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Chapter XXIII. A Number Of Novel Suggestions
Blue, Gold, other Self-coloured Gardens. Suiting Flower Colours to House Colours. Climbers for Balconies without Pillars. Dahlia Gardens. Various Novel Gardens. Wild-flower Culture. Rare Plants. Making Use of Attics.
1REMEMBER a front garden in a Kensington road that was always called ' the blue garden,' and had become a noted feature of the neighbourhood. Massing plants that all have flowers of one colour is a simple expedient for engaging the attention that is sure to include praise. We can fancy the cheering, sunshiny effect of an all-gold garden, in front of a dull grey house, maybe, and with plenty of dark evergreen shrubs to show up the blossoms. Personally I should vote for edgings entirely of box or London pride. If the site is not too draughty for golden privet, plenty of .those shrubs alone, with golden rod, yellow violas, wallflowers, a few sunk pot chrysanthemums, and common stonecrop, will have a sufficiently sunshiny appearance to make the heart leap, on the greyest day. Elders are not averse to smoke, and the golden elder is always a joy to witness. A house that is painted cream or ochre is the harmonious background to all violet flowers; a house of the ugly dun hue too often found in London and other cities, needs flame-salmon and scarlet; a house of new red brick is always suited by white, blue, or pale yellow; old red brick tones with all colours but rose pinks and carmine, which last colours will go with grey, but are most satisfactory with cream or white. It is an admirable plan to paint houses quite pale greens, when floral adornments are in prospect.
Some houses have balconies that are not supported by pillars. In order to induce climbers to mount to them quickly, to be trained along the railings or stone balustrades, clematises, jasmine, hops, roses, etc., can be planted some distance out in the garden below, and trained to stout string, or bamboo poles latticed between by string, slanted inwards up to the balcony platform. When there are open railings to balconies or porch-tops, overhanging vegetation should be a feature : ivy-leaved geraniums are frequently seen; canary creeper, the common climbing nasturtium, represented in its countless ' self' colours and blends, climbing convolvulus major also, the purple bellflower (Cobaea scandens) are other plants that will.blossom hanging down.
A rare show can be gained by cultivating the trailing fuchsia (Fuchsia procumbens), seven plants in a nine-inch pot of good soil, either sowing it in heat in March or buying young plants in May. The pendant trails are often twelve feet long, and, though leaves and the many tinted fairy-lantern blossoms are small, the latter will give place to cerise ' cherries ' that are highly decorative.
Dahlias are most accommodating town flowrers, and it is a comfort to grow something that is lifted, and housed safely in dry bulb state, during winter. By combining single, single cactus, the symmetrical ball-headed show species, cactus, decorative, pom-pone, and Tom Thumb kinds, great diversity of heights is obtained. Dahlias may follow a display of hyacinths and tulips, that are also lifted, while turban ranunculuses and Spanish irises would give bloom in between the spring and late summer.
A large round bed on a square of gravel, or plot of turf, becomes less troublesome to adorn if a fencing of painted trellis-work or painted wire-netting encircles it to the height of a yard, or rather more, and a clematis montana grandiflora is planted at one side, a clematis Jackmanii at the other, then trained round it. Merely single dahlias, or golden rods, hollyhocks, delphiniums, tall snapdragons, or pampas grass, with a ring of standard geraniums or fuchsias about the clump, would furnish the inner space.
I have just seen a novel small front garden in Kilburn. The grass-plot had a ring of big, nearly square stone blocks, set with corners touching, right on the grass, with a plant of St. John's wort behind each, spraying over the grey rock. Grass showed inside, and then there rose a weeping standard of the climbing polyantha rose, Hiawatha, crimson, white-centred, for middle height. The turf had been newly clipped, and the old picturesque rocks showed up excellently.
Perhaps the easiest bed to manage is one of mixed dwarf polyantha roses, carpeted by variegated arabis. These roses need no scientific pruning, but to be just tipped, made symmetrical, and cleared of many of their too thick inner branches each early April; and this kind of arabis maintains a tidy growth, so requires only to have its dead blossom cut off.
Wild-flower culture is possible in a town, and there is certainly pleasure to be derived from associating field daisies, poppies, devil's-bit scabious, the blue cornflowers called ' blue-bottles,' now so rare in fields, with oats, meadow-sweet, spotted foxgloves, golden broom and gorse, brambles, traveller's joy, and dog-roses. Honeysuckle is not likely to live, but every gardener should be eager to experiment; primroses will increase and multiply, of course, and bracken-fern has a noble effect and becomes gorgeously autumn-tinted.
A front garden may be of pavement, rockeries, a sunk pool (preferably fed generally by rain-water, with an overflow into a drain), and planted all with hardy ferns, slow-growing, creeping, or erect ivies, a few Solomon's seals and foxgloves.
A garden, tree-shaded, with a cold aspect, in a London street, was once made pretty by having a stone pedestal with vase planted only with ivy in the centre of a bed given up to periwinkle and quite small shrubs of gold-variegated euonymus. The triumph was the reward of careful tending, for the shrubs were always clipped perfectly neat, stood in rows a yard from each other, jutting out from the pedestal-like spokes of a wheel; and the periwinkle was kept pegged down evenly to cover the intervening wedge-shaped spaces.
Take some rare plant for a hobby favourite, and mass it, is one meritorious suggestion. There is a ' blue rambler ' rose, called Veilchenblau, that will live in a town. Plant it wherever it can be accommodated, give it dead trees, tree trunks, poles, pillars of the verandah, arches, trellis gates, porch sides, or railings to adorn. Plant some trees of it on bank summits, and let it trail. The colour is ' steel,' not true blue, but quite blue enough to astound people, and it is not costly.
If delphiniums will live, leave the blues alone for once, and mass the purple and mauve varieties. If Oriental poppies will, avoid the scarlet, and have as many plants as possible of the salmon pink. Go in for violet perennial phloxes, violet wallflowers, violet tulips, or for ' ray' or ostrich-feather China asters, cup-and-saucer pink Canterbury bells, rosy-red Michaelmas daisies, yellow snapdragons, orange-scarlet cowslips, black pansies, the new red gaillardia-flowered annual sunflower, the primrose fig-leaved hollyhock, striped sweet-peas, green pompone dahlias, or pink violas. In short, be always on the watch for a beautiful or quaint rarity ; then obtain sufficient to make a sensational display of it.
Grow flowers where neighbours do not grow theirs, if possible. Have a portion, at least, of an attic glass roofed, with windows to open like a greenhouse, and turn it into a home for spring bulbous flowers, then for some palms, cacti, cras-sulas, eucalyptuses, etc.; later for chrysanthemums.
A charming fern-house can be made in a glass-roofed attic on the shady side of a town mansion.