Small Gardens

Some Neglected But Handsome Plants

The sweet old columbine--BOCCONIA CORDATA at Hampton Court-- CAMPANULAS as continuous bloomers--The heavenly larkspurs--Christmas roses--The tall and brilliant lobelias--The Chinese-lantern plants--Tufted pansies. We will begin alphabetically, therefore I will

first say a few words regarding the =pink-flowered anemone japonica=. Though the white variety (alba) is to be seen in every garden, the older kind is not grown half enough; perhaps this is owing to the peculiar pinkish shade of the petals, a colour that will harmonize with few others, and might be termed aesthetic; it should be grown in a large clump by itself or mixed with white; it flowers at the same time as A. j. alba, and equally approves of a rich and rather heavy soil, and also likes a shady place. Both kinds spread rapidly. =Aquilegias, or columbines, are most elegant plants=, generally left to the cottage garden, though their delicate beauty fits them for the best positions; they do well on borders, and generally flower about the end of May; in a light soil they seed freely, and spring up all round the parent plant. =Asters=, the botanical name for Michaelmas daisies, are beautiful flowers for a small garden if the right sort are chosen; those that take up a great deal of room should be discarded where space is an object, and such kinds as A. amellus bessaribicus, planted instead; this is perhaps the finest of the genus, and is =first-rate for cutting=. It is only two feet high, of neat habit, and bears large, bright mauve flowers with golden centres very freely, from the beginning of August right into October. =A. ericoides= is another one of neat habit, and is only half a foot taller than the last; it bears long sprays, covered the whole way up the stem with tiny white flowers and mossy foliage. Some of the novi-belgii asters are also very good and easy to grow. One of the most =effective and beautiful= plants in the summer months is bocconia cordata; it has delicate, heart-shaped foliage of a clear apple-green, silvered beneath, and creamy flower-spikes which measure from three to five feet in height; though so tall, it is eminently =fitted for the town garden=, for it is not a straggling plant and rarely requires staking. At Hampton Court Palace it is one of the most striking things in the herbaceous border during July. The hardy =campanulas= are good things to have, and in their own shade of blue are not to be beaten; of the taller varieties, the blue and white peach-leaved kinds are the handsomest, and come in very usefully for cutting. C. carpatica and C. c. alba are shorter, being only one foot high; they =flower continuously=, and look very well in a bed with the double potentillas, which are described further on. =Coreopsis grandiflora= is handsomer than the old lanceolata, and bears large bright yellow flowers, which are very handsome when cut and =bloom for a long period=. It is difficult to imagine what we should do without =delphiniums= (larkspurs) in the hardy flower-border; they are absolutely invaluable, and seem to have almost =every good quality=, neither are they at all difficult to grow; some of their blossoms are of an azure blue, a rare colour in nature; then they can be had of a Cambridge blue, purple, white, rose, and even red; the last, however, is a fickle grower and not to be recommended, save for the rockery. Though one may give 21s. and even more per dozen for them, beautiful kinds can be had for 10s.; these plants run from two to five feet high in good soil, but need plenty of manure to do them really well, as they belong to the tribe of "=gross-feeders=." The =erigerons= are useful plants to grow, very much like the large-flowered Michaelmas daisies, except that they come in earlier and are of a dwarfer habit; they may be had in orange as well as blue shades. The =funkias= are grand plants, grown chiefly for their =foliage=, which is sometimes green margined with white, or green mixed with gold, and in one kind the leaves are marbled blue and green; they =set off the flowers near them= to great advantage. In the early spring slugs attack them; these must be trapped and killed (see Chap. VIII.). Why are the old =Christmas roses= seen so little, I wonder? Grown in heavy soil and cold aspect they do beautifully, and bring us their pure white flowers =when little else is obtainable outside=. One thing against them in this hurry-skurry age is the fact that they increase so slowly; this makes them rather expensive too. Good plants of helleborus niger maximus may, however, be bought for half-a-crown; this variety has =very handsome leaves=, and is all the better for a little manure. =A flower that everybody admires= is the =heuchera sanguinea=, a rare and lovely species; it has graceful sprays of coral-red flowers, borne on stems from one to two feet high, which generally appear in June, and are first-rate for cutting. =Lobelia fulgens= is a brilliantly beautiful species, not to be confounded with the dwarf blue kinds; these tall varieties have quaintly-shaped red flowers, and narrow leaves of the darkest crimson; the roots are rather tender, and much dislike damp during the autumn and winter. =Lychnis chalcedonica= is one of the unreasonably neglected plants; it has =bright scarlet flowers=, a good habit, and grows from two to three feet high; it must have a sunny position and prefers a sandy soil. Some of the new hardy =penstemons= are lovely, and =flower during the whole summer=; they look very well in a round bed by themselves, and do not require much looking after; they are rather too tender to withstand our damp winters without protection, therefore the old plants should be mulched, after having had cuttings taken from them, to be kept secure from frost in a frame. The =winter cherry=, or =Cape gooseberry (physalis alkekengi)= is a most fascinating plant; =its fruit is the attraction=, and resembles Chinese-lanterns; they appear early in September, and make quite a good show in the garden. When bad weather comes, the stalks should be cut, hung up to dry for about a week, and then mixed in vases with dried grasses and the effect is very pretty. Care must be taken when asking for this plant under the English name, as there is a greenhouse plant so termed which is quite different, and, of course, will not stand frost. A dozen plants cost about 5s.; do not be persuaded to get the newer sort--franchetti--the berries are larger, but coarse and flabby, and not nearly so decorative. =Polemonium richardsoni= is a very pretty plant, its English name being =Jacob's ladder=. The flowers are borne in clusters, and are pale sky-blue in colour with a yellow eye: the foliage is fernlike in character and very abundant. This plant =likes a shady nook=, which must not be under trees, however, and if well watered after its first bloom is over in June, it will flower again in autumn. The double =potentillas= are glorious things for bedding, and are most uncommon looking. Their flowers are =like small double roses= in shape: generally orange, scarlet, or a mixture of both: the leaves, greyish-green in colour, resemble those of the strawberry. Unfortunately, these plants require a good deal of staking, but they are well worth the trouble. The large-leaved =saxifrages=, sometimes called megaseas, merit a good deal more attention than they receive. For one thing they begin flowering very early, holding up their close pink umbels of flowers so bravely in cold winds: then their foliage is quite distinct, and turns to such =a rich red in September= that this fact, added to their easy cultivation, makes it wonderful that they are not more grown. I remember, on a dreary day in mid-February, being perfectly charmed by the sight of a large bed of this saxifraga ligulata, completely filling up the front garden of a workman's cottage in one of the poorest roads of a large town. The flowers are particularly =clean and fresh-looking=, and having shiny leaves they of course resist dust and dirt well. =Tradescantias= and =trollius= are two good families of plants for growing on north borders; the first have curious blue or reddish-purple flowers, rising on stiff stalks clothed with long pointed leaves, and they continue in =flower from May till September=. The =trollius= has bright orange or lemon-yellow cup-shaped blossoms and luxuriant foliage. It flowers from the end of May for some weeks. Both these plants grow about two feet high. =Violas= or =tufted pansies= are very pretty, and extremely =suitable for the ground work of beds=, especially where these are in shade, though they will not do under trees. Cuttings must constantly be taken, as one-year-old plants flower more continuously, and have larger blooms and a more compact habit than older plants, besides which they are apt to die out altogether, if left to themselves. These are but a few of the wealth of good things to be made use of, for, when once real enthusiasm is awakened, the amateur who wishes to have a thoroughly interesting garden will only be too eager to avail himself of all that is best in the horticultural world.

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