The easiest way to prove that we cannot copy English cottage gardens is to show that the material is too different. Let us go back to Tennyson's description and run over his list of plants. By "traveller's joy" he means Clematis Vitalba, which is somewhat like our own Clematis Virginiana. English ivy will not luxuriate in our Northern states as it does in Europe. "Vine" means the European grape and we cannot grow that outdoors east of the Rockies. "Rose tree" is the same as tree rose; standards are not hardy. By "jasmine" he means Jasminum officinale, the white jessamine of the poets, which is not hardy in the latitude of Philadelphia without a sheltering wall and winter protection.
But Tennyson's list is only the beginning of trouble. Roses are the most precious of all flowers. The English labouring man gets large, double, fragrant roses from June to October with a minimum of effort. He does not have to contend with the rose chafer, or "rose bug" as we wrongly call it. In America roses do not bloom all summer save on the Pacific coast. Climbing roses rarely reach to the third story of a big house. We find that roses require more care and cause more loss and disappointment in America than any other flower.
All summer, the cottager's yard is gay with flowers. While geraniums and cannas are about the only bedding plants that will bloom all summer here with a minimum of attention, the English cottager can have many others. To grow tuberous begonias in America requires peculiar conditions and considerable skill, but in England it is no trick at all. An American labourer may have a bed of coleus, which is as gaudy, flowerless and monotonous as it can be. The English labourer can grow the calceolaria, a yellow flower like a lady's slipper, which is as refined and distinguished as anything you could wish. I saw thousands of front yards gay with calceolarias.
Even in winter an English labourer's garden is beautiful because the grass is evergreen, whereas with us it gets brown. Then, too, the English climate is favourable for broad-leaved evergreens, while that of the North is not. Cottagers often propagate their own box edging. English holly grows wild. And best of all their ivy is evergreen and grows like a weed.
No other examples need be given here because most of the important plants that thrive in England, but not in America, are mentioned in other chapters.