Small Gardens

Various Hints

Artificial manures--Labelling--Cutting off dead flowers--Buying plants--Tidiness in the garden, etc. With far the larger half of our population =the question of cost= comes into everything. There are so many claims on our purses, that the money spent on recreations

can only be a small part; moreover, is always liable to be drawn on at any moment. Somehow, the money laid out on a garden always seems to be grudged, especially when it is for such things as manure, so that if that item can be reduced, so much the better. =A "WRINKLE."= One good way of buying it, is to get the boys who sweep the roads to bring the contents of their cart to your garden instead of taking it away. Quite a lot can be purchased for sixpence or so, and the mixture is even more beneficial to some plants than the loads bought from the contractor. When the neat little heaps are swept up at the roadside, anyone may take it away. Householders can employ their own errand-boys to do so, no charge being made whatever. =Guano and artificial manures= in general are very stimulating, and must only be given to plants in bud, or at all events full-growth. Sickly plants or those at rest must never have it. =Soapsuds= form a mild stimulant for rose-trees in summer, but these things do not come in place of the manure with which the soil must be dressed in autumn; they are only additions. =LABELLING.= There has been much controversy over the labelling of plants; it must be done very delicately, or the appearance of the garden is spoilt; the word label usually presupposes a name to be written thereon, but, in reality, =just a mark to show where a plant is=, often seems all that is necessary, and this is very important indeed with plants which die right down every winter. The most unobtrusive tallies must be used, and they should be of zinc, or they will inevitably get lost. The wooden ones are all right in the greenhouse, but no good at all outside. For rose-trees, names are required, and =the "acme" labels are much the best= ever invented for these, and have now been in use by all rosarians for years; they can be had at Cant's Rose Nurseries, Colchester, for about 1s. 3d. a dozen, post paid. =If we would keep plants in good health=, all dead flowers must be cut off regularly; this is specially important in the case of sweet peas, pansies, and other free-flowering plants, which become poor, and soon leave off blossoming altogether, if allowed to form seed-pods. It is =a good plan= to go round every morning with a basket and scissors, and snip off all faded blooms, as, when several days elapse, the work becomes long and irksome. =As regards buying plants=, this comes somewhat expensive, until a little knowledge and experience has been gained. After a while, the different plants are known by sight, and one is able to see directly whether a flower or shrub is well grown and of good colour. Then, instead of ordering everything at the large nurseries, one can often pick up, in one's wanderings, very =good things at small cost=. Until that is the case, it is wiser to order from some reliable firm who is sure to send out everything true to name. People who go in for gardening, should always be ready to learn; there are so many points which cannot be acquired all at once. One can often gain a "wrinkle" if one keeps one's eyes open, as the saying is. Constant visits should be made to Kew, Hampton Court, or any other well-kept public garden, if at all within reach. A stroll round a neighbour's garden, too, will often give one new ideas, and the interchange of opinions does a deal of good. A magazine keeps up one's interest wonderfully, and there are many specially published for amateurs. One must not be surprised that the advice often seems contradictory. =The right way of growing a plant is the way that succeeds=, and experience shows how varied may be the means by which success is attained. I should like here to warn my readers that before launching out into any great expense, they first come to a full understanding as to what they will or will not be able to take away. Greenhouses can be put up as =tenants' fixtures=, but a very slight difference in the manner of placing them may result in a good deal of unpleasantness with the landlord, and it is the same with rose-trees, and other shrubs and plants. Where a shrub has attained to goodly proportions, it is really the best way to let it remain, even though the associations connected with it may be pleasant, as transplanting would probably mean death, in which case neither party would have gained anything. Of course, in the nature of things, a lover of gardening is loth to move at all, a rolling stone is not at all in his line. =Tidiness is most important in a small garden=, especially in the winter time; plants may be allowed to get rampant in summer, but in the cold weather, this wildness tends to make it look miserable. One sometimes sees the brown, mildewed stalks of sunflowers and other tall plants, left on right into December, even in a front garden, and it =gives such a deserted look= to the place, that one longs to "have at them" there and then with a knife. It is the same way with autumn leaves; in woods they look beautiful, as they flutter down and make a rich, rustling carpet for our feet, but, somehow, in the garden the beauty seems gone, and it is generally the best plan to sweep them away as soon as possible into some corner, where they can be left to turn into leaf mould. Of course there is a certain beautiful freedom which is very desirable in a garden, and which no one could call untidiness. What looks lovelier, for instance, than the jasmine, with its long sprays hanging down over the window, or the break made in a straight-edged path by some luxurious patch of thrift or forget-me-not? these are only fascinating irregularities! =Winter need not be a time for idleness=; it must be spent in getting ready for the spring. Tools should be overhauled thoroughly, and new supplies of sticks and labels prepared. Plans, too, should be made for filling each different bed, so that when the warm days arrive, and one scarcely knows what to be at first, everything may be in train. The faculty of looking ahead must needs be used, if we wish to succeed. I often think that =living in anticipation constitutes a great part of the charm of gardening=. When sowing the seed, have we not bright visions of the time when that self-same seed will bear most exquisite blossoms? When pruning our rose trees, dreams of what they will become lend added interest to our occupations, and, indeed, this quality of imagination turns arduous work into a veritable labour of love, so that its devotees always aver it is the most delightful recreation in the world.

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