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"GOD Almightie first planted a Garden," says Lord Bacon. "And indeed it is the Purest of Humane Pleasures, it is the Greatest Refreshment to the Spirits of Man." Never were truer words spoken.
So deeply is the gardener's instinct implanted in my soul, I really love the tools with which I work, — the iron fork, the spade, the hoe, the rake, the trowel, and the watering-pot are pleasant objects in my eyes. The ingenuity of modern times has invented many variations of these primitive instruments of toil, and many of them are most useful and helpful, as, for instance, a short, five-pronged hand-fork, a delightful tool to use in breaking up the earth about the roots of weeds. Some of the weeds are so wide-spreading and tenacious, like clover and mallow, that they seem to have fastened themselves around the nether millstone, it is so difficult to disengage their hold. Once loosened, however, by the friendly little fork, they must come up, whether they will or no.
I like to take the hoe in my hands and break to pieces the clods of earth left by the overturn. ing spade, to work into the soil the dark, velvet-smooth, scentless barn manure which is to furnish the best of food for my flowers; it is a pleasure to handle the light rake, drawing it evenly through the soil and combing out every stick and stone and straw and lump, till the ground is as smooth and fine as meal. This done carefully and thoroughly, the beds laid out neatly, with their surface level as a floor, and not heaped high enough to let the rains run off, — then is the ground ready for the sowing of the seeds.
The very act of planting a seed in the earth has in it to me something beautiful. I always do it with a joy that is largely mixed with awe. I watch my garden beds after they are sown, and think how one of God's exquisite miracles is going on beneath the dark earth out of sight. I never forget my planted seeds. Often I wake in the night and think how the rains and the dews have reached to the dry shell and softened it; how the spirit of life begins to stir within, and the individuality of the plant to assert itself; how it is thrusting two hands forth from the imprisoning husk, one, the root, to grasp the earth, to hold itself firm and absorb its food, the other stretching above to find the light, that it may drink in the breeze and sunshine and so climb to its full perfection of beauty. It is curious that the leaf should so love the light and the root so hate it. In his "Proserpina" John Ruskin discourses on this subject in his own inimitable way. All he says of this is most interesting and suggestive: "The first instinct of the stem, . . . the instinct of seeking the light, as of the root to seek darkness — what words can speak the wonder of it? If the seed falls in the ground with the springing germ of it downwards, with heavenly cunning the taught stem curls round and seeks the never seen light." The "taught" stem! Who taught it? What he says of the leaves and stems is very beautiful; every one should read it. I really do not know which is most wonderful of these descriptions of his, but nothing could be more striking than this definition: "A root is a group of growing fibres which taste and suck what is good for the plant out of the ground, and by their united strength hold it in its place. . . . The thick limbs of roots do not feed, but only the fine ends of them, which are something between tongues and sponges, and while they absorb moisture readily, are yet as particular about getting what they think nice to eat as any dainty little boy or girl; looking for it everywhere, and turning angry and sulky if they don't get it."
There could not be a better description than this, and if any seedsman would like to make his fortune without delay, he has only to have printed on every packet of seed he offers for sale the kind of soil, the food, required by each plant. For instance, why not say of Mignonette, It flourishes best in a poor and sandy soil; so treated it is much more fragrant than in a rich earth, which causes it to run to leaves and makes its flowers fewer and less sweet. Or of Poppies, Plant them in a rich sandy loam, all except the Californias (Eschscholtzia), which do best in a poor soil. Or of Pansies, Give them the richest earth you can find, no end of water, and partial shade. Or, Don't worry over drought for your Nasturtiums; they come from Chile and will live and thrive with less water than almost anything else that grows; don't trouble yourself to enrich the ground for them; that makes them profuse and coarse of leaves and sparing of flowers; leave them to shift for themselves, once having cleared them of weeds. No flower bears neglect so well. Or, Give your Zinnias a heavy soil; they like clay. Or, Keep Sweet Peas as wet as you can and make the ground for them as rich as possible. Or, Keep barn manure away from your Lilies for your life! they will not brook contact with it, but a rich soil they also like, only it must be made so by anything rather than stable manure, and they, too, like clay; they blossom best when it is given them. But transport to your garden a portion of the very barnyard itself in which to set Roses, Sunflowers and Hollyhocks, Honeysuckles and Dahlias. Hints of this kind would be to the unaccustomed tiller of the soil simply invaluable. How much they would lessen failures and discouragements! And to learn these things by one's self takes half a lifetime of sad experience.
To return to our planting. Yes, the sowing of a seed seems a very simple matter, but I always feel as if it were a sacred thing among the mysteries of God. Standing by that space of blank and motionless ground, I think of all it holds for me of beauty and delight, and I am filled with joy at the thought that I may be the magician to whom power is given to summon so sweet a pageant from the silent and passive soil. I bring a mat from the house and kneel by the smooth bed of mellow brown earth, lay a narrow strip of board across it a few inches from one end, draw a furrow firmly and evenly in the ground along the edge of the board, repeating this until the whole bed is grooved at equal distances across its entire length. Into these straight furrows the living seeds are dropped, the earth replaced over them (with a depth of about twice their diameter), and the board laid flat with gentle pressure over all the surface till it is perfectly smooth again. Then must the whole be lightly and carefully watered. With almost all the seeds sown in this bird-blest and persecuted little garden, I am obliged to lay newspapers or some protection over the planted beds, and over these again sheets of wire netting, to keep off the singing sparrows till the seeds are safely sprouted. Last year, one morning early in May, I put a border of Mignonette seeds round every flower bed. When I came to the garden again in the afternoon, it was alive with flirting wings and tails and saucy beaks and bright eyes, and stout little legs and claws scratching like mad; all white-throats and song-sparrows, and hardly a seed had these merry little marauders left in the ground. Around the edge of each bed a groove ran, nicely hollowed by their industrious feet, and empty as my hopes. I replaced the seed from my store, and this time took great pains to lay two laths side by side over the lines I had sowed, for safety. Next morning I found the birds again at it; they had burrowed under, kicked over, scratched away the light sticks, and again the seeds were all devoured. Patiently I planted once more, and this time dragged from a pile of lumber heavy square beams of different lengths, which I laid along the borders. The birds eyed the barricades, strove to burrow under, but were forced to give it up, and so at last I conquered. In the course of a week I turned over the protecting beams and found the little Mignonette plants white as potato shoots that have sprouted in a cellar, but safe, for which I was devoutly thankful! A day or two of sun and air made them green and strong, and all summer long I valued every fragrant spike of flowers they gave me, doubly, because of all the trouble I had gone through to save them. I mention this little episode merely to illustrate the fact that the would-be gardener requires more patience than most mortals!
The state of the weather, the temperature of the air, the amount of rain which falls, make all the difference in the world in the time it takes for the first green leaves to appear. Some seeds take longer than others to germinate: for instance, Hollyhocks, Marigolds, ten weeks Stocks or Gillyflowers, Rose of Heaven, Zinnias, and many others come up in from three to five days if all circumstances are favorable, that is, if it is warm, moist, and sunny enough; Asters, single Dahlias, , Sunflowers, Cornflowers, Mignonette, Coreopsis, Morning-glory, Picotee Pinks, Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, and by far the greater number of annuals appear in from five to seven days; Balsams, Pansies, Begonias, Drummond's Phlox, Poppies, Verbenas, Thunbergia, and many others, in from eight to ten days; Columbines, Flax, Artemisia, Feverfew, Campanula, and so forth, in from ten to twelve days; Maurandia, Forget-me-not, Petunia, Lantana, Nicotiana (an exquisite flower, by the way), in from twelve to fifteen days; Cobcea, Gloxinia, Primroses, Geraniums, and others, in from fifteen to twenty days; Perennial Phlox, Clematis, Perennial Larkspurs (which are heavenly!), and various others, take from twenty to thirty-five days to germinate; and as for Lupines and Lilies and Ampelopsis, and the like, they take a whole year! But common gardeners don't try to raise these from seed, fortunately.
With the first faint green lines that are visible along the flower beds come the weeds, yea, and even before them; a wild, vigorous, straggling army, full of health, of strength, and a most marvelous power of growth. These must be dealt with at once and without mercy; they must be pulled up root and branch, without a moment's delay. There is clover that appears with a little circular leaf and has a root that seems to reach all round in the under world; it goes everywhere and holds on to the earth with a grip which is unequaled by anything that grows. Not an atom of its roots must be left in the ground, for every thread of it will send up new shoots, and if not watched fill all the space in a few weeks. Another difficult weed to manage is the chickweed, which is so delicate that it breaks at the slightest touch. It is a most all-pervading weed; it fills every space between the flowers, overruns them like a green mist, and will surely strangle them if left unmolested. Alphonse Karr, who so greatly enjoyed his garden, and wrote of it with so much pleasure, says: "The chickweed is endowed with a fecundity that no other plant possesses. . . . Seven or eight generations of chickweed cover the earth every year. . . . It occupies the fields naturally, and invades our gardens; it is almost impossible to destroy it."
There is a long procession of weeds to be fought: pigweed, ragweed, smartweed, shepherd's purse, mallow, mustard, sorrel, and many more, which make the first crop. The second consists largely of quitch-grass, the very worst of all, and purslain or pusley, which Charles Dudley Warner has immortalized in his charming book, "My Summer in a Garden." The roots of quitch-grass are as strong as steel and run rapidly in all directions underneath the surface, sending up tender shoots that break too easily when you touch them. The root must be found, grasped firmly, and followed its whole length to utter extermination, or the grass will come up like a giant, and later cannot be dealt with except by pulling up also the flowers among which it inextricably entangles itself. The flat, olive-green leaves and red fleshy stems of the pusley, running over the ground in a mat, next appear; this is easily disposed of, only it continues to come up, — fresh plants in endless succession rise from the soil all summer, and must be watched and faithfully destroyed.
There is one weed, or wild plant, dodder by name, which has given my island garden the greatest possible trouble. It is often wrongly called gold-thread, because it looks like a tangled mass of amber thread, but the true gold-thread is quite different. The whole plant consists of nothing but these seemingly endless brittle reddish yellow stalks with bunches of small, dull, whitish flowers without stems, borne at intervals, with no leaves at all. It has no root in the earth, it is a parasite, and not at all particular as to what it fastens itself upon; anything that comes in its way will answer its purpose. It is very pretty in its place, growing among the goldenrod and blue skullcap at the top of the rocky little coves that slope down to the water about the island, throwing itself from plant to plant, and making a mass of translucent amber color. But alas when it gets into a civilized garden, woe, woe unto that garden! A handful of it in bloom was brought to my piazza twenty years ago, and some of it was accidentally thrown into the flower beds; I have been fighting it ever since. I have never yet been able to get rid of it! Next year I found my Nasturtiums, Cornflowers, Marigolds, and all the rest tangled together in this yellow web, a mass of inextricable confusion. Year after year I waged war against it, but even yet it is not entirely exterminated. I never allow a plant of it in the garden, no seeds of it ripen there, and none of it grows near the place outside; not a single atom of it in my small domain could possibly escape my eye, and yet its seeds come up more or less every year; I am sure to find one or two plants of it in the garden somewhere. They emerge from the ground, each like a fine yellow hair, till they are an inch and a half or two inches long; they reach with might and main toward the nearest legitimate growing plant, and when they touch it cling to it like a limpet; then they draw their other end up out of the ground and set up housekeeping for the rest of their lives. They adhere to the unhappy individual upon which they have fixed themselves with a grip that grows more and more horrible; they suck all its Juices, drink all its health and strength and beauty, and fling out trailers to the next and the next and the next, till the whole garden is a mass of ruin and despair.
For many springs after the first year it appeared I used to take a glass tumbler and go all over the beds soon after they were laid out, pulling up these tiny yellow hairs, and in an hour or two I have pulled up five or six tumblers full. I gathered them in glasses so that I might be quite sure of all I plucked, and because they could not easily blow away out of such a receptacle. For wherever they might fall, if they touched a green growing thing they would in an astonishingly short space of time make themselves fast for good, or rather for ill! Every year I watch for it with the most eager vigilance as I weed carefully over the whole surface of the little pleasance, but sometimes it steals up after all the weeding is done, and, before I know it, I find it has begun to tie the flowers together. Then I pull up all the plants it has touched, lay them in a basket, carry them down, and cast the whole into the sea. It is the only way to be rid of it. I have known it wind its inexorable way tightly up the large smooth stem of a tall Sunflower, where I had not thought of looking for it, till there was not an atom of the skin of the stalk visible, only amber-colored dodder and its white, dull flowers from the great head of the blossoming Sunflower tree to its root. Into the sea the whole thing went, at once, without a moment of delay!
These are only a few of the weeds with which one must battle, though dodder, I fancy, seldom troubles any one on the planet as it does me. It takes an island garden to produce so remarkable a growth! Most of them soon become familiar, too familiar, indeed, and at last one learns how to manage them. The great mistake which the inexperienced gardener makes is in leaving a morsel of the root of a weed in the ground. Only by combing the earth through and through between the rows of plants with the small hand-fork (after all the intruders have been removed as carefully as possible with the hand), can you be sure that they are gone. Other seeds of weeds will be overturned and brought to the surface in the process, and these will sprout in their turn, but by this time the flowers will have made so much headway that they will crowd out the new crop of weeds enough to insure their own safety, except in some few instances. Apple of Peru (Stramonium) is one of the most powerful and persistent among the enemies; a poisonous thing with a loathsome odor, it must be watched for and routed, which fortunately is easily done. In its perfected growth this is the most uncanny plant, — a strong, low bush with bat-like leaves of dark green, and long, pale lavender, lily-like flowers, followed by a round spiked seed-vessel. Says Hawthorne: "What hidden virtue is in these things that it is granted to sow themselves with the wind and to grapple the earth with this immitigable stubbornness, and to flourish in spite of obstacles, and never to suffer blight beneath any sun or shade, but always to mock their enemies with the same wicked luxuriance?" Mrs. Gatty (the mother of that beautiful woman, Juliana Horatia Ewing, who has so discoursed on the subject of flowers and many other things as to make all time her debtor) answers the question, "What is a weed?" by this statement, "A weed is a plant out of place." A keen and close observer of nature says: "A better definition would be, A plant which has an innate disposition to get into the wrong place;" and goes on to say: "This is the very essence of weed character — in plants as in men. If you glance through your botanical books you will see often added to certain names, 'a troublesome weed.' It is not its being venomous or ugly, but its being impertinent — thrusting itself where it has no business and hinders other people's business — that makes a weed of it. . . . Who ever saw a wood anemone or a heath blossom out of place? . . . What is it, then, this temper in some plants — malicious as it seems, intrusive, at all events, or erring — which brings them out of their places, thrusts them where they thwart us and offend?" This seems to me the best definition of what constitutes a weed that I have seen.
And their strength is mighty, and their name is legion. If there were no other enemies which the gardener must fight, this one of weeds alone is quite enough to tax all his powers and patience.
Then the plants kill each other if they are left to grow as thickly together as the seeds were sown; they must be "thinned out" as soon as they have attained to their second leaf, leaving two, three, four, or five inches between each two plants side by side. I always leave two plants where one would be enough, because something is so likely to happen to destroy them, and if there are two the hard fates may perhaps leave one. Some things require much more space than others. Pinks that spire up so thin and tall can be set closer together than Poppies, which spread widely in all directions. This pulling up and throwing away of the superfluous plants is a very difficult thing for me to do. I cannot bear to destroy one of the precious young seedlings that I have watched and tended with such love and care, but it must be done. It is a matter of the very greatest importance. The welfare of the garden depends on it. I comfort myself as best I may by saving all that will bear transplanting, and then giving them away to the flower plots of my fellow-gardeners on neighboring islands.
Soon the whole plot mantles over all its surface with the rich, warm green of vigorous leafage. The new growth rejoices. That is the right word for it. The gladness of green growing things is apparent to any seeing eye. They rejoice with a radiant joy in sun and rain and air and dew, in all care and kindness. They know And respond to everything that is done for them. The low-growing Drummond's Phlox is one of the most satisfactory flowers for a beginner in the art of gardening. There is no such word as fail in its bright lexicon; and it blossoms continually from the last of June till frost. Looking carefully every day, by the last half of June I find the pale clustered flower buds showing; then it is not long to wait before the whole bed is a blaze of varied color, a delicate woven carpet of myriad vivid hues. In the lovely buds the petals are folded one over the other in beautiful succession. The flowers are five-petaled, with a faint, sweet perfume; they are borne in flat clusters of an exquisite, velvety texture, with a clearly marked eye in the centre encircling the few pearl-white stamens; this eye varies with the hue of each different flower. There will be delicious pinks among these Phloxes, from the palest rose to the deepest cherry; all shades of red from bright, light scarlet, clear and pure, to a rich black red, — the Black Warrior. There will be all heavenly purples, pale lilacs, deep red purple and blue purple, perfect snow white: the eye in this last is soft green, like the touches on a Snowdrop bell. The scarlet flowers have a ring of black-red about the centre, delicately gorgeous. There are almost endless varieties and mixtures of color; they are full of surprises. The Star of Quedlinburg is such a pretty, quaint change rung upon this pleasant theme of Phloxes. The centre of the, outer line of each petal is drawn out at the edge like the tails on the under wings of the Luna moth. These long tails in which each petal terminates give the flower the aspect of a star with rays. "Ask of Nature why the star form she repeats," says Emerson. It is forever repeated among the flowers.
At bird-peep, as the country folk have a charming way of calling the break of day, I am in my dear garden, — planting and transplanting, hoeing, raking, weeding, watering, tying up and training those plants that need it, and always fighting for their precious lives against their legions of enemies. There is a time of great danger upon the island from the birds when they are migrating northward. They come suddenly down from the sky in myriads, on their way to the continent, and I have known them to strip the little plot of every green shoot in a single day, utterly bare. Nothing but fishing nets draped over the whole space will save the garden when these hungry hordes descend. But I do not lose patience with the birds, however sorely they try me. I love them too well.. How should they know that the garden was not planted for them? Those belonging to the thrush tribe are the most mischievous; the others do not disturb the flower beds so much. The friendly robin, though a thrush, only comes for worms, to which he is more than welcome. Most of the other birds — bobolinks, kingbirds, orioles, purple finches, and many other beautiful creatures less familiar — stay with us for a short time only, on their passage north or south every year; but a single pair of kingbirds build every summer in the one tall elm-tree on the island, where also builds a cosy nuthatch and raises a numerous family, and one pair of most interesting kingfishers haunts the upper cove till late in the season. A Maryland yellow-throat began building here last summer. For several years one pair of cuckoos lingered through the summer, but at last ceased to come. A few blackbirds build, the white-throats stay late, but several varieties of swallows, the song-sparrows, and sandpipers remain and rear their broods. How we wish the robins would stay too, and the orioles and all the sweet company! But there are no trees to shelter them. Their coming and going, however, is a matter of the greatest interest to the little family on the island, and we are thrown into a state of the deepest excitement by the apparition of a scarlet tanager, or a rose-breasted grosbeak, or any of those unfamiliar beauties. Once a ferruginous thrush came and stayed a week with us in early June. Every day when he perched on a ridge-pole or chimney-top and sang, the whole family turned out in a body to listen, making a business of it, attending to nothing else while that thrilling melody was poured out on the silent air. That was a gift of the gods which we could, none of us, afford to neglect!
The Garden in its Glory
Says the wise Lord Bacon again: "And because the Breath of Flowers is far sweeter in the Aire (when it comes and goes, like the Warbling of Music) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight than to know what be the Flowers and Plants that doe best perfume the Aire."
The most exquisite perfume known to my garden is that of the Wallflowers; there is nothing equal to it. They blossom early, and generally before June has passed they are gone, and have left me mourning their too swift departure. I wonder they are not more generally cultivated, but I fancy the fact that they do not blossom till the second year has much to do with their rarity. It requires so much more faith and patience to wait a whole year, and meanwhile carefully watch and tend the plants, excepting during the time when winter covers them with a blanket of snow; but when at last spring comes and the tardy flowers appear, then one is a thousand times repaid for all the tedious months of waiting. They return such wealth of bloom and fragrance for the care and thought bestowed on them! Their thick spikes of velvet blossoms are in all shades of rich red, from scarlet to the darkest brown, from light gold to orange; some are purple; and their odor, — who shall describe it! Violets, Roses, Lilies, Sweet Peas, Mignonette, and Heliotrope, with a dash of Honeysuckle, all mingled in a heavenly whole. There is no perfume which I know that can equal it. And they are so lavish of their scent; it is borne off the garden and wafted everywhere, into the house and here and there in all directions, in viewless clouds on the gentle air. To make a perfect success of Wallflowers they must be given lime in some form about the roots. They thrive marvelously if fed with a mixture of old plastering in the soil, or bone meal, or, if that is not at hand, the meat bones from the kitchen, calcined in the oven and pounded into bits, stirred in around the roots is fine for them. This treatment makes all the difference in the world in their strength and beauty. After the Wallflowers, Roses and Lilies, Mignonette, Pinks, Gillyflowers, Sweet Peas, and the Honeysuckles for fragrance, and of these last, the monthly Honeysuckle is the most divine. Such vigor of growth I have never seen in any other plant, and it is hardy even without the least protection in our northern climate. It climbs the trellis on my piazza and spreads its superb clusters of flowers from time to time all summer. Each cluster is a triumph of beauty, flat in the centre and curving out to the blossoming edge in joyous lines of loveliness, most like a wreath of heavenly trumpets breathing melodies of perfume to the air. Each trumpet of lustrous white deepens to a yellower tint in the centre where the small ends meet; each blossom where it opens at the lip is tipped with fresh pink; each sends out a group of long stamens from its slender throat like rays of light; and the whole circle of radiant flowers has an effect of gladness and glory indescribable: the very sight of it lifts and refreshes the human heart. And for its odor, it is like the spirit of romance, sweet as youth's tender dreams. It is summer's very soul.
This beautiful vine will grow anywhere, for anybody, only give it half a chance, such is its matchless vigor. I wonder why it is not found in every garden; nothing so well repays the slightest care.
Next in power come the Sweet Peas, blossoming the livelong summer in all lovely tints save only yellow, and even that the kind called Primrose approaches, with its faint gold suffusion of both inner and outer petals. I plant them by myriads In my tiny garden — all it will hold. Transplant, I should say, because of my friends the birds, who never leave me one if I dare plant them out of doors. But this transplanting is most delightful. I thoroughly enjoy digging with the hoe a long trench six inches deep for the strong young seedlings, lifting them from the boxes, carefully disentangling their long white roots each from the other as I take them out, and placing them in a close row the whole length of the deep furrow, letting the roots drop their whole length, with no curling or crowding, then half filling the hollow with water, drawing the earth about the roots and firming the whole with strong and gentle touch. They do not droop a single leaf so transplanted; they go on growing as if nothing had happened, if only they are given all the water they need. Already they stretch out their delicate tendrils to climb, and I love to give them for support the sticks with which the farmers supply their pea vines for the market; but on my island are no woods, so I am thankful for humble bayberry and elder branches for the purpose. It is another pleasure to go afar among the rocks for these and wheel them to the flower beds in a light wheelbarrow, which is one of the most useful things one can possess for work about the garden. At once the vines lay hold of the slender sticks and climb to the very top, fain are they to go much farther. But I cut the tops so that they may branch from the sides and keep within bounds, and they soon make a solid hedge of healthy green. Oh, when the blossoms break from these green hedges like heavenly winged angels, and their pure, cool perfume fills the air, what joy is mine!
I find Sweet Peas can hardly have too rich a soil, provided always that they are kept sufficiently wet. They must have moisture, their roots must be kept cool and damp, — a mulch of leaves or straw is a very good thing to keep the roots from drying, — and they must always be planted as deep as possible. Wood ashes give them a stronger growth. Their colors, the great variety of them, and their vivid delicacy are wonderful; they are most beautiful against the background of the sea; they are a continual source of delight, and never cease to bloom, with me, if gathered every day and watered abundantly, the whole summer long, even through the autumn till November. But they must never be suffered to go to seed; that would check their blossoming at once. I revel in their beauty week after week, bringing them into the house and arranging them in masses every other day. Clear glass vases are most effective for them, and they look loveliest, I think, when each color is kept by itself. For the Princess Beatrice, which is a divine pale pink, a shade of rose refined and exquisite, there are glasses of clear pink that repeat the hues of the flowers with magical gradations and reflections. For the white kinds there are white vases, the most effective of ground glass, the opaque surface of which matches the tone of the flowers.
Of the named kinds of Sweet Peas the most beautiful shades of pink that I know are the divinely delicate Princess Beatrice, the palest rose-color; Adonis, a deeper pink, very clear and rich; the Orange Prince, a most ineffably splendid color of bright yellow-rose; these together make a combination of color that satisfies the inmost soul. Carmine Invincible is the most splendid red; the Butterfly is white edged with mauve, and combined with the delicate rose Princess Beatrice makes a delicious harmony. Blanche Ferry is also a lovely rose. Queen Victoria is the best white I have known; but every year new varieties are found which seem more and more beautiful, and it is only by trying them that one finds which to depend on.
Of the worth of these I have mentioned I am sure; they are the strongest growers, the freest bloomers, and the most beautiful of their kind. They never disappoint you if you give them the right care. The list of flowers in my island garden is by no means long, but I could discourse of them forever! They are mostly the old-fashioned flowers our grandmothers loved. Beginning with Snowdrops, Crocuses, Daffodils, Narcissus, a few Hyacinths, Scillas, an English Primrose or two, Tulips, and several other early blooming plants, one big red Peony, Columbine, Ragged Robin, Cornflowers, Roses and Lilies, Larkspurs, Pinks and Gillyflowers, Sweet Williams, Wallflowers, Forget-me-nots, single Dahlias, Sunflowers of every kind, and Hollyhocks of all colors, Poppies in almost endless variety, Nasturtiums of all hues, pot Marigolds, summer Chrysanthemums in great variety, Rose Campion, or Rose of Heaven, Pansies, Phlox, Sweet Peas, and Mignonette, Crimson Flax and the tall blue Perennial Flax (a wonderful blue!), many kinds of Coreopsis, — all most valuable and decorative, — Asters, Honeysuckle and Clematis, Morning-glories, Lavender and Foxgloves, Candytuft, Verbenas, Thunbergia, Pentstemon, the heaven-blue Ipomea, white Petunias, —because they are so beautiful by moonlight, — a few Four-o'clocks, and so forth. These are enough for a most happy little garden. A few more modern plants are added, a golden and a rosy Lily from Japan, a lustrous white gold-hearted Anemone from the same country, for autumn blooming, one or two tuberous-rooted Begonias, some Gaillardias and Zinnias, the fragrant little Asperula (Woodruff), and some others. Among the new plants one of the most interesting is the Hugelia Coerulea, which grows a foot and a half high, with a many-branched woolly leaf, and flowers in flat clusters of the most delicious light blue. This is a flower with an atmosphere; it has a quality of beauty quite indescribable.