Small Gardens

The Ins And Outs Of Gardening

Planting--Watering--"Puddling"--Aspect--Shelter--Youth and age in relation to plants--Catalogue defects--A time for everything. Now that we have seen what to plant, it will be advisable to learn =how to plant it=. Perhaps the most important point to be taken notice of

is the necessity of =firm planting=. Watch how a clever gardener presses the earth well round the roots of everything he puts in, where the plants are large, treading the soil down with his foot. =Loose planting is ruinous= (except in a few isolated cases), and yet it is a favourite practice with amateurs, who call it treating their flowers tenderly! But, as with the human kind, =a judicious mixture of firmness and tenderness= is the happy medium to be aimed at, and which alone insures success. =A good watering= helps to make the soil settle as much as anything; therefore, when put into the ground the plants should be well soaked, after which they should be left for a few days, with the exception of =overhead watering=, which is most refreshing. In very hot weather, it is often possible to transplant with perfect safety, if the roots are put into "puddle." =PLANTING IN "PUDDLE."= "Puddle" is a very expressive gardening term, which signifies soil mixed with so much water as almost to have acquired the consistency of a paste. =Operation 1=--well water the plant to be removed; =operation 2=--dig the hole which is to receive it; =operation 3=--fill the same with water up to the rim; =operation 4=--carefully take up your plant with plenty of soil round it; =operation 5=--gently place it in hole prepared, the walls of which will then be thoroughly soaked; =operation 6=--fill in with the "puddle" above referred to; =operation 7=--tread gently but firmly down; and, lastly, scatter a little dryer soil on the top. Flowers planted in this fashion can be taken up even during June, July and August; and, if properly looked after, will scarcely flag at all. =EFFECTS OF ASPECT.= The influence of aspect on plants is an interesting study; we all know that a shrub on a south wall is practically in a different climate to a shrub on a north wall. One reason why tender plants do so well on a =south or west aspect= is because the sun does not reach it till some hours after it has risen and warmed the air. The =sun shining on half-frozen buds= often has a disastrous effect on plants climbing walls with an eastern aspect; consequently, a north wall is often better for a delicate plant, if the warmest aspect cannot be given it; camellias, for instance, when outside prefer it to any other. =If a succession of one kind of flower is desired=, a group facing each corner oL the compass will often accomplish this, sometimes as much difference as a month being noted. Certain unimpressionable plants refuse to alter their season of blooming, but, as a rule, it is a sure method of attaining this object. =Colouring is also vastly influenced by aspect=; such things as pansies, for example, never show such rich markings under a hot sun, but require an east border to bring out their true beauties. Scotland suits them admirably, with its cool summer nights and moist atmosphere. =THE IMPORTANCE OF SHELTER.= Shelter has a great deal to do with success in a garden; in the ordinary town garden, the builder has generally been only too obliging in this respect, but in bleak hilly spots it might almost be called the gardener's watchword. Few things except Scotch firs and the like will stand a =long-continued high wind= with impunity; not only does it wrench the plants out of the soil, but, if it comes from a cold quarter, both flowers and leaves curl up at its approach and refuse to thrive; they become nipped in the bud, as at the touch of frost. Everyone has experienced the meaning of shelter when out in a cold nor'-easter; how it bites one, making the blood stand still with its fury! then, all at once, we round the corner, and hey presto! all is changed; the air is quite caressing, and the blood tingles to our very finger-tips from the sudden reaction. With due regard to shelter, then, =climates can be "manufactured" without glass=. In extensive grounds, these wind-breaks are made by planting lines of trees, but in smaller spaces it may be done differently. The construction of =light fences=, not over five feet in height, run up inside the compound, accomplish a good deal, as may be seen by any visitor to the nurseries of Messrs. Barr, at Long Ditton; they are =not ugly if well clothed=, and make an effectual break in a much shorter time than would be the case if fruit-trees were planted, though there is nothing prettier than a row of apple or pear trees, grown espalier fashion, if time is no object. Many things will nestle beneath them, and flower beautifully for months together, for, though these fruit-trees are deciduous, the force of the wind is considerably lessened by them, on the same principle that =fishing-nets are such a protection from frost= to wall-climbers; and this again may be compared to the veils which ladies use to protect their skin. Though of wide mesh, the fishing-nets will keep off five or six degrees of frost, and in certain cases are better than a closer protection, like tiffany, which sometimes "coddles" the trees too much. =A few words on the respective qualities of youth and age= may not be amiss. Amateurs are so often disappointed in their garden purchases, because they will not allow the plants sufficient time to demonstrate their capabilities. =Catalogues are much to blame= in this respect; an enticing description of a shrub is given, and the confiding amateur orders it, believing that in a year or two it will fulfil its character. How can he be expected to know that that particular variety never bears any flowers worth speaking of till it is at least seven years old! In the long run, I think nurserymen will find it pay to tell the whole truth regarding each plant they send out, not merely in a negative way either. If an alpine, for example, like linnea borealis, is extremely difficult to grow and flower in this country, it is only fair to say so; to place it amongst a lot of easily-cultivated plants without a word of warning is =not straightforward dealing=, moreover is apt to make people disgusted with the whole thing. Some plants bloom much the best when in their first youth; this is the case with many of the soft-wooded plants, which soon give signs of exhaustion, especially in a light soil. When it is noticed that the outside flowering stems produce finer blossoms than those from the centre, it is generally =a sign that division is required=, and that the soil wants enriching. =THE CALENDAR.= That there is =a time for everything in gardening= is almost a truism; the calendar is considered one of the most important parts of a technical book on this subject. It is advisable for an amateur gardener to =have a note-book=, in which he jots down what he has to do several weeks or months in advance; so often some fault easily remedied is left over from year to year, because perhaps it is only observed in the summer, and cannot be mended till winter. Recently, the calendar has not been given quite so much prominence; gardeners find out more and more that the weather is not governed by it, and that though one year it may be best to sow a certain seed at the beginning of February, another season may be so cold that it will have to go in at least a fortnight later. Nevertheless, taken roughly, this diary of events, as the dictionary calls it, holds good for most years, and it is wise to stick to it as far as possible.

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