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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 )
Everything has its drawbacks, it is said, and, to support this cynical saying, the garden, among its pleasures, has some crosses in store for us which we must bear. Animals, insects and plant diseases will to some extent, trouble its serenity; but a little care-especially that of the "ounce of prevention" variety-will, nine times out of ten, save us from more serious misfortune, and will give us only enough trouble to awaken our realization of the dearness and dependence of our flowers upon our care.
The roses seem to be as attractive to insects as they are to the majority of human kind. The white aphis is their first admirer-a soft green creature, about the size of a pin's head, who lives in swarms and feasts upon rose buds luxuriously before they have opened. Various mixtures are sold for the purpose of destroying this pest; among the best of remedies may be mentioned that of spraying with tobacco water or whale oil soap. In most cases it will be found necessary to spray the roses before they are in leaf, and at intervals afterward, to keep them in good condition; for if the aphis once gets a foothold it will be found exceedingly difficult to dislodge him.
The aphis arrives early in the season, and after him comes the rose bug. He eats the open flower, as a rule, and can only be effectively disposed of by handpicking into a cup of kerosene. He also revels in peonies, perennial heliotrope, and iris. The garden should be visited every morning, and these insects removed, as far as possible, until danger from them is past. Luckily, their reign is a short one.
The next pest, and the last one for the roses, is the black rose beetle. He may also be destroyed by one of the mixtures which are sold peculiarly for his benefit. His depredations like that of the aphis and the rose bug, are not, alas, limited to the rose garden, but it is here that his presence is most likely to be most grievously felt.
The red aphis especially affects the golden glow, although it may, like other insects, be found elsewhere. The mixture which destroys his white brother is fatal to him, as it is to the black aphis, which returns again and again, with great persistence, to the helenium, nasturtiums, and other plants, not sparing even the lotus. A method preferable to spraying is to apply the mixture with a rag or a piece of an old sponge. In this way little of the fluid is lost, and every part of the plant is assured of treatment. Since in this way the plant receives more of the liquid than it does through a spray, the solution should be weaker. It is well to treat a few stalks, and to defer the rest of the work until next day, in order to make sure that too strong a mixture has not been used. The dipping of affected stems into the solution is also advocated in some quarters, but apart from the danger of breaking tender stems in so doing, any solution but the weakest is apt to burn the plant. A stronger solution, used with a sponge, I find the most effective. The white aphis also infests the roots of the helenium. In such a case the, plant should be dug up, the roots washed with the mixture, and the whole re-set in a new place.
Wherever a leaf is found folded over, look to see whether it does not enclose a worm. If so, as is apt to be the case, the intruder may be pressed to death between the fingers. The large nests of "tent caterpillars" which are often found on trees and shrubs, should be burned. This should invariably be done, even if the infested tree be not on your own domain, but in some field or vacant lot near by.
The cutworm is an especially insidious enemy of the garden, since his presence is known only after, through his agency, some cherished plant has been cut off beneath the earth. When this occurs, if the earth about the plant in question be carefully examined and stirred up a little, the offender will usually be found curled up in the vicinity. Luckily these creatures are apt to remain near the scene of their depredations, which makes the otherwise hopeless business of catching them possible. They may be crushed between small stones, or if a cup of kerosene be at hand, this will be found fatal to a11 insects with which it comes in contact. Whenever beds are dug over, some cutworms are likely to come to light.
The borer is another insect which strikes terror to the heart of the dahlia lover. It is because of his activity that one finds, at times, stalks hanging wilted from the main stem of the plant. A slight search will reveal the hole, near the leaf, where the borer found entrance; the remedy is to make a weak solution of Paris green, and, after stopping the hole with a piece of cotton, to make a small cut in the upper end of the branch, and in it to pour the solution. When the cotton becomes soaked, remove it; the borer will have been destroyed.
The fat white grubs which sometimes come to light must also be put to death. They may be entirely eliminated by carefully avoiding the use of any manure which is not thoroughly rotted. Fresh manure is the reason of their presence.
Of the animals which destroy the fruits of the gardener's labors, the most destructive, where he exists, is the rabbit. Where there is one rabbit there are apt to be many, and their depredations are, accordingly, upon an alarming scale. In handling this problem some hard-heartedness is necessary; but rabbits and a garden are quite incompatible, and a choice must be made between the two. The spreading about of poison is in most places illegal for obvious reasons; indeed, except with certain mixtures, the cruelty of it is evident. Shooting is the best and kindest way of disposing of the rabbits who visit your garden; and the necessity of it can hardly be denied by anyone who has seen them feast their fill upon young flower and vegetable sprouts. As a temporary measure, red pepper may be sprinkled over the places which they frequent; but this must, of course, be renewed after every shower. A dusting with bone meal is said to have the same effect.
If pea vines are pilfered and empty pods scattered on the ground, chipmunks are probably the rogues. They must be treated like the rabbits, and they have a penchant for, not young shoots, but for ripe vegetables. The water rat, if he be in the vicinity, is the thief who, day after day, tears the young pads from your water lilies as fast as they come up; but he is something of an epicure, and if the pool be protected by chicken wire until the pads become older, and presumably tough, he will trouble them no more. The mole is another unwelcome visitor in the garden. He may be traced by the little ridge of ground which marks the line of his burrow. Find the end of this, stamp upon it, and nine times out of ten, the mole will be crushed beneath your weight. This is a better method than that of destroying the lawn by unearthing him, and saves the additional trouble of disposing of the victim.
A word may here be said upon the subject of animals whose presence is of advantage in the garden. Among them is the fishworm, who in his constant tunneling of beds keeps the earth stirred up and in some measure cultivated. I have heard it said, from time to time, that "there were too many fishworms," and have heard sermons preached against them; but as a matter of fact, there cannot be too many of them for the garden's good. The toad is also a useful little friend, whose presence robs us of many insects; and the same may be said of the frog. The fresh-water snail is of material assistance in keeping the water garden sweet and clean; while in relation to the water the merits of the gold fish, and in the garden itself the value of the birds, has elsewhere been touched upon.
Although he is exceedingly unpopular, let me here say a word to the same effect in behalf of the snake. No one, of course, tolerates those of the poisonous variety; but in many sections of the country these are almost unknown. The ordinary garden snake-often the little striped garter snake or the green grass one, or even the larger water snake-is utterly helpless, and exceedingly useful in destroying innumerable harmful worms and insects. I confess that it has often made me indignant to see them, perfectly helpless as they are, attacked and destroyed, often with unnecessary cruelty, when they were doing their best to escape, and when they have done nothing to deserve it-indeed, have, if the gardener only knew it, greatly lessened his own labors by the destruction of insects. While we may not care for a pet snake as a part of the permanent equipment of the garden, let us consider the services of the chance one or two which may wander in, and content ourselves with driving them quietly away.
Of the diseases which affect plants, a few may be mentioned here. The rust, or turning yellow of the leaves, which later drop off, is a pest common to hollyhocks and delphiniums. To the remedy for this I am indebted to Mrs. Albee's helpful book on cottage gardens. Thick suds of Ivory soap and cold water, applied to the under side of the leaves, will check the trouble in a marvelously short time, although more than one application will probably be necessary if the remedy is to be effective. If the first application be made before the disease shows itself, when the plants are coming into leaf, it may be entirely prevented.
The withering of the leaves of antirrhinums and dahlias may be traced to insects, and to counteract this, mixtures may be had which will check the trouble. The same thing may be said for the yellowing and wilting of aster plants-by the way, any aster attacked by the "yellows" should be at once removed. Bordeaux mixture, in varying proportions, is the best remedy f or mildew-another cause of the yellowing of plants; while the yellowing of the leaves of the gladiolus, generally indicative of "black rot," means that the bulb should be removed before the trouble spreads. The bulb-like the roots of peonies which turn yellow and show blighted buds-should be soaked in the fall in a five per cent. solution of formaldehyde, and reset in a new place. A dusting with sulphur before planting is an excellent preventive of disease in lilies.
As a matter of fact, many of what we ordinarily consider diseases of plants are traceable to insects, while other troubles in the plant world are due to improper surroundings. If beds be well made, enriched with well-rotted manure and with a generous sprinkling of lime to drive any sourness from the soil, the margin of disease will be appreciably reduced. It is generally easy to procure "airslaked lime" as it is called, for this use, but if it be not available, the pouring of a little water on ordinary lime will serve the purpose. Sour soil-which may easily be recognized by its ten dency to grow moss-is responsible for many of the gardener's troubles. Again, it is surprising what the mere moving of a plant may do. The change of conditions may not, in some cases, be obvious to anyone; but evidently some unseen handicap must have been removed or some unsuspected need of the plant be filled, for the mere moving often seems to turn a puny, struggling blossom to a mass of bloom.
There are, of course, too many diseases to which plants are subject to be enumerated in a chapter of this kind. Conditions vary so widely, that in the case of trouble, it is well to have recourse to the advice of a. reliable nurseryman. The difference between mildew, "yellows" and "black rot," obvious to the expert, is not so to the amateur, and a large part of the garden lore of such matters is best learned from the inspection of the workings of one's own domain. In a wonderfully short time, however, it is possible to recognise the various signs which point to one cause of any given trouble, and cautious experiment results in the application of one remedy or another, or the moving of a plant from certain conditions to certain others, so that, ultimately, the difficulties incident to your garden will appear before you almost in tabulated form. A plant which is subject to a certain disease with one person, is frequently, under different conditions, immune from the trouble in question; so the thing for the amateur gardener to bear in mind is to work out, on the basis of generalities which can be given him, the scheme best suited to his own needs in his own garden, and to remember that among flowers, as among human beings, health is the normal condition and disease the abnormal, and not to be content until his garden is strong growing and free flowering, as every well regulated garden should be.