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"Though not a whisper of her voice he hear,
 The buried bulb does know
 The signals of the year
 And hails far
 Summer with his lifted spear."
COVENTRY PATMORE.

 


 X
A SMALL SPRING FLOWER BORDER

THE tale of this border is soon told — not the pleasure of it, for I can assure the reader that from early spring to late autumn, from the hour when peony, shoots and bulb leaves first pushed their way through the ground, there has been no moment when this place had not a peculiar interest. A slight description written immediately after the original planting was made, and first printed in the Bulletin of the Garden Club of America, may here be introduced, thanks to the courtesy of that society.

The border in question is a double one, a balanced planting on either side of a walk of dark brick about two and a half feet wide. The space allotted to flowers flanking the walk is some three feet.:Eight subjects are used; combinations of color, periods of bloom, form and height of flowers and plants, all are considered.

At those edges of the borders farthest from the walk are peonies of white and palest pink — Madame Emile Gall& that flower of enchantment predominating. Next the peonies toward the walk, comes a row of Iris pallida Dalmatica, then an alternating line of Iris Kaempferi and Spircea astilbe Arendsii Die Walktire; next these the Darwin tulip Agneta planted alternately with English iris Mauve Queen; then the double early tulip Yellow Rose with myosotis.

Bleu Celeste, the double early tulip which Miss Jekyll calls the bluest of tulips, was to have bloomed with the vivid flower of tulip Yellow Rose. But because of Miss Jekyll's commendation of Bleu Celeste, or possibly for the more prosaic reason of crop failure in Holland, my very late order remained unfilled, and Mr. Van Tubergen substituted for it the Darwin Agneta. This, he assures me, is nearly the color of Bleu Celeste. Alas! unfortunately for me, Agneta blooms after Yellow Rose, thus I may not look for the lovely bands of clear yellow and dull blue which were to have adorned my border in early May. Close to the brick itself are mounds of Myosotis dissitiflora and Sutton's Royal Blue, an early and a late, while back of these are lines of Alyssum sulphureum, the hardy one of primrose-yellow.

I count on the Japanese iris as an ally of the English one (though, oddly enough, this was arranged long before war broke out), the latter said to be a delicious shade of pinkish mauve. The cool pink spirea, too, should create a delicate foil for the broad-petalled Iris Kaempferi, and my faint and perhaps foolish hope is that a few forget-me-nots may be tricked into blooming on till iris Mauve Queen shows its color; for of all garden harmonies I dearly love the pale blues and mauves, brilliant blues and deep violets, set over against each other.

How charming were the flowers along my little brick walk about the 15th of May! Myosotis half in bloom, and the soft yellow-green buds of Yellow Rose among and above it; tulip Agneta only ranks of pointed buds back of these. One week later great blooms of yellow tulip (was ever tulip better named?) were in clusters among the myosotis while, above this canary color and blue, Agneta lifted beautiful lilac cups. The effect was indescribably gay and original. Leaves of Iris pallida Dalmatica were now broadening back of the tulips, spirea spreading its delicately cut green and brown-madder foliage between the iris spears, and young peonies repeated these tones of spirea leaves in a vigorous row farthest from the walk.

 

A SPRING FLOWER BORDER IN PALE BLUE, YELLOW, AND MAUVE
 

SPRING FLOWER BORDER
 

The form and habit of Yellow Rose make it a tulip particularly fit for use with myosotis, but its yellow is too strong in tone for the lilac and sky-blue of the other flowers. Moonlight, however, is too near Agneta in height. Perhaps Brimstone (Safrano) would be the better subject here, but Brimstone blooms earlier than Yellow Rose. In using Brimstone, however, off should go its head so soon as the rose-pink flush begins to show, since that pink would doubtless to some extent interfere with the effect of the three pale colors here desired, blue, yellow, and lavender. Another suggestion is, as substitute for the Darwin Agneta the use of the fine tulip Gudin, certainly one of the most ravishing of all the Darwin tribe; or of William Copeland (Sweet Lavender), the beauty whose charming portrait was shown in the colored plate with the issue of the "Gardeners' Chronicle" (English) for November, 1914.

Brilliant, telling, as these spring flowers were, running from arch to arch and seen against green lawns, after ten days the picture was yet sweeter, for the yellow tulips' race was run, the myosotis had lifted delicate blue-clad stems in air, and the Darwin pink-lavender petals were atop of the straightest, tallest of green shafts, so many, so exquisitely erect, that a memory of Velasquez's great canvas "The Lances" flashed into the mind. Blue and lavender, delicious colors near each other, made this walk a place of beauty for days after the yellow tulip blooms had fled.

As I have said, this is a beauty of lavender, deep yellow, and pale blue for perhaps two weeks. The early tulip first departs, leaving no void, for the mauve and pale blue then present a picture interesting if more quiet. About the nth of May tulip petals fall, leaving the myosotis a band of misty blue on either side the walk; and as Agneta fades the deep blue-purple Iris Germanica, which has for some days held its shafts of buds closed and ready beside the Darwins, suddenly bursts into great flowers. Unfortunately for my complete satisfaction, there was one of those mistakes in the identity of roots which must sometimes occur in gardens, and only a few of these proved of the variety and the tone required for this setting.

There is for a week, the first week of June, a lull. Not, however, uninteresting, for the blue-greens of tulip leaves are still fresh, the iris swords are fine to see, and the delicately cut yellow-green of spirea foliage is charming, covering the earth where irises have sprung. Back of these are the young peonies all filled with rounded buds, straight, handsome, and distinct against the smooth-shaven grass beyond the border on either side.

July, and the tardy spirea Die Walktlre in this border has not flowered yet. Brownish buds are held above every plant and soon there will be bloom. Although there are now no flowers along the walk, the effect of various types of plant foliage is exceedingly good. Blue-green leaves of Iris pallida Dalmatica rise among all the spireas at regular intervals — to be exact, eighteen irises on either side; back of these, away from the walk, are dark-green peony leaves; toward the walk are lines of drying stems of English iris, pale-gray mounds of the hardy alyssum, which I shall have to confess failed to do well this year, but which shall have another invitation to this spot, next time by means of seed-sowing, not transplanting.

In May zinnias in those pale tones I so much fancy were sown among the myosotis leaves; by mid-July they were opening their first flowers; and from that time on, the walk was gay till late October, the rather shallow roots seeming not in the least to affect the welfare of other subjects near them. The illustration shows them in September. Back of these borders of flowers since this description was written have since been set close rows of Spircea van Houtteii, whose boughs, in time to come, are to be permitted to fall naturally on the side away from the walk, but to be kept close-shaven on that toward the flower-borders so that a formal green background may be supplied.

To leave the border now for a few generalizations on the flowers of spring and early summer. The blooms of tulip Jubilee are of varying heights, which gives this tulip a peculiar value, even as the twisting of stem in certain gladioli makes them more valuable for some purposes. Avis Kennicott, on the other hand, seems to keep the yardstick always in mind, and her flowers are a regiment of golden magnificence. Ordinarily, I should never place Avis Kennicott near Jubilee and La Fiancee, as they are here; nor should I allow Le Wye to neighbor these. The perfect place for Le Wye is in company with Mertenzia Virginica alone, as has often been suggested before. Each year this combination grows upon me.

The effect of sunlight through the cups of La Fiancee and Jubilee as they stand together up a little slope fairly well covered with young hemlock spruces, is exceedingly nice. The deep violet of Jubilee and rich lavender-rose of La Fiancée make of them excellent comrades in the border. A drift of tall gold flowers stands farther up, and beyond the group of spruces, which are from three to ten feet high, Heloise shines in the picture with one of the tallest and richest of flowers of a fine deep-red. Beyond Heloise comes Herzogin von Hohenberg, of a medium blue-purple tone, a wonderfully valuable color in Darwins, rising from quantities of myosotis; and far up the rise of ground stands a group of tulip Couleur Cardinal. Beyond these again, and to the right, a whole colony of Tulip retrojlexa gleams from among the dark gray-green boughs of hemlock and of young white pine. Two or three years ago some charming pictures in the bulb-list of Messrs. E. H. Krelage and Sons, of Haarlem, filled me with a desire to see tulips grown among evergreens. The pictures from Holland showed this effectively done for a great flower-show at Haarlem, and it seemed to me that nothing could be more lovely, more striking, too, in effect, than the use of bulbs among small conifers of formal habit. The true place for daffodils, as we all know, is in spring meadows; but tulips require a less careless handling, and, while it is true that I have grown them nearly always in loose groups and masses, I am fast coming to the belief that the tulip, from its own aspect, calls for design in planting. Do not for a moment think that I favor the planting suggestions for tulips found in some of the representative bulb-lists of America! Far from it!

Iris Crusader is a magnificent flower. As many as four blooms are open at one time, the lowest a foot below the topmost; for these flowers occur at four places, four angles on the stem. The single flower is a glory, its prevailing tone (Ridgway) a deep bluish-violet. There is something in the spring of the long curves of this flower both in standard and fall which gives it a unique beauty. The brownish pencilling at the top of each fall, the orange-yellow beard which surmounts those charming tones of blue-violet which suffuse the whole, make it a distinguished flower. It is a knight among irises; and, bloom occurring just before the pallicla section, it seems to herald a company of nobles of the garden. No flower could bear a fitter name than does this iris; whoever named it had a sense of fitness all too rare.

The Rembrandt tulip has for the last two or three seasons cast its spell upon me. "America is biting, " says an English tulip authority in words better calculated to give pleasure to our friends, the Dutch growers, than to us! Yet this is true: the charm of the Rembrandt is beginning to make itself felt in the land. One of the most interesting of this group is Bougainville Duran, the tones of whose markings are (Ridgway) light vinaceous-purple and neutral red these laid upon a ground of delicious ivory-white. For richness of color and general beauty of appearance this is the finest Rembrandt I have seen. Its use below lilacs, especially below a group of young low-flowering bushes, is sure to give pleasure — before Toussaint l'Ouverture, Souvenir de Ludwig Spaeth, those rich red-violets in lilacs, and those bluer ones, President Grevy for instance. Semele is another fine tulip in this class — Rucellin-purple, flaked pomegranate-purple.

A planting of these four tulips (names below) over or back of a low-flowering plant such as the deep-purple aubrietia, or that new variety which is so warmly commended, Lavender, might make a good spring picture, the tulips to be Reverend H. Ewbank, Bleu Celeste, Morales, and a very few white ones, such as Innocence or La Candeur. Another plan is to plant well in front of that grand tulip Flava the beautiful lavender &ilia campanulata Excelsior; and between this and the tulip the wonderful mauve iris of about fifteen inches' height, Mrs. Alan Gray. There would be a sight whose loveliness the "scant gray meshes of words" could never catch and show. A fine delicacy of effect this — palest primrose tulip, blue-lavender scilla, and pinkish lavender in the iris blooms.

A wondrous new all-yellow iris in the Germanica tribe, named by its originator for Miss C. P. Sherwin, is treasure-trove for the June garden. Aquilegia chrysantha in connection with this iris, or groups of the latter planted below the perfect sprays of that perfect rose known as spinosissima, or, for a livelier picture, the new iris before the vivid blue of the anchusa — beauty could not fail the gardener here.

The "lily-flowered" tulips just announced from Holland and never yet shown in America will create great interest here. Sirene, Adonis, Argo, marvellous tones of satiny rose, rich rose, golden yellow, salmon-rose, all with the reflexed petals and tall habit of Tulipa retroflexa, will be welcomed with enthusiasm if they prove as beautiful as their just-named parent.


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