Planning The Garden
The flower garden not being one of the necessities of life, in the usual
sense of the term, people are likely to consider the making of it of so
little importance that it is hardly worth while to give the matter much
Consequently they simply dig up a bed here and there, sow
whatever seed they happen to have, and call the thing done.
A haphazard garden of that sort is never satisfactory. In order to make
even the smallest garden what it ought to be it should be carefully
planned, and every detail of it well thought out before the opening of
To insure thoroughness in this part of the work I would advise the
garden-maker to make a diagram of it as he thinks he would like to have
it. Sketch it out, no matter how roughly. When you have a map of it on
paper you will be able to get a much clearer idea of it than you can
obtain from any merely mental plan.
After locating your beds, decide what kind of flower you will have in
each one. But before you locate your plants study your catalogue
carefully, and make yourself familiar with the heights and habits of
them. Quite likely this will lead to a revision of your mental diagram,
for you may find that you have proposed to put low-growing kinds in the
rear of tall-growing sorts, and tall-growing kinds where they would
seriously interfere with the general effect.
Bear in mind that there is always a proper place for each plant you make
use of--if you can find it. The making of a working diagram and the
study of the leading characteristics of the plants you propose to use
will help you to avoid mistakes that might seriously interfere with the
effectiveness of your garden.
Do not attempt more than you are sure of your ability to carry through
well. Many persons allow the enthusiasm of the spring season to get the
better of their judgment, and lead them into undertaking to do so much
that after a little the magnitude of the work discourages them, and, as
a natural result, the garden suffers seriously, and often proves a sad
failure. Bear in mind that a few really good plants will give a
hundredfold more pleasure than a great many mediocre ones. Therefore
concentrate your work, and aim at quality rather than quantity. Never
set out to have so large a garden that the amount of labor you have to
expend on it will be likely to prove a burden rather than a pleasurable
Do not attempt anything elaborate in a small garden. Leave fancy beds
and striking designs to those who have a sufficient amount of room at
their disposal to make them effective.
I would advise keeping each kind of plant by itself, as far as possible.
Beds in which all colors are mixed promiscuously are seldom pleasing
because there are sure to be colors there that are out of harmony with
others, and without color-harmony a garden of most expensive plants must
prove a failure to the person of good taste.
I would not, therefore, advise the purchase of "mixed" seed, in which
most persons invest, because it is cheaper than that in which each color
is by itself. This may cost more, but it is well worth the additional
expense. Take Phlox Drummondi as an illustration of the idea governing
this advice: If mixed seed is used, you will have red, pink, mauve,
scarlet, crimson, violet, and lilac in the same bed,--a jumble of colors
which can never be made to harmonize and the effect of which will be
very unpleasant. On the other hand, by planning your bed in advance of
making it, with color-harmony in mind, you can so select and arrange
your colors that they will not only harmonize, but afford a contrast
that will heighten the general effect greatly. For instance, you can use
rose-color, white and pale yellow varieties together, or scarlet and
white, or carmine and pale yellow, and these combinations will be in
excellent harmony, and give entire satisfaction. The mauves, lilacs, and
violets, to be satisfactory, should only be used in combination with
white varieties. I am speaking of the Phlox, but the rule which applies
to this plant applies with equal force to all plants in which similar
colors are to be found.
If there are unsightly places anywhere about the grounds aim to hide
them under a growth of pretty vines. An old fence can be made into a
thing of beauty when covered with Morning Glories or Nasturtiums. By the
use of a trellis covered with Sweet Peas, or a hedge of Zinnia, or of
Cosmos, we can shut off the view of objectionable features which may
exist in connection with the garden. Outhouses can be completely hidden
in midsummer by planting groups of Ricinus about them, and filling in
with Hollyhocks, and Delphinium, and Golden Glow, and other
tall-growing plants. In planning your garden, study how to bring about
these desirable results.
Keep in mind the fact that if you go about garden-making in a haphazard
way, and happen to get plants where they do not belong, as you are quite
likely to do unless you know them well, you have made a mistake which
cannot be rectified until another season. This being the case, guard
against such mistakes by making sure that you know just what plant to
use to produce the effect you have in mind.
Plan to have a selection of plants that will give flowers throughout the
entire season. The majority of annuals bloom most profusely in June and
July, but the prevention of seed-development will force them into bloom
during the later months.
Plan to have a few plants in reserve, to take the places of those which
may fail. Something is liable to happen to a plant, at any time, and
unless you have material at hand with which to make good the loss, there
will be a bare spot in your beds that will be an eye-sore all the rest
of the season.
Plan to have the lowest growers near the path, or under the sitting-room
windows where you can look down upon them.
Plan to have a back-yard garden in which to give the plants not needed
in the main garden a place. There will always be seedlings to thin out,
and these ought not to be thrown away. If planted in some out-of-the-way
place they will furnish you with plenty of material for cutting, and
this will leave the plants in the main garden undisturbed.
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