WHEN the town gardener has become sufficiently experienced to be able to look back on a creditable summer, spring, and autumn display, he will naturally worry if his home appears dull during winter. Happily there are several things he can do—or choose between doing—to make the drear months decorative.
Let me begin by saying that money is well spent in paving a little front garden. Gravel or grass have their own charm, yet pavement, of the simple grey flagstone sort, or sunk dull red bricks, is always clean, or, at least, can be kept so with the minimum of trouble, and shows off every atom of flower, incidentally of leaf, as nothing else can do. Tiled paths with patterns in the tiles and crude colours are detestable. Many a town mansion would be marvellously improved by having the tiled walk, from gate to steps, exchanged for one of old flagstones. Then sunk beds can be had in a paved garden, and plants thrive excellently just below the ground level, escaping many frosts. There may be a sunk pool, if desired, and a raised plateau, up steps, for a sundial if there is sun exposure, or for a handsome stone urn otherwise. Of course, a fountain is permissible ! There might be a stone balustrade along the verandah, with stone 1 baskets' on it at intervals.
A few winter flowering plants will create a sensation in a front garden in a town. There really are a number of reliable beauties, such as the following, some of which have been mentioned in other chapters :—
(Usually known as Tussi-lago fragrans). Medium-tall hardy perennial, with loose spikes of minute lilac bloom in November and December. Very sweet. Plant in March, in semi-shade, or, if in full sunshine, preserve from drought. Rich soil, or give mulch each October.
The popular wall shrub, with scarlet bloom shaped like apple-blossom. Will succeed as a hedge in many gardens.
Scarlet. An erect strong shrub.
A dwarf species most useful for urns or tubs. Brick red, or terra-cotta flowers.
These all begin blooming in March, if not earlier. Plant them in October or February, the roots of the larger species six inches below ground.
A beautiful shrub that succeeds in many suburbs when trained against a wall, and gives golden bloom in February and March. Plant in October.
Generally flourishes against porch or verandah pillars, with a west or south-west aspect, or south if watered during summer.
(Lonicera j aponica aureo reticulata). The leaves are as gay as many flowers.
A four -foot shrub that has rose blossom all along bare boughs in February and March, then puts forth foliage and berries. Quite hardy. Needs sunshine. A lovely centrepiece in a sunk bed, or looks well in a border against a background of evergreens. Plant in October. There is also a yellow flowering variety.
Well worth trying. A hardy perennial that blooms naturally from September to November, of a deep red shade. 3 ft. tall. Plant in March or April.
Several florist's varieties, all desirable, likely to be blooming still in November. Protect with cinder mulch each winter.
White, green shaded. Plant in very rich soil in semi-shade. Hardy, but weather usually spoils the blooms unless the plants are covered by glass shades.
Gives pink flower spikes in February, from among fine leaves. Excellent for beds, urns, boxes, or pots. Iris Reticulata. February blooming, violet-and-gold, scented. Plant bulbs just below sunny soil in September or October. 9 in.
White-and-blue. March blooming. 1 ft.
Azure blue and lavender. Blooms from November to March. All these need sunshine, and may also be cultivated as pot plants for winter effects in windows and conservatories.
Winter Crocuses should be planted in September, only just below soil. The hardiest are—
Seeds itself year after year. Hardy. In sun or semi-shade. Magenta - purple flowers, followed by silver seed-vessels. These should be left on the plants till the stems are dry and crisp, then the outer covering of the seed-pods must be gently removed, the silver lining being then shown. Raise from seed in April or buy young plants in October.
Plant rhizomes just under the soil in October. Loves damp ground, but seldom succeeds in shade. Can be grown in pots in frames. The seed-pods crack and show handsome red-orange berries. Chinese Lantern Plant (Physalis Alkekengi). Rich sunny bed or border. Plant in April. Gather the branches of orange - red fruit in September.
Spreading trusses of lavender blossom in late summer. Plant in November or March in sunny border or rockery. There are annual species that the town gardener should try to grow from seed each March.
Tall glistening grey hardy perennial, with blue globular flower-heads. Plant in October or April.
Seldom successful in real town gardens. A fine race of handsome tall perennials with glistening silver or blue flower masses. Plant in October or April.
This splendid grass will grow in open gardens in towns, and makes its best effect as a grass - plot ornament. Should be planted in April, in sunshine, and kept watered.
For annual ' everlastings/ and bedding ones, Chapter XIX should be consulted.
All sprays, trusses, plumes, etc., for winter vases, should be dried by hanging them downwards from cords stretched across sunny rooms. They are very pleasing if well combined with dried field grasses, winter berries, etc., for table decoration or window bowls.