We are inclined to overdo what might be called the masculine element in our gardens. One can vulgarize a garden by having too many plants with large flowers, such as hollyhocks, sunflowers, rose mallows, Japan irises, peonies, gaillardias, and Oriental poppies. In the same class belong plants with big clusters of bloom, such as phlox and chrysanthemums. A garden dominated by such robust and virile plants is in danger of becoming coarse. It needs the feminine refinement of delicately cut foliage and airy sprays of minute flowers, such as gypsophila or baby's breath. We could make our gardens a great deal cooler and more restful by always having one or two fluffy white masses of bloom which suggest sea foam, billows, fleecy clouds, and the like. For example, note the feathery plumes of the elm-leaved spirea on plate 77, the liquid beauty of the Rodgersia's tassels, the mistiness of the Heuchera (plates 80, 82) and the fleecy cloud made by the Crambe on plate 78.
In making such pictures the English have one great advantage over us in being able to carpet their borders with saxifrages, which are as exquisite as lace. They are also very fond of the Californian heucheras, which are practically unknown in the East. But there are many good plants of this same general character, e. g., the feathered columbine (Thalictrum aquilegifolium), and the flowers known as herbaceous spireas, especially the florists' spirea (Astilbe Japonicd), the fern-leaved and elm-leaved meadowsweets (Ulmaria Filipendula and pentapetald), the true and false goat's beard (Aruncus Sylvester and Astilbe decandrd), and the lovely plant known as Spircea astilboides.
The planning of a border is a hard enough job without complicating it with considerations of "masculine and feminine," but it might be well to stroll out to your garden to see whether the two elements are well balanced. Perhaps your border needs some of the plants just named.