Small Gardens

Trees Shrubs And How To Treat Them

Some good plants for growing beneath them--Selection of hardy shrubs--Enriching the soil--Climbers. Forest-trees in a small garden are somewhat out of place, but as they are often found in such positions, I will deal with them here. It

is to be remembered that though they give most grateful shade, not only do they rob everything beneath them of sunshine, but also =take so much out of the soil=, that, unless constant renewals are made, very little can be grown in their immediate vicinity; the class of plants that will do best beneath their branches also find the soil they are growing in best renewed by the leaves which fall therefrom. For the sake of tidiness, these of course are swept away, but they should be kept for two or three years, and then brought back, converted into =leaf-mould=; if this is not done, the quality of the soil will steadily deteriorate, instead of getting richer, as it does in woods; and this is one reason why so many wild plants fail to thrive when brought into cultivation; manure is no substitute, but often distasteful to them. =SOMETHING BESIDES IVY.= Trees must be divided into two broad sections, =deciduous and ever-green=. Very few plants will do well under the latter, but as regards the first, =ivy= is not by any means the only thing that will grow, though it is often a good plan to use it as a foundation, and work in plants here and there afterwards. There is no need to choose the large kind; those elegant varieties with long pointed leaves are =more ornamental and just as easy to grow=. Their roots must be restricted when other plants are near, or they will soon take up all the room. =Ferns= will do very well under trees, if they are plentifully watered during the dry season. Here also a few of the choicest kinds should be grown, for though some of them may not do so well as in a shady open spot, most of them will give a fairly good account of themselves. Always plant them with the rhizome above ground, not forgetting that when each fern has its full complement of fronds, it will take up a considerably larger space than it does at the time it is set out. If the Osmunda regalis is tried--=the royal fern=--it is necessary to get a good established turf of it; strong clumps cost about 1s. 6d. each; plenty of water must be given it in the summer. I have seen it in splendid form under a tree in a very small garden. Perhaps the =St. John's worts= come next to ivy and ferns in their usefulness for planting under trees, as they are =always decorative, being ever-green=. In the spring, the foliage is a most lovely soft apple-green, and in summer when the golden cups filled with anthers issue forth from the axils of the leaves, the effect is beautiful. Hypericum calycinum is the Latin term for these plants, and though they will do on the dryest bank and in the poorest soil, being very tough and wiry, if they are grown in good loam and manure is occasionally given them, they will repay with far finer flowers, which will be produced for a longer season. =A good breadth of woodruff= makes a very pretty picture for several weeks, and has a delightful scent; here and there bulbs can be planted amongst it, neither being harmed by this plan. The aubrietias =flower with unfailing regularity= under trees, even when the aspect is north, and no gleam of sunshine reaches them; their greyish-green rosettes resist drought splendidly, and though these plants do not give us so much blossom in unfavourable positions, still they make a very pretty show. Aubrietias can be easily propagated by division; every morsel grows. =BANKS UNDER TREES.= The white arabis also does well under similar conditions; both are useful for draping perpendicular surfaces, such as the steep side of a bank or hedge. A raised border, with facing of bricks, is rather a nice way of growing plants under trees, and the work of tending them is pleasant, less stooping being required. The =mossy saxifrage= droops over the edges, and mingles well with the arabis, but it must be more carefully watered, as it is apt to die out; pieces should constantly be taken off, and dibbled in so as to fill up any gaps. The =periwinkles= meander charmingly over the roughest stones, and in the most dreary spots; their glossy ever-green leaves, and fresh bright little flowerets =always looking cheerful= whatever the weather. They creep quickly, rooting every few inches as they grow; on the perpendicular face of the rock, succulent plants like =echeverias= can sometimes be made to grow (those little green rosettes, having each leaf tipped with red, which can be bought so readily in May for about twopence each). =Many things will do for a time=, that want renewing each year, even if hardy. Cowslips, primroses, polyanthus, wallflowers, all will make a fair show if planted out just before flowering, but, unless a few hours' sun daily shines on them, they will not retain enough vitality to produce seed, and being biennial soon die out, leaving not a trace behind. =A great many bulbs do admirably under deciduous trees=, especially those which blossom before the new leaves on the branches above them have reached any appreciable size. =Scillas= bloom in the same place year after year; snowdrops also do fairly well, and lilies of the valley ring out a few of their dainty bells every spring (a rich vegetable soil suits them best). =Tulips= only do well when planted afresh every autumn; but, as they are so cheap, that is not a great matter. The megaseas, mentioned in another chapter, give forth many of their fine leaves, but they refuse to turn colour, owing to the want of sun. Fox-gloves, also, grow and flower, seeming to enjoy their position. =If the aspect of the space to be filled is a cold one=, such things as geraniums will only give a few poor flowers, and then succumb. Even pansies wilt and gradually fade away under trees, for their soft, weak stems and leaves soon get drawn up for want of light, though they will do well enough on an open border, facing north. =Hard-wooded plants= will be generally found to do best; indeed, some of the shrub tribe succeed very well, particularly barberry, pernettyas, the early daphnes, whortleberries, gaultheria shallon and cotoneaster. While on the subject of =shrubs=, it may be as well to mention several attractive kinds which may be planted in place of the =eternal box= and Portugal laurel; of course, these two have almost every good quality; they will do in any soil, are ever-green, and resist smoke, dust and dirt well; but, in places where poor soil and a soot-laden atmosphere are absent, =substitutes might occasionally be found for those shrubs=, which will have the added charm of novelty. One of the nicest for small gardens is cotoneaster microphylla; this is a joy to look at, all through the winter months, when it is at its best; the branches grow in an uncommon manner, and are of somewhat prostrate habit; they are thickly clothed with dark, small leaves the whole way up the stem, and shining amongst them are the pretty crimson, almost transparent berries. It is quite distinct from the ordinary berry-bearing shrubs, as there is =nothing stiff about its gracefully-curving sprays=, which look well cut and wedged in the Japanese fashion. Shrubs of this variety may be had as low as sixpence, but it is better policy to get a larger one, costing about eighteen pence, as they will sooner be of a presentable size; they are shrubs, too, that do not altogether show their capabilities when at a very youthful stage. =A GOOD ALL ROUND PLANT.= Berberis aquifolium is another shrub which has a great deal to recommend it; it is ever-green, and will do in almost any position; it bears lovely yellow flowers in spring, purple powdered berries in August, and the foliage turns a rich red in October. Always ornate, it is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, and =just the thing for a small garden=. =The myrtle=, though liable to be killed in a very hard frost, can often be grown to a great size in a sheltered garden; I have seen bushes eight yards round, in an exposed position near the river Thames, which must have been braving the storms for many a year past. They should not be planted out till March or April, though November is the month for most other shrubs. The old pyrus japonica =makes a good bush=, though most often grow on a wall; its bright flowers, carmine-scarlet in colour with yellow anthers in the centre, appear early in April, a week or two later than the climbers, which of course are protected. When grown in bush form, it =is sometimes pruned out of all recognition=; this is especially the case in public gardens, and is quite an affliction to any one who knows how lovely it can be! The knife should be restrained, allowing the pyrus to take its own shape as much as possible; it is often sold under the name of cydonia japonica, as that is really its rightful title. =One or two of the araucarias make very good shrubs for a small garden=; they should not be grown in cold, wind-swept places, as their branches soon turn brown if exposed to continued frost and furious blasts. There is a magnificent specimen in the nurseries of Messrs. Veitch, Kingston Hill, Surrey, planted about 1865; its ornamental appearance is greatly due to the number of young branches springing out from the main trunk and almost completely covering it; they nestle under the larger branches, and produce a very picturesque effect. Small plants of this variety may be had for three or four shillings. Messrs. Veitch have a splendid selection of shrubs, all in the best of health; their hollies are well grown, and include all the good sorts; a variety that bears fruit when quite young is ilex glabrum, of which they have a large stock; these trees are such slow growers, that it is advisable to get one that will look attractive almost at once. =Pernettyas are ornamental little shrubs=, not so much grown as they deserve; in winter, when most things look drooping and unhappy, these American visitors to our gardens are bright and cheerful. =The dwarf erica carnea=, both pink and white, show their buds as early as November, and at the turn of the year present a very pretty appearance; they look well as edgings to rhododendron beds; their price is about sixpence each. =Another charming winter shrub= is cornus sanguinea; its beauty lies in the red glow of its leafless stems, which makes it visible some distance off. Spirea Anthony Waterer is a =fine plant in late summer=, having pink umbels of flowers and a habit somewhat like the valerian. =The snow-berry= is good in autumn and winter, having large white berries which hang on a long time; it is deciduous, and likes a rich soil. Messrs. Veitch have a splendid collection of conifers for all aspects and positions; their small junipers are most fascinating little trees, with flat spreading branches of the loveliest shade of green, and their seedling firs are well balanced. They sell a great variety of lilac trees too. =GRAFTED LILACS.= A note on lilacs will not be amiss; if you notice that any lilacs you may happen to have flower sparsely, and are poor in size and colour it will be as well to examine the stems close to the soil, and you will probably find a fine crop of suckers; all these must be cut away as sedulously as those on your rose-trees, for =nearly all lilacs are grafted=, very few kinds being sold on their own roots. The forsythias are =pretty climbers or shrubs=, according to the variety chosen, much like the yellow jasmine, with its golden stars on leafless stems. Just as the latter, however, is going out of flower the forsythias are coming on, and therefore give a succession of very pretty blossoms. Originally from China, =the wigelias= have now taken a place in many English gardens, by reason of their fresh pink and white flowers and easy cultivation. They bloom late in spring, and should be placed by preference =against a dark wall=, as their flowers, being surrounded by pale-green foliage, do not stand out sufficiently on a light one. =THE DELICATE CEANOTHUS.= The exquisite summer-flowering ceanothus has been mentioned before, but I notice it here again because it is one of those =shrubs that should not be overlooked= on any account; its leaves are somewhat like those of a heliotrope, and its flowers are bluish-mauve in colour and borne in trusses; it blooms for many weeks and has a most delicious scent, and should be planted out in the spring. =A neglected but really remarkable shrub is the= rhus cotinus--=the smoke plant.= In early August it is a striking sight, with its curious inflorescence quite impossible to describe. At Hampton Court there are two or three fine species. =WINTER SHRUBBERY.= It will be observed that shrubs presenting a decorative appearance in winter are made much of; this is because soft-wooded plants always look miserable then, whereas with a few berry-bearing shrubs and a nice selection of bulbs, we may have a =pretty garden all the year round=. Once planted, however, they should not be left entirely to take care of themselves; the soil must be enriched occasionally, if we wish for good results, and great care taken to =train them in the way they should go=, by pinching out shoots which would tend to give a lop-sided effect. Such things as firs must be unobtrusively staked till they are able to support themselves, as =symmetrical growth= is part of their charm, and we must remember that "as the twig is bent, the tree is inclined." =Standard rhododendrons= require to be very carefully staked until they have a fair hold of the ground, or their big heads are caught by the wind, and this loosens the soil to such an extent that it is impossible for fresh roots to be made. Generally, some of the =bush rhododendrons= should be grown amongst the standards, and if these are dotted about with clumps of lilies the effect is very rich. Lilium tigrinum splendens is =one of the best for this purpose=, and is most brilliantly beautiful during August and September; they are six feet in height, and the flowers are a rich orange red, with black spots on each petal; they can be obtained for half-a-crown the dozen. =A lily suitable for placing amongst azaleas=, as it is only three feet high, is lilium speciosum album; it has glistening pure-white flowers, and a graceful habit. The shade of the shrub is most beneficial to the lilies, as they dislike strong sunshine, and of course they are also protected from cold in winter. The same soil, a mixture of peat, loam and sand, suits both.

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