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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 )
As every garden lover knows, there are, apart from the flowers themselves, any number of accessories which increase the effectiveness of the garden, and by the aid of which it may be made-not only a greater pleasure to the eye, but also productive of greater usefulness and more enjoyment. To be sure, these accessories should be used with a careful hand, always seeming to subordinate themselves to the general scheme of the garden, even though in fact the garden may have been arranged to bring out their beauties rather than they the garden's. This should never appear, however; for the chief effectiveness of garden decoration lies in restraint, and furnishings which never dominate their surroundings will be found to best enhance their beauty.
Most beautiful when properly handled, and most obvious of garden decorations, is the overworked pergola. For a pergola is really beautiful, although in these days when one appears in the yard of every house that boasts a yard at all, one is apt to overlook its obvious attractions in view of its equally obvious ubiquity. To be sure, nothing is more ubiquitous than a rustic arch covered with a crimson rambler; but the contemplation of an array of these arches, such as one sees along any country road in early summer, is unattended by the murderous impulses with which one watches the erection of a new pergola in a neighboring yard.
The reasons for this are two: first that the pergola is a large and imposing piece of garden furniture, and as such is as out of place in any but a good-sized garden as a concert grand piano would be in the tiny livingroom of a cheap apartment. Its lines may be perfection-though too often they are not-but intrinsically handsome, decorative or worth-while though it may be, in a small confined plot it can be none of these things.
The second objection to the pergola is that there appears to be some unwritten law by which the majority of pergola-owners keep vines and vegetation scrupulously away from it. As a matter of fact, a pergola is only made as a support for vines, and without them is as absurd as a trellis upon which nothing is permitted to grow. Covered with foliage, whatever its design, it will, in time, become a decorative object, provided only that it be placed in a space sufficient to hold it suitably; but a bare pergola with no friendly vines to hide it, stands before the world convicted of its sins.
But this is by the way. The pergola is beautiful and useful, and should be included in every good-sized garden. It may be made of brick, stone, concrete, or turned wood, or entirely of rustic work. Grapes, roses, wistaria, honeysuckle-any sturdy vine may be used to cover it, and should do so as fully as Nature will permit. An attractive arrangement may be made by the use of a semi-circular pergola surrounding a small water garden, which is overlooked by swinging seats depending from the cross-beams of the pergola. A pleasant out-of-doors sitting room may be made by arranging garden furniture beneath it; and if a narrow bed be dug along its edges beneath the roof, and flowers planted there which do not require the full sun, it will be found perfectly possible to enjoy a garden in the open air sitting room as well.
A close cousin to the pergola is the arbor or the summer house. Either of these may be had ready to erect, in the white enameled woodwork which is now so popular for garden furniture, or may be built by any carpenter at little expense. An effective one may be made of rustic work. These will be found excellent substitutes for a tea house, and if they be not too far away, meals may be served in them on hot summer days. It is also possible to keep in them biscuits, tea, an alcohol lamp, and other such accessories, and so make the serving of tea an easy matter, even if the arbor be at some distance from the house. The pergola sitting-room and the arbor dining-room enable us to live out-of-doors for the greater part of the summer, during our waking hours, and will be f ound a wellworth-while investment, from the standpoint of pleas= ure as well as of health.
If a more pretentious dining-room be desired, the building of a tea house is no great affair. A charming one may be made in the Japanese style, the thatched roof raised either upon walls or upon posts at the corners of the house, in which latter case the flooring should be raised some few steps above the ground. A Japanese tea house may be greatly increased in effectiveness by embowering it in Japanese iris, peonies, or other distinctively Japanese plants. An Alpine chalet is also picturesque, especially when set in or near the rock garden, and a tiny English thatched cottage is effective; but for the average garden a. simple arrangement will be found quite- as satisfactory as a more pretentious one, as well as in better taste.
When the matter of garden furniture arises, many choices are offered the would-be purchaser. The white enameled furniture. of which previous mention. has been made is now very popular; it is effective at a dis tance, its lines are good, and it wears well. The chairs and tables of Japanese rattan are less beautiful, but they have the advantage of being the most comfortable of all the garden furniture. They are all the better for a thorough wetting now and then, and so may be left out of doors in almost any weather. Reed furniture is also in good taste, and may be had in various colors. The rustic seats of former days, heavy, clumsy and desperately uncomfortable, have fortunately been consigned to the limbo of forgotten things, and in their place have come chairs almost equally rustic in appearance, with backs and seats of splints. These are less expensive than the other garden furnishings, strong, comfortable ,and* appropriate. A group of them about the red or striped sun-um brelIa which should be a part of the furniture of every garden makes a delightful place in which to study the results of your own and your gardener's labors, as you while away the long summer afternoons.
For more permanent service, the seats of stone or concrete should by no means be forgotten. For beauty and durability there is no comparison between them and any others. They are usually Grecian in design, and exceedingly decorative. They should be placed, however, in spots where wanderers through the garden may be expected to sink down for a moment to enjoy a view or to rest; for the comfortable whiling away of an afternoon among your flowers they cannot compete with the less beautiful but more comfortable furniture which has already been described.
The sun-dial shows danger of becoming, like the pergola, a garden commonplace, but it is one which can less easily be dispensed with. It may be handled in countless ways, however, and curiously, the personality of the owner seems always to show itself in his choice of a sun dial. A dial may be had at any optician's, and set upon any pedestal that you may select for it. Exceedingly artistic pedestals may be had of stone or concrete, which harmonize with the seats and benches of similar material. Wooden pedestals painted white may be given a dignified effect, while I have seen pretty and unusual ones made by a skilful laying of field-stones with a planting of climbing vines about them. Attractive and appropriate though the ready made pedestals are, however, the made-to-order ones have this advantage-that it is possible, in constructing them, to inscribe upon them a pretty and appropriate motto, dear to the heart of the owner, instead of being satisfied with the two or three good but trite ones to which custom has limited the repertoire of those purchased ready made. It is unnecessary, by the way, to send for an expert to- set the dial; as the time told by the sun varies from the actual time for the greater part of the year, a dial is never an instru ment by which to catch a train. For a11 practical purposes it will be found sufficient to verify it for a few days by one's own watch before it is fastened down. The gazing-globe has been of late introduced as a substitute for the sun-dial in garden decoration, but its popularity has not, and is not likely to, become at all equal to that of its predecessor. There is, after all, no utility in a gazing-globe; and its. glittering smugness does not seem far removed from the smugness of the cast iron dog now, thanks to modern taste, ruthlessly excluded from our gardens.
The cast iron dog, by the bye, brings us to the question of statuary, the most dangerous of all to handle out of doors. For, although the day is passed when "modernizers" clapped French roofs upon fine old Colonial mansions and adorned their lawns with metal deer, one still comes across sights as incongruous in the grounds of some enthusiastic devotees of statuary. Cheap statues are, and should be, anathema to the garden lover, as they are to the artist. A statue, wherever it is to be placed, should be a work of art if it is to be at all. In addition to this, it must be placed in surroundings which suit it, or its effect will be wholly lost. Its surroundings should be formal, and it should stand alone. Many statues together, however fine they may be, destroy the very impression which one, well chosen and well placed, will produce. The only exception to this rule is to be found in some of the palace gardens and public places of France, where exceedingly elaborate surroundings and the exercise of taste at once exquisite, cultivated and restrained, have combined to produce extraordinary results, which cannot safely be hoped for by the average statue-lover. In private estates, generally speaking, a statue is out of place save among the largest and most elaborate gardens; and even in these, statues must be used with restraint, if the best effect is to be secured.
Other garden accessories? Their name is legion. Bird baths-from the concrete lined hollow in the stump of a felled tree to the slender column of concrete supporting the shallow pool which will lure all sorts of little feathered friends to your garden, early and late-bird houses, feeding-tables? The little creatures who frequent them will add as much charm to your garden as any statue. Walks, fences, hedges? Yes, these too should have a moment's consideration, from the standpoint of possible ornaments to the garden rather than from that of necessities.
A hedge is the ideal fence for a suburban house, and the merits of the various sorts-especially those of barberry and California privet, have been discussed elsewhere. In the country an old stone wall, over which roses may be trained, forms an ideal barrier. A white wooden fence is pretty and artistic, and may be harmonized in its design with the house to which it belongs. Very beautiful effects, too, may be obtained from a lavish use of climbing roses, as has previously been suggested. If a gate be used, its style must, of course, depend upon the fence which has been selected. In the case of a white wooden fence the gate may be made more imposing by the erection of a fan shaped trellis on either side of it, and the planting of climbing roses upon them. A gateway of Japanese work-resembling thatch in its general effect-is pretty, but perishable in our climate. A gate of close-set boards opening in a hedge some six feet high may be had in imitation of our I',nglish cousins, who seek, above all else, privacy in their gardens. "Lych gates" are rather popular, and quaint in form; but their very name of "corpse gate" and the recollection that they were used originally at the entrances to graveyards, rob them of appropriateness for garden use, as well as of the charm which they might otherwise have for the enthusiastic landscape architect.
The most satisfactory paths for the garden, especially for the rose garden, are of grass. Gravel is less attractive, while those of broken flagging, now so popular, are rather monotonous for a whole garden, a1though nothing is prettier than to catch sight of one here and there. The crevices between the stones should be planted, not with grass alone, but with low-growing and free-flowering rock plants.
But after all, in the garden, as everywhere else, appropriateness is the keynote of decoration. Nothing too much-the adage of the old Greek philosopher is never more applicable than here. For Nature never fails-the efforts of our best gardeners are but too apt to fade into insignificance beside a bit of woodland or roadside where she has combined shrubs and blossoms according to her will. And when we introduce our own handiwork among hers, we must bring her of our best if harmony is to be the result. Therefore again"Nothing too much"-and let dignity and simplicity be the watch words of the garden decorator who hopes to gain the best results.