Hardy Plants for Groups. Foliage Subjects. How to Grow Them How to make Groups—and Where.
THERE arc probably a hundred amateur gardeners able to grow pot plants to two or three individuals able to group them satisfactorily. Sometimes failure is bound to be, because of an insufficiency of mosses, ferns, foliage and cluster plants with which to hide the pots of their taller comrades.
Now a winter-heated greenhouse seldom forms part of the town establishment, so hosts of suitable dainty plants must be avoided and hardy ones cultivated. It is a refreshing fact that these will be inexpensive. Some of them may be obtained by lifting and potting portions of plants that happen to be in the borders ; if this is done in the hot months of the year they must be kept cool and shaded for several days afterwards ; others can be bought, in small pots, ready for use ; others may only be obtainable in masses, in boxes, then should be potted.
The following are reliable, dwarf, calculated to show off the colours of the flowers beneath which >they arc to make a foliage-and-floral carpet without so much as an inch of pottery remaining visible.
Plain and variegated. Gold Dust (Alvssum saxatile).
Gold, ' white, orange, purple and red.
White and rosy flowering.
Silvered rosette foliage. Oxalis Rosea. Pink.
Green or gold leaved with yelloiv flowers.
In all colours.
A dwarf evergreen of spreading habit that has bine blossom.
All have clusters of attractive leaves, from which rise tall light steins of red, rose or white blossom.
One of the true geraniums, or crazies' bills, whereas the greenhouse ' geraniums * are really pelargoniums. Pale pink.
Fern. Holly Fern (Aspidium lonchitis).
Porvronii'm Vulgare Cambricum. Fern.
II"/// succeed, if given a compost of peat, silver sand, loam, and coco-nut fibre refuse rubbed into powder.
I J lac. A foot tall, with spreading leaves.
(Campanulas portenschlagiana, iso-phylla alba, garganica, fragilis, carpatica). Violet, white, blue.
White. Thrifts (Armcrias cephalotcs, laucheana and plantaginca. Rose, crimson or while.
Silver leaves. Pink bloom.
Silver woolly leaves.
Fern-like leaves, flowers like a miniature creamy meadow-sweet.
Bronze and green leaves. Flowers white.
Creamy - marked foliage. Blue flowers.
There are countless other hardy plants and ferns that can be well grown in cold greenhouses, frames, or room windows where air is freely admitted ; the gardener who learns to delight in the variegated tufts of the Speedwell named, for example, should inquire after other dwarf members of the family; the lover of one stonecrop, house leek, or saxifrage, will find dozens more waiting for his patronage.
Among larger foliage subjects of extreme value in making groups of fairly hardy pot plants are taller plantain lilies, hardy geraniums, saxifrages and outdoor maidenhairs (Thalictrums) ; and their blossoms add, of course, to their value. Aralias, eucalyptus citriodora,lemon verbena. French lavender, like palms and aspidistras, only require to be kept safe from all frost.
Then there are annuals of great foliage value that should have been sown or purchased earlier, of which the Golden Feather (Pyrethrum aurcum) is a popular example.
A group of plants against a wall, or other background, should have the greatest height behind, either as a clump in the middle back row. or to form the whole back row except for the edge, which may be a single, double, or triple edging of dwarf and semi-dwarf growers.
A group in an open space may have the highest plants in the middle, or in clusters all over the space, or as single specimen plants rising at even distances.
A pyramid can be built up easily, so that all the foliage represents a sloped mass, of sugar-loaf shape, and the blossoms either repeat this shape themselves, or rise gracefully out of it according to their different natures.
One fine pyramid group on a balcony or porch-top, for summer, would consist of chimney bell-flowers (Campanula pyramidalis), blue aralias, and summer cypresses in front of the aralias, white tobacco plants (Nicotlana affinis), crimson beet and mock maidenhair (Thalictrum minus adiantifolium), deep blue ostrich feather asters or blue larkspurs, and white carnations, golden feather, purple-leaved bugle, variegated arabis, and, lastly, an edging of indigo blue lobelia.
A simpler group can be built up with single dahlias, Pompon dahlias, Tom Thumb cactus dahlias, then ferns with zinnias here and there, then a belt of the bronze-leaved foam flower, then one of oxalis rosea, and a final edge of closely-set pans of gold, white, orange, red and purple stonecrops.
Let the town-gardener note that many of the tiny plants can be cultivated in the pans sold for sowing seed in, and this is a Kelp in carpeting among other plants.
Groups of chrysanthemums, in scarlet-crimson, yellow and cream, with pots of searlet-and-orange montbretias, among beets, ferns, etc., edged by mossy saxifrages and echeveria secunda glauca, will be charming.
Pot Michaelmas daisies and other perennial asters are of great value on account of their late blooming. It will, perhaps, be a revelation to the town-dweller that so many exquisite floral displays can be succeeded with, even within a city area; but, in truth, by growing hardy plants chiefly, just preserved from frost, by washing foliage and frequent use of the syringe, by occasional waterings with a weak solution of fertilizer in rain-water or the weakest of liquid manure, by removing all spent blooms at once and never allowing dead leaves to rot on the plants, above all by giving enough water regularly but never too much, great triumphs may be recorded.
And plant groups look beautiful in so many spots —on balconies, between verandah pillars, against arch sides or pergola poles, in wall recesses of bay windows, at the sides of the porch or steps, on the summits of mounds or rockeries, against fences or trellises, by chimneys, on the leads over built-out kitchens, in conservatories, before summer-houses, etc. etc.!