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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 )
To the enthusiastic gardener October, once the most beautiful of the months, with its cool, clear mornings and its bracing winds, becomes a real portent of the dying year-of the season when the garden with all its beauties must be hidden away until another spring, under its tucked-in blanket of snow. But, in reality, there is no reason why this should be the case. True, gardening during the winter must be on a contracted scale; but for that reason it need not be abandoned, nor is it only within the reach of those who are fortunate enough to boast a conservatory or a heated "glassed-in porch." If one will but be content with small results-and not so small, either, since in the small domain of four walls they will seem larger than they would if tested by the summer test of the great outdoors about them-the pleasures of the garden may still be continued, and many plants, more fitted for house than for outdoor culture, whose names mean little or nothing to the outdoor gardener, may become our friends.
And how shall the indoor garden be planted? Of course, window boxes are the most obvious answer to such a question. They may be had, in these days, to match any period or form of furniture, so that no room in the house need be without one, save perhaps the bedrooms, in which window boxes are impracticable, on account of their nightly proximity to the winter air. If small portable stands be used, however, so that plants may be removed from the close vicinity of the windows at night, there is no reason why, even in the bedroom, the winter garden should not play its part.
Of course, plants may be stood about in jars, which may be had in every shape and of every material, some of which are exceedingly artistic. They vary from the stone pots of concrete, smaller than those used in summer out-of-doors, but like them in other respects, to delicate containers of porcelain. Many persons prefer them of the plainest, feeling that the decorated window box or flower pot attracts attention from the beauty of the plant to the receptacle in which it stands. To their taste a simply painted pot, or a plain green window box, solves the problem satisfactorily. The wooden tubs in which Oriental wares are shipped to this country are little seen on the Atlantic seaboard, but they are popular in the West, where, in their natural color, a soft brown, or covered with a coat of black enamel, they are exceedingly effective. Another form of container is the table with high sides, upon which pots may be grouped effectively.
But, after all, anything that will hold earth and water, and let out a superfluity of the latter, will serve. To the gardener, the question next arises of what is to fill them. And here so many answers are possible that one almost pauses in dismay at the thought of making a selection.
Of course, the begonia occurs to everyone among the first of the plants well suited to indoor culture. Its excellence in this respect is emphasized by the number of these blossoms, some very lovely in spite of often unattractive surroundings, which one sees in farms throughout the country where they can, in the nature of things, receive little care and coddling. They often grow to a very considerable size, and in answer to questions as to how such luxuriant growth has been attained, no recipe is ever given save that the plant always stays indoors and is watered whenever it requires it, now and then with the addition of a little ammonia in the water. The begonia is to be had in all shades of pink, white, yellow and red, and can accordingly be used in arranging a, window box in a room in which the prevailing decorations are in any of these tones. Those of the Rex type are the most satisfactory.
Two flowers, usually seen at their best in flower shows but quite unsuited to out-door culture in our climate, are the calceolaria and the cineraria. The former is really charming, in its tones of red and yellow, with its balloon-like, orchid-shaped flowers. I have seen a whole garden planted in it in England, and so many were its varying shades that there was no suggestion of monotony in the exclusive use of this one flower. The cineraria is to be had in shadings of purple, red and white, and has a velvety, daisy-shaped blossom, which grows thickly and is exceedingly decorative. Either of these is well suited to window bog culture. Both of these plants may be raised from seed.
There is no reason, of course, why flowers which we enjoy out-of-doors in summer should not be included in the winter garden. Antirrhinum, stocks, and other such plants will make gay masses of bloom in the house during the inclement weather without. It is best, however, in growing such plants, to start them outside late in the summer and to transplant them into the house before the first frosts, pinching off flowerbuds, should they show a tendency to bloom too soon. It is not always easy to buy young plants of the required varieties in the fall for growing in the house; and the flowering plants secured from florists can never be depended upon to retain their bloom for any length of time, or to thrive for a long period afterwards, on account of the merciless forcing to which they have been subjected. If carefully nursed, however, they will in time become strong and valuable additions to the garden without.
As a matter of fact, it is surprising what improvement can be made in any plant with care and nursing. The tiny fuchsia, which is, by the way, a pleasant addition to the winter garden, with its gay variegated bells of bloom, has, at Kew Gardens in England, been transformed into a good-sized tree, the stem of which is covered with rough bark, and the branches of which conceal the ceiling of the greenhouse where it is planted. Of course such transformations cannot be worked without the aid of a genial climate and a most experienced gardener; but that they can be accomplished at all is a constant incentive to the owner of the indoor garden, whose pride in his pots and boxes grows with the growth of his favorite plants. The heliotrope, too, in its branching or its standard form, may be grown to advantage indoors, as may the geranium, that all-too-popular but eternal favorite. The latter may be had in every shade of red, pink and white, instead of only the hideous brick-dust red of former days, and may be used alone, or planted effectively with other plants and blossoms, to give a touch of sparkling color here and there and thus to accentuate the color scheme which the box is to carry out. Nor need plants of upright growth be the only ones used for indoor decoration. Climbing ones may be utilized to good advantage. I have seen a room charmingly decorated by an English ivy, which, growing from a pot beside a bay-window, was trained about the alcove and then about the picture-rail of the entire room, giving a refreshing touch of greenery and verdure. Nor is ivy the only plant which lends itself to such use. The wistaria and the rose may be so handled, but are better left for outside culture. Such plants as the bougainvilliea, which are not suited to the open air, may well be put to some such use, and may be left year after year, once established, with only the help, perhaps, of occasional fertilizer in the earth, or a larger container from time to time, until the plants attain a really luxuriant growth.
The hanging plants, too, should not be passed by in indoor culture. True, the hanging basket is usually taboo on account of the "set" and ugly effects which are all too often produced by a mistaken use of it; but sometimes one sees such a basket which is successful. Perhaps this is unfortunate, upon the whole, for such a sight tempts the observer to try what may be done with hanging baskets in his own home; and it is apt to take a long line of failures to teach him that hardly once in a lifetime can the basket be successfully managed. As a general thing, hanging plants are best arranged with standing ones in a window-box, where each supplements the other; and a successful result may be most frequently obtained by such a combination. I have in mind, however, an arrangement of boxes-porch-boxes, in this case, although the idea is well adapted to indoor use-which were filled with luxuriant masses of pink begonia. Above them hung baskets similarly planted, so that the general effect was that of two rows of boxes framing the porch above and below. This arrangement was unusually successful. In the planting of baskets it should be remembered that, as the beat of the room tends to rise, flowers which do best in warm surroundings should, if possible, be reserved for such use.
The bulb plants-tulips, narcissi, hyacinths-may also be grown indoors successfully with little trouble. They are especially desirable, since they can be grown in gravel and small pebbles, thus obviating the use of earth in the house. The bulbs should be placed in pots and set in some cool dark place for six weeks before they are brought out into the sun. Of these plants the tulip is the most difficult to grow successfully, although it may be raised with care. Some varieties are more difficult to grow indoors than others, for which reason it is well to make inquiry before attempting the culture of any particular variety, as to its merits for indoor culture. To return for a moment to the hanging basket, the parrot tulip is, as has before been noted, especially adapted for basket culture. The weak stems and heavy flower heads make it a difficult variety to grow effectively under ordinary conditions, but a wire basket lined with moss and filled with good earth, so planted that parrot tulips grow out from it in different directions, is one of the few ways in which both this plant and this form of decoration may be made really effective.
It is, of course, hardly necessary to say that flowers which have bloomed indoors in the winter cannot, in the vast majority of instances, be expected to bloom again in the summer if set in the outdoor garden. In the same way, flowers which have bloomed in summer cannot be transplanted into the house with any hope of successful bloom during the winter months. As in the, case of forced plants, they have "done their bit" and must be allowed to rest, although less rest is essential to them than to those which have been forcibly prepared for the market at a certain season.
Mention may here be made of those forced plants, so lovely at Christmas or Easter, and so invariably and unnecessarily the crowning glory of the ashcan a few brief weeks later. These can often be saved by careful nursing, and constant care and water persisted in for weeks, even after the plant is apparently dead, will frequently bring remarkable results. It must be remembered that these heavily forced plants have gone to the very limit of their strength, and great patience must be shown the poor little creatures. Given this, however, they will often have recovered sufficiently by early summer to be set out in open ground, and vitality will gradually return to them, if too much be not expected of them at once. In the course of time they will return to health, and be ready to take up their lives where they were interrupted by the demands of the previous winter.
It is well, in arranging indoor window boxes, to include in each, several plants of different varieties which will carry out whatever color scheme may have been selected to harmonize with that of the room where they are to stand. In this way, when one has finished blooming-and no flower will bloom for an indefinite time-some other will come into blossom to take its place. This will obviate the sight of the plants unrelieved by color of any kind, and will also prevent the more unpleasant alternative of the entire transplanting of the box when the season of the plants which compose it is passed. While this may be possible, it entails much trouble, as well as the continued purchasing of plants, and the incidental uncleanliness and confusion, all of which may easily be done away with if care be used in planning the boxes when they are originally filled. And if towards spring they begin to look a little rusty, the utilitarian owner may move them to a sunny room well out of the way, and utilize the last few weeks of his winter window boxes for the planting of some of the early varieties of his seeds which are to be set outdoors in the spring.