The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Chapter 3 The spring garden

Munstead main border

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The chief mass of colour is in the main border. The circles marked V and M are strong plants of Veratrum and Myrrhis. Gardens of spring flowers generally have a thin, poor effect for want of plants of important foliage. The greater number of them look what they are�temporary makeshifts. It seemed important that in this little space, which is given almost entirely to spring flowers, this weakness should not be allowed. But herbaceous plants of rather large growth with fine foliage in April and May are not many. The best I could think of are Veratrum nigrum, Myrrhis odorata and the newer Euphorbia Wulfenii. The Myrrhis is the Sweet Cicely {Myrrhis odorata} of old English gardens. It is an umbelliferous plant with large fern-like foliage, that makes early growth and flowers in the beginning of May. At three years old a well-grown plant is a yard high and across. After that, if the plants are not replaced by young ones, they grow too large, though they can be kept in check by a careful removal of the outer leaves and by cutting out some whole crowns when the plant is making its first growth. The Veratrum, with its large, deeply plaited, undivided leaves, is in striking contrast, but the two kinds of plants, in groups as the plan shows, with running patches of the large form of Megasea {Bergenia} cordifolia, the great Euphorbia Wulfenii and some groups of Black Hellebore, just give that comfortable impression of permanence and distinct intention that are usually so lamentably absent from gardens of spring flowers.