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crowded to the front of borders in the same way. Their foliage is in the way for only a short period of the season, and may often be removed earlier than it is without injury to the plants. The advantages that would be obtained, therefore, by planting them in the spaces between the summer-flowering plants all over the border are very obvious; the fringy and irregular appearance in spring that results from the practice of crowding the flowers of that period to the front of the border would be done away with, and every part of the surface unoccupied with dormant plants might be as richly varied and beautiful then as at any other period. In connection with this I would draw the attention of readers to the value of the spring-flowering hardy annuals, especially those commonly known as “ Californian.” They are indispensable for spring-gardening, and those inquiring after them will find much valuable information in a cheap little work on annuals by Mr Thompson, seedsman, Ipswich, one of our best authorities on such matters. The title of the book is, “The Gardening-Book of Annuals.' Much might be done, also, to render mixed borders beautiful, not only in spring but all the year over, by adopting the “carpeting" practice that has made some favour for itself in connection with the massing system. Looked at correctly, this practice is mixed planting, not massing; and it cannot, of course, be done without obliterating the essential features of the massing style. It appears to me to be a very desirable practice to introduce generally into mixed borders; and the abundance of hardy evergreen trailing or creeping plants, and others of various tones and variegations of foliage that are to be
found available for the purpose, renders the adoption of the practice, in so far as the procuring of materials is concerned, easy. The bright beauty of spring flowers rising in relief from a carpet, say, of the moss-like Saxifrage, or the still more compact, and in many soils not less verdant, Spergula pilifera, would be more enjoyable on account of the cheerful contrast than when springing from and often bedraggled with the soil. There would be no more difficulty in keeping a border so carpeted than there is in the ordinary way, and there would be no increase of labour; perhaps it would even be somewhat diminished. To many mountain-pasture plants, carpeting the surface in the way indicated would be a real boon. Many of these plants die in cultivation from too much exposure to the sun, and the variable condition of the surface caused by the scrupulous cleanliness which should prevail in gardens in order to make themenjoyable. With diminutive species that are easily overborne by their neighbours, such a plan is not practicable; but there are very few of these that would be of much value as ornaments in the mixed border in any way, for generally they are as difficult to keep in the usual way as they would be in the other, and are therefore, in either case, better and safer in some place by themselves, on rockwork or in pots.
General Culture of Herbaceous Plants.—The mass of herbaceous plants, being found in varieties of alluvial soil, may be grown successfully in the ordinary soil of gardens, or in such as general field and garden cultivation may be practised with success. Depth and the mechanical condition of the soil is of much more importance than the chemical composition to the great
majority of hardy perennials, and it is to those two points that attention should be mainly directed when preparations are being entered upon for their culture. The ground should be trenched deeply if it will admit of it, and if not, as much should be done as is possible under the circumstances to add to the depth. If the ground is thin and gravelly—and these two conditions very generally accompany each other-good loam or clay should be added to the fullest extent practicable, incorporating carefully the new with the old soil in the process of working it. In soils of this sort, herbage of a luxuriant and valuable kind does not exist in nature, nor can it reasonably be expected to do so in cultivation; and as we should aim at the best results in this as in all kinds of work, it is well to bear in mind that they are only attainable by the employment of the best means and judgment. It may be stated as generally applicable to the mass of hardy perennials, and especially so to the more showy and valuable ones, that they grow badly, and flower both ill and briefly, in thin dry soil, and hence the necessity for improvement before attempting their culture in it, if of that character. If, on the other hand, the soil is deep and moist to wetness, there may be excessive luxuriance produced thereby in some species, but very many of the more valuable ones will be injured rather than improved. Many of our best border perennials die in such soil during winter; they do not ripen well, and their tissues being soft and usually unduly charged with moisture, they suffer more severely from ground frost, which penetrates to a greater depth in moist than in comparatively dry earth. Thorough drainage and improvement mechanically by the addi
tion of grit of any sort to the necessary extent, or charring the earth itself, if practicable, are the obvious corrections; but efficient drainage ought to be first attended to in such cases. In preparing a new site for the cultivation of hardy perennials, it may not be necessary, if the soil is naturally rich, to add anything of a manurial kind in the process; but in renewing old borders that have been long occupied by such plants, it will always be necessary to improve its condition to some extent by adding manure. Any tolerably well decomposed manure is suitable, but a renewal of the earth is, if practicable, even more desirable. In any case, the soil of old borders should be well trenched, and thoroughly pulverised and mixed.
The proper time to plant herbaceous perennials depends on a variety of circumstances, but principally on the constitution of the plants themselves, and the nature of the soil and climate of the locality. The directions as to the time for division given in the descriptive part of this work under each subject are equally applicable as to the time for planting, and it will be safe to follow these directions as far as possible. Generally speaking, however, the mass of vigorousgrowing perennials may be planted at any time after growth is nearly matured ; and with skill and extra precautions, many that may be lifted with balls can be transplanted at any time short of or soon after the period of their greatest activity, if circumstances should render such a step necessary. Many bulbs, if carefully lifted and the balls preserved, may be so managed even when in full flower, but such a course is not advisable nor often necessary; but the knowledge that it is prac
ticable may be useful to those of small experience in such matters, when placed in circumstances calling on them to make alterations after growth is more or less active, in which the destruction or preservation of useful subjects is involved.
The summer management of mixed borders does not involve many details. The vigorous-growing species, such as Delphiniums, Lupins, Pentstemons, autumnal Phloxes, and all of like luxuriant habit, are improved in the first bloom by having a moderate proportion of their stems thinned out early in the season; and there is often a second bloom induced thereby, not very considerable, perhaps, but it may be very opportune and welcome nevertheless. In any case, the flowering improves and is prolonged by thinning judiciously. Timous attention must be given to staking and training, else the usual consequences, in the form of tossed and tumbled plants, a general appearance of untidiness, with brief and worthless blooming, will ensue. The habit of the plant should be taken into account carefully when the supports are being applied to it, and, as far as circumstances will admit, its peculiarities should not be interfered with, except in the direction of improvement. The ordinary tight lumping up of all subjects to one stake in the same ungainly fashion, so often observed in mixed borders, is very objectionable; the only ground on which it can be excused in any case is, that the labour exceeds the capability of the force so much that any better or more tasteful practice cannot be attempted. But surely a little curtailment of extent, coupled with a little mechanical contrivance, would help to eke out the deficiency in two ways, and bring about a more pleasing