Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

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

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="Page_200" id="Page_200"></SPAN>[200]</div> <h2>CHAPTER XVI</h2> <h4>THE FLOWER-BORDER AND PERGOLA</h4> <blockquote><p>The flower-border &mdash; The wall and its occupants &mdash; <i>Choisya ternata</i> &mdash; Nandina &mdash; Canon Ellacombe's garden &mdash; Treatment of colour-masses &mdash; Arrangement of plants in the border &mdash; Dahlias and Cannas &mdash; Covering bare places &mdash; The pergola &mdash; How made &mdash; Suitable climbers &mdash; Arbours of trained Planes &mdash; Garden houses.</p></blockquote> <p><br />I have a rather large "mixed border of hardy flowers." It is not quite so hopelessly mixed as one generally sees, and the flowers are not all hardy; but as it is a thing everybody rightly expects, and as I have been for a good many years trying to puzzle out its wants and ways, I will try and describe my own and its surroundings.</p> <p>There is a sandstone wall of pleasant colour at the back, nearly eleven feet high. This wall is an important feature in the garden, as it is the dividing line between the pleasure garden and the working garden; also, it shelters the pleasure garden from the sweeping blasts of wind from the north-west, to which my ground is much exposed, as it is all on a gentle slope, going downward towards the north. At the foot of the wall is a narrow border three feet six inches wide, and then a narrow alley, not a made path, but just a way to go <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_201" id="Page_201"></SPAN>[201]</span>along for tending the wall shrubs, and for getting at the back of the border. This little alley does not show from the front. Then the main border, fourteen feet wide and two hundred feet long. About three-quarters of the way along a path cuts through the border, and passes by an arched gateway in the wall to the P�ony garden and the working garden beyond. Just here I thought it would be well to mound up the border a little, and plant with groups of Yuccas, so that at all times of the year there should be something to make a handsome full-stop to the sections of the border, and to glorify the doorway. The two extreme ends of the border are treated in the same way with Yuccas on rather lesser mounds, only leaving space beyond them for the entrance to the little alley at the back.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/200_a.jpg" width="400" height="263" alt="A Flower-border in June." title="" /> <span class="caption">A Flower-border in June.</span> </div> <p>The wall and border face two points to the east of south, or, as a sailor would say, south-south-east, half-way between south and south-east. In front of the border runs a path seven feet wide, and where the border stops at the eastern end it still runs on another sixty feet, under the pergola, to the open end of a summer-house. The wall at its western end returns forward, square with its length, and hides out greenhouses, sheds, and garden yard. The path in front of the border passes through an arch into this yard, but there is no view into the yard, as it is blocked by some Yews planted in a quarter-circle.</p> <p>Though wall-space is always precious, I thought it <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_202" id="Page_202"></SPAN>[202]</span>better to block out this shorter piece of return wall on the garden side with a hedge of Yews. They are now nearly the height of the wall, and will be allowed to grow a little higher, and will eventually be cut into an arch over the arch in the wall. I wanted the sombre duskiness of the Yews as a rich, quiet background for the brightness of the flowers, though they are rather disappointing in May and June, when their young shoots are of a bright and lively green. At the eastern end of the border there is no return wall, but another planting of Yews equal to the depth of the border. Notched into them is a stone seat about ten feet long; as they grow they will be clipped so as to make an arching hood over the seat.</p> <p>The wall is covered with climbers, or with non-climbing shrubs treated as wall-plants. They do not all want the wall for warmth or protection, but are there because I want them there; because, thinking over what things would look best and give me the greatest pleasure, these came among them. All the same, the larger number of the plants on the wall do want it, and would not do without it. At the western end, the only part which is in shade for the greater part of the day, is a <i>Garrya elliptica</i>. So many of my garden friends like a quiet journey along the wall to see what is there, that I propose to do the like by my reader; so first for the wall, and then for the border. Beyond the <i>Garrya</i>, in the extreme angle, is a <i>Clematis montana</i>. When the <i>Garrya</i> is more grown there will <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_203" id="Page_203"></SPAN>[203]</span>not be much room left for the Clematis, but then it will have become bare below, and can ramble over the wall on the north side, and, in any case, it is a plant with a not very long lifetime, and will be nearly or quite worn out before its root-space is reached or wanted by its neighbours. Next on the wall is the beautiful Rose Acacia (<i>Robinia hispida</i>). It is perfectly hardy, but the wood is so brittle that it breaks off short with the slightest weight of wind or snow or rain. I never could understand why a hardy shrub was created so brittle, or how it behaves in its native place. I look in my "Nicholson," and see that it comes from North America. Now, North America is a large place, and there may be in it favoured spots where there is no snow, and only the very gentlest rain, and so well sheltered that the wind only blows in faintest breaths; and to judge by its behaviour in our gardens, all these conditions are necessary for its well-being. This troublesome quality of brittleness no doubt accounts for its being so seldom seen in gardens. I began to think it hopeless when, after three plantings in the open, it was again wrecked, but at last had the happy idea of training it on a wall. Even there, though it is looked over and tied in twice a year, a branch or two often gets broken. But I do not regret having given it the space, as the wall could hardly have had a better ornament, so beautiful are its rosy flower-clusters and pale-green leaves. As it inclines to be leggy below, I have trained a Crimson <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_204" id="Page_204"></SPAN>[204]</span>Rambler Rose over the lower part, tying it in to any bare places in the <i>Robinia</i>.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/202top_a.jpg" width="400" height="300" alt="Pathway across the South Border in July." title="" /> <span class="caption">Pathway across the South Border in July.</span> </div> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"><SPAN name="image202" id="image202"></SPAN> <ANTIMG src="images/202bottom_a.jpg" width="400" height="298" alt="Outside View of the Brick Pergola shown at Page 214, after Six Years&#39; Growth." title="" /> <span class="caption">Outside View of the Brick Pergola shown at Page <SPAN href="#image214">214</SPAN>, after Six Years&#39; Growth.</span> </div> <p>Next along the wall is <i>Solanum crispum</i>, much to be recommended in our southern counties. It covers a good space of wall, and every year shoots up some feet above it; indeed it is such a lively grower that it has to endure a severe yearly pruning. Every season it is smothered with its pretty clusters of potato-shaped bloom of a good bluish-lilac colour. After these I wanted some solid-looking dark evergreens, so there is a Loquat, with its splendid foliage equalling that of <i>Magnolia grandiflora</i>, and then Black Laurustinus, Bay, and Japan Privet; and from among this dark-leaved company shoots up the tender green of a Banksian Rose, grown from seed of the single kind, the gift of my kind friend Commendatore Hanbury, whose world-famed garden of La Mortola, near Ventimiglia, probably contains the most remarkable collection of plants and shrubs that have ever been brought together by one man. This Rose has made good growth, and a first few flowers last year&mdash;seedling Roses are slow to bloom&mdash;lead me to expect a good show next season.</p> <p>In the narrow border at the foot of the wall is a bush of <i>Raphiolepis ovata</i>, always to me an interesting shrub, with its thick, roundish, leathery leaves and white flower-clusters, also bushes of Rosemary, some just filling the border, and some trained up the wall. Our Tudor ancestors were fond of Rosemary-covered walls, and I have seen old bushes quite ten feet high <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_205" id="Page_205"></SPAN>[205]</span>on the garden walls of Italian monasteries. Among the Rosemaries I always like, if possible, to "tickle in" a China Rose or two, the tender pink of the Rose seems to go so well with the dark but dull-surfaced Rosemary. Then still in the wall-border comes a long straggling mass of that very pretty and interesting herbaceous Clematis, <i>C. Davidiana</i>. The colour of its flower always delights me; it is of an unusual kind of greyish-blue, of very tender and lovely quality. It does well in this warm border, growing about three feet high. Then on the wall come <i>Pyrus Maulei</i> and <i>Chimonanthus</i>, Claret-Vine, and the large-flowered <i>Ceanothus</i> Gloire de Versailles, hardy <i>Fuchsia</i>, and <i>Magnolia Soulangeana</i>, ending with a big bush of <i>Choisya ternata</i>, and rambling above it a very fine kind of <i>Bignonia grandiflora</i>.</p> <p>Then comes the archway, flanked by thick buttresses. A Choisya was planted just beyond each of these, but it has grown wide and high, spreading across the face of the buttress on each side, and considerably invading the pathway. There is no better shrub here than this delightful Mexican plant; its long whippy roots ramble through our light soil with every sign of enjoyment; it always looks clean and healthy and well dressed, and as for its lovely and deliciously sweet flowers, we cut them by the bushel, and almost by the faggot, and the bushes scarcely look any the emptier.</p> <p>Beyond the archway comes the shorter length of wall and border. For convenience I planted all slightly tender things together on this bit of wall and <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_206" id="Page_206"></SPAN>[206]</span>border; then we make one job of covering the whole with fir-boughs for protection in winter. On the wall are <i>Piptanthus nepalensis</i>, <i>Cistus ladaniferus</i>, <i>Edwardsia grandiflora</i>, and another Loquat, and in the border a number of Hydrangeas, <i>Clerodendron <ins title="Transcriber's Note: original reads 'f&oelig;tidium'">f&oelig;tidum</ins></i>, <i>Crinums</i>, and <i>Nandina domestica</i>, the Chinese so-called sacred Bamboo. It is not a Bamboo at all, but allied to <i>Berberis</i>; the Chinese plant it for good luck near their houses. If it is as lucky as it is pretty, it ought to do one good! I first made acquaintance with this beautiful plant in Canon Ellacombe's most interesting garden at Bitton, in Gloucestershire, where it struck me as one of the most beautiful growing things I had ever seen, the beauty being mostly in the form and colouring of the leaves. It is not perhaps a plant for everybody, and barely hardly; it seems slow to get hold, and its full beauty only shows when it is well established, and throws up its wonderfully-coloured leaves on tall bamboo-like stalks.</p> <p>There is nothing much more difficult to do in outdoor gardening than to plant a mixed border well, and to keep it in beauty throughout the summer. Every year, as I gain more experience, and, I hope, more power of critical judgment, I find myself tending towards broader and simpler effects, both of grouping and colour. I do not know whether it is by individual preference, or in obedience to some colour-law that I can instinctively feel but cannot pretend even to understand, and much less to explain, but in practice I always find more satisfaction and facility in treating the warm <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_207" id="Page_207"></SPAN>[207]</span>colours (reds and yellows) in graduated harmonies, culminating into gorgeousness, and the cool ones in contrasts; especially in the case of blue, which I like to use either in distinct but not garish contrasts, as of full blue with pale yellow, or in separate cloud-like harmonies, as of lilac and pale purple with grey foliage. I am never so much inclined to treat the blues, purples, and lilacs in gradations together as I am the reds and yellows. Purples and lilacs I can put together, but not these with blues; and the pure blues always seem to demand peculiar and very careful treatment.</p> <p>The western end of the flower-border begins with the low bank of Yuccas, then there are some rather large masses of important grey and glaucous foliage and pale and full pink flower. The foliage is mostly of the Globe Artichoke, and nearer the front of <i>Artemisia</i> and <i>Cineraria maritima</i>. Among this, pink Canterbury Bell, Hollyhock, Phlox, Gladiolus, and Japan Anemone, all in pink colourings, will follow one another in due succession. Then come some groups of plants bearing whitish and very pale flowers, <i>Polygonum compactum</i>, <i>Aconitum lycoctonum</i>, Double Meadowsweet, and other Spir�as, and then the colour passes to pale yellow of Mulleins, and with them the palest blue Delphiniums. Towards the front is a wide planting of <i>Iris pallida dalmatica</i>, its handsome bluish foliage showing as outstanding and yet related masses with regard to the first large group of pale foliage. Then comes the pale-yellow <i>Iris flavescens</i>, and meanwhile <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_208" id="Page_208"></SPAN>[208]</span>the group of Delphinium deepens into those of a fuller blue colour, though none of the darkest are here. Then more pale yellow of Mullein, Thalictrum, and Paris Daisy, and so the colour passes to stronger yellows. These change into orange, and from that to brightest scarlet and crimson, coming to the fullest strength in the Oriental Poppies of the earlier year, and later in Lychnis, Gladiolus, Scarlet Dahlia, and Tritoma. The colour-scheme then passes again through orange and yellow to the paler yellows, and so again to blue and warm white, where it meets one of the clumps of Yuccas flanking the path that divides this longer part of the border from the much shorter piece beyond. This simple procession of colour arrangement has occupied a space of a hundred and sixty feet, and the border is all the better for it.</p> <p>The short length of border beyond the gateway has again Yuccas and important pale foliage, and a preponderance of pink bloom, Hydrangea for the most part; but there are a few tall Mulleins, whose pale-yellow flowers group well with the ivory of the Yucca spikes and the clear pink of the tall Hollyhocks. These all show up well over the masses of grey and glaucous foliage, and against the rich darkness of dusky Yew.</p> <p>Dahlias and Cannas have their places in the mixed border. When it is being dismantled in the late autumn all bare places are well dug and enriched, so that when it comes to filling-up time, at the end of May, I know that every spare bit of space is ready <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_209" id="Page_209"></SPAN>[209]</span>and at the time of preparation I mark places for special Dahlias, according to colour, and for groups of the tall Cannas where I want grand foliage.</p> <p>There are certain classes of plants that are quite indispensable, but that leave a bare or shabby-looking place when their bloom is over. How to cover these places is one of the problems that have to be solved. The worst offender is Oriental Poppy; it becomes unsightly soon after blooming, and is quite gone by midsummer. I therefore plant <i>Gypsophila paniculata</i> between and behind the Poppy groups, and by July there is a delicate cloud of bloom instead of large bare patches. <i>Eryngium <ins title="Transcriber's Note: original reads 'Olivieranum'">Oliverianum</ins></i> has turned brown by the beginning of July, but around the group some Dahlias have been planted, that will be gradually trained down over the space of the departed Sea-Holly, and other Dahlias are used in the same way to mask various weak places.</p> <p>There is a perennial Sunflower, with tall black stems, and pale-yellow flowers quite at the top, an old garden sort, but not very good as usually grown; this I find of great value to train down, when it throws up a short flowering stem from each joint, and becomes a spreading sheet of bloom.</p> <p>One would rather not have to resort to these artifices of sticking and training; but if a certain effect is wanted, all such means are lawful, provided that nothing looks stiff or strained or unsightly; and it is pleasant to exercise ingenuity and to invent ways to <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_210" id="Page_210"></SPAN>[210]</span>meet the needs of any case that may arise. But like everything else, in good gardening it must be done just right, and the artist-gardener finds that hardly the placing of a single plant can be deputed to any other hand than his own; for though, when it is done, it looks quite simple and easy, he must paint his own picture himself&mdash;no one can paint it for him.</p> <p>I have no dogmatic views about having in the so-called hardy flower-border none but hardy flowers. All flowers are welcome that are right in colour, and that make a brave show where a brave show is wanted. It is of more importance that the border should be handsome than that all its occupants should be hardy. Therefore I prepare a certain useful lot of half-hardy annuals, and a few of what have come to be called bedding-plants. I like to vary them a little from year to year, because in no one season can I get in all the good flowers that I should like to grow; and I think it better to leave out some one year and have them the next, than to crowd any up, or to find I have plants to put out and no space to put them in. But I nearly always grow these half-hardy annuals; orange African Marigold, French Marigold, sulphur Sunflower, orange and scarlet tall Zinnia, Nasturtiums, both dwarf and trailing, <i>Nicotiana affinis</i>, Maize, and Salpiglossis. Then Stocks and China Asters. The Stocks are always the large white and flesh-coloured summer kinds, and the Asters, the White Comet, and one of the blood-red or so-called scarlet sorts.</p> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_211" id="Page_211"></SPAN>[211]</span>Then I have yellow Paris Daisies, <i>Salvia patens</i>, Heliotrope, <i>Calceolaria amplexicaulis</i>, Geraniums, scarlet and salmon-coloured and ivy-leaved kinds, the best of these being the pink Madame Crousse.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/210top_a.jpg" width="400" height="299" alt="End of Flower-border and Entrance of Pergola." title="" /> <span class="caption">End of Flower-border and Entrance of Pergola.</span> </div> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"><SPAN name="image210" id="image210"></SPAN> <ANTIMG src="images/210bottom_a.jpg" width="400" height="295" alt="South Border Door and Yuccas in August." title="" /> <span class="caption">South Border Door and Yuccas in August.</span> </div> <p>The front edges of the border are also treated in rather a large way. At the shadier end there is first a long straggling bordering patch of <i>Anemone sylvestris</i>. When it is once above ground the foliage remains good till autumn, while its soft white flower comes right with the colour of the flowers behind. Then comes a long and large patch of the larger kind of <i>Megasea cordifolia</i>, several yards in length, and running back here and there among taller plants. I am never tired of admiring the fine solid foliage of this family of plants, remaining, as it does, in beauty both winter and summer, and taking on a splendid winter colouring of warm red bronze. It is true that the flowers of the two best-known kinds, <i>M. cordifolia</i> and <i>M. crassifolia</i>, are coarse-looking blooms of a strong and rank quality of pink colour, but the persistent beauty of the leaves more than compensates; and in the rather tenderer kind, <i>M. ligulata</i> and its varieties, the colour of the flower is delightful, of a delicate good pink, with almost scarlet stalks. There is nothing flimsy or temporary-looking about the Megaseas, but rather a sort of grave and monumental look that specially fits them for association with masonry, or for any place where a solid-looking edging or full-stop is wanted. To go back to those in the edge of the border: if the edging <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_212" id="Page_212"></SPAN>[212]</span>threatens to look too dark and hard, I plant among or just behind the plants that compose it, pink or scarlet Ivy Geranium or trailing Nasturtium, according to the colour demanded by the neighbouring group. <i>Heuchera Richardsoni</i> is another good front-edge plant; and when we come to the blue and pale-yellow group there is a planting of <i>Funkia grandiflora</i>, whose fresh-looking pale-green leaves are delightful with the brilliant light yellow of <i>Calceolaria amplexicaulis</i>, and the farther-back planting of pale-blue Delphinium, Mullein, and sulphur Sunflower; while the same colour of foliage is repeated in the fresh green of the Indian Corn. Small spaces occur here and there along the extreme front edge, and here are planted little jewels of colour, of blue Lobelia, or dwarf Nasturtium, or anything of the colour that the place demands.</p> <p>The whole thing sounds much more elaborate than it really is; the trained eye sees what is wanted, and the trained hand does it, both by an acquired instinct. It is painting a picture with living plants.</p> <p>I much enjoy the pergola at the end of the sunny path. It is pleasant while walking in full sunshine, and when that sunny place feels just a little too hot, to look into its cool depth, and to feel that one has only to go a few steps farther to be in shade, and to feel that little air of wind that the moving summer clouds say is not far off, and is only unfelt just here because it is stopped by the wall. It feels wonderfully dark at first, this gallery of cool greenery, passing into <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_213" id="Page_213"></SPAN>[213]</span>it with one's eyes full of light and colour, and the open-sided summer-house at the end looks like a black cavern; but on going into it, and sitting down on one of its broad, low benches, one finds that it is a pleasant subdued light, just right to read by.</p> <p>The pergola has two openings out of it on the right, and one on the left. The first way out on the right is straight into the nut-walk, which leads up to very near the house. The second goes up two or three low, broad steps made of natural sandstone flags, between groups of Ferns, into the Michaelmas Daisy garden. The opening on the left leads into a quiet space of grass the width of the flower and wall border (twenty feet), having only some peat-beds planted with Kalmia. This is backed by a Yew hedge in continuation of the main wall, and it will soon grow into a cool, quiet bit of garden, seeming to belong to the pergola. Now, standing midway in the length of the covered walk, with the eye rested and refreshed by the leafy half-light, on turning round again towards the border it shows as a brilliant picture through the bowery framing, and the value of the simple method of using the colours is seen to full advantage.</p> <p>I do not like a mean pergola, made of stuff as thin as hop-poles. If means or materials do not admit of having anything better, it is far better to use these in some other simple way, of which there are many to choose from&mdash;such as uprights at even intervals, braced together with a continuous rail at about four feet from <span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_214" id="Page_214"></SPAN>[214]</span>the ground, and another rail just clear of the ground, and some simple trellis of the smaller stuff between these two rails. This is always pretty at the back of a flower-border in any modest garden. But a pergola should be more seriously treated, and the piers at any rate should be of something rather large&mdash;either oak stems ten inches thick, or, better still, of fourteen-inch brickwork painted with lime-wash to a quiet stone-colour. In Italy the piers are often of rubble masonry, either round or square in section, coated with very coarse plaster, and lime-washed white. For a pergola of moderate size the piers should stand in pairs across the path, with eight feet clear between. Ten feet from pier to pier along the path is a good proportion, or anything from eight to ten feet, and they should stand seven feet two inches out of the ground. Each pair should be tied across the top with a strong beam of oak, either of the natural shape, or roughly adzed on the four faces; but in any case, the ends of the beams, where they rest on the top of the piers, should be adzed flat to give them a firm seat. If the beams are slightly curved or cambered, as most trunks of oak are, so much the better, but they must always be placed camber side up. The pieces that run along the top, with the length of the path, may be of any branching tops of oak, or of larch poles. These can easily be replaced as they decay; but the replacing of a beam is a more difficult matter, so that it is well to let them be fairly durable from the beginning.</p> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"> <ANTIMG src="images/214top_a.jpg" width="400" height="298" alt="Stone-built Pergola with Wrought Oak Beams." title="" /> <span class="caption">Stone-built Pergola with Wrought Oak Beams.</span> </div> <div class="figcenter" style="width: 400px;"><SPAN name="image214" id="image214"></SPAN> <ANTIMG src="images/214bottom_a.jpg" width="400" height="299" alt="Pergola with Brick Piers and Beams of Rough Oak. (See opposite page 202.)" title="" /> <span class="caption">Pergola with Brick Piers and Beams of Rough Oak. <br />(See opposite page <SPAN href="#image202">202</SPAN>.)</span> </div> <p><span class="pagenum"><SPAN name="Page_215" id="Page_215"></SPAN>[215]</span>The climbers I find best for covering the pergola are Vines, Jasmine, Aristolochia, Virginia Creeper, and Wistaria. Roses are about the worst, for they soon run up leggy, and only flower at the top out of sight.</p> <p>A sensible arrangement, allied to the pergola, and frequent in Germany and Switzerland, is made by planting young Planes, pollarding them at about eight feet from the ground, and training down the young growths horizontally till they have covered the desired roof-space.</p> <p>There is much to be done in our better-class gardens in the way of pretty small structures thoroughly well-designed and built. Many a large lawn used every afternoon in summer as a family playground and place to receive visitors would have its comfort and usefulness greatly increased by a pretty garden-house, instead of the usual hot and ugly, crampy and uncomfortable tent. But it should be thoroughly well designed to suit the house and garden. A pigeon-cote would come well in the upper part, and the face or faces open to the lawn might be closed in winter with movable shutters, when it would make a useful store-place for garden seats and much else.</p> <hr style="width: 65%;" /><div class="pagenum">
SPONSORED LINKS