Succession of Effects. Pot Plants on Steps. Retarded Geraniums. Cork-covered Parapet Boxes. Choice of Chrysanthemums. Hardy Plants in Pots for late Blooming. Meadow-saffrons. Pot Dahlias.
THE clover town gardener does not expose all his floral effects to the public gaze at the beginning of summer ; he reserves certain additions, so that when heat, dust and smoke has tired out some of the flowers, taken the beauty off the house front or the back garden, he can make up for that by introducing beauties in other forms.
Let us suppose a house up half a do/en steps. Pots, all of one size, scrupulously clean and with saucers to fit, may stand on the sides of the steps, a dozen in all. and the plants in all can be similar, or match in twos. Tims the top ones could be of glossy aralias. three feet high SO usually called castor-oil plants, which is quite wrong the next pair could be golden chrysanthemums, the lowest pair the summer cypress (Kochia tricophylla), which will have begun to flush red and orange. Or quite ordinary lavender Michaelmas daisies, crimson beets, or tine-grown ' Love-lies-bleeding.' and miniature annual dwarf sunflowers, would look novel. Of course, if i vy-leaved and other geraniums have been grown on in private with a view to this late d6but, have had embryo buds picked off until lately, they will now make a brilliant display.
Then, at the top of the steps, there might be group', of more plants, or long-shaped boxes to lie on the stone ledges of the parapet walls. These boxes always look best when covered with virgin cork, which is so easy to nail on wood. Some persons like to paint virgin cork with silvery metallic paints ; liquid aluminium paint is the newest thing. Another idea is to have white-* namelled long boxes, like window-boxes, to stand against the side walls or railings at the top of steps, and these are, of course, easily seen and avoided on dark nights.
Then there may be huge tubs, split barrel-shape, or taller, filled with chrysanthemums, in pinks, peach-mauve and gold, and edged by cat's ear (Stachys Janata;, with a f< w plants of Kenilworth ivy or trailing fuchsia (Fuchsia procumbens) to overhang. They are sure to attract admiration.
The town-house owner who wishes to astonish his neighbours by a late show of flowers, should order chrysanthemums for blooming in October and November, then surround these by a row of a very dwarf kind of chrysanthemum to flower earlier. The florist or nurseryman will be able to provide ; to recommend varieties here would merely confuse, since there are hundreds suitable, and tradesmen in different localities cultivate different favourites for sale.
A further plan for making autumn floral is to cultivate pot and tub Helen-flowers (Heleniums), cone-flowers (Rudbeckias), and even red-hot pokers. The last, known scientifically as tritornas| or kniphofias, have to be potted singly in November or April, however, and should be given liquid manure once a week all summer.
The Canre hag (Schizostylis coccinea) is another bulb for p<»tling in November or March. It is a glorious plant, with long, narrow leaves and spikes of blood-crimson blossoms that appear in October and November. As it is a hardy perennial the pots should be put into cold frames during winter and be stood out during summer.
The besl way to keep pot plants out of doors is to sink them up to the rims in a deep bed all of cinders. This bed can be made up anywhere, on gravel, cement, tiles, eta, against a wall. The roots in the pots are thus kept cool, moist, yet not too wet, for rains drain through the cinders, and slugs and snails are kept away. It is quite a good idea to add schizostylis bulbs to the window-boxes in April, if care is taken not to injure the sprouting rootlets when other plants are put among them. A couple of dozen pots of Caffre flags ranged along a balcony or verandah, making a line of crimson-scarlet so late in the year, will win a town gardener great praise.
Plants of the Japanese stonecrop (Sedum specta-bile) are beautiful pot ornaments for the glass porch or back steps of the house.
There is a great deal to be urged in favour of always sinking pot plants in the window-boxes, because a succession of effects can be so easily arranged, and when this is carried out this tall handsome sedum, so unlike the humbler stonecrops, with its rose-flushed, blue-grey glaucous leaves, is a very fine autumn filling. I have seen ornamental crimson flower-pot covers used, instead of windowboxes, each holding an eight-inch pot containing what may be called a clump of Japanese stonecrop, from which rose many of the marvellous cluster-heads of rosy bloom.
Among the seeds that are capital to sow in March in a warm greenhouse, to produce pot plants that will be handsome even when frosts are due, are those of the varieties of Japanese maize (Zea Japonicas variegata, and quadricolour). However the seeds may be sown, the seedlings are transferred singly to two-inch pots, then simply given a shift into slightly bigger pots every time those they inhabit are overfilled by roots. The young plants are stood out during summer, after being hardened off in frames. The leaves are magnificently streaked and coloured. Another name is Indian corn.
A raised bed, on a little lawn, looks well indeed in autumn when the gardener can sink pots of Zea among red chrysanthemums, or dwarf dahlias, behind a thick belt of Japanese stonecrop.
If the advice in a previous chapter has been carried out, all the rockeries, semi-shady borders and beds, even under trees, may be alightóthere is no more suitable wordówith the bright presence of meadow-saffrons, those big crocus-shaped blossoms whose peach, rose or white petals glisten in sunshine or moonlight. The ordinary peach-mauve is very cheap, so bulbs should have been generously planted. The slopes of grass banks by the lawn should have been dotted over with them too.
Now is the time to keep every inch of the beds and borders especially tidy by use of the spud, which will chop weeds up, destroying many insect foes meanwhile, and let air into the soil. Pot dahlias are suitable for growing in porches or on porch steps, may even be kept in halls and rooms for weeks while they bloom. Those that stand outside to adorn the sides . of walks, seats, summer-house thresholds, roof gardens, etc., may very likely be able to continue their flowering long after the planted-out dahlias are blackened, for they will, of course, be given shelter, in the house if there is no conservatory, at Winter's first hint of danger.
Happily for town dwellers, autumn has a splendour all its own, when Virginia creepers clothe our walls in living ruby and the hues of many flames.