How to keep a lawn level--Paths, how to lay them--Beds and
bedding--The new style versus the old--Flower-borders and their
backgrounds--Improvement of the soil.
=THE AUTOCRAT OF THE GARDEN.= We have spoken of the
general arrangement of the suburban garden, and must now proceed to particularize. First as to =the lawn=: It might often be described as a thing invented to keep the journeyman gardener in constant work, for where that individual only comes for a day or even half a day each week (on which basis this book is written) he generally seems to occupy his time in rolling, mowing, and sweeping the grass. An endeavour should a made to curtail this lengthy business, if it can be done without hurting his very sensitive feelings. When a boot-boy is kept, he can be set to roll the grass before and after it is mown, and also assist in the tidying up, thus giving the man leisure to attend to other matters. Where tennis or more especially croquet is played, great care should be taken to keep the turf level; =inequalities= can always be remedied in the winter or early spring. =Fine soil= should be scattered over each depression where these are only slight, and a little seed sown about March; but when the turf is very uneven it is a better plan to lift it, fill up underneath with soil, and re-lay, rolling well so that it may settle down properly. To keep a lawn even =constant rolling= is most necessary. Even when the lawn is smooth, it is as well to some seed in the spring of every year, for there are sure to be weeds to eradicate, and this is apt to leave bare patches which mar the beauty of any lawn. During hot, dry summers, water must be regularly applied or the grass will wither and perhaps die out altogether. =Grassy slopes= especially should be looked after, as they are the first to show signs of distress. Where there is no hose, a "spreader" will be found a most useful adjunct to a water-can, and is quite inexpensive. The knives of a mowing-machine should not be set too low in warm weather, as =close cutting= of grass is often responsible for it turning brown. The =paths= of a garden can be composed of several substances, gravel possibly being the best, as it is so easily renewed and kept in order. In cottage gardens delightful pebble walks with an edging of tiles can be sometimes seen, but unless plants having a mossy or cushion-like growth are allowed to fall over the tiles, this arrangement is rather stiff. When laying gravel down, see that it is of a ="binding" quality=, and laid fairly thick, as this method is economical in the long run, because it can be easily turned. The paths must be kept clear of weeds, and, except in the wild portion, free also of moss, a difficult thing where the growth of trees is very rank. Picking up the path constantly with a rake and =scattering common salt= over it, is one way of keeping moss down. It is important that the centre of a path be higher than the sides, so that it should =dry quickly after rain=. =BEDS AND BEDDING.= As regards the beds in the garden, these are usually all on the lawn, though =a long raised bed= with a path on either side looks extremely well if filled with flowers, and can be easily got at on dewy mornings without wetting the feet. Fantastic shapes are not advisable, unless =carpet-bedding= is the style aimed at. Rose-trees look best in round or oblong beds, and do not lend themselves to filling up stars, though a crescent-shaped bed suits the low-growing kinds very well. As a rule only one or two different kinds of flowers should be used in the same bed, and if a good display of blossom is required these must be frequently changed. =Cuttings a year old= make the best bedding-plants in a general way, for, though the quantity of bloom may not be quite so great the habit is more bushy, the individual flower far finer, and the period of blossoming greatly prolonged. It has been found that many of the old-fashioned flowers bloom much better if they also are =divided= and =new soil added=. This is particularly noticeable in such flowers as delphiniums, campanulas, and japonica anemones. Once every two or three years, however, is often enough for these hardy denizens of our gardens.  See Glossary, p. 7. =MAKING THE MOST OF THE LAND.= A new style of bedding has cropped up lately, or rather a lesson that Nature has always been teaching us has at last been taken to heart, for the idea is really as old as the hills. Two =plants flowering at different seasons= are placed together where formerly each would have had a separate piece of ground; thus, a tall, autumn phlox will be seen rearing its panicles of flowers from a carpet of aubrietia, alyssum, or forget-me-not, which all flower in spring. In this way each foot of ground has something to interest us at all seasons of the year. Lilies have been planted amongst rhododendrons and azaleas for some time past, and now the system has been extended. When once we have made up our minds to have =no bare soil=, various schemes will present themselves to us. Bulbs can be treated so, to the great improvement of the garden, as when they grow out of some hardy herbaceous plant, their dying leaves which present such an untidy appearance are nearly hidden. This double system of planting is especially necessary in beds which are in full view of the house, as these must never look empty. =WANTED--AN EYE FOR COLOUR.= Borders are not so much trouble in this way, as, if the wall or fence at the back is well covered with a succession of flowering shrubs, this makes =a very good back-ground=, and, as every artist knows, that is half the battle. The colours, however, must be carefully chosen, so that the plants in front blend with the creepers on the wall. The inconsistency of people in this matter is very noticeable, for they will mix shades in their borders which they would not dream of allowing on their dinner-tables. Who has not had his teeth set on edge by the sight of a pinkish-mauve everlasting pea in juxtaposition with a flaming red geranium! it is repeated every year in scores of gardens, to the great offence of every artistic eye. =Colours that quarrel= so violently with each other should never be visible from the same point of view, but kept rigorously apart. It is important that =the soil of the border= be of fairly good quality; if the staple be poor and rocky, plenty of loam must be incorporated with a small proportion of manure. On the other hand, if it is heavy, cold, and clayey, sand must be added to make it porous, and thus improve the drainage. Where the soil is not improved, some trouble should be taken to choose only those plants which will do really well in the particular soil the garden possesses.
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