Formal beds appeal strongly to the beginner, but he soon finds that an irregular border of hardy perennials gives him a greater variety, a larger season, and more flowers for cutting.
The only drawback to a border is that most perennials bloom for only two weeks. Nobody likes to have large portions of his border devoid of bloom for a long time, and so many good gardeners have gotten into the habit of alternating perennials, e. g., a clump of peonies, a clump of chrysanthemums, then peonies again and so on. This gives two crops of bloom from every square yard or thereabout.
I saw a still better idea in England, viz., bulbs and carpeting plants. The objection to alternating peonies and chrysanthemums, or any other plants that make a lusty growth at the same time, is that they compete with each other. On the other hand, bulbs and carpeting plants supplement each other. The carpeting plants protect the bulbs from alternate freezing and thawing quite as well as unsightly manure, and the bulbs look their prettiest when they have a background of foliage instead of dirt. (See Chapter XXIV.)
Every hardy border ought to have permanent bulbs on it, especially Darwin tulips and daffodils, and when these die down there should be something to cover the ground. So this year I am trying all the pinks I can get hold of and all the stonecrops or sedums, which the English use so much for this purpose. And I hope some of my readers will get seeds of rock-cress or plant in permanent bulb beds any thrifts or mossy little plants that are available .