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The Moonlight Garden
The Water Garden
The Rock Garden
The Wild Flower Garden
The Court Of The Queen Of Flowers
The Children's Garden
The Bulb Garden
The Indoor Garden
The Garden That Faces Four Ways
What Can Be Done With Half An Acre
Old And New Flowers For The Garden
Where Are And Nature Meet
Our Birds And Our Gardens
The Flower Spectrum
Garden Friends And Foes
Trees And Tree Planting
Window Box Gardening
Flowers For Cutting
The More Common Garden Flowers And How To Grow Them
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The average garden lover revels in a mass of color. At his fancy every shade that nature can produce is called into play, and at his wish combinations arise, almost dazzling in their brilliancy, so that the garden seems, even at a distance, to shine and twinkle as it lies spread out, glittering in the summer sun. It is to secure this brilliancy of effect that the gardener bends his ingenuity-in an effort to please the eye by day and by day alone.
But why should the garden have no wider appeal than this? Let it be ever so lovely in the sunshine, there is no reason why a garden cannot be devised which will be equally lovely under the summer stars, and lose nothing of its daylight charm. Even in summer, the day does not comprise all of our waking hours. And in the evening, as we sit on the porch overlooking the garden, at night as we lie awake on the sleeping porch, why should not our flowers give us the pleasure that they do during the day?
In selecting blossoms for the garden which will lose none of its beauty by night, two things are especially to be borne in mind. First, as none of us and probably none of our friends will prove adventurous enough to explore its shadowy paths and mysterious corners by the light of the moon and stars-which seems so brilliant from the safety of the porch and is really so treacherous to the wanderer in garden paths-it must be a "long distance" garden. That is, the flowers must be selected primarily for their striking qualities, which will make them both visible and effective at a distance -and not too great a distance, for the "moonlight garden" should be placed as near as may be to the house, to ensure its best enjoyment. For example, the sweet pea., charming though it is, has no value in the moonlight garden compared with the tall, rigid stalks of the yucca, which, stiff and formal by day, at night raise their snowy heads like some giant protector of the garden, shining silver in a dusky corner. For the value of a flower here depends not upon its delicacy but upon its power to mass well, or to raise stately and effective spikes of bloom.
The second requirement of the night garden is perfume. After the dew has fallen the scent of all flowers is more powerful than it is by day, and the moonlight garden can, and should, appeal to the sense of smell"that fallen angel," as it has been called by one of our leading essayists-as much as to that of sight. For the sake of its perfume a blossom may be tolerated here which on account of its appearance, or the lack of it, would otherwise be rigorously excluded-such as, for example, the wallflower or the mignonette.
In planning your moonlight garden, provision should be made, first of all, for a. lily pool. This is easily done, and no one thing will be productive of greater enjoyment to you during the entire summer, or more effective by night,-both because of the beauty of the lilies which bloom so abundantly in the evening, and because of the lovely effect which you will find produced by the reflection of the summer moon and stars in the midst of your garden. Day-blooming lilies of both the hardy and tender varieties may, of course, be included in it; but here, as we are only considering the pool as a part of the moonlight garden, we may pass them by.
The night-blooming water lilies grow, not lying flat upon the surface of the water, but raised upon stout stems some distance above it, and are accordingly clearly visible at night. They are deliciously perfumed and grow to a considerable size, some reaching a diameter of twelve inches, and bloom from sunset to dawn unless the morning be overcast, when they remain open until well into the day. Unfortunately they all belong to the tender varieties which, while they are rapid growers and more free-flowering than the hardy ones, must be treated as annuals, forcing their owner to purchase a new supply each spring. While an expert may succeed in "wintering" a tender water lily, such a task is almost impossible to the amateur gardener. As the plants are, luckily, not high in price, this difficulty is not of great moment, save to the feelings of the gardener; and they will be found to repay well the shortness of their lives by their loveliness.
Of the night-blooming lilies there are many sorts from which to choose-red, pink and white. The blue lilies are all day-blooming, nor is this to be regretted, as blue is a color which does not show well by night, while the beauty of the night bloomers is enhanced by artificial light. Among the best may be mentioned the free-flowering rubra rosea and George Huster? bright red and bearing blossoms which measure from eight to ten inches across; while the Omarana, with its enormous blooms, and the Bissetii, with its mass of flowers, are among the best of the pinks. The white lilies are especially striking for use in the night garden, and, since they are even larger than the others, make a magnificent showing. The demtata, dentata magnifica and dentata superba bear gigantic blossoms, produced very freely and often measuring a. foot across.
Do not have a fountain in your water garden. The plash of falling water is charming, especially by night, but lilies thrive better in a stagnant pool. Be careful, too, not to plant too many; they will grow rapidly and cover the surface of the pool more completely than you expect. Do not forget that one of the charms of your water garden by night will be the reflection of the moon, as she passes over it, hanging low and red in the summer sky.
For the rest of the garden, what flowers will be most effective? White ones, first of all; and if any others are to be used, let them be of the palest pink or yellow -any pale color that will stand out well in the moonlight; red or blue never. The effect will be almost unearthly in its loveliness by night, and by day you will be surprised to find how beautiful an effect will be produced by a heavy massing of white flowers. And under the stars-was not your garden lovely as it lay sleeping in the starlight under the December snow? How much more lovely is the effect in July, when snowwhite masses of phlox stand out in contrast to the nodding bells of the nicotiana, and the perfume of the Lilium auratum mingles with that of stock as they both mount upward to your window? You may ex pect to miss your many-colored garden by day, but your white garden will more than make up for all its beauties. You have seen some play or pageant built up upon spectacular effect, where colored lights, spangles, elaborate scenery, devices of every kind, were used to produce an effect of splendor and magnificence. Yet such a spectacle does not remain, perhaps, in your mind as does another, equally spectacular in design, but staged by some manager of international reputation as an artist. Here, everything is restrained; pale colors, Greek setting, little to attract the eye, but everything of the best, make the first spectacle seem suddenly cheap and tawdry. So, I think, will your jewelcolored garden seem, after you have enjoyed the white splendor of your night garden under the moon and stars.
The "backbone" of the night garden is, like that of the day-time garden, phlox. Here the variety must be white-Mrs. Jenkins is perfectly satisfactory. The Nicotiana affinis, too, each blossom of which shows so distinctly in the starlight, and, above all others, both for its perfume and its shimmering whiteness, the Lilium auratum, exquisite as a border to a path, together with its less striking sisters, the Lilium speciosum album and the Lilium candidum, are to be recommended also. The pale spires of hollyhocks and stock should not be forgotten; the white iris raises its silver halberd in troops as its masses assemble beneath the silver moon; the yucca. and the summer hyacinth shine white and tall, great white sentinels in a distant corner. The Physostegia alba furnishes a snowy mass of flowers lasting nearly a month; and the tall white foxgloves in spring and early summer are among the most charming additions to the moonlight garden.
For a border plant the Achillea is effective after the candytuft and sweet alyssum have gone by. The bright little "snow-on-the-mountains," with its pretty green and white foliage and its insignificant flower, which sows itself so persistently over the garden and which no amount of rough transplanting will kill, makes a brave showing at night. The white perennial heliotrope or valerian wafts a delicious fragrance for some distance about the bed where it lies sleeping. A few groups of tuberoses planted here and there will grow to a height of about three feet, and bear spikes of bloom a foot in length. Even those to whom their perfume is usually disagreeable will enjoy the silvery spikes of this flower by night, when its fragrance, although made heavier by the dew, spreads through the open air and is mingled with the odors of the other plants by which it is surrounded.
There are many other flowers suitable for the moonlight garden whose names spring at once to mind-the white lupine and white larkspur; the Japanese iris; the many varieties of Campanula, both white and delicate shell-pink; white cornflower, snap-dragon, aster, gladiolus-these and many others will suggest themselves, as well as the white cosmos, so desirable an addition to the moon-garden in the early fall.
In short, whatever your favorite blossom, it will go hard but you may have a specimen of it in your moonlight garden, for almost every flower has its white variety. Do not expect, however, too much of its presence, apart from your own satisfaction, unless it be striking in appearance or sweet-scented. As time goes on and the "long glories of the summer moon" and stars show you hitherto unsuspected beauties in your blossoms, garden friends of long standing will become dearer and you will learn to admire others, to which you were once indifferent. And at last you will come to care as much for your night garden as you do for your day-time one, and perhaps-who knows?-you may some day turn all your flower beds into combinations which will give you pleasure during the starlight summer nights, and which will be a veritable fairyland of beauty on the occasions when you see them glimmering beneath the moon.