Hardy Climbing Vines Ivies
Berries And Small Fruits
Requisites Of The Home Vegetable Garden
Plants And The Calendar.
The Rose: Its General Care And Culture
Planning The Garden
The Wild Garden A Plea For Our Native Plants
Planting The Lawn
Plants For Special Purposes
The Winter Garden
Iv. Crops That May Follow Others
The Hardy Border
Plants For Special Purposes
Amateur gardeners are always wanting plants for some special purpose,
and, for their benefit, I propose to devote this chapter to
"What shall we grow to shade doors and windows? We want something that
will grow rapidly. If a flowering vine, all the better, but shade is the
The best large-growing vine for this purpose, all things considered, is
the Wild Cucumber. No other annual vine exceeds it in rapidity of
growth. It will grow twenty or twenty-five feet in a season, if given
something to support it to that height, therefore it is very useful
about the second-story windows, which height few of our annual vines
attain. It has very bright-green, pretty foliage, somewhat resembling
that of the native Grape, though not so large. About midsummer it comes
into bloom. Its flowers are white,--delicate, fringy little things, in
spikes, with a very agreeable fragrance, especially in the morning when
wet with dew,--and there are so many of them that the vine looks as if
drifted over with a fall of snow. The plant has tendrils by which it
attaches itself to anything with which it comes in contact, consequently
strings, latticework, or wire netting answer equally well for its
support. Its tendency is to go straight up, if whatever support is given
encourages it to do so, but if you think advisable to divert it from its
upward course all you have to do is to stretch strings in whatever
direction you want it to grow, and it will follow them. Its flowers are
followed by balloon-shaped fruit, covered with prickly spines--little
ball-shaped cucumbers, hence the popular name of the plant. When the
seeds ripen, the ball or pod bursts open, and the black seeds are shot
out with considerable force, often to a distance of twenty feet or more.
In this way the plant soon spreads itself all over the garden, and next
spring you will have seedling plants by the hundred. It soon becomes a
wild plant, and is often seen growing all along the roadside, and never
quite so much "at home" as when it finds a thicket of bushes to clamber
over. It has one drawback, however, which will be especially noticeable
when the plant is domesticated: Its early leaves ripen and fall off
while those farther up the vine are in their prime, and remain so until
frost comes. But this defect can easily be remedied by growing some tall
plant at the base of the vines to hide their nakedness.
Another most excellent vine is the good old Morning Glory, with its
blue, purple, violet, pink, carmine, and white flowers produced in such
profusion that they literally cover its upper branches during the early
part of the day. This is a very satisfactory vine to train about door
and window. Do not give it ordinary twine as a support, as the weight of
the vines, when well developed, is almost sure to break it down. Stout
cord, such as is used in binding grain, is the best thing I know of, as
it is rather rough, thus enabling the vine to take hold of it with good
effect. This is a rapid grower, and a wonderfully free bloomer, and it
will give you flowers throughout the season. It is much showier than the
Wild Cucumber, but its foliage lacks the delicacy which characterizes
Another good vine for covering porches, verandas, and summer-houses, is
the Japan Hop. This plant--it is an annual, like the other two of which
mention has been made--has foliage of a rich, dark green, broadly and
irregularly blotched and marbled with creamy white and pale yellow. It
grows rapidly, and gives a dense shade.
"I would like a sort of hedge, or screen, between the flower and the
vegetable garden. What plants would you advise for this purpose?"
The Zinnia is an excellent plant where a low hedge is desired. It
averages a height of three feet. It is compact and symmetrical in habit,
branching quite close to the ground. It is a rapid grower, and of the
very easiest culture. It comes into bloom in July, and continues to
produce great quantities of flowers, shaped like miniature Dahlias, in
red, scarlet, pink, yellow, orange, and white, until frost comes. It
makes a most gorgeous show.
Kochia, more commonly known as "Burning Bush" or "Mexican Fire-Plant,"
is a charming thing all through the season. In summer it is a pleasing
green. In fall it turns to a brilliant red, hence its popular names, as
given above. Its habit is very compact, and one of great symmetry. If
the plants are set about a foot apart, and in two rows,--these rows a
foot apart,--you will have a low hedge that will be as smooth as one of
Arbor Vitae after the gardener has given it its annual shearing. When the
bush takes on its autumnal coloring it is as showy as a plant can well
be, and is always sure of attracting attention, and being greatly
Amaranthus is another very pleasing plant for hedge purposes. It grows
to a height of about four feet. Some varieties have a dark, bronze-green
foliage, others foliage of a dull, rich Indian-red, while some are
yellow-green--quite rare among plants of this class. The flowers, which
are small, individually, are thickly set along pendant stems, and give
the effect of ropes of chenille. In color they are a dull red, not at
all showy in the sense of brilliance, but really charming when seen
dropping in great profusion against the richly colored foliage. Our
grandmothers grew the original varieties of this plant under the name of
"Prince's Plume," "Prince's Feather," or "Love Lies Bleeding." But since
the florists have taken it in hand, and greatly improved it, it no
longer retains the good old names which always meant something. To
secure the best results with this plant, when grown as a hedge or
screen, set it in rows about a foot apart, each way, and use some of the
dwarf sorts for the front row. Or a flowering plant of contrasting
color--like the Nasturtium, or the double yellow Marigold, or the
velvety African variety, with flowers of a dark maroon shading to
blackish-brown--can be grown at its base, with fine effect.
Sweet Peas make a good screen if given proper support, and planted
"I would like a large group or bed of ornamental foliaged plants on the
lawn, but have grown rather tired of Cannas and Caladiums. What would
you suggest? I don't want anything hard to grow."
If very large plants are wanted, I would advise, as best of all,
Ricinus, better known, perhaps, as Castor Bean, or Castor Plant. This is
an annual of wonderfully vigorous growth. It often reaches a height of
ten feet, in good soil, with a corresponding spread of branches. Its
leaves are often a yard across, of a dark coppery bronze, with a
purplish metallic lustre that makes the plant very striking. The best
effect is secured by growing four or five plants in a group. None of the
tropical plants that have come into prominence in gardening, during the
past ten or twelve years, are nearly as effective as this easily-grown
annual, whose seeds sell at five cents a package. For a very prominent
location on the lawn or anywhere about the home-grounds no better plant
could be selected.
The Amaranthus advised for hedge use makes a very showy circular bed on
the lawn when grown in large masses, in the centre, surrounded with
flowering plants of a strongly contrasting but harmonious color. The
Calliopsis, rich golden-yellow marked with brown, combines charmingly
with the dull, deep, rich reds which characterize the foliage and
flowers of the most desirable varieties of this too much neglected
annual. There are new varieties advertised of rather dwarf habit, with
golden-green foliage, that could be used about the red-leaved kinds with
"I would like a bed of very brilliant flowers for the front yard. Can't
have many, for I haven't time to take care of them, so want those which
will give the most show for the least trouble. Would like something so
bright that it will _compel_ people to stop and look at it. What shall I
An exceedingly brilliant combination can be made by the use of scarlet
Salvia, as the centre of a bed six or eight feet across, with Calliopsis
surrounding it. The scarlet and yellow of these two flowers will make
the place fairly blaze with color, and they will continue to bloom until
frost comes. They require next to no care.
The annual Phlox makes a fine show if proper care is taken in the
arrangement of the various colors with a view to contrast. The pale rose
variety combines beautifully with the pure whites and pale yellows. A
bed of these three colors alone will be found much more satisfactory
than one in which a larger number of colors are used. Set each color in
a row by itself. Such a bed will "compel" persons to stop and admire it,
but they will do it for the sake of its beauty rather than its great
Petunias are excellent plants for large beds where a strong show of
color is desired. They bloom early, continue through the season, and
require very little care.
The Shirley Poppy makes a brave show about the last of July, but after
that it soon dies. If it were an all-season bloomer it would be one of
our most popular plants for producing a brilliant effect. I would advise
using it, and filling the bed in which it grew with other plants, after
its flowering period was over. Its rich colors and satiny texture make
it a plant that always attracts attention.
Scarlet Geraniums are used a great deal where a strong color-show is
desired, but they are not as satisfactory as many other plants because
of their ragged look, after a little, unless constantly given care. The
first flowers in truss will fade, and their discolored petals will spoil
the effect of the flowers that come after them if they are allowed to
remain. It is not much of a task to go over the plants and pull out
these faded flowers every, day, but we are not likely to do this. I
prefer single Geraniums to double ones for garden use, because they drop
their old petals, and never take on the ragged appearance which
characterizes the ordinary bedding Geranium.
"I would like a low bed--that is, a bed near the path where it will be
looked down upon. Tall plants would be out of place there. Tell me of a
few of the best kinds for such a location."
The Portulacca is well adapted to such use, as it never grows to be more
than three or four inches in height, but spreads in a manner to make it
look like a green carpet, upon which it displays its flowers of red,
rose, scarlet, yellow and white with very vivid effect. This plant might
well be called a vegetable salamander, as it flourishes in dry, hot
locations where other plants would utterly fail. It fairly revels in the
hot sunshine of midsummer.
The good old Verbena is another very desirable plant for a low bed. It
is of spreading habit, blooms profusely and constantly, and comes in a
wide range of beautiful colors.
The Ageratum is a lovely plant for a low bed, with its great masses of
soft lavender flowers. Fine effects are secured by using dark yellow
Coleus or golden Pansies as an edging, these colors contrasting
exquisitely with the dainty lavender-blue of the Ageratum.
"What flowers shall we grow to cut from? Would like something that is
not coarse, and something that will bloom for a long time, and has long
At the head of the list I would place the Sweet Pea. This is a favorite,
everywhere, for cutting. The most useful varieties are the delicate rose
and white ones, the pure whites, the pale pinks, the dainty lavenders,
and the soft primrose yellows.
The Nasturtium is an old favorite for cutting, and a corner of every
garden ought to be given up to a few plants of it for the special
purpose of furnishing cut flowers.
The Aster is a magnificent flower,--it seems to be growing better and
better each year, if such a thing is possible,--and nothing else among
the annuals compares with it in lasting quality, when cut. If the water
in which it is placed is changed daily, it will last for two weeks, and
seem as fresh at the end of that time as when first cut. The most useful
variety for cutting is the "Branching Aster," with stems a foot or more
in length. This makes the flowers of this class particularly useful for
vases. I would advise growing three colors, when it is wanted solely for
cutting--white, pale rose, and delicate lavender.
The newer varieties of Dahlia--especially the "decorative" section--are
superb for cutting. Their flowers are not formal like those of the old
double kinds, and being borne on long stalks, they can be arranged very
gracefully. Like the Aster, they last well. They will be found among the
most useful of our late flowers for large vases, and where striking and
brilliant effects of color are desired.
The Gladiolus is also well adapted to cutting, and is very effective
when used in tall vases, the entire stalk being taken.
Scabiosa, often known as "Mourning Bride," is an excellent plant for
vase-use, and deserves more attention than it has heretofore enjoyed.
Its flowers are quite unlike most other annuals in color, and will be
appreciated on that account. The dark purple varieties combine
delightfully with those of a lighter tone in yellow, and with pure
whites. As the blossoms are produced on long stems, they dispose
themselves very gracefully when used in rather deep vases.
Every garden should have several plants of Mignonette in it, grown for
the especial purpose of cutting from. This is one of the most fragrant
flowers we have among the annuals.
For small vases--little vases for the breakfast table, or the desk, and
for gifts to friends--one ought to grow quantities of Heliotropes, Tea
Roses, and Pansies.
To cut from, early in spring, nothing is lovelier than the Lily of the
For larger vases, the Dicentra is always pleasing, coming close after
the Lily of the Valley. Cut it with a good deal of foliage, and be
careful to give each stalk ample room in which to adjust itself. A vase
with a flaring top is what this flower ought to have, as its stalks have
just the curve that fits the flare. A straight vase obliges it to stand
up so primly that half the charm of the flower is destroyed.
For late fall cutting, there is no other flower quite equal to the
Cosmos. The pink and white varieties are lovely when cut by the branch,
and used in large vases. They seem especially adapted to church
"We want some flowers that will bloom late in the season. Are there any
that can be depended on after early frosts?"
Yes. First on the list I would name the Aster. This sturdy annual is
seldom at its best before the first frosts, and can be considered in its
prime during the first half of October. And it will last until cold
weather sets in.
Ten Week Stock--the "Gillyflower" of grandmother's garden--is a late
bloomer. The snows of November often find it full of flowers, and are
powerless to injure it. It is delightfully fragrant, and particularly
adapted to cutting, because of its long spikes of bloom. It comes in
white, rosy-purple, red, and sulphur-yellow.
The Marguerite Carnation deserves a place in every garden because of its
great beauty, and its late-flowering habit. While not all the plants
grown from seed will give double flowers, a large share of them will be
so, and in form, size, and color they will compare very favorably with
the greenhouse varieties of this favorite flower. Most of them will have
the true Carnation fragrance. For choice little bouquets, for home use,
or to give your especial friends nothing can be more satisfactory. You
can expect a dozen flowers from each plant where you would get but one
from the greenhouse sorts.
Next: Arbors Summer-houses Pergolas And Other Garden Features