Small Gardens

The Conservatory And Greenhouse

Mistakes in staging--Some suitable climbers--Economical heating--Aspect, shading, etc.--The storing of plants--No waste space--Frames. =A well-kept conservatory= adds much to the charm of a drawing-room, but requires careful management. Potting and the like cannot very

well go on in a place which must always look presentable. A conservatory, of course, is tiled, and therefore every dead leaf and any soil that may be spilled show very much; it is therefore advisable to have a greenhouse as well, or, failing that, some frames. A greenhouse, though it may be only just large enough to turn round in, is a great help towards a nice garden, and a boon in winter; it also allows of =a change of plants= for the dwelling-house and conservatory, greatly to their advantage. =Staging generally takes up far too much room=; the middle part of a conservatory should be left free, so that there is space to walk about; stands for plants are easily arranged, and give a more natural appearance than fixed staging, which always looks rather stiff. Being a good deal more liable to visits from guests than an ordinary greenhouse, the conservatory must be kept scrupulously clean and neat; the floor, walls, and woodwork must be washed very often, and the glass kept beautifully bright. Cobwebs must never be allowed to settle anywhere, and all the shelves must be kept free of dirt and well painted; curtains should be hung near the entrance to the drawing-room, so that they may be pulled across the opening at any time, to hide work of this sort. =Hanging plants= are great adjuncts where the structure is lofty, and open-work iron pillars, when draped with some graceful climbing plant, are a great improvement. Where there is but little fire heat, considerable care will be needed to choose something which will look well all the year round. We will suppose that the frost is merely kept out; in the summer, such a house can be bright with plumbago, pelargoniums, salvias, and indeed all the regular greenhouse flowering plants, as, except in hot-houses, no artificial heat is then necessary anywhere. In winter, there is more difficulty, for all the climbing plants which are in conspicuous positions must be nearly hardy; of these, the trumpet flower (bignonia), swainsonia, passion-flower, choisya ternata, myrtle and camellia, are the best; these are nearly evergreen, and consequently look ornamental even when out of flower. =Plants suitable for hanging baskets= are the trailing tradescantias, the white campanula, lobelia, pelargonium, and many ferns. For the pot plants there are hosts of things; freesias, cyclamen, marguerite-carnations, primulas, Christmas roses, arums, azaleas, kalmias, spireas, chrysanthemums, narcissus, roman hyacinths, and so on. Many late-flowering hardy plants, will, if potted up, continue in bloom long after the cold has cut them off outside. =Cactus plants=, too, ordinarily grown in a warm green-house, will even withstand one or two degrees of frost when kept perfectly dry, dust-dry, in fact. During winter in England =it is the damp that kills=, not the cold; bearing that in mind, we shall be able to grow many things that hitherto have puzzled us. All those delicate iris, half-hardy ferns, and tiresome plants that would put off flowering till too late, why, a cold conservatory or greenhouse is the very place for them! =Green-houses are altogether easier to manage than conservatories=, and therefore are the best for amateurs. There cuttings may be struck, plants repotted, fuchsias, geraniums, etc., stored, and tender annuals reared. A =lean-to greenhouse= should face south preferably, and the door should be placed at the warm end, that is, the west, so that when opened no biting wind rushes in. When the summer comes, a temporary shading will be necessary; twopennyworth of whitening and a little water mixed into a paste will do this. About the middle of September it should be washed off, if the rain has not already done so; for if it remains on too long the plants will grow pale and lanky. =ARTIFICIAL HEAT.= The Rippingille stove before referred to must be placed at the coldest end, and only sufficient warmth should emanate from it just to keep out the frost, unless it is intended to use it all day. It is well to remember that =the colder the atmosphere outside, the cooler in proportion must the interior be=. Even a hot-house is allowed by a good gardener to go down to 60 deg. or even 55 deg. on a bitterly cold night, as a great amount of fire-heat at such times is inimical to plant life, though it will stand a tremendous amount of sun-power. Several mats or lengths of woollen material, canvas, etc., stretched along outside will save expense, and be a more natural way of preserving the plants. =One great advantage that a greenhouse has= over a conservatory is this: that any climbers can be planted out, whereas tubs have to be used where the floor is tiled. =Cucumbers and tomatoes= do very well in a small house, and an abundance of these is sure to please the housekeeper. Seeds of the cucumber should be sown about the first week in March on a hot-bed; if in small pots all the better, as their roots suffer less when transferred to where they are to fruit. Do not let the shoots become crowded, or insects and mildew will attack them. In the summer, "damp down" pretty frequently and give plenty of air, avoiding anything like a draught, however. "=Telegraph=," though not new, is a reliable cucumber of good flavour and a first-rate cropper. =Tomato seed= should be sown about the same time and the plants treated similarly, giving plenty of water but no stimulant in the way of guano till they have set their fruit, which can be assisted by passing a camel's hair brush over the flowers, and thus fertilising them. Of course, out of doors the bees do this; their "busyness" materially aiding the gardener. As to =storing plants=, a box of sand placed in a dry corner where no drip can reach it, is best for this, burying the roots of dahlias, etc., fairly deep in it, and withholding water till the spring, when they may be taken out, each root examined, decayed parts removed, and every healthy plant repotted. The pots should be placed under the shelves till they shoot forth, when they can be gradually brought forward to the light. This reminds me that =the dark parts of a greenhouse= should never be wasted, as, besides their use in bringing up bulbs, ferns can be grown for cutting, and such things as rhubarb, may be readily forced there. =Frames= are very useful and fairly cheap, though it is best to get them set with 21-oz. glass, or they will not last long. Seedlings may be brought up in them with greater success than if in a greenhouse, and a supply of violets may be kept up in them during the coldest weather. The mats they are covered with during the night must never be removed till the frost is well off the grass, say about 11 a.m., as a sudden thaw makes terrible havoc. =The great point to remember= when about to indulge in a greenhouse is this: unless sufficient time and trouble can be given to make it worth while, it is better to spend the money on the outdoor department, which to a certain extent takes care of itself. Where there is leisure to attend to a greenhouse, however, few things will give more return for the care spent on it.

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