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Wood and Garden: Notes and Thoughts, Practical and Critical, of a Working Amateur

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<SPAN name="Page_100" id="Page_100"></SPAN>[100]</div> <h2>CHAPTER IX</h2> <h4>AUGUST</h4> <blockquote><p>Leycesteria &mdash; Early recollections &mdash; Bank of choice shrubs &mdash; Bank of Briar Roses &mdash; Hollyhocks &mdash; Lavender &mdash; Lilies &mdash; Bracken and Heaths &mdash; The Fern-walk &mdash; Late-blooming rock-plants &mdash; Autumn flowers &mdash; Tea Roses &mdash; Fruit of <i>Rosa rugosa</i> &mdash; Fungi &mdash; Chantarelle.</p></blockquote> <p><br /><i>Leycesteria formosa</i> is a soft-wooded shrub, whose beauty, without being showy, is full of charm and refinement. I remember delighting in it in the shrub-wilderness of the old home, where I first learnt to know and love many a good bush and tree long before I knew their names. There were towering Rhododendrons (all <i>ponticum</i>) and <ins title="Transcriber's Note: original reads 'Ailantus'">Ailanthus</ins> and Hickory and Magnolias, and then Spir�a and Snowball tree and tall yellow Azalea, and Buttercup bush and shrubby Andromedas, and in some of the clumps tall Cypresses and the pretty cut-leaved Beech, and in the edges of others some of the good old garden Roses, double Cinnamon and <i>R. lucida</i>, and Damask and Provence, Moss-rose and Sweetbriar, besides tall-grown Lilacs and Syringa. It was all rather overgrown, and perhaps all the prettier, and some of the wide grassy ways were quite shady in summer. And I look back across the years and think <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_101" id="Page_101"></SPAN>[101]</span>what a fine lesson-book it was to a rather solitary child; and when I came to plant my own shrub clump I thought I would put rather near together some of the old favourites, so here again we come back to Leycesteria, put rather in a place of honour, and near it Buttercup bush and Andromeda and Magnolias and old garden Roses.</p> <div class="floatleft" style="width: 261px"> <ANTIMG src="images/101left_a.jpg" width="261" height="350" alt="Cistus florentinus." title=""/> <span class="caption">Cistus florentinus.</span> </div> <div class="floatright" style="width: 257px"> <ANTIMG src="images/101right_a.jpg" width="257" height="350" alt="The Great Asphodel." title=""/> <span class="caption">The Great Asphodel.</span> </div> <p class="nofloat">I had no space for a shrub wilderness, but have made a large clump for just the things I like best, whether new friends or old. It is a long, low bank, five or six paces wide, highest in the middle, where the rather taller things are planted. These are mostly Junipers and Magnolias; of the Magnolias, the kinds are <i>Soulangeana</i>, <i>conspicua</i>, <i>purpurea</i>, and <i>stellata</i>. One end of the clump is all of peat earth; here are Andromedas, Skimmeas, and on the cooler side the broad-leaved Gale, whose crushed leaves have almost the sweetness of Myrtle. One long side of the clump faces south-west, the better to suit the things that love the sun. At the farther end is a thrifty bush of <i>Styrax japonica</i>, which flowers well in hot summers, but another bush under a south wall flowers better. It must be a lovely shrub in the south of Europe and perhaps in Cornwall; here the year's growth is always cut at the tip, but it flowers well on the older wood, and its hanging clusters of white bloom are lovely. At its foot, on the sunny side, are low bushy plants of <i>Cistus florentinus</i>. I am told that this specific name is not right; but the plant so commonly goes by it <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_102" id="Page_102"></SPAN>[102]</span>that it serves the purpose of popular identification. Then comes <i>Magnolia stellata</i>, now a perfectly-shaped bush five feet through, a sheet of sweet-scented bloom in April. Much too near it are two bushes of <i>Cistus ladaniferus</i>. They were put there as little plants to grow on for a year in the shelter and comfort of the warm bank, but were overlooked at the time they ought to have been shifted, and are now nearly five feet high, and are crowding the Magnolia. I cannot bear to take them away to waste, and they are much too large to transplant, so I am driving in some short stakes diagonally and tying them down by degrees, spreading out their branches between neighbouring plants. It is an upright-growing Cistus that would soon cover a tallish wall-space, but this time it must be content to grow horizontally, and I shall watch to see whether it will flower more freely, as so many things do when trained down.</p> <p>Next comes a patch of the handsome <i>Bambusa Ragamowski</i>, dwarf, but with strikingly-broad leaves of a bright yellow-green colour. It seems to be a slow grower, or more probably it is slow to grow at first; Bamboos have a good deal to do underground. It was planted six years ago, a nice little plant in a pot, and now is eighteen inches high and two feet across. Just beyond it is the Mastic bush (<i>Caryopteris mastacanthus</i>), a neat, grey-leaved small shrub, crowded in September with lavender-blue flowers, arranged in spikes something like a Veronica; the <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_103" id="Page_103"></SPAN>[103]</span>whole bush is aromatic, smelling strongly like highly-refined turpentine. Then comes <i>Xanthoceras sorbifolia</i>, a handsome bush from China, of rather recent introduction, with saw-edged pinnate leaves and white flowers earlier in the summer, but now forming its bunches of fruit that might easily be mistaken for walnuts with their green shucks on. Here a wide bushy growth of <i>Phlomis fruticosa</i> lays out to the sun, covered in early summer with its stiff whorls of hooded yellow flowers&mdash;one of the best of plants for a sunny bank in full sun in a poor soil. A little farther along, and near the path, comes the neat little <i>Deutzia parviflora</i> and another little shrub of fairy-like delicacy, <i>Philadelphus microphyllus</i>. Behind them is <i>Stephanandra flexuosa</i>, beautiful in foliage, and two good St. John's worts, <i>Hypericum aureum</i> and <i>H. Moserianum</i>, and again in front a Cistus of low, spreading growth, <i>C. halimifolius</i>, or something near it. One or two favourite kinds of Tree P�onies, comfortably sheltered by Lavender bushes, fill up the other end of the clump next to the Andromedas. In all spare spaces on the sunny side of the shrub-clump is a carpeting of <i>Megasea ligulata</i>, a plant that looks well all the year round, and gives a quantity of precious flower for cutting in March and April.</p> <p>I was nearly forgetting <i>Pavia macrostachya</i>, now well established among the choice shrubs. It is like a bush Horse-chestnut, but more refined, the white spikes standing well up above the handsome leaves.</p> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_104" id="Page_104"></SPAN>[104]</span>On the cooler side of the clump is a longish planting of dwarf Andromeda, precious not only for its beauty of form and flower, but from the fine winter colouring of the leaves, and those two useful Spir�as, <i>S. Thunbergi</i>, with its countless little starry flowers, and the double <i>prunifolia</i>, the neat leaves of whose long sprays turn nearly scarlet in autumn. Then there comes a rather long stretch of <i>Artemisia Stelleriana</i>, a white-leaved plant much like <i>Cineraria maritima</i>, answering just the same purpose, but perfectly hardy. It is so much like the silvery <i>Cineraria</i> that it is difficult to remember that it prefers a cool and even partly-shaded place.</p> <p>Beyond the long ridge that forms the shrub-clump is another, parallel to it and only separated from it by a path, also in the form of a long low bank. On the crown of this is the double row of cob-nuts that forms one side of the nut-alley. It leaves a low sunny bank that I have given to various Briar Roses and one or two other low, bushy kinds. Here is the wild Burnet Rose, with its yellow-white single flowers and large black hips, and its garden varieties, the Scotch Briars, double white, flesh-coloured, pink, rose, and yellow, and the hybrid briar, Stanwell Perpetual. Here also is the fine hybrid of <i>Rosa rugosa</i>, Madame George Bruant, and the lovely double <i>Rosa lucida</i>, and one or two kinds of small bush Roses from out-of-the-way gardens, and two wild Roses that have for me a special interest, as I collected them from <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_105" id="Page_105"></SPAN>[105]</span>their rocky home in the island of Capri. One is a Sweetbriar, in all ways like the native one, except that the flowers are nearly white, and the hips are larger. Last year the bush was distinctly more showy than any other of its kind, on account of the size and unusual quantity of the fruit. The other is a form of <i>Rosa sempervirens</i>, with rather large white flowers faintly tinged with yellow.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/105top_a.jpg" width="400" height="302" alt="Lavender Hedge and Steps to the Loft." title="" /> <span class="caption">Lavender Hedge and Steps to the Loft.</span> </div> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"><SPAN name="image105" id="image105"></SPAN> <ANTIMG src="images/105bottom_a.jpg" width="400" height="298" alt="Hollyhock, Pink Beauty." title="" /> <span class="caption">Hollyhock, Pink Beauty.</span> </div> <p>Hollyhocks have been fine, in spite of the disease, which may be partly checked by very liberal treatment. By far the most beautiful is one of a pure pink colour, with a wide outer frill. It came first from a cottage garden, and has always since been treasured. I call it Pink Beauty. The wide outer petal (a heresy to the florist) makes the flower infinitely more beautiful than the all-over full-double form that alone is esteemed on the show-table. I shall hope in time to come upon the same shape of flower in white, sulphur, rose-colour, and deep blood-crimson, the colours most worth having in Hollyhocks.</p> <p>Lavender has been unusually fine; to reap its fragrant harvest is one of the many joys of the flower year. If it is to be kept and dried, it should be cut when as yet only a few of the purple blooms are out on the spike; if left too late, the flower shakes off the stalk too readily.</p> <p>Some plantations of <i>Lilium Harrisi</i> and <i>Lilium auratum</i> have turned out well. Some of the <i>Harrisi</i> <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_106" id="Page_106"></SPAN>[106]</span>were grouped among tufts of the bright-foliaged <i>Funkia grandiflora</i> on the cool side of a Yew hedge. Just at the foot of the hedge is <i>Trop�olum speciosum</i>, which runs up into it and flowers in graceful wreaths some feet above the ground. The masses of pure white lily and cool green foliage below are fine against the dark, solid greenery of the Yew, and the brilliant flowers above are like little jewels of flame. The Bermuda Lilies (<i>Harrisi</i>) are intergrouped with <i>L. speciosum</i>, which will follow them when their bloom is over. The <i>L. auratum</i> were planted among groups of Rhododendrons; some of them are between tall Rhododendrons, and have large clumps of Lady Fern (<i>Filix f&oelig;mina</i>) in front, but those that look best are between and among Bamboos (<i>B. Metake</i>); the heavy heads of flower borne on tall stems bend gracefully through the Bamboos, which just give them enough support.</p> <p>Here and there in the copse, among the thick masses of green Bracken, is a frond or two turning yellow. This always happens in the first or second week of August, though it is no indication of the approaching yellowing of the whole. But it is taken as a signal that the Fern is in full maturity, and a certain quantity is now cut to dry for protection and other winter uses. Dry Bracken lightly shaken over frames is a better protection than mats, and is almost as easily moved on and off.</p> <p>The Ling is now in full flower, and is more beautiful in the landscape than any of the garden Heaths; the <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_107" id="Page_107"></SPAN>[107]</span>relation of colouring, of greyish foliage and low-toned pink bloom with the dusky spaces of purplish-grey shadow, are a precious lesson to the colour-student.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/107top_a.jpg" width="400" height="298" alt="Solomon&#39;s Seal in Spring, in the upper part of the Fern-walk." title="" /> <span class="caption">Solomon&#39;s Seal in Spring, in the upper part of the Fern-walk.</span> </div> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"><SPAN name="image107" id="image107"></SPAN> <ANTIMG src="images/107bottom_a.jpg" width="400" height="298" alt="The Fern-walk in August." title="" /> <span class="caption">The Fern-walk in August.</span> </div> <p>The fern-walk is at its best. It passes from the garden upwards to near the middle of the copse. The path, a wood-path of moss and grass and short-cut heath, is a little lower than the general level of the wood. The mossy bank, some nine feet wide, and originally cleared for the purpose, is planted with large groups of hardy Ferns, with a preponderance (due to preference) of Dilated Shield Fern and Lady Fern. Once or twice in the length of the bank are hollows, sinking at their lowest part to below the path-level, for <i>Osmunda</i> and <i>Blechnum</i>. When rain is heavy enough to run down the path it finds its way into these hollow places.</p> <p>Among the groups of Fern are a few plants of true wood-character&mdash;<i>Linn�a</i>, <i>Trientalis</i>, <i>Goodyera</i>, and <i>Trillium</i>. At the back of the bank, and stretching away among the trees and underwood, are wide-spreading groups of Solomon's-seal and Wood-rush, joining in with the wild growth of Bracken and Bramble.</p> <p>Most of the Alpines and dwarf-growing plants, whose home is the rock-garden, bloom in May or June, but a few flower in early autumn. Of these one of the brightest is <i>Ruta patavina</i>, a dwarf plant with lemon-coloured flowers and a very neat habit of growth. It soon makes itself at home in a sunny bank in poor soil. <i>Pterocephalus parnassi</i> is a dwarf Scabious, with <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_108" id="Page_108"></SPAN>[108]</span>small, grey foliage keeping close to the ground, and rather large flowers of a low-toned pink. The white Thyme is a capital plant, perfectly prostrate, and with leaves of a bright yellow-green, that with the white bloom give the plant a particularly fresh appearance. It looks at its best when trailing about little flat spaces between the neater of the hardy Ferns, and hanging over little rocky ledges. Somewhat farther back is the handsome dwarf <i>Platycodon Mariesi</i>, and behind it the taller Platycodons, among full-flowered bushes of <i>Olearia Haasti</i>.</p> <p>By the middle of August the garden assumes a character distinctly autumnal. Much of its beauty now depends on the many non-hardy plants, such as Gladiolus, Canna, and Dahlia, on Tritomas of doubtful hardiness, and on half-hardy annuals&mdash;Zinnia, Helichrysum, Sunflower, and French and African Marigold. Fine as are the newer forms of hybrid Gladiolus, the older strain of gandavensis hybrids are still the best as border flowers. In the large flower border, tall, well-shaped spikes of a good pink one look well shooting up through and between a wide-spreading patch of glaucous foliage of the smaller Yuccas, <i>Tritoma caulescens</i>, <i>Iris pallida</i>, and <i>Funkia Sieboldi</i>, while scarlet and salmon-coloured kinds are among groups of P�onies that flowered in June, whose leaves are now taking a fine reddish colouring. Between these and the edge of the border is a straggling group some yards in length of the dark-foliaged <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_109" id="Page_109"></SPAN>[109]</span><i>Heuchera Richardsoni</i>, that will hold its satin-surfaced leaves till the end of the year. Farther back in the border is a group of the scarlet-flowered Dahlia Fire King, and behind these, Dahlias Lady Ardilaun and Cochineal, of deeper scarlet colouring. The Dahlias are planted between groups of Oriental Poppy, that flower in May and then die away till late in autumn. Right and left of the scarlet group are Tritomas, intergrouped with Dahlias of moderate height, that have orange and flame-coloured flowers. This leads to some masses of flowers of strong yellow colouring; the old perennial Sunflower, in its tall single form, and the best variety of the old double one of moderate height, the useful <i>H. l�tiflorus</i> and the tall Miss Mellish, the giant form of <i>Harpalium rigidum</i>. <ins title="Transcriber's Note: original reads 'Rudbekia'"><i>Rudbeckia</i></ins> <i>Newmanni</i> reflects the same strong colour in the front part of the border, and all spaces are filled with orange Zinnias and African Marigolds and yellow Helichrysum. As we pass along the border the colour changes to paler yellow by means of a pale perennial Sunflower and the sulphur-coloured annual kind, with Paris Daisies, <i>&OElig;nothera Lamarkiana</i> and <i>Verbascum phlomoides</i>. The two last were cut down to about four feet after their earliest bloom was over, and are now again full of profusely-flowered lateral growths. At the farther end of the border we come again to glaucous foliage and pale-pink flower of Gladiolus and Japan Anemone. It is important in such a border of rather large size, that can be seen from a good space <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_110" id="Page_110"></SPAN>[110]</span>of lawn, to keep the flowers in rather large masses of colour. No one who has ever done it, or seen it done, will go back to the old haphazard sprinkle of colouring without any thought of arrangement, such as is usually seen in a mixed border. There is a wall of sandstone backing the border, also planted in relation to the colour-massing in the front space. This gives a quiet background of handsome foliage, with always in the flower season some show of colour in one part or another of its length. Just now the most conspicuous of its clothing shrubs or of the somewhat tall growing flowers at its foot are a fine variety of <i>Bignonia radicans</i>, a hardy Fuchsia, the Claret Vine covering a good space, with its red-bronze leaves and clusters of blue-black grapes, the fine hybrid Crinums and <i>Clerodendron f&oelig;tidum</i>.</p> <p>Tea Roses have been unusually lavish of autumn bloom, and some of the garden climbing Roses, hybrids of China and Noisette, have been of great beauty, both growing and as room decoration. Many of them flower in bunches at the end of the shoots; whole branches, cut nearly three feet long, make charming arrangements in tall glasses or high vases of Oriental china. Perhaps their great autumnal vigour is a reaction from the check they received in the earlier part of the year, when the bloom was almost a failure from the long drought and the <ins title="Transcriber's Note: original reads 'accomypaning'">accompanying</ins> attacks of blight and mildew. The great hips of the Japanese <i>Rosa rugosa</i> are in perfection; they have every ornamental <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_111" id="Page_111"></SPAN>[111]</span>quality&mdash;size, form, colour, texture, and a delicate waxlike bloom; their pulp is thick and luscious, and makes an excellent jam.</p> <p>The quantity of fungous growth this year is quite remarkable. The late heavy rain coming rather suddenly on the well-warmed earth has no doubt brought about their unusual size and abundance; in some woodland places one can hardly walk without stepping upon them. Many spots in the copse are brilliant with large groups of the scarlet-capped Fly Agaric (<i>Amanita muscaria</i>). It comes out of the ground looking like a dark scarlet ball, generally flecked with raised whitish spots; it quickly rises on its white stalk, the ball changing to a brilliant flat disc, six or seven inches across, and lasting several days in beauty. But the most frequent fungus is the big brown <i>Boletus</i>, in size varying from a small bun to a dinner-plate. Some kinds are edible, but I have never been inclined to try them, being deterred by their coarse look and uninviting coat of slimy varnish. And why eat doubtful <i>Boletus</i> when one can have the delicious Chantarelle (<i>Cantharellus cibarius</i>), also now at its best? In colour and smell it is like a ripe apricot, perfectly wholesome, and, when rightly cooked, most delicate in flavour and texture. It should be looked for in cool hollows in oak woods; when once found and its good qualities appreciated, it will never again be neglected.</p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /><div class="pagenum">
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