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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 )
Under ordinary circumstances the garden does not come into the beginnings of its glory until the end of May or the first of June. There is no reason, however, why this should be the case. The expenditure of a little trouble will amply repay the garden owner by the blaze of bloom with which it may be decked in early May, or even in April. A bulb planting in October will make the garden gay early in the spring, so that its beauty may reign undiminished from that season until frost; and what flower lover can hesitate at the prospect of nearly two months of bloom added to the beauties of the garden?
This miracle, of course, is accomplished by bulb plants-crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. Beginning with the first-mentioned of these, flowers may be had before the last frosts are passed, and, with their successors, may be continued well into June.
The crocus, first of all, is a charming little blossom, which especially endears itself to flower lovers as the first harbinger of spring. It may be had in yellow, blue or white, and is best arranged as a border plant in a bed which is later to be bright with daffodils and tulips. It is also effective scattered throughout the grass, if it can be persuaded to grow there-no easy task-although so pretty in the instances where it is successful as to justify some effort to obtain.
Various authorities recommend that the gardener take up his stand in the middle of the lawn, armed with a basket full of crocus bulbs, each wrapped in a bit of white paper to "increase its visibility," throwing them broadcast and subsequently tracking them by their wrappers and burying them where they fall. In this way, it is said, an unstudied effect may be given to the planting when, next spring, the little heads make their appearance. I know of instances where, charmed by this delightful picture, enthusiastic amateur gardeners spent considerable time in following these instructions, with the painful result that of several hundred bulbs only a scattered few were ever seen again. In spite of expert advice to the contrary, it seems inevitable that a divot of turf replaced firmly over a just-buried bulb should bury the struggling little creature forever; and that this is too often so I am convinced, after having heard of various experiences like thatwhich has just been described. For this reason I am led to say a word in spite of the apparently successful experience of others, against the pretty custom of planting crocus bulbs in the grass. This does not, of course, apply to the informal planting of bulbs on the edges of woods and rural walks, where a divot of turf need not be replanted directly above them as must be done, in the instance mentioned, in order not to mar the symmetry of the lawn.
The one of the spring bulbs which requires least care and trouble is the narcissus. Unlike tulips and hyacinths, this bulb, once planted, should be left undisturbed. The earliest variety to appear is the Narcissus poeticus, or "poet's eye" narcissus, which is the flattened white variety, with the round, rather flat, greenish-yellow center, f aintly flecked with red. In the daffodil, or yellow narcissus, sometimes called the jonquil, this center becomes trumpet-like in shape, and it, as well as the outside petals, are clear bright yellow. It should receive the same treatment as its earlier blooming brother-that is, a four-inch-deep planting in October, with light covering throughout the winter.
The hyacinth comes in May, and may be had in pink, white, yellow or blue. It should, like the crocus and the daffodils, be planted in October, set about four inches deep, and covered lightly. When the flower is gone, as with the other spring-flowering bulbs, the stem should be cut off, and the leaves be left to dry. Unlike the narcissus and crocus, however, when the foliage is thor oughly dry the bulb should be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place, well out of the reach of mice, until October, when it may be re-set again. Should it become necessary, for any reason, to lift the bulb before it is completely ripe, it should be "heeled in" in some outof-the-way spot, and there left to ripen. This ripening is a most important process, and cannot be dispensed with, if the bulb is to do its best the succeeding year. Care should be taken in this regard.
Before leaving the subject of hyacinths, mention should be made of the grape hyacinth, although it is not really a member of the same family, only coinciding with it in name, season of bloom, and to some extent, in appearance. This tiny plant is cultivated like the ordinary hyacinth, and is a deep rich blue in color, and about four inches high. The flowers resemble those of the hyacinth, save that they are composed of what are apparently tiny balls of blue. The delicacy of the grape hyacinth makes it a charming addition to the bulb garden, although its size and color render it inconspicuous, unless it be planted in large quantities. The scilla., another cousin of the hyacinth, is decorative in a mild way, and may be had in pink and blue. It does best, like the narcissus, if left religiously alone when once established, and, since it is not exigent as to soil, may be utilized to adorn an otherwise barren spot.
But the flower which is to the bulb garden what phlox may be said to be to the perennial garden, is the tulip. It is to be had in all colors, and by a judicious selection of varieties may be enjoyed from early spring until early summer, while it is so fascinating a flower that, in studying it, as it bobs and courtesies by the hundred under the spring wind, one can almost understand the madness of the tulip mania of Holland. For tulip culture the ground should be prepared the preceding fall, as for the other bulbs before mentioned; and, like them, tulips should be set in October. Five inches is a good depth at which to plant them; if set less deeply the winter frosts will tend to throw them out of the ground. It is said that the deeper they are planted the less danger there will be of the stems breaking, although, of course, the later they will be in putting in an appearance at all. Some authorities recommend placing them in a sheltered spot in order that they may not suffer from the wind, but this is hardly worth while, as they can endure a considerable wind-storm without great destruction. Care should be taken in planting that the bulb be not "hung up," or left part way down the hole made for it, with no earth beneath. When all are set, the bed should be covered, and the covering re moved early in the spring. If left too long, a removal of the protection will reveal hundreds of little white heads peeping from the ground, which, if caught by a late frost, will be destroyed; but if the beds be uncovered early, the cold will keep the shoots back until a more propitious season.
There is no reason why the entire garden should not be alive with color in tulip time. They may be planted in every bed, if not too thickly set, for all will be gone before the other plants which rest near by grow to sufficient height to interfere with them. After bloom, to be sure, their brown and fading foliage is unsightly, but the growth of the other plants will soon entirely conceal them. They should be allowed to dry like the hyacinths, and like them lifted and stored until the time comes for re-setting in the fall. The small bulbs which form about the large one-which, by the way, is not the bulb which produced this year's bloom, but a new one, from which next year's flower is to come, and which will then die, leaving another like it in its stead-may be planted, as may those wrich form about the hyacinth, pointed side up, in a trench. It is said that in a few years they will be strong enough to produce flowers of their own, but in my opinion this requires care and skill which is beyond the power of the average amateur.
It is, of course, considered by many persons unnecessary to lift tulip bulbs at all. As a matter of fact, it must be confessed that even authorities differ upon this point. The eminent English tulipist, Mr. J. Jacob, for one, has declared in favor of the practice for two reasons which seem to him to outweigh all others. The first of these is that, after the stem of the tulip has withered and fallen away, a hole is left in the bulb, through which slugs may find entrance. The second is, that Mr. Jacob finds bulbs left in the ground particularly subject to the disease known as fire, spreading spots of white upon the leaves which cause the foliage to dry up before bloom. Although this destroys the flower for that year, the trouble does not seriously damage the bulb itself for the future, although it has a weakening effect, though of course the absence of bloom seriously mars the appearance of the garden. Troublesome though it be, surely a garden full of tulips is sufficiently lovely to make one willing to lift the bulbs once a year to insure perfection!
In selecting varieties, the tulip lover is bewildered by the variety and beauty of the types among which he must choose. In my opinion, by far the loveliest variety is the Darwin. The flower is beautiful in shape, and grows sometimes to a height of three feet, upon a long, gracefully nodding stem, bowing and bending before every passing breeze. The coloring of the Darwin, too, is most exquisite. Of them all the two most gorgeous are-between them I have never been able to decide-either the glorious rich rose of the Pride of Haarlem, or the vivid scarlet of the Mr. Farncombe Sanders. Have a bed of each of these, if you can-and not too near together; nothing can surpass them in the flower world.
A beautiful effect is. produced each year by the lavish use of Darwin tulips in a garden near New York. Along the edge of the garden run a series of beds, shaped like festoons, where in summer bloom foxgloves and, later, larkspur. In the spring, each festoon is filled, besides, with a different variety of Darwin tulips, the whole making a really dazzling border some two hundred and fifty feet long. The deep maroon Mrs. Potter Palmer jostles the almost-black Sultan on the one hand, and the golden Inglescombe Yellow-which turns from gold to orange as the flower grows older-on the other. The Pride of Haa.rlem is there, and the Farncombe Saunders; the silvery lavender of the Rev. H. Ewbank, the pink Massachusetts, and many others. And before the house are massed great sweeps of the delicate mauve Dream and the deep pink of the Clara Butt-a sight to dream of, indeed.
But Darwins are not the only charming tulips, and there are many others worthy of notice which must be mentioned. The "Old Dutch Breeders," closely resembling the Darwins in form and habit of growth, are lovely in their infinite shadings of yellows and browns. The parrot, or dragon tulip, in its bright tones of red or yellow, is an oddly notched and jagged flower, striking and beautiful, but difficult to arrange effectively, owing to its determination to sprawl about and to bow its head to the ground. For this reason it is effective where most plants fail-in a hanging basket, to which it is admirably adapted.
The Rembrandt and bybloemen tulips are a branch of the Darwin family, and are Darwins which have "broken," or in which the color has become broken up into stripes and curious markings. They are exceedingly odd, and in many cases striking, but they lack the dignity and the severe perfection which characterize the ordinary Darwin. The picotee plants, with their oddly-shaped pointed petals, standing like stiff little crowns a11 about their upright heads, deserve special mention, and are quaint and charming.
All of the above varieties which have been noted are of single tulips. There are, of course, double varieties as well. They are effective, and are often used in parks and places where striking effect is sought on a large scale-an effect striking and obvious rather than essentially artistic. But the pure beauty of line of the single tulip inclines its admirers to depreciate the obvious merits of the double one. It is a gay, bright, cheerful little flower; but more than this cannot be laid to its credit.
How should tulips be planted? As has been said, everywhere you can. They will interfere with nothing else, and will make the spring garden a veritable bower of loveliness while they last. They should not be mixed, however, when it is possible to plant them according to name. When any bulb becomes separated from the others with which it belongs, it is well to have a "mixed" box into which it may be thrown, and in this way the named sorts may be kept together beyond the peradventure of a doubt, while the mixed ones, if set out together, may be marked at blooming time so that the "lost" bulbs may be restored, after blooming, to their appropriate places. As a matter of fact, tulips are very apt not to "run true," after a time; and in this way the "mixed box" will grow, and in it will be found some very odd and interesting variations.
If possible, tulips should not be set with less than fifty in a group. A certain tulip farm has achieved results really startling in their beauty by the planting of a border of these flowers before spring-flowering shrubs, fifty of each variety of tulip being set together in every group. This effect can hardly be duplicated in private gardens, because the arrangement sacrifices the garden for the remainder of the summer for the sake of one month of almost incredible loveliness in the spring; but it furnishes an excellent idea upon which the amateur gardener may raise flower-castles of his own. Nor are the numbers of bulbs involved as staggering as they may sound to the uninitiate. Tulips should be set about four inches apart; this means that a good number can be compressed into a comparatively small space. If one search diligently, it is possible to find places where reliable stock may be had at much lower prices than those quoted by the average nurseryman, and in this way the expense of the bulb garden can be reduced appreciably. And who can refrain from the delight of figuring one's flowers by hundreds when so fair an opportunity offers? Order your bulbs by hundreds, or even, if your space permit, by thousands; reinforce them with crocus, with daffodils, with narcissus poeticus, and with relays of hyacinths (not forgetting the wonderful dark rich blue of the Roi des Belges) ; and, the spring once over, your garden will have increased your delight in it enough to make you feel it well worth while to lift every tulip twice over, if need be, to repay it for the pleasure it has given you, and to ensure its continuance of beauty for another year.