Spades and the Bishop--Weeding without back-ache--The indispensable
thermometer--Well-made tools a necessity--Summer-houses and their
Though it is true enough that the best workmen need little mechanical aid,
yet =a well-stocked tool-shed= is not to
be despised. Sometimes it may only be a portion of a bicycle-shed which can be set apart for our implements, or the greenhouse may have to find room for a good many of them, but certain it is that a few nicely-finished tools are an absolute necessity to the would-be gardener. Of course a good many of them can be hired; it is not everyone, for instance, who possesses a =lawn-mower=, but if the owner of a garden is ambitious enough to wish to do without a gardener altogether, a lawn-mower will be one of the first things he will wish to possess himself of. In that case he cannot do better than invest is one of Ransome's or Green's machines. Their work is always of a high standard and the firms are constantly making improvements in them. The newest ones are almost perfection, but it is better to get a second-hand one of either of these firms than a new one of an inferior make. A =roller= is useful too, but, as these large implements run into a good deal of money, it may be as well to state that, on payment of 2d. or so, any of them may be borrowed for an hour or two. Ladders can be had in this way; also shears, fret-saws--anything that is only wanted occasionally. A =spade= is a daily necessity, however. Has not one of our most learned divines exalted the art of digging by his commendation thereof, and who shall say him nay? It is expedient to wear =thick boots=, however, during this operation, not only on account of the earth's moisture, but also because otherwise it is ruinous to our soles. To preserve the latter, a spade with a sharp edge should never be chosen, but one which has a flat piece of iron welded on to the body of it. Digging is good because it breaks up the earth, and exposes it to the sun and also to the frost, which sweetens and purifies it; care must be taken however, in doing it, as so many things die down in the winter and are not easily seen. The ordinary hired gardener is very clever at =burying things so deep that they never come up again=! Most people abhor =weeding=, yet if done with a Dutch hoe it is rather =pleasant work=, as no stooping is required. After a few showers of rain the hoe runs along very easily, and the good it does is so patent that I always think it very satisfactory labour indeed. These hoes cost about 1s. 6d. each. =Raking= is easy work, and very useful for smoothing beds or covering seeds over with soil. English made, with about eight or ten teeth, their cost is from two to three shillings. One of the most necessary implements is a =trowel=, in particular for a lady, as its use does not need so much muscle as a spade; their price is from 1s. 6d. to 2s. 6d. each. Where there are many climbers =a hammer= is wanted, not a toy one of German make; these are sometimes chosen by amateurs under the mistaken idea that the lighter the hammer the lighter the work. One of English make, strong and durable, is the kind of thing required, and costs about 2s. or 2s. 6d. =Wall-nails=, one inch long (the most useful size), are 2d. a pound, and may be had at any ironmongers. The =shreds of cloth= may be bought too, but anyone who deals at a tailor's can procure a mixed bundle of cloth pieces for nothing, when there is the light labour of cutting them into shreds, work of a few minutes only. In choosing =watering-cans=, see that they are thoroughly good tin, as a strong can will last for years; moreover, when it begins to leak it will bear mending; they cost from 3s. upwards, the roses should be made to take off as a rule, and a special place assigned to them on the shelf of the tool-shed, as they readily get lost. =Syringes=, much used for washing off insects, are rather expensive, consequently are not to be found in many small gardens; a more fortunate friend will sometimes lend one, as there is a good deal of freemasonry amongst people who indulge in the hobby of gardening. A thing everyone must have is =a thermometer=, in greenhouses they are indispensable; the minimum kind are the most useful, telling one as they do exactly the degree of frost experienced during the preceding night. They may be bought at a chemist's for 1s. each, and must be re-set every day; the aforesaid chemist will show any purchaser the way to do this--it is quite simple. =Raffia=, or =bass=, for tying flower-sticks, and =labels= are minor necessities which cost little, though sticks may run into a good deal if bought prepared for staking. Personally, I dislike both the coloured kinds (never Nature's green) and the white. Both show far more than the =unobtrusive sticks= obtained by cutting down the stalks of Michaelmas daisies, for instance. =Galvanised iron stakes last practically for ever=, and if they are of the twisted kind, no tying is required, greatly lessening labour. It is a curious fact that though =arches made of iron set up electrical disturbance= and injure the climbers, these stakes seem to have no bad effect whatever. At the end of the autumn they should be collected, and stored in a safe place till summer comes round again. Thin ones suitable for carnations, etc., may be procured from A. Porter, Storehouse, Maidstone, for 1s. a dozen, carriage paid. The thicker ones can be made to order at small cost at any ironmonger's. A handy man can often make =frames= himself, especially if they are not required to be portable, and really these home-made ones answer almost as well as those that are bought. Good frames can sometimes be had at sales for an old song, and only require a coat of paint to make them as good as new. Here I will end my list, only reiterating that, however few tools you may have, it is foolish to get any but the best. A =summer-house= need not necessarily be bought ready-made. I have seen many a pretty bower put together in the spare hours of the carpenter of the family. There is one advantage in these =home-made summer-houses=, that they are generally more roomy than those which are bought, and can be made to suit individual requirements. =HOW TO COVER A SUMMER-HOUSE.= Of course, it is more necessary to cover these amateur and therefore somewhat clumsy structures with creepers, but that is not difficult. Even the first summer they can be made to look quite presentable by planting the =Japanese hop=. The leaves are variegated, and in shape like the Virginia creeper. Messrs. Barr, of Long Ditton, Surrey, told me it grew 25 feet in one season. It can be had from them in pots, about the first week in May, for 3s. 6d. a dozen. Then there are the =nasturtiums=, always so effective when =trained up lengths of string=, with the dark back-ground of the summer-house to show up their beautiful flowers. If the soil in which they grow is poor and gravelly, the blossoms will be more numerous. The =canary creeper= is another plant, which is so =airy and graceful= that one never seems to tire of it. Get the seeds up in good time, so that when planted out they are of a fair height, else so much of the summer is lost. There are so many =uncommon climbing plants= which should be tried, notably eccremocarpus scaber, cobea scandens, and mina lobata. The last two are annual, and the first can be grown as such, though in mild winters and in sunny positions it is a perennial. It =flowers whenever the weather will let it=, and its blossoms are orange-yellow in colour, very curious and invariably noticed by visitors. Reliable seeds of all three can be had from Messrs. Barr, at 6d. a packet. The cobea bears pale purple bell-shaped flowers, and is a quick grower. Mina lobata is generally admired, and though of a different family bears a slight resemblance to an eccremocarpus, both in the shape of its flowers and in the way they are arranged on the stem. It is only half hardy. Clematis jackmanni and montana are good for this position too. Jackmanni is the well-known velvety purple kind, and must be cut down to the ground every autumn, and well mulched; that is because it flowers on the new growth of each year. Montana, however, flowers on the wood of the previous year, and therefore must be cut back about the end of June, if at all, as May is the month it blooms. The Dutchman's pipe, or aristolochia sipho, is not to be altogether recommended, as =its huge leaves always seem to make small gardens appear smaller still=, which is not desirable; otherwise, it is a splendid plant for covering summer-houses, as it is a rapid climber. It is wise to plant some of the =decorative ivies= as well, so that, if the flowering plants fail, it will not be of so much consequence. The =varieties with pointed leaves= are exceedingly elegant, and are much more suitable than the common sort for decorating churches and dwelling-house, and cost no more to buy. =FRAGRANT ODOURS.= At =the base of the summer-house= there should be quantities of sweet-scented plants, as this will make the time spent there all the pleasanter. There are lavender, rosemary, thyme, bay, sweet peas, stocks, and mignonette, besides the oak-leaved geranium, tobacco plant, marvel of Peru, and, of course, roses, though the latter do not give off scent quite so much as the other plants mentioned. The =position of the summer-house= is important. I have seen some divided, but where there is no partition it should generally face west. It is delightful on a fine evening to sit and watch the clouds change from glory to glory, as the sun gradually sinks to its rest, and the stars gleam out in the darkening sky.
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