although the plant measures only an inch
across the middle. Even in old age, they’re never larger than three

   _aureispina_--Tom Thumb cactus--Gold spines, orange flowers.

   _mutabilis_--Shining yellow flowers.

=Portulacaria afra variegata= _Portulacaceae_ Rainbow Bush

After planting this little tree-like succulent in a dish garden when
it was only three inches tall, and finding it less than half an inch
taller nearly a year later, I was mildly amazed to learn that it is a
version of the twelve-foot elephant bush, or purslane tree, of desert
gardens. It’s difficult to imagine the fat red stems and fleshy,
cream-splashed, red-rimmed leaves ever adorning a plant of such
monstrous proportions.

=Rebutia= _Cactaceae_ Crown Cactus

Flat, fat balls with whiskery spines, spreading out into clusters. Each
ball, when mature, is circled by large, wide-eyed flowers coming up
from the base, often as large as the four-inch plant.

   _minuscula_--Best-known species, with fiery red flowers.

   _senilis_--Orange flowers with turned-back petals.

   _violaciflora_--Rose-pink flowers.

=Sedum= _Crassulaceae_

Tender relations of the hardy garden sedums, not so numerous but
equally varied.

   _adolphi_--Rosettes of fat, yellow-green leaves, white

   _hintoni_--Oval, grassy-green leaves covered with prickly
   white hairs, like clumps of tiny porcupine tails; white flowers.

   _lineare_--Many branching, trailing stems covered thickly
   with needle-shaped leaves. The variety variegatum is a gem, each
   leaf more creamy-white than green.

   _multiceps_--little Joshua tree--Unbelievable bonsai-like
   plant with trunk, branches, and tufts of needly dark-green
   leaves like the smallest conifer imaginable.

   _pachyphyllum_--jelly beans--Fat, juicy, berry-like leaves
   clustering close to the branching stems; yellow flowers in

   _rubrotinctum_ (_guatemalense_)--Christmas
   cheer--Thick layers of small, green, drumstick-shaped leaves
   turning holiday red in full sun; yellow flowers.

   _stahli_--coral beads, Boston beans--Faintly hairy, beady,
   reddish leaves strung closely together on branching stems;
   yellow flowers in summer and fall.

=Titanopsis= _Aizoaceae_

Stone-mimicking succulents with thickly clustered leaves lavishly
spotted with white, wart-like tubercles, and short-lived daisy flowers
in fall or winter.

   _calcarea_--jewel plant--Lustrous gray-green leaves
   sparkling with white spots, gleaming gold flowers. Leaf rosette
   only two inches in any direction.

   _schwantesi_--Even smaller cluster of blue-gray,
   liver-spotted leaves, lemon-yellow flowers.

=Trichodiadema densum= _Aizoaceae_ Desert Rose

Picture a bunch of tiny, smooth green pickles, each tipped with a
triple crown of ridiculously long, bristly, white hairs. Now, smother
this leaf colony under two-inch red daisy flowers. A really outlandish


=Caladium= _Araceae_ Elephant Ears

   _Bicolor Varieties_. Gorgeous arrow-leaved foliage plants
   for small gardens in the South or sheltered areas where summer
   temperatures are not likely to drop below 60 degrees for long.
   The patterns, colors, and contours of the leaves get fancier
   every year. Many are hybridized for larger and larger size, but
   specialists also offer a good selection of dwarfs that will stay
   under eight inches. Among them:

  [Illustration: _Caladium humboldti_--one of the most
  striking members of the family]

   ‘Candidum, Jr.’--Bushy low version of the standard favorite with
   green-netted, white leaves.

   _humboldti_--A gemlike species for the connoisseur with
   willowy stems topped by diminutive deep-green leaves splotched
   with silvery transparent white between the center veins and the
   edge. Needs more humidity than the bicolor hybrids.

   ‘Little Rascal’--Leaf more lance-shaped, wine-red.

   ‘Miss Marveen’--Pearly-white tinged and blotched with pink over
   heavy drab green.

   ‘Mrs. Arno Nehrling’--Bronzy-green, red veins.

   ‘Pink Radiance’--Small and bushy, leaves centered and veined
   with shades of pink, pink-flecked on the edge.

   ‘Sea Gull’--White at the midvein and frosted all over.

   ‘Twilight’--Glowing flame-pink leaf finely netted with green.

CARE. Partial sun; if in a greenhouse shade against burn.
Temperature: warm (75 degrees). Humid. Soil: rich, acid (azalea type).
Keep moist. Fertilizer: feed liquid manure on alternate weeks.


SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, window boxes, specimens.

=Calathea (Maranta)= _Marantaceae_

There’s only one available true miniature in this group of richly
colored and patterned tropical foliage plants, but many other species
will stay small in a three-inch pot for years. The fact that they’re
suitable for lush but restrained effects in far Southern gardens is my
other excuse for including them.

These plants are maranta-like, the leaf tufts with markings a peacock
could crow about, silky-velvet or iridescent sheens that outshine the
gowns at a coronation ball. They are reluctant to flower but nobody
cares. The following is only a sampling of the available riches:

   _argyraea_--Low and compact, the blotched green leaves
   overlaid with silver and horizontally level.

   _insignis_--Narrow, permanently waved leaves perfectly
   patterned with chartreuse, wine red underneath.

   _louisae_--Leaves perpendicular and perky, feather-marked
   with yellow-green.

   _micans_--Miniature with oval leaves about an inch long
   (four inches in the tropics), lustrous deep green banded with
   silver at the center, paler underneath.

   _picturata vandenheckei_--Satiny dark green banded with
   silver white in center. Wine red on the underside. A new form,
   ‘Wendlinger,’ is even more startling. The centers are sterling
   silver, edged with deep green.

CARE. Provide warmth, humidity. Soil: loam, leaf mold, and sand. Feed
heavily for best colors. Shade from direct sun.

PROPAGATION. Divide crowns; tubers and spring cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Tropical gardens, pots, terrariums, dish gardens.

=Callopsis volkensi= _Araceae_

This is a perfectly proportioned miniature “calla lily” only four
inches high, the white porcelain flowers centered with a gold,
spear-like spadix, and substantial but small heart-shaped green leaves
quaintly crinkled. It grows from an underground rhizome. It branches
freely but compactly and is winter-blooming.

CARE. Shade, humidity, humusy soil kept evenly moist.


SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, dish gardens.

=Carex elegantissima (Morrowi variegata)= _Cyperaceae_

Lady-like little grass with airy tufts of slimmest leaves, bright green
with a white stripe along each edge.

CARE. Loamy garden soil, filtered sun, wet. Intermediate temperature.


SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, dish gardens.

=Carissa grandiflora nana compacta= _Apocynaceae_ Natal Plum

When is a dwarf not really a dwarf? In the two years or more I’ve had
this plant it has grown so slowly I have no idea what ultimate height
it has in mind, or when it will reach it. It is still about six inches
tall, with round, green, overlapping leaves with the shiniest glassy
polish of any leaves I have ever seen. Off and on during the year
it gives sensual delight with richly fragrant china-white flowers,
none of which, so far, have been replaced by scarlet plums. This form
is blessedly without spines, always refreshing, and particularly
appropriate for Oriental planters and miniature indoor gardens.

CARE. Almost any soil, warmth, light shade, moist, spray leaves.
Resents repotting.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, layers.

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, planters.

=Ceropegia= _Asclepiadaceae_

Among the few hanging or climbing vines of suitable size and form for
truly miniature baskets, or supports--succulent and easy to grow to
boot! Their effect is always dainty, never bold; thin wiry stems may
grow long, but never the leaves; waxy tube-like flowers inspire close
inspection, but are never showy. Here are four of the daintiest species:

   _barkleyi_--umbrella flower--A climber with pointed
   wing-shaped leaves feathered with a network of silver;
   purple-veined greenish flowers like parasols.

   _caffrorum_--Pairs of green heart-leaves march down the
   threadlike stems; greenish flowers intricately marked with plum.

   _debilis_--Green needle-like leaves penciled silver along
   the center; green-and-purple flowers.

   _woodi_--rosary vine, string of hearts, hearts
   entangled--Matching pairs of thick silvery valentines every
   inch or so along the dangling stem, identically traced with a
   precisely patterned design. The little pink-lavender flowers are
   shaped like pixie pipes or urns.

CARE. Soil: loam, leaf mold, sandy and humusy. Intermediate
temperature, filtered sun. Moist in summer, on the dry side in winter.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings in spring; tubers, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Hanging baskets.

=Chaenostoma fastigiatum= _Scrophulariaceae_ Little Stars

Cheerful little tropical herb which keeps its compact contour by
branching freely, and covers its stems with myriads of half-inch
fragrant leaves. All year it twinkles with a sprinkling of starry white
flowers, outdoes itself in the summer months.

CARE. Loamy garden soil, bright light, moist.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings.


=Chamaedorea elegans bella= _Palmaceae_

Slow-growing dwarf palm tree, so slow it can be a granddaddy in a
six-inch pot and takes eons to top two feet. The reedy green stems
cluster in a rosette and curve gracefully at the ends. Leaves are thin,
fresh green, airily divided.

CARE. Warm, loamy garden soil, moist, shade.


SPECIAL USES. House plant, dish gardens.

=Chamaeranthemum= _Acanthaceae_

A choice, exclusive threesome of tender tropical creepers with small
supine leaves embroidered with dainty patterns.

   _gaudichaudi_--Forest-green, long oval leaves of sheer
   velvet, silver feathers down the center and out along the veins.

   _(Stenandrium) lindeni_--A bolder, golden feather marks the
   larger, perhaps even sheerer, leaves.

   _venosum_--Symmetrical, oval leaves more broad than
   slender, dark powder-blue with thin leaves of silver on the
   network of veins.

CARE. Warm, humid, loamy garden soil, filtered sun, moist.


SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, dish gardens.

=Chlorophytum bicheti= _Liliaceae_

Spidery little pot plant with tapering, grassy-looking leaves about six
inches long, arching somewhat stiffly, with cream-white tidy stripes
along the edge and sometimes down the middle. Always looks prim and

CARE. Intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, loamy soil,
filtered sun, moist.


SPECIAL USES. Indoor gardens, artificial light.

=Cissus striata= _Vitaceae_ Miniature Grape Ivy

This lacy little climber looks less like grape ivy, more like woodbine,
but it certainly does look and act like a miniature. The reddish stems
turn and twist at angles, trying to touch the tiny tendrils to a
support they can curl around. The one-and-a-half-inch leaves are like
five fat separate fingers delicately joined in the center, scalloped
or toothed near the rounded tip, burnished green and lined with wine


   _Cissus striata_--a genuine miniature climber not unlike

CARE. Intermediate temperature, humid, loamy garden soil,
filtered sun, moisture in the pots.

PROPAGATION. Roots and cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. House plant, miniature gardens, artificial

=Citrus= _Rutaceae_

These are true miniature citrus trees, varieties that are naturally
dwarf, or grow so slowly they’ll flower and fruit in smallish pots

   _aurantifolia_--lime--Spiny little tree with small leaves,
   small tartly acid, thin-skinned, green fruit. The Persian lime
   is a variety called “one of the most beautiful of all citrus

   _limonia ‘ponderosa’_--ponderosa lemon--Oblong, glassy,
   evergreen leaves; stiff sharp spines; large waxy, fragrant
   flowers; heavy (to two and a half pounds) pear-shaped (to five
   inches long) lemons at intervals through the year, beginning
   when the tree may not be much more than a foot tall. Supposedly,
   one lemon “gives enough juice to make a pie.”

   _mitis_--calamondin--Bushy little tree, not prickly, dense
   with glassy green leaves; flowers fragrant, small and white. May
   bear fruit all year but usually in winter it produces bright
   oranges, about one and a half inches in diameter, thin-skinned
   and somewhat flattened on the end. The lime-like flavor of the
   juice is reportedly pleasant, but my tree looked so pretty I
   didn’t pick the fruit. A calamondin can, and often will, fruit
   in a two-and-a-half-inch pot--a mighty midget.

   _nobilis deliciosa_--tangerine, mandarin orange--Small,
   nearly thornless tree with willowy leaves; sweet fruit, with
   loose skin that peels off like a kid glove and segments that
   separate freely.

   _taitensis_--otaheite orange--Neat little bush for pots,
   with plenty of two-inch, wavy-edged leaves, few if any spines,
   and fragrant pink-tinged flowers in January. By Christmas,
   even if the tree is only eight inches high, the oranges are
   ripe. They are the size of a plum, shaped like a lemon, tartly
   flavored like a lime.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, loamy soil, bright
sun, keep on the dry side. For fruit, pollinate. Humidity, not too
much fertilizer, not too much water. Sudden temperature changes causes
leaves to drop.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, grafting, cuttings (for pot varieties).

SPECIAL USES. Seedlings for miniature gardens and greenhouses.

=Columnea microphylla= _Gesneriaceae_

Velvety trailer, suitable for small hanging baskets, with soft little
mouse-ear leaves. But wow! the fiery-red flowers never heard of the
word _miniature_. Their long slender tubes stand straight up from
the dangling stems, flare out to a wide mouth through which you can
look to see the yellow throat inside.

CARE. Warm, humid, humusy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, stem and leaf cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Hanging baskets.

=Cryptanthus= _Bromeliaceae_ Earth Stars

Not many bromeliads can rightly be called miniatures, and grow either
in air or in soil to boot. These are low flat rosettes of stiff painted
leaves, often with prickles on the edge and always unusually colored.
From the heart, wee white flowers peep out, usually in summer. Some
suppliers offer a grab-bag selection of hybrids, “no two alike.” Or you
can buy these smaller species if you wish.

   _acaulis_--Thin gray fuzz over rather mottled green leaves.

   _bahianus_--These leaves are slimmer, curving at the tip
   and wavy on the edge, flushed or margined brick red, more
   upright than flat.

   _beuckeri_--Asymmetrical arrangement of ladle-like leaves
   tapered to a sharp point, dark green marbled over light.

   _bivittatus minor_ (_roseus pictus_)--Faintly banded
   dark-green leaves completely flushed bronzy pink or salmon.

   _bromelioides tricolor_--Slim, pointed leaves with bands of
   rich cream and green, shaded cherry pink along the edge and in
   the heart.

   _lacerdae_--‘Silver Star’--Definitely star-shaped and
   definitely silvery; the only green is in the two stripes down
   each side of the center.

CARE. Warm, humus, filtered sun, dry side, good drainage.

PROPAGATION. Offsets or cuttings. Peel off one or two basal
leaves from stem; pot and root for two to three weeks.

SPECIAL USES. House plant.

=Cryptbergia meadi= _Bromeliaceae_

Everything said about the cryptanthus applies here. This is the result
of crossing a billbergia with a cryptanthus. The leaves are slim
spear-shaped and sharply pointed, upright in the center and arching out
around the side. The basic green is rather drab. Made more appealing by
a bronzy sheen and faint dark mottlings.

=Cyanotis= _Commelinaceae_

Succulent creeping or trailing cousins of the inch plants, with similar
botanical characteristics, but each an individual in its own right:

   _kewensis_--teddy-bear plant--Brown-woolly all over the
   stem and the tiny pointed-ear leaves.

   _somaliensis_--pussy ears--The fresh green leaves are bent
   into boat shape, clasping tight to the stem and covered with
   velvety white fuzz.

   _veldhoutiana_ (_Tradescantia villosa_)
   (_Tradescantia pexata_) (_Tradescantia sillamontana_),
   and known in the trade as tradescantia ‘White Velvet’ and also
   ‘White Gossamer’--This tiny plant, more trailing than creeping,
   has lettuce-green leaves, and stems clothed in long silky
   silvery-white hairs. It has so many names I fear it would be
   lost to view if all of its labels were placed around it. I quote
   all of them in order to avoid confusion and controversy. But
   according to the Institute de Biologia in Mexico, the correct
   name is _Tradescantia sillamontana_.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, loamy soil,
bright light, dry side.


SPECIAL USES. Miniature tropical gardens, greenhouses.

=Dionaea muscipula= _Droseraceae_ Venus Fly Trap

Never let anyone tell you this little bug-eater will “trap flies on
your window sill.” Don’t poke at it to see it close its trap. Avoid
disturbing it; let it feed itself naturally. And now that the negatives
are covered, do try this braggart elf (give it conditions in which
it can grow), for the pleasure in its intricately devised mechanism,
one of nature’s wonders. Basically, there’s a five-inch-wide rosette
of wide flat stems, a two-part leaf at the end of each making a flat
burnished bronze oval with a fringe of thick whiskers. When an insect
steps onto this dance floor, the hinges in the center fold the two
halves together fast, and that is the end of the bug. White flowers top
the tallish stems in spring.

CARE. Cool, humid, sun, soil rich in humus with sphagnum, wet.
Dormant in February and March before flowering. Most vigorous growth in
spring and summer.

PROPAGATION. By roots or seeds. If seeds are used, start them
under a bell jar.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums.

=Dracaena godseffiana= _Liliaceae_

Small tropical foliage shrub, slow-growing and bushy, with glassy,
leathery leaves haphazardly splotched with white. The named variety
‘Florida Beauty’ is even more dwarf, takes years to fit a four-inch
pot, and boasts golden-yellow splotches.

CARE. Warm, loamy garden soil, filtered sun (more light for color),
moist to wet.

PROPAGATION. Pieces of stem with several joints; tip cuttings; air

SPECIAL USES. Miniature gardens.

=Drosera rotundifolia= _Droseraceae_ Sundew

The whole plant can often hide under a half-dollar--the smallest of all
the insect-eaters. Flat stems radiate out from a central crown, expand
at the ends, become flat spoon-shaped blades covered with reddish hairs
that are tipped with drops of glue. Any insect landing on the surface
gets his feet stuck while longer hairs on the edge act like tentacles
to entangle him even more. Spring flowers top stems that grow straight
up in the center.

CARE. Cool, humid, humusy soil made acid with peat moss if
necessary, moist but not soggy, good drainage, room temperature is
adequate with some direct sunlight but not enough to raise temperature
in terrarium to a dangerous level. Transplanting or shipping may retard
growth several weeks; don’t get soil on leaves. May go dormant after
flowering. Do not try to grow in ordinary room without glass cover or
a plastic bag. Small amount of plant food (such as Vigoro). Rain water

PROPAGATION. As in _Dionaea muscipula_.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums.

=Dyckia= _Bromeliaceae_

Small, stiff fountains or sprays of spiny-edged leaves, spikes of
orange or yellow flowers like a miniature version of the pineapple in
various sizes and shapes. Some are not very dwarf. The dwarfs, to the
best of my knowledge, are:

   _altissima_--Light-green, tapering leaves armed with brown
   spines and yellow flowers.

   _fosteriana_--Dense circle of sugary gray leaves with
   purplish sheen.

   _rariflora_--Slim, sharp-pointed six-inch leaves with
   minute silver scales, spines soft and black.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, humusy soil, filtered sun, dry side.

PROPAGATION. Easiest from offshoots when suckers are large
enough to handle. Root in sphagnum peat. Seeds, germinate on tissue
napkins in a shallow tray covered with glass. Keep in light at 65 to 70

SPECIAL USES. House plant.

=Episcia dianthiflora= _Gesneriaceae_

Although none of the episcias grow very high, they do spread out to
make wide, handsome pot or hanging-basket plants. This is the only
species that can reasonably be called dwarf. Its leaves are the size
and shape of my little fingernail, olive green and softly velvet,
reddish along the center vein, first forming a tidy rosette. Soon the
branches start stretching, rather stiff and woody for an episcia, with
new leaf rosettes forming as the branches grow. The silky tube-flowers
are pure white and fringed on the edges.

CARE. Warm, humid, humusy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and cuttings.

=Exacum affine= _Gentianaceae_

This is a compact, free-flowering plant of the gentian family. The
flowers are blue with golden stamens and very fragrant. A herbaceous
biennial, it can be treated in a greenhouse as a perennial. It has
bushy green leaves, ovate and tiny. A dark-lavender form is the variety

CARE. Warm, humid, humusy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Seeds. Can be planted any month, but a February planting
will produce flowering plants for autumn and winter.

SPECIAL USES. Window gardens and greenhouses.

=Ficus= _Moraceae_ Creeping Fig

Here are two delightful foliage creepers that keep their miniature
proportions, although the large-leaved form of the first often covers
large walls in the South.

   _pumila minima_--Tiny valentine leaves patterned and
   crinkled with a network of sunken veins, deep green and

   _radicans variegata_--Much larger, slim pointed leaves
   basically silvery green, but marked with creamy white, starting
   at the edge and blending off irregularly. Like many variegated
   plants, it’s not very vigorous and thus is suitable for
   terrariums, where it will get the humidity it needs.

CARE. Warm, needs fresh air, loamy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Division of the rooting stems.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, hanging baskets, outdoors in the

=Fittonia verschaffelti= _Acanthaceae_ Nerve or Mosaic Plant

Flat-creeping tropical plants with jewel-like foliage netted with veins
of contrasting color. The oval or rounded paper-thin leaves may be
large--up to two inches long--but the plants grow slowly and seldom
exceed dwarf proportions, particularly if there are any slugs within
miles. Fittonias are one of the critters’ favorite foods.

You have a choice of three color schemes: The species is dark green
with carmine veins; its variety argyroneura is emerald with silver; the
variety pearcei, light green with pink.

CARE. Warm, humid, loamy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Foliage plants in greenhouses.

=Fortunella= _Rutaceae_ Kumquat

Smallest, and hardiest, of the evergreen citrus trees or shrubs, with
typical glassy, leathery leaves and flowers at intervals during the
year, sometimes coincidental with the thin-skinned fruit. The species
vary in size, habit, and fruit, some taking a lifetime to reach ten
feet. But before they achieve that altitude, they can long pass as
dwarfs or miniatures. Who wants to wait a lifetime to watch a kumquat
outgrow a three-inch pot?

   _hindsi_--Small spiny tree with small (less than one inch)
   pea-shaped fruit.

   _japonica_--marumi kumquat--Small tree, well branched and
   shapely, with perfectly round, somewhat sweet fruit nearly one
   and a half inches in diameter.

   _margarita_--nagami kumquat--Most frost-resistant and
   dwarf. Nearly thornless, with sour-sweet, egg-shaped fruit.

CARE. Intermediate temperature (any sudden changes in temperature
may cause the leaves to drop), soil on the dry side (not too much
fertilizer), bright sun, pollinate if you wish fruit, maintain humidity.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, grafting, cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Potted plants, seedlings for miniature gardens.

=Fuchsia magellanica= _Onagraceae_

This “hardy” fuchsia, when given a chance to develop, can hardly be
called a miniature. It can cover a wall twenty feet high, I have been
told. However, in a climate like that near Philadelphia, it is only
“root-hardy” and even then has to have a protective winter mulch. In
the spring it has to start new growth all over again. Then it assumes
miniature proportions. I’ve seen it in a small hanging basket, the
leaves less than one-third the size of the typical hybrid fuchsias, the
stems thin and wiry, the red-and-purple flowers quite small. Even more
like a miniature is the slower-growing variety variegata, with creamy
blotches and streaks on the leaf edges. Then there is the slender, more
airy and lax variety, gracilis, also available in variegated form.

CARE. Cool, needs fresh air, loamy soil, shade, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings of soft green wood.

SPECIAL USES. House plants, hanging baskets.

=Hebe buxifola variegata= _Scrophulariaceae_

This is a charming little plant I have grown in my greenhouse. Although
it has some larger relatives, my specimens have been delightfully
small. The leaves are about one-half inch long, waxy green with creamy
white edges which overlap into a nice pattern. I love the small white
flowers which appear frequently.

CARE. Little sun, humusy soil, moderate warmth, moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. House plants.

=Hedera helix= _Araliaceas_ English Ivy

As long as I’ve grown house plants I’ve always had ivies, sometimes
only a few pots of my favorite varieties (when my growing space was
limited) but more often a collection of a dozen or more. Once when
preparing a magazine article, I had thirty-seven scrambling around the
greenhouse! The foliage always is fresh green and glossy, delightful
the year round; the climbing or trailing stems are graceful and willing
to be trained in just about any pattern. In the tiny-leaved miniatures
there is a particular fascination in the intricate formations of lobes
and points, edges which are waved or crinkled, and the markings, which
may be dainty, pert, or bold.



   _Hedera helix meagheri_--a fine small specimen]

These variations (actually mutations) of the ubiquitous evergreen
ground or wall cover, are less hardy than the species from which they
have sprung. Their outdoor use is best limited to moderate or mild
climates--but never where it is hot and dry. Some slow creeping types
like the variety conglomerata are delightful in not-too-hot rock
gardens. Indoors, of course, you can have any or all of them, and you
have many to choose from. Here is a representative selection to tempt

   ‘Goldheart’--Deepest green leaves centered with a heart of gold.

   ‘Itsy Bitsy’--Lacy leaves half the size of a fingernail.

   ‘Ivalace’--Fresh green with a crocheted edge.

   ‘Jubilee’--Gray-green spattered with white.

   ‘Needlepoint’--So sharply cut there’s nearly no leaf at all.

   ‘Shell’--Waved and crinkled on the veins.

   ‘Tear Drop’--A baby’s tear at that.

   ‘Telecurl’--Tight as a brand-new “permanent.”

CARE. Cool, needs fresh air, loamy soil, shade or semishade, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, layering, seed. (Seeds may take as long as two
years to germinate.)

SPECIAL USES. House plants, ground cover, rock gardens, miniature

=Helxine soleiroli= _Urticaceae_ Baby’s Tears

Millions of tiny, button-like leaves hug close to the thready stems of
this wee creeper that covers soil, or a pot, in incredible haste. The
growth twines and intertwines thickly as if it were weaving a fresh
green carpet for a doll’s house.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, humidity,
humusy soil, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings of rooting stems.

SPECIAL USES. Ground cover, rocks and walls. (Outdoors only in
mild climates.)

=Hoya bella= _Asclepiadaceae_ Wax Plant

Definitely a dwarf, as wax plants grow, and not climbing, as most
others are, little _H. bella_ has arching, rather than woody,
stems with thick, heavy somber green leaves on either side and clusters
of incredible flowers at the tips, porcelain-white, waxy, and fragrant,
with a wheel-shaped purple “crown” in the center. Best in a basket
because the flowers droop, and the view is prettiest from below.

CARE. Warm, needs fresh air, loamy soil, bright light, dry side.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings in spring.

SPECIAL USES. Good house plant.

=Impatiens repens= _Balsaminaceae_

This precious creeper bears so little superficial resemblance to the
popular “patient Lucy” it’s hard to believe it’s a close kin. I loved
it when I first saw it at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, and was
delighted when it became available to us here. It is a creeper with red
stems, plump button-shaped leaves, and yellow flowers.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, humusy soil, bright
light, moist.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Good house plant, miniature gardens.

=Koellikeria erinoides= _Gesneriaceae_

This one is a gem--clusters of pert green-velvet leaves with indented
veins and sprinkled with silvery star dust; on short stems, tiny
two-lipped bell flowers of creamy white and red, in summer.

CARE. Warm, humid, humusy soil, filtered sun, moist.


SPECIAL USES. House plant.

=Lantana camara= _Verbenaceae_

Here is a plant I have long enjoyed around the greenhouse. It is a
small hairy shrub with angled branches and rough bristly leaves and is
sometimes prickly.


   _Helxine soleiroli_, baby’s tears--a delightful little

Its blooming habits have always delighted me, and it is a prolific
bloomer come summer. The verbena-like flowers open pink or yellow and
later darken to red or orange. Often several different shades will be
found on the same plant at the same time.

CARE. Moderate greenhouse temperatures, or out of doors in the
summer. Needs fresh air, loamy garden soil, bright light, and does best
on the dry side.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings and seed.

SPECIAL USES. House plant, pots, and containers.

=Malpighia coccigera= _Malpighiaceae_ Miniature Holly

Small glossy leaves sharply toothed like holly, and adorable as a
foliage plant, but in addition provides the sweetest white-pink blooms
which in its native West Indies produce red, edible fruit rich in
vitamin C.

CARE. Partial sun, warmth, humusy soil, moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. House plant, indoor bonsai.

=Manettia bicolor= _Rubiaceae_ Firecracker Vine

Small, sharp-pointed leaves, tube-flowers only a half-inch long, fine
thready twining stems--everything about this tropical vine is miniature
except the height to which it will climb in the greenhouse, or outdoors
in the South. Although its inclination is to climb, it is sold most
often as a plant for hanging baskets. Perhaps the lack of a support
helps keep it small. The leaves cluster thickly around the intertwining
stems, making a massed background for the impertinent flowers, yellow
at the tips, fire-engine red at the base.

CARE. Cool greenhouse, needs fresh air, humid, loamy soil, filtered
sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings over heat, of young growth. Seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Trellis and rafter vines for the greenhouse, hanging

=Maranta= _Marantaceae_

Exotic tropical foliage plants, laying their large oval leaves almost
flat on the soil, only technically different from the calatheas, and
sometimes offered under that name.

   _(Calathea) bicolor_--Really should be “tricolor,” I think.
   The silky, six-inch leaves are silvery in the center, feathering
   out to points at intervals, and fading into a dark-green zone
   which gives way to the basic blue-gray or gray-green that
   extends to the edge.

   _leuconeura kerchoveana_--rabbit tracks, prayer
   plant--There’s a similar grayish feather in the center of the
   leaf, a lighter silver green to the margin; but in between,
   mahogany blotches where a “hippity-hopper” might have planted
   his paws. The leaves fold up in prayer at night.

   _leuconeura massangeana_--A picture is a more vivid
   description than any word I can call on. The center is silver,
   the thin curvy lines silvery pink. The basic color is mahogany
   near the middle, blending into blue-green. The leaves are
   tissue-thin with a silky sheen and lined with plum beneath.


   _Leuconeura massangeana_--a most beautiful foliage plant
   with a silver center and basic mahogany blending into blue-green]

CARE. Warmth, minimum night temperature of 60 degrees; humid,
and use mist spray; rich soil; use liquid manure (except in winter).
Filtered sun (plant will scorch in too direct sunshine), moist. Partial
rest in winter, dry out between waterings. Repot in spring, with the
crown high in the center; use charcoal in pot.

PROPAGATION. Divide crown.

SPECIAL USES. Foliage plant, artificial light. This plant is prettiest
when young. Markings may disappear in older plants.

=Myrsine africana= _Myrsinaceae_ African Boxwood

This is a shrubby, dark-green-leaved plant of the boxwood sort. It is
small, neat, and trim and may be shaped into many patterns to resemble
the true boxwood.

CARE. Partial sun, moderate temperature, humusy soil, moist.

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Formal miniature gardens, dish gardens, indoor bonsai.

=Myrtus communis= _Myrtaceae_ Greek Myrtle

This is a fragrant close-leaved evergreen shrub native to the
Mediterranean region but raised in most of Europe and this country as
a potted plant. It grows out-of-doors in the South. Fragrant white
flowers and purple-black berries. In size, Greek Myrtle ranges from
dwarfs to ten and fifteen feet in height.

   _communis microphylla_--dwarf myrtle--This compact form,
   with brown twigs and needle-like dark-green leaves, is a
   favorite for bridal bouquets, corsages, and decorations. It has
   a lovely white flower of pleasing fragrance. This sentimental
   association with the marriage ceremony makes it a favorite house

CARE. Partial sun, cool to moderate temperatures, average soil, keep

PROPAGATION. Stem cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. House plant, indoor bonsai.

=Oxalis= _Oxalidaceae_

Although most of the familiar varieties with clover-type leaves and
fine-petaled buttercup-like flowers stay within our allotted limits for
height, they are not miniatures as far as spreading width is concerned.
But here are two small indispensables for terrariums and dish gardens.

   _hedysaroides rubra_--firefern--Correctly, a tropical
   shrublet, but slow-growing and willing to be kept down by
   pinching. The silky thin leaves are deep wine colored and shrink
   from your touch. The little flowers, like golden twinkling
   stars, are frequent and fairly plentiful.

   _herrerae (henrei)_--Curious, densely branching succulent
   for small hanging containers. The sturdy stems are gray-green
   and swollen, tipped with three thick leaflets. Small yellow
   flowers in clusters on long stems.

   _martiana aureo-reticulata_--Shamrock leaves of emerald
   green thickly traced with interlacing veins of gold, easy
   flowers in loose clusters.

CARE. Cool, loamy garden soil, needs fresh air, bright light, dry side.
(_O. hedysariodes rubra_ requires more warmth and semishade.)

PROPAGATION. Bulbs, division of roots, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. House plants, hanging containers.


   _Oxalis hedysaroides rubra_]

=Parochetus communis= _Leguminosae_ Shamrock Pea, Blue Oxalis

It’s neither a shamrock nor an oxalis, although it has three-part
leaves resembling both and is marked with a mahogany quarter-moon in
the center. But, the blooms are pea-like, all right, with ocean blue
blending into pink on the two side petals. It’s a tender tropical
trailer never more than three inches tall with creeping stems rooting
over the soil.

CARE. Sun, intermediate temperature, average soil.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in March and April. Division in March.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens in mild climate, baskets, miniature gardens,

=Pelargonium hortorum= _Geraniaceae_ Geranium

How minute is a miniature? How small is a dwarf? Here is one case where
I really don’t care. However you classify them, these small-scale
geraniums are bewitching. And actually, their stature depends largely
on how you grow them.

Their leaves may be as small as your thumbnail, but they are shaped,
edged, veined, zoned, and often variegated like their larger
relatives. In most varieties the size of the flowers has been cut down
proportionately, but sometimes a cluster is as large as the entire
plant. With age the stems may become gnarled and twisted, almost

As a sort of yardstick, if you are very much concerned about height,
miniatures are from two to three inches. Anything above that is a
semidwarf, usually up to six or seven inches. There are many varieties
within these limits, and by the time you read this there will most
likely be dozens more. For the moment, here are some varieties you can
start on your window sill; they will stay small and meanwhile bloom
their heads off.

   ‘Black Vesuvius’--Single, orange-scarlet.

   ‘Dopey’--Large rose-red with white center. Free-blooming.

   ‘Elf’--Dark leaves, zoned red and black, yellow on edge, single.

   ‘Epsilon’--Large flowers light pink with dark-pink phlox eye,

   ‘Fairyland’--Dull-green leaves with cream on the edge, single,
   touched with rose-red.

   ‘Fairy Tales’--Flouncy white with lilac at the center.

   ‘Fleurette’--Strong robust free-blooming dark salmon. Semidwarf.

   ‘Goblin’--Outstanding blooms bright red. Free-blooming, dark

   ‘Imp’--Very miniature salmon-pink. Dark foliage.

   ‘Kleiner Liebling’ (‘Little Darling’)--Variegated, single, pink.

   ‘Minx’--Purple-crimson blend, pretty blackish ruffled leaves.

   ‘Mischief’--Orange-red curled and twisted poinsettia-type petals.

   ‘Perky’--Single, red with bright white center.

   ‘Polaris’--Free-blooming white with pink edge. Single.

   ‘Pride’--Very large full rounded salmon. Robust semidwarf.

   ‘Prince Valiant’--Purple-crimson with orange flush. Semidwarf.

   ‘Robin Hood’--Semidwarf, strong growing, dark red. Good for
   outdoor planting. Double.

   ‘Rosy Dawn’--A different shade of salmon-orange-red. Dark

   ‘Ruffles’--Semidouble, small, ruffled, light salmon. Very

   ‘Salmon Comet’--Somewhat shaggy, single, salmon.

   ‘Saturn’--Bright scarlet, good bloomer, dark foliage.


   Three dwarf geraniums: ‘Salmon Comet,’ ‘Pride,’ and ‘Pygmy’]


   Dwarf geranium, ‘Robin Hood’]

   ‘Small Fortune’--Double, pure white, blushing pink in center.

   ‘Sneezy’--Large bright scarlet with white center. Semidwarf.

   ‘Snow-White’--A pure-white single that blooms and blooms.

   ‘Sparkle’--Free-blooming bright rose-red. Semidwarf, dark

   ‘Sprite’--Small silvery-and-white leaves sometimes pink-tinged,
   single, salmon.

   ‘Tiny Tim’--Pink or red, tiny blooms. Miniature foliage.

   ‘Twinkle’--Bright rose-pink, double. Dark foliage, semidwarf.

   ‘Variegated Kleiner Liebling’--Small green-and-white leaves.
   Small single pink blooms.

CARE. Sun (in winter artificial light), fresh air (air-conditioning if
possible), cool greenhouse or cool part of dwelling-house, garden soil
(lime if soil is extra acid), on the dry side.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Excellent house plant, artificial-light gardens.

=Pellaea rotundifolia= _Polypodiaceae_ Button Fern

Take a piece of wiry brown yarn and string it with shiny, dark-green,
leathery polka dots on either side and you’ll have a model of a frond
of this tropical fern. The fuzzy stems arch gently but stay close to
the soil as the small rhizomes slowly creep around. It’s all very
un-fernlike but exceedingly sweet.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, humid, loamy soil, shade, moist.

=Pellionia= _Urticaceae_

Two delicate tropical creepers with attractively colored and patterned
leaves lined up and lying flat along the thickish stems. No one cares
whether they produce their drab clusters of small greenish flowers or

   _pulchra_--Precise oval leaves are dusty blue-gray,
   with broad lines of black over the network of nerves, violet
   underneath. Juicy stems look lavender-pink.

   _repens (daveauana)_--Young leaves nearly egg-shaped,
   metallic copper-green, nearly chartreuse on both sides of the
   center nerve. Leaves of the mature plants become slimmer and
   pointed on the end, with more green in the center zone and less
   copper along the edge.

CARE. Filtered sun, warm and humid, loamy soil, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, division of rooted stems.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, artificial light, hanging baskets.

=Peperomia= _Piperaceae_

Since almost all of these succulents, with their “catkin-like” flower
spikes, fit within our miniature measurements, I’ve enjoyed picking a
few to serve as a sample of their modest but much varied appeal. I like
them, and hope you will also.


   Twenty-three varieties of _Pelargonium hortorum_, miniature
   and dwarf: 1. Fleurette 2. Snow White 3. Dopey 4. Mischief 5.
   Robin Hood 6. Minx 7. Epsilon 8. Prince Valiant 9. Polaris 10.
   Saturn 11. Sparkle 12. Kleiner Liebling 13. Small Fortune 14.
   Goblin 15. Variegated Kleiner Liebling 16. Fairy Tales 17. Rosy
   Dawn 18. Pride 19. Sneezy 20. Twinkle 21. Ruffled 22. Imp 23.
   Salmon Comet]


   ‘Astrid’--Layer upon layer of glossy green, pointed oval leaves
   creased down the center by the main vein, making a dense,
   symmetrical cone-shaped mound. In fact, there are so many tight
   branches that the leaves can’t always find room to fill out to
   full size. Then ‘Astrid’ turns into a version called ‘Pixie.’ To
   reverse the cycle, root a single stem of ‘Pixie’ and see how it
   returns to being ‘Astrid’ again.

   ‘Caperata’ (‘Little Fantasy’)--One perfect little heart leaf,
   its end pointing down, perched at the top of a sturdy stem. The
   entire leaf is so deeply wrinkled and crinkled that the basic
   Kelly-green looks almost black in the indentations, and silvery
   on the edges. Its big brother, ‘Emerald Ripple,’ is half again
   as large but otherwise identical.

   ‘Mamorata’ (‘Silver Heart’)--These heart-leaves taper to a
   sharper point and are rippled in a much more modest way. There
   is so much silver on the surface they look plated.

   _metallica_--Upright and branching with slim-oval leaves
   pointed at both ends and colored chocolate with a coffee luster.
   There is a wide green stripe straight down the middle.

   _ornata_--Handsome and stately despite its small stature.
   The cupped, pointed-oval leaves are somber green on top and
   enlivened with lines of light green along the curved veins.
   Underneath, the veins become raised ribs and are wine red.

   _prostrata_--Personally, I have my suspicions about
   this sprightly creeper. When it is young, discontented, or
   ailing, its fat little button-leaves along the thready stems
   are a plain light green. It looks so much like the species
   rotundiflora (nummularifolia) that you can’t tell the two apart.
   But when prostrata is happy and romping around in its favorite
   environment, the leaves turn blue-green and wear an ornate
   embroidery of silver over the veins. Botanically, I’m probably
   wrong. See what happens when you grow it.

   _rubella_--Rosettes of tiny oval moss-green leaves stand
   out at intervals up and down the straight stems and all the
   branches. The undersurface is gaudy red, and so are the stems.
   Pinch often to keep it bushy.

CARE. Warm, loamy garden soil, filtered sun, dry side. Water
with care. Drainage to prevent rot.

PROPAGATION. Leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, division of the
plant or rooting stem (roots at joints), seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Excellent house plant, dish gardens.

=Pilea= _Urticaceae_

With one exception, this is a genus of creepers, crisp,
fleshy--spreaders, and bushlets for dozens of decorative uses indoors
(and outdoors in tropical climates). Their common characteristics
are much-branched stems bearing a full measure of variously colored,
patterned, and shaped foliage, and very greenish flowers in flat
clusters at the branch tips.

   _cadieri minima_--Dwarf form of the popular aluminium
   plant, or watermelon pilea, eagerly branching into a plump
   bush. The quilted deep-green leaves are splotched with
   aluminium-silver. And the splotches are faintly reminiscent of
   watermelon markings.

   _depressa_--Crowded stems spill over the pot, bearing round
   sea-green leaves neatly toothed on the edge. Stems root where
   they touch the soil.


   _Pilea depressa_--a creeping, dish-garden favorite]

   _involucrata_--panamiga--Fuzzy pointed oval leaves deeply
   quilted by a tight network of veins, piled pair on pair along
   branching stems. Foliage colors darkest green in shade, tinges
   of bronze in bright light. Flowers pinkish, nestled close to the
   last pair of leaves.

   _microphylla (serpyllifolia)_--artillery plant--Tiny,
   pointed fresh-green leaves on spreading, somewhat upright
   branches. The male flowers explode their clouds of pollen when

   _nummulariaefolia_--creeping Charlie--Stem-rooting creeper
   with crinkled round, or broad heart-shaped, leaves, pale green
   and fuzzy.

   _pubescens_ (‘Silver Panamiga’)--Oval leaves overlaid with
   silvery blue, grayish beneath, the veins indented sharply.

   _repens_--blackleaf panamiga--Prostrate and creeping, the
   branches spreading and bearing nearly round, thin, bronzy leaves
   lined with violet beneath. This one holds its beady flowers atop
   tall stems.

   _seripillacea_--Habit like a perfectly proportioned shrub
   but in most miniature proportions. Small round leaves and
   plentiful branches, light green and succulent. Flower clusters
   held out from the foliage by stems.

   ‘Silver Tree’--Copyrighted name for a species with brown-green
   leaves marked with a broad silver zone on each side of the
   center vein, corrugated by indented veins.

CARE. Easy, warm, humid, loamy soil with humus, filtered sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, use sharp sand, 65 degrees.

SPECIAL USES. Dish gardens, terrariums.

=Polyscias (Aralia) fruticosa= _Araliaceae_

Tropical shrub or tree (eight feet or less) better known in Northern
greenhouses for its intricately cut, lacy foliage, and growing so
slowly it is nearly permanent (and unquestionably picturesque) in a
planter or dish garden. The elegant horticultural variety ‘Elegans’ has
leaves cut as fine as a feathery plume. I covet the newly named variety
‘Parsley’ because it is ruffled, to boot, and because its habit is so
restrained, and its form so compact and plump.

CARE. Warm, needs fresh air, loamy soil, bright light, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings of firm wood, eye-cuttings (over bottom heat).

SPECIAL USES. Dish gardens.

=Polystichum tsus-simense= _Polypodiaceae_

Definitely a dwarf fern, keeping its size moderate in a three-inch
pot but not always a subject for terrariums unless they are a
larger-than-usual size. It has a tidy habit, always looks clean
and refreshing. The small fronds are substantial and taper to a
needle-sharp point.

CARE. No sun, cool, humid, loamy soil, moist.

PROPAGATION. Divisions, buds, or offsets.

SPECIAL USES. Hanging baskets. Terrariums.

=Sansevieria= _Liliaceae_ Snake Plant

Here we have some of the most fortuitous “sports” in the history of
plants. The tall, stiff, ungainly but omnipresent snake plant has
produced spontaneously mutant growth that turned into neat, low,
bird’s-nest miniatures that are really most attractive. First came the
variety named ‘Hahni,’ a flat spiral of broad leaves tapering to a
sharp point, dull green marked crosswise with splashy bands of lighter
green. Another sport, ‘Silver Hahni,’ abandoned most of the crossbands
and plated its green with pewter. Even more striking is ‘Golden Hahni,’
with lavish bands of creamy yellow running lengthwise of the leaf on
either side of a center stripe of mottled green. And to top it all,
these picturesque plants are just as easy to grow as the rugged species
from which they sprang. Flowers, whitish or yellowish. Slow-growing.

CARE. Filtered sun, warm, loamy soil, slightly moist.

PROPAGATION. Division of clumps. Leaf cuttings (three-inch piece in
sand, shade, and 65-degree temperature). Makes stolon-like buds that
form the new plants.

SPECIAL USES. Dish gardens. Good house plant.

=Sarcococca ruscifolia= _Buxaceae_ Sweet Box

Sweet box is a small, free-branching evergreen with attractive leathery
leaves, broad at the stem but coming to a point. Has tiny fragrant
white flowers.

CARE. Intermediate temperature, fresh air, loamy soil, filtered sun,


SPECIAL USES. Dish gardens, indoor bonsai.

=Saxifraga sarmentosa= _Saxifragaceae_ Strawberry Begonia or Geranium

One of the few hardy perennials that will thrive indoors the year
round. Round, hairy silver-veined leaves grow in a rosette from the
crown, which also sends out slender red stems, strawberry style, with
new little plants that root and grow wherever they touch soil. In late
spring the fall stems are topped by cloudlike soft clusters of small
white flowers. ‘Maroon Beauty’ is slightly darker, and larger.

More miniature, and more tricky, is the variety tricolor, sometimes
called ‘Magic Carpet,’ with smaller, basically gray-green leaves,
red-rimmed and variegated with wide areas of creamy white, purple
underneath. In cool air and sun, the cream is strongly tinted pink.

CARE. Humid, cool, poor soil, dry.


SPECIAL USES. Dish and sink gardens.

=Schizocentron (Heeria, Heterocentron) elegans= _Melastomaceae_ Spanish

Mexican creeping perennial with thickly branched stems rooting at the
joints, making a plush carpet of tiny, teardrop leaves. In summer the
one-inch open-faced, royal-purple flowers seem unbelievably large and
rich. This one is very nice in a small hanging basket, but its natural
inclination is to creep and it really goes to town when it can cover
soil or some sort of porous support such as a moss totem pole. It
should be spectacular covering a hanging ball filled with sphagnum

  [Illustration: _Saxifraga sarmentosa_--a hardy perennial
  good for indoor miniature gardens]

CARE. Intermediate temperature, humid, loamy soil with humus, filtered
sun, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, division of rooted stems.

SPECIAL USES. Small baskets, miniature gardens, ground cover.

=Selaginella= _Selaginellaceae_

Soft, fluffy foliage plants in all shades of green, including metallic,
and with all kinds of growth, low and creepy, upright, even climbing.
They bear more resemblance to each other than they do to their cousins
the ferns.

   _emmeliana_--sweat plant--As the nickname hints, this ferny
   plant languishes unless it is “perspiring” in high heat and
   humidity. In fact, once the fine-lace fronds turn dry and brown,
   they won’t be fresh and green again.

   _kraussiana browni_--Scotch moss--Soft, symmetrical
   cushions of bright-green leaves, slowly spreading into larger

   _kraussiana (denticulata)_--spreading club moss--Branching,
   rooting, creeping stems thickly set with needlepoint leaves.

   _lepidophylla_--resurrection plant--Antithesis of the sweat
   plant. When the fan-shaped branches have dried out and curled
   into a ball, immerse them in water and they will come back fresh
   and green as ever.

   _martensi_--Young branches stand upright, may drop or creep
   with age. The variety variegata has eye-catching white splashes,
   splotches, or tips and supports itself on stiff aerial roots
   from stems to soil.

   _plumosa_--Foamy creeper with short, branching stems
   overlapped by foliage of fresh woodsy green.

   _uncinata_--Foliage sparse but shimmering peacock-blue in
   shade. The running, branching stems have a ludicrous way of
   sending down stilt-like roots into the soil, so they seem to be
   running above the soil, not in it.

CARE. Fern culture; warm, humid, humus, shade, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings in pots (several pieces per pot), in spring. Put
on top of medium and cover with glass at 70 degrees until roots form at
joints. Spores, division of rooted stems.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, greenhouses, ground cover.

=Serissa foetida (japonica)= _Rubiaceae_

A boxwood-like plant with tiny white-margined leaves clustered on
branchlets. White funnelform flowers to one-half inch long.

CARE. Partial sun, average soil, moderately moist.


SPECIAL USES. Artificial light, dish gardens, indoor bonsai.

=Sinningia pusilla= _Gesneriaceae_

If ever a plant was a miniature, this is it. The tuber is hardly
as large as a grain of wheat. The soft round leaves, not even a
quarter-inch across, make a flat rosette on the soil in a thimble,
or any tiny pot. From the crown arise the thread-thin stems, to the
great height of one inch. And from the tip of each stem stands a slim
flaring, tube-like flower, pale orchid with violet veins and lemon in
the throat. This plant is quite obviously close kin to the familiar
gloxinia (_G. speciosa_ hybrids), but you almost need a magnifying
glass to compare the characteristics.

CARE. Warm, humid, humusy soil, filtered sun, slightly moist.

PROPAGATION. As for the gesneriads (Gesneriaceae).

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, miniature gardens.


   Miniature of miniatures, delightful _Sinningia pusilla_]

=Streptocarpus= _Gesneriaceae_

When limited growing space frustrates the hobbyist who admires the
great, glorious gloxinias (sinningias), here’s a selection of pleasing
and precious substitutes. In general these plants are distinguished
by the fact that the flower stems grow out from the base of the leaf
where it joins its own stem (axil). The flowers are typical gesneriad
trumpets, usually nodding; the leaves are mostly rather round and
velvety. The following are fibrous-rooted:

   _hybridus_--Botanical name for groups of hybrids called
   “as complex as the garden geranium,” with quilted light-green
   leaves and a wide selection of flower colors. One strain of
   particularly attractive low plants, the German Weismoor hybrids,
   has fringed and crested flowers up to four inches across, often
   contrastingly veined or blotched.

   _rexi_--Long-oval, velvety leaves lie very flat. Six-inch
   stems hold two-inch funnel-flowers, pale orchid with purple

   _saxorum_--Leafy-stemmed species, the stems branching
   continually, making dense mounds of plump, one-inch oval leaves
   curled under on the edge and covered with soft silk-velvet. The
   lavender-flushed white flowers stand out at the end of wiry
   three-inch stems.

CARE. Cool, humid, loamy soil with humus, filtered sun.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (plant in early spring for flowers fall and winter),
leaf cuttings, some offsets.

SPECIAL USES. Artificial light.

=Tillandsia= _Bromeliaceae_

There are several entrancing dwarfs and miniatures among these
tree-perching bromeliads with curved, leathery, often quill-tipped
leaves. For two of the newly listed species (_T. argentea_ and
_T. tricolepsis_) I can simply say that the leaf rosettes resemble
airy, long-bristled cones; they have not yet flowered for me.

   _circinnata_--The silvery leaves, broader at the base,
   overlap and form an urn-shaped, tuber-like swelling. Tight, flat
   spikes of glowing-orchid flowers in late winter.

   _ionantha_--Three-inch tuft of pewter-gray leaves turn
   fiery red at flowering time, January-February. The inflorescence
   is an incredible paddle-shaped composition of fat, flat, tightly
   overlapping bracts, and the plant sends out large violet flowers
   day after day.

   _stricta_--Shaggy “head” of very narrow, every-which-way
   leaves silvered with finest gray fuzz; short-stemmed spikes with
   shocking-pink bracts and blue-violet flowers.

CARE. Warm, humid, orchid-growing medium, wire to board with orchid
peat. Moist during spring and summer. Dry in dark winter months, when
plant is semidormant.


SPECIAL USES. “Log” gardens, tree slabs.

=Tradescantia= _Commelinaceae_ Spiderwort, Inch Plant, Wandering Jew

Most varieties of the inch plants that cheerfully romp all over indoor
gardens are, of course, too rambunctious to be called miniature. But
there are two species of much more modest proportions and habit.

   _multiflora_--Unmistakably an inch plant, but with stems
   more threadlike than succulent; small, slim (even quite thin)
   leaves plain dark green, tinted purple beneath; and clusters of
   tiny white winking flowers. The effect is, believe it or not,
   delicate and “ferny.”

   _navicularis_--China plant--Curious succulent creeper
   with very thick stems threaded through widely spaced pairs of
   clasping leaves folded tightly down the center; rose-purple

CARE. Easy culture, intermediate temperature, needs fresh air, loamy
soil, filtered sun, dry side.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings of growing shoots, seeds, division.


                              _CHAPTER 7_

                           MINIATURE ROSES,
                            INDOORS AND OUT

Men, women, and children; gardeners, nongardeners, and the family
cat--everyone is captivated by a four-inch rosebush with precise little
leaves and thorns, studded with button-size buds and flowers, twinkling
in its pot on the window sill. On her weekly visit the cleaning woman
checks on its health and welfare. The baby-sitter has her boy friend
come in to see it. The milkman wants to know where he can get one like
it for his green-thumbed wife.

But if I had a dime for every eager buyer who has found these midgets
disappointingly difficult to grow indoors, I could start building
my dream greenhouse tomorrow. There are simply too many floriferous
pictures with thimbles to show how cute the flowers are, and too few
responsible growers who give specific cultural directions with every

In the garden there’s no problem. These are by nature outdoor plants,
mostly sturdier and more winter-hardy than the full-sized hybrid teas
and floribundas. For some reason, they even seem to be less subject
to the depredations of insects and disease. I can pick handfuls of
Japanese beetles from the regulars in the rose garden, but few from the
miniatures little more than a hundred feet away.

I’m not implying that miniature roses are impossible indoors. One of
the most perfect blooming bushlets I’ve ever seen came to our flower
show from a sparsely windowed, steam-heated Brooklyn apartment. I
simply want to spread the gospel that, to avoid risking disappointment,
everybody should know what kind of cultural conditions they need.

Potted miniature roses are positively precious in cool, sunny window
gardens, with rows of matching pots on glass shelves up and down the
window, or singles or small groups in mixed arrangements on the sill
or in a window greenhouse. Although they are not the most adaptable
subjects for growing under artificial light, I’ve known several people
who have been successful, particularly when the plants were started
under lights from seed.

In a harmonious decorative container, a flowering miniature rose
makes a small plant-and-container decoration to inspire the prettiest
compliments. With suitable environment a tiny bush can be used as a
center of interest in an indoor model landscape. A small greenhouse
should hardly be without one of these brightly blooming babies.

Miniature roses have many uses in sink or trough gardens, as single
specimens, pairs or quadruplets in formal plantings, even hedgerows
kept carefully trimmed. I don’t know whether anyone has ever tried them
for miniature bonsai. This would be a process of dwarfing a dwarf;
and my mental picture of the proper plant, artistically trained, is
enchanting. I must try this, before long.

Outdoors, miniature roses are delightful in all kinds of
containers--tubs, strawberry jars, window boxes, and other planters.
They’re often used as a low hedge to edge a path, driveway, or the beds
of a formal rose garden, or around the base of a birdbath or sundial.
In mixed flower borders they’re planted singly or in small groups
toward the front. In rock gardens they keep most safely cool and moist
when planted low, near the base of the garden; and they show off most
effectively with something like a dwarf evergreen as background.

Gardens featuring miniature roses are most often formal in
design--round, square, rectangular, the beds divided with geometric
precision by narrow strips of grass or gravel paths. A small, formal
pool or piece of statuary may be the center of interest. In a sunken
garden outlined with an eight-inch brick or stone wall, the planting
pattern is particularly pleasing. In raised beds each individual
shrublet can be enjoyed at eye level. In a single or double row at the
base of a low retaining wall, the plants show off to advantage.

Beds of miniature roses can be carefully arranged strips, or groups of
separate colors, or mixtures. They can be edged with shrubs such as
dwarf box, perennials such as dwarf lavender, dainty annuals such as
lobelia or alyssum. In the center a tree or standard is often used as
accent. Or a bed may be backed by a wall, fence, trellis, or arch on
which miniature climbers are trained. If the soil is slanted slightly
up, toward the center, it is easier to see the plump perfection of each
little bush.

Dwarf evergreens, particularly junipers, are popular backgrounds for
miniature rose gardens. Upright types with symmetrical pyramid, column,
or cone shapes are often used as accent--for example, a matching
specimen of one of the dwarf varieties of _Juniperus communis_ in
the exact center of each formal bed.

Miniature or not, rose gardens are most often conceived in formal
design. But to me, the cheerful dwarfs are more friendly when planted
informally--popping up at the base of a tree stump or boulder, spotted
here and there in the rock garden, a few at the top of a flight of
small steps.

                       TYPES OF MINIATURE ROSES

The tight buds may be as big as the eraser on a pencil, or as tiny as a
grain of unpolished rice, and the flowers may be single, semidouble, or
double. The doubles may be formed like a hybrid tea or be full-petaled
and fluffy, in clusters like a rambler rose. Some varieties stay very
dwarf and bushy, from four to six inches tall; others are more robust,
with larger flowers, and may grow to ten inches.

Climbing miniature roses are usually sports of bush varieties, with
supple canes four or five feet long that can be trained on low fences,
walls, trellises, or arches. Otherwise, every part is in perfect
miniature scale.

All of these types are recognized by fanciers as authentic miniature
roses because they grow on their own roots. And so is the rare tree
or standard grown with a single trunk-like stem that is kept free of
side growth, then pinched at the top to form a crown and symmetrical
head. But standards that are budded or grafted onto the stems of other
root stocks (which most of our American miniature tree roses are) are
excluded by the experts, which is a matter of concern only to the
serious collector.

                       INDOOR PLANTING AND CARE

Since miniature roses seldom spend the summer indoors, they are usually
purchased in fall or winter from the local florist or greenhouse, or
by mail from house-plant or miniature-rose specialists. Pot-grown
plants are most likely to succeed indoors because their roots are not
disturbed unduly. Except in Hawaii and Arizona, mail-order plants
arrive with the soil ball complete about the roots, the stems cut back
to about two inches. They start growth almost immediately, and flower
within six to eight weeks.

If you have miniature roses in the garden, you can root cuttings in
early fall and force them into winter bloom indoors. Or you can dig the
plants, pot them, and give them their necessary dormant rest before you
bring them indoors for forcing. Sink the pots to the rim in soil, in
the cold frame or in some spot protected from severe winter weather.
When the temperature dips low, mulch with salt hay, straw, evergreen
branches, or the like. In late December or January, after six weeks or
more of dormancy, lift the pots and bring the plants indoors. Prune
back the leafless stems and water sparingly until new leaf buds appear.

After they have flowered indoors all winter and spring, I always
plant my miniature roses out in the garden and let them resume their
natural outdoor growth cycle. I may root cuttings, or I may bring
others indoors the following fall; but I have never tried to force a
plant a second time without letting it live at least one year in the
garden first. I have heard that some growers (probably city dwellers
or others who have no outdoor garden facilities) simply let the plants
rest outside in summer--on a shaded ledge or in a window box with moist
peat--prune them severely in fall, and grow them again. I haven’t heard
how many years a plant will take this unnatural treatment or how much
it suffers from missing its cool fall nap.


A fairly heavy potting soil packed quite firmly in the pot seems to
help keep the plants small without sacrificing foliage or flower.
One expert recommends a mixture of two parts garden soil, two parts
humus, one part moderately coarse sand, with a light sprinkling of
superphosphate or bone meal. When I use my ready-prepared potting soil,
I always add sand, and sometimes some humusy soil dug from immediately
under the leaf mold in the woods.


I’ve used both clay and plastic pots with equal success, always of
the shape with the greatest depth, as miniature roses are naturally
deep-rooted. Each pot has the usual layer of rocks or pebbles in the
bottom for drainage. Small, newly purchased plants usually start off
in three-inch pots, are shifted to four-inch pots before they become
severely root-bound. Some larger varieties may take larger sizes.


This is one of the three important cultural requirements. Miniature
roses must have sun if they are to bloom. A minimum of three hours is
sometimes set, but I should think this amount would be applicable only
to midsummer or to mild climates. In winter the plants need all the
sunshine they can possibly get.

_Temperature and Humidity_

Second in importance is a cool 65 degrees or even much lower (maximum,
70 degrees), and third is the humidity which keeps the plants at their
best. Leaves curl and dry, buds and flowers drop when the air is hot
and dry. Miniature roses should not be set anywhere near a heater or
radiator of any kind. Unless the air in the growing area is really cool
and moist, set the pots on moist gravel or make some other provision
for increasing humidity, as outlined on pages 76–77. It even helps
to cover the plants with a tent of plastic every night, and let them
emerge only for the day.


Keep the soil always moist, never soggy and muddy, never dry and caked.
As a humidifier and refresher, mist the foliage as often as you can.


A balanced soluble house-plant fertilizer (never one with high nitrogen
content) can be fed in half-strength solution every three weeks
beginning about three weeks after a freshly potted plant begins active
growth. Or you can use any special rose food according to directions
and at half the strength recommended on the package. The idea is to
encourage the plant to grow and flower, but not stuff it with so much
nutrition that it gallops gaily up to nondwarf size with leaves only.

_Pruning and Grooming_

I seldom prune miniature roses indoors except to cut off cleanly
any stems that may have been accidentally broken or that may grow
unattractively long or misshapen. I do try to douse the plants in
slightly sudsy water, to clean the foliage, every few weeks; and I pick
off faded flowers promptly. Actually, instead of being in continual
bloom, these plants usually flower for a few weeks and then take a
short rest before they send up buds again.

_Insects and Disease_

Again, preventive spraying is all I’ve ever done. I use my handy
house-plant aerosol bomb almost every week. If disaster should strike,
I’d probably use the special rose spray or dust I use on the regular
garden roses.

                       OUTDOOR PLANTING AND CARE

In all except mild or warmer climates, bare-root plants bought by mail
from nurseries or garden-rose specialists should be planted in early
spring, when vigorous root action and growth are beginning. Potted
plants or any that come complete with a soil ball around the roots
can be planted almost any time the garden soil is not frozen. But in
sections where winters are severe, I think spring planting is always
safest. In fact, in Connecticut I like to give new plants a longer
growing season their first year by starting them a few weeks early, in
pots, indoors or in the greenhouse.


Plant miniature roses where they will get at least half a day of
summer sun (a full day is best) but where it is possible to keep the
soil suitably moist. Avoid low, muggy pockets where air does not
circulate freely or where water can collect and make the soil muddy.
Good drainage is vital. In cold areas, select a spot sheltered from icy
winds by a wall or low shrubs.


To help keep them dwarf, miniature roses need a fairly heavy soil, but
not, of course, too clay-like. Dig down at least ten inches, to prepare
for the deep-growing roots, and improve the soil you remove with
whatever is needed before you replace it around the plant. Clay-type
soils will need the addition of sand, for drainage, and leaf mold needs
rotted or dry cow manure or other humus to lighten the texture. Sandy
soils need humus to help hold moisture. In even average fertile soil,
miniatures appreciate an extra ration of humus at planting time.

The ideal soil for miniature roses will pack firmly around the roots,
yet won’t cake and crack in the sun. It drains perfectly, so excess
water does not stand around the roots, particularly in winter. Yet
it holds enough moisture so that the roots don’t dry out so fast you
can’t keep up with the watering job. Soil should also test neutral
or slightly acid (_p_H 6.0), never extremely acid. In acid-soil
areas, apply a light sprinkling of horticultural lime each winter.


Plant miniature roses about a half-inch deeper than they were before,
and far enough apart so that they will have room to spread as wide as
they will be tall. Crowded plants have no individual beauty, but they
are prime targets for mildew. If the weather turns sharply cold or dry
and windy after planting, protect the plants by mounding up soil around
the stems. Remove it gradually as spring days grow balmier.


Miniature roses suffer seriously from drought, and will drop their buds
and flowers after only a few days of hot, dry weather. Keep the soil
constantly moist, and spray or mist the foliage once or twice a day.
A mulch of pebbles, a mixture of half soil and half peat (peat alone
packs down too heavily), or something similarly porous, will help keep
the soil cool and moist.


Light feedings of organic fertilizers such as bone meal or cow manure
once a year, in early summer, are usually recommended. Or supply small
amounts of a balanced garden fertilizer, or special rose food, in late
spring and again in early July. A weak solution of liquid manure is
also good and can be fed about twice as often.

_Pruning and Training_

In early spring, when new growth is first beginning to show on bush
types, shorten all stems severely. I usually cut mine back to a uniform
four inches. And of course, cut out cleanly any dead or mutilated
branches. Make every cut just above a new shoot or leaf bud. Otherwise,
pruning is limited to keeping the bushes shapely, removing faded
flowers, and occasionally thinning the growth of old plants to admit
air to the center.

Miniature climbers bloom on last year’s wood. They can be cut back to
six inches when first planted, but are otherwise not pruned except to
control ungainly canes or remove dead ones. Train the climbing canes
into an attractive, open pattern as they grow, by tying them to the
arch, fence, or other support they are to climb on.

Miniature tree roses can be cut back to a small but symmetrical head in
spring and all dead wood should be removed. To keep them shapely, prune
as needed during the growing season.

_Insects and Disease_

I protect my miniature roses, as I do the others, with an all-purpose
rose spray or dust applied first when leaves begin to unfold,
and repeated every week or ten days until the plants go dormant.
Occasionally, during a long spell of hot, humid weather, I see signs
that mildew threatens. If the all-purpose spray contains a fungicide
(which most of them do), I use it immediately. If not, I may resort to
dusting sulfur (which does mar the beauty of the flowers) or whatever
sterilant is on hand.

_Winter Protection_

What you do to protect miniature roses in winter, or whether you do
anything at all, depends not only on your climate but also on the
health of the plants. If they’ve been growing well, they’ll take lots
of abuse; if they’re weak and ailing, their chances of survival are

Sometimes, a flower pot inverted over the leafless stems is all
that’s needed. Or you may mulch with salt hay or evergreen boughs.
In Connecticut we mound up soil so it covers the first three or four
inches of the stems, and remove it gradually in spring. It is most
important to make sure that water does not stand around the roots in
winter, next most important that alternate freezing and thawing don’t
heave the roots out of the ground and break them.

If they are likely to be whipped by wind or covered with ice, the canes
of climbing varieties are removed from their support and laid flat on
the ground, where they can be covered with either soil or mulch. Since
tree roses are inclined to be touchy, we wrap ours in burlap, with an
extra layer or two around the graft and crown.


I’ve grown many miniature roses from seed, and had a lot of fun doing
it. They usually germinate in about three weeks (best temperature about
60 degrees), quickly send out tiniest true rose leaves, and are ready
for transplanting into small pots in another two or three weeks. I
usually pinch the tip growth at least once, when the plant is about
five inches tall. The flowers can appear within three months after

Of course, seedling plants are not named varieties. Most of them, in
fact, have small single flowers in pale shades of pink or white. Your
chances of double, more brightly colored flowers increase if you can
get seeds of a good strain.

For new plants of named varieties, take cuttings in August or
September--three-or four-inch pieces of healthy wood produced in the
current season. If the stem can be pulled off gently with a sliver of
the main stem still attached (a heel), rooting may be faster and is
surer. Dipping the cut ends in hormone rooting powder is also helpful.

Make the moist propagating material firm around the base of the
cutting, and make sure the air is kept humid in the propagating box or
plastic tent, or invert a glass jar over the cutting. New growth is the
signal that roots have formed and the cutting is ready for potting.
These plants, too, will grow more compact and bushy if the tips are
pinched out when the stems are about five inches tall.


Although new varieties of this popular plant are constantly being
introduced, and most likely will have a wide appeal eventually, it
may be some time before they appear in plant and seed catalogues. In
compiling this modest list I have thought chiefly of what is available
at the moment, miniature roses I have either grown, seen in friends’
gardens, or admired vicariously on the printed pages of magazines,
books, and booklets. If you are interested, I am sure these bushes are
readily available. If I am old-hat and you feel avant-garde, there are
many persons propagating new varieties. Talk to some of them, or try it
yourself, a most gratifying hobby:

   ‘Baby Bunting’--A delightful, small rose with red flowers of
   a deep, startling shade. This variety is an inch or so taller
   than some, but many of my friends think it ideal in that they
   like to make miniature flower arrangements and appreciate
   slightly longer stems. Among its other charms, the rose is most
   delightfully fragrant.

   ‘Baby Crimson’--I’ve never had this one grow taller than six
   inches. Since I have maternal instinct for the wee ones, I love
   it. Under the right conditions it will bear tiny crimson flowers
   and exquisite buds up until frost time.

   ‘Bo-Peep’--This one has a charm in its name, and is one of the
   more popular miniature roses. It has double pink blooms, forms
   a bush with a neat conformation, and is another favorite with
   those who make miniature arrangements. You needn’t worry about
   cutting its blooms. It is always growing more.

   ‘Cinderella’--This one fits beautifully into the legend
   about the girl with the glass slipper. It has dainty white
   blooms touched with pink and is in the true tradition of rose
   shapeliness. Seemingly, it loves to bloom.

   ‘Granada’--In some listings I find the name spelled ‘Granata.’
   Regardless of the spelling, I love the bushes I have grown, for
   the lovely, semidouble, red flowers which the bush bears so
   profusely. A tiny vase filled with them makes one wish to build
   a doll house in which to display it.


   Days in the life of a miniature rose:

   a. Leafed out]


   b. A growing bush]


   c. First bud]


   d. Full bloom]

   ‘Little Princess’--So many of my small roses are either pink
   or red, I always try to find white ones for contrast. This
   is a variety I have often depended on. Sometimes the blooms
   are alone, but then again they may be in clusters. A cluster,
   snipped from the bush and wrapped in foil, looks very lovely
   when pinned on a little girl’s pink dress as she leaves for a

   ‘Mon Petite’ (sometimes spelled ‘Mon Petit’)--This one is truly
   petite, not once in a dozen times over five inches tall. But
   those five inches never seem to stop flowering with cherry-red
   blooms. And then, to make themselves even more fascinating, they
   often have a delicate haze of purple.

   ‘Patty Lou’ (patented)--This one is so delicate I imagine its
   creator must have had some particularly sweet little girl in
   mind when he named it. In bloom it is a pink bicolor, and it
   always seems to be blooming. A truly lovely little rose.

   ‘Perle d’Alcanada’ (sometimes spelled ‘Perle d’Alconada’)--May
   I warn you, this is a real charmer. Being somewhat on the
   stately side, it may grow to nine inches. It makes a neat and
   most attractive bush and then comes forth with pink blooms that
   slowly change to a white pearl-like effect.

   ‘Pixie Gold’--This is another dainty one, a yellow miniature
   with a lovely soft color to add to its beauty. It is really a
   miniature, and would consider itself a giant if it topped five
   inches. It has an attractive bush, but that is only part of it,
   the blooms follow a perfect pattern from the time they are buds
   until they are full-blown. It follows all rose traditions.

   ‘Red Imp’--Many persons consider this beauty the most perfect
   of all miniature roses. Certainly, with its deep-red blooms, it
   is one of the best known. Such a feeling of affection must be
   deserved. I think the first miniature I ever owned was a ‘Red
   Imp.’ If for no other reason, that would make me love it.

   ‘Rosa Oakington Ruby’--Some years back the English Royal
   Horticultural Society thought so much of this rose they gave it
   the Award of Merit, and well they might. The blooms are a rich
   ruby-carmine, are double, and are around all summer. In planting
   this variety, remember it tends to be an inch or so taller than
   the wee ones.

   ‘Rosata’--I love this one for its fragrant, pinkish flowers,
   which also have a touch of salmon. The blooms are delightful
   when made into corsages or miniature bouquets.

   ‘Rouletti’--This is a great favorite in rock gardens, and in
   edgings around beds of big roses. It is a true “shorty” and
   seldom exceeds five inches in height. But the buds, rose-pink,
   are so exquisite one wishes to put them into a setting for a
   ring to be worn on the finger.

   ‘Scarlet Gem’--This is what is known as a newcomer among
   miniature roses. But it has so much charm, I know it will be
   called an old favorite in the years to come. The flowers are
   an orange-scarlet, and fairly cover a handsome bush of nice
   conformation. Remember when setting it out in your garden, it
   may grow an inch or so taller than some of the others.

   ‘Sunbeam’--From the very name you may guess that this is a
   yellow rose, literally, a beam from the sun. It is a cheerful
   little dwarf, and has a tea-rose type of bloom. You’ll love it.

   ‘Sweet Fairy’--This is something out of a book of fairy tales,
   delicate and fanciful. It has pinkish blooms and a fragrance
   that will charm you.

   ‘Thumbelina’--Looking at this rose will bring back the memories
   of that delightful story “Thumbelina” which we all loved as
   children. As a rose, and not a story, it is semidouble and has
   lovely red flowers that open from delicately pointed buds. It
   flowers freely, and the blooms are most enchanting in small

   ‘Wayside’s Garnet’--As I first bought this rose from the
   catalogue of Wayside Gardens, I’ll let them describe it for
   you: “... a neat, compact small plant with many perfect,
   fully-double, garnet-red little flowers. It is a prolific
   bloomer and a good grower ... much like Oakington Ruby, which is
   one of its parents. It probably has the brightest, darkest and
   deepest red to be found among miniature roses.”

   ‘Yellow Miniature’--This is a charming little rose, yellow, with
   a cheering tint. Many consider it to be the most attractive of
   all yellow miniatures. I will not argue with them. I’ve always
   been enchanted with it.

                              _CHAPTER 8_

                        MINIATURE SINK GARDENS

Take the concept of dish gardens and model landscapes, but execute it
with miniature garden plants. Take the outdoor plants of bonsai, but
don’t dwarf them unduly or train them into unusual shapes. There you
have the mixture that makes up these specialized miniature gardens,
called “sink” or “trough” gardens for the old-fashioned stone sinks and
horse troughs they were planted in when the fad first swept England,
some thirty years ago.

Now, the old sinks and troughs are practically nonexistent, and the
name is anachronistic. But I have been totally unable to dream up
anything better. “Sink garden” is a specific title for a composition
of plants or a landscape scene in small scale, planted in a sturdy,
sink-like container, grown outdoors and used in limited ways to
decorate the garden and grounds. No other phrase seems to define it.

My interest was originally aroused by the books of Anne Ashberry,
England’s sink-garden specialist, and by the warm affection she has
for her specialty. But it was not until I began to work with miniature
plants in our Connecticut gardens--and to find out what a great variety
is available--that I was inspired to plant a sink garden of my own.
Originally, I was intrigued; soon, I was fascinated; now, I’m an
addict. With the flimsiest excuse I’d have so many of them it would
look as if our grounds had broken out with measles.

These sink gardens are not for big, burly gardeners who like cabbage
roses and gaudy shrubs. They’re for connoisseurs who appreciate the
minuscule perfection of a tiny plant, more effectively displayed at eye
level. They’re for those who grow alpines and other difficult plants
and find them less finicky under these controlled conditions. They’re
for gardeners who can’t, or don’t want to, squat in the hot sun for
hours, weeding or transplanting; who want the pleasure of creating
gardens, but take the accompanying chores in small doses. And sink
gardens are for people, like me, who simply find irresistible charm in
the miniature.

If our grounds were spacious, I’d find a place where I could have a
collection of sink gardens, set up on pedestals and arranged in neat
rows, so I could move easily from one to the next with the watering
can. But they’re probably much more ornamental and distinctive if used
the way the few we have now are.

Instead of a sundial at a break in the shrubbery border, we have a sink
garden set on a two-foot column of mellowed brick. Two narrow gardens
outline the corner of the small patio by the front entrance. A small
sink garden enlivens a shelf beside the door to the lath house. There’s
one at the end of an old stone bench.

Or you can display one of these gardens against the wall at the end of
a garden walk; as a centerpiece on the lawn or terrace; on top of a low
wall or at the edge of a balcony; in place of an inanimate statue or
urn. If possible, let the background be light and not bright-colored;
neutral shades show off the plantings to best advantage.


Picturesque old sinks are obviously not available to us, and any horse
troughs I’ve seen have been much too monstrous. Miss Ashberry casts her
own containers of concrete (its porosity is excellent for plants), and
we can do the same.

Sometimes I think the sinks and troughs look a little heavy in
relation to the plantings. Certainly they _are_ heavy, and
almost impossible to move, when filled with soil. But I’ve found a
goodly number of acceptable substitutes. First, of course, I shopped
my favorite junk yard and found the round concrete planter and the
wash-tub lid that served as containers for my first sink gardens. I
also saw possibilities in a big old butter tub that could be cut down,
and in a leaky birdbath.

Some of today’s building tiles are perfectly beautiful and, if shallow
enough, could be fitted with a metal or wooden bottom. They come in all
sizes, shapes, and colors. Thick, old wood is another possibility. I’m
thinking of some weathered planks we found at the seashore last summer;
they’d make a handsome and sturdy container for a wind-blown, woodsy


   Miniature garden of dwarf evergreens, _Cyclamen neapolitanum_,
   and tiny trumpet narcissi not yet blooming]

In designing or selecting a container, you have few rules to go by. It
should be strong and weather-resistant, of course, because it is to be
placed outdoors. It must have drainage holes in the bottom, so fallen
rain won’t stand in it. It should be deep enough (six to eight inches)
to give small trees and plants root-room. And artistically, it should
be in harmony and proportion with the garden to be planted in it, not
as a feature in itself, but as a subordinate element in the picture.

Unless a sink garden is to be placed on top of a wall or some other
existing support, it will probably need a base to hold it two or three
feet off the ground. This can be made of cement blocks, rustic brick,
tile, or concrete, according to the design of the container itself.

                        PLANTS FOR SINK GARDENS

Unlike bonsai, these plants are not to _be_ dwarfed, they _are_ dwarf
by nature. Miniature perennials, such as _Calceolaria biflora_, never
top two inches, nor do some of the tiny narcissus species. Some trees
have never been known to grow taller than six inches. And if you can’t
find trees that are small at maturity, you can find many that grow so
slowly they’ll stay in proper scale (even without pruning) for five
years or more. There are miniature garden plants of all habits and
shapes--stiffly erect, tufted, bush-like, sprawling, creeping, hanging,
climbing--and even pinhead-size water plants for tiny pools.

Actually, there are miniature plants in every horticultural
category--annuals, biennials, perennials, bulbs, shrubs, trees, aquatic
plants, and wildlings--and most of them are suitable for sink gardens.
You have only to select those that are in scale and sympathy with your
design, and that are culturally compatible, one with the other. You
can grow many of them from seeds or cuttings. Miniature perennials
are available in widest variety from growers of alpine and rockery
plants. Trees and shrubs can be bought by mail from suppliers of small
plants for bonsai work. Native and aquatic plants are plentiful from
mail-order wild-flower houses.


The worst thing you can do with one of these little outdoor gardens
is to clutter it up with little artificial props such as benches,
bridges, and old oaken buckets. At all costs, avoid the cute and the
trite. Practice moderation and the utmost restraint.

One prop--a hand-carved well-head, an alabaster birdbath, a
lichen-covered rock--is usually plenty for any one garden. If it is
handsome in its own right, the whole garden may be designed to set it
off. If it’s a supporting element, play it down and let the plants
stand out in the picture.

The same is true of streams, pools, walks, walls, and other miniature
landscape constructions. They’re pretty and they’re fun to make; but
just one too many can spoil a garden.

Naturally, any accessories and props to be used in a sink garden
should be sturdy and weather-resistant. And as in any other miniature
composition, proportion and scale are terribly important.

                          THEMES AND DESIGNS

Many of the principles and suggestions for dish gardens and model
landscapes in Chapter 3 are equally applicable to sink gardens. The
design needs, first, a basic idea or theme. Will the garden be formal,
or informal and woodsy, or simply an artistic arrangement of living
plants with or without a piece of tree stump or rock? Should it be
built around an important accessory, or will one plant or a group of
plants be the center of interest? Does the style of the container
suggest the style of the garden to go in it?

Since a sink garden is usually planned to have some permanency, it is
particularly important to plan the design in every possible detail and,
if at all possible, to put the plan on paper--and in proper scale. You
can tell, before it’s too late, whether a tree will be too large, a
fence too high or prominent, a grouping of plants too far off balance.

When you plan the planting, keep proportion and perspective clearly in
mind. If the design is to have formal balance, arrange pairs of trees,
clipped hedges, straight walks, and other elements with geometric
precision. If the effect is to be informal, make sure the center of
interest is off-center, with a large airy area or low planting to
balance it at the other side.

In crowded plantings the beauty of the form of individual plants is
lost. Be sure to space them so that they have room to grow without
becoming entangled with their neighbors. To blend the garden with its
container, plan to have a creeper or trailer dangling over the edge.

Artistic plant compositions are arranged, like dish gardens, with
outstanding accent plants, low growers often around the base, usually
arranged naturally at the base of a rock or around a piece of log or
stump. Colors and textures of flowers and foliage are contrasted and
blended as they are in arrangements of cut flowers. Setting the plants
in the empty container and rearranging them until the best effect is
achieved may save shifting them about during planting.

All kinds of landscape designs can be re-created, in miniature, in
sink gardens. And the scenes can change naturally with the seasons
of the year. One of my informal gardens has a basic arrangement of
rocks, small evergreens, and ground cover. In spring, miniature
narcissus species bloom; in summer, tiny annuals such as _Ionopsidium
acaule_ and perennials such as _Erodium chamaedryoides roseum_;
in fall, small cyclamen species.

Woodsy wild gardens can also have basic, permanent plantings--seedling
evergreens, moss, foliage plants such as small ferns, rattlesnake
plantain, and pipsissewa--through which spring-blooming squirrel corn,
hepatica, and spring beauty can push up their flowers.

One of the most effective formal-garden designs makes good use of
miniature roses as a flowering hedge in front of a high wall at the
back, or as twin specimens on each side of an arch. Other formal
gardens adapt the designs of the Victorian age, or the Colonial gardens
of Williamsburg.

Someday I want to try an Oriental garden featuring a bonsai-style dwarf
tree and planted sparsely, in the Japanese manner, with tiniest shrubs
and perennials and a ground cover of fine moss or sand, and perhaps a
curved bridge over a still stream.

With a suitable container you could do an outdoor desert garden. Many
miniature desert plants are hardy or semihardy and would live through
the winter with some protection. There are many other possible themes,
and many types of plants and containers with which to carry them out.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Unless you can control watering (which means keeping the garden out of
the rain), make sure that the container has plenty of small holes in
the bottom for drainage. And for extra insurance that drainage will
be perfect, start out with a layer of pebbles or sand. A covering of
burlap or sheet moss will keep soil from sifting down into it.

Soil should be light and porous, capable of holding some moisture but
not too much. The standard recipe of one-third garden loam, one-third
humus, and one-third sharp sand is a good basic mixture to start with.
Add extra sand if the plants are succulent-like, extra humus for
woodsy plants, a sprinkling of lime for plants that dislike acid soil.
A slow-acting organic fertilizer such as bone meal can be mixed in,
but in very small amounts. Run the mixture through a coarse sieve, to
remove stones and debris.

As you place the plants, firm the soil gently around the roots. Don’t
fill the container so full that the soil is level with the rim; leave
an inch or so to hold water while it seeps down to the roots below.
Place the ground-cover plants, and those to dangle over the edge, last.
Some gardens are finished with a thin mulch of stone chips or sand,
some with a carpet of moss.


A sink garden planted in a real trough or sink is a mighty heavy thing,
once it’s filled with soil and planted; and so may be many others. If
you can place the empty container in its permanent spot and plant it
there, you may save someone an aching back.

These gardens are meant to grow out in the open air, but not where
searing sun and hot dry winds can dry the soil too fast and burn the
plants. If the plants are all of the type that need sunlight, give them
only the dappled shade of a high-branched tree or the windbreak and
slight noonday shade of a low wall. Woodland plants and others that
like shade can be grown in more protected spots. Naturally, the two
types are not combined successfully in the same garden.

Don’t place sink gardens where they will receive the drip from eaves
or an overhanging tree. Don’t set them tight up against a wall. Newly
planted gardens need some special protection--a cheesecloth tent or
newspaper on a temporary frame overhead--until plants are well settled
in their new home.


A safe general rule is never to let the soil dry out all the way
through, never to water so much that it is soggy and sour. For most
plants, you can scratch into the soil surface with your fingers. If
it feels moist, don’t water; if it feels dry, do. However, succulent
plants should be grown drier, boggy plants more constantly moist.
Frequency of watering depends upon type of plant, size and type of
container, the soil, the weather--depends, in fact, upon how often each
individual sink garden needs water.


If a fertile soil mixture is used in the first place, and particularly
if it is enriched with a slow-acting fertilizer such as bone meal, most
gardens will not need extra feeding for many months after planting,
often not for the first year. The point is to give the plants just
enough food to keep them healthy, not enough to make them grow out of
proportion to the garden.

If you see signs of malnutrition--few, small leaves with poor color;
failure to bud and flower; sickly, stunted growth--feed quickly but
lightly. A weak solution of organic food such as fish emulsion or
liquid manure is usually recommended. Established gardens can take this
light feeding once in spring when active growth begins, and once or
twice during the early summer, without outgrowing their bounds.


   Rock garden set in an old wash-boiler lid]

_Pruning and Grooming_

Pick off all faded flowers promptly, so the plants will not exhaust
themselves by setting seed. Remove any dried or fallen foliage so it
will not rot and invite disease. Pinch the growing tips of plants that
threaten to grow too tall and lanky. Shear hedge plants regularly and
nip back creepers that spread out too far and strangle other plants.
Refresh and renew any mulch or moss carpet as needed. In a garden so
small, the least imperfection seems magnified.

_Insects and Disease_

Once a week, all summer long, my sink gardens get a quick treatment
from an all-purpose aerosol bomb, used according to label directions.
So far, with one exception (the mysterious plague of “inchworms” we had
in the spring of 1961), this has kept insects and disease at a safe

_Winter Care_

In mild or warm climates, sink gardens should not need any special
protection in winter. But in Connecticut, the deep-freeze is so long
and severe, I move my gardens to the cold frame. To make sure that
the soil does not freeze and crack the container, I sometimes sink it
to the rim in the soil. I’ve also packed salt hay tightly around them
successfully. Or a garden could be wintered over on an unheated porch.

But most of the hardy plants used in sink gardens should not spend the
winter indoors or in a warm greenhouse. They must have a cool rest
period for several months to complete their natural growth cycle.

                              _CHAPTER 9_

                           MINIATURE PLANTS,

Only in the true Oriental bonsai do art and horticulture combine
in such an extreme state of perfection--and in miniature to boot.
Paintings may be as magnificent, but they’re inanimate. Ancient trees
of the forest may have equal artistic virtue, but they’re not shaped
by the hand of man. Living bonsai trees, sometimes centuries old,
become masterpieces because, says Claude Chidamian, “they’re planted in
philosophy, shaped by art, grown with love.”

If that sounds as if I am awed by bonsai--I am. I would never have
the talent and patience to prune and shape, trim and train, in minute
detail year after year, so that every branch, twig, and tiny needle
or leaf would be perfectly placed and proportioned. Even if I were
an artist, I doubt that I could create the illusion of grandeur in
minuscule scale. Nor would I ever dare assume the responsibility for
caring for these priceless, age-old plants.

But that doesn’t mean that bonsai is beyond me, or any other gardener
who admires it. Without committing the sacrilege of inept imitation,
we can have our own version of these miniature trees and make them
artistic and satisfying in our own way.

The original bonsai trees look old and weather-beaten because they
_are_ old and weather-beaten. The Japanese adopted this art from
the Chinese many centuries ago. Our trees in bonsai-style are not
likely to have that venerable age, but they can have character. They
can have the lines of trees that have held a precarious footing on the
side of a rocky slope, have been bent by the wind or twisted by mighty

Because every part of it is in perfect proportion to every other part,
a fine bonsai tree creates an illusion of tremendous size--as if you
were looking through the wrong end of a telescope to a giant more than
a hundred years old. Our dwarfed trees can be perfectly proportioned
and create the same illusion. Although there is no substitute for true
antiquity, our dwarfed trees can be artistic in their own way without
pretending to be ancient.

By making some concessions (without desecrating the art) we can take
suitable trees and turn them into “Orientalized” garden ornaments, and
do it in one year, not ten. If the pruning and training is done with
care and artistry, the result will be a bonsai which is a distinguished
ornament and particularly appropriate for contemporary architecture,
and also for landscape architecture.

I have seen a bonsai of Sargent’s juniper set beside a garden pool, its
twisting branches swaying out and over the water, and reflected in it.
Twin (but not identical) bonsai trees are startlingly effective; for
example, one on each side at the top of a set of formal steps. Bonsai
can be used as a center of interest on a patio or terrace to accent an
entrance, on top of low walls, or against the wall at the end of a path.

Last summer, in our wild garden, my husband dammed up a tiny stream at
a point where it began to run down a short but rather steep and shaded
slope. This created a small pool from which the water trickles over
the dam and drops onto a series of rock ledges below. We planted the
banks on both sides with ferns, wild ginger, bloodroot, trillium, and
other wildlings. But something was needed at the top, some small tree
or shrub that would integrate the dam into the picture and would be in
harmony with the woodsy surroundings.

We considered all the dwarf, shade-tolerant evergreens our local
nurseries had to offer, but nothing seemed just right. We scoured our
woods, but the only low-growing trees (which are mighty few in our
area) were too straight and erect. The mountain laurels and other
shrubs with interesting lines would eventually grow too large. So we
decided to try what, for us, is an experiment.

We found a white pine less than two feet tall with a suggestion of the
irregular shape we had been looking for. We lifted it carefully, took
it home, root-pruned it, and planted it in the best bonsai tradition,
in a sturdy box just large enough to hold the roots but leaving a
little room to spare around the edge. Then we took the tree to the top
of the dam and planted it by sinking the box in the soil. After some
weeks, when the pine showed no sign of ill effects from being moved,
and was making new growth, we shaped and pruned it, and then wired
it, bonsai-style, along the lines of the tree we had been hunting for.

  [Illustration: Streptocarpus--this variety is the delightful
  little Weismoor hybrid.]

With sensible care and winter protection, pruning and root-pruning when
it threatens to grow too large, and training in the way we think it
should grow, the little pine will, we hope, mature into a gnarled gnome
in proportion and harmony with its woodland setting. Of course, we plan
to provide a new box at root-pruning time before the old one can rot
and set the dwarfed roots free to roam the soil around it.


The real Japanese bonsai is an outdoor inhabitant, usually one of a
collection that is brought indoors for display purposes and for only a
few days at a time. But by using tender plants that want more warmth,
growers are beginning to create bonsai that can be used decoratively
indoors the year round. In a shadow box, on a coffee table or special
stand, even as a table centerpiece they should always be alone and with
no accessories to detract from their unique style.

Last winter I thoroughly enjoyed starting a collection of indoor
miniatures, frank copies of Japanese _name_ bonsai, and even
the wee fingertip _shinto_ type. These are a special challenge
because to preserve proper proportion, leaves and needles must be extra
small, and pruning and training are particularly crucial. Water is
applied with an eyedropper; fertilizer is administered in microscopic
amounts. To provide protective humidity and warmth, and to help keep
the small amount of soil in tiny containers from drying out, we rigged
up plastic-covered quarters on a window sill, with a layer of moist
vermiculite. Our tray was also improvised from a double layer of
heavyweight aluminum foil. Now, all but the youngest, and the very
smallest, miniatures are strong enough to grow on glass shelves outside
the plastic tent.

Indoor plants, bonsai-style, are more than just tender seedlings, or
cuttings, kept small in small containers. They are patterned after
true bonsai, with interesting character, artistic lines, and perfect
proportion. The mechanics of pruning and training are very much the
same. But because they are not hardy outdoor growers that resent the
hot dry air of a house, and because they don’t need annual dormancy,
they are fascinating indoor ornaments to be lived with and enjoyed the
year round.


   Different types of bonsai trees and containers]


   Bonsai in citrus]

Once we became intrigued with the concept of “indoor bonsai” we found
so many house and greenhouse plants with picturesque prospects that I
fear we will never get to try them all. I have seedlings and cuttings
of all sorts, even including those from a breakfast orange and a
pomegranate out of the fruit bowl. And, of course, small plants sold by
mail-order suppliers are just the right size to begin the process of
dwarfing and shaping.

(_In the list at the end of Chapter 6, plants suitable for indoor
bonsai use are indicated._)


With proper care, any woody plant--any tree, shrub, or vine with
persisting trunk or stems--can be grown indefinitely in a pot. With
some skill in pruning branches and roots, it can be permanently
dwarfed. And with imagination and artistry, it can be trained to
re-create in miniature one of the majestic pictures of nature. However,
some plants are more amenable to rigorous dwarfing than others; some
adapt more willingly to growing in containers; and some are by nature
more suitable in habit and appearance.

The easiest plants to dwarf are those that are naturally small, or slow
growing, and those with small leaves or needles, flowers or fruit.
Proportion is the most important factor. Every element--leaf, twig,
branch, trunk, root, container--must be in harmony and balance with all

It’s not impossible to use larger-leaved plants. It’s just a little
more difficult. Long needles can be cut shorter, for example, but they
must be kept the proper length. Large leaves can be thinned to relieve
any feeling of heaviness, and each leaf can be used to represent a
branch. With some types of deciduous trees--say, maples--the leaves
that come out first in the spring can be pinched off. The leaves that
come out to replace them will be smaller.

Almost equally important is the “character” of a dwarfed plant--its
irregular or fluid lines, illusion of age, unusual aspect of bark
or twig that make it dramatic and vibrant. Any form of art can be
dull if it has nothing except perfect proportion to offer. With good
proportion, plus intriguing line and design, it becomes interesting.

In the original bonsai the artist transplanted a tree he found growing
in the wild and carefully conserved the misshapen lines made by
buffeting weather, or he very carefully copied, or re-created, a tree
he had seen holding a precarious footing high on a rocky ridge and
perhaps dipping down into a windy gorge. These shapes and forms are now
the basis for specific classes of bonsai which we can borrow or adapt.
So the “character” of a plant may suggest that it be trained as if it
were growing out at a right angle from a rocky slope with its roots
covering a stone; as a grove, to weep or cascade; or as a gigantic,
single-trunked forest monarch with pitted, weather-worn bark.

Or perhaps, lightning might have split the trunk, leaving part of it
jagged and dead. The two trunks may have become entangled with each
other. Branches may have been blown in one direction so long that they
bend that way permanently.

_Types of Plants_

Any woody plant whose parts are in proper proportion for dwarfing--and
particularly, any that shows promise of interesting lines or
“character”--is a good prospect for bonsai. The coniferous evergreens
are most popular, because they hold their foliage all year, and because
small-needled types are comparatively plentiful. Small-leaved deciduous
trees can be at their most attractive best with spring’s budding new
growth, summer’s airy foliage, fall’s brilliant color, or with the
silhouette of a naked trunk in winter.

With flowering trees and shrubs the choice of varieties narrows even
more. Large flowers with brilliant color and overpowering fragrance
may destroy balance and proportion, and detract from the beauty of
the plant itself. More delicate plants are more likely to enhance the
picture. For obvious reasons, plants that bear fruits and berries in
the proper scale are the hardest to find, and culturally the most

(_For plants that are suitable for outdoor bonsai, see list at the
end of Chapter 14._)


Bonsai becomes a reality faster, of course, when you start with a
fairly mature plant. The most fruitful source is the selection of
three-year-old trees and shrubs at your local nursery. Those growing in
gallon-sized cans, or other containers, naturally accept pruning and
transplanting with the least setback. They should be healthy plants,
not overgrown or neglected, that have been regularly root-pruned and
transplanted through their infancy. It is perfectly safe to buy them
pot-bound if that condition has not persisted for several seasons, with
the outer roots all dead as a result.

In selecting a specimen, first examine varieties that are by nature
slow-growing and have leaves, or needles, in perfect scale. Be
selective, pass up the symmetrical specimens that are best for ordinary
landscaping purposes, and look for that one plant in a thousand, the
one with interesting “character”--peculiarity of shape, irregular
branches, low horizontal growth, stocky or twisted trunk. The most
ideal plant has its largest branch near the base, and has no regular or
opposite branches to be pruned away. Next to above-ground development
in importance, is the below-ground root system. To be ideal, the root
system should be a compact, shallow mass rather than one long taproot
with a few offshoots. To make it even more ideal, the stoutest roots
should be growing near the surface.

Younger, smaller bonsai plants are readily available from mail-order
suppliers who specialize in them. Here, make your selection according
to variety, and then train your plants as you grow them. But beware
of cheap “bargain offers.” I speak with this advice because of
the experience of some of my friends. They were too intrigued by
Sunday-newspaper ads. Buy only from reliable growers who have invested
time and care in developing healthy plants and, better yet, have
labeled them true to name. For those who are more interested in the
finished work of art than in the growing and creating of it, some
florists and nurseries advertise mature, or nearly mature, bonsai.
Again may I say, “Beware.” The supplier’s reliability is even more

Sometimes you can find precious bonsai-type shrubs or trees growing
in the wild. Small seedlings of hemlock, ash, birch, maple, and some
elms, if they are dug very carefully--and at just about any time of
the year--can be used as miniature bonsai, or they can be planted in
the garden for a few years until they are larger. Usually, the taproot
has to be cut back rather severely to encourage the development of a
spreading mass of smaller roots. Start your regular pruning as soon as
the plant recovers from transplanting shock.

The larger native plants should be taken when they are dormant, in late
fall or the earliest spring. In searching, look for those that have
been naturally dwarfed and misshapen by misfortune. In digging, make
sure the soil is so moist that much of it will cling to the roots. Keep
the roots moist and well covered against drying sun and winds until the
transplant is safely in the soil again. For any such wildlings, take
along enough of the surrounding soil to fill the container into which
they are going. This will make them feel at home in their new place in
the garden bed.

Many growers now propagate their own bonsai plants; thus they can
control shape, root-spread, line, and design from the very beginning.
Almost all of the propagating methods outlined in Chapter 10 are
useful here, some especially so. Cuttings of all kinds will produce
stout-trunked plants much faster than seeds. Plants such as willow,
holly, ginkgo, and ivy can be started from stems as thick as an
inch or so in diameter. With cuttings you can have quantities of
new plants from one parent, all with the same variegations or other

Either ground or air layering can give you plants that are larger than
those obtained from cuttings. By selecting a certain branch you can be
surer of getting the characteristics and shape you want. If your bonsai
is to be well balanced, select a well-proportioned branch with close
twiggy growth. By layering you can also correct an unattractive bonsai,
growing a new one from a plant that has become too tall and gangly, or
one that has badly formed roots.

Grafting for bonsai plants is not widely practiced because too often
it leaves a visible scar or some other sign of artificiality, and also
because there is the danger of undesirable sprouts shooting up from the
roots. Plants from a graft are generally weaker than cuttings or layers
which have their own roots. If your plant happens to be a valuable
one, you can often improve its shape by grafting on new branches where
they will do the most good; or good branches can be grafted onto
picturesque, gnarled roots. I have never made a serious effort to graft
in such cases, but I have seen some good results from the work of other

Growing bonsai plants from seed requires infinite patience--as a
warning, the process takes years. But seedlings, once you have them
going, and with the healthiest of root systems, will live indefinitely.
Seeds of bonsai-type plants are available from several growers. Should
they need special preparation, such as nicking or stratifying, the seed
packets should say so.

When seedlings have several true leaves and are ready for
transplanting, cut back the strong taproot (should there be one) by
at least one-third. This will encourage root-branching. When potting
seedlings, spread the side roots so they will develop evenly near the
soil surface. Pruning and training can begin while the plants are
still quite young. Plant the stem on a slant. Pinch new tip growth for
development of side branches. Tie straight trunk stems to a bamboo
cane, or perhaps just a sliver; or otherwise guide the young shrub, or
tree, toward the lines you have in mind for its mature effect.

                           BONSAI CONTAINERS

In no other art form is it more obvious that a subordinate element
such as a container can make or mar the perfection of a picture. For
instance, with a painting the frame can have small faults without
lessening the impression of a masterpiece. But bonsai is so stark that
a slight imperfection can become a glaring error. So, although the
container is merely a supporting feature, it becomes only a little less
important than the center of interest, the plant. It must harmonize
with the plant, reflect and supplement its beauty, and not detract from
its leading role.

Imported Japanese bonsai containers of the traditional type, now
readily available, are usually shallow bowls or dishes of glazed (or
unglazed) ceramic. They are never glazed on the inside and are usually
sold in sets of three matched units of graduated size. Contemporary
American artists and manufacturers are also turning out pans and trays
made of dull metals, tile, and wood. The wood may be either of a
natural finish or artistically weathered. For outdoor bonsai, wood must
necessarily be treated for durability and weather resistance.

For indoor plantings, containers can very often be improvised. I’ve
used bronze ash trays, wooden salad bowls, shapely plastic dishes
(shallow), and odds and ends of pottery--anything of the right motif
in which it is possible to bore, drill, or chip drainage holes on
the bottom. Many of our modern ceramics are in complete harmony with
bonsai. But you must have those drainage holes, otherwise your watering
problems are compounded.

The ideal bonsai containers are seldom ornate; really they shouldn’t
be. They should have the grace and elegance of “expensive simplicity,”
which doesn’t mean they are expensive. They just look as though they
were. Colors are subdued, not bright or showy. As a rule to follow,
darker and somber shades are used for evergreens, lighter shades for
flowering plants, the specific choice depending on the color of the
bloom. In shape and form, bonsai containers are simple and graceful and
are selected to set off the shape or lines of the plants. Erect trunks
often take shallow, rectangular containers. Hanging or weeping lines
call for round containers with more depth. Square or oval containers
are used for extremely delicate, graceful subjects.

Container size, of course, depends on the plants themselves. As
a general rule, the smallest and most shallow container that is
culturally practical, and in good proportion, is the best. In true
bonsai containers, diameters range from two to twenty-five inches;
depths, from one to ten inches. The accepted rule for good proportions
allows the plant to occupy 80 per cent of the picture, the container
20 per cent. Should you have very small plants the ratio is slightly
changed--60 per cent for plant, 40 per cent for the container. However,
these figures should not be considered as hard and fast, but as a guide
when purchasing containers. Your eye may tell you what is better suited
for your particular plant or shrub.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Rather specific cultural practices have evolved for dwarfing hardy
garden plants, trees, and shrubs, and growing them in small containers.
Tender house and greenhouse plants, dwarfed and grown as indoor bonsai,
are also potted, pruned, trained, and watered as outlined in this
chapter. Otherwise, they are grown like the window-garden plants in
Chapter 1.


This is often the first thing you do for a plant that is to be grown
bonsai-style. It is a procedure that is repeated regularly if your
plant is to have a long life. Dwarf trees and shrubs are root-pruned so
they will fit their small containers, or to make room for fresh soil
when they are repotted, or to keep the root system in balance with the
growth above soil that is being restricted. Pruning also keeps the
roots compact, near the surface of the soil, and vigorously young.
Removing old, woody roots encourages the growth of fine new ones.

When seedlings, rooted cuttings, and small newly purchased or collected
plants are made ready for their first bonsai containers, they are not
immediately root-pruned in a severe sense. Any roots that are dead
should be trimmed off and long taproots should be cut back at least
one-third. Otherwise, it’s a matter of trimming off the root ball with
as little disturbance as possible, just enough to fit the container.

After they have been established, plants are root-pruned when they are
repotted. When roots are crowded and completely cover the soil in a
close mesh, it’s time to repot and root-prune. For some plants this may
come once in a year, for others once in five years.

Hold the base of the trunk in one hand--your left hand if you are a
right-hander. Use a dull-pointed pencil (the Japanese use a chopstick)
and loosen the soil around the outside. Pick away about one-third of it
if the plant is established, somewhat more on younger plants. When you
have finished, the soil ball should be, roughly speaking, one-fourth
smaller than its container. Then, with sharp scissors, cut away all
the loose root ends which you have removed from the soil. This is
rather drastic surgery, although not like removing an arm and a leg
of a gardener, because the plant or shrub has the happy faculty of
growing new roots. However, it will need special care and protection
until it is back on its feet again. Bonsai plants are root-pruned and
returned to the same container year after year. None of this making
each container one size larger each time the plant is moved into a new
house. That’s for house plants per se.


Potting soil for dwarfed trees and shrubs is particularly important.
There is so little of it in small containers. In general, it should
provide good drainage and aeration while also holding a certain amount
of moisture. On the specific side, soil contents and textures should
vary to meet the individual plant’s needs.

If your plant happens to have been dug locally, take along a supply of
local soil. If you happen to have purloined the plant from a neighbor’s
woods, purloin a little soil. It’s no more of a sin to have stolen a
sheep than half a sheep. In our neighborhood it is a standing joke
about how many plants, flat paving stones, etc., we swipe from each
other. If you have been honest enough to have bought your plant from a
nursery, ask their advice on the soil. If they are not smart, although
most of them are, get the reference book down off the shelf and find
out whether the plant craves a mixture that is sandy, rich in humus,
acid or alkaline, fine or coarse. You have a baby on your hands. Treat
it right and it will award you with adulthood in bonsai. Neglect it and
it will curl up and die. Mix your soil as you would a baby’s formula.
Remember, babies cry when the formula is faulty; plants can’t. They
silently pass away.

_Potting and Repotting_

I am frequently asked how often an established tree or shrub should be
repotted. It depends, first, on how fast it grows. A willow may need
this attention twice a year, a conifer once in five years. A general
rule is to repot flowering and fruiting plants about once a year,
most deciduous varieties every other year, evergreens every three to
five years. But don’t follow that schedule too literally. If a tree
begins to wither or look weak, if its color turns sickly and it shows
no sign of growth, if its roots are so packed they hump up the soil,
root-pruning and repotting are often the “shot in the arm” that can
save it.

The most favorable repotting seasons vary with types of plants and the
climate. Again, it’s a good idea to consult some authority or reference
book. In general, and in most areas, it is safe to repot evergreens,
deciduous foliage varieties, and summer-or fall-flowering types in
early spring before new growth begins. As for spring-flowering plants,
repot immediately after flowering; for fruiting types, in early autumn
before cold weather sets in.

As a side light, it is possible to use watertight containers minus
drainage holes. That is rather desirable when a plant is to be
displayed on finely finished furniture in the house. The container
should be a shade larger than usual so that, in potting, a corner area
or space along the side can be left empty and the soil sloped down
toward it. If there is any standing water it will show up in this
section. Just up-end the container and drain off the excess water.
In the process make sure that the plant is not also drained off or
disturbed. But that you will know from plain common sense.

If a pot has drainage holes, I always make sure they are partially
covered with crockery or aluminum window screen so the soil will not
sift down and clog the holes. To insure even better drainage, I screen
the first layer so that it is coarse and granular, put a little soil
on top, and then set the plant in place. In oblong or oval containers,
the trunk is usually one-third of the distance from the end and a
little behind the center line. Of course, that depends on the shape of
the containers. In round or square containers, the plant is usually

When planting, fill in the soil gradually. Use a pencil, or if you have
the true Oriental feeling, a chopstick, to tuck the soil in tightly
around the roots. Whatever you use, be sure to eliminate any pockets of
air. Roots don’t like it. As to how tightly you pack it, that depends
on the type of plant and the texture of the soil. If your soil is
built up around the edges and sloped toward the center, you will have
a depression that will hold water until it can seep down to the roots
below. Unless you have some particular plan or design, finish off the
surface with a ground cover of moss, or perhaps a layer of gravel. Moss
is not only an added attraction but functions as a mulch and delays the
evaporation of moisture from the soil underneath.

After repotting, soak the soil thoroughly, and soak the container,
which is probably dried out. Mist the foliage and remove any debris
such as fallen leaves and petals. Then keep the plant sheltered for
several weeks until it is re-established. Remember, it has had what a
human being would regard as a major operation.

Some of the most appealing bonsai plants are grown with their roots
around a rock of interesting and harmonious size, shape, color, and
texture. Soft, porous tufa is especially good for this purpose because
you can cut and shape it easily. You can hollow out cavities and
crevices, just the place for roots to grow. Any rock should have a
stable base. Please don’t let it tip or wobble.

For this sort of planting, select a healthy plant in vigorous growth
with roots long enough to reach down the side of the stone. Prune
away any roots that are too short or dead, and remove the soil from
the others. Set the base of the trunk in place on top of the rock and
arrange the roots so that the tips reach down and can be buried in the
soil in the container. Both roots and plant may need to be anchored in
place for a while; that is, until they can stand on their own.

Such plants naturally need special watering and protection for the
first few months, perhaps even for a year or so. You can help them
along by rubbing soil into the roots after they are fastened in place,
or covering them temporarily with a thin layer of moist moss. Should
you do any repotting, be careful not to loosen the roots on the rock.

Recently, in the home of one of my Redding neighbors, I saw a bonsai
arrangement that pretty much follows what I have been describing above,
except that it goes it one better. This gardener, in the search for
the “right” rock, had walked miles along the stone fences that divide
fields, woods, and properties in our area. Eventually she found a
beautifully weathered specimen with a large pocket in the top. This
she filled with a rich, moisture-holding soil mixture, encasing some
of the roots of her bonsai in it. Then she set the rock in water in a
shallow container to help keep it moist. Someday I am going to defy the
snakes that are said to lurk in the cracks and crevices of our rock
walls and see if I can’t find something to approximate what my neighbor
discovered. I hope it will have a few lichens on it. That would be a
crowning touch of age and antiquity.

_Shaping and Pruning_

These are the techniques, says one author, that “make bonsai culture
an art.” That statement alone is sufficient reason to invalidate
just about all of the specific rules. But there are others--the wide
variations among plants and types of plants, plus the personal element,
the variances in personal tastes and degrees of artistry.

Instead of trying to cover bonsai pruning and wiring in complete detail
(there are many excellent books on the subject), I’d rather speak from
personal experience and set down the basic principles as I see them and
have used them. By following these principles--not word for word, or
too literally, but with your own creative ingenuity and imagination--I
feel you can shape a true bonsai plant, or adaptations in the bonsai

First, let’s define the objective--a miniature tree or shrub with
every part in perfect scale, the line and design of trunk and branches
clearly outlined and not forced or distorted but naturally picturesque.
If you start with a very small plant, a seedling, or a rooted cutting,
the choice of shape and design is mostly up to you. But more mature
plants almost always suggest their own form. A trunk may be slightly
twisted, a branch slightly bent, the leaves or needles heavier in one
area than another. You simply carry on the illusion in as natural a
manner as possible.

In pruning, the first step is to remove all weak or dead wood, and
any unwanted branches that cross unattractively or perhaps go off in
the wrong direction. Then, you decide whether more branches should be
pruned away--to reveal the basic form of the tree in general or the
trunk in particular; to lighten the over-all effect; to help create
the desired symmetrical or asymmetrical shape. If the plant has been
root-pruned, the top should be pruned proportionally. Top growth and
roots should always be kept in balance. Growing tips are pinched or cut
back to encourage the development of side shoots, or merely to keep the
plant in dwarf proportions.

From here on, pruning depends on the plant and the planned design.
Slow-growing types may need trimming only once a year; others need
constant attention. Any undesirable or excess growth is best removed
while the plant is still young so the operation won’t leave an
unsightly scar. Needles that are too long can be cut down to proper
size from time to time. Leaves that are too large and heavy can be
severely thinned. Because fruit that is too plentiful can weaken a
dwarfed tree severely, some of it should be removed.

At repotting time you may find a few roots immediately under the soil
surface that have enlarged to such a good size they can be exposed
above the soil. If possible, spread them out slightly so they form a
swelling base for the trunk. This is fun, but takes a bit of doing.
You don’t want to end up with something that resembles an unanchored
telegraph pole with leaves at the top.

Stems, branches, and trunks are trained by wiring them and then bending
them along the lines you desire. Wiring is best done in the spring. New
growth is just starting and the older woody parts are more supple and
pliant. If the soil is left dry a few days before wiring, the wood will
be even easier to work with. You can use ordinary galvanized wire. If
you happen to have only copper wire, try annealing it. Hold it in a
fire and then plunge it into cold water. The weight and strength of the
wire will depend on the size of the trunk or branch with which you are
working. Be careful not to get a wire that is so stiff you can’t bend
it easily.

As to the actual process, first fasten one end of the wire. Perhaps
you wrap it around the trunk, or better still, stick it deeply into
the soil. Next coil it rather loosely around the branch that is being
trained and fasten it again at the end. Now, using both hands, bend
the wired branch in the direction you want it to go. Be firm, but be
gentle and cautious. Ease up if the branch shows signs of breaking or
being injured. Don’t hurry the job. If necessary, only bend it a little
the first time. Bend it a little more the next week, and the weeks
after that. If you are tempted to rush, stop and think of the bonsai
creations you have seen on display at flowers shows. Usually you will
have seen a card that says the creation is fifty or more years old.
Be especially careful with old hardened growth or plants with tender
bark that is easily bruised or broken. Most important, once you start
to bend a branch, don’t change your mind and try to bend it back the
original way. It will almost surely die. Plan before you act.

Depending on the type and age of the plant, wires may be left in place
for six months, a year, or even more. However, watch carefully for
signs that the plant is being choked or disfigured due to heavy growth.

There are also some easy ways to train parts of plants without wiring
them. Branches can be pulled down to a horizontal line by looping soft
cord around them and hitching it to the container. They can be made
to hang down, or weep, by hanging weights at the tips. If you want to
straighten a trunk, tie it with something strong, like raffia, to a
straight bamboo stake. To narrow a wide fork between two branches, pull
them together with raffia. To widen a fork, prop it apart with a light
wooden wedge.


Whether you have a collection of bonsai growing on tables or benches,
or perhaps just a few plants, in summer give them outdoor growing
quarters where there is a free circulation of air. Full sunlight
is good except during the hottest weeks or months. Be careful to
protect them against hot, drying winds and burning sun, which they
cannot stand. Being in small containers, excessive heat or dryness is
dangerous. We had some old bamboo shades that once enclosed our porch
which were good protection. We also had some lath screens which came
in handy. Lacking either, hang up old sheets or sections of burlap. You
can help by keeping it moist with the garden hose.


Many factors determine how often your plants should be watered--age,
type, size, how recently they were repotted, size of root system, and
the usual climatic conditions such as temperature and humidity. About
the only concrete thing I can say is that your plants will resent
neglect, and will show it. Newly potted plants should be kept moist
constantly until they begin to make new growth or show other signs
that they have recovered from pruning and transplanting. For plants
that are established, the ideal is limited moisture in the soil. Don’t
keep it so wet that rank growth is encouraged. And please beware of
rot. That is one of the most evil of evils when you are too generous
with the watering can. At the other extreme, the soil shouldn’t be so
dry that the plant wilts beyond recovery. You, as a grower, will have
to determine this for yourself. I do it by feeling the soil in the
container. If it feels moist to the fingers, no water is needed. Let it
feel dry and it probably needs a drink. When you do water, be thorough.
Make sure the soil is so completely moistened that the excess water
runs out the drainage hole in the bottom of the container.


There is a definite, delicate balance between too much and too little
fertilizer for a bonsai plant. Too much food and it grows too large and
is loaded with large foliage, flowers, and fruit. If you feed it too
sparingly, it will suffer from malnutrition. I most certainly wish I
could give you an exact rule to use. I fear no one can. Requirements
differ for different plants. All I can offer is a few basic principles.
The rest is up to you.

For the first few months after you have repotted a plant in fresh
soil, withhold all fertilizer. Don’t fertilize a plant that is weak or
sick or approaching dormancy, and don’t fertilize when the soil in the
pot is dry. Be alert to fading leaf color, reluctant growth, and all
similar signs that a plant is suffering for want of nutrients. These
signs may be most apparent during the spring season of most active

Organic fertilizers such as bone meal, liquid manure, or fish emulsion
are usually recommended, and should be used sparingly in weak
solutions. The purpose of this feeding is to keep the plant healthy but
still small, and not to encourage larger growth.

_Insects and Disease_

My bonsai plants are much too precious to take chances with any sort
of infection or insect infestation. As a preventative, I use an
all-purpose aerosol bomb regularly, according to directions on the
label. Constantly I keep a sharp eye for any signs of trouble. Thank
goodness, up to now I have had no serious threats, but should they
come along, there is a remedy I have used on other plants. I would dip
them, container and all, in an appropriate solution, thus making sure
it would penetrate every crevice and cover every surface. For outdoor
bonsai and the problems most likely to beset plants while in their
summer quarters, I have elsewhere discussed insects and diseases of
trees and shrubs. Those general principles also apply to bonsai.

_Winter Care_

In areas where freezing temperatures are the rule or, as here in
Connecticut, where temperatures are much lower, dwarfed potted trees
and shrubs should spend the winter where the soil in the small
containers will not freeze. We have a tight cold frame where we plunge
the pots into the soil, then cover everything with straw and salt hay.
Those who happen to have an unheated porch, one that is glassed in, but
where the temperature does not go below freezing, have a good winter
quarters. But, be careful, don’t let the soil in the containers dry out
completely. Keep a watchful eye.

After that warning, may I offer another. Please don’t coddle plants by
keeping them warm in the house or greenhouse. A cool period of complete
rest is often very beneficial, or even a touch of frost.

                             _CHAPTER 10_

                           MINIATURE GARDENS
                           IN THE LANDSCAPE

A picturesque surprise on a gently sloping, sunny bank could be a
wind-blown mugho pine beside an outcropping rock that’s lightly draped
by a sprawling cotoneaster, with colorful sempervivums clustered at
the base. Or in the light shade at the base of a clump of white-barked
birches, there could be a group of dwarf rhododendrons displayed
against dark, humus-rich soil or a pine-needle mulch. On a patio or
terrace, it could be a contemporary grouping of low, fluffy juniper,
perennial lavender, and water-polished rocks.

These are miniature gardens--not complete landscaping plans for small
properties, but appealing plantings that often pop up in unexpected
places and bring beauty into otherwise unusable or undecorated areas.
They’re gardens because, by definition, they are groups of plants
that achieve an effect a single plant could not create alone. They’re
miniature gardens because they occupy small space, and because most
of their plants are of miniature proportions. Properly designed and
executed, they’re equally effective in large grounds or small, with
contemporary suburban homes, in informal settings, and even on estates
with traditionally formal landscapes.

There’s a special enchantment in these miniature gardens. The eye is
attracted by their modesty and restraint, and by the utterly natural
way they seem to suit the scene. Each plant is seen intimately, in
close-up; its character is revealed in each small detail. And in these
gardens the creator can express his individuality so easily; seldom
does a design even resemble the one next door.


   Miniature white poppies featured in a tiny garden beside an
   outcropping of rock]

Part of the appeal, of course, lies in the charm of miniature
plants--tiny annuals and perennials, small or slow-growing evergreen
and deciduous trees and shrubs, available in amazingly wide variety
if you take the trouble to find them. There are also frequent
opportunities to use inert objects with special effect. Small
gardens can be designed as settings for works of art or products of
the hand-craftsman--ceramic bowls and urns, authentic wrought-iron
grilles, wood carvings, statuary, sundials, pools, even fountains
and waterfalls. Or a garden may be designed with a background of
well-placed rock, a tree stump, or a piece of driftwood. A bench, arch,
gate, antique hitching post, or well-house may inspire a miniature
planting. Inanimate ground covers such as gravel are often a definite
part of the design.

In some ways miniature gardens are easier to design than, for example,
standard items such as flower beds and foundation plantings. It’s
easier to achieve originality. Mistakes are usually small and easily
corrected. On the other hand, really good design is more critical than
in large plantings where space can swallow errors and provide lucky
effects. In miniature, even a minor defect shows up immediately, and
may be a major calamity.


The first and basic requisite is an idea the garden is to express,
a theme for the picture it is to create. The objective may be to
embellish some neglected nook, disguise an unattractive corner, feature
an unusual plant or art object, soften the lines of a small pool and
blend it with its surroundings. Once the goal is set, it is pursued
without deviation. For example, a featured plant is kept dominant--not
necessarily in size, but always in visual importance--and everything
else is subordinate. A pool planting does not become so elaborate that
the beauty of mirrored reflections or rippling water is lost.

In both conception and execution the design for a miniature garden
should be in harmony with its surroundings. Nearby buildings may call
for certain harmonious lines and proportions. Land contours, and
constructions such as walls and steps, may dictate size and shape. The
architecture of a house and its landscape has a style that should not
be violated.

Our Connecticut landscape demands informal or naturalistic design in
no uncertain terms. Straight lines and formal geometric shapes would
be not only out of place, but practically impossible to achieve. The
land’s slopes and rises call for beds with flowering curves. Points
of interest such as massive lichen-trimmed boulders, gnarled old
trees, or a winding stream are sublimely situated by nature’s unerring
instinct for what looks right. We’ve merely cleaned them up and made
the most of them.

For not-too-modern houses built on regularly shaped, level lots, some
sort of formal design is easier to achieve and much more suitable. In
the traditional style, elements of equal size and weight balance each
other. There is strict adherence to a predetermined pattern. Identical
beds may make a formal dooryard garden, for example; matching groups of
plants may ornament opposite sides of a gateway.

For houses of contemporary architectural style there are gardens
of contemporary design, often featuring paved areas and patterns
with distinct angles and curves. Plantings are based on the tone,
texture, and form of the plants themselves. The object of interest is
off-center, balanced by a larger area of subdued importance.

Miniature gardens should be not only in harmony with the style of the
surroundings, but also in proper proportion. A birdbath with miniature
roses planted underneath can look lost in the center of a spacious
lawn, but could be in correct scale for a niche or arch in a brick wall.

Simplicity is extremely important. The smaller the space, the faster
it will take on a spotty, cluttered look when crammed with too many
different plants. The smaller the space and the plants, the more
care and thought should be given to combining various types, forms,
textures, and colors for best effect.

In addition to aesthetic principles, there are practical aspects to
designing miniature gardens. Any site should be checked for cultural
and environmental conditions that favor healthy plant growth. Is a wall
so high it throws too much shade for sun-loving plants? Is an area too
exposed in winter for questionably hardy plants? Is the spot so low
that water collects and stands in the soil, making it suitable only for
bog plants?

Think of the work of maintenance, too. Use ground covers instead
of lawn in areas so small you can’t move a mower around. Avoid
fast-growing plants that need constant trimming and pruning. Don’t use
plants that require a lot of protective spraying or dusting unless you
have time to keep up with the job. A healthy dwarf barberry is more
attractive than a neglected, sickly rose.


There are a number of ways to use small-scale versions of the
familiar mixed-flower border. Annuals and perennials can be selected
for continuity or succession of bloom, and arranged so that colors
harmonize, textures contrast, and carefully placed taller spikes or
spires provide accent and relieve monotony. In the background there may
be dwarf evergreens or flowering shrubs, a low fence or wall, the side
of a tool house or other small building.

Use miniature flower borders to add interest to tiresome areas such as
long, narrow strips between the house and boundary line of the lot, or
along a service walk. Use them at the edge or in corners of small lawn
areas--never scattered through it--or at the base of low foundation
plantings. Use them as visual space dividers between driveway and front
yard or entrance to the house.

Miniature beds are also effective at one side of a breezeway, at the
edge of a terrace or patio, or beside the back door. If they are raised
slightly, perhaps the height of just one brick, the small plants are
nearer to eye-level and their full beauty is more clearly revealed.
I’ve also seen a tiny cutting garden, by the back fence, that was as
colorful and pretty as any border.

Whenever there are walks, there are spots for miniature beds--in the
diamond-shaped points where two walks join; as little islands along the
curves; in the angles where corners turn. Or use small formal beds for
dooryard plantings.

The intimate dooryard garden, by the way, is enjoying a revival.
Instead of advice to keep flowering plants away from the front of the
house, we’re encouraged to plant little gardens that can be seen from
the picture window and also will make the house more attractive to
passers-by. These don’t replace foundation plantings and front-yard
landscaping, but supplement them in a small way. And the small gardens
help relieve the monotonous sameness of many modern house fronts.

All kinds of corners are obvious sites for ornamental treatment with
tiny gardens--architectural corners between front entrance and house
wall, between one wing of the house and another; the back corner of
a lot where, perhaps, a small tree is a focal point or background or
where, if you’re fortunate, a small stream winds its way across your

On almost any grounds there are natural nooks that seem to be made for
miniature gardens up and down the sides of informal steps, at the top
or base of low walls, in a patch of soil at the foot of a high-branched

Landscape or architectural focal points can often be enhanced by little
gardens--gates, bay windows, sundials, the mailbox, a birdbath, or a
well. Little pocket-handkerchief gardens are built right into patios
and terraces. Little creepers planted in crevices between paving stones
make a miniature garden of their own.

                             _CHAPTER 11_

                          MINIATURE ROCK AND
                             WALL GARDENS

Anyone who can live and garden in a place like our part of Connecticut
without going overboard for rocks and rock-loving plants has more
self-control than I. My bewitchment began one Sunday afternoon when,
the weekend’s weeding done, I strolled up toward the small wild-flower
plantings in “the point.” Just beyond the garage, before the trees
began to cut off the sun, I stopped to glare at an ugly, erupting mound
of soil and stones that had frustrated our every attempt to make this
area more attractive.

I was pondering the monstrosity, when I noticed an intriguing detail. A
partly submerged rock poking its head out of one side of the mound had
the same color and patina as a snub-nosed piece sticking out the other
side; and the lines of stratification were on the same slant. Could
these be opposite ends of one continuous rock formation?

Five wheelbarrow-loads of rocky debris later, we had uncovered a
beautiful boulder, perfectly placed so that its lines led gracefully
into twin trunks of a wind-blown birch. It was a boulder with ancient
age and character, artistically chiseled by the elements. And it said
“rock garden” as plainly as any landscape plan.

This five-foot-long discovery may not be miniature; and the
naturalistic kind of planting it inspired is neither practical nor
suitable for many home grounds. But it was my introduction to rock
plants, and to how effectively rocks and plants combine; and it led
me to create and watch for rock gardens that _are_ miniature,
practical, and suitable for all kinds of grounds. Sometimes I think
these are the most enchanting little gardens of all.

If they are to look like anything better than a pile of stones,
miniature rock and wall gardens are not composed of miniature rocks.
They simply contain fewer, perhaps somewhat smaller, rocks than average
gardens; and they occupy far less space. These small plant-and-rock
compositions brighten nooks and corners where other plantings would
seem out of place.

By their nature, most rockery plants are miniature in height, foliage,
and flower. Alone or combined with miniature bulbs, the smaller
perennials and annuals, and the tiniest shrubs and trees, they invite
close-up enjoyment of their daintiness in these small plantings. Rocks
and rock-loving plants have a perfectly natural way of blending and
contrasting, each bringing out the best qualities in the other.

Although they’re of different design and construction, rock gardens
and dry walls are usually planted with the same or similar plants, and
given similar care. Paths, pavements, and garden steps are close kin.
But pools and water plants, even though they are often included in rock
gardens, are a separate subject, and are covered in Chapter 12.

                      ROCK-AND WALL-GARDEN DESIGN

“Cemetery,” “penitentiary rock pile,” “collection of geological
specimens”--these and other unflattering phrases have been used
to describe what a rock garden should not be. This eliminates the
artificial rock-studded circle in the center of a lawn, rocky slopes
with nothing to back them up, isolated paths and steps that have
nowhere to go, stone-stuffed piles of loam with no conceivable excuse
for being where they are.

What a rock garden should be, is an integral part of the landscape,
completely at home and in harmony with its surroundings, and having a
sound reason for its existence. Except for a few functional affairs
such as walls that retain terraces and steps that climb banks, their
purpose is mainly ornamental. Neither rocks nor plants are featured at
the expense of the other. Both work together to create the picture--the
plants to add brightness, vitality, and life; the rocks to help provide
favorable growing conditions and a naturally suitable background for
their display.

Designs for these gardens can be, as for others in the landscape,
formal or informal. The fixed geometry of walks, walls, and raised
beds in formal pattern are seen less frequently. But this is a type of
rock garden that might be placed advantageously in even the flattest,
barest suburban lot where naturalistic plantings and rocks look out of
place. If you long for a rock garden, try something like this in either
classic or contemporary style.

Informal rock gardens must, above all else, look convincingly natural,
as if the glaciers might have placed them. This is equally important
to a cluster of bulbs at the base of a single, half-sunken boulder;
the arrangement of rocks and plants on a small slope; or the series of
rocks that line a winding path. Builders of ambitious rock gardens are
often advised to study the nearby countryside and use it as a guide.

_Designs for Naturally Uneven, Rocky Land_

This type of terrain makes a natural setting for rock and wall gardens
of all sizes, shapes, and contours. Generally, the design is informal
and naturalistic. I don’t know whether it’s really easier to work
out such designs in miniature, or whether I merely think it’s easier
because that’s the kind of land I have to work with. So far, we’ve
never disagreed with Nature about the placement of a rock outcropping,
for example. The few we’ve uncovered and cleaned up have almost told us
what and how to plant.

A small existing slope or bank is a perfect site for a composition of
rocks and rockery plants, or, if you prefer, a retaining wall between
the two levels with plants grouped at the bottom or top, or planted
horizontally in the cracks. Or consider a series of ledges that create
small, irregular terraces.

A slope or grade may be the perfect place for informal stone steps,
with, of course, a path leading up to them and away. Colonies of
small plants look well on either side, with, perhaps, very miniature
evergreens at both sides at the top. Cracks in the steps and a walk can
be planted with small carpeters.

If you possess a small stream, gulch, or ravine, by all means consider
a little rock garden along either side. If you’re fond of a gnarled
old stump, see what a few rocks and plants might do at its foot. Where
your driveway curves, try a small rock garden. Before you fill in and
flatten out a small depression, or level off a small knoll, find out
how it would look as a small “island” rock garden.

Corners like those formed by an old-fashioned “stoop” of a country
cottage sometimes make effective frames for miniature rock gardens. But
in general, informal designs usually fit best out in the grounds, away
from angular architectural lines.


   Raised flower bed copied from an old English garden]

_Designs for Level, Rockless Grounds_

Here there are fewer existing, desirable locations for rock and wall
gardens. But for the sake of enjoying the dainty plants, and of marking
your garden with originality, you may want to create a site. It is
possible to dig out a “natural” depression or build up a slope, if it’s
skillfully designed--and if you can get rocks that don’t look foreign
and far away from home. Or dig down a foot or two to make a formal or
semiformal sunken garden, the beds raised and held in place by a dry
wall with crevices to plant in, and flagstone walks.

Corners sometimes offer possibilities--a far corner, where there is a
background of trees, fence, or wall; or a front corner where the lawn
slopes slightly down to the sidewalk. Or there may be a place near the
patio for a tiny pool in a rocky setting.

A birdbath, sundial, or shrine that’s a focal point in a small garden
can sometimes be embellished with a small rock garden at the base.
So can the edge or corner of a raised patio. Terrace pavements with
cushions of thyme rooted in the crevices are enriched with color,
fragrance, and texture. The lines of stark steps are softened and the
appearance mellowed by crowded clumps of fat sempervivums. Wherever
you can find reason for a rock wall, or even a row of rocks laid
horizontally and only a few inches high, you can plant it with rockery
plants at top, bottom, or in between. In the artificial settings of
many suburban lots, semiformal walls separating two levels of lawn
or supporting the edge of the family living area are very suitable
substitutes for rock gardens.


One of the main virtues of rock and wall gardens is their
individuality--they don’t look like other gardens, or even like each
other. But commonplace plants such as bedding petunias can cancel
this distinctiveness in a minute. If you use annuals at all, get less
ordinary varieties and use them sparingly, for temporary color in a
bare spot or over the dying foliage of spring-flowering bulbs.

The plants that look best with rocks are those that grow naturally
among them. Hundreds of rock-loving plants are available, and more
hundreds of alpines from rugged mountain heights. Only the easier
alpines are included here, the most adaptable to more luxuriant
climates and soil, the least likely to pine for their rigorous,
high-altitude homes. Tricky types from above the timber line are left
to the dedicated collector.


   Saxifraga seedlings--a natural rock-loving plant]

Nurseries and catalogues of rock-garden specialists are so full of
distinctive and delightful miniature plants that my first reaction
was blissful delirium. And after I acquired as many enticing items as
I could, my second thought was: These gems are too little known and
grown. So I began to sort out some that might flourish in our small
perennial borders. With favorable conditions of drainage and air
circulation, a number of rockery plants have already made themselves at
home in other, rockless gardens.

Most miniature bulbs are effective in rock gardens, and some miniature
perennials--not ubiquitous types, and not those that spread voraciously
by runners. Miniature shrubs and trees are indispensable in rock
gardens of all sizes--to give variety, contrast, and substance; to
act as accents; to create boundaries or backgrounds. Use them with
restraint. Place spreading, wind-swept types at the top, bushy shapes
down lower, upright exclamation points at the very bottom. Make sure
they are in scale with the rocks, the plants, and the garden as a whole.

Select all kinds of rock and wall plants for their effectiveness of
form, texture, and color in the complete design. And this repetition
is important and unavoidable. Select varieties that naturally like, or
will adapt to, the cultural conditions like sun and soil type you have
or can provide.

                        MINIATURE ROCK GARDENS

For setting a few rocks into the side of a handkerchief-sized section
of slope, or building many more into a garden in a good-sized corner,
there are a few guiding principles that will help make sure you are
happy with the result. Most important, have your design as complete
as possible before you start to build. A sketch drawn to scale is
a valuable visualizing aid. Then, make your construction solid and
substantial, and favorable to plant growth and health.

If you have a choice of exposure, face a sloping rock garden toward the
north or northeast, so it will get enough summer sun but not so much
that it dries and cooks. Shrubs and trees in the background should not
create dense shade in the garden, nor drip moisture on the plants and
steal nourishment from their roots. Drainage is extremely important
in selecting a site. If the subsoil is packed and clay-like, you can
either replace it, make it more porous, or select another spot.

What kind of rocks to use and where to get them depends on the part
of the country you live in. Anything that’s indigenous to an area
is first choice, always. Limestone, sandstone, fieldstone, porous
tufa--native rocks “belong” as no artificial or imported rock ever can.
If your land is not blessed (or cursed) by plenty of rocks, you can
sometimes collect them near rivers, mountains, or abandoned quarries,
or where a new road is being blasted through. Whether you have them,
collect them, or buy them, all the rocks in one garden (or on the same
property) should be of the same general type. Varicolored geological
specimens are seldom attractive.

Consider each rock’s characteristic color, texture, size, and shape
before you decide where to place it, or whether to place it at all.
Even in the tiniest rock gardens, tiny rocks look ridiculously
salt-and-peppery. Start with rocks of substantial size, in keeping with
the size and contour of the garden; use smaller ones where they fill in

Naturally worn and weathered rocks look more natural than freshly
chiseled surfaces; irregular, angular forms are better than uniformity.
Rocks with stratified layers suggest ledges and cliffs. Glacial
boulders or “hardheads” are not good in formal patterns. Use them
naturalistically, in varying sizes, arranging them with studied
carelessness as if they’d been scattered haphazardly and then left.

Avoid overcrowding with so many rocks that the plants are overshadowed
by the debris. Place rocks as they might lie naturally, partly buried
in the soil, the tops smoothed over by the elements, and so solid that
they don’t wobble when you step on them.


Perfect drainage, so that water cannot stand around the roots and
crowns, has been called “the most important need for all alpine
plants.” The selected location (raised or sunken) and composition of
subsoil and topsoil can either contribute to good drainage or deter
it. In small gardens it’s not too formidable a job to install a system
of drainage tiles, if necessary, or to add gravelly sand to subsoil to
make it more porous. Easy insurance in any rock garden is to start with
several inches of rather coarse gravel or rubble as a bottom drainage

Any topsoil that is removed during construction should be saved
carefully. If you can pile it in the center of a tarpaulin or piece of
strong burlap, it can’t be scattered and lost; and you can also mix it
with any additives with pleasurable ease. Simply pile on the peat, leaf
mold, sand, or other ingredients; then, holding opposite corners (you
may need a helper to hold one corner of a large piece), pull it back
over the soil pile and fold it over the other end. Repeat this, from
opposite ends, until the materials are thoroughly mixed.

The first rocks are usually set at the lowest part of the garden,
partly sunk in soil or otherwise made extra-sturdy and secure. Build up
from that point, arranging rocks with their broadest surfaces at the
bottom, all lines of stratification horizontal or on the same slant.
Each rock should slant slightly inward and downward, to catch moisture
and encourage it to run into the soil in the garden.

Provide plenty of soil for spreading roots, and a minimum depth of
eighteen inches or more. Plants in shallow pockets may be stunted and
will certainly dry out too fast during droughts. Whether or not you
plant as you go depends partly on your agility. Don’t crush the first
plants under your feet or knees as you set rocks and plants above them.
It’s often faster and easier to spread out roots and make soil firm
around them before the next rock is set in place.


Set plants as deep as they were planted before; no deeper (danger of
crown rot) and not too shallow (they may dry out). Tuck them firmly in
cool, moist, rock-shaded soil. Keep the soil constantly moist until
firm new growth shows that the roots are established and growing.

Rock-garden plants are seldom suitable for planting in neat rows or
geometric patterns. Tiny, slow-growing types are arranged in groups of
three or more; one or two spreaders per planting spot will do. Don’t
crowd these plants. Give them room to develop and for air to circulate
around them, and to display their charms at their best. Provide private
quarters for the smallest gems, away from hearty growers that might
overpower them. Keep color combinations and contrasting textures in
mind. Set trailers where they can droop over stones. Place those that
like moisture low in the garden; their roots keep cool in the shade of

As a finishing touch, after the rock garden is built, planted, and
thoroughly watered, cover all soil surfaces with a mulch of fine gravel
or stone chips. Work it up to each crown, under prostrate stems.
Aesthetically, this gives a neat, well-groomed look and ties plants,
rocks, and setting into one coherent picture. Functionally, the chips
absorb heat and keep soil cool and moist, lift small, low leaves out of
mud and water, discourage slugs, protect crowns against rot, and firmly
discourage the intrusion of weeds.

                        MINIATURE WALL GARDENS

Any small section of low wall--brick, cement, stone, or concrete--can
be the background for a miniature garden. But it is in a dry wall,
built of stones without cement, that many small rockery plants best
display their jewel-like perfection. Planted horizontally, with their
roots in pockets between the rocks, they make a vertical rock garden of
glowing colors and fascinating foliage textures.

For small, low walls, and those in somewhat formal settings,
thin-layered rock such as slate or shale is usually preferred.
Irregularly shaped fieldstone or other rocks of native origin are used
in more natural, informal designs. Any lines of stratification are, of
course, laid horizontal and parallel to each other. Another good rule
to go by is: The smaller the wall, the smaller the rocks.


Low walls (two feet high or less) usually do not need a foundation
layer sunk below the frost line. They can be started at, or just under,
ground level. But they must be set solidly on a firm, wide base--two
feet wide, for example, for a wall two and a half feet high. Set the
largest stones and complete the lower layer first. Tilt each rock
slightly backward and downward so soil won’t wash out of pockets, water
will run back to plant roots, and the heaving pressure of frost won’t
thrust the rocks out of place in winter. A guide line of string or wire
moved up with each new layer will help you keep the construction level.

The wall should slant slightly in toward the bank behind it, and
usually grows more narrow as it goes up. Each layer is made absolutely
solid before the next is applied. Set each stone so that it is
completely steady, and rests on parts of two stones beneath it. This
distributes weight evenly, avoids crushing plant roots, and prevents
unattractive and impractical long, vertical cracks created when joints
coincide. Use small, flattish rocks to fill chinks under large stones
and make them steady.

Behind the wall, as you build, firm in a goodly layer (one foot thick
is usually recommended) of topsoil that has been enriched and aerated
to promote drainage. Roots will reach back here for water and food. As
you ram soil into pockets, make sure it reaches all the way back to
this layer. Unless all the soil is made very firm, it may settle and
the stones may slide out or into the bank.

At the top you can leave some pockets for plants, or plant them just
behind the wall. Cover cracks at the top with flat stones, so water
won’t wash out soil.

  [Illustration: A rock, a rose, and a miniature rose.]


If you can remember not to damage plants at the bottom as you’re
working above them, set the plants in each layer as you build. It’s
easier then to make sure the roots are firmly embedded well back into
the soil. Plant sparsely; leave plenty of room for growth and
spread, and plenty of uncovered wall surface to contribute pattern and
texture to the picture. Space the plants at irregular intervals, never
in straight lines either horizontal or vertical. Water thoroughly,
making sure the layer of soil behind the wall is completely moist; and
keep it moist at least throughout the first growing season.

                           PATHS AND PAVING

Many little rock plants will make soft cushions and carpets, with
their roots in crevices between pieces of paving, and also in stone
steps. They’re very low-growing and very hardy, and usually spring back
resiliently when stepped on. It’s important that acid-loving varieties
not be planted near cement, which sometimes neutralizes or alkalinizes
the soil. And, of course, the situation should provide the amount of
sunshine and moisture the plants need.

The simplest kind of informal path or paving for an informal patio
consists of flagstones or slates set in the ground, the top level flush
with the surface of the soil. Plants are spaced irregularly in cracks
between the stones. I’ve seen one path of old millstones laid this way,
the plants rooted in the center hole.

Bricks create a more formal pattern, either laid on a bed of sand
or set into a foundation of concrete over gravel. The popular
“crazy pavings” can be odd pieces of either brick or stone arranged
in any conceivable pattern and laid in mortar. In any such solid
constructions, planting pockets should be scooped out before the
concrete sets hard; or a chunk of wood can be inserted to hold the
space open.

Give the carpeting plants as much good soil as you can, and keep them
moist until they are growing well. Occasional trimming will stop them
from growing straggly, and keep them neat, compact, and in a pretty

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Planting times vary according to climate and season of dormancy. In
warm areas it’s almost always late fall. Where winters are rugged, it
can be during brief semidormancy in early September, but it’s safest
in early spring when severe frosts are no longer likely and favorable
weather blesses plants at the height of their annual growing power.
In temperate sections spring-flowering varieties can be planted from
mid-August through October, others in spring.


   Lemon thyme and ivy showing results of being trimmed and kept

   _Mr. and Mrs. Alex O’Hare_]

Strong, healthy, pot-grown plants can be planted throughout the season
in almost all areas. They transplant easily, with little disturbance
and shock. In fact, whenever we acquire plants during the fall, we
keep them in their pots or pot them up, and protect them in the cold
frame during the winter. One of my favorite and most knowledgeable rock
gardeners tells me that he always pots tender or difficult plants, and
keeps them potted until their roots are fully developed, before he sets
them out in the garden, no matter what the season.


Providing the proper soil is vitally important to rock-garden plants,
and particularly to alpines. They’re naturally dwarfed by the rough
conditions in their native mountain areas. But when they move down
to our comparatively lush climates and longer growing seasons, they
respond to a too-rich diet by growing too tall and rangy, with too few
flowers, and they lose their charm. They do need some nourishment, of
course. And they are extremely sensitive to soil textures and drainage
conditions. Heavy, soggy soil causes them to rot quickly. Soil that
lacks organic matter dries out too fast.

Because of climatic and other variations, I hesitate to set down any
“ideal soil mix” for these plants. Instead, I suggest a basic formula
that can and should be varied according to the aridity or rainfall
in your area, the size and location of your rock or wall garden, the
composition of your garden soil, the availability of some ingredients,
and the personal preferences of the plant varieties you want to grow.
Here it is:

Three parts fairly friable, fertile loam.

Two parts humus--peat, leaf mold, compost--for lightness and fertility.

Two parts stone chips or crushed rock--perhaps the most important
ingredient, to keep soil open and cool.

One part sharp builders’ sand, or the gravelly sand used in mixing
concrete, to lighten heavy soil and promote drainage.

If your garden loam is sandy or gravelly, of course, you would increase
the proportion of humus. If it’s rich in organic matter, you would
decrease the quantity of humus. Very sticky, heavy clay soils are best

Rock and alpine plants are also particularly sensitive to the acidity
or alkalinity of soil. This is measured by the _p_H scale, ranging
from very acid _p_H 4.0, through 7.0 at neutral, to very alkaline
9.0. Rock-garden specialists usually indicate the preferred _p_H
for the plants they sell.

By using a soil-test kit or, better still, sending a sample to your
state agricultural service to be tested, you can easily find out
whether the soil in your garden is acid or alkaline, and to what
degree. Then, to make acid soil more alkaline for plants that need it,
mix in small quantities of agricultural lime--the amount depends on
the degree of acidity and on the plant itself. Don’t overdo it. Too
much lime can do as much harm as good. Alkaline soils are not quite
so readily converted to acid, but you can use oak-leaf compost (not
completely rotted), acid peat, or pine “duff” (rotted pine needles). Or
you can be satisfied with the tremendous number of rockery plants that
really prefer alkaline soil. These preferences vary, not only between
different plant families, but also between individual members of the
same family.

For our small gardens, I’ve found it not too tiresome to provide soils
of several types. For specially precious plants, I often mix special,
small batches of soil. Then I clean out the planting pocket, make sure
that it is tightly closed in with rocks so water won’t wash this soil
out or other soil in, and refill it with the preferred mixture.


Except during rare droughts in spring, when the plants are in active
growth, we seldom have to water our rock and wall garden. Our summer
rains are usually sufficient for their needs. But whenever or wherever
there are long weeks of extreme heat and dry winds in summer, water may
be needed. Use a fine spray gently, so that the small plants won’t be
washed loose. And let the water soak in long enough so the entire area
is moist in depth.


Some rock plants can take and use fertilizer, in spring; but most
alpines are better off without it. For them, we mix a little leaf mold
with the gravel mulch when we renew it. For the more ordinary types, we
provide a very light feeding of whatever balanced fertilizer we have on


In rock gardens (and particularly in very small rock gardens) even
slight untidiness or imperfection shows up all too clearly. But I
consider it a pleasure to weed and care for the little plants a few
minutes every weekend. Faded flowers are snipped off. Weeds are removed
with determination, but with gentle protection for any small, weak
plants. Spreading shoots that grow long and out of line are cut off, or
sometimes uprooted, and removed. Louise Beebe Wilder says it’s an art
to keep a rock garden in balance, with the proper proportion of plants
against stones. And she is an artist with hers.

In spring, even before the last of the winter mulch is removed, we look
for cracks in the soil and for plants that have been heaved out by
frost, and press them firmly back into place so their roots can take
hold again. We also fill any washed-out pockets with fresh soil mix,
and top-dress any low areas. Any rotted leaves and stems and other
debris are removed; and the entire garden gets a thin fresh layer of
stone-chip mulch.

In fall there’s the general cleanup operation--weeding, pressing in
loose roots and packing them with soil, trimming back rambunctious
growers, replenishing the mulch of stone chips if needed.

_Winter Protection_

If you can count on a continuous cover of snow over your rock garden
all winter, there’s little you need to do for these hardy little
plants. But we can’t; we have the danger of alternate freezing and
thawing that can do so much damage. So we provide special protection.

In winter, after the ground is frozen at least an inch deep, we cover
the complete garden with salt-marsh hay. (Some types of Fiberglas,
and wood excelsior from packing cases, are also suitable, reusable
materials). This light, airy blanket keeps plants cold and dark, yet
gives them air to breathe. If it threatens to blow away, we hold it in
place with a few light evergreen branches.


These are, of course, perennials and with slight variations can be
propagated like other perennials. (See pages 255–59.)


Some need a pre-germination cold and some don’t; some germinate best
at cool temperatures, some at warm; some need light, others need dark.
Check seed packet, catalogue, or reliable reference book for specific
information for each type of seed.

We start seeds of delicate varieties in the greenhouse, where we can
hover over them, in late winter; others may be sown in the cold frame
in March or April, so the plants will be as mature as possible before
their first winter.

_Stem Cuttings_

For the smaller plants, these can be as short as three inches or less.
Try to take snappy new growth, neither weak and watery nor hard and
tough. Sharp sand is a suitable rooting medium for many types.

                             _CHAPTER 12_

                          MINIATURE POOLS AND
                             WATER PLANTS

If you can work out a way to use water in your landscape, by all means
do. Whether it’s a dime-sized tub the birds dip into, or a full-scale
formal pool in a tiled patio, any garden with water attracts immediate
attention, gives quick pleasure, becomes an unquestionable center of
interest. Actually, the excitement water adds to any landscape scene
is the antithesis of its calm, cooling, serene effect. I don’t know of
any other feature that, with a few plants and a minimum of care, makes
a garden spot at once so dramatic, artistic, and restful. And if the
water moves--ripples through a stream, drips over stones, falls from
one level to another--soothing sound is added to the other assets.

Natural brooks, streams, and pools usually require little designing
beyond bringing out the best of their inherent beauty. But there’s also
not a suburban lot for which some kind of artificial water garden can’t
be designed, and few grounds that are not thereby enhanced. The only
requisite is that the design be in harmony and scale with its setting;
that it be conceived, located, and constructed with imagination and

The fact that pools are inevitably natural focal points makes their
faults more obvious and more difficult to correct. The most you can do,
once a pool is in the ground, is to soften or otherwise improve its
outline with coping, rocks, or plants. If there’s too much cement, you
can’t hide it with aquatic plants without covering, too, the desirable
reflections on the water. If it’s too small, you can hardly make it
larger. If the shape is uninteresting, you can’t change it very easily.
If it’s in the wrong spot or faced the wrong way, you can’t move it.

On the other hand, the charm of water itself is so strong that it
is comparatively easy to create a design that looks just right,
particularly if simplicity is the keynote in both pool and planting.
Simple shapes are safer and more effective than intricate ones; few
plants, well placed, are better than many; water spraying from a
concealed pipe is often more desirable than a formal fountain or

Depending on architecture and terrain, garden pools may be of formal
design--a perfectly regular shape; semiformal--the shape balanced but
not usually regular, often in severe contemporary style; or informal,
completely asymmetrical, and integrated so naturally in the landscape
the pool looks as if it has always been there. Each type of design
can be executed in so many different ways that, even for tiny pools,
there’s good reason to study photographs and articles in gardening and
homemaking magazines. There’s also inspiration in the designs in books
about water gardens, plus detailed information on various types of
construction that I’ve had to omit. I’ve built miniature rock gardens
but never a pool. Someone who fathoms the mysteries of water levels and
understands the intricacies of cement work can give much more reliable
advice than I.

_Formal Design._

Small square, rectangular, circular, or oval pools can be extremely
effective in almost any kind of landscape except one so rocky and
untamed as ours. They’re usually best in level ground, and most
harmonious with borders and other plantings of fairly formal pattern.
And, of course, they’re constructed of materials that give a formal
effect, such as concrete, tile, or brick.

A raised pool in the center of a small terrace, with a foot-high wall
of tile or brick, can be scaled down from classic designs of other
eras. A wide coping on the wall provides a place to set potted plants,
or to seat yourself to feed the goldfish and dabble your fingers in the
cool water.

A quadrant-shaped pool in the corner where garden walls meet can be
either raised or level with the ground. Its water might reflect the
image of a saint in a shrine above it, or might catch the constant
stream from a lovely fountain.

At one end of a narrow garden a rectangular or oval pool becomes a
striking focal point. A path may lead to a bench on a far side, between
the pool and a background of shrubs.

At the end of a garden path a fountain may spout from a mortared wall
into a projecting pool set at convenient dipping height from the
ground, for filling watering cans. The planting underneath can be
permanent, or an arrangement of potted plants.

And why not a tiny, formal pool in the center of a miniature rose
garden? Or under a piece of traditional garden statuary? Or simply in
the center of a garden path that splits to make room for it? If it’s
of proper proportion, a formal pool can even be set in the center of a
garden, sometimes even in the center of a small lawn area.

_Semiformal Design_

Here’s where the popular kidney-shaped pools are most useful.
They’re neither formal nor informal, but especially attractive with
contemporary architecture. Planting is usually sparse but dramatic,
making extreme use of contrasting colors and textures, and of unusual
lines. Construction materials are simple to keep them subordinate in
interest to the over-all design.

A refreshing sight outside a picture window is a small pool recessed
in the patio floor. A recirculating pump sends up a spray of water
from a pipe that ends just below the surface of the pool. These pumps
make it possible for fish and plants to coexist with fountains because
they reuse water in the pool. Fresh water from a spring, a stream, or
the pipes that supply the house is too cold; and it may lack the small
organisms on which fish feed.

Pools of contemporary design can also be placed in a corner of the
property, with a tasteful grouping of shrubbery behind; on the bottom
level of a series of terraces; in a depressed spot in the lawn; in the
curve of a path; or at one side of a breezeway. They can be illuminated
dramatically with the new underwater lights available in many sizes and

_Informal, Naturalistic Design_

These are either adaptations of existing streams or pools, or designs
of uneven form deliberately created to look as if they had been
there all the time. They’re best suited, of course, to naturalistic
landscapes where slopes, rocks, and hidden springs give them a reason
for existence. The water-holding basin may be of any material, as long
as it is not noticeable. Any edgings, copings, or nearby trimmings
should be just as natural as the pools.

A rock garden on a slope is a perfect setting for a pool with rocks
that jut out over the water and, if possible, a rock or two coming up
through the water from below. Or two small pools, one above the other,
can be joined by a miniature waterfall. If there’s no water supply on
the spot, use a recirculating pump. But be careful that the waterfall
doesn’t resemble man-made steps. It should be as craftily haphazard as
if the elements had worn it into the rocks.

A dripstone is another delightfully musical device--an overhanging rock
from which water drips down onto the surface of the pool. The sound has
more resonance when there is an empty chamber behind the dripping water.

A meandering brook can be widened to make a pool. Or a completely
artificial brook can be constructed of cement, like a pool, with
drainage and overflow pipes and similar appurtenances. This isn’t
easy to execute effectively, but it can be completely intriguing. It
might be wise to try to re-create part of a real stream in the nearby

One small boulder half-sunk in the ground can inspire an irregular,
shallow pool that makes a natural birdbath. A miniature shrub may back
up the boulder; rock-garden plants may grow at its base.

Many nooks and corners in the naturalistic landscape spontaneously
suggest the creation of a tiny pool, and become exciting little garden
surprises. These can often be so simply made that there’s not even a
drainage hole in the bottom. Scooping out the water, as needed, is no
chore at all.


There are as many materials and methods for building pools as there
are sizes and shapes. The depth depends on the requirements of the
aquatic plants to be grown, and so does the location in sun or shade.
Pygmy water lilies, for example, need all available sun, and at least
ten inches of water--four inches for the container that holds soil and
roots, eight inches above the crowns or growing points. Other miniature
water plants are satisfied with much less.

One vitally important construction detail is that the sides of even
the smallest tub garden be perfectly level, parallel with the water
surface. Otherwise, there will be an unattractive expanse of bare wall
at one side--one of those awkward errors that quickly catches the eye
and spoils the whole effect.

Some pools are simply sunk flush with the surrounding lawn or other
surface, without edging or coping of any kind. This can be messy and
sometimes disastrous to plants when surface water collects and floods
the pool during heavy rains. Extending the rim an inch or so above the
surrounding area usually avoids this problem, but then the rim should
be concealed with a coping of some sort--bricks and tiles in formal
pools, well-arranged rocks, gravel, or flagstone paving in informal

_Tubs and Other Containers_

Attractive but relatively impermanent miniature pools can be improvised
or specially planned with many kinds of containers--metal or wooden
tubs made and sold for the purpose; half-barrels or half-kegs;
discarded tanks, kettles, dishpans; even discarded sinks and laundry
tubs. These last can be eyesores, we found out, if their ignominious
origins are not kept carefully secret. Rubber-base paint is the only
way we found to conceal the pristine white porcelain, and it was tricky
to use so that it wouldn’t peel off. The rim at the top of the sink
is an unpleasant giveaway that must be covered with something such as
overhanging rocks. Finding a plug or stopper that fit the drainage hole
wasn’t the least of our problems.

For the welfare of both aquatic plants and wildlife such as fish and
scavengers, some containers need special treatment before they can be
used, and some should not be used at all. Wooden kegs and barrels that
have held oily substances such as gasoline, roofing compound, and wood
preservatives can’t be cleaned sufficiently to be safe. Copper poisons
fish; so do paints with oil or lead bases. Steel, lead, iron, and other
metals should be protected against rust and corrosion with sound coats
of rubber-base paint.

Containers freshly made of new wood (except white cedar) can be
unhealthy for fish. Let them stand out in the weather for the winter,
or season the wood by filling the container with water, slaking a chunk
of lime in it for a few days, and rinsing well before using.

_Prefabricated Pools_

These are now available in metal or plastics of a sturdiness that
varies with the cost, in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Many of
them make lovely miniature pools which, because they’re small, are
not necessarily calamities if they don’t last forever. Most have been
designed after consultation with experts on fish and water lilies. And
most are simply installed by digging a proper hole and setting them in



_Permanent Pools_

Permanency increases, of course, with sound construction. Concrete
laid on a gravel or cinder base and strengthened with wire-mesh
reinforcement is usually considered best. But the new concrete must
be cured and the alkalinity of its lime neutralized before the pool can
be safely used for plants or fish. Leaving the pool open to the weather
for the winter will usually accomplish this purpose. Or the pool can
be drained and refilled several times, then thoroughly cleansed with
household vinegar, as in the “quick cure” recommended by G. L. Thomas,
Jr., of Three Springs Fisheries.


   Steps in constructing a no-cost pool out of materials on hand:

    a. An old kitchen sink
    b. Placing rocks that were a nuisance anyhow
    c. Finished pool with goldfish, and an interested cat]

Bricks, cement blocks, tile, puddled concrete--for each type of
material there are detailed procedures to be found in readily available
and up-to-date reference books. Prefabricated pools can be found in the
catalogues of most water-lily specialists.

                             CARE OF POOLS

Miniature pools are easy to scrub in the spring and to keep clean
through the summer season. Floating dead leaves or other organic debris
that can give off poisonous gas are skimmed off with your hands.
Discolored or dying leaves of lilies and other plants can be cut away
cleanly. Plants can be thinned out by removing superfluous leaves or
pulling out portions of weedy varieties. The pool is kept nearly filled
with fresh water--but without adding so much at one time that the water
is dangerously chilled.

Permanganate of potash will control slimy, green algae. To one gallon
of water add about two teaspoons of permanganate; let it stand until
there is little residue at the bottom. For every gallon of water in the
pool, add one teaspoon of this saturated solution whenever algae become
unsightly. Don’t make the solution too strong. It might kill the fish.

Insects such as the black aphids common on water lilies can be sprayed
off with the garden hose to make a juicy meal for the fish. Spraying
pool plants with insecticides or fungicides is dangerous unless you
use a preparation made specifically for pools, and use it strictly
according to package directions.

In winter, most tubs and other containers should probably be lifted
and stored indoors. I should think this would lengthen the useful life
of small prefabricated pools, too. Small permanent pools should be
drained, so ice will not form and crack the construction. This means
that the pool must remain empty; either the drain must be kept open or
a roof of canvas or boards should be fitted over the top.

                          FISH AND SCAVENGERS

Goldfish earn their upkeep--a pinch or two of food a week--by gobbling
up mosquito larvae the minute they start wriggling. In pools where the
mud at the bottom does not freeze, they’ll winter safely out of doors.

Several kinds of snails, tadpoles, and other scavengers offered by
specialists consume impurities in the water, including algae. Frogs are
just for fun. They’ll often make themselves at home in a pool without
any invitation. A grandpappy bullfrog lived in our tiny sinkpool all
last summer, retreating to a dark cave between the rocks when the dogs
came down for a drink.

It seemed to me the epitome of modern efficiency when I first learned,
as a city-dweller, that full-grown frogs could be bought by mail. That
purchase made us the most popular family on the block. But we couldn’t
offer them comfortable winter quarters in the city; and the last I
saw of the frogs, in early fall, they were hopping down the gutter of
Fortieth Avenue toward the sewer drain.


Obviously, the location of a pool (in sun or shade, warm climate or
cool), its size (some plants would smother a miniature pool in a few
weeks), and its design should be considered in selecting plants to grow
in or with it. In fact, very tiny pools carefully placed to catch an
artistic reflection may be better without any plant embellishment.

A frequent error is overplanting, with the water surface covered by
a confusion of foliage and flowers, the perimeter a jungle. In small
pools one pygmy lily is plenty; it needs clear, open water to set it

For pools of all designs--formal, contemporary, informal--plants are
seldom arranged in neat rows, groups that repeat themselves regularly,
or matching masses in perfect symmetry. The closest to formal balance
might be adding accent and height by placing the tallest plant in the
center of a formal pool. More often, it’s effective in one corner or at
one side.

Few plants offer such striking variation in the forms available to
create interesting patterns and dramatic contrast. There are flat,
leathery leaf pads and slim, spiky swords; glorious china-like cup
flowers and fluffy plumes; modest creepers and bold elephant leaves.
Seldom does a flower-arrangement artist have such a wealth of exciting
material with which to make her prize-winning compositions.

_Miniature Water Lilies_

Of the two general types of water lilies--tropical and hardy--the
tropicals are least likely to be in scale with miniature pools. The
leaves and flowers are larger, the leaves spreading out wider and the
flowers standing out higher. The tropicals need lots of sun and warmth,
can be shocked into dormancy if the water chills, and are usually
treated like annuals and planted fresh, each summer. Some can be
propagated from viviparous plantlets that grow on the leaves.

Among hardy water lilies there is a selection of pygmies with four-inch
leaves and two-inch flowers in many colors--white, yellow, pink, red,
and bicolors, some with attractively marbled foliage. Given generous
sunshine, warm quiet water, and good nourishment, they will flower from
July to frost, and can be held over the winter either outdoors or in.

In our area we set out hardy water lilies in late April or early May.
If a late cold snap occurs when the plants arrive by mail, we keep them
moist until it’s over. Since the roots are hardy only if they do not
freeze, and since it’s difficult to keep small pools from freezing,
each lily is planted in its own box, which is set on small stones or
blocks so it is raised off the floor of the pool. Or plant in soil at
the bottom of a tub-pool that will be taken up in fall. Lay the rhizome
horizontal, with its growing tip out of the soil. Cover the surface
with a web of clean sand, to keep the soil from muddying the water. If
the plant is leafed out and the leaves don’t reach the surface of the
pool, they’ll lengthen their stems in a few days.

For best growth and flowering, a pygmy lily needs at least a third
of a bushel of soil and about eight inches of water over its crown.
Soil can be heavy and clay-like, or average garden loam. If possible,
add one-fourth the quantity of well-rotted cow manure--no other kind.
Experts recommend strongly against the use of other-than-cow manures,
swamp muck, leaf mold, peat moss, sand, or lime.

Lacking cow manure, you can get fertilizers prepared specially for
water lilies, or you can use commercial garden fertilizers like those
with 5-10-5 analysis. Supply nourishment at planting time, and once
again a month or so later. Wrap balls of rotted cow manure, or handfuls
of commercial fertilizer, in thin paper (a paper napkin will do) and
thrust them down into the soil around the roots. Water lilies have
voracious appetites, and even the pygmies eat heartily. On a starvation
diet, they’ll stop growing and flowering.

In winter, store the rhizomes in an unheated cellar or garage where
they will keep cool but not freeze. Don’t let them dry out completely.
Keep the soil in the container barely moist; or if the rhizome is not
in soil, wrap it in burlap that can be kept moist.

Hardy water lilies are propagated by planting divisions of the roots,
with each section having at least one growing point.

In the wide selection of available varieties, the following pygmies are
suitable for most miniature pools.

=Nymphaea= _Nymphaeaceae_ Pygmy Water Lily

   _adorata minor_--Pint-sized variety of the native pond lily
   with fragrant, dainty, white three-inch flowers in generous
   profusion; leaves lined with red beneath. ‘Helen Fowler’ is a
   fragrant pink-flowered variety.

   _aurora_--An old hybrid, more dwarf than miniature, but
   suitable for small pools. Changeable flowers open soft yellow,
   darken to rusty orange in the second stage, then to deep red
   in the third stage. The small leaves are mottled with wine-red

   ‘Jo Ann Pring’--True pygmy with three-inch leaves, dusty-pink
   flowers lighter in the center.

   ‘Patricia’--One of the few small tropicals with crimson flowers,
   brown-metal buds. Young plants are borne on the leaves.

   _tetragona (pygmaea)_--Smallest of all, with long-lasting
   two-inch white flowers with a fragrance like China tea,
   four-inch soft green leaves. Easy to grow, even in shallow
   water. The variety alba, or white pygmy, seems the same to me
   as the variety helvola, an old hybrid usually listed as yellow
   pygmy, and is even smaller than the species, with brown-blotched
   leaves and glowing yellow, star-shaped flowers.

   ‘Royal Purple’--A new red-purple, tropical lily.

_Floating Plants_

Another advantage of miniature pools is that any of the attractive
surface plants that multiply too fast can be easily scooped out as
often as you wish. And they are unusually attractive in forms, colors,
and textures. Feeding from nutrients in solution in the water, they
make shade for fish, and their dangling roots provide a safe place for
fish to spawn. Simply drop the plants in the water and let them grow.
Or, if you want them to raise a family, put some soil in a shallow spot
where the roots can anchor. Most are annuals, to be bought each year.

_Oxygenating Plants_

These are aquatics that grow down in the water and help keep it
sweet and clean. Bunches of some can be simply dropped in the pool.
But all will grow better and save you the trouble of replacing them
if their roots are in soil, in pots set on the pool floor. Although
they’re mostly perennials, we prefer to start each season with a fresh
supply. They’re available in variety at pet stores or by mail from
lily specialists. Since they’re neither true miniature plants nor
as decorative as they are functional, separate descriptions are not
included here.

_Other Aquatic Plants_

With the water lilies and other aquatics, these are the only plants
that can grow with their roots standing in water--some in deeper water
than others. With few exceptions, this does not mean sour, stagnant
water. Even in bogs there is some circulation. Adding chunks of
charcoal that absorbs impurities will often help keep the water fresh
and healthful.

Some of these plants are hardy, some are not; some need their roots in
soil; some can do without it; some are better growing in the water of
the pool; some in the boggy soil beside it.

Earlier in this chapter I said I had never built a pool. I meant that
I had never done it personally and worried about water levels and
the general engineering. But we have had several pools, little more
than puddles, which my husband constructed. Small though they were,
they gave us the chance to enjoy water lilies and bog plants. It was
then that I began to realize the delights and magnitude of this sort
of gardening. Someday I hope to have a pond of some size--a spot for
lilies, frogs, and goldfish and all of those things G. L. Thomas, Jr.,
writes about so charmingly in his book, _Garden Pools, Water-Lilies
and Goldfish_. I also get great pleasure out of the catalogues
several suppliers send out. They are most delightful reading. Read
that book, and the catalogues, and I know you will be converted to

                             _CHAPTER 13_

                          MINIATURE WOODLAND
                          GARDENS AND PLANTS

For ten years we lived within the boundaries of New York City in a
big, old house that occupied more than a third of the squared, bare
eighty-by-hundred-foot lot. Now we have a smaller house, and the
gardenable land is completely surrounded by woodlands where native
plants grow as they please. In both places we’ve had small woodland
gardens; and no matter how pleasurable our other plantings, we’ve loved
these best.

If your idea of a pretty garden centers around statuesque delphiniums,
precise rows of roses, bold splashes of boisterous color, you may call
insipid what we find enchanting. But if your senses respond to the
fresh, sharp aroma of moist woods soil, the whispering of trees, the
patterns of cool shadows, the shy delicacy of the spring beauty, or the
gnome-like pomposity of a Jack-in-the-pulpit, be sure to have at least
a tiny woodland garden, whether you have to create a spot for it or
have it naturally. Once established, it gives more refreshment for less
care than any other garden I know.

                          NATURALISTIC DESIGN

Here, of course, there is no place for classic or contemporary formal
design. The single purpose is to create, or re-create, a small
section of the woods with the shade, humus, and other environmental
conditions woodsy plants can’t live without. The essence of the
tiniest planting--even a colony of trillium at the foot of a spreading
evergreen--is its naturalness. It doesn’t look planted, it belongs;
it’s been there all the time. And it looks natural, of course, because
it’s been planned that way.

Planning a woodland garden for the informal landscape is simplified by
the fact that you begin with what you have--a shaded spot (preferably
shaded by trees that drop needles or leaves, to enrich the soils) where
hot, dry summer winds can’t parch the plants. There may be a natural
stream, rocks, a slope, a hollow; or a place to put a rustic bench,
rotting log, small pool--a focal point harmonious with the naturalistic
theme. Or the size, shape, or contour of the garden may make it the
object of interest without additional accent.

I know of one design that began with pruning a stunted sapling to
reveal its bonsai-like lines, another that featured the trunk of a
rheumatic, old, lightning-shattered evergreen. A soggy, low spot can
be planted as a bog and backed up by rocks and shrubs. A brook can
be coaxed to make space for a small, hummocky island. The narrow,
meandering, stepping-stone path through the sharp point of our land
invites you to take a walk in the woods.

Originality has challenging freedom in creating a woodland garden
for level, regularly shaped grounds. You may replace the ubiquitous
pachysandra in the needle-carpeted shade of a tall pine tree with
native plants. Or use one of those difficult areas such as the angle
of a hedge, wall, foundation or shaded patio; an unused corner of the
property; the space underneath an overhanging bay window.

We used a useless area, about six feet wide and less than thirty feet
long, between our city house and the property line, shaded not only
by a few straggling pines but also by the house next door. There was
a path, a pool, and a little bench. This was the last place I visited
before I left for work in the morning, and the first when I came home
at night. Somehow, the flower face of a bloodroot with a shawl of
unrolling leaf around its shoulders had added piquancy in the city,
where building banished the wild flowers a hundred years ago. The bloom
of the first lady-slipper was a noteworthy triumph; the green of the
ferns seemed specially fresh and mossy; the blue of the bottle gentians
was almost unbelievable.

                           CLEARING THE SITE

Even when we planned that metropolitan oasis, there were a few
existing features we carefully kept--a valiant, five-leaved woodbine
to train over the rail fence that kept out the trampling feet of the
neighborhood small fry; a scrubby shrub I never managed to identify,
which had voluntarily masked an ugly cellar window; a few precious
patches of moss.


   A wild garden in New York City]

In Connecticut, of course, the area was almost completely overgrown,
mostly by poison ivy. After that was cleared away, undesirable
undergrowth was removed, leaving a rock here, a dogwood or azalea
there. Baring the ground let us see more clearly what we had to work


   A wild flower grows in New York City: bloodroot]

When the ground is cleared, the designer makes a final decision about
permanent features such as steps, path, pool, bog, bench. You might
make a mental note of the place where an old tree stump might be
artfully installed, when you find one, or where a dead branch might
fall and make a background for some small plants. Of course, these
are all kept carefully in scale and harmony. A path should be narrow
and not sharply defined, perhaps just a series of barely matched flat
stones. Steps are not conspicuous, but made to look as natural as


The next is the most laborious but most vitally important part of the
procedure--supplying suitable soil. Woods plants grow naturally in soil
so rich in humus that it will hold many times its weight in water.
Season after season the trees drop leaves, needles, twigs, and branches
that decay and maintain the high level of humus, which contains
micro-organisms that help sustain the plants. In our area and in most
other woodsy sections, forest soil is very acid. But the loam in a
cleared area adjoining the forest may contain little or no humus, and
may not be nearly acid enough for the native plants growing a hundred
feet away.

When a miniature woodland garden is planted in a wild, woodsy spot,
the soil is probably suitable, and the trees will probably keep it
that way. Then, you simply use plants that thrive naturally where the
amount of available light, and the composition of the soil, are the
same or similar. Otherwise, you need to prepare the soil thoroughly and
deeply--a minimum of eight inches, and up to eighteen inches for small
native shrubs.

You’ll need incredible quantities of leaf mold, very old manure, or
composted leaves and grass. Over humus-poor soil, spread a layer of
at least six inches, and mix it in by digging the soil and turning it
over several times. At the same time, remove matted roots, stones, and
other unwanted obstructions to planting. For a very small garden, you
may find it simpler to remove all the soil to a depth of twelve to
eighteen inches, and replace it completely with humus and leaf mold
brought in from the woods or purchased for the purpose. Leaf mold, by
the way, is the layer of partially decayed leaves immediately under
the top layer of whole leaves; humus, in the next layer down, is more
completely decayed. Don’t buy humus from door-to-door salesmen offering
“big bargains.” This is a racket the police and Better Business Bureau
are trying to extinguish. Buy only from a nurseryman you can trust.

While you’re conditioning soil, make sure there is good drainage. Only
bog plants will grow with their roots in muck or standing water. You
may need an initial layer of fine gravel or course sand. Raising the
surface of the garden will also help.

If you think that the importance of suitable humus-rich soil is either
exaggerated or overrated, think also of this: With the type of light
and humus (usually acid) in which they grow naturally, woodland plants
will settle down contentedly in your garden and establish families and
colonies that increase every year. If you don’t provide it, they’ll get
homesick and pine away. Not only that, but once they’ve made themselves
at home, they’ll require practically no care. They don’t want to be
cultivated, fertilized, weeded, watered, mulched, or given special
protection in winter, as long as there are trees that drop leaves. The
most you might have to do will be making sure the leaves aren’t blown
away, or, if there are no trees, lugging in leaves from somewhere else.


Although plants are chosen for any garden according to light, soil,
moisture, and other cultural requirements, woodland plants permit less
leeway than most others. This is a matter of ecology, defined as “the
total impact of the environment and the plant’s accommodation to it.”
Some delicate plants are, of course, less adaptable than other more
rugged species. Check catalogues, reference books, and other sources to
learn all you can about each plant before you plant it.

A quick word about shade. There is full shade, or deep shade, created
all year by evergreens, walls, or buildings. And there is woodland
shade created only in summer by deciduous trees. The hill near our
house where rattlesnake plantain, pipsissewa, and pink lady-slippers
grow is dark and cool in summer, but bright in spring, fall, and winter
when the trees are bare of leaves. This is an important distinction.

In the interest of conservation--American wild flowers are threatened
not only by bulldozers but also by thoughtless, criminally careless
humans--private woodland gardens often become the home for plants dug
from the wild. Last fall, one of my dearest friends methodically moved
dozens of maidenhair ferns into a tiny bit of woods on her property
to save them from extinction when their fronds were being picked in
bunches to fill out bouquets. But this is conservation only when the
plants are transplantable (a number of the most precious species are
not) and are moved to quarters with growing conditions to their liking.
Otherwise, they might as well die where they are.

In digging woodland plants, always dig deep and take as much of the
surrounding soil as possible, and disturb the roots as little as you
can. Protect the transplants against drying sun and wind until they are
set in their new homes. If you can dig them with the roots intact, you
can take most plants at any time during the growing season. The safest
times are immediately after flowering or during fall dormancy.

Unless it is a matter of conservation, I never dig woodland plants.
I buy them (they’re surprisingly inexpensive) from a local nursery
or from several mail-order specialists. The nursery plants are
pot-grown, and even fussy types transplant without loss. By mail they
arrive bare-rooted--in early fall for all but the summer and fall
varieties--but crisp and lively in their packing of moist sphagnum
moss. Sometimes they even start to send out new roots and sprouts en
route. If I can, I get mail-order plants into the ground before dusk on
the day they arrive. Soil around transplants is kept moist and mulched
with leaves until they take hold.

Years ago some suppliers collected the plants they sold, and some
sources of slow-spreading types were completely devastated. Today, I
believe, specialists grow their stocks of woodland plants, either under
glass or in woodsy nurseries. They’re doing more to preserve these
native treasures than to annihilate them.

The best of all sources is by propagation--seeds, cuttings, division
of wild plants--because you’re not only increasing the population, but
you’re also starting with plants that from babyhood are accustomed to
your growing conditions and don’t have to make difficult adjustments.
Even though it may be slow, this is the only method for a number of
nontransplantable species.

If the garden contains shrubs that will serve as background for small,
shy woodland plants, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, you may want to plant
some (these, too, are available by mail), because few native woods
plants are spectacular enough to make a big display of their own. And
because woods plants are modest, they’re best planted in colonies a
half dozen or more of one species, not in mixed colors or varieties.
Set the groups in the foreground, where they’re easy to see. Allow
plenty of space between groups for natural increase without crowding.
Arrange more striking, tall, spiky plants here and there to add the
interest of accent, just as you would in a conventional flower bed.

Care after planting includes the expected careful watering, and keeping
the plants moist and shielded from heat and wind until they are growing
on their own. For their first winter, you may want to supplement the
natural mulch of leaves with salt hay or something similarly light and
airy, held in place by chicken wire or branches. This mulch must be
removed extra early for early-flowering species. By their second season
the plants should be ready to be watered by rain, and fed and protected
by trees, without your help. Don’t fiddle with them, pull off leaves or
seed pods, or move them about unless you must.


These are, of course, hardy perennials. Except for seeds, propagating
methods are much the same as for cultivated types. It is important only
that, if possible, you find out what is the most effective (often, the
only) way each plant can be reproduced. If you can’t track down this
information, try several ways at once. In general, those with masses of
fibrous roots can be divided immediately after flowering. For upright
and branching types, you can usually root stem cuttings in a frame or
propagating box. If everything else fails, try layering. You can’t lose
anything by it.

Seeds are planted the minute they are ripe, in a cold frame--or in
flats that can be set in the cold frame--in a finely sifted mixture of
equal parts of loam, woods leaf mold, and coarse sand. For varieties
adapted to extremely acid soil, use half as much coarse sand as
Michigan peat, without soil. For added insurance, acidify the planting
mix with leaf mold or peat, or neutralize it with lime, until the
_p_H is somewhere near that of the soil the plant grows naturally

Set the flats in shade and keep the soil moist, and leave the seeds
to their own devices, summer and winter, until they germinate. Some
species take two months, some take two years. After germination they
are handled exactly like other perennial seedlings, except that the
only safe fertilizer is very weak liquid manure at very infrequent
intervals. Tender types should be grown in pots until they are fully
mature, before they’re set out in the garden.

                      PLANTS FOR WOODLAND GARDENS

=Aquilegia canadensis= _Ranunculaceae_ Columbine

Although the native Eastern columbine can grow two feet tall, it
seems to stay closer to six inches in my woodland garden and on the
banks that line our Pine Tree Road. The clover-like leaves, and
characteristic columbine flowers with yellow sepals and knobbed red
spurs, are scaled down proportionately.

CARE. Poor, dry soil, acid (strong to neutral). Fertilizer promotes
growth that is too rank. Full sun to three-quarter shade.


SPECIAL USES. Woodland planting, bank planting.

=Arisaema triphyllum= _Araceae_ Jack-in-the-Pulpit

The pulpit stands eight inches tall or more, curving up and over the
stiff preacher-like spadix in late spring. The divided leaves also
exceed true miniature size. But prim Jack spreads himself slowly enough
to allow him entry to all but the very tiniest woodland garden; and his
comical dignity is not to be dispensed with.

CARE. Humus-rich soil, moist. Shade or light shade.

PROPAGATION. Tuberous roots.

SPECIAL USES. Wild gardens.

=Asarum= _Aristolochiaceae_ Wild Ginger

In the Northern part of the country this is a deciduous plant, while
in much of the South it retains its kidney-shaped leaves. Its purplish
flowers are somewhat hidden under the foliage. There are three general

   _canadense_--Eastern wild ginger.

   _caudatum_--Western wild ginger.

   _shuttleworthi_--Mottled wild ginger (native of Virginia
   and South).

CARE. Rich soil, moist. Shade or partial shade.


SPECIAL USES. Wild gardens, ground cover.

=Asplenium= _Polypodiaceae_ Spleenwort (Fern)

Lilliputian, native evergreen fern with deeply cut fronds.

   _platyneuron_--ebony sweetheart--Eight-inch feathery fronds
   with brownish-purple stems in tidy circles. (Needs acid soil.)

   _trichomanes_--maidenhair spleenwort--Thick, closely
   clustered three-to five-inch fronds with crowds of little
   one-inch leaflets on black ribs. Plant it sideways, its roots in
   a rock crevice, with leaf mold and a touch of lime.

CARE. Soil acid or neutral according to variety. Leaf mold. Shade.


SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, rock gardens, wild gardens.

=Camptosorus rhizophyllus= _Polypodiaceae_ Walking Fern

Small native evergreen fern, hardy from Canada to Georgia. Its name
comes from the fact that the fronds are pointed on the ends and root on
contact with the soil. It prefers to creep around limy rocks.

CARE. Lime-bearing soil, shade, dry. Hardy.

PROPAGATION. Root division.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, rock gardens, wild gardens.

=Claytonia virginica= _Portulacaceae_ Spring Beauty

When the leaves of the forest trees are barely ready to break out in
early spring, this lovely little plant is already in full bloom down on
the ground. It makes colonies and even mats of precious white flowers
which are tinged and streaked with pink and scarcely a half-inch
across. But before the trees are in full leaf the spring beauty has
gone back to sleep and disappeared, flowers, five-inch grass-like
leaves, and all.

CARE. Woodsy soil, moist, shady or semishady.


SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, bog gardens, swamp planting.

=Clintonia= _Liliaceae_

Woodsy plants spreading out into colonies by underground rhizomes. The
leaves are rather broad, and thin and glassy. The little lily-like
flowers are held atop stems above. The berries that follow are blue,
blue-black, or black.

   _borealis_--broadlily--Nodding, greenish-yellow flowers on
   seven-inch stems in May. Berries are blue, a half-inch long.

   _umbellata_--Leaves lightly fuzzy; purple-spotted white
   flowers in clusters; shiny black berries.

   _uniflora_--Western native with one precious flower per
   stem (one and a half inches across), berries bright blue.

CARE. Rich, humusy, acid soil. Shade or partial shade. Moist.

PROPAGATION. Division of roots in spring.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, bog planting.

=Convallaria majalis= _Liliaceae_ Lily of the Valley

This fragrant ground cover is a favorite for under trees and other
shady spots. Perhaps it spreads too fast for very small gardens. The
oval, lily-like leaves are lasting, but not evergreen. The dangling
flowers, all on the same side of the stem, are like scalloped
petticoats. Unless you need a ground cover, try one of the fancier and
less robust varieties, such as rosea, with light-pink flowers that
fade to near-white in the sun. Or try flore plens with double white

CARE. Garden soil, shade, moist, hardy. Persists for years and doesn’t
have to be touched. If you want to increase your planting, dig and thin
every three years.

PROPAGATION. Division of small bulbs.

SPECIAL USES. Ground cover, forcing in February and March.

=Coptis trifolia= _Ranunculaceae_ Goldthread

This tiny bog plant, only four inches high, has three-way clover-like
leaves and tiny white waxy flowers. It creeps and spreads by means of
thready yellow roots.

CARE. Humusy, peaty, sandy, and decidedly acid soil. Plant needs a
cool, moist location and will not survive warmth and dryness.

SPECIAL USES. Bog planting.

=Cornus canadensis= _Cornaceae_ Bunchberry, Creeping Dogwood

This is a real dogwood, but a very miniature one. The stems standing
about six inches high are encircled by a whorl of rich green leaves.
Above are the up-facing flowers (in May), like elves wearing white
ruffs. The clusters of red berries are as gay as Christmas, in August.
After taking a year or so to get settled, the plants spread out into
colonies or clumps.

CARE. Rich woods soil, highly acid, damp, but with drainage. Shade,
cool location. Takes several years to get established. Needn’t be
disturbed once settled. Can be transplanted if large chunks of sod are
lifted with it.

PROPAGATION. Separate clumps when dormant. Seeds from ripe berries will
germinate the following spring.

SPECIAL USES. Bog planting, ground cover.

=Cryptogramma crispa= _Polypodiaceae_ Parsley Fern

This is a small alpine fern with clusters of six-inch evergreen fronds
so finely cut and frilled they could garnish a standing rib roast
in place of parsley. Don’t overlook this one when next planning a

CARE. Peaty, dry soil. Hardy.


SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, terrariums.

=Cypripedium= _Orchidaceae_ Lady-slipper, Moccasin Flower

This is the fabulous earth-growing orchid that is native to many parts
of the country, with culture varying accordingly. The broad, long
fresh leaves fold around the stem at the base. The flowers have a lip
inflated into a pouch and are in various colors.

   _acaule_--Northeastern native with dusty-pink flowers.
   Requires dry, sandy, woodsy, intensely acid soil, full shade.
   Difficult to transplant unless taken with a large amount of
   soil. Attempt it only after flowering, or in October. Don’t
   cover crown more than a half-inch. No good method of propagation
   is known.

   _calceolus pubescens_--Fuzzy yellow lady-slipper from
   moist, wooded hillsides of the North and mid-South. Not
   difficult to transplant and easy to grow. Likes dappled shade
   and slightly acid, humusy soil.

   _candidum_--Small white flowers marked and veined with
   brown and purple. From limy, marly bogs. Needs moisture and

CARE. Soil, moisture, and shade as described above.

PROPAGATION. Division when dormant.

SPECIAL USES. Rock and wild gardens. Can force.

=Dalibarda repens= _Rosaceae_ Dewdrop, False Violet

Precious little creeper, pretending to be a violet, with two-inch
heart-shaped leaves on long stems and five-petaled, half-inch white
flowers in July. A native of the Northeastern section.

CARE. A sheltered spot. Rich woodsy soil.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and division.

SPECIAL USES. Woodland and rock gardens.

=Epigaea repens= _Ericaceae_ Trailing Arbutus

Flat evergreen creeper with overlapping hairy stems and bright-green
oval leaves. In early spring it has white or pink phlox-like flowers,
not very large but interestingly fragrant. Although it is usually
cultivated in shady, protected spots, it can thrive in hot dry areas.

CARE. Humusy and very acid soil, sandy, with leaf mold. Good drainage.
Moist. Don’t dig wild plants which are difficult to transplant. Use
pot-grown plants.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings. Seed if strictly fresh.

SPECIAL USES. Wild gardens, rock planting.

=Erythronium= _Liliaceae_ Adder’s-Tongue, Trout Lily, Dogtooth Violet

A very large clan of bulbous wild flowers native to many parts of the
country. All species have the marks of family resemblance--two leathery
basal leaves, often beautifully marbled, and miniature lily flowers
nodding from the tops of central stems in spring. Height, usually six

   _albidum_--Leaves may be matted or not. In the East flowers
   are white, in April.

   _americanum_--Best-known Yankee with marbled leaves and
   bright-yellow flowers in April.

   _californicum_--fawn lily--Mottled leaves, creamy or
   pale-yellow flowers. (From California, of course.)

   _dens-canis_--dogtooth violet--European emigrant with green
   leaves splotched with brick red; flowers are rosy purple. Also
   available in white and other colors.

   _grandiflorum_--Giant of the family, plain leaves, golden
   flowers in clusters. The variety parviflorum has the most midget
   flowers. Western.

   _hendersoni_--Mottled leaves, dark-centered purple flowers.

   _revolutum_--Western with brown-blotched leaves,
   purple-tinged white or lavender flowers. The variety johnsoni
   has rosy-lilac flowers, white in the center.

   _tuolumnense_--California with unmarked chartreuse leaves,
   large deep-yellow flowers.

CARE. Woodsy soil, not especially acid, with leaf mold. Drainage.
Moist, never hot and dry. Winter mulch.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, offsets (from underground stolons).

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, woodland gardens, forcing.

=Goodyera pubescens= _Orchidaceae_ Rattlesnake Plantain

This terrestrial herb is a close relative of the most glamorous of
orchids and bears no resemblance to a reptile or the weed that is part
of its common name. On the woodland floor you will come upon it as a
flat cluster of durable, oval, deep-green leaves with gleaming-white
veins that cross and recross in a delicate pattern. Perhaps you will
find it in bloom with tiny whitish flowers on tall spikes.

CARE. Woodsy acid soil, with humus. Slightly damp. Cool. Shade. North
side of a glacial ridge is ideal.

PROPAGATION. If possible, buy section of root from dealer who
specializes in woodland plants and seeds. Pick sparingly in the woods,
by breaking off section of rhizome with rootlets and plant. New plant
will appear in about one month.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, woodland gardens.

=Hepatica= _Ranunculaceae_ Liverleaf

Six-inch evergreen plants that shed their old leathery leaves for new
after the blue-lavender (or pinkish-white) flowers fade and fall in May.

   _acutiloba_--Sharp-lobed hepatica, distinguished by the
   points on the lobes of its leaves. (Needs alkaline soil.)

   _americana (triloba)_--Round-leaved hepatica with dainty
   flowers on stems upholstered with silky hairs. Leaves maroon in

CARE. Not too acid soil. Full shade. Drainage. Not difficult to
transplant but needs time to get established. Plants in the woods best
dug in the fall.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, division of roots.

SPECIAL USES. Woodland gardens, colonies.

=Houstonia= _Rubiaceae_ Bluets, Quaker Lady

This is an enchanting wildling with grass-like leaves and flowers less
than a half-inch across in the shape of four-pointed stars. It is a
very profuse bloomer throughout the spring and early summer.

   _caerulea_--Northeastern favorite with leaves in tufts
   about an inch high. Flowers are blue or lilac, often fading to
   white in the sun. Seeds itself willingly.

   _purpurea_--Larger than miniature, and native from Maryland
   to Georgia. It makes a soft evergreen foliage mat, and in July
   has purple flowers, several per stem.

   _serpyllifolia_--creeping bluets--The stems stretch out
   to ten inches or more with little half-inch teardrop leaves.
   Sky-blue flowers.

CARE. Loamy, acid soil with peat. Moist. Part shade.

PROPAGATION. Division. Some varieties are self-seeding.

SPECIAL USES. Rock and woodland gardens.

=Lemna minor= _Lemnaceae_ Duckweed

This tiny one is often called the “smallest known flowering plant.”
A floating plant that has quarter-inch leaves (actually the body or
“thallus”), it has hair-like rootlets and flowers so small one needs a
magnifying glass to see them. In the fall the plants sink to the bottom
of the pond, to rise again in the spring.

CARE. No attention is needed.

PROPAGATION. None necessary. Increases naturally.

SPECIAL USES. Dish-garden pools, rock-garden pools, fish food.

=Lycopodium= _Lycopodiaceae_ Club Moss

In prehistoric times this was a towering tree; now it is a moss-like
poor relation of the ferns, bearing needle-like leaves and spores
instead of flowers.

   _clavatum_--running pine--Slowly but steadily the stems
   creep over the woodland floor, sending up four-inch stems at
   lax intervals, each with several spikes packed tightly with
   needle-like leaves.

   _complanatum_--ground cedar--The stems trail faster and
   more sturdily, the erect branches dividing and spreading out to
   a lacy green fan.

   _lucidulum_--shining club moss--Trailing stems turn upright
   at the tips and are covered completely with glassy, dark-green

   _obscurum_--ground pine--Christmas trees in miniature about
   six inches tall and popping up from stems that creep about

CARE. Rich, woodsy soil, not especially acid. Shade, moist.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings. Division of roots at joints.

SPECIAL USES. Terrariums, ground cover.

=Mitchella repens= _Rubiaceae_ Partridgeberry

This native creeper bears the popular partridgeberries widely used to
fill “Partridge Bowls” at Christmastime. It has glassy green leaves
which are close to the ground with the berries beneath them. In the
springtime it has fragrant, fuzzy white flowers. (Note to those who
hunt the berries in the woods: pick from the tallest plants and do not
tear up the roots.)

CARE. Rich woodsy soil, not especially acid. Drainage. Shade. Cut back
to encourage branching. Transplants easily.

PROPAGATION. Divide rooting stems.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, terrariums, woodland gardens.

=Mitella= _Saxifragaceae_ Bishop’s Cap

For shady rock and wild gardens here is a saxifrage-like plant with
mounds of heart-shaped leaves and spires of finely fringed flowers on
tall stems.

   _breweri_--Pacific Coast native with deep-green leaves and
   whiskery yellow-green flowers (in May and June).

   _caulescens_--Also from the Pacific Coast. More dainty, and
   more difficult.

   _diphylla_--East Coast native with eight-inch flower spikes
   on taller stems. White flowers (in April and May).

CARE. Rich woodsy soil. Drainage, shade.


SPECIAL USES. Rock and wild gardens.


   Garden in the landscape in the finest tradition--it features
   _Azalea macrantha basaminæflora_, _Juniperus
   radicans_, and Calluna County Wicklow. (_Atlantic Avenue
   Nursery, Inc._)]

=Podophyllum peltatum= _Berberidaceae_ May Apple

The May apple, a native of much of the country, is actually too large
for most small wild gardens, but find a place for it if possible. In
spring it is fascinating to watch the stumpy stems push up through the
ground and the foliage slowly unfold to wide flat leaves. Then come
gold-centered white flowers and finally the “apple” in chartreuse and
nearly two inches long. (It is edible only when fully ripe.)

CARE. Rich woodsy soil. Shade, or partial shade.

PROPAGATION. Root division.

SPECIAL USES. Wild-garden planting.

       *       *       *       *       *

_(Additional plant listings suitable for woodland gardens can be
found in Chapter 15.)_

                             _CHAPTER 14_

                      MINIATURE TREES AND SHRUBS

There’s a chamaecyparis that forms a fluffy, green two-inch ball
by the time it’s seven years old; a cone-shaped Norway spruce that
rarely grows more than twelve inches tall; a one-foot rhododendron
with deep-crimson trumpet flowers; a nonfruiting viburnum that makes a
two-foot globe tightly packed with ivy-like leaves. There are junipers
that form plush carpets; ericaceous evergreens with neat mounds of
twinkling flowers over shiny teardrop leaves; deciduous shrubs with
golden blooms, seeds in silky pea pods, and green stems that look leafy
the year round.

That is just a tantalizing hint of the fantastic variety of little
trees and shrubs, and how they can steal the show in the garden. We
have three magnificent pines on Pine Tree Road (it may have been named
for them) but our guests are more likely to comment about the starry
cushions of _Leiophyllum buxifolium_ beside the front walk. We dug
and lugged tons of rock to make beds for our favorite roses, but the
small edging plants draw more attention. When the rock garden is a mass
of flamboyant spring color, we’ll be asked the name of a heather that’s
not even in flower, or the juniper (_Juniperus procumbens nana_)
two inches high that spreads like velvet over a rock.

There are miniatures among all types of trees and shrubs--deciduous
and evergreen, broad-leaved and needle-leaved. Those described in this
chapter are almost all three feet tall or less at maturity, or are so
extremely slow-growing they seldom top that height in twenty years. In
just a few cases, slightly taller varieties are included, which can be
kept to three feet or less with a little pruning. Some low types are
omitted because they spread too rambunctiously to be called miniatures
or to be suitable for small gardens.

These limitations automatically exclude the small, flowering trees and
shrubs, and dwarf fruit trees, that are part of the over-all landscape
plan for small grounds. They’re not really miniature garden items, but
background features around which miniature gardens are planned.

We’ve thought of a dozen different ways to use the really midget trees
and shrubs, and I imagine there must be dozens more. We have a colony
of tiny rhododendrons blooming at the base of a boulder, and another
near an old stump at the edge of the woods. Several sprawly evergreens
and some precious ericaceous gems adorn the rock garden and spots near
the front terrace.

There are plenty of miniature shrubs of varying heights, foliage,
colors and textures, and flowering times to compose a small shrubbery
border, with tiny bulbs to plant along the edge. Small trees and shrubs
can be used as background for mixed borders of small annuals and
perennials; evergreens can make a setting for miniature rose gardens.
Almost any small pool, wall, raised bed, or set of steps provides a
place to plant the right tree or shrub. And, of course, these are
perfect plants for sink and trough gardens, bonsai work, or even for
indoor forcing in the greenhouse.

If you can’t find the varieties you want at your local nursery, you
can order them by mail from reliable suppliers. Either way, plants
that have been transplanted regularly by the grower develop a compact
system of fibrous roots rather than a few long straggly tap-like roots,
will take hold faster and transplant easier, will fit into your garden
quicker. All that will make you a happier gardener.

Don’t be surprised if miniature trees and shrubs cost more than the
regular varieties of the same name. The little fellows take much longer
to reach that size, and require more costly care. Many of them are
difficult to propagate, some even have to be grown from seed.

Your first thought in selecting a miniature tree or shrub, of course,
is the decorative effect it is planned to achieve--whether it should
be formally upright and symmetrical, or irregularly shaped and
naturalistic; whether it is to act as an accent or specimen, or as a
background or blender. Consider the texture of the foliage, the time
and manner of flowering, whether the colors will fight with others in
the garden. Plant deciduous types where they won’t be an eyesore in
winter, or select one with an attractive winter habit and appearance.
Make sure the plant and all its parts are in scale with the setting and
with other plants.

Once you decide that a variety will look right in your garden, make
sure it will also grow right. A plant that needs full sun will not
flower in a shady spot. Acid-loving plants will not flourish in
alkaline soil. Those that like their roots kept cool and moist will
wither where it is hot and dry. Watch for unfavorable factors such
as high walls, drip from overhanging eaves, low, muggy spots where
there is little circulation of fresh air. If the plant requires a lot
of pruning, training, and spraying, make sure you have the time to
take care of its well-being. A healthy, easy-to-care-for barberry is
infinitely more ornamental than a glamorous shrub struggling to stay


The main factor that determines whether a plant will live through the
winter in your garden (and it is a factor you can’t control) is minimum
winter temperature. This is the basis for the newest (1960) Plant
Hardiness Zone Map issued by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Other
uncontrollable factors include: How long the low temperature will last;
how early and suddenly a freak freeze occurs; whether or not winter
provides a beneficial blanket of continuous snow; whether there are
punishing gales with driving sleet and encrusting ice.

But even in severe areas, or with plants of questionable hardiness,
there are some ways we can increase the odds against winter-kill.
Selection of suitable varieties, careful planting in favorable
locations (never in low “pockets” where frost settles, or where
water collects around roots under eaves or around walls), careful
fertilizing, winter protection, prevention of attacks by insects and
disease--all of the cultural principles that promote healthy, thriving
growth, will help to increase winter hardiness. In other words, “The
combined effects of all (climatic and cultural) factors determine the
true plant adaptability.”

Actually, true hardiness means more than mere winter survival. A tree
or shrub is hardy when it can live through many years to maturity,
and when it not only survives but develops normally and completes its
annual growth cycle. For example, in some sections, very late or very
early frosts will kill flower buds on some varieties. Trees and shrubs
that require a period of winter dormancy are not hardy in Florida,
where there is no protracted cold period. In arid areas where summers
are extremely hot, dry, and windy, hardiness may depend on how much
time you have to spare for special care.

If you would avoid disappointment, especially with rather expensive
miniature trees and shrubs, buy the strongest, healthiest plants of the
varieties most suitable to your climate, and do all you can to satisfy
each individual’s cultural needs. Thus, unfavorable weather has two
strikes against it from the start.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

No matter how careful we are, fall planting is seldom successful for
us in Connecticut. But in spring planting it seems as if we can’t
miss. Once we were given a dozen ornamental shrubs--named varieties of
virburnum, lilac, and two of the supposedly tricky caryopteris--whose
bare roots had been out of the ground for several weeks. The
caryopteris and one invincible lilac even flowered that year!

In early spring, just before they awaken from dormancy (or a little
later when new growth and buds are starting to show), woody plants
have more vitality than at any other time of the year. Vigorous
new roots grow faster. And the plants have a full growing season
to get established before winter sets in. We start planting the
minute the soil dries enough to be workable, sometimes as early as
March. Of course, spring-flowering varieties are safest if they are
container-grown or balled and burlapped.

Early fall planting is fine for milder climates--from the time the
season’s growth has matured on evergreens, or when deciduous varieties
begin to drop their leaves, until the ground freezes. Except for
container-grown plants, winter planting is usually recommended for the
South, when the plants are as nearly dormant as possible.

Bare-root plants (risky for evergreens) should be kept moist until they
are put into the ground. Thoroughly soak the roots, and even the stems,
in a bucket of water. The roots and soil of balled and burlapped plants
should also be kept moist. Either way, protect the transplants against
wind and sun until they’re set out.

Dig a planting hole wide enough for the roots to spread out in without
bending or crowding, with an extra six inches of loosened soil in the
bottom for them to penetrate. This is the time to check on drainage,
one of the most important factors in plant survival. Run some water in
the hole--enough to fill it. If the water seeps away fairly fast, the
drainage is probably good. If it remains for any length of time, you’d
better dig much deeper and remove the subsoil. Fill in with sharp sand
or fine gravel for about six inches.

Enrich or condition the topsoil that you dug out, before you replace
it around the roots. Set trees and shrubs at the same level they
were growing in the nursery, never more than an inch or so deeper.
The burlap around a soil ball doesn’t need to be loosened. It will
rot away rather quickly. Fill in around the roots until the hole is
three-fourths full; flood with water to settle soil in any air pockets;
let it drain; and finish filling the hole until it is just level with
the surface, but don’t mound it up. A raised ridge around the edge of
the hole will form a saucer to hold water until it runs down to the
roots. Water again, slowly and thoroughly, so that the soil in the hole
and some of the surrounding area is thoroughly saturated.

A newly planted tree or shrub is likely to wilt in sun or dry wind
unless you provide some temporary shelter or shading. This is rather
simple to do. An upturned basket over a small shrub, or a screen of
light cheesecloth, or an old window curtain, or a piece of burlap
suspended on stakes will suffice.


What you do to enrich or condition topsoil depends on the existing
soil, and on each plant’s individual preferences. Add sharp sand to
heavy, clay-like soil to improve the drainage. If you have extra-sandy
soil, add moisture-holding peat or leaf mold. Almost any soil is
improved by mixing in liberal amounts of organic matter such as leaf
mold or well-rotted manure. We seldom add fertilizer for miniature
trees and shrubs.

If your soil is alkaline, and you are planting acid-loving varieties,
use liberal quantities of well-rotted cow manure, acid peat, or
woodsy soil from under pine, beech, or oak trees. To neutralize, or
alkalinize, acid soil, use horticultural lime.

_Watering and Mulching_

Transplanted trees and shrubs should be watered with extra care during
their first growing season. Soil should be kept moist constantly,
but not muddy, to the full depth of the roots. Don’t rely on light
rains that moisten only the surface. During hot, dry periods, spray
the foliage with the garden hose as often as possible. A light, airy
mulch--buckwheat hulls, crushed sugar cane, or something similar--will
help keep the soil from drying out and keep it cooler, too.

Established trees and shrubs are kept moist during the spring and
summer growing seasons. But in August and September, when the year’s
new growth is maturing and hardening for the winter, less watering is
needed. Resume watering in October, and keep it up until the ground
freezes. It is particularly vital that evergreens--both needle-leaved
and broad-leaved--should never go into winter with dry soil about the


Feeding miniature plants too heavily sometimes can cause them to
outgrow miniature size. Actually, they don’t need a rich diet. An
annual top-dressing of well-rotted, or dried, cow manure, or a
light sprinkling of balanced commercial fertilizer, in early spring
is usually sufficient. Fertilizing in late summer or early fall
dangerously promotes soft new growth that is susceptible to winter


Most miniature trees and shrubs are best when allowed to keep their
natural habits and shapes, and pruned as little as possible. Of course,
damaged or broken branches should be cut away at planting time, or at
the end of the winter. Unwanted suckers, and any growth that is out of
line, ungainly, or unattractive can be removed at any time. Any other
pruning should be done in earliest spring before new leaves appear.
There is one exception. Spring-flowering varieties that bloom on last
year’s wood are pruned immediately after flowering. Fall pruning of any
type can stimulate new growth that may winter-kill.

Some evergreens, for example the mugho pine, are encouraged to branch
and keep more compact by breaking off half of the partially matured
“candles” at the ends of the branches. Evergreen or deciduous shrubs
sometimes are grown in formal shapes and, like hedges, trimmed
regularly in spring and summer.

Some summer-and fall-flowering shrubs, referred to as “cut-back” or
“die-back” types, are perfectly root-hardy although the tops are likely
to be partly, or completely, killed by winter. But they make new growth
each spring on which normal flowers and fruit are produced. Some of
these may grow too tall and awkward when the branches are killed back
only part way. To keep them small and shapely, cut all stems back to
mere stubs in earliest spring.

_Insects and Diseases_

We’ve never had to hover over our garden constantly with duster and
spray gun, and I hope we never will. It’s a dull, tiresome, unrewarding
occupation--confusing and frustrating, too. There are so many different
kinds of pests, with so many different habits, appetites, and life
cycles, infesting so many different types of plants in so many
different ways, that only an expert such as the county agricultural
agent, or “plant-doctor” Cynthia Westcott, can keep them straight. And
even Miss Westcott asks, “Is this spray necessary?”

Don’t misunderstand. We do have pests and diseases on our garden
plants; and we do fight them; and we’ve been known to mutter about the
injustice of it all. But we try not to let them take all of the joy out
of summer gardening.

Two or three times during the growing season we fill the tank of the
small pressure sprayer with a solution of “all-purpose” garden spray.
Everything in the garden gets the treatment, including shrubs and trees
we can reach without a tall ladder.

We also wage annual war against a few familiar enemies as soon as they
appear. In February we cut off twigs encircled by the brownish egg
bands of tent caterpillars. When the nests appear in spring we wipe
them out with rags or crumpled paper and spray the surrounding area
with DDT. When cankerworms are all over the place (as they were in the
spring of 1961), DDT protects the foliage of small plants, particularly
our precious miniature trees and shrubs. We discovered we couldn’t
possibly cope with the gigantic shade trees of the woods.

We have very few Japanese beetles since we started grub-proofing all
cultivated land. Any time after the ground thaws in spring, and through
October, we spray or dust with chlordane. Five pounds of 5 per cent
chlordane dust will treat a thousand square feet, can be bought for
about two dollars, and can be applied in an hour with a good-sized
duster. This treatment is effective for three years. The few beetles
that start working over the roses in midsummer quickly succumb to DDT.

The infrequent appearances of aphids are met with a dousing of nicotine
sulfate solution, and the same treatment is used for some kinds of
scale, although others require dormant oil spray. During one very hot
summer, mites yellowed some of our evergreens. Aramite, used faithfully
according to label directions, routed them. We do keep either sulfur
or Karathane on hand to combat mildew on plants such as roses where it
really matters. For any more complicated or unidentifiable problems, we
rely on the advice of our friendly county agent and his staff.

_Winter Protection_

Newly transplanted or very young trees and shrubs--or any of
questionable hardiness--need special protection against winter
severities. Our favorite method for small specimens is to pack salt
hay or leaves around them loosely and put an upturned basket on top.
Somewhat taller shrubs may be encircled with evergreen branches, the
ends being stuck in the ground and tied together over the tops. For
groupings of shrubs, we put a burlap barrier on the windward side,
especially for tender types, and sometimes make a tent of sorts.
Evergreens planted where the late winter sun might burn them need shade
of some sort--a lathed frame, snow fence, or the like.


This is one of my favorite addictions. I can’t resist planting any
seeds that come my way, can’t bear to discard an evergreen or a broken
branch of cotoneaster, can’t resist the impulse to root cuttings. As a
result, our rather small nursery bed is closely populated with small,
young shrubs and trees of all kinds. I doubt that we’ll ever find space
to plant them once they’re grown; and I imagine I could be rather
popular could I ever bring myself to give them away.

Propagating trees and shrubs is predominantly a trial-and-error
proposition because each variety has its own preferred method of
reproducing itself. Some are difficult to raise from seeds, some won’t
propagate any other way; some root readily from cuttings, some take
three years; some are amenable to layering, others are not. For me this
guesswork is a good thing. If _all_ my seeds and cuttings took
root and grew into bushes and trees, there’d be no challenge, no fun,
and no place to put them.

We always keep a propagating box handy--a shallow box or flat with
sides and top of glass or polyethylene. In summer it rests under a
tree; in winter it may be on an unheated porch, in the cold frame, or
in the greenhouse. The propagating medium may be Pelonex or perlite;
a three-way mixture of peat, vermiculite, and perlite; half-and-half
sterilized leaf mold and sharp sand (peat packs too hard for me); or
clean sharp sand alone. The medium is kept constantly moist but not
soggy and is never allowed to dry out. Cuttings are inserted in rows,
and removed for potting as soon as the roots are an inch or so long.
Sometimes seed is sown in part of the box, or we may rig up a second
box when we have a goodly number to plant. The glass, or plastic, sides
and top preserve moisture and keep the air humid.


Most types of shrubs and trees are rather slow to grow to maturity
from seed. And seeds of miniatures produce all-miniature seedlings
only when the seed-bearing parents are natural species with natural
miniature characteristics. Small varieties of larger species, “sports”
or mutations, can’t always be counted on to produce small offspring.

Seeds vary in the time they take to germinate (three weeks to three
years, depending on the plant) and in germination requirements. Some
need warmth, some cool temperatures, some darkness, some light. And
some need a period of dormancy or “after-ripening” before they are
planted. In a process of “stratification” seeds are stored in moist
sand for several months, usually at about 40 degrees or slightly less.
However, some types (cedar, mugho pine) need to be frozen; a few others
are stratified in warmth. Some seeds that you buy have already been
stratified. The package will tell you so.

Fleshy seeds, such as chestnuts, are usually planted as soon as they
ripen and fall. When seeds are covered with a fruity coat, like holly
berries, for example, the berry should be soaked in water for a few
days until the seeds can be squeezed free of the pulp. Hard-coated
seeds need to be gently cracked, or nicked, to hasten germination,
and can be sown outdoors in the fall to germinate the following
spring, or even the spring after that. Most winged seeds of conifers
need to be stratified (remove the wings) in moist sand all winter at
35 to 40 degrees and are planted in the spring. Fine seeds, as for
rhododendrons, can be harvested from the split pods in fall and stored
cool and dry until spring.

These are, of course, generalizations. When I am in doubt about how to
handle seeds, and if my reference books don’t give me the information I
need, I plant them several different ways. It is surprising how often
they’ll germinate, regardless of method.

There is, of course, one inviolable rule about planting seeds of any
sort--the planting medium should never dry out from the moment of
planting, through germination and up to transplanting time.

_Softwood Cuttings_

Take the ends of this year’s growth when it is half ripe, in summer, or
longer sections that can be cut into pieces with at least two buds or
“eyes.” Make the cut just a little below the node. Or on slow-rooting
plants, pull off the cutting with a sliver of the main stem (a “heel”)
attached to the rooting end. Remove the leaves at the base, and dip the
cut end in one of the hormone rooting powders if you wish. Check the
formula on the label to make sure you have the correct one for that
type of cutting, and follow the directions precisely. Insert cuttings
in rows in the propagating box and firm the medium around the stem ends.

Almost all deciduous trees and shrubs can be propagated from summer
softwood cuttings, and so can evergreens--both the needle-leaved and
the broad-leaved varieties. Needle-leaved evergreens can also be
produced from similar cuttings taken in late fall, but they seem to
take longer to make roots. With mild bottom heat in the greenhouse,
however, the process is fast enough so the cuttings are rooted before
time to set them out in the nursery in the spring.

_Hardwood Cuttings_

When deciduous trees and shrubs have dropped their leaves, and this
year’s growth has had additional ripening from a few sharp frosts, take
cuttings of the ends of branches that seem fairly thick and sturdy.
Cut off any immature tips, and trim the cuttings (of miniatures) to
four to six inches long. Tie a dozen or so into a bundle with covered
wire, or some similar tie that will neither rot nor injure the bark.
Bury the bundles (some growers bury them standing, some in a horizontal
position) so they are completely covered with soil in a cold frame,
or use a box that can be kept where the temperature will be cold but
not freezing. In spring, unbundle the cuttings and root them like any
others in a propagating box, greenhouse, frame, or nursery bed.


There are several different methods of attaching a stem or branch of
one tree or shrub to the roots of another until the two parts grow
together as one plant. So far, I’ve willingly left this field to the
professionals, or to amateurs who are seriously interested and make a
thorough study of it. I haven’t found the patience or free time for it.


Here is a foolproof method that guarantees a healthy new plant almost
every time. Although some root faster than others, there’s hardly a
tree or shrub with long or low-hanging branches that can’t be layered.
Of course, the safety lies in the fact that the new plant is part of,
and supported by, the parent plant until it is well rooted and strongly

In spring, when the plant is growing vigorously, select a low-hanging
branch that can be pulled down to the ground. At that spot nick the
bark, or slit the branch, to encourage rooting. Pin it down with a
forked twig, a hairpin, or a clothespin and cover the tip with a
little soil. When roots have formed and the tip is growing lustily, cut
the branch between the new plant and the parent, then pot or transplant
as you wish.

_Air Layering_

Plants that do not have a low branch are air-layered by nicking a
stem or branch three or four inches from the tip, covering the nick
with a ball of moist sphagnum moss, and wrapping the ball tightly in
polyethylene, which is tied tightly at both ends. Hormone rooting
powder can be applied to the nick with a small brush if you wish. Make
sure the moss doesn’t dry out. When you see several good-sized roots,
cut the stem below the ball, remove the plastic, and transplant or pot
as you wish. Rooting speed varies with different plants. Some take only
six weeks; some, several years.

Air layering can be done in spring, using ripened wood of last year’s
growth, or in summer with new growth that is not yet woody and hard.

                      MINIATURE TREES AND SHRUBS

=Abelia= _Caprifoliaceae_

Ornamental shrub, persistent or deciduous, often half evergreen,
spreading. Leaves simple, opposite, nearly stalkless. Flowers white
or pink tubular, persistent purplish sepals. Native of Asia Minor and

CARE. Semisun, or some protection. Well-drained soil with leaf mold.
Amenable to pruning. Cool greenhouse. Hardy in zones 4 and 5.

PROPAGATION. Greenwood cuttings in summer, ripe wood cuttings in
autumn, layering in spring, rarely from seed.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, hedges, ground cover, slopes, and as
specimens; use as an evergreen in mild climates.

=Abeliophyllum distichum= _Oleaceae_ White Forsythia, Korean Abelia

Deciduous ornamental shrub two to three inches high. White flowers in
dense clusters in May and June or in February in mild climates. Leaves
like the abelia, branches arching. Close relative to the forsythia;
flowers smaller but more of them. Deep-purple flower buds form in the

CARE. Sun, drainage, moist soil, hardy in zones 4 and 5. Too severe
winter weather may kill the buds for spring. Needs some cover.

PROPAGATION. Same as for abelia.

SPECIAL USES. Same as for abelia.


   Foliage details of popular miniature trees and shrubs

    _Chamaecyparis pisifera
    filifera aurea_]

  [Illustration: _Acer palmatum dissectum_]

=Abies= _Pinaceae_ Fir

Pyramidal evergreen trees with whorls and graceful branches. Cones are
erect; leaves flat, narrow, whitish on the underside with two lines,
and shiny green above. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish from
spruce, picea. (Spruce sheds leaves when dry, and its cones hang.)
Bark is smooth and thin when young, thick and furrowed when old. Dwarf
varieties are _A. balsamea nana_, _A. grandis nana_, _A. procera
(nobilis) glauca prostrata_, two feet high.

CARE. Cool, humid. Hardy in the North.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, grafting, seed.


=Andromeda= _Ericaceae_ Bog Rosemary

Low, dwarf evergreen shrubs with narrow leaves, urn or bell-shaped
pink flowers in May. Dwarf varieties are _A. glaucophylla_, less
than a foot tall with leathery green leaves lightly frosted beneath,
stems erect; and _A. polifolia_, a root-creeping species, the leaf
margins often rolled.

CARE. Cool, very acid soil, peaty, deep acid leaf mold. Prefers bog
garden; if among rocks, prepare soil to conform to above. Sun or part
shade. Very hardy.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings (mature wood under glass), layers,

SPECIAL USES. Rock and bog gardens.

=Azalea (Rhododendron)= _Ericaceae_

The azalea differs from the rhododendron only in technical points. The
size varies from tree-like to almost prostrate. It flowers from April
to June and is the most vivid of all shrubs. Colors pink, yellow,
salmon, purple, white, red, and orchid. Some are fragrant.

CARE. Acid soil, sun. Moist, unsuited for areas where there
is less than twenty-five inches of rainfall per year. Water after
flowering when plant is making new shoots. Reduce watering in summer.
Prune to check irregular growth after blooming season. Remove old
blooms. Fertilize after flowering. Dust soil with sulfur.

PROPAGATION. Seeds; layering, in air and in the soil;
cuttings. Balled and burlapped plants can be set out almost any time.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, foundation planting, bonsai.

=Betula nana= _Betulaceae_ Birch

Deciduous shrub, spreading and branching to two feet, leaves to
one-half inch long. When young the leaves are sticky and fuzzy on the
underside. A native of Alaska. Flowers, catkins.

CARE. Moist sandy soil.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (stratify at once), layering, green-wood cuttings
under glass.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, trough gardens.

=Bruckenthalia spiculifolia= _Ericaceae_ Balkan Heath

Evergreen, heath-like shrub ten inches high. Small pink bell flowers in
summer. Gives the effect of billowy daintiness.

CARE. Drainage and not soggy wet. Hardy, but mulch in zone 4 with salt
hay in winter. Sun; soil gritty and acid.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Rock and trough gardens.

=Buxus= _Buxaceae_ Box, Boxwood

Evergreen shrub, very small with clusters of small flowers.
Slow-growing; in fact, boxwood I set out two years ago seems hardly to
have changed in size. But we await the possibilities with anticipation
and patience. It is a versatile shrub.

CARE. Little or no care seems necessary. It grows in just about any
soil not sandy or rocky. It has shallow roots. We protect it in winter
with a light mulch. Plant in spring or late summer; use little or no
fertilizer. It accepts being pruned or sheared.

PROPAGATION. Hardwood cuttings, suckers, division, layering.

SPECIAL USES. Edging, foundation planting, bonsai, hedges, pots, and
dish gardens.

=Calluna vulgaris= _Ericaceae_ Heather, Ling

Low evergreen shrub, clusters of pinkish bell flowers in August and
September, leaves very small.

CARE. Soil light, peaty, sandy, with acid leaf mold. Full sun best but
light shade is acceptable. Drainage is necessary in winter but prevent
dehydration by dry winds. Hardy.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, layering, division.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, foundation planting, edging, containers.

=Caryopteris incana= _Verbenaceae_ Blue Spirea

Deciduous shrub, gray-green toothed leaves. Shrub grows to two or three
feet and forms a ball the same width; firmly packed with fuzzy, fringed
flowers in late summer, of blue or purplish tints.

CARE. Full sun, light soil, the sandier the better. Tolerates drought.
Not entirely hardy and may be killed-back but will bloom anyhow. Prune
severely in spring, making a more compact plant.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings of mature wood in August (root under glass),
layering, seeds.


=Cassiope lycopodioides= _Ericaceae_

Low evergreen from two to three inches high and formed in a fat dome of
the same width. Needle-like leaves are tiny and overlap like shingles.
Has white bell flowers in spring.

CARE. Moist and cool, part shade, soil peaty or sandy and acid. Suffers
in long hot summers or drought. Native of Siberia and Alaska.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings from mature wood in August (root under glass),
layering, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Rock and trough gardens.

=Chaenomeles (Cydonia)= _Rosaceae_ Japanese Quince, Flowering

Deciduous or semideciduous shrub with alternate toothed leaves of shiny
green tone. Blooms in spring before leaves appear, in shades of white
or pink. Later forms hard, quince-like fruit that is fragrant.

CARE. Almost any soil, but if fertile more flowers; drainage;
partial shade produces more flowers. Top-dress in spring with garden
fertilizer. Can be pruned for hedges (not too much).

PROPAGATION. Seeds (plant in spring and stratify), root cuttings,
cuttings from ripe wood (root under glass), layering, grafting.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, specimens, hedges (do not prune as
much as privet), bonsai.

=Chamaecyparis (Retinospora)= _Cupressaceae_ False Cypress,
White Cedar

Actually this is an evergreen that grows to a hundred feet, but it
also comes in a wide variety of two-foot dwarfs. Basically the tree is
pyramidal and has leaves more like scales than needles. They are very
dense and tight, on drooping branches. Some of the dwarf species are
_C. obtusa coespitosa_ (tennis ball), _C. lawsoniana_, _C.
compacta_, _C. compacta glauca_, _C. nana compressa_.

CARE. Acid soil; needs moisture, due to shallow roots. Fertilize, prune
some to keep shapely, root-prune for rock gardens.

PROPAGATION. Seeds from the small cones.

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, rock gardens, specimens.

=Chamaedaphne calyculata= _Ericaceae_ Leatherleaf

Evergreen shrub that is a native bog dweller and therefore good for
locations unsuitable for many plants. The evergreen two-inch leaves
look rusty underneath and are dull brown in winter; branches are
sparse. In spring it has dangling clusters of little white flowers.
One-foot variety nana effective in moist part of rock gardens.

CARE. Moist location, acid soil with peat.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings from ripe wood (rooted under
glass), layering.

SPECIAL USES. Bog gardens; dwarf variety for rock gardens.

=Cotoneaster= _Rosaceae_

This is a small shrub; some varieties are deciduous, some persistent.
Has small pink or white flowers in the spring. In fall has bright-red
berries. Deciduous leaves are colored before they drop.

CARE. Sun, but will accept some shade. Cool and moist but never
waterlogged. (Subject to red spider if hot and dry.) Use lime to
produce a slightly alkaline soil; use loamy soil. Needs circulation of
air and drainage. Prune only to remove dead wood or broken branches.
Doesn’t transplant readily. Plant in permanent location.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, sown when ripe or stratified by layers in autumn;
cuttings of young wood in late summer (root under glass).

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, rock walls, hedges, foundation planting.

=Cryptomeria japonica= _Taxodiaceae_

This is a Japanese evergreen tree that grows to towering heights but
has several dwarf varieties: lobbi, pygmaea, and nana. It has shreddy
red-brown bark and distinctive root formations above ground, making it
very appealing for bonsai work. Blue-green leaves.

  [Illustration: _Cotoneaster humifusa_ and _juniperus
  sabina tamariscifolia_]

  [Illustration: _Cotoneaster humifusa_ with flowers and berry]

CARE. Protect during hot and dry summer, and from low temperatures. It
is best in warmer climates. Enriched soil is not necessary but produces
a more pleasing tree.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings, grafting. Seeds are stratified, and do
not always come true. Cuttings are more satisfactory.


=Daboecia cantabrica= _Ericaceae_ Irish Bell Heather

An evergreen shrub, upright and dwarf (ten to eighteen inches). The
leaves are dark green but fuzzy white underneath. Purple, drooping-urn
flowers, in clusters, last all summer.

CARE. Soil gritty, sandy, and peaty. Protect in winter and be careful
about drainage. Mulch with salt hay or evergreen leaves.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, cuttings from ripe wood under glass.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens.

=Daphne= _Thymelaeaceae_

Some of these little shrubs are evergreen, some are not. Some of them
grow very low. All of the several varieties bloom in early spring,
often on bare wood. Colors vary from white to pink. Most varieties are

CARE. Plant in a cool, moist location in light soil, drained and
slightly sandy. Protect in winter with straw or salt hay.

PROPAGATION. Seeds are sown at once or are stratified; softwood
cuttings after flowering; layering; hardwood cuttings in fall.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, hedges, border planting, rock
gardens, greenhouse forcing, ground cover, bonsai.

=Deutzia= _Saxifragaceae_

This is a heavy flowering shrub with a compact, plump shape. The
flowers, resembling small hoop skirts or bells, cover the plant almost
completely. Colors vary with varieties, white, pink, and pink with red

CARE. Will grow and flower in some shade. Accepts most any soil. Needs
drainage. Most varieties are hardy.

PROPAGATION. Both green-wood and hardwood cuttings, layers, seeds in

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, hedges, greenhouse forcing.

=Euonymus= _Celastraceae_ Burning Bush

Sizes can vary from dwarf shrubs to medium-size trees. Sometimes it is
evergreen, but is more likely to be deciduous. Simple, opposite leaves;
clusters of small flowers in spring. Has showy fruit which turns red in
fall and opens to drop the seeds. Has brilliant red coloring in autumn.

CARE. Grows in ordinary soil and does well in shade (bright sun makes
for better colors in fall). Most varieties are hardy.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (sown in spring), layering, hardwood cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, pots, dish gardens, rock gardens, hedges.

=Fothergilla= _Hamamelidaceae_ Bottle Brush

Native American shrub, deciduous with alternate coarse-toothed leaves,
hazel-like in appearance and brilliant in fall colors. During the
flowering season blooms of a lustrous white resemble shaggy dust mops.
It is slow-growing and adapts itself to bonsai treatment.

CARE. Seemingly, it requires little pampering. It likes moist
situations. It is hardy and can be pruned to size and shape.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, layers (may take two years to root), and root

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, bonsai.

  [Illustration: _Ilex crenata helleri_ ca. 20–25 year old
  spec. with _Abies glauca conica_]

=Ilex crenata helleri= _Aquifoliaceae_ Holly

Holly may be a tree or a shrub and is sometimes an evergreen. The waxy
green leaves are known to anyone who has ever seen a Christmas wreath.
The red berries are almost as striking. Most varieties grow slowly.

CARE. Most like rich well-drained spots. They need acid soil or the
leaves turn yellow. They are hard to transplant and it should only be
tried in the spring before growth starts. The deciduous varieties are
easier to move, but are not so hardy. If you are buying a tree, get
nursery stock that has been freshly dug. Mulch, but not near the trunks
in winter because of mice. If you desire the red berries, spray with
hormones. Prune yearly for shape, in winter.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (stratify, slow to germinate), cuttings of young
ripe wood (root under glass).

SPECIAL USES. Hedges, rock gardens, containers, foundation planting,

=Juniperus= _Cypressaceae_ Juniper

Evergreen trees and shrubs with needles or scale leaves. Can be tall
trees or prostrate shrubs that hug the ground. Foliage is a beautiful


   A beautiful specimen of _Juniperus procumbens nana_ with
   pansies in a corner planting]

CARE. Moderately moist loamy soil. Some (_J. communis_) thrive in dry
spots amid rocks. Most are hardy. Many varieties are exceptionally
hardy and accept sun or shade, city dust, fumes, and smoke. All like
drainage and wide spacing.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings, seeds, layering.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, foundation planting, containers, bonsai.

=Picea abies= _Pinaceae_ Spruce

Pyramidal, evergreen, coniferous trees native to the cooler parts of
the country. They have four-sided leaves that fall easily, leaving
cones that usually droop. Although many varieties are tall and
majestic, there are some of the most shapely dwarfs in the family.
They grow so slowly they are desirable for small landscapes. Among the
dwarfs are: clanbrasiliana, gregoryana, maxwelli, nana, nidformis. The
latter, with its dark-green needles and flat open top, is also known
as the bird’s nest spruce. It is less expensive because it grows very
easily from cuttings.

CARE. Hardy, tolerates more wet than firs or pines, and is at home in
most soils.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, hedges, bonsai.

=Pinus= _Pinaceae_ Pine

Among the many familiar pines of ornamental interest there are several
dwarf forms for limited landscapes. All bear needle-leaves in typical
bundles of two, three, or five according to type. Here are some
possibilities: _P. cembra chlorocarpa_, _P. mugo (montana) mughus_, and
a variety of the white pine, _P. strobus nana_.

CARE. Light, dry, sandy soil. Plant where sheltered; for example, a
northern slope. Dry summer winds and unseasonable, warm winter sun will
turn the leaves brown. In transplanting trees, remember that the roots
do not stand exposure to air. Take the biggest possible chunk of dirt
with them. In buying, get stock that is balled in burlap.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and grafting.

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, containers, rock gardens, foundation planting.

=Rhododendron= _Ericaceae_

Some of the most charming of our truly miniature shrubs, far too
infrequently known and grown. Rhododendron species and hybrids may be
under a foot tall at maturity and have leaves as small as a little
fingernail. The only thing out of proportion is the size of their
flowers. Here are some of them: cantabile, chryseum, cinnabarinum,
cuneatum, didymum, fastigiatum, ferrugineum, flavidum (primulinum),
glaucum (glaucophyllum), hypolepidotum, impeditum, kotschyi, radinum,
riparium, russatum, williamsianum.

CARE. Humus-rich soil, sandy and of open texture. Mulch for winter
season and water before freezing weather. Withered leaves in the dead
of winter mean lack of moisture as well as cold weather.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, softwood tip cuttings (in June).

SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, rock gardens, edging, foundation planting.

  [Illustration: in winter

   _Rhododendron keiskei_

    in spring]

=Sciadopitys verticillata= _Taxodiaceae_ Umbrella Pine

The five-inch needles of this slow-growing Japanese evergreen spread
out from new tip growth like the ribs of a half-open umbrella, giving
it an airy distinction. The tree, a squat pyramid, with short branches
and a stubby main trunk, is ideal for bonsai cultivation.

CARE. Grows well in most any soil but does better in one that
has been enriched. As it is slow-growing, there is slight danger that
it will outgrow its dwarf proportions. Transplant only when young and
do not expose the roots. Protect from severe winter conditions.


SPECIAL USES. Bonsai, rock gardens, specimens.

=Spiraea= _Rosaceae_ Spirea

This popular deciduous shrub varies as to size, with most varieties
far out of the miniature classification. However, there are some short
ones, with _S. bullata (crispifolia)_ an out-and-out midget of
twelve to fifteen inches. It has rose-colored flowers in midsummer.
_S. arguta (compacta)_ is slightly taller. In May it has garlands
of fragrant white flowers. _S. bumalda_, with deep-pink flowers
in early summer, grows to about two and a half feet. Most others are
considerably taller.

CARE. Almost any soil is acceptable providing it is not too heavy and
has drainage. However, plenty of moisture is essential. Plenty of sun
is necessary for good flowering. Pruning also promotes flowers, but do
it after the blooms have fallen. Transplanting is easy, even with bare
roots. Fertilize occasionally.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (ripe or stratified), cuttings of green or hard
wood, layers.

SPECIAL USES. Borders, rock gardens, hedges, foundations.

=Taxus= _Taxaceae_ Yew

This evergreen shrub is very valuable to those who garden in
smaller-scale plots and grounds. There are a number of extremely low
and slow-growing varieties available at most nurseries and in several
different forms. All have the typical yew masses of glassy, evergreen
needle-leaves and satiny red, berry-like fruit. All accept shearing,
even need it to preserve their symmetry and small size. It is often
difficult to differentiate between the many varieties when they are
young, so be sure to check them when buying.

   _baccata_--English yew--A tall tree but available in these
   small forms: adpressa, a broad, dense bush with half-inch
   needles in thick masses; repandens, a flattish, low, and
   spreading form with drooping branches, two to four feet tall.

   _canadensis_--American or Canadian yew--Three to four feet
   tall and for planting in the shade. Suffers from unusually warm
   winter sun. Its variety stricta is neat and upright and stays
   under two feet in height. The green needles are yellow-tinged
   when it is young.

   _cuspidata_--Japanese yew--This variety is recommended for
   Northeastern planting. The slow-growing variety densa is plump
   and rounded and twice as wide as its four-foot mature height.
   Another variety, nana (brevifolia), is considerably larger,
   horizontal, and spreading in habit.

   _cuspidata nana_--This species slightly different, has
   a deeply fissured trunk with red berry fruit and very dark
   evergreen leaves. It is highly regarded as a miniature and
   excellent for bonsai work.

   _stricta_ (_fastigata_, _hibernica_)--An upright
   column that tops dwarf proportions sooner than most others.

CARE. Slightly acid soil. Fertilize frequently in early spring and
early summer. Good drainage. Don’t plant under rain gutters. Top-dress
with old manure. Easily transplanted. Shear just before spring growth
starts, to control size and shape. Winter sun may burn needles.
Comparatively free of disease.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (stratified), cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, specimens, hedges, rock and wild
gardens, tub planting, bonsai.

=Teucrium chamaedrys= _Labiatae_ Germander

This is an aromatic Old World shrublet that is adaptable to many uses
in the garden, whether formal or informal. Most varieties are less than
a foot in height. It flowers in late summer. Many gardeners raise it
for its decorative value and snip off the blooms. It is hardier than
boxwood and less costly.

CARE. It grows in almost any soil but requires good drainage and full
sun. Prune the top and sides twice a year for formal effect. Give
winter protection with evergreen boughs.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (good but slow), division, cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Beds, edging, rock gardens, miniature hedges, foundations.

=Thuja= _Pinaceae_ Arborvitae

Certain species of the “tree of life” are majestic monsters. But there
are a number of shrubby varieties of delicate value in small plantings.
All have characteristic scale-like leaves arranged along fan-shaped
branches, making fluffy sprays. But shapes vary from balls to pyramids.
Foliage may be light, or blue-green, or even golden. Smaller forms are:

   _occidentalis_--This species has two small varieties,
   compacta (slow-growing, dense pyramid) and ellwangeriana (a low
   round mound-shape).

   _minima_--A very small and a slow-growing ball.

   _pumila_--‘Little Gem’--Dense-leaved and globe-shaped.

   _pygmaea_--A two-foot globe or ball.

CARE. Cool, moist location. Rich soil and leaf mold. Either full sun or
half shade. City soot harmful.

PROPAGATION. Same as for conifers.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, rock gardens, tubs and other
containers, specimens.

=Tsuga canadensis= _Pinaceae_ Hemlock

This graceful evergreen conifer has slender horizontal branches with
small leaves and small cones. Not all nurseries have it in its few
dwarf forms. Best known of these small varieties are the conical
compacta, and the completely prostrate, creeping prostrata.

CARE. Slightly acid soil, organic fertilizer, shade-tolerant, hardy
(but protect from cold winds), can be pruned.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (stratified), cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Foundation planting, hedges, specimens, rock gardens,

=Viburnum= _Caprifoliaceae_ Snowball, European Cranberry Bush

An ornamental shrub. Most varieties are deciduous, and are valued for
their heavy flower clusters, fragrance, autumnal color, and attractive
fruit. Sizes and colors of flowers vary.

   _carlesi_--Korean snowball--Fragrant pink buds that open as
   white flowers about the same time the foliage appears.

   _davidi_--About three feet tall with handsome crinkled
   leaves sharply creased at the veins. Small clusters of white
   flowers in June; blue fruit in the fall.

   _nanum_--A real dwarf popular for low hedges and rock
   gardens. It is strictly ornamental, with no flowers or fruit.

CARE. Any soil is acceptable. Moisture required. Hardy.

PROPAGATION. Stratified seeds, cuttings (hardwood or green wood under
glass), layers, grafting.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, hedges, specimens.

                             _CHAPTER 15_

                         MINIATURE PERENNIALS
                            AND ROCK PLANTS

Our odd piece of Connecticut countryside is shaped rather like the
blade of a paring knife. We cleared the point to make a wild-flower
garden. At the blunt end, on one side, a tree-lined bank dips down
to the road. On the other, there is an old, low rock wall that’s not
particularly beautiful, nor is it suitable for dry-wall planting. When
we finally whipped the central lawn into shape, we realized that a
flowering border would be nice against the wall--a low, narrow border
with colorful bloom all summer long.

To be in proportion and harmony with the setting, the border had to be
completely in miniature--following accepted principles for selecting
and arranging plants, but executed in small scale. Finding the proper
plants has been a challenge; arranging them has been a trial-and-error
proposition, because many varieties are entirely new to us. But last
summer, the little border began to look the way we had visualized
it--taller specimens in the background, ground-hugging cushions facing
them down in front, small groups of straight spires for accent at
strategic intervals. It will probably take another season or two to
perfect the blending and contrast of flowers and foliage, and to get
the most colorful and constant succession of bloom.

This is not, of course, our first acquaintance with miniature
perennials; and it couldn’t possibly be our last. They combine
beautifully with small shrubs, show off to advantage in small rock
gardens, add an artistic finishing touch to garden pools, birdbaths,
and other ornaments. They’re at their very best in outdoor planters and
raised beds on patios and terraces, and in ribbon edgings along walks
and walls.

Although they’re precious in flower, many varieties--candytuft,
lavender, sempervivum, thyme, plumbago, to name a few--are equally
decorative without bloom. This is a valued advantage when planting
space is limited. Gardeners with limited time use perennials lavishly
because, once established, they’re mostly permanent, and they require
a minimum of care. Somehow, I sympathize with a writer who found more
pleasure in spring’s tufts of fresh new growth than in the full bloom
of summer. Nostalgically, one welcomes the return of an old friend;
practically, one knows it will tend to its business of growing and
flowering with very little personal attention.

This leads us to the question, “How perennial _is_ a perennial?”
and to the obvious answer, “It depends....” To begin with, it should
live at least three years in your garden. After that, some varieties
need to be lifted and divided into smaller plants with fresh new
vigor; some may need to be replaced completely; some few may grow on
indefinitely without renewal, or may replace themselves with seedlings
that are often of doubtful value.

In the language of the catalogues, a “hardy” perennial is one that
can withstand fairly severe winter cold, and may not be hardy in
Southern gardens where it is not frozen into dormancy. Most hardy
perennials are “herbaceous”--the stems usually die back to the ground
each winter; some few have stems that may or may not be somewhat woody
and persistent. A “tender” perennial is likely to be killed by cold
weather, and is grown as an annual in the North, if it is grown at all.

The life cycle of a biennial extends over two years. It is grown from
seed, may or may not need special protection to carry it over a cold
winter, produces flowers and seeds the second year, then dies. Some
biennials sow themselves with such faithfulness they’re regarded as
perennial. The comparatively few biennials among flowering plants are
grown much like perennials; miniature varieties are covered in this

Originally, I was firmly resolved to admit as miniatures only those
perennials that grow less than eight inches high. But I couldn’t resist
stretching the limits an inch or so to allow for a ten-inch flower stem
above a small, flat rosette of leaves; and I found that the height
limitation allowed free entry to some rambunctious spreaders that could
quickly ruin a miniature garden. So I finally settled on biennials
and perennials that are miniature in general appearance and habit,
without strict measurements, and with flowers and foliage in suitable
proportion for miniature gardens.

For the first year or so, locating some of the small perennials we
wanted was rather like a treasure hunt; we never knew where we’d find
a clue. Occasionally, we’d spy a prize on a visit to a local nursery.
Frequently an advertisement or a tip from another gardener would give
us the name of a promising mail-order supplier. Those who specialized
in rock-garden plants proved to be particularly fruitful prospects.
Often, we started our plants from seeds and discovered later that
mature plants were available, had we known it. Now, we have quite a
list of sources for miniature perennials which we happily share with
you, beginning on page 259.

In selecting suitable varieties, decorative effect is naturally the
first consideration--size, habit, and blooming season; color and
texture of flowers and foliage; how the plants fit into your design
and planting plan. Equally important is hardiness; not only ability
to survive a cold winter, but also adaptability to other climatic
conditions. Some perennials simply will not grow where summers are
hot and dry; others will live but can’t mature enough to flower where
nights are cool or growing seasons are short.

Like other types of plants, perennials should be selected according to
their cultural needs, and should be planted only where they can get
the amount of sunlight and moisture they need, and where the soil is
suitable or can be made so. An acid-loving plant in neutral or alkaline
soil is a poor, short-lived thing; a moisture-lover withers pitiably
where it’s dry as a desert most of the time; a “hardy” perennial won’t
be hardy unless its environment is to its liking.

                           PLANTING AND CARE

Unless it’s utterly impossible, we do all our planting in the spring,
so there is plenty of time for plants to develop vigorous root systems
before a mean Connecticut winter comes along. This is particularly
important to shallow-rooted perennials, and to any that are planted in
windy, exposed sites. But for us, it also includes spring-flowering
varieties. In spring we’ve planted dormant roots with or without mere
nubbins of new growth, and plants that were fully leaved out and
bursting with buds, with very little loss. But fall planting has proved
to be a gamble; and if we’re forced into it, we’re more likely to find
room in the cold frame for the new arrivals until spring.

Of course, this is not usually necessary in more temperate sections
where plants set out in late summer and early fall have plenty of time
to become acclimated before heavy frost. And it can be all wrong for
Southern gardens, where planting during deepest dormancy is often

Even if you’re planting only three little pinks in a nook the size
of a lady’s handkerchief, soil should be dug deeply and be suitably
conditioned or enriched, drainage should be made perfect, roots should
be spread out carefully, and watering should be as thorough as if you
were planting a priceless miniature tree or shrub. To prevent a serious
setback from wilting, put up some sort of temporary protection against
sun and wind--an encircling screen of leafy branches, even a tent of
newspaper or old sheeting.


There are few soils that can’t be improved by the addition of organic
matter such as leaf mold, manure, or compost; and few plants that won’t
grow better for it. It helps hold moisture in sandy soil, improves
texture and increases drainage in clay-like soil, enriches ordinary
garden loam. Mix it thoroughly with the soil before you place the
plants. Also before planting, add lime to acid soil for plants that
need it, acid peat for acid-loving varieties if your soil is neutral
or alkaline. Above all, don’t plant anything (except for a few bog
inhabitants) where water stands in puddles. Poor drainage has killed
more perennials than Old Man Winter himself.

_Watering and Mulching_

Most miniature perennials naturally have rather shallow root systems,
so they suffer quickly from drought. Don’t let them dry out seriously
(particularly after transplanting); water often and deeply enough
that the soil below the roots is wet. Thorough watering in late fall,
just before the ground freezes, often makes the difference between
winter-survival and winter-kill.

Mulching with any available, airy material--buckwheat hulls or crushed
sugar cane, for example--will help keep soil moist and will also
discourage germination of weed seeds, thereby saving you a bit of work.


Most miniature plants don’t like or need a heavy diet. A light
top-dressing of balanced fertilizer, in early spring, is usually enough
to nourish them without forcing soft and straggly growth. Reluctant
bloomers may need a small ration of superphosphate or a booster drink
of liquid-manure “tea” as flowering time approaches.

_Pruning and Grooming_

To keep them compact and attractive, some varieties should have growing
tips pinched out once or twice in spring and early summer; others may
have a few long, straggly stems to be removed; some carpeting types
should be sheared off after flowering. Always pick off faded flowers
unless you have reason to want the seeds.

In fall, when foliage is frostbitten, cut back the old stems and take
them away, along with any fallen leaves or other debris, to be burned.
Many diseases and insects winter over in decaying vegetable matter.

_Insects and Disease_

Our trusty duster or sprayer, filled with an all-purpose
insecticide-fungicide formula, gives all our garden plants a preventive
treatment several times a season. So far, this has been enough to keep
problems and pests away. For some special infestations or epidemics, we
keep a few specific remedies on hand--sulfur for powdery mildew, and
Aramite for mites, for example.

_Winter Protection_

In our area we never know whether winter will bless us with a constant
covering of snow, or the ground will be bare and exposed to alternate
freezing and thawing that “heaves” tender roots up out of their beds.
After the ground is frozen two or three inches deep, we cover sleeping
perennials with a light blanket of salt hay or, sometimes, evergreen
boughs. Crowns that stay evergreen are surrounded by a collar of sharp
sand. Questionably hardy varieties are lifted and moved to the cold

In spring, as the weather begins to warm up, we remove the protective
mulch a bit at a time. There’s a fine line between taking it off
prematurely, thus exposing new growth to a late freeze, and leaving it
so long that the soil underneath gets soggy and the roots rot. But, rot
can be fatal, and frozen tips of new growth are not, so we remove the
winter covering as fast as we dare.


One item in our Connecticut landscape that’s completely out of scale
with its surroundings is the monstrous cold frame near the back
boundary line. The cement-block wall goes down below the frost line,
and up high enough to make room for winter storage of fairly good-sized
plants. The discarded storm windows are hinged across the back and
completely removable in summer, when they are replaced by light wooden
frames of the same size with laths nailed a lath-width apart. The
construction slants toward the south, to make the most of all winter
sunshine; light shading is necessary in summer to protect tender
seedlings and rooting cuttings.

The cold frame serves dozens of purposes and has more than paid
for itself with plants it has protected or produced. When we plant
perennial seeds in the cold frame, we throw a piece of burlap across
the top and keep it moist until they germinate. Tender seedlings spend
their first winter within its walls, and so do newly rooted cuttings.
Questionably hardy perennials or any that we acquire in fall are held
over until spring. Every year, it seems as if we take more out of the
cold frame than we put into it!

Other, smaller, portable devices are equally useful for all kinds of
summer propagating. Low square or rectangular wooden frames can be
set over an area of prepared soil and the top covered with glass or
polyethylene to keep the soil from drying out. An empty fruit crate
from the grocer can be equipped with a glass or plastic top. A few
cuttings can be rooted in soil in some shady spot with a clear glass
jar inverted over them. There are many devices that keep soil moist
and air humid while seeds germinate or cuttings root. How large or
elaborate yours should be depends on how much propagating you want to


Many hard-to-find miniature perennials can be easily grown from a
twenty-cent packet of seed. You can also harvest seeds from your own
plants; but only natural species will “come true.” Complicated hybrids
will have unpredictable offspring, most of them not particularly

We plant seeds of most biennials and perennials in June, when the soil
is comfortably warm and the seedlings will have the whole summer to
grow large and lusty. Some of our own seeds that ripen in midsummer are
planted as soon as we can harvest them; those that mature later are
usually stored on a cool shelf in the cellar in plastic boxes or little
pill bottles that keep them dry.

Soil for the seed bed is sifted to remove pebbles and debris, and mixed
with equal quantities of sharp sand and peat or sieved leaf mold. To
prevent “damp-off,” a fungus that chokes off stems at the soil line,
soil should be sterilized if at all possible. Small quantities may be
baked in the oven. Special easy-to-use fungicides are also available;
follow label directions.


   Rocks, water, and planting--an effective combination of all the
   elements of a rock garden. (_Mr. and Mrs. Norman Cherry_)]

Most seeds are covered to the depth of their diameter; very fine seeds
are merely firmed down into the soil. Seeds with hard coats may be
gently nicked with a knife or soaked in water for a day or so. Some
seeds, like primroses, need to be treated as if they had wintered
outdoors before they will germinate. You can put them in moist sand
in a small, tight container and alternate freezing in the ice
compartment and thawing in the warmer part of the refrigerator for
several days. Or you can plant these seeds in a small box or flat of
their own and leave them outdoors, in a protected spot, where winter
will supply its own natural conditions.

  [Illustration: Cold frame planted and ready for top made from
  discarded storm windows]

Some seeds germinate faster in the dark, some with light; some like
cooler temperatures than others; some come up in seven days, some
take months or even a year. Seed packets usually supply pertinent

Seeds will not germinate in dry soil, or if allowed to dry out even
temporarily during the critical period. To avoid washing out fine
seeds, water gently with a fine mist, or set the flat or other
container in water up to the level of the soil inside. When the soil
surface looks shiny and moist, remove the container and set it aside to

When the first “true” leaves are of fair size, transplant the seedlings
to peat pots, or flats, or rows in a prepared bed or cold frame. Shade
against sun and wind until they resume growth.

_Stem Cuttings_

Many perennials can be propagated easily and in quantity by rooting
softwood cuttings like those of trees and shrubs. Tip cuttings three
or four inches long are usually best, with all the flower buds and the
lower leaves removed. Some types, such as dianthus and lavender, root
faster and more surely if the cutting is taken with a heel.

For spring-flowering varieties, take stem cuttings after flowering
has finished and up until midsummer; for those that bloom later, take
cuttings in May or June.


This is a wonderful way not only to increase perennials, but also to
keep them young and vigorous. How often you divide them depends on each
plant’s individual performance. When growth is so thick it seems to be
choking itself, when there’s little healthy new growth and a poor show
of bloom, when a clump or crown becomes tough and hard in the center,
it’s usually time to refresh the plant by division. Some plants need it
almost every other year, some not for many years.

How you divide a plant depends upon how it grows. If there is a central
crown of leaves, it can be cut cleanly into two or three sections,
each with its own share of roots. Or there may be new, young crowns
clustered around its edge that can be pulled or cut off. If the plant
simply has a crowded colony of stems and fibrous roots, you can often
pull it apart gently into several pieces. Or if it’s the type that
sends out rooting runners, you can sever these and replant them.
Generally, the old, tired center of the plant is discarded.

In cold climates, even spring-flowering perennials are most safely
divided very early in the season, when new growth is beginning. Cool,
moist spring weather favors rapid recovery from the operation, and
there is plenty of time for the new plants to mature before fall.
Summer-flowering and fall-flowering types are also divided in earliest
spring. In humid climates the spring-bloomers can be divided in August
or early September.


Almost any perennial with low or low-hanging branches can be propagated
by pinning a stem to the soil, several inches from the growing tip.
When new growth appears, cut off the rooted stem and transplant it.
This propagating method may not produce great numbers of new plants at
one time; but it is surely one of the easiest and least troublesome
practices--and particularly safe because the new plant is supported by
the parent until it is well rooted.

I’ve been intrigued with one good gardener’s method of creating a low
hedge from one plant of dwarf lavender. She layered one stem at each
side of the original plant. When these two new plants were fairly
mature (but not cut away from the old plant), she layered one stem
of each. By repeating the process, and locating each new layer in a
straight line with the last one, she can extend her hedge as far as she
wishes and plant it as she goes, along any lines.

                        ROCK GARDEN PERENNIALS

=Achillea= _Compositae_ Yarrow, Hilfoil

Resembling the field yarrow, but dainty, mottled, and tufted. The
leaves, some finely cut and ferny, wear thick wool coats. The saucy
flowers are in heads, some flat-topped and not unlike daisies.

   _ageratifolia aizoon (Anthemis aizoon)_--Six-inch mat of
   silver-haired, uncut leaves topped with bright white flowers in
   May and June.

   _clavennae_--Tufts of hoary, fine-cut leaves less than a
   foot high, tight round white flower heads three-fourths of an
   inch across in May and June.

   _tomentosa_--Best-known little species, quickly makes a
   thick mat of semi-evergreen gray-green leaves six inches tall.
   It has sunny yellow flowers from June to midsummer. The variety
   aurea has more golden flowers and blooms earlier; nana is a true
   midget and makes a thick carpet studded with many white flowers.
   Five-inch ‘Moonlight’ has flowers of sulfur yellow, and greener

   _umbellata_--Four-inch mounds of fuzzy, silvery, ferny
   leaves. It has cream-white flowers in June and is evergreen in
   temperate areas.

CARE. Any soil, even sandy or poor. Dryish to moist. Sun or very light
shade. Easy to grow.

PROPAGATION. Division in spring or fall, seeds (flowers the second

SPECIAL USES. Rock plantings, dry-wall planting, edging, ground cover,

=Aethionema= _Cruciferae_ Stone-Cress, Persian Candytuft

This is a heathery little shrub-like perennial with slim leaves and
steely-blue needles, cheerful clusters of flowers at the stem tips in
May and June. It is often compared to a minuscule daphne.

   _armenum_--Neat tufts of short, sharp leaves and petite
   pink flowers in June. It is never over four inches high.

   _iberideum_--Low, crowded, and cushiony-minute with
   gray-green leaves and large white flowers in short clusters.
   This one is earlier than other varieties, blooming even in April
   if the weather is favorable. (Needs gritty soil with some lime.)

   _schistosum_--By comparison this one is a giant growing
   to eight or ten inches, with two-inch leaves and fragrant pink

CARE. Soil light, sandy, well-drained, and gravelly; dry; sun. Hardy in
southern New England. Give protection in severe winters.

PROPAGATION. Cuttings in summer, division and seeds in spring.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, dry-wall planting, edging, borders.

=Ajuga= _Labiatae_ Bugle

This is a low, creeping or spreading perennial with pinwheels of rather
coarse leaves and small blue flowers which come in May and June. It is
of miniature height and should only be planted where you can control
it, or want it to spread. Some of the better-known varieties are:

   _genevensis_--Oval toothed leaves, light green. Flowers
   deep blue.

   _pyramidalis_--Less likely to spread and stays neat and
   small. Flowers blue and slightly larger than those of other

   _reptans_--Also known as carpet bugle, it is nearly supine,
   with stems that root as they creep. Flowers blue or purplish.
   Variety alba has white flowers; variegata, foliage marked with
   cream and pink. Rubra pink flowers.

   ‘Silver Beauty’--Compact and ground-hugging. White markings on
   leaves give a silvery appearance. Blue flowers.

CARE. Ordinary soil, even poor; sun or part shade; dry. Plant in fall
or spring six inches apart. Easy to grow.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in spring, division.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, dry-wall planting, ground cover, edging.

=Alyssum= _Cruciferae_ Madwort

Plushy, mat-forming, like a silver-gray rug with flecks of white or
golden flowers in spring and summer. The grayish leaves are small, the
flowers in thick clusters. Popular forms are:

   _alpestre_ (_serpyllifolium_)--Three-inch gray carpet
   with bright-yellow flowers through June.

   _montanum_--Fragrant gold flowers in June; about eight
   inches high.

   _mulfenianum_--Smaller (four-inch) version with balls of
   yellow flowers from May to June.

   _saxatile_--basket of gold--Blooms in May; nine inches
   high; spreads thickly. Variety compactum is more compact and
   shorter; about eight inches. Variety citrinum has lemon-yellow

   _spinosum_--Dense growth, shrubby and spiny, about eight
   inches high. White flowers sometimes tinged with pink, in June
   and July.

CARE. Any ordinary soil with drainage. Sunny, open location. Plant in
spring or fall six to eight inches apart.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in fall, division of roots in spring.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, borders, dry walls, pavements, edging,
carpet for bulbs, ground cover.

=Anemone= _Ranunculaceae_ Windflower

One of the earliest to bloom in the spring, it has lacy leaves and
colorful flowering saucers not made up of petals but of sepals (leaves
that encircle the flowers at the base).

   _apennina_--Tuberous species six or seven inches high
   with deeply cut leaves; arrives in March with bright, sky-blue
   flowers. Variety alba has white flowers; purpurea, rich

   _blanda_--Resembles apennina but is slightly larger and has
   darker flowers.

   _nemorosa_--European wood anemone--Similiar to American
   forms. Variety alleni has lavender flowers. Variety rosea, pink.

   _palmata_--Six-inch dwarf with whorls of leathery leaves,
   golden-white flowers in May or June. The flowers of the variety
   albida are heavenly white with gold centers.

   _pulsatilla_--pasque flower--A more robust alpine growing
   to eight inches tall. Hardy even in Maine rock gardens. Flowers
   are purple-blue bells that come early and last as long as the
   weather is cool. Its finely cut leaves are softened with silky
   hairs. Other varieties are alba, white; rubra, plum red; and
   camla, silvery lilac surrounded by white.

CARE. Rich sandy loam with leaf mold. Part shade for some varieties.

PROPAGATION. Seed in late fall, root division in early spring.

SPECIAL USES. Wild gardens, rock gardens, forcing, flower beds.

=Antennaria= _Compositae_ Pussy-Toes

This is a furry little creeper with flat, silvery, spoon-shaped leaves
and bristly flowers sometimes dried as everlastings.

   _dioica_--Fast-creeping carpet with pink-tipped flowers in

   _microphylla (parvifolia)_--Western native, slower growing,
   with white flowers.

   _neodioica_--Eastern native that makes a low mat of
   silver-hairy leaves and sends up pink-tipped white flowers in
   early summer.

CARE. Sandy, even poor, soil; full sun; dry. Cut off leaves after
flowering to make neater plants.

PROPAGATION. Seeds and division.

SPECIAL USES. Rock walls and pavement.

=Aquilegia= _Ranunculaceae_ Columbine

Hardy little perennials with two-or three-part leaves like clover but
often cut or indented on the edge, and drooping or noddling flowers
with flaring sepals and spurs of different sizes and shapes.

   _akitensis_--Six-inch Japanese doll with stemless
   blue-green leaves and large lavender-blue flowers with yellow at
   the center. June flowers.

   _discolor_--Alpine with glowing blue flowers, white inside
   and frosty-green leaves. Five inches tall.

   _flabellata nana-alba_--fan columbine--Three divided leaves
   like blue-green fans, lustrous white flowers in May.

   _jonesi_--Diminutive, two to three inches tall. Small
   leaves in small mounds, flowers upturned and deep blue in June.

   _saximontana_--Alpine with two-inch tufts of crisp leaves;
   aquamarine flowers with yellowish sepals on four-inch stems in

CARE. Soil light and sandy, with leaf mold; drainage; shade or
semishade. Hardy. Plant in fall.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in the spring (flowers the following year), division
in the spring.

SPECIAL USES. Rock and wall planting, wild-flower gardens, beds.

=Arabis= _Cruciferae_ Rock Cress

Mat-forming perennials with blankets of hairy leaves under spreads
of flowers rather like stocks or candytuft. They flower in spring or
summer and are often fragrant.

   _albida_--Unless the form is marked “compact” the species
   may top ten inches. Leaves green and woolly, flowers white
   (in April and May). Variety flora plena is about six inches
   tall with double white flowers; rosea, orchid pink and single;
   variegata, white-marked leaves. ‘Pink Charm’ is single with
   bright-pink flowers.

   _blepharophylla_--Clusters of deep-green leaves with
   eyelashes on the edge; pink-purple flowers in April. Height,
   four inches.

   _procurrens_--Matting plant with creeping stolons, white
   flowers in May. Dwarf variety, stari, spreads slowly and stays
   under four inches.

CARE. Medium, even poor, soil; warm and sandy. Not too moist. Sun or
light shade. After flowering cut back straggly stems.

PROPAGATION. Division (in spring or fall), seeds, cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, wall planting, ground cover, edging.

=Aster alpinus= _Compositae_ Rock Aster

Small leaves mat closely to make a mound four inches high. The flat
lilac daisy-like flowers come in June and July on eight-inch stems. The
variety superbus is slightly larger; albus has white flowers. ‘Goliath’
is a variety with flowers ranging from yellow-centered lavender to
near-purple. ‘Spring Charm’ is a midget with lavender-pinkish flowers.

CARE. Any good soil, full sun.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in the spring (flowers the next year).

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, borders, edging.

=Bellis= _Compositae_ Daisy

Miniature daisies of cheerful charm, some varieties barely six inches

   _perennis_--English daisy--Nests of green leaves sprinkled
   in spring and summer with flowers of white, rose, or red.
   Several new strains are now being offered in singles, doubles
   (some have quilted petals), and varied colors.

   _rotundiafolia caerulescens_--alpine daisy--Soft-blue
   flowers all summer long.

CARE. Fertile soil; moist, but good drainage; sun or semisun. A cool
summer produces larger flowers. Not suitable for hot climates.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (flowers following year), division in cool weather.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, edging, ground cover.

=Campanula= _Campanulaceae_ Harebell, Bell Flower

These are the beloved bell flowers which should be included in all
gardens. Included on page 264 are varieties that are easy to get and

CARE. Light loamy soil, slightly on limy side; drainage. Sun, except
dwarfs, which take light shade. Remove dead flowers. Shelter with
evergreen boughs in severe winter.

PROPAGATION. Division in early spring or fall, seeds (plant as soon as
ripe), cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, walls, borders, edging, pots, and baskets.

=Cerastium= _Caryophyllaceae_

Perennial creepers and carpeters with slim silk-hairy leaves and
showers of white flowers with an over-all effect of soft fuzzy wool.
Maximum height six inches, but most plants less.

   _alpinum lanatum_--Smallest downy leaves, white flowers in
   clusters in June and July.

   _bierbersteini_--Longer leaves, flowers one month earlier.

   _tomentosum_--snow in summer--This, the most popular
   species; quickly forms a large mat like a silver carpet under
   starry white flowers in May and June. It is said it will grow in
   pure sand.

CARE. Ordinary soil, sun, dry. Easy to grow.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (plant in fall or spring), division, cuttings after

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, edging, flower beds, ground cover.


                           _Leaves_           _Flowers_           _Blooming
 _carpatica_             mats 4″ tall       blue saucers         June to Oct.
 _carpatica alba_        mats 4″ tall       white                June to Oct.
 _carpatica_ ‘Wedgwood’  cushions           violet-blue cups     June to Oct.
 _carpatica_ ‘White
     Wedgwood’           cushions           white                June to Oct.
 _carpatica turbinata_   low mass           large, flat, violet  June to Aug.
 _cochlearifolia_        shell-shaped mass  blue bells           May and June
 _cochlearifolia alba_   shell-shaped mass  white                May and June
     ‘Mironda’           shell-shaped mass  silver-blue          June to Aug.
 _collina_               fuzzy clumps       purple bells         June
 _elatines_              dense 3″ mass      stars, white center  June and July
 _elatines alba plena_                      double white ‘Star   for baskets
                                              of Bethlehem’        and pots
 _garganica_             may be woolly      blue                 June and July
 _portenschlagiana       roundish, toothed
     (muralis)_          crinkled tufts     violet bells         June and July
 _saxifraga_             broadened          upturned violet
                                              bells              spring

=Ceratostigma plumbaginoides= _Plumbaginaceae_ Leadwort

Shrubby little perennial “bushes” about eight inches high and spreading
into clumps twice as wide, with hairy-edged leaves which are green with
bronze overtones. It turns to a brickish color in autumn. In August the
plants cover themselves with blue phlox-like flowers and continue to
bloom until heavy frost.

CARE. Most any soil with drainage. Will grow in sand. Full sun best but
semishade is acceptable. Don’t plant in moist location. In winter give

PROPAGATION. Seeds in the spring, division at time of new growth in
spring, cuttings.

SPECIAL USES. Borders, edging, rock gardens, ground cover.

=Coreopsis auriculata nana= _Compositae_

Neat little plant with tufts of divided, or lobed, leaves;
golden-orange daisy-like flowers on three-to six-inch stems, from June
through August.

CARE. Light sandy soil. Shade in extremely hot climate. Cut faded

PROPAGATION. Sow seeds in fall for flowering next year; division of

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, edging.

=Corydalis= _Fumariaceae_ Fumitory

Ferny-leaved herbaceous perennials with spurred flowers like bleeding
heart but more colorful and blooming in the spring. Some types are
tuberous-rooted, or partly so, but are grown more like other perennials.

   _cava (bulbosa)_--Tuberous type, about eight inches tall,
   with gaudy clusters of purple flowers in April.

   _cheilanthifolia_--Perennial with thickened roots, finely
   dissected eight-inch leaves, sprays of yellow flowers from May
   to frost. Requires shade from hot sun. Striking for its foliage

   _halleri (densifolia)_--March bloomer, tuberous. Not many
   leaves but plenty of clusters of rosy, or purple, flowers; six
   to eight inches.

   _lutea_--Eight-inch clump-makers with lacy blue-green
   leaves. Yellow flowers appear in June and repeat later. Likes to
   keep cool in the shade, or have its roots under a rock. Won’t
   grow in extreme heat.

   _nobilis_--Tuberous type, upright to eight inches, with
   leaflets both wedge-shaped and deep-toothed. It may have as many
   as twenty spurred white flowers per cluster, tipped with yellow
   and spotted with purple.

   _rupestris_--Ferny-leaved eight-inch perennial with
   short-spurred yellow flowers. Nontuberous.

CARE. Any garden soil with drainage. Partial or light shade, or sun.
Plant tuberous types in fall.

PROPAGATION. Division, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Borders, rock gardens, wall plantings, edging.

=Dianthus= _Caryophyllaceae_ Pink

There are some very special treasures for every garden in this big
family of spicy-scented plants with flowers that seem to have been
fringed with pinking shears. There are impermanent perennials that
flower the first year like annuals, biennials like sweet William that
often self-sow, longer lived types that tuft or spread out to make
low flowering mounds or mats, elusive alpines for the rock-garden
connoisseur, pixies with tiny half-inch flowers, and great garden
carnations. Every year new hybrids make the list longer.

Make your selection, of course, according to size, scent, growing
habits, and the color scheme of your little garden. For the miniature
rock garden, the rose-colored species _D. alpinus_ stays under three
inches; _D. neglectus_ combines pink and buff, and there are many more.
The Allwoodi hybrid varieties are sturdy, lasting, and flower freely
for most of the summer. The cheddar pinks (_D. casius_ varieties) are
clumpy; the maiden pinks make mats; the cottage or grass pinks are
tufted; sweet William (_D. barbatas_) is one of the clusterheads; the
“annuals” (usually forms of _D. chinensis_) will flower early when seed
is started indoors, repeat the performance if cut back after the first
flowering, and may even live to bloom once more the second year.

For the most miniature, look for these newcomers: double pink,
three-inch ‘Pixie’; rose-red ‘Tiny Rubies’; four-inch ‘Wee Willie’
(sweet William’s son), not reliably perennial but behaves beautifully
as an annual; deep-red ‘Little Joe.’ One seed house offers a perennial
‘Midget Double’ sweet William under four inches high and like a
button-size carnation.

CARE. Warm sandy soil, not too rich. Lime, dryish, drainage. Full sun,
cool temperature. Cut off faded flowers.

PROPAGATION. Division, layers, cuttings, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Flower beds, rock gardens, edging.

=Geranium= _Geraniaceae_ Cranesbill

This is not the popular potted plant (pelargonium) or the wild geranium
of the Eastern woods (_G. maculatum_). These are lacy-leaved perennials
with a delicate look but a tough constitution. Here are some of the
smallest available types, flowering mostly in the spring but often
repeating in spurts throughout the summer.

   _farreri_--A little three-inch doll from China, the
   many-fingered leaves making a low nest under the astonishingly
   large, black-anthered, blush-pink-on-white flowers.

   _macrorrhizum_--The species is largish and makes a buxom
   six-inch bush with light sprays of pink flowers. The foliage is
   aromatic and turns beautifully bronzy in fall.

   _pylzowianum_--Eager spreader, two to three inches high,
   with finely divided leaves and rosy flowers in May and June.

CARE. Gravelly soil with drainage, dryish. Sun or light shade. Mostly

PROPAGATION. Seeds; root division in spring or fall.

SPECIAL USES. Border and dry-wall planting.

=Gypsophila= _Caryophyllaceae_ Baby’s Breath

Here is something for every rock garden, the beginner’s or the
connoisseur’s. Over a soft cushion of tiny leaves the foamy flowers are
heart-tuggingly romantic and delicate. The plants are hardy, eagerly
branching and spreading, and veiled in bloom for most of the summer.

   _cerastioides_--Four-inch creeper with gray-velvet
   mouse-ear leaves, sprays of white flowers with pink veins. Soil
   should be alkaline, sandy or gritty, and perfectly drained.

   _muralis_--An unusual “annual” about six inches high, with
   narrow leaves and warm rosy flowers. Looks and grows best when

   _repens_--Midget trailer with slim, silvery blue-green
   leaves and white or pinkish flowers only a few inches above
   them. Available varieties include, white-flowering alba, compact
   double pink bodgeri, and single rose-pink rosea.

CARE. Not too rich soil, dryish, with drainage. Full sun or light
shade. Usually hardy. Don’t thin too much.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (sow where you want the plant), division.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, wall plantings, pavements, ground cover.

=Iberis= _Cruciferae_ Perennial Candytuft

Extremely decorative and useful evergreen with durable, fresh-looking
foliage and clusters of sparkling white or pale-tinted flowers in
spring. The plants spread, but not enough to be troublesome in small

   _saxatalis_--Miniature even among miniatures, with two-inch
   clumps of hairy-edged leaves and flat clusters of white flowers
   in May. Needs gravelly, limy soil.

   _sempervirens_--The better-known named varieties are
   offspring of this stalwart, nearly shrub-like perennial
   with blunt-tipped narrow leaves and flowers forming an
   umbrella-shaped cluster on six-to eight-inch stems. One plant
   can spread out to several feet across. Among the dwarfs are
   ‘Autumn Snow,’ seven inches high and often blooming again in
   September; ‘Little Gem,’ compact mounds four to six inches high;
   ‘Purity,’ the purest of white; and ‘Snowflake,’ a little later
   (June) and a little larger (eight inches).

=Iris= _Iridaceae_

Basically, iris are of two types--bulbous and rhizomatous--each with
miniature species, varieties, and hybrids. Leaves may be broad and
flat, or slim and grass-like. Stems may bear one or several flowers,
the earliest in March and the latest in June. Natural colors include
white, yellow, and all shades of lavender and purple; hybrids widen the
range to many other tints.

There are many miniature species, some with several varieties, and
also hybrids, of their own. By far the largest group is the ‘Dwarf
Bearded Iris,’ so classified by the American Iris Society according to
the height of the flower stalk, and further divided into two series:
miniature dwarfs (four to ten inches) and standard dwarfs, Lilliputs
(ten to fifteen inches). These are rhizomatous, of course, like the
tall bearded giants of the garden, and bloom midway between the earlier
species and the big ones.

       *       *       *       *       *

   _bakeriana_--Bulbous, about six inches high, with round
   leaves and early, fragrant, blue-purple flowers.

   _cristata_--Crested iris with rhizomes and spreading by
   stolons to make wide mats. About six inches high with one or
   two white-crested, lilac, fragrant flowers in mid-May. There is
   an all-white variety. It likes light shade or dappled shade and
   cool moisture for its roots.

   _flavissima_--Rhizomatous, spreading by stolons to make
   open clumps under six inches high. It has narrow leaves and
   several bearded, brown-marked yellow flowers per stem when it
   blooms in April and May. It needs gritty or sandy soil, only
   slightly acid.

   _histroides_--Bulbous, about four inches high, with
   pale-blue flowers which appear early before the leaves. Various
   colors available.

   _innominata_--Rhizomatous West Coast dwarf with long grassy
   leaves and flowers varying between yellow and orange, and
   between lavender and purple. Blooms in May and June. Takes light
   shade and neutral, or even slightly acid, soil.

   _orchioides_--Bulbous, with sword-shaped leaves to nine
   inches long; has several purple-blotched yellow flowers per stem.

   _reticulata_--Bulb covered with netted membrane. Reedy
   stems about eight inches long disappearing in June. Crested
   flowers on six-inch stems with a fragrance like fresh violets.
   Gold-marked on deep purple. Blooms very early in March, even in

   _tenuifolia_--Rhizomatous, about six inches high,
   blue-purple flowers in June.

   _vartani_--Bulbous, flowering in late winter in mild areas,
   stemless slate-blue or violet flowers.

   _voina_--Native rhizomatous species which spreads by
   stolons; four to six inches tall. Has tufts of narrow leaves and
   beardless flowers which are lilac, or velvet marked yellow, on
   three-inch stems; blooms in May. Provide light shade and acid

CARE. For bulbous type: sandy or gritty soil with humus; drainage; sun,
except the hottest. For dwarf bearded type: loamy alkaline soil, and
drainage. Moist. More sun for best flowering.

PROPAGATION. Bulbous: divide bulbs in summer and replant in summer.
Rhizomatous: divide in summer.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, forcing, flower beds.

=Lavandula officinalis= _Labiate_ Lavender

Here is one that deserves a place in every garden, and for many
reasons: Its aromatic foliage and flowers, its nostalgic charm, and the
pleasant sight of it against evergreen with its gray-felt leaves and
dark-lavender flowers. It usually stops growing just under the height
of one foot and can be clipped lower if you wish. The leaves are lacy,
slim, and dainty, especially with their pure-white fur when young.

Among the varieties available are the Munstead strain, dwarf, plump,
and bearing pink flowers; ‘Hidcate Blue,’ very hardy; compacta
(nana compacta), earlier flowering and only a few inches high; and
atropurpurea, with dark purple flowers.

CARE. Poor soil so plants will not grow too vigorously and winter-kill.
Drainage, sun, winter protection. Dryish. Lime for maximum fragrance.
Prune almost any time; mulch.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, division, cuttings in late fall or early spring on
this year’s growth with heel of older wood.

SPECIAL USES. Edging, rock gardens, ground cover.

=Myosotis= _Boraginaceae_ Forget-Me-Not

Sentiment, compelling as it is, is not the only reason for having this
delightful little plant in one’s rock garden. Small though it is, it
has its own quiet charm in its delicate foliage and transparent cloud
of tiny blue flowers. The intensity of color of those blooms catches
your eye and draws you to it. You look at it and understand the reason
for its name. Here are a few members of the family:

   _scorpioides (palustris)_--Light, low, and sprawling;
   light-blue flowers touched with gold at the center during the
   spring. (They last much longer if you have the dwarf variety
   semperflorens.) The fact that these perennials are often
   listed as “half-hardy annuals” indicates their need for winter
   protection, but they will self-seed. (Water-lily specialists
   offer an aquatic variety that grows in bogs.)

   _sylvatica (alpestris)_--Self-sowing biennial (also offered
   as an annual) that has blue flowers with touches of pink,
   sometimes entirely pink. May flowers.

CARE. Ordinary soil, cool, moist, part shade.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (flowers the second year), division of clumps in
late summer.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, edge of pools.

=Nepeta hederacea (glechoma)= _Labiatae_ Ground Ivy

This is a ground cover, one that can get out of hand unless checked,
but it has its uses in shady spots where other covers do not flourish.
About the best-liked variety is variegata, which has round leaves
neatly scalloped on the edge and embroidered with white. In the spring
it has spires of blue flowers.

CARE. Ordinary or sandy soil. Drainage, either sun or shade.
Cut off faded flowers.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, division.

SPECIAL USES. Ground cover, containers, baskets, house and
greenhouse plantings, rock gardens.

=Oenothera= _Onagraceae_ Evening Primrose, Sundrop

The sundrops bloom by day; the evening primroses stay open at night
and play host to the moths of the garden. There is a miniature of
each type for the small garden. Each has the common characteristic of
large yellow poppy-like flowers which are short-lived but are quickly
replaced by others for most of the summer.

   _missouriensis_--Evening primrose from the West, six inches
   high. The leaves are long and oval, covered with ash-gray hairs.
   The nocturnal flowers, poppy-like, can measure six inches across
   and are yellow.

   _perennis (pumila)_--sundrop--This is the daytime bloomer,
   often with one-inch blooms on a plant only three inches tall.
   The silk-hairy leaves make a lush-looking mound.

CARE. Medium sandy soil, dry, with drainage (heavy dampness is fatal).
Lime and manure. Sun. Remove seed pods to promote more flowers. Plant
has long taproot which must not be broken when transplanting.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, division (in early fall or spring), cuttings (in
late summer).

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens and wall plantings.

=Phlox= _Polemoniaceae_

There are so many varieties of this furiously spring-flowering plant,
and all with many admirers, that the trick is to find the ones which
appeal to you personally. You will be guided by the colors you want and
the amount of space available. Many of them, after the blooming season,
make lush, plushy, green foliage mats.

   _amoena (procumbens)_--Neat, not rampant, cushions of
   two-inch oval leaves with flat clusters of fragrant pinkish, or
   purplish, flowers on six-inch stems in May and June.

   _bifida_--sand phlox--A native of the Midwest with low,
   tufted, and slightly hairy foliage and starry blue flowers
   (early, in April and May).

   _divaricata (canadensis)_--wild sweet William--This slow
   creeper is a little tall--about twelve inches--but may fit your
   planting scheme. It has two-inch oval leaves and clusters of
   lavender-blue flowers at daffodil time.

   _douglasi_--alpine phlox--Three-inch Western native with
   half-inch knife-like evergreen leaves and half-inch white or
   pastel flowers (in June).

   _rigida_--sandhill phlox--Western alpine, similar to
   douglasi except for thinner, more sharply pointed leaves and
   white flowers blending to blue and purple. The more acid the
   soil, the deeper the colors.

   _stolonifera_--creeping phlox--Partly or fully evergreen
   creeper with four-inch stems, oval, hairy leaves, and full
   clusters of light or dark lavender flowers in May and June.

   _subulata_--ground moss, or mountain pink--In April and May
   the six-inch mats of evergreen leaves are almost invisible under
   the profuse cover of one-inch, fragrant flowers. They may be
   purple, purplish-pink, or white, and some varieties are red or

CARE. Fertile soil, acid or alkaline according to the variety. Moist.
Most are hardy, again according to the variety.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (do not always come true), cuttings in July and
August, division of roots.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, edging, ground cover.

=Primula= _Primulaceae_ Primrose Official “Sections,” by
common cultural requirements.

   Auricula Section. _P. auricula_ and other European alpines and
   their hybrids; usually evergreen; flower in early spring. Stony,
   drained, rich loamy soil lightened by leaf mold and sand; will
   stand more sun than most, but not hot midday sun; likes its
   roots under stones; mulch with stone chips.

   Candelabra Section from Asia. Flowers in tiers, one whorl above
   another, open-faced; most tall with big leaves. Needs moist
   soil, part shade. Flowers in late spring and early summer.
   Disappear over winter.

   Capitatae Section from the Himalayas. Biennial here, perennial
   where snow covers all winter and on the West Coast. Flowers late
   (July). Flat rosettes of delicately toothed leaves, twelve-inch
   silver stems; flat silvery heads of slightly drooping flowers.
   Disappears over winter.

   Cortusoides Section from Asia. Woodsy-rich humusy soil.
   Decorative leaves usually soft hairy. Flowers in spring.
   Disappears over winter.

   Denticulata Section. Small group from the Himalayas. Easy
   perennial. Be careful about dampness in winter. Among the
   earliest to flower in spring.

   Farinosae Section. Huge group from many lands. Moisture,
   drainage, part shade. Stand more sun if moist. Small bud,
   usually white at surface, shows in winter.

   Nivalis Section from Asia. Biennial here. Long narrow leaves.
   Flowers in tiers closer than candelabra and more drooping.
   Cool, rich, moist soil, part shade. Flowers in early spring;
   disappears in winter.

   Sikkimensis Section from Asia. Belled primulas, with hanging
   heads of bell-shaped flowers. Biennial here; perennial in both
   colder and warmer climates. Most tall with heads of fragrant
   flowers held well above large toothed leaves. Flowers in late
   spring; disappears in winter.

   Vernales Section includes all the easiest-to-grow and best-known
   primulas. Requires part shade, rich soil, moisture; should
   never be completely dry. Evergreen. Includes: _P. vulgaris
   (acaulis)_, single flower per stem; _P. polyantha_
   with many varieties, and stalked umbrella of flowers above the
   leaves; _P. juliae_ hybrids. Among _P. polyantha_
   there are some dwarf hybrids (not miniature).

CARE. Some shade for hottest part of the day. Woodsy soil rich in
humus, neutral or slightly acid. Mulch with manure if possible, around
and between plants; don’t cover crown. Keep moist. Provide winter
protection of salt hay, evergreen boughs, or excelsior, which results
in gradual thawing of the ground around the plants in spring, and also
prevents premature blooming during unseasonably warm winter days.
Fertilize in spring, and in summer for next year’s flowers. No nitrogen
in summer fertilizer. Watch plants for signs of slugs and red spider.
Divide when plants get too crowded, preferably after flowering. Hearty

PROPAGATION. Seeds when ripe (others must be frozen first and thawed),
division after flowering.

SPECIAL USES. Carpet under shrubs and under early-flowering trees.
Naturalize by streams and beside pools. Wall planting, rock gardens,
borders, wild gardens.

=Saxifraga= _Saxifragaceae_ Rockfoil

There are so many species and hybrids of this popular plant it is
difficult to know all of them. Generally, they are characterized by
flattish clusters of leaves around the crown, and airy sprays of
flowers on top of taller stems. But from this point the variations take
many forms and sizes. The leaves may be the size of a nickel or five
times that size; flowers may be minute, or large and open-faced; there
may be creeping stems or runners, or not.

For most gardeners it is not necessary to know how botanists classify
these plants. If you plan to delve deeply into rock gardening there are
a number of excellent books on rock plants, some of which are listed in
the appendix.

Following are a few of the better-known, and easier grown, saxifraga,
including several that have a place in flower borders and other garden

   _aizoon_--Arctic native with rosettes of evergreen, stiff,
   gray-blue leaves edged with a thin “crust” of limy deposit, and
   purple-spotted white flowers on tall stems (in May or June).
   There are a number of varieties, including yellow-flowering
   lutea, pink rosea, and tiny baldensis with leaf clusters only a
   quarter-inch across. (Drainage, moist, with northwest exposure.
   Shade from noon sun; provide limy soil with leaf mold.

   _cuscutaeformis_--Thick, hairy, roundish leaves tinged with
   copper and marked with a network of white veins; spreads by
   reddish runners that produce new plants at their tips.

   _decipiens rosacea_--Mossy mats of finely cut leaves and
   large cupped white flowers on six-inch stems (in May and June).
   Drainage; gritty sandy soil with leaf mold and humus. Moist,
   shade from sun. Also pink-and red-flowering varieties.

   _sarmentosa_--strawberry begonia--Favorite pot and basket
   plant, hardy in nearly every garden. Spreads by strawberry-like
   runners with plantlets at the ends. Makes mats of round,
   white-veined leaves and tall airy sprays of white or purplish
   flowers in June. Requires shade, and moist acid soil.

   _umbrosa_--London pride--Makes a carpet of three-inch-high
   rosettes of leathery leaves; spires of pink flowers in early
   summer. Needs moist, rich soil and shade or semishade. The
   small-scale variety primuloides is daintier.

   _virginiensis_--Slender, oval three-inch leaves in flat
   clusters, green tinged, but bronze in the fall; small white
   flowers on ten-inch stems in May. Native of our Northeast. Nice
   in wild gardens.

CARE. Soil varies with the species (lime for the encrusted ones, which
also tolerate more sun). Semishade, moist, but perfect drainage. A hot
dry climate is bad for the alpines. Mossy varieties need heavier shade,
richer soil, and are best moist.

PROPAGATION. Divisions of sets, cuttings, seeds (most varieties).

SPECIAL USES. Baskets, pots, dry-wall planting, containers, borders.

=Silene= _Caryophyllaceae_ Campion, Catchfly

The perennials of this genus include some of our most colorful native
plants (the flaming fire pink _S. virginica_, for example), all
related to the garden pinks but each one having its own characteristics.

   _acaulis_--cushion pink, moss campion--Dainty two-inch
   mossy tufts of needle-like leaves slowly increasing to clumps
   and having half-inch purple-red flowers all summer. (Provide
   gritty, limed soil.)

   _caroliniana (pennsylvanica)_--wild pink--Sticky-fuzzy
   plant with slim four-inch evergreen leaves and pink flowers on
   six-inch stems (April-June). Native to Northeastern woods. Good
   in rocky spots. Has deep taproot so handle with care. Dig deep
   when dormant.

   _maritima_--Sea campion--Slim, gray-blue leaves on trailing
   stems, making a mat four inches high with clusters of white
   flowers in June.

   _saxifraga_--Tufts of knife-shaped leaves under summer
   flowers which are white inside, tinted green or red outside, on
   six-inch stems.

   _schafta_--moss campion--Spreading mounds of silky-hairy
   leaves covered in August with rose or purple flowers on six-inch

CARE. Good soil, gritty for some varieties with lime for some.
Top-dress yearly with mixture of soil and cow manure. Drainage.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, division, cuttings (of young growth).

SPECIAL USES. Rock planting, borders, walls, wild gardens.

=Thymus= _Labiatae_ Thyme

These are actually tiny shrubs with tangling, woody stems and masses
of little leaves that are evergreen in all but the coldest and most
exposed locations. Some creep flatly; some make three-inch mounds.
You can choose from varying fragrances, leaf textures and colors, and
colors of early summer flowers. In fact, there is a much wider variety
available than most gardeners realize.

   _herba-barona_--caraway thyme--Ground-hugging creeper
   with fresh green caraway-scented leaves, and tight clusters
   of rose-purple flowers. It does not seed and is propagated by
   division of roots. Hardy.

   _lanicaulis_--Four-inch carpet with half-inch leaves slim
   as needles at the base and broadening higher on the short stems.
   Stems feature a woolly coat of hairs as long as they are thick.
   Tight clover-like flowers are rosy pink.

   _nitidus_--French thyme--Six-to eight-inch shrub with
   shiny, oval, gray-green leaves, and lavender flowers. Older
   clumps resent being disturbed, so start young plants from

   _serpyllum_--mother-of-thyme, creeping thyme--Perennially
   popular stem-rooting creeper, less than four inches high with
   half-inch oval green leaves and purple flowers loved by bees.
   There are many varieties: white-flowered albus, silver-marked
   argenteus, gold variegated aureus, larger, red-flowering
   coccineus, bright-pink roseus, robust, romping, red-flowering
   splendens. Almost in a class by themselves--and often
   listed as separate species--are lanuguinosus, woolly thyme
   (completely covered with silvery fuzz), and the variety vulgaris
   (citriodorus), lemon thyme with citrus-scented leaves.

   _vulgaris_--common thyme--Kitchen herb, spreads by
   underground stems. The erect stalks are covered with fine white
   hair and set with half-inch oval leaves; there are deep-lilac
   flowers in May and June. It spreads so fast it has been accused
   of being a weed.

CARE. Ordinary soil, or rich and sandy loam (gritty for some plants).
Drainage. Fairly sunny. Protect lightly where winters are severe.

PROPAGATION. Division, layers in spring, cuttings in early summer,
seeds (not all varieties have seed, and seeds do not always come true).

SPECIAL USES. Pavements (plants not damaged), border planting, herb
gardens, ground cover, edging, dry-wall planting, cover for bulbs.

=Veronica= _Scrophulariaceae_ Speedwell

Most of the smaller veronicas are matmakers; some are clumpy, and a few
are even woody or shrub-like. Also there is a fairly wide variation in
the foliage. But the flowers are always arranged in spires; a few are
white, purple, or pinkish, but mainly there is a wide choice of true
blues from baby blue to royal blue. Here are a few varieties:

   _allioni_--Carpet of little leathery leaves, violet flowers
   in July.

   _armena_--Ferny, furry tufts of finely cut leaves on
   trailing stems, five-inch spikes of vivid blue flowers (from May
   to July). Provide drainage, filtered sun, or half shade.

   _filiformis_--An idiosyncratic creeper that delights some
   gardeners and drives others crazy. It has been described as
   “pernicious” and a weed. Actually it’s rather pretty, with small
   rounded leaves and galaxies of starry-blue flowers in late
   spring. Grows in either sun or light shade.

   _fruticans (saxatilis)_--Woody stems tightly clothed in
   dark evergreen leaves making a shrubby plant under six inches.
   In June and July sapphire flowers open their eyes with pinkish

   _fruticulosa_--Shrubby and semi-evergreen, about four
   inches high with half-inch leaves and pinkish-blue flowers in

   _gentianoides_--This species has clusters of gleaming
   leaves close to the ground. And in June the flowers are very
   large, a luscious Wedgwood blue. But there are alarming reports
   that it has topped twenty inches in height. To play safe, try
   the miniature version nana, which has the same characteristics
   but is much less than half that high.

   _repens_--This is a precious pet, a massy creeper with
   tiny teardrop leaves. It sparkles in May or June with baby-blue
   flowers. It is all of two inches tall at maturity.

   _spicata nana_--The midget reproduction of the better-known
   species, slowly swelling to low, leafy clumps and topped
   with three-inch spikes of blue-purple flowers in July. A
   white-flowering form has smaller leaves but taller flower stems.

CARE. Any good soil. Moist but with drainage. Sun or light shade
depending on the variety (see notations in plant descriptions). Cut
back faded flowers. Trailers start best if plants were grown in pots.
Divide occasionally.

PROPAGATION. Seeds in spring, division in fall or spring, cuttings
early in the summer.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, ground cover, dry-wall planting, pavements,
steps, stepping stones.

=Viola= _Violaceae_ Viola, Violet

Thanks to the viola, gardens of all sorts are richer and more pleasant
places in which to work, visit, or spend a pleasant afternoon. Here are
some of the viola’s gifts to gardening:

   _cornuta_--Tufted pansies.

   _odorata_--sweet violets--Fragrant violets, once strictly a
   specialty of florist shops but now widely grown in home gardens.

   _rosina_--Pink flowers with intense fragrance.

   _semperflorens_--Mats of fresh green leaves with purple
   flowers that last much of the summer.

   _tricolor_--Commonly known as Johnny-jump-up, an
   all-summer-long bloomer with small purple and gold flowers.

   _tricolor hortensis_--Pansies which grow in many colors and
   color combinations.

CARE. Rich garden soil, partial shade, moisture, light winter

PROPAGATION. Seeds (sown in flats and exposed to freezing weather over
winter for spring germination), division, layering of runners of those
varieties that produce them.

SPECIAL USES. Cut flowers, beds, edging, rock gardens.

                             _CHAPTER 16_

                           MINIATURE ANNUALS

Even if every inch of our gardens were permanently planted, I’d
probably still start some annuals every spring. In those depressing,
letdown weeks of January after the holidays nothing brightens my life
like leafing through the new seed catalogues. In the dark days of March
when late-winter blusters snarl at spring and threaten to hold it off
forever, my perky indoor seedlings tell me that it is just around a
bend in the road. My traditional birthday treat, in early June, is a
day all my own when I get my favorite flower beds ready for the summer.
I absolutely refuse to fry an egg, wash a dish, or lift a dustcloth.
Before dark on that wonderful day I see that every seedling is planted
in moist warm soil.

Actually, I can’t imagine our grounds being so completely planted
that there isn’t a place for at least a few annuals--no bare spots in
the perennial border, no shrub or tree around which to set flowering
clumps, no window boxes or planters in need of decoration. And if ever
there is a spring when I don’t ask my husband to spade up “just one
more spot” for a few more annuals, I’ll eat my garden gloves finger by

Because they cost so little, and because they last only one season,
you can plant annuals with careless abandon. You can experiment with
bizarre color schemes. If they don’t work out, try something different
next year. If you are saving a special spot for a special shrub or
bush, and you feel it is too expensive for the moment, or you can’t
find a specimen that is exactly what you want, let annuals fill in
until you have that particular plant. If you are creating a new garden
and are not quite sure of the design, test it with annuals before you
make it permanent.

As with the miniature perennials, the annuals included here have been
selected not only because they are small, but also because they are
in suitably modest scale for use in miniature gardens of many sorts.
Descriptions of the varieties should be helpful in selecting the truly
miniature annuals at local nurseries and garden centers. Seeds are
available from various mail-order suppliers listed in the Appendix.

Like all other garden plants, miniature annuals should be selected
according to such cultural conditions as the amount of moisture and
sunlight and the type of soil. If these requirements are not clearly
stated on the seed packets or in the seed catalogue from which you
ordered, check for details in a good reference book rather than risk
disappointing failure.

                       GROWING ANNUALS FROM SEED

When and where you sow seeds of annuals depends on whether the
particular varieties grow best in coolness or warmth, and how long the
growing season has to be for maturity and flowering. This is the basis
of catalogue listings that classify annuals as hardy, half-hardy, or
tender. Hardy annuals germinate best when air and soil are cool and
make their best growth before hot weather sets in. Seeds are sometimes
sown out of doors in autumn to germinate in early spring, or they may
be sown in the garden the moment the frost is out of the ground.

Half-hardy seeds are planted outdoors where the plants are to grow,
or you can give them a head start either indoors or in a hotbed or a
cold frame. Plant about six weeks before the time to set them outdoors.
Tender perennials grown in cold areas as annuals follow the same

Seeds of tender annuals should not be planted outdoors until all danger
of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up considerably. But many
tender varieties, like petunias, are slow-growing and need plenty of
time to reach flowering size. These should be started indoors no later
than March.

Unless you have a greenhouse or hotbed, it’s risky to start seeds
too early indoors. Poor light and high temperatures will cause the
seedlings to grow limp and leggy and often to topple over toward the
source of the light. At transplanting time they may be so weak they
will be slow getting established; thus, little time is saved after all.

But you can save several weeks by starting seeds early in a sunny
window (just not too early), and you can start them even earlier in
a cool greenhouse, a hotbed, or a cold frame. When we lived on Long
Island we rigged up a workable substitute outside a cellar window by
using discarded storm windows. In fact, since it had a brick foundation
that reached below the frost line and had a heating coil in the soil,
we grew many cool greenhouse plants in it during the winter. The open
cellar window provided enough heat for flats of annual seedlings we
propagated in it in the spring. Once these seedlings were transplanted
to the garden, we dismantled our temporary greenhouse, filled the
spot with topsoil, and made a flower bed. I’ve seen several small
greenhouses like the one we improvised on sale commercially, one, of
metal and glass, selling for less than ten dollars.

  [Illustration: Improvised greenhouse costing $00.00 which saved
  author, shown in photograph, at least a hundred dollars per annum
  in the cost of annuals]

  [Illustration: Greenhouse construction diagram]

Indoors or out, seeds germinate best in clean, sifted soil that is
light and porous and drains perfectly. Add organic matter such as
peat or humus to help hold moisture, and sand to aerate and insure
drainage. If possible, sterilize the soil with heat or one of the
special fungicides, to prevent “damp-off.” Plant seeds only to the
depth of their diameter, and don’t cover dust-fine seeds at all.
Keep the soil moist during the germination period and for some weeks

For several years we’ve transplanted seedlings directly into peat pots
as soon as they have their first few leaves. This is a tedious job, but
how it saves backache and heartache later. Indoors you can transplant
while seated comfortably at a table or bench, and while listening to
soft music on the radio. When the seedlings have flourished in the peat
pots and it is time to put them outdoors, there is much less time spent
bent double on one’s knees. And since the roots aren’t disturbed, the
plants seldom suffer from transplanting shock and seldom fail to thrive.

Plants grown indoors should be hardened before they’re put out of doors
for good. Every day expose them to fresh outdoor air for an increasing
length of time, until they are accustomed to the cooler temperatures,
particularly at night.

                              SUMMER CARE

Annuals take the same kind of care you give perennials, except
that most of them require less of it. Few need, or even thrive in,
especially fertile soil. Fertilize lightly, if at all. Many annuals get
along with less moisture and mulching than perennials. And of course,
none need be prepared for winter. During their one big season, simply
pinch or prune those that grow straggly, and remove fading flowers
before they set seeds. That usually prolongs the blooming season. After
frost strikes, burn the dead tops, which helps control the spread of
insects and disease.

As you study miniatures you will realize how many of the old regular
annuals of the garden, plants that usually top two or three feet,
can also be had in five-to eight-inch sizes. You have but to look
through your seed catalogues. The tiny ones are usually listed at the
end of each category, though in the affections of miniature-lovers
they should come first and take precedence over the “new giant-size,”
“bigger-than-ever” varieties.

In searching for miniatures I’ve culled through my large collection
of catalogues from Burpee to Vaughn and have compiled a list of small
annuals I have either grown, or expect to grow the coming season. Not
all of them are compact versions of their larger relatives. Many by
nature are on the diminutive side. So many of them are old friends,
let’s call them by their first names--the ones by which they are listed
in most seed booklets. The plants I have in mind are mostly eight
inches in height or less, though some of the longer-stemmed charmers
may slip in simply because they are too lovely to be left out. We’ll
give colors for those who have color schemes in mind for their gardens.


This annual, a great garden favorite, is also known as the floss
flower. In general it is a profuse bloomer that is fine for borders,
edgings, rock gardens, small flower beds, and even as a house plant.
It comes in several colors but usually in the same sizes, two to six

   ‘Blue Ball’--This name is especially descriptive. The plants
   shape up as round as a ball and then cover themselves with
   dark-blue flowers. Who can expect more of one so small?

   ‘Blue Mink’--My friends who write seed catalogues, and so see
   many beautiful plants, rave about this one as being true blue,
   the real ageratum color. Its blooms, pretty as they are, grow
   surprisingly large for a bush so small.

   ‘Imperial White Dwarf’--For its contrast I love this one, a
   pattern of white surrounded by the blues, pinks, and reds of
   other annuals.

   ‘Midget Blue’--This is my real pet, a really tiny one of uniform
   shape, never over three inches tall and with the most delicate
   blue ageratum flowers.

=Alyssum (Sweet)=

This is just about the nicest thing that can happen to your garden
be it annual, miniature, or otherwise. Although some members of this
family may reach twelve inches, most of them run from three to five

   ‘Carpet of Snow’--Much like ‘Royal Carpet’ for spreading, but
   has white flowers instead of purple.

   ‘Little Gem’--This one is about six inches tall, but atones for
   its height by being a more profuse bloomer, with small white

   ‘Pink Heather’--The blooms open in a delicate pink and slowly
   darken. It has vigor and scent, and seems to want to bloom

   ‘Rosie O’Day’--The pride and joy of the family, and the winner
   of an award comparable to being chosen Miss America. The blooms
   are a deep pink, even more so when the weather is a bit cool. It
   is quick to bloom, easy to grow, and nicely fragrant.

   ‘Royal Carpet’--This one is only about two inches high. With
   its purple flowers it fills in vacant spots most beautifully. A
   single plant may spread out ten inches.

   ‘Violet King’--Somewhat shorter than ‘Violet Queen,’ but has a
   deeper color and more compact shape.

   ‘Violet Queen’--Averages about five inches, and is as its name
   says a rich violet color. Delightfully scented, it is wonderful
   for edging, borders, and flower beds.

Alyssum has long been one of my garden favorites, whether for a ground
cover, for rock gardens, as an edging for walks and beds, or just for
its own sweet alyssum self.


In my concept of miniature plants I had always thought of balsam as a
towering giant of at least two feet or more. Then one night while going
through seed catalogues I discovered an entire column listing ‘Tom
Thumb Double Flowered Dwarf,’ ‘Tom Thumb Purple,’ ‘Tom Thumb Scarlet,’
‘Tom Thumb Shell Pink,’ ‘Tom Thumb Pure White,’ ‘Tom Thumb Rose.’

According to growing directions, Balsam likes a rich soil, well-drained
but slightly moist, and full sun.


It was love at first sight when I saw a clump of this delightful
annual. I was even more delighted to learn that the plant can be grown
as a miniature. In the smaller form the cute little fellows spread out
into low mounds of six or eight inches and cover themselves with blooms
that last all summer. As an edging, for rock gardens, and as a cover
for otherwise bare spots, they are truly charming.

   ‘Golden Ray’--Yellow with crimson touches.

   ‘Petite Purple’--Rich purple covering the small mounds.

   ‘Tiger Star’--Rich-crimson-striped and splashed with yellow.
   Plants stay at about six to eight inches and become mounds of


Here is another of the taller plants which fortunately has some small
relatives. There are:

   ‘Jubilee Gem’--Has a vivid blue flower on a compact bush.

   ‘Lilac Lady’--Purplish blooms on a neat bush.

   ‘Little Snow Man’--Pure-white blooms.

   ‘Rose Gem’--Red blooms, double.

Most of these plants will stay under eight inches. They are ideal for
rock gardens.


Marigolds are very well represented in the gallery of miniatures.
Loving the large ones as I do, I love the tiny ones even more. In one
of my favorite catalogues I find an entire group with “Petite” as a
first name:

   ‘Petite Gold’--About seven inches tall and golden yellow.

   ‘Petite Harmony’--Mahogany in tone, with a gold crest.

   ‘Petite Orange’--About the same size, only tending to be more
   orange in color.

   ‘Petite Yellow’--Another variation on the popular marigold
   color. In another catalogue I find the small ones called
   “Pygmies”; all of them are just a little short of nine inches in

   ‘Fireglow’--Mahogany-scarlet with gold centers.

   ‘Helen Chapman’--Rich gold in color with flecks of red.

   ‘Primrose Pygmy’--Primrose-yellow flowers with a red base.

   ‘Yellow Pygmy’--Lemon-yellow pompon-type flowers.

There are other miniature marigolds, from the double dwarf French part
of the family, within my idea of how small a small one should be.

   ‘Brownie Scout’--Golden little flowers with a base flecked with

   ‘Butterball’--Canary-yellow blooms and plenty of them until
   frost time.

   ‘Fireball’--A few inches taller than some varieties, but with
   flame-like markings flashing up through the otherwise orange

   ‘Gold Laced’--Basically mahogany in color but with each petal
   edged in gold.

   ‘Rusty Red’--The brightest of red, extra-large flowers for a
   small plant.


I love this plant so much I hate to leave it out of my listing even
though it might be a few inches taller than my other miniatures. I
always am careful to plant it toward the rear of flower beds where it
will not overpower the smaller plants. There are several dwarfs, but
the one I know best is ‘Cherry Rose.’


This is a very beautiful little dwarf, each plant spreading out into
a shapely clump, and covering itself with pretty cup-shaped blossoms.
When sown in the spring it blooms all summer. When sown in the autumn
it is an early spring-bloomer. It is at its best when used in a
semishaded spot for a ground cover, for a border, or in a rock garden.
Its more usual name is baby blue eyes.

   ‘Insignis Blue’--The best-known variety; covers itself with
   lovely, cup-shaped, sky-blue flowers with white centers.


Petunias, being favorite annuals, belong in just about every garden,
but it is difficult to find the small ones for the miniature garden.
But they are available despite the fact that most hybridizers try to
develop a larger and larger plant. Here is a list of smaller ones; few
of them are taller than eight inches.

   ‘Blue Star’--Velvety blue with a sharp white star.

   ‘Bright Eyes’--Rosy-pink blooms with white throats.

   ‘Heavenly Blue’--Light sky-blue, a heavenly color.

   ‘Igloo’--Compact and pure white.

   ‘Rosy Morn’--Brilliant rose with white throat.

   ‘Salmon Gem’--Bright salmon color.

   ‘Twinkles’--Brilliant rose-starred white.


This is another garden favorite that may give you problems when you
try to find seed for the small ones. Again, the tall varieties are
being developed, but concessions have been made to those who like the
diminutive. I find five varieties listed as the ‘New Dwarf Compact.’

   ‘Cinnabar Red’--Scarlet vermilion.

   ‘Fireball’--Rich fiery crimson scarlet.

   ‘Isabellina’--Primrose yellow.

   ‘Pink’--Bright chamois-pink.

   ‘Snowball’--Flowers of purest white.

Another source lists:

   ‘Dwarf Globe’--A plump-shaped plant with flowers of various

   _nana compacta_--Not six inches high and a constant bloomer
   with large radiant flowers.

   ‘Twinkle’--Various colors with fluted, fringed petals.


Seemingly this is an insignificant little plant, though I don’t know
how one so charming could be classified as such. I had never raised it
until the editor of one of my favorite magazines asked me to make some
photographs of it. Of course, I had to grow it first. I planted a bed
and waited for results. They were not long in coming. Plants barely out
of the ground started blooming a few days later, and started spreading
about the same time. The blooms, when single, were cup-shaped; the
doubles looked like roses. The plants had a sunny exposure, a sandy
soil, not much nutriment, and an inordinate attraction for our dogs
(like catnip for cats). One day I took a photograph of my husband’s
Labrador-retriever pup looking over a short picket fence at my
portulaca. I promptly put in a higher fence, but the puppy grew
faster than the fence. Eventually, I got my photographs, but it was a
dog-gone struggle. If you do not have dogs, or if your dogs are not
portulaca-minded, I offer you a listing of a few varieties.

   ‘Alba’--Pure white.

   ‘Aurea’--Lovely yellow.


   ‘Red Foundling’--A little larger than some of the others, but
   semidouble, carmine-red, and most lovely.


   ‘Salmon’--Salmon-colored and delightful.


I didn’t think it possible that the lovely tall snapdragons, the ones
that are waist high or taller, could be reduced to a mere six or eight
inches. But it is possible. I offer two varieties in substantiation.

   ‘Miniature Magic Carpet’--Four to six inches. Colors are mixed
   and very dainty. As a carpet plant it is a creeper when given a

   ‘Tom Thumb’--A plant that varies from six to eight inches tall,
   very free-flowering, good for window boxes, rock gardens, porch
   boxes, and flower pots for the window. Colors are in all of the
   brilliant shades.

=Sweet Peas=

One seed company came right to the point when listing the small
varieties of sweet peas, calling them ‘Little Sweethearts,’ which they
are. Eight varieties were listed in one booklet.

   ‘Boy Blue’--Clear mid-blue and delightful.


   ‘Coquette’--A rose-red variety.

   ‘Heidi’--Another red bloomer.

Those are varieties we have grown. Others which I hope to meet are
‘Fantasy-Face,’ ‘Pollyanna,’ ‘Sinbad,’ and ‘Snow-White.’

Another source lists ‘Cupid,’ ‘Little Sweetheart,’ and ‘Color Carpet.’
These three are bushy, not viny, make six-inch mounds of small-scale
pea-type leaves, are slightly fragrant, and are usually sold in
mixtures of colors.


Actually this is a perennial, but it is usually grown as an annual. It
is rampant both as a bloomer and as a creeper. The flowers are tubular
with flat heads and show up in many colors--pink, lavender, scarlet,
white. Our sources list _Verbena bipinnatifida_, the most hardy;
and _V. hortensis_, many colors with white eyes, and a low compact
shape. Another, ‘Dwarf Compact’ is white.


In running down my alphabet of annuals, from alyssum to zinnias, I find
it a bit difficult to fit the latter into what I consider the miniature
category, eight inches or thereabout. But zinnias are so effective in
a garden I’ll forgive them if they are a few inches above eight. I’ll
plant them in the back rows of my beds and pinch out the tops if they
get too rambunctious. In the Lilliput class, those delightful little
plants which cover themselves with the pompon type of bloom, I offer
the following list.

   ‘Canary Yellow’--Clear yellow.

   ‘Peach Blossom’--Soft light pink.

   ‘Rose Gem’--Deep clear rose pink.

   ‘Scarlet Gem’--Bright fiery scarlet.

   ‘White Gem’--Pearl-like white.

Sorry I can’t offer more varieties, but all growers seem to be devoted
to growing giants in the zinnia class. I happen to love the little
ones, those cute pompons that look so charming in the buttonhole of a
man’s jacket.

                             _CHAPTER 17_

                        MINIATURE GARDEN BULBS

Ring-around-a-rosying at the foot of a gray birch, twenty
dazzling-white spring snowflakes nodding at the turn of a path, a
company of bright-eyed kaufmanniana tulips; perching lightly in a
rocky crevice, a flock of tiny canary daffodils that seem ready to
wing away.... There’s something about the miniature bulbs that’s more
fauna than flora, more fairy tale than real. Each one has its own elfin
character and a happy-go-lucky way of stamping your garden “personally

In the rock garden, at the edge of a border, with evergreen ground
covers, clustered wherever there’s a stone or stump to back them up,
used by the hundreds as drifts in the lawn, miniature bulbs more
than anything else give you that spring feeling. Potted and forced
into flower indoors, they’re winsome window-garden items, delicate
decorations for coffee table or what-not, delightful dish-garden
inhabitants. They’re indispensable for sink gardens, precious in the
small greenhouse.

Perhaps part of their charm lies in their unfamiliarity. So few are
well known and widely grown. So many more are easy to find, easy to
grow, and especially easy to pay for. And they’re such beguiling
plants, I don’t see how any garden could be without them, miniature or

All of the bulbs included here hold their flowers no more than six
inches high. They’re not small versions of better-known, larger
plants, but mostly completely different, with their own individual
characteristics--and with bulbs, foliage, and flowers in miniature
proportions. The word _bulb_ is used in its generalized sense, and
includes true bulbs, corms, and tubers. To be botanically accurate,
a few plants such as tuberous-rooted dahlias, rhizomatous iris, and
bulbous erythroniums should also be included; but to be consistent in
such matters as culture and decorative use, they’re grouped with plants
that grow similarly, in the chapters on annuals, perennials, and wild

Some of these miniature bulbs are available from nurseries and other
local suppliers. But the majority, and particularly the most unusual,
are offered by mail by bulb importers and specialist growers. Reading
some of the catalogues is like taking a quick trip to exotic parts of
the world. And for me, ordering no more than I can find time to plant
and care for is a severe exercise in self-restraint. There are always
a few more that would look well in some special spot, others that are
intriguing simply because I’ve never grown or seen them.

Most bulb catalogues give specific cultural recommendations that are
helpful in selecting varieties that will adapt to your climate, and to
the sun, soil, and moisture in the spot where you want to plant them.
In general, bulbs are either hardy or not; they will survive a deep
winter freeze, or they must be lifted and stored before the ground
freezes at all. There are some natural borderline exceptions, like many
fascinating varieties native to the West that are not so touchy about
cold as they are about other climatic and cultural conditions.


Tender, summer-flowering bulbs are planted in late spring, when soil
is warm and danger of severe frost has passed. Hardy bulbs are usually
planted in late summer and early fall, when foilage has ripened and
died back and the plants are in deepest dormancy. This includes
fall-flowering types like the colchicums. The earlier bulbs can be
planted, the stronger the root systems they can develop before winter,
and the stronger their flowering during the first season.

Make sure the selected site has perfect drainage. Bulbs rot quickly
when water stands around their roots. Dig generously, to about eight
inches deep; enrich the soil with organic matter such as leaf mold or
compost; increase aeration and drainage in sticky, clay-like soils with
sharp sand; add a light sprinkling of bone meal or superphosphate, if
fertility is low. Since few bulbs like very acid soil, lime is a “must”
except where the soil tests so extremely alkaline that the addition of
organic matter does not make it acid.

An average measure for depth of planting is twice the diameter of the
bulb in cooler climates, an inch or so deeper in areas like southern
Virginia to provide protection against summer heat. For quick effect,
plant about a dozen bulbs in a group; six bulbs more widely spaced will
usually increase and give the same effect in several years.


Most bulbs need moisture before, during, and after flowering, when
foliage is green and growing or ripening. They’re better off on the dry
side during dormancy. This is a perfect setup for most hardy types,
because they need the least watering in summer, when droughts are most
common. But it does increase the urgency for perfect drainage for some
of the Western species that can’t bear moisture in winter.


Except for an early-spring top-dressing of leaf-mold compost, we seldom
feed our little bulbs. Occasionally, some healthy specimens may get
a puny, undernourished look that calls for sprinkling bone meal or
superphosphate over the soil and scratching it in. Or we may water with
manure “tea” during or after flowering time.

If soil is properly prepared at planting time, supplemental feeding
should not be necessary for most types for several years. By that time
some bulbs have multiplied so enthusiastically they should be lifted,
separated, and reset in freshly mixed soil.

_Problems and Pests_

If you plant bulbs where they don’t stand in soggy mud or water, you’ll
have little loss from rot. But if you’re in a suburban or rural area
inhabited by cute chipmunks, squirrels, or mice, you won’t want to
plant juicy morsels such as tulips, crocus, and eranthis just to feed
the animals. I’ve never had the time or patience to plant bulbs in wire
cages. Poison baits can be dangerous when you have children or pets. An
effective safety measure is to put the bait inside a clean milk bottle
and cover it with a heap of straw or leaves, with evergreen branches to
hold the heap in place.

_Winter Protection_

Because the root systems may not be completely matured, newly planted
bulbs should be mulched with a light, airy covering of something like
salt hay during their first winter. After that, the necessity for
protection varies with hardiness and with climate. Sometimes these
mulches hold in more moisture than is good for bulbs. If alternate
freezing and thawing should heave the shallow roots up through cracks
in the soil, press them back gently but firmly and cover with soil


Whether they’re to be exhibited in competition at a flower show,
or displayed for close-up enjoyment in the living room, uniform
perfection is the objective. First, then, buy the finest-quality bulbs
available--the most plump, firm, healthy bulbs you can find. If the
catalogue listing includes “recommended for forcing” or “specially
treated for forcing,” so much the better.

Time for potting, and length of time required for rooting, vary with
the varieties. We’re usually potting up bulbs for forcing through most
of October, occasionally into the first week of November. Our favorites
are potted at two-week intervals, so we’ll have a continuous show of
flowers in winter and early spring.

We prefer clay pots because of their porosity, and shallow pots because
most miniature bulbs are shallow-rooted. A generous layer of pebbles
or broken crocks goes in the bottom of every pot. The potting soil is
a house-plant mixture with a teaspoon of lime mixed in for a six-inch
bulb pot. Bulbs are set so their tips are barely covered with soil;
then pots are set in water up to the rims to make sure both soil and
pots are thoroughly moist.

Before they can be forced into flower, bulbs need time to grow sound
root systems. They need to be stored cool, and in the dark so that
premature top growth won’t be encouraged.

Our potted bulbs are pre-rooted in the cold frame, the pots sunk in the
soil, each pot covered by another pot turned upside down over it. Soil
is added to cover the top pots; and after severe weather sets in, we
top with at least six inches of salt hay.

In lieu of a cold frame, a fairly deep trench, with a layer of pebbles
or sand for drainage, can be used in the same way, with twice as much
salt hay on top or even more. Some growers set the pots on shelves in
cool, dark corners of the basement, but our cellars have always been
much too warm. Soil should be kept moist, but not wet, during the
rooting period.

When the pot is completely filled with roots, and a few stick out the
drainage hole in the bottom, the potted bulbs are moved to a cool,
shady spot in the house or greenhouse for just a few days. Then they
are brought into the sun for growth and flowering. For the best and
most lasting flowers, try to provide temperatures between 55 and 60
degrees by day, five degrees or more cooler by night.

The window of an unheated bedroom or attic, or an enclosed porch, may
be the only place where temperatures are low enough for healthiest
growth. These are good places to grow the plants until they open their
flowers, then they can be brought into warmer quarters for a flowering

If you are trying to force bulbs into flower at some specific time, and
if the buds aren’t swelling as fast as they should, warmer temperatures
and a booster feeding of liquid manure should speed up the process.
Cooler temperatures will help retard flowering.

Keep the soil always moist before, during, and after flowering. When
the leaves begin to yellow, gradually hold back on watering and keep
it barely moist until time to set the bulbs out in the garden. Forcing
bulbs two years in succession is not usually successful.

                         MINIATURE BULB PLANTS

=Chionodoxa= _Liliaceae_ Glory-of-the-Snow

Early April flowers that disregard unfavorable weather. Leaves are
narrow and grassy and disappear after the flowering period. Flowers are
open-faced with short tubes.

   _gigantea_--Largest flowers, pastel lavender-blue. Strong
   stems that don’t fall over in bad weather.

   _luciliae_--Five or more flowers per five-inch stem, bright
   sky-blue with white centers. The variety alba is white; rosea,

   _sardensis_--Like luciliae, but deeper blue without the
   white eye.

CARE. Gritty soil. Moisture. Mulch with manure in the fall. Light and
sun. Hardy and easy to grow. Makes a ground carpet.

PROPAGATION. Seeds (seeds itself except for some varieties which
increase below ground), offshoots.

SPECIAL USES. Ground cover, rock gardens, forcing.

=Colchicum= _Liliaceae_ Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron

Usually called crocus, this fall bloomer actually is a lily.

   _autumnale_--Crocus-like flowers four inches across from
   September to frost. Leaves two inches wide in spring. Usually
   has purple flowers. There are several varieties: album, white;
   roseum, pink and often double; ‘The Giant,’ large, late, lilac
   and white (best-known variety).

   _bornmuelleri_--Generally considered the finest species
   with five-inch-wide flowers, rosy-lilac turning to purple and
   the tube white.

   _luteum_--Rare spring-flowering species, flowers yellow and
   smaller, leaves slim and less conspicuous.

   _speciosum_--Large leaves, and flowers with pink or white
   throats. The white variety album is also large and is often
   considered the most beautiful of hardy bulbous plants.

CARE. Soil loamy, slightly acid. Sun or partial shade. Plant in
colonies in August, two to three inches deep. Let leaves mature.

PROPAGATION. Separate bulbs. Division of corms. Seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Borders, rock gardens, forcing.

=Crocus= _Iridaceae_

There are three general kinds of these grassy-leaved plants with
flaring flowers of several colors. The large flowering “Dutch” hybrids
flower in the spring; the usual spring-flowering varieties come earlier
and last longer; other species flower in the fall.

   _biflorous_--Spring. Bright-purple flowers with darker
   stripes, yellowish throat.

   _medius_--Fall. Bright-orchid flowers with very pale throat.

   _sativus_--Fall. Pastel-lilac flowers accented with scarlet

   _seiberi_--Spring. Yellow-throated lavender flowers.

   _speciosus_--Fall. Light blue with fiery orange stigmas.

   _tomasinianus_--Spring. Palest pinkish-blue.

   _versicolor_--Spring. Lilac with purple streaks, or, in the
   variety picturatus, white with purple feathering.

   _zonatus_--Fall. Rosy lavender with orange inside.

CARE. Soil, sandy and drained. Not much fertilizer. Full sun. Hardy,
but winter mulch is often helpful. Divide seldom and replant at once.
Be on alert for rodents.

PROPAGATION. Offsets, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock gardens, colonization.

=Cyclamen= _Primulaceae_

These are the country cousins of the florist’s cyclamen but smaller
in size. Their substantial, heart-shaped leaves are often beautifully
marked in marbled patterns and are in a circle near the ground.
Generally they are evergreen through the winter but drop before the
flowers appear. Each blossom hangs from its own stem with turned-back
tubes. Some varieties blossom in summer and fall, some (indoors or in
suitable climates) flower In winter or very early spring. A number of
varieties are available.

   _atkinsi_--Crimson flowers in January, foliage marbled. The
   variety album has white flowers; roseum is pink.

   _cilicicum_--Purple-throated pale-pink flowers on five-inch
   stems (in September), small marbled leaves.

   _coum_--Blooms in February and March; choice of red, white,
   or pink. Dark-green foliage.

   _europaeum_--Fragrant red flowers in late summer. Leaves

   _libanoticum_--Large flowers with dainty pink blending into
   white, in early spring. Foliage marbled.

   _neapolitanum_--Exquisite silver-zoned leaves follow the
   rosy-pink flowers that push their buds through the soil in
   September. The variety album is white.

   _repandum_--Red-purple flowers with wide-flaring petals, in

CARE. Humusy soil, with drainage. Must never dry out, but roots must
never stand in water. Humidity in greenhouse. Outdoors, shade. Small
amount of lime. Once established, small amounts of rotted manure.

PROPAGATION. Seeds, and division (plant with top of tuber at surface;
may be dormant first year after planting).

SPECIAL USES. Rock and woodland gardens, forcing.

=Eranthis= _Ranunculaceae_ Winter Aconite

Often during a mild January or February this little flower blooms with
its butter-yellow cup on a stem only four inches above the ground. The
finely-cut leaves form a collar below the blooms.

   ‘Cuinia’--Slightly later and faintly fragrant.

   _hyemalis_--Long-stemmed ferny leaves with clear yellow
   flowers. The variety cilicica has deeper-colored flowers and
   brownish leaves.

   ‘Tubergeni’--A hybrid with larger golden flowers.

CARE. Soil woodsy, not too acid. (Plant is dormant in summer.)

PROPAGATION. Division of roots.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, pockets atop walls, forcing.

=Galanthus nivalis= _Amaryllidaceae_ Snowdrop

An early-flowering plant that often has blooms sticking up through
March snow. The narrow leaves form a base for six-inch stems with
fragrant white bell-shaped flowers.

Several varieties are available: flore-pleno, double; maximus, larger
and less frail-looking flowers; viride-apice, white petals tipped with

CARE. Soil heavy, moist, and cool. Considerable shade, but only opens
fully in the sun. Top-dress with manure in the fall. Hardy.

PROPAGATION. In fall plant bulbs three to four inches deep, near
deciduous trees or shrubs. Most effective in groups. Spreads by

SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock and wild gardens.

=Gladiolus= _Iridaceae_

In a small woodland garden only the miniature gladiolus is suitable;
they are little fellows two and a half inches in height or less. A
number of these small ones are available. Named varieties are:

‘Glee,’ ‘Gnome,’ ‘Impresario,’ ‘Little Egypt,’ ‘Little Fawn,’ ‘Little
Red Star,’ ‘Little Spice,’ ‘Periwinkle,’ ‘Pinkie Dots,’ ‘Pint Size,’
‘Whirlybird,’ ‘Red Button,’ ‘Red Dot,’ ‘Red Tweedle,’ ‘Tom Thumb,’ ‘Wee
Red.’ As a point of information, the term “small” applies to plants
from two and a half to three and a half inches high.

CARE. Good garden soil. If manure is to be used, it should be applied
the year previous and worked into the soil; it should not come into
contact with the corms. Drainage. Sun.

PROPAGATION. Plant corms or bulbs.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens, beds.

=Hyacinthus= _Liliaceae_ Hyacinth

The large formal hyacinths of the regular garden have a number of
relatives that are small, delicate, and graceful, including two midget

   _amethystinus_--Early-flowering Spanish species with
   typically flat leaves and nodding blue bell flowers on spikes
   seldom over five inches. There is also a white variety, albus.

   _ciliatus (azureus)_--Slightly smaller with stiff
   three-inch spikes, blue-green leaves often hairy on the edges,
   and blue flowers. The variety albus is white.

CARE. Rich fertile soil. Drainage. Mulch if no leaves fall on plants.

PROPAGATION. Division, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock gardens.

=Leucojum= _Amaryllidaceae_ Snowflake

The long leaves are about a half-inch wide and in a basal circle from
which the stems stretch up to hold nodding bell flowers marked on the
edge with bright-green dots.

   _aestivum_--summer snowflake--Flowers in May. About nine
   inches tall, it may be a little large for really small gardens.

   _vernum_--spring snowflake--One fragrant bell flower to
   each six-inch stem, in April.

CARE. Soil rich and sandy, drainage, protect from hot sun.

PROPAGATION. Detach bulblets after leaves wither. Self-seeds. Increases
rather fast. Plant bulblets three to four inches deep.

SPECIAL USES. Rock gardens.

=Muscari= _Liliaceae_ Grape Hyacinth

These slim-leaved plants come in a wide variety with a selection of
flowering times from early March through May and have clusters of
flowers that look bright and grape-like or soft and plumy.

   _armeniacum_--Violet-blue flowers on six-inch stems.
   The variety cantab blooms in mid-spring, clear blue and
   sweet-scented. ‘Early Giant’ is larger and earlier. True blue.

   _botryoides album_--Heavenly white and fragrant. The most
   compact and suitable for smaller gardens, or forcing.

   _comosum monstrosum (plumosum)_--feather or tassel
   hyacinth--Lavender feather dusters in late May.

   _moschatum flavum_--Out-of-the-ordinary purple flowers
   turning to yellowish in March and April. One of the smaller

   _pacemosum_--Fragrant, deep-blue flowers on eight-inch

   _parodoxum_--Flowers of blue so dark they’re nearly black.

   _tubergianum_--A newly introduced species, with the top
   flowers turning lighter, and the lower ones darker. (Mid-April.)

CARE. Soil deep, rich, and sandy. Drainage. Sun or light shade.

PROPAGATION. Offsets, seeds.

SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock gardens.

=Narcissus= _Amaryllidaceae_ Daffodil

It is very unlikely that the average gardener realizes how many
varieties in the narcissus world are under six inches in height
at maturity. One catalogue lists over two hundred names of little
varieties for little gardens. Obviously, only a few can be mentioned

   _bulbocodium_--hoop-skirt daffodil--The “trumpet” is drawn
   in a bit at the mouth, making it more like a balloon than a
   trumpet. Six smallish petals twist and turn shyly behind. All
   varieties are under six inches tall. Among the smallest are
   three-inch, scented, white-flowering monophyllus (for forcing
   only); obesus, with a fat yellow trumpet; tunifolium, smaller,
   brighter, and later than the species; and scented vulgaris
   nivalis, the smallest of all at two to three inches and very
   early. The variety conspicuus is the easiest to grow and about
   four inches tall.

   _cyclamineus_--The nodding trumpets are long and slim, the
   petals fold straight back around the stem, giving a feeling
   of motion. The species is all yellow and about four inches
   high. Among the smallest hybrids are ‘Milky-White,’ ‘Yindee,’
   ‘Minicycla,’ deep yellow ‘Jetage,’ and ‘Flute.’

   _jonquilla_--Like the familiar jonquils, these are usually
   scented and have small, flattish cups with a neat ruff of flat
   petals around the neck. The variety atlanticus is pure white and
   four inches high; the variety juncifolius is three inches high
   and has several scented yellow flowers per stem. ‘Peachblossom’
   is similar and one inch taller.

   _tazetta_--Similar to jonquils, but the cups are even
   smaller and flatter. They are mostly early flowering and have
   several blooms to a stem. The species is twelve inches tall, but
   the variety lacticolor (canaliculatas) is only four inches, with
   yellow cup and white petals that flare back. ‘Halenzy’ combines
   pale yellow and white. ‘Shrew’ is the tiniest.

   _triandrus_--angel’s tears--Several drooping flowers per
   stem, the center cup-shaped, the petals turned back and twisted
   rather like a tiny fuchsia flower. Among the varieties, albus is
   all white, and three to four inches high; concolor is all gold;
   ‘Frosty Morn’ is white; ‘Poppet’ has yellow petals and a white

   _trumpet_--Miniature replicas of the familiar larger types,
   the flaring trumpet standing out from a collar of six petals. In
   some types the petals are flat, in others wavy or twisted. Among
   these, asturiensis (minimus) is the smallest of all daffodils;
   minar (nanus) is slightly larger, two to three inches tall; ‘Wee
   Bee’ is lemon yellow and five inches tall. ‘Little Beauty’ has
   two shades of yellow; ‘Sneezy’ is all yellow, and four inches

CARE. Average soil (acid or alkaline), not too heavy, not too light.
Drainage. Fertilize little and use only bone meal. Mulch with stone
chips to prevent flowers being spattered with mud during rain.

PROPAGATION. Bulbs. Plant in August if possible. Plant in groups
because of small size. Allow space for increase. Plant smallest bulbs
one and a half inches deep; large bulbs, the depth of bulb itself.
Don’t disturb unless crowded.

SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock gardens, containers.

=Oxalis= _Oxalidaceae_

Bulbous or tuberous shamrock-leaved perennials with five-petaled,
buttercup-shaped flowers that close in the dark, most of them much
hardier than realized and all suitable for indoor or greenhouse

   _adenophylla_--Blue-green leaflets, clusters of pink
   flowers with deeper pink veins (May and June). Three inches
   tall. Hardy.

   _enneaphylla_--Tuberous-rooted perennial with gray-green
   leaves and large white-purple veined flowers; two inches. Spring

   _lasiandra_--More fragile species, bulbous with tight
   clusters of deep-rose flowers. Dig and store in fall, or provide
   protection. Sun.

   _rubra (crassipes)_--Not bulbous but with thickened roots.
   Pink flowers in clusters above the leaves.

   _variabilis rubra_--Dense mats of fresh green leaves under
   deep-pink flowers, some two inches across. Hardy as rubra.

CARE. Average soil. Dig and store bulbs of some species.

PROPAGATION. Division of roots, bulbs.

SPECIAL USES. House plants, rock planting, containers.

=Sternbergia lutea= _Amaryllidaceae_ Winter Daffodil

Popularly called a daffodil and compared to a crocus, but these small
amaryllids beat both of those plants for durability and distinction.
They have up-facing butter-yellow flowers like squat, flaring, two-inch
vases. They bloom in mid-September with the flowers lasting some weeks.
The narrow leathery leaves often last through the winter but die back
by spring. Fragrant.

CARE. Heavy soil, barely acid. Dry, drainage. Sun.


SPECIAL USES. Forcing, rock gardens.

=Tulipa= _Liliaceae_ Tulip

These are typical tulips with flowers that are up-facing bells or
saucers, but are varied in shape, colors, and markings of the petals.
They keep tightly closed after dark and on dark days but open wide in
the sun. The foliage may be wide or grassy, clean green or mottled.
Included here are only the smallest available species.

   _batalini_--Twisted, narrow leaves and soft creamy-yellow
   flowers (in April).

   _biflora_--Only two or three slim, tapered leaves around a
   four-inch flower stem bearing from one to three long, striped
   buds which open to flat, white, star-shaped flowers with golden
   centers. Often blooms in March. Variety turkestanica has wider
   leaves and up to ten flowers per stem.

   _dasystemon (tarda)_--Polished blue-green leaves fan out
   flat under three-inch stems with bouquets (three to five) of
   yellow-centered white flowers. Some have pointed petals striped
   lengthwise with green on the outside. (Mid-April.)

   _eichleri_--Typically broad leaves, stems six to eight
   inches, fiery-red flowers with gold and blue-black centers and
   gold stripes outside.

   _kaufmanniana_--water-lily tulip--The leaves are very
   broad, short, and sharply pointed; the stems are sturdy and five
   inches long. The flowers are very large, creamy yellow marked
   with carmine (in April). There are many named varieties with
   flowers in shades and combinations of gold, scarlet, cream, and
   even salmon pink.

   _kolpakowskiana_--Long, blue-green leaves waved on the
   edges, yellow flowers blotched with brick red on the outside (in

   _linifolia_--Narrow, wavy leaves and six-inch stems topped
   with satiny scarlet flowers, marked with blue-black at the heart
   (in April).

   _patens (persica)_--Slim, arching leaves, stems with one to
   three flowers, yellow, darker outside, fragrant (in May).

   _puchella_--Early, even before the daffodils. Slim leaves.
   Flowers an odd shade of lavender and tinged red. Slightly larger.

   _stellata chrysantha_ (originally considered a species,
   chrysantha)--Curved-down blue-green leaves, six-inch stems;
   cherry-flushed yellow flowers opening to flat stars (in April).


There is a touch of sadness to any book that is published posthumously.
It means that an author who has devoted years to acquiring a skill with
words and their ways, one who has something to say, will write no more.

This book, _All About Miniature Plants and Gardens, Indoors and
Out_, is the work of Bernice Gaines Brilmayer. It was written in the
last months of her life and was practically completed except for the
mechanics of preparing it for publication. Although she didn’t realize
the seriousness of her illness, she asked me to do the final work on
the manuscript.

Her dedication, “For my family, again and again. The future is coming
closer,” is typical of the magnificent woman she was. She lived for
the days when we would be free of the commercial world, when we could
write, dream, plant, and write. It was to be for, and with, the family
she loved so well. I’ve never heard the philosophy of her existence
expressed so well as by an old fishing friend, Captain Bill Stiles of
Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Captain Bill, of the _Skipper_, is not
one who professes to write phrases and words, but he does know people.
On the long ride out to the fishing grounds off the Jersey coast Bill
used to observe her. When the anchor was down, Bill would give the
order to “drop lines, Folks.” He noted that she was always the last to
get her line in the water. Her family came first and she waited until
they were set.

If ever I do a biography of Bernice, the title will be “The Last to Get
Her Line Down.”

The family to which she dedicated her books, has a dedication to her:

                      TO BERNICE--A GALLANT WOMAN
                           IN LOVING MEMORY
                     THE FAMILY YOU LOVED SO MUCH

    _Robert Brilmayer
    Redding, Connecticut, 1963_


   Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture,
   PLANT HARDINESS ZONE MAP. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing
   Office, 1960.

   Ashberry, Anne, MINIATURE GARDENS. New York: Van Nostrand, 1952.

   Ashberry, Anne, MINIATURE TREES AND SHRUBS. London: Nicholas
   Kaye, Ltd., 1958.

   Bailey, L. H., and Ethel Zoe, HORTUS SECOND. New York:
   Macmillan, 1941.

   Beale, James H., THE EVERGREENS. New York: Doubleday, 1960.

   Brooklyn Botanic Garden, handbooks on many subjects--DWARF TREES
   Botanic Garden, various dates.

   Chidamian, Claude, BONSAI, MINIATURE TREES. New York: Van
   Nostrand, 1955.

   Chidamian, Claude, CACTI AND OTHER SUCCULENTS. New York:
   Doubleday, 1958.

   Clark, William H., GARDENING THE SMALL PLACE. Boston: Little,
   Brown, 1952.

   AZALEAS. New York: Doubleday, 1960.

   Cumming, Robert W., and Lee, Robert E., CONTEMPORARY PERENNIALS.
   New York: Macmillan, 1960.

   Chilton & Co., 1961.

   Doubleday, 1957.

   Genders, Roy, GARDENING IN MINIATURE. London: Robert Hale, Ltd.,

   Genders, Roy, MINIATURE ROSES. London: Blanford Press, 1960.

   Graf, Alfred Byrd, EXOTICA II. Rutherford, N.J.: Julius Roehrs,

   Gray, Alec, MINIATURE DAFFODILS. London: W. H. & L.
   Collingridge, Ltd., 1955.

   LANDSCAPES. New York: Crown Publishers, 1956.

   Klaber, Doretta, ROCK GARDEN PLANTS. New York: Henry Holt, 1959.

   RELATIVES. New York: Macmillan, 1957.

   News Service, Ltd., 1960.

   Noble, Mary, and Merkel, J. L., PLANTS INDOORS. New York: Van
   Nostrand, 1954.

   Rickett, Harold William, BOTANY FOR GARDENERS. New York:
   Macmillan, 1957.

   Rockwell, F. F., and Grayson, Esther C., COMPLETE BOOK OF BULBS.
   New York: Doubleday, 1953.

   Taylor, Norman (ed.), ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDENING. Boston:
   Houghton Mifflin, 1961 (Revised Edition).

   Taylor, Norman, WILD FLOWER GARDENING. New York: Van Nostrand,

   York: Van Nostrand, 1958.

   York: Scribner’s, 1943.

   Westcott, Cynthia, ARE YOU YOUR GARDEN’S WORST PEST? New York:
   Doubleday, 1961.

   Westcott, Cynthia, GARDENER’S BUG BOOK. New York: Doubleday,

   New York: Doubleday, 1929.

   Wilson, Helen Van Pelt, NEW PERENNIALS PREFERRED. New York: Van
   Nostrand, 1962.

   Macmillan, 1958.

   Wyman, Donald, TREES FOR AMERICAN GARDENS. New York: Macmillan,

                        WHERE TO BUY MINIATURE
                          PLANTS AND SUPPLIES

Nothing is as frustrating to a gardener as to hear or read glowing
descriptions of plants that appeal to him and then be unable
to find them in catalogues or elsewhere. For the unusual and
out-of-the-ordinary plants the answer is quite often a mail-order
supplier. For some general types such as water lilies and woodland or
rockery plants, the most fruitful source is the specialist, who quite
naturally has the widest selection and the greatest knowledge of the
plants he grows the most. We have increased our collection of miniature
plants by mail order from many (but not all) of the following. While I
have not bought from all of them, enough of my friends and colleagues
have so that I am rather familiar with all. In writing for catalogues
of any sort, remember they are expensive to produce and often you are
asked to pay a nominal fee for them. I usually get so much information
I am happy to pay a few cents. You can often save time and trouble by
asking if there is such a fee.

   ALBERTS & MERKEL BROS., INC., Box 537, Boynton Beach,
   Fla.--Orchids and other tropical plants.

   ALLGROVE, ARTHUR EAMES, North Wilmington, Mass.--Terrarium and
   woodland plants and supplies.

   ALPENGLOW GARDENS, 13328 Trans-Canada Highway, North Surrey,
   New Westminster, B.C., Canada--Alpines, perennials, trees, and

   AMERICAN PERENNIAL GARDENS, 6975 Dover St., Garden City,

   ARENIUS, ARTHUR, 123 Western Drive, Longmeadow 6, Springfield,

   ARMSTRONG NURSERIES, Ontario, Calif.--Roses, dwarf citrus.

   ARNDT’S FLORAL GARDEN, Route 2, Box 336, Troutdale,
   Ore.--African violets and other gesneriads.

   BARNHAVEN, Box 218, Gresham, Ore.--Primulas.

   BARRINGTON GREENHOUSES, 860 Clements Bridge Rd., Barrington,
   N.J.--House and greenhouse plants.

   BEAHM GARDENS, 2686 E. Paloma St. Pasadena 8,
   Calif.--Epiphyllums and other succulents.

   BEE, MRS. T. C., Route 3, Box 120, Newnan, Ga.--African violets
   and other house plants.

   BIT OF FLORIDA, INC., Box 3305, West Hollywood, Fla.--Dwarf

   BRECK’S OF BOSTON, 250 Breck Bldg., Boston 10, Mass.--Seeds,
   bulbs, and supplies.

   BRIMFIELD GARDENS NURSERY, 245 Brimfield Rd., Wethersfield,
   Conn.--Trees and shrubs for garden, bonsai.

   BRISTOL NURSERIES, Bristol, Conn.--Chrysanthemums.

   BUELL’S, Eastford, Conn.--African violets and other gesneriads.

   BURGESS SEED AND PLANT CO., Galesburg, Mich.--Seeds, bulbs,
   perennials, trees, and shrubs.

   BURNETT BROS., INC., 92 Chambers St., New York 7, N.Y.--Seeds,
   bulbs, supplies.

   BURPEE, W. ATLEE, CO., Philadelphia 32, Penna.--Seeds, bulbs,

   BURT’S, Federal Highway No. 1, North Jupiter, Fla.--House and
   greenhouse plants.

   CACTUS PETES, 5454 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles 32,
   Calif.--Epiphyllums and other succulents.

   CALIFORNIA NURSERY CO., Niles, Calif.--Trees and shrubs.

   CAROLINA BIOLOGICAL SUPPLY CO., Elon College, N.C.--Woodland,
   bog, and water plants.

   CARROLL GARDENS, Westminster, Md.--Bulbs, perennials, trees, and

   CHAMPLAIN VIEW GARDENS, Burlington, Vt.--Gladiolus.

   CHAUTAUQUA FLOWERFIELD, Greenhurst, N.Y.--Bulbs, perennials.

   CHERRY, NORMAN J., CO., Box 608, Merrick, Long Island,
   N.Y.--Supplies for house and greenhouse.

   COCHLAN, JAMES J., Box 331, Saddle River, N.J.--Bonsai plants
   and containers.

   CONARD-PYLE CO., West Grove, Penna.--Roses.

   DAFFODIL MART, Nuttal Station, Gloucester, Va.--Narcissus.

   DE JAGER, P., AND SONS, INC., 188 Ashbury St., South Hamilton,

   DELKINS BULBS, 4205 Hunts Point Rd., Bellevue, Wash.--Bulbs.

   DOLBOW, DOROTHY J., 149 W. Main St., Penns Grove, N.J.--Supplies
   for house and greenhouse.

   EASTERN NURSERIES, INC., Holliston, Mass.--Trees, shrubs,

   EDENWALD GARDENS, Vincennes, Ind.--Iris.

   EL SEGUNDO GERANIUM GARDENS, Box 289, Gardena, Calif.--Geraniums.

   EMERSON INDUSTRIES, INC., 132 Adams Ave., Hempstead,
   N.Y.--Window greenhouses, etc.

   EVANS, HERBERT O., Solon, Ohio--Gladiolus.

   EVERGLADES ENTERPRISES, Box 48-811, Miami, Fla.--Tropical plants.

   EVERGREEN HOUSE, Box 433, Los Altos, Calif.--Bonsai plants and

   FANTASTIC GARDENS, 9550 S.W. 67th St., Miami, Fla.-- Bromeliads
   and other tropical plants.

   FENNELL ORCHID CO., 26715 S.W. 157th Ave., Homestead,

   FIELD, HENRY, SEED AND NURSERY CO., Shenandoah, Iowa--Seeds,
   bulbs, perennials, aquatic plants, trees, shrubs, and house

   FIORE, CHARLES, NURSERIES, INC., Prairie View, Ill.--Trees and

   FRENCH, J. HOWARD, Baltimore Pike, Lima, Penna.--Seeds, bulbs,

   GARDENS OF THE BLUE RIDGE, Ashford, McDowell County,
   N.C.--Native woodland, bog, and water plants, trees and shrubs.

   GERRY’S GERANIUM GARDEN, 221 W. 223 St., Torrance,

   GIBBS, WINSEL, SEED AND NURSERY CO., 1955 W. Florence Ave., Los
   Angeles 47, Calif.--Tropical trees, shrubs, plants.

   GIRARD NURSERIES, Geneva, Ohio--Trees and shrubs for garden,

   GLEN SAINT MARY NURSERY, Glen Saint Mary, Fla.--Trees and shrubs.

   GRAY, ALEC, Treswithian Daffodil Farm, Camborne, Cornwall,

   GREEN LEAF NURSERY, 2047 Middlefield Rd., Mountain View,
   Calif.--House and greenhouse plants.

   GRIFFING NURSERIES, Beaumont, Texas--Trees and shrubs.

   HAGA, F. M., & SON, 5033 Doris St., Charlotte 5, N.C.--African
   violets and other gesneriads.

   HARRIS, JOSEPH, CO., INC., Rochester 11, N.Y.--Seeds, bulbs.

   HARROLD’S, Box 29, Grants Pass, Ore.--House-plant and garden
   seeds, plants, roses.

   HAV’ALOOK GARDENS, 10045 Grand River, Fowlersville, Mich.--House
   and greenhouse plants.

   HOLLY HILL, Straight Path, Huntington, N.Y.--Holly, heath,

   HOUDYSHEL, CECIL, 1412 Third St., LaVerne, Calif.--House and
   greenhouse bulbs and plants.

   HOUSE OF PLANTS, 26 S. Hotchkiss St., Binghamton,

   HOUSE PLANT CORNER, Box 810, Oxford, Md.--Supplies for house and

   ILGENFRITZ, MARGARET, Monroe, Mich.--Orchids.

   INTER-STATE NURSERIES, Hamburg, Iowa--Seeds, bulbs, perennials,
   trees, and shrubs.

   JACK’S CACTUS GARDEN, 1707 W. Robindale St., West Covina,
   Calif.--Cacti and other succulents.

   JACKSON & PERKINS CO., Newark, N.Y.--Roses, perennials.

   JOHNSON CACTUS GARDENS, Paramount, Calif.--Cacti and other

   JOYNER’S, 404 Fisher Drive, Ocala, Fla.--Caladiums.

   KARTUZ, MICHAEL J., 92 Chestnut St., Wilmington, Mass.--House
   and greenhouse plants.

   KELSEY NURSERY SERVICE, Highlands, N.J.--Bulbs, trees and
   shrubs, woodland plants.

   LAGER AND HURRELL, INC., 427 Morris Ave., Summit, N.J.--Orchids.

   LAKEMONT NURSERIES, 915 S. Lakemont Ave., Winter Park,
   Fla.--House and greenhouse plants.

   LAMB NURSERIES, 101 E. Sharp Ave., Spokane 2,

   LESLIE’S WILD FLOWER NURSERY, 30 Summer St., Methuen,
   Mass.--Woodland plants.

   LOGEE’S GREENHOUSE, 55 North Street, Danielson, Conn.--House and
   greenhouse plants.

   LOUNDBERRY GARDENS, Oakford, Ill.--Bulbs and woodland plants.

   MANHATTAN GARDEN SUPPLY, 305 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan
   Beach, Calif.--Geraniums.

   MARX, WALTER, GARDENS, Boring, Ore.--Bulbs, perennials, roses.

   MAYFAIR NURSERIES, RFD 2, Nichols, N.Y.--Alpines, trees, and
   shrubs for gardens, bonsai.

   MCCLEELAN, ROD, CO., 1450 El Camino Real, South San Francisco,
   Calif.--Orchids, bonsai containers.

   MERRY GARDENS, P. O. Box 595, Camden, Maine--Rare house plants,
   geraniums, begonias, and a large selection of miniatures.

   MILLER, HOLMES C., 280 W. Portola Ave., Los Altos,

   OAKHURST GARDENS, Box 444, Arcadia, Calif.--House and greenhouse

   OPPEN’S GREENHOUSE, 4330 Auburn Rd., Salem, Ore.--House and
   greenhouse plants.

   PARK, GEORGE W., SEED CO., Greenwood, S.C.--Seeds, bulbs,

   PEARCE SEED CO., Moorestown, N.J.--Seeds, bulbs, perennials,

   PILLEY’S GARDENS, Box 757, Valley Center, Calif.--Iris.

   PINE-CROFT NURSERIES, Exeter, N.H.--Perennials.

   PLANTERS, THE, 385 Bleecker St., N.Y.C.--House and greenhouse
   plants, bonsai.

   PUTNEY NURSERY, Putney, Vt.--Chrysanthemums.

   RARE PLANT CLUB, Route 1, Box 155, Mill Valley, Calif.--Bonsai
   plants and containers.

   ROEHRS, JULIUS, CO., Rutherford, N.J.--House and greenhouse

   SCHERER, S., AND SONS, Northport, N.Y.--Aquatic plants and water

   SCHULZ, PEGGIE, 7714 N. Fairfield Rd., Minneapolis 12,
   Minn.--House-plant seeds.

   SHERWOOD NURSERY CO., Corbett, Ore.--Trees and shrubs for garden
   and bonsai.

   SKY-CLEFT GARDENS, Camp Street Ext., Barre, Vt.--Alpines,
   perennials, woodland plants.

   SLOCUM WATER GARDENS, Binghamton, N.Y.--Aquatic plants and water

   SPRING HILL NURSERIES, Tipp City, Ohio--Perennials, roses, trees.

   STARK BROS., Louisiana, Mo.--Trees and shrubs.

   STARKER, CARL, GARDENS, Jennings Lodge, Ore.--Alpines,
   perennials, trees and shrubs, bonsai containers.

   STEWART, FRED A., INC., 8606 E. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel,

   SUMMIT GARDENS, Box 567, Glenn Ellyn, Ill.--Gladiolus.

   TERRACE VIEW GARDENS, Greencastle, Ind.--House and greenhouse

   THOMPSON & MORGAN, LTD., Ipswich, England--Seeds.

   THREE LAURELS, Madison County, Marshall, N.C.--Woodland plants;
   trees and shrubs.

   THREE SPRINGS FISHERIES, Lilypons, Md.--Water lilies and aquatic
   plants of all sorts.

   THURMAN’S GARDENS, Route 6, Spokane, Wash.--Alpines, perennials.

   TINARI GARDENS AND GREENHOUSES, Bethayres, Penna.--African

   TRICKER, WILLIAM, INC., 196 Allendale Ave., Saddle River,
   N.J.--Water lilies and other aquatic plants.

   TROPICAL PARADISE GREENHOUSE, 8825 W. 79th St., Overland Park,
   Kan.--House and greenhouse plants.

   UPPER BANK NURSERIES, Ridley Creek Rd., Media, Penna.--Trees and

   VAN NESS WATER GARDENS, 2460 N. Euclid Ave., Upland,
   Calif.--Water lilies and other aquatic plants.

   VAUGHAN’S SEED CO., 24 Vesey St., New York 7, N.Y.--Seeds,
   bulbs, perennials, trees, shrubs, aquatic plants.

   VILLAGE HILL NURSERY, Williamsburg, Mass.--Geraniums, perennials.

   WAKE ROBIN FARM, Route 1, Box 33, Home, Penna.--Woodland plants.

   WARE, ROMAINE B., Canby, Ore.--Lilies and other bulbs.

   WARREN’S NURSERY, 2200 Fifth St., Berkeley 10, Calif.--House and
   greenhouse plants.

   WAYSIDE GARDENS, Mentor, Ohio--Annuals, bulbs, trees, shrubs,

   WESTON NURSERIES, INC., E. Main St., Hopkinton,
   Mass.--Perennials, trees, and shrubs.

   WHITE FLOWER FARM, Litchfield, Conn.--Bulbs, perennials, trees,

   WILSON BROTHERS, Roachdale, Ind.--Geraniums.

   WOOD, THOMAS M., Constantia, N.Y.--Woodland plants.

   WOODLAND NURSERY, Hendricks Rd., RFD 1, Perkiomenville,
   Penna.--Trees and shrubs.

   WYANT, MELVIN E., Johnny Cake Ridge, Route 84, Mentor,

   YOARS HOUSE PLANT NURSERY, Bunker Hill, Ind.--House and
   greenhouse plants.


    _Abelia_, 236

    _Abeliophyllum distichum_ (White Forsythia, Korean Abelia), 236

    _Abies_ (Fir), 238

    _Abutilon hybridum savitzi_ (Flowering Maple), 93

    _Abutilon megapotamicum_, 64

    _Achillea_ (Yarrow, Hilfoil), 259

    _Achimenes_, 93–94

    _Acorus gramineus variegatus_, 94

    Adder’s-Tongue, 222, 288–89

    ‘Adeline’ (‘Improved Darling’), 96

    _Adiantum bellum_ (Bermuda Maidenhair Fern), 94

    _Aeonium caespitosum spathulatum_, 102

    _Aeschynanthus_, 63

    _Aethionema_ (Stone-Cress, Persian Candytuft), 260

    African boxwood, 124

    African violets (_See_: _Viola_)

    _Agave victoriae-reginae_ (“century plant”), 102

    _Ageratum_ (floss flower), 282

    _Aichryson (Aeonium) domesticum variegatum_, 102

    _Ajuga_ (Bugle), 260

    ‘Alba,’ 285

    ‘Albatross,’ 101

    _All About Begonias_, 78

    _All About Vines and Hanging Plants_, 36, 37

    _Allophyton mexicanum_ (Mexican Foxglove), 94

    _Aloe_, 102

    Alpenglow Gardens, 13

    Alpine daisy, 263

    Alpine gardens, 187–98

    Alpine phlox, 271

    Alpine (rock) plants, 62, 150, 187–98, 273

    _Alternanthera_ (Joseph’s Coat), 94–95

    Aluminum plant (watermelon pilea), 130

    Alyssum (Madwort), 47, 138, 260–61

    Alyssum (Sweet), 282–83

    American Iris Society, 268

    American yew, 248

    _Andromeda_ (Bog Rosemary), 238–39

    ‘Andy,’ 96

    _Anemone_ (Windflower), 261

    Angel’s tears, 296–97

    Annuals, 10, 38, 47, 138;
      miniature, 277–87;
      in rock and wall gardens, 187

    _Antennaria_ (Pussy-Toes), 261

    _Anthurium scherzerianum_ (Flamingo Flower), 95

    Aphids, 232

    _Aptenia cordifolia (Mesembryanthemum cordifolium)_, 102

    _Aquilegia_ (Columbine), 262

    _Arabis_ (Rock Cress), 262

    Aramite, 232, 255

    Arborvitae (_Thuja_), 249

    _Arisaema triphyllum_ (Jack-in-the-pulpit), 211, 219

    Arizona, 140

    Aroids, 51, 53, 63

    Artillery plant, 130

    _Asarum_ (Wild Ginger), 160, 219

    Ash, 166

    Ashberry, Anne, 150

    Asia, 271, 272

    _Asplenium_ (Spleenwort), 219

    _Aster alpinus_ (Rock Aster), 262

    ‘Astrid,’ 129

    _Astrophytum_ (Star Cactus), 102

    ‘Aurea,’ 285

    Autumn Crocus, 289, 292

    ‘Autumn Snow,’ 267

    Azalea (Rhododendron), 177, 213, 226–27, 234, 239

    _Babiana stricta_, 95

    Baby blue eyes, 284

    ‘Baby Bunting,’ 145

    ‘Baby Crimson,’ 145

    ‘Baby Perfection,’ 98

    ‘Baby Rainbow,’ 100

    Baby Toes, 104

    Baby’s Breath, 267

    Baby’s Tears, 120–21

    Ball Cactus, 106

    Ballard, Ernesta, 13

    _Balsam_, 283

    Banana, dwarf, 63, 68

    Barberry, 228;
      dwarf, 180

    Basket of gold, 261

    Bayside, 23, 24

    Beech, 230

    _Begonia_: 19, 25, 28, 29, 37, 63, 95–101;
      fibrous-rooted, 95, 96–97;
      floriferous, 63;
      grown in artificial light, 24, 35;
      miniature (dwarf), 44, 53, 95–101;
      Strawberry (_See_: _Saxifraga_);
      tuberous, 24, 95
      (_See also_ Rex begonias, Rhizomatous begonias, Semperflorens begonias)

    Bell Flower, 263–64

    Bellis (Daisy), 263

    Bermuda Maidenhair Fern, 94

    _Bertolonia_, 100

    Better Business Bureau, 215

    _Betula nana_ (Birch), 239

    Billbergia, 114

    Birch tree: 177, 183, 239;
      as base for bromeliads, 69;
      in bonsai, 166

    Bird’s nest, 246

    Bishop’s Cap, 224–25

    ‘Black Falcon,’ 98

    Blackleaf panamiga, 131

    ‘Black Vesuvius,’ 126, 249

    Bloodroot, 160, 212, 214

    ‘Blue Ball,’ 282

    ‘Blue Gem,’ 95

    ‘Blue Mink,’ 282

    Blue Oxalis, 125

    ‘Blue Star,’ 285

    Bluets, 223

    _Boea hygroscopica_, 100

    Bog Rosemary, 238–39

    Bone meal (_See_ Superphosphate)

    Bonsai: 159–76;
      character of the plant in, 164–65;
      in citrus, 163;
      indoor, 161–63;
      _name_, 161;
      plants for use in, 101, 110, 122, 124, 132, 134, 150, 160, 166,
        227, 238–49;
      root-pruning in, 169–70;
      roses in, 138;
      _shinto_, 161

    ‘Bo-Peep,’ 145

    Boston (Massachusetts), 64, 65;
      beans, 107

    Bottle Brush, 243

    _Bouvardia longiflora humboldti_, 101

    ‘Bow-Arriola,’ 97, 99

    ‘Bow Chance,’ 97, 99

    ‘Bow-Joe,’ 97

    ‘Bow-Nigra,’ 97, 99

    Box (_See_ _Buxus_; _Buxus microphylla japonica_)

    Boxing gloves, 106

    Boxwood, African, 124 (_See also_: _Buxus_; _Buxus microphylla

    ‘Boy Blue,’ 286

    Bracts, 104, 136

    ‘Bright Eyes,’ 285

    Broadlily, 220

    Bromeliad, 44, 45, 69–70, 114, 136;
      tree, 63, 69–70

    Brooklyn, 137

    ‘Brownie Scout,’ 284

    _Bruckenthalia spiculifolia_ (Balkan Heath), 239

    Bugle, 260

    Bulbs: 288–98;
      fertilizing, 290, 292;
      propagating miniature, indoors, 291–92;
      South African, 95;
      spring-flowering, 64;
      winter-flowering, 95

    Bunchberry, 221

    Bunny ears, 106

    Burning Bush, 243

    Burpee, 281

    ‘Butterball,’ 284

    Button Fern, 128

    _Buxus_ (Box, Boxwood), 46, 138, 239–40, 249

    _Buxus microphylla japonica_, 101

    Cactus: 49, 64–65, 78, 101–7;
      Christmas, 30;
      use in window gardens of, 19–21

    _Caladium_ (Elephant Ears), 11, 107–9;
      bicolor varieties of, 107

    Calamondin, 113

    _Calathea (Maranta)_, 109, 122

    Calceolarias, 38

    _Calceolaria biflora_, 153

    _Callopsis volkensi_, 109

    _Calluna vulgaris_ (Heather, Ling) 226, 240

    _Campanula_ (Harebell, Bell Flower), 263–64

    Campion, 273–74

    _Camptosorus rhizophyllus_ (Walking Fern), 219

    Canada, 219

    Canadian yew, 248

    ‘Canary Yellow,’ 287

    ‘Candidum, Jr.,’ 107

    Candytuft, 252, 267;
      Persian, 260

    Cankerworms (_See_ “Inchworms”)

    ‘Caperata’ (‘Little Fantasy’), 129

    ‘Caprice,’ 286

    Caraway thyme, 274

    _Carex elegantissima (Morrowi variegata)_, 110

    _Carissa grandiflora nana compacta_ (Natal Plum), 110

    Carnations, 266

    Carpet bugle, 260

    ‘Carpet of Snow,’ 282

    Caryopteris, 229

    _Caryopteris incana_ (Blue Spirea), 240

    _Caryota urens_ (fishtail palm), 63

    _Cassiope lycopodioides_, 240

    Catchfly, 273–74

    Cedar, 234;
      White, 241

    “Century plant,” miniature, 102

    _Cephalocereus senilis_ (Old Man Cactus), 102

    Ceramics, as plant containers, 39, 41

    _Cerastium_, 263

    _Ceratostigma plumbaginoides_ (Leadwort), 265

    _Ceropegia_, 110

    _Chaenomeles (Cydonia)_ (Japanese Quince, Flowering Quince), 240–41

    _Chaenostoma fastigiatum_ (Little Stars), 111

    _Chamaecereus silvestri_ (Peanut Cactus), 102

    Chamaecyparis, 226

    _Chamaecyparis (Retinospora)_ (False Cypress, White Cedar), 141

    _Chamaedaphne calyculata_ (Leatherleaf), 241

    _Chamaedorea elegans bella_, 111

    _Chamaeranthemum_, 111

    ‘Chantilly Lace,’ 98–99

      for house plants, 78;
      use in terrariums of, 58–59

    ‘Charm,’ 93

    Cheddar pink, 266

    Chenille plant, 103

    ‘Cherry Rose,’ 284

    Chidamian, Claude, 159

    Chin Cactus, 104

    ‘China Doll,’ 98–99

    China plant, 136

    _Chinodoxa_ (Glory-of-the-Snow), 292

    Chipmunks, 290

    Chlordane, 232

    _Chlorophytum bicheti_, 111

    Chlorophytums, 90

    Chrismas cheer, 107

    Chrysanthemums, 30;
      commercial, and photoperiodism, 23

    ‘Cinderella,’ 145

    ‘Cinnabar Red,’ 285

    _Cissus striata_ (Miniature Grape Ivy), 111

    Citrus: 113;
      dwarf, 63, 68;
      evergreen, 117

    _Claytonia virginica_ (Spring Beauty), 155, 211, 219–20

    ‘Cleopatra,’ 97

    _Clerodendrum thomosoniae_, 63

    Climbers, 27, 47, 51, 70, 110;
      miniature, 18, 49, 111–12, 138, 143

    _Clintonia_, 220

    Club moss, 224

    ‘Coccinea,’ 285

    _Colchicum_ (Autumn Crocus, Meadow Saffron), 289, 292

    Coleus, 94

    ‘Color Carpet,’ 286

    Columbine, 262

    _Columnea microphylla_, 113

    Columneas, 63

    Common thyme, 274

    Conifers (_See_ Evergreens)

    _Conophytum_, 103

    Connecticut: 75, 142, 144, 150, 158, 176, 179, 183, 213, 251, 253, 255;
      fall planting in, 229;
      Redding, 64, 81, 172

    Connecticut Power and Light Company, 35

    Conservatories, planted as gardens, 64

    Containers, gardens in, 38–52, 41, 49, 53–60

    _Convallaria majalis_ (Lily of the Valley), 220

    _Coptis trifolia_ (Goldthread), 220

    ‘Coquette,’ 286

    Coral beads, 107

    _Coreopsis_, 283

    _Coreopsis auriculata nana_, 265

    Corms, 288;
      and fertilizing, 295

    _Cornflowers_, 283

    _Cornus canadensis_ (Bunchberry, Creeping Dogwood), 221

    _Corydalis_ (Fumitory), 265

    _Coryphantha vivipara_, 103

    _Cotoneaster_, 177, 233, 241

    Cottage (grass) pink, 266

    Cotton, 63

    Cranesbill (_See_: _Geranium_)

    _Crassula_, 103

    Creepers: 105, 111, 120, 129, 132, 134, 136, 182, 221, 224, 271,
        274–75, 286;
      in greenhouse, 70;
      in indoor garden, 19, 27, 49, 58, 60;
      in sink garden, 154
      (_See also_ Episcias; Ivy Vines)

    Creeping bluets, 223

    Creeping Charlie, 130

    Creeping Dogwood, 221

    Creeping fig, 27 (_See also_: _Ficus_)

    Creeping phlox, 271

    Creeping thyme, 274

    _Crocus_, 290, 293

    Crown: division of plant, 90;
      of thorns, dwarf (_See_: _Euphorbia_);
      Cactus (_See_: _Rebutia_)

    _Cryptanthus_ (Earth Stars), 114

    _Cryptbergia meadi_, 114

    _Cryptogramma crispa_ (Parsley Fern), 221

    _Cryptomeria japonica_, 241

    ‘Cuinia,’ 294

    ‘Cupid,’ 286

    Cushion pink, 273

    Cuttings: 31, 73, 86, 88–89, 140, 198;
      in bonsai, 166;
      effect of red rays of spectrum on, 30;
      hardwood, 235, 243, 250;
      leaf, 89;
      in propagation of perennials, 258;
      rhizome, 89, 208;
      root, 89;
      softwood, 88, 234–35, 243

    _Cyanotis_, 114

    _Cyclamen_, 38, 155, 293–94;
      _neapolitanum_, 152, 294

    _Cymbalaria muralis_ (Kenilworth Ivy), 11, 40–41

    _Cypripedium_ (Lady-slipper, Moccasin Flower), 212, 216, 221

    _Daboecia cantabrica_ (Irish Bell Heather), 242

    Daffodils, Winter, 297–98 (_See also_: _Narcissus_)

    Dahlias, 288

    ‘Dainty Spray,’ 96

    Daisy, 263

    _Dalibarda repens_ (Dewdrop, False Violet), 221–22

    “Damp-off,” 256

    _Daphne_, 243, 260

    Davallias (rabbit’s-foot ferns), 64

    Day-neutral plants, 30, 34

    Delphiniums, 211

    Desert Rose (_See_: _Trichodiadema densum_)

    ‘Dew Drop,’ 100

    Dewdrop, 221–22

    _Dianthus_ (Pink), 258, 266;
      _barbatus_ (sweet William), 10, 266

    Dieffenbachias, 89

    _Dionaea muscipula_ (Venus Fly Trap), 115–16

    Dish gardens: 38–39, 42–45;
      commercial, 51–52;
      plants for, 93–95, 101, 109–11, 124, 129–32, 134, 239–40, 243, 288;
      use of accessories in, 44

    Dogtooth Violet, 222, 288–89

    Dogwood, 213;
      Creeping (_See_: _Cornus canadensis_)

    ‘Dopey,’ 126

    Double pink, 266

    _Dracaena godseffiana_, 115

    _Drosera rotundifolia_ (Sundew), 115

    Duckweed, 223

    ‘Dwarf Bearded Iris,’ 268

    ‘Dwarf Compact,’ 286

    Dwarf crown of thorns, 104

    ‘Dwarf Globe,’ 285

    ‘Dwarf Houghtoni,’ 96

    Dwarf myrtle, 124

    _Dyckia_, 116

    ‘Early Giant,’ 295

    Earth Stars, 114

    Earthworms, 60

    Easter Lily Cactus, 104–5

    Eastern wild ginger, 219

    Ebony sweetheart, 219

    _Echeveria_, 103

    _Echinocereus melanocentrus_ (Hedgehog Cactus), 103

    _Echinopsis_ (Easter Lily Cactus), 104–5

    Electricity: as source of light for plants, 23–37;
      use in greenhouse propagating of, 73, 86

    Elephant bush, 106

    Elephant Ears (_See_: _Caladium_)

    ‘Elf,’ 126

    Elms, for bonsai, 166

    ‘Emerald Ripple,’ 129

    England, 150

    English daisy, 263

    English Ivy, 11, 118–19

    English Royal Horticultural Society, 148

    English yew, 248

    _Epigaea repens_ (Trailing Arbutus), 222

    Epiphyllum, 63

    Epiphytic plants, 44, 53, 62, 92;
      on bromeliad tree, 70

    _Episcia dianthiflora_, 116

    Episcias, 20, 37, 63, 70, 90, 116

    ‘Epsilon,’ 126

    _Eranthis_ (Winter Aconite), 290, 294

    _Erodium chamaedryoides roseum_, 155

    _Erythronium_ (Adder’s-Tongue, Trout Lily, Dogtooth Violet), 222,

    _Euonymous_ (Burning Bush), 243

    _Euphorbia_, 104

    Evening Primrose, 170

      coniferous, 165, 234, 246, 249;
      ericaceous, 226;
      as mulch, 140, 144, 197, 233, 242, 249, 255, 272, 288, 292;
      in rock garden, 49, 239;
      in sink gardens, 155;
      watering of, 231

    _Exacum affine_, 116

    Exotica II, 11

    Eyelash begonia, 97

    ‘Fairyland,’ 126

    ‘Fairy Tales,’ 126

    False Cypress, 241

    False Violet, 221–22

    Fan Columbine, 262

    ‘Fantasy-Face,’ 286

    _Faucaria_ (Tiger Jaws), 104

    Fawn lily, 222

    Feather hyacinth, 296

    _Fenestraria_ (Baby Toes), 104

    Fern: 51, 54, 58, 66, 131, 133, 155, 212;
      Button, 128;
      maidenhair, 94, 216;
      Mexican tree, 63;
      rabbit’s-foot, 64;
      staghorn, 70;
      use in window gardens of, 20
      (_See also_; _Asplenium_)

      of greenhouse plants, 72;
      of house plants, 79–80;
      with liquid manure, 109, 123, 175, 218, 254, 290, 292;
      of miniature gardens in containers, 51, 156, 175, 208;
      with rose food, 141, 143;
      trees and shrubs, 230

    Fiberglas, as mulch, 197

    _Ficus_ (Creeping Fig), 27, 117;
      _pumila minima_, 19, 117

      creeping, 27;
      dwarf ever-bearing, 68
      (_See also_: _Ficus_)

    ‘Fireball,’ 284–85

    Firecracker Vine, 122

    Firefern, 124–25

    ‘Fireglow,’ 284

    Fish emulsion, as fertilizer, 157, 175

    Fishtail palm, 63

    Fittonias, 117

    _Fittonia verschaffelti_ (Nerve or Mosaic Plant), 117

    Flamingo Flower, 95

    ‘Fleurette,’ 126

    Floribundas, 137

    ‘Florida Beauty,’ 115

    Floss flower, 282

    _Flower and Garden_, 27, 61

    Flowering Maple, 93

    Flowering Quince, 240–41

    ‘Flute,’ 296

    Forget-Me-Not, 269

    Formal gardens, 48, 64, 138–39, 180

    _Fortunella_ (Kumquat), 117–18

    _Fothergilla_ (Bottle Brush), 243

    Foxglove, Mexican, 94

    ‘Francois Cardinaux,’ 93

    Free, Montague, 45

    French thyme, 274

    ‘Frosty Morn,’ 297

    _Fuchsia magellanica_, 118

    Fuchsias, 63, 118;
      light requirement of, 75

    Fumitory, 265

    Fungicide, for roses, 143

    _Galanthus nivalis_ (Snowdrop), 294

    _Garden Pools, Water-Lilies and Goldfish_, 210

      aquatic, 199, 207–10;
      in the city, 213;
      herb, 48;
      Northeastern, 10;
      Northern, 106;
      Oriental, 48–49;
      pests in, 83–85;
      Southern, 109

    Gentian, 116;
      bottle, 212

    Georgia, 219, 223

    _Geranium_ (Cranesbill): 135, 266;
      dwarf, 17, 87–88, 127;
      miniature, 20;
      temperature for greenhouse, 71
      (_See also_: _Pelargonium hortorum_; _Saxifraga_)

    German Weismoor, 135

    Germander, 249

    Gesneriads: 20, 28, 63, 71, 96–97, 100, 134–35;
      and artificial light intensity, 35, 37;
      in Greenwich Village apartment, 23;
      grown from seed, 86

    ‘The Giant,’ 292

    Ginger, wild, 160, 219

    Ginkgo, in bonsai, 166

    Gladiolus, 294–95

    Glass: gardens in, 53–60;
      as plant containers, 39, 100

    ‘Glee,’ 294

    Glory bush (_Tibouchina semidecandra_), 64

    Glory-of-the-Snow, 292

    Gloxinia (Sinningia), 134–35

    ‘Gnome,’ 294

    ‘Goblin,’ 126

    Golden Easter Lily, 105

    ‘Golden Hahni,’ 132

    Golden lace, 106

    ‘Golden Ray,’ 283

    Goldfish, 36–37, 205–6

    ‘Goldheart,’ 119

    ‘Gold Laced,’ 284

    Goldthread, 220

    ‘Goliath,’ 262

    _Goodyera pubescens_ (Rattlesnake Plantain), 155, 216, 222–23

    Graf, A. B., 11

    ‘Granada,’ 145

    ‘Granata,’ 145

    Grape Hyacinth, 295–96

    Grass, in dish gardens, 47

    Greek myrtle, 124

    Greenhouse: 61–73;
      author’s, 279;
      indoor, 27, 55;
      low-cost, 279–80;
      miniature, 53;
      pests in, 83–85;
      plants for, 136;
      propagating, 73, 86–90;
      rampant, 69;
      soil mixture, 71–72;
      window, 22, 138

    ‘Green Medora,’ 97

    Gro-Lux lamps, 31, 35–36

    Gro-Master propagating box, 86

    Ground cedar, 224

    Ground Ivy, 270

    Ground moss, 271

    Ground pine, 224

    _Gymnocalycium mihanovichi_ (Chin Cactus), 104

    Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath), 267

    ‘Hahni,’ 131

    ‘Halenzy,’ 296

    Harebell, 263–64

    Hawaii, 140

    _Haworthia_, 104–5

    Hearts entangled, 110

    Heather, 226, 240

    ‘Heavenly Blue,’ 285

    _Hebe buxifola variegata_, 118

    _Hedera helix_ (English Ivy), 11, 118–19

    Hedgehog Cactus, 103

    Hedges, in dish gardens, 46

    ‘Heidi,’ 286

    ‘Helen Chapman,’ 284

    ‘Helen Fowler,’ 209

    _Helxine soleiroli_ (Baby’s Tears), 120–21

    Hemlock, 166, 249

    Henri, 124

    _Hepatica_ (Liverleaf), 155, 223

    ‘Hidcate Blue,’ 269

    Hilfoil, 259

    Himalayas, 271

    Holly, 166, 244

    Home decorating, and artificially lighted plants, 24–25

    Hoop-skirt daffodil, 296

    Hormone rooting preparations, 88–89, 234–36

    _Hortus Second_, 11

    House plants: 72, 74–136, 282;
      collecting, 18;
      culture of, described, 92–136;
      humidity for, 76–77;
      insects and disease and, 83–85;
      propagating of, 84, 86–90;
      repotting of, 79–80;
      temperatures for, 75–76;
      unusual, 91;
      watering of, 80–82

    _Houstonia_ (Bluets, Quaker Lady), 223

    _Hoya bella_ (Wax Plant), 120

    Humidity: gauge, 76;
      for house plants, 76–77;
      relative, 76

    _Hyacinthus_, 295

    Hybrids: 12;
      fuchsia, 63;
      man-made, 11;
      Weismoor, 160–61

    _Iberis_ (Perennial Candytuft), 252, 267

    ‘Igloo,’ 285

    _Ilex crenata helleri_ (Holly), 166, 244

    ‘Imp,’ 126

    Impatiens, 19

    _Impatiens repens_, 120

    ‘Imperial White Dwarf,’ 282

    ‘Impresario,’ 294

    Inchworm plant, 105

    “Inchworms,” 158, 232

    Indian head, 106

    ‘Insignis Blue,’ 284

    Institute de Biologia, 114

    Internodes, long, 75

    _Ionopsidium acaule_, 155

    _Iris_: 267–68;
      bulbous, 267;
      rhizomatous, 267, 288–89

    Irish Bell Heather, 242

    ‘Isabellina,’ 285

    ‘It,’ 100

    ‘Itsy Bitsy,’ 119

    ‘Ivalace,’ 119

    Ivy: 41, 194;
      in bonsai, 166;
      English (_See_: _Hedera helix_);
      grape, 11, 111;
      Kenilworth (_See_: _cymbalaria muralis_);
      poison, 213

    Jack-in-the-pulpit, 211, 219

    Japanese beetles, 137, 232

    Japanese Quince, 240–41

    Japanese yew, 248

    Jasmine, 63 (_See also_: _Stephanotis floribunda_)

    Jelly beans, 107

    ‘Jetage,’ 296

    Jewel plant, 107

    ‘Jo Ann Pring,’ 209

    Johnny-jump-up, 276

    Joseph’s Coat, 94–95

    Joshua tree, little, 49, 107

    ‘Jubilee,’ 119

    ‘Jubilee Gem,’ 283

    Julius Roehrs Company, 13

    Juniper, 139, 177, 226, 245;
      Sargent’s, 160
      (_See also_: _Juniperus_)

    _Juniperus_: 244–45;
      _communis_, 139, 245;
      _procumbens nana_, 226, 245

    Kalanchoe, 105

    Karathane, 232

    ‘Kathy Diane,’ 98

    Kenilworth Ivy, 11, 40–41

    ‘Kleiner Liebling’ (‘Little Darling’), 126

    _Kleinia_, 105

    _Koellikeria erinoides_, 120

    Korean snowballs, 250

    Kumquat, 117–18

    Lady-slipper (_See_: _Cypripedium_)

    Landscape, gardens in the, 177–82

    _Lantana camara_, 120

    Laurel, mountain, 160

    _Lavandula officinalis (Lavender)_, 177, 252, 258, 269;
      dwarf, 138, 259

    Lavender (_See_: _Lavandula officinalis_)

    Layering: 89–90, 166–67, 235–36, 259;
      air, 89, 166–67, 236;
      ground, 90, 166–67, 235–36, 259

    Leadwort, 265

    Leatherleaf, 241

    _Leiophyllum buxifolium_, 226

    _Lemna minor_ (Duckweed), 223

    Lemon thyme, 274

    _Leucojum_ (Snowflake), 295

    _Leuconeura massageana_, 123

    Levittown, 23, 27

    Light bulbs:
      distance from plants of, 32–33;
      fluorescent, 27, 31, 55;
      incandescent, 27, 31

    Lilac, 229

    ‘Lilac Lady,’ 283

    Lilliputs, 268

    Lily of the Valley, 220

    Lime (citrus), 113

    Lime: 156, 208, 260, 289;
      horticultural, 78, 230;
      and humusy soil, 94, 218, 254

    Ling, 226, 240

    ‘Little Beauty,’ 93, 297

    ‘Little Darling,’ 126

    ‘Little Egypt,’ 294

    ‘Little Fantasy,’ 129

    ‘Little Fawn,’ 294

    ‘Little Gem,’ 96, 249, 267, 282

    ‘Little Joe,’ 266

    Little Joshua tree, 107

    ‘Little Princess,’ 148

    ‘Little Rascal,’ 108

    ‘Little Red Star,’ 294

    ‘Little Snow Man,’ 283

    ‘Little Spice,’ 294

    Little Stars, 111

    ‘Little Sweethearts,’ 286

    Liverleaf, 155, 223

    Lobelia, 138

    _Lobivia aurea_ (Golden Easter Lily), 105

    London pride, 273

    Long Island, 279

    Long-night plants, 30–31

    ‘Lorraine Closson,’ 100

    ‘Louise Closson,’ 100

    ‘Lucille Closson,’ 100

    ‘Lucy Closson,’ 100

    _Lycopodium_ (Club Moss), 224

    Madwort (_See_: Alyssum)

    ‘Magic Carpet,’ 132

    Maidenhair spleenwort, 219

    Maiden pink, 266

    Maine, 261

    _Malpighia coccigera_ (Miniature Holly), 122

    _Mammillaria_ (Pincushion Cactus), 105

    ‘Mamorata’ (‘Silver Heart’), 129

    Mandarin orange, 113

    _Manettia bicolor_ (Firecracker Vine), 122

    Manitoba, 103

    _Mantha requieni_, 63

    ‘Maphil’ (‘Cleopatra’), 97

      in bonsai, 164, 166;
      flowering, 93

    _Maranta_, 53, 109, 122–23 (_See also_: _Calathea_)

    Marigolds, 283–84

    ‘Maroon Beauty,’ 132

    Marumi kumquat, 117

    Maryland, 223;
      Beltsville, artificial light experiments, 23

    ‘Masterpiece,’ 93

    May Apple, 225

    Meadow Saffron, 289, 292

    ‘Medora,’ 97

    Medusa’s head, 104

    Merry Gardens, 13

    _Mesembryanthemum cordifolium_, 102

    Mexican Foxglove, 94

    Mexican snowball, 103

    Mexican tree fern, 63

    Mexico, 114

    Mice, 290

    ‘Midget,’ 98

    ‘Midget Blue,’ 282

    ‘Midget Double,’ 266

    Mildew, 142

    ‘Milky-White,’ 296

    Mimosa, 63

    “Ming urn,” 54

    ‘Miniata,’ 93

    ‘Miniature Magic Carpet,’ 286

    ‘Minicycla,’ 296

    Mint, Corsican (_Mantha requieni_), 63

    ‘Minx,’ 126

    ‘Mischief,’ 126

    ‘Misera,’ 93

    ‘Miss Marveen,’ 108

    _Mitchella repens_ (Partridgeberry), 53, 224

    Mitella (Bishop’s Cap), 224–25

    Mites, 37, 232

    Moccasin Flower (_See_: _Cypripedium_)

    ‘Mon Petit,’ 148

    ‘Mon Petite,’ 148

    Monstera, cut-leaf, 17

    Montreal Botanical Gardens, 120

    ‘Moonlight,’ 259

    ‘Morgan’s Pink,’ 103

    Morning glories, 24, 37

    _Morrowi variegata_, 110

    Mosaic Plant, 117

    Moss: 86–87, 155–56, 171–72, 208, 213;
      Club (_See_: _Lycopodium_);
      Michigan peat, 78;
      sheet, 155;
      Spanish, 70;
      use in terrariums of, 58–59
      (_See also_ Sphagnum moss)

    Moss campion, 273

    Mother-of-thyme, 274

    Mottled wild ginger, 219

    Mountain laurel, 46

    Mountain pink, 271

    ‘Mrs. Arno Nehrling,’ 108

    Mulching, 140, 144, 197, 233, 242, 249, 255, 272, 288, 293

    Munstead lavendar, 269

    _Muscari_ (Grape Hyacinth), 295–96

    Mutations, 11–12, 234

    _Myosotis_ (Forget-Me-Not), 269

    _Myrsine africana_ (African Boxwood), 124

    _Myrtus communis_ (Greek Myrtle), 124

    Nagami kumquat, 118

    _Narcissus_ (Daffodil): 17, 63, 288, 296–97;
      fertilizing, 297;
      miniature, 155;
      trumpet, 152, 297

    Nasturtiums, 284

    Natal Plum, 110

    ‘Needlepoint,’ 119

    Nemophila (baby blue eyes), 284

    _Nepeta hederacea (glechoma)_ (Ground Ivy), 270

    Nerve Plant, 117

    ‘New Dwarf Compact,’ 285

    New England, 260

    New York City, 211, 213

    Nicotine sulfate, 232

    Night-neutral plants, 30, 34

    _Notocactus_ (Ball Cactus), 106

    _Nymphaea_ (Pygmy Water Lily), 209

    Oak, 230

    _Oenothera_ (Evening Primrose, Sundrop), 270

    Offsets, 135;
      in propagating, 90

    Old lady, 106

    Old Man Cactus, 102

    Oleander, 63

    Olive, 63

    _Oncidium pusillum_, 12

    _Opuntia_, 106

    Orchids: 10;
      for bromeliad tree, 70;
      cattleya, 17;
      and electric lighting, 24, 37;
      miniature (dwarf), 11, 17, 44, 53, 63;
      in New York, 23;
      potting material for (_See_ Osmunda fiber)

    ‘Oriental Music,’ 98

    _Osmanthus fragrans_, 63

    Osmunda fiber, 44, 45, 70, 81, 92

    Otaheite orange, 113

    Overpotting, 79–80

    _Oxalis_, 63, 124–25

    Pachysandra, 212

    Pacific Northwest, plants shipped from, 91

    Painted lady, 103

    Panda plant, 105

    ‘Pansy,’ 100

    Pansy, 245;
      hybrid, 46

    _Parochetus communis_ (Shamrock Pea, Blue Oxalis), 125

    _Parodia_, 106

    Partridgeberry, 53, 224

    Parsley Fern, 221

    Pasque flower, 261

    _Passiflora coccinea_, 63

    ‘Patens Major,’ 93

    Patient Lucy, 120

    ‘Patricia,’ 209

    ‘Patty Lou,’ 148

    ‘Peach Blossom,’ 93, 287

    ‘Peachblossom,’ 296

    ‘Peacock,’ 100

    Peanut, 63

    Peanut Cactus, 102

    Peat: 86, 93, 140, 143, 196, 218, 230, 233, 254, 256, 258, 279, 281;
      Michigan, 218;
      moss, 115;
      orchid, 136

    _Pelargonium hortorum_ (Geranium), 126–28

    _Pellaea rotundifolia_ (Button Fern), 128

    _Pellionia_, 128

    Pelonex, 78, 86, 233

    Penwiper plant, 105

    _Peperomia_, 19–20, 58, 89, 128–29

    Perennials: 197, 209, 218;
      dwarf, 10, 132–33, 138, 251–76, 286;
      effectiveness in rock gardens of, 189

    ‘Periwinkle,’ 294

    ‘Perky,’ 126

    ‘Perle d’Alcanada’ (‘Perle d’Alconada’), 148

    Perlite, 47, 73, 77–78, 81;
      in propagating, 86, 233

    Permanganate of potash, 206

    ‘Persian Brocade,’ 98

    Persian Candytuft, 260

    Pests and house plants, 85

    ‘Petite Gold,’ 284

    ‘Petite Harmony,’ 284

    ‘Petite Orange,’ 284

    ‘Petite Purple,’ 283

    ‘Petite Yellow,’ 284

    _Petunias_, 278, 284–85;
      bedding, 187

    Philadelphia, 118

    Philodendron, 63

    _Phlox_, 270–71, 285

    Photochrome, 24

    Photoperiodism, principle of, 23, 30

    Photosynthesis, 30

    _Picea abies_ (Spruce), 246

    ‘Pied Piper,’ 96

    _Pilea_, 129–31

    Pincushion Cactus, 105

    Pine: 212, 226, 230;
      “duff,” 196;
      mugho, 177, 231, 234

    ‘Pink,’ 285

    ‘Pink Charm,’ 262

    ‘Pink Heather,’ 282

    ‘Pinkie Dots,’ 294

    ‘Pink Radiance,’ 108

    ‘Pint Size,’ 294

    _Pinus_ (Pine), 246 (_See also_ Pine)

    Pipsissewa, 155, 216

    Pitcher plant, 63

    ‘Pixie,’ 129, 266

    ‘Pixie Gold,’ 148

    “Plant rooms,” in contemporary homes, 64

    Plant sources, 58

    Plumbago, 252

    _Podophyllum peltatum_ (May Apple), 225

    Poinsettias, 30, 104

    Poison ivy, 213

    ‘Polaris,’ 126

    ‘Pollyanna,’ 286

    _Polyscias (Aralia) fruticosa_, 131;
      ‘Elegans,’ 131;
      ‘Parsley,’ 131

    _Polystichum tsus-simense_, 131

    Pomegranate, tree, 68

    Ponderosa lemon, 113

    Pools, miniature: 66, 199–206, 223–24;
      charcoal as purifier of, 210;
      oxygenating plants for, 209

    ‘Poppet,’ 297

    Poppy, miniature, 178

    _Portulaca_, 285–86

    _Portulacaria afra variegata_ (Rainbow Bush), 106

    Powder puff, 106

    Prayer plant, 122

    ‘Pride,’ 126–27

    ‘Primrose Pygmy,’ 284

    Primroses (_See_: _Primula_)

    Primula (Primrose), 38, 256, 271–72

    ‘Prince Valiant,’ 126

    Propagating: 197–98, 233–36;
      of cacti and succulents, 101;
      greenhouse, 73, 197;
      with the Gro-Master, 86;
      of house plants, 84, 86–90, 92;
      miniature roses, 144–45;
      of woodland plants, 217–18

    Pruning: 82, 231;
      of dish gardens, 43;
      miniature roses, 141, 143;
      of sink gardens, 157–58

    ‘Purity,’ 267

    Pussy ears, 114

    Pussy-Toes, 261

    “Pygmies,” 284

    ‘Pygmy,’ 127

    Pygmy Water Lily, 209

    Quaker Lady, 223

    Rabbit tracks, 122

    Rabbit’s-foot ferns, 64

    Rainbow Bush, 106

    ‘Raspberry Parfait,’ 99

    Rattlesnake plantain (_See_: _Goodyera pubescens_)

    _Rebutia_ (Crown Cactus), 106

    ‘Red Berry,’ 100

    ‘Red Button,’ 294

    ‘Red Dot,’ 294

    ‘Red Foundling,’ 286

    ‘Red Imp,’ 148

    ‘Red Tweedle,’ 294

    Resurrection plant, 134

    Rex begonias, 89;
      miniature, 99–101

    Rhizomatous begonias, 89, 95, 97–99

    Rhizomes, 89, 97, 208

    Rhododendron, 246 (_See also_ Azalea)

    ‘Robin Hood,’ 126–27

    Rock, as an accessory in gardens, 45, 47, 57, 66, 172, 177 (_See
        also_ Rock gardens)

    Rock Aster, 262

    Rock cress, 262

    Rock gardens: 183–98;
      alpine and rock plants in, 187–98;
      in containers, 49;
      designs for, 184–87;
      plants for, 119, 126, 187–91, 219–26, 239–50, 259–76, 282–83,
          286, 288, 292–95, 297–98

    Rockfoil (_See_: _Saxifraga_)

    Roots: cuttings from, 89;
      division of, 90;
      as plant holders, 45;
      rotting of, 42, 81

    ‘Rosa Oakington Ruby,’ 148

    Rosary vine, 110

    ‘Rosata,’ 148

    ‘Rosea,’ 286

    Rose gardens, 138–39, 227

    ‘Rose Gem,’ 283, 287

    Roses: 137–49, 211, 226;
      climbing, 139;
      growing, under artificial light, 138;
      rambler, 139;
      in sink gardens, 138;
      tea, 137, 139;
      tree, 139, 143–44

    ‘Rosie O’Day,’ 282

    ‘Rosy Dawn,’ 126

    ‘Rosy Morn,’ 285

    ‘Rouletti,’ 148

    ‘Royal Carpet,’ 282

    ‘Royal Purple,’ 209

    ‘Ruffles,’ 126

    Runners, in self-propagating, 90

    Running pine, 224

    ‘Rusty Red,’ 284

    Sakrete, 47, 49

    ‘Salmon,’ 286

    ‘Salmon Comet,’ 126–27

    ‘Salmon Gem,’ 285

      builders’, 78, 195;
      dollar, 102;
      sharp, 86, 195, 198, 233, 255–56

    Sandhill phlox, 271

    Sand phlox, 270

    _Sansevieria_ (Snake Plant), 131–32

    _Sarcococca ruscifolia_ (Sweet Box), 132

    ‘Saturn,’ 126

    _Saxifraga_ (Rockfoil): 272–73;
      _sarmentosa_ (Strawberry Begonia, Geranium), 90, 132–33, 273;
      seedlings, 188

    Scale, treating, 232

    ‘Scarlet Gem,’ 148, 287

    _Schizocentron (Heeria, Heterocentron) elegans_ (Spanish Shawl), 132

    Schulz, Peggie, 13;
      garden sold by, 87

    _Sciadopitys verticillata_ (Umbrella Pine), 247

    Scotch moss, 134

    Sea campion, 274

    ‘Sea Gull,’ 108

    _Sedum_, 107

      blue rays of spectrum and, 30;
      in bonsai, 167;
      repotting of, 79, 281;
      woodland, 218

    Seeds: 84, 86;
      and bonsai, 167;
      effect of red rays of spectrum on, 30;
      house plants from, 86–87;
      woodland, 218

    Selaginella, 58, 66

    _Selaginella_, 133–34

    Semperflorens (“wax”) begonias, 73, 95–96

    Sempervivums, 177, 187, 252

    _Serissa foetida (japonica)_, 134

    Shading, artificial, 70–71, 73

    Shamrock Pea, 125

    Sheet moss, 47

    ‘Shell,’ 119

    Shining club moss, 224

    ‘Shippy’s Garland,’ 63

    Short-night plants, 30–31

    ‘Shrew,’ 296

    Shrubs: 101, 181, 212, 226–50;
      in bonsai, 169, 173;
      “cut-back,” 231;
      “die-back,” 231;
      tropical, 93

    _Silene_ (Campion, Catchfly), 273–74

    ‘Silver Beauty,’ 260

    ‘Silver Hahni,’ 132

    ‘Silver Heart,’ 129

    ‘Silver Jewel,’ 99

    ‘Silver Panamiga,’ 131

    ‘Silver Star,’ 114

    ‘Silver Tree,’ 131

    ‘Sinbad,’ 286

    Sink gardens, 138, 150–58, 288

    Sinningia, 134–35

    Sinningia pusilla, 10, 40, 134–35

    “Slips” (_See_ Cuttings)

    Slugs, 60, 117, 272

    ‘Small Fortune,’ 128

    Snake Plant, 131–32

    Snapdragons, 286

    ‘Sneezy,’ 128, 297

    ‘Snowball,’ 285

    Snowball, 226, 229, 249

    ‘Snowdrop,’ 96

    Snowdrop, 294

    ‘Snowflake,’ 267

    Snowflake, 295

    Snow in summer, 263

    ‘Snow-White,’ 128, 286

    Soil: 60, 74, 230;
      in greenhouses, 71–72, 92;
      humusy, 92, 214–16;
      mixture for miniature gardens, 50, 59, 77–79, 85–86, 92, 140,
          142, 170;
      prepared, 78;
      “sour,” 59

    South, winter planting in, 229

    Spanish Shawl, 132

    ‘Sparkle,’ 128

    ‘Spaulding,’ 97–98

    Speedwell, 275

    Sphagnum moss, 44–45, 86, 89, 92, 115–16, 133, 217, 236

    _Spiraea_ (Spirea), 247–48

    Spleenwort, 219

    Spring beauty (_See_: _Claytonia virginica_)

    ‘Spring Charm,’ 262

    Spring snowflake, 295

    ‘Sprite,’ 128

    Spruce, 226, 246

    Squirrel corn, 155

    Squirrels, 290

    Star Cactus, 102

    Starch, in plant growth, 30

    _Stephanotis floribunda_, 63

    _Sternbergia lutea_ (Winter Daffodil), 297–98

    Stilt-roots, 63

    Stolon, 90, 132, 222, 262, 268

    Stone-Cress, 260

    Strawberry Begonia (_See_: _Saxifraga_)

    _Streptocarpus_, 135

    Streptocarpus, 20

    String of hearts, 110

    Succulents: 49, 51, 64–65, 78, 81, 107–36;
      containers for, 42–43;
      garden of, 68;
      propagating of, 73, 89

    Suckers, 95, 116, 231, 240

    Sugar, in plant growth, 30

    Sulfur, 239, 255;
      dusting, for roses, 143, 232

    Summer snowflake, 295

    ‘Sunbeam,’ 149

    Sun cup, 106

    Sundew, 115

    Sundrop, 270

    Superphosphate (bone meal), 140, 143, 156–57, 175, 254, 289–90

    Sweat plant, 134

    Sweet Box, 132

    ‘Sweet Fairy,’ 149

    Sweet Peas, 286

    Sweet William (_See_: _Dianthus_)

    Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., 31

    Tangerine (Mandarin orange), 113

    Tassel hyacinth, 296

    Taxus (Yew), 248

    ‘Tear Drop,’ 119

    Teddy-bear plant, 114

    ‘Telecurl,’ 119

      for house plants, 75–76, 92;
      for miniature bulbs, 291–92;
      of plants in terrariums, 59

    Tennis ball, 241

    Terrariums: 53–54, 65;
      cider jug as, 54–57;
      commercial, 65;
      cultural compatability in, 58;
      plants for, 93–95, 97, 100, 101, 109–11, 115–17, 124, 128, 131,
          134, 219, 221, 223–24

    _Teucrium chamaedrys_ (Germander), 249

    Texas, 103

    Thomas, G. L., Jr., 205, 210

    ‘Thousand Beauties,’ 96

    Three Springs Fisheries, 205

    _Thuja_ (Arborvitae), 249

    ‘Thumbelina,’ 149

    Thyme, 187, 252;
      lemon, 194, 274
      (_See also_: _Thymus_)

    _Thymus_ (Thyme), 187, 252, 274–75

    _Tibouchina semidecandra_, 64

    Tiger Jaws, 104

    ‘Tiger Star,’ 283

    Tillandsia, 136

    ‘Tiny Rubies,’ 266

    ‘Tiny Tim,’ 128

    _Titanopsis_, 107

    Tom Thumb Cactus, 106

    ‘Tom Thumb’: 105, 286, 294;
      ‘Double Flowered Dwarf,’ 283;
      ‘Pure White,’ 283;
      ‘Purple,’ 283;
      ‘Rose,’ 283;
      ‘Scarlet,’ 283;
      ‘Shell Pink,’ 283

    _Tradescantia_ (Spiderwort, Inch Plant, Wandering Jew), 114, 136

    Trailing Arbutus, 222

    Transplanting “shock,” 50, 80, 166, 175, 281

    Trees: 226–50;
      in bonsai, 164–76;
      deciduous, 75, 165, 170, 216;
      miniature fruit, 68–69, 227;
      roots as plant holders, 45

    _Trichodiadema densum_ (Desert Rose), 107

    Trillium, 160, 211

    Tropical gardens, 49, 62–65, 109, 115;
      “jungle,” 26–27

    Tropical Gardens, 13

    Tropical Paradise Greenhouse, 98

    Trough gardens (_See_ Sink gardens)

    Trout Lily, 222, 288–89

    _Tsuga canadensis_ (Hemlock), 166, 249

    ‘Tubergeni,’ 294

    Tubers, 288

    Tufa rock, 171, 189;
      as plant-holder, 44, 57

    _Tulipa_ (Tulip), 288, 290, 298

    ‘Twilight,’ 109

    ‘Twinkle,’ 10, 128, 285

    Umbrella flower, 110

    Umbrella Pine, 247

    U. S. Department of Agriculture, 31

    ‘Variegated Kleiner Liebling,’ 128

    Vaughn, 281

    Venus Fly Trap, 115–16

    Verbena, 122, 286

    Vermiculite: 77, 78, 81, 93;
      in indoor bonsai, 161;
      in indoor greenhouse, 22, 27;
      in propagating, 86, 233

    _Veronica_ (Speedwell), 275

    _Viburnum_ (Snowball, European Cranberry Bush), 226, 229, 249

    Vigoro, 116

    Vine, 63;
      rosary, 110
      (_See also_: _Cissus striata_; _Clerodendrum thomosoniae_;
          _Passiflora coccinea_; _Manettia bicolor_)

    _Viola_ (Viola, Violet): 276;
      African, 20, 25, 51, 63, 90, 93

    ‘Violacea Semi-Plena,’ 93

    ‘Violet King,’ 283

    ‘Violet Queen,’ 283

    Violets (_See_: _Viola_)

    ‘Virbob,’ 98

    Virginia, 290

    Walking Fern, 219

    Wall gardens: 183–89, 191–98;
      design of, 184–89;
      planting and care of, 193–97

    Wandering Jew (_See_: _Tradescantia_)

    Wardian case, 53, 55, 77

    Watering of plants: 80–82, 91, 101, 156, 230;
      excess, 42, 50, 59–60, 80–81, 180;
      importance of drainage in, 190, 229–30;
      with manure water, 60, 80, 109, 123;
      in propagating, 86;
      in terrariums, 59–60

    Water lilies, 205;
      miniature, 202, 207–9

    Watermelon pilea, 130

    Water ‘N’ Watch garden, 87

    Water plants, 207–10;
      floating, 209

    Wax Plant, 120

    ‘Wayside’s Garnet,’ 149

    ‘Wee Bee,’ 297

    ‘Wee Red,’ 294

    ‘Wee Willie’ (‘Sweet William’), 266

    ‘Wendlinger,’ 109

    Westchester, 23

    Westcott, Cynthia, 232

    Western wild ginger, 219

    West Indies, 122

    ‘Whirlybird,’ 294

    White Cedar, 241

    White Forsythia, 236

    ‘White Gem,’ 287

    ‘White Gossamer,’ 114

    White pygmy, 209

    ‘White Velvet,’ 114

    Wilder, Louise Beebe, 197

    Wild-flower, mail order houses, 153

    Wild ginger, 160, 219

    Wild pink, 273

    Wild sweet William, 271

    Williamsburg, 48, 155

    Willow, 166

    Windex bottle, for misting plants, 77, 82

    Windflower, 261

    Window boxes, 20;
      plants for, 109, 286

    Window gardens, 18–22, 97, 117

    ‘Winkie,’ 96

    Winter Aconite, 290, 294

    ‘Winter Jewel,’ 96

    Woodbine, 111–12, 212

    Woodland gardens, 211–25

    Woolly thyme, 274

    Yarrow, 259

    ‘Yellow Miniature,’ 149

    Yellow pygmy, 209

    Yew, 248

    ‘Yindee,’ 296

    Zinnias, 286–87

Transcriber’s Notes:

1. Obvious printers’, punctuation and spelling errors have been
corrected silently.

2. Some hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of the same words have
been retained as in the original.

3. Italics are shown as _xxx_.

4. Bold print is shown as =xxx=.

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