WATER IN THE MODERN GARDEN
Readers of gardening history cannot fail to observe how prominent and yet how false a part water as the medium for an elaborate fountain-system played in the great formal gardens of the past. They can even see it today, for the fountains at Versailles, as at some other famous old-time gardens, still exist and play on special occasions. As a holiday entertainment fountain-playing on the grand scale is equally as legitimate as municipal bands, or lawn-tennis, or horse-racing, or county cricket; but it is assuredly not gardening, for it does not, subordinating itself to plant-life, unite with Nature in making places more beautiful, more fragrant, more peaceful. Rather is it a holiday spectacle, and as such, and only as such, to be tolerated, being by no means unpleasing of its kind, refreshing the weary eyes of jaded townsmen, and even perhaps stirring within them a certain national pride.
In the modern English garden the role of ornamental water is essentially different. It is not forced. It is not crammed into distorted tubes and thence hurled startling distances in jets and sprays. It is not turned into something forceful and spectacular. On the contrary, it is treated as a gentle, soothing spirit, that harmonises with the peace-inspiring influences of gardens, and sustains beautiful and fragrant flowers. Such pictures as Figs. 641, 642, 643 and 644 tell their own story. Runnels and pools find their places in the rock-gardens large and small which have sprung up by hundreds and even by thousands in English gardens during recent years, and ferns and moisture-loving flowers have peaceful homes by waters that if not still are only faintly murmurous.
In some old gardens attached to stately homes the parterres of the past are no more, but the pond with its water-lilies lives on, reflecting in its calm waters the ripe wisdom of the centuries, and giving even in the most hectic times a reassurance of stability. Thus, at Penshurst Place, in Kent, one sees in Diana‘s Pool a piece of placid water, stone-bordered, with flights of steps softly lapped, and breadths of giant white nymphaeas which lie restfully on a surface so still that it seems to sleep. And perhaps the sense of repose that creeps up from the pool into the spirit of the watcher above is increased by the grey walls of the castle and the green squares of the ancient yew hedges.
At Chilham Castle, at Gravetye Manor, and in many other famous gardens of England, water is treated in the same reposeful spirit. One approaches the lakes by mown paths beside long grass, with banks of rhododendrons, magnolias, spiraeas, mock oranges, heaths and roses. Colonies of yellow irises at the edge of the water, and breadths of nymphaeas on its surface, give life and beauty without violence, without even stir, with no more than the gentlest imposition of the hand of man. The rush and roar of fretted water, symbolical of the fevered life of the camp, appealed, one may suppose, to the warrior kings of the middle centuries, but their works have passed with their lives.
To speak of rose-beds amongst beds of other plants in connection with the modern system of bedding, in which hardy flowers of delicate colour take the place of the tender and garish bedders of days gone by, is not to exhaust the special value of roses in the gardens of to-day; for there is such a thing as a rose-garden proper: a garden in which all the beds are beds of roses, plus perhaps a carpet plant, the beds forming a design, with or without rose pillars, arches, arbours, or pergolas. With such gardens it is general to restrict the beds to one variety, each chosen rather for what is often called its “decorative” or “garden” quality than for perfection of bloom; this quality lying in vigour of growth, profusion of flower, and relative freedom from mildew and other pests. Happy the modern rose-lover who has space enough to form such a garden—a garden, indeed, within a garden—for there is in modern varieties a range of colour, a vigour, and a toughness of foliage which did not exist a few generations ago.
It is not usual to have intricacy of design: that is a thing of the past in every type of bedding. Modern flower-lovers, rosarians among them, realise that the more intricate the design the greater the departure from nature, the greater the cost, the greater the temptation to force the plants out of their native shapes. Thus, the grouping is on the simplest of plans.
The old-time rose-growers can live again in the beautiful modern varieties, many having the blood of the yellow Austrian brier in their veins, and being in colour shades of yellow, orange, salmon, flame, and apricot. These “pernetiana” roses have glossy foliage in varying degrees, the leaves large and laciniated, so that they give a clear reminder of holly.
One can suppose an imaginative rose-grower having a vision of a long wide border of roses in which there shall be a subtle blending of tender colours: cream, canary, buttercup- yellow, salmon, salmon-pink, orange, orange-cerise; the whole based on a preliminary study of the habits of the varieties chosen, so that they shall correspond as closely as may be. Consider such a border under the light of a June dawn, There would be such a charm of colour-blending as few enterprises in herbaceous borders would be likely to provide.
Wall-beauty was not forgotten by former generations of gardeners. They had not so wide a choice of material as we of the present day, who have had a wealth of new plants provided for us by modern raisers and collectors; yet when we see an old Banksian rose covering something like six hundred square feet of wall, as we may at Chilham Castle; or a wistaria at its best, with drooping clusters (“terminal racemes”) two feet long, as at Springfield, Maidstone; or in a cool sheltered place, with sun exposure only on the eastern face, an exquisite breadth of the flame nasturtium (Tropaeolum speciosum), which some people mistakenly suppose can only be grown successfully in Scotland and in the Lake District ; or on a southern terrace wall the brilliant honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) as at Gravetye ; or even a villa wall with so homely a covering as that provided by Clematis montana, we realise that our forbears were not stinted. There are, however, many new climbers and creepers from which we can choose.
But there are low walls to consider—walls where the most suitable creeper would be a selected variety of Japanese pear (Pyrus japonica), which does not extend rapidly, but is very beautiful in spring ; walls, however, that can be treated without creepers, by sowing in their crevices seeds of small campanulas, aubrietias, encrusted saxifrages, alpine pinks, wallflowers, snapdragons, sedums and yellow perennial alyssums (“gold dust”). At Gravetye one may see a wall which has been thus sown clouded over with clematis trails rambling on a trellis ; and at Wisley one sees a dry wall clothed with beautiful things, amid which pinks and rock roses are conspicuous (Fig. 645). In cool spots ferns would be at home.
SOME BEAUTIFUL SEED-RAISED HARDY FLOWERS
It is not the least gratifying feature of the modern English garden that while it is more artistic and more varied than the old, it is potentially and in most cases actually less costly. It is true that extensive rock-gardens, carried out on the grand scale with large blocks that have to be transported a considerable distance, are expensive ; but these are the exceptions. In the vast majority of gardens, where the bulk of the flowers are hardy kinds raised from seed or by division out of doors, the cost is comparatively small. Flower-lovers have learned that in seeds they have a means of obtaining very large numbers of beautiful plants, annual, biennial and perennial alike, by sowing in the open air at three seasons: spring, early summer, and autumn. And seedsmen have met them at least half-way by raising improved strains, not only larger and more freely bloomed than the older types, but with a greater range of colours.
In this connection one may doubt, however, whether beginners do best for themselves by sowing where the plants are to bloom; and whether the old gardener‘s way of sowing in prepared beds common greens for subsequent transplantation, is not worthy of imitation with flowers, with the possible exception of spring-sown annuals. It is in such beds, the soil brought to a fine tilth, adequate moisture provided, the drills drawn far enough apart to admit of regular hoeing, the kinds neatly labelled, the seedlings thinned betimes, and in as many cases as possible transplanted to nursery beds in summer where they can strengthen for the autumn planting—it is in such beds that the amateur can provide himself at small cost with large stocks of beautiful flowers.
Let us see what kinds, among others, he can thus provide: long-spurred columbines (aquilegias); tall, bushy anchusas of the most intense gentian hue; mauve, lavender, and rose aubrietias for the rock-garden; single and semi-double peach-leaved campanulas (persici folia); white and coloured perennial candytufts (iberis) which form beautiful breadths of white spires on the rockery; Canterbury bells, of both the ordinary and the cup-and saucer type—plants which one must remember are as good for pots as they are for the garden; orange Siberian wallflower (cheiranthus Allionii), which lasts so much longer than the ordinary wallflowers; also cheiranthus (or erysimum) linifolum, the mauve alpine wallflower; the large-flowered yellow coreopsis grandiflora, one of the gayest of medium-height border plants ; giant white, pink and crimson daisies for spring beds ; foxgloves, especially the pure white; mixed hybrid delphiniums, and also the old light-blue favourite Belladonna, which comes true from seed, likewise the dwarf scarlet delphinium nudicaule; gold and crimson-banded gaillardias, and others of pure yellow; those wonderful geums, the orange-scarlet Mrs. Bradshaw, and the yellow Lady Stratheden; apparently quite double and yet producing seeds which reproduce them true to type ; the chalk plant or gauze flower (gypsophila paniculata), which some people find difficult to grow, mainly perhaps from want of lime ; the coral-red heuchera sanguinea, with its low masses of rounded, wrinkled leaves and slender stems crowned with charming flowers, one of the very best of June plants for the semi-shaded border and rockery ; and single and double hollyhocks, those old-time favourites which so often disappoint because (in the absence of spraying with Bordeaux mixture) the leaves get badly diseased and the plants become unsightly; even so, they often hold their flower-stems in full beauty an appreciable time.
The list, strong as it is, by no means exhausts the supply. Beautiful pictures are made in English gardens with the modern improved herbaceous lupins, pink, yellow, mauve, and other colours, apart from the white and the yellow shrubby kinds ; with myosotis (forget-me-nots), giving spring carpets of their precious blue in bulb and other beds; with giant pansies, white, primrose, mauve, purple, and other shades ; with primroses and Munstead and other polyanthuses, most beautiful of front-place border-plants for spring blooming (note that it is even better, but not always so convenient, to sow these in frames in February) ; with perennial poppies of the orientale and bracteatum types, having giant flower-stems in June, also Iceland poppies and the modern sunbeam poppies ; with double and single giant pyrethrums, having in June (given proper staking) masses of beautiful flowers ; with scarlet, white, pink, purple and rose Brompton stocks, flowering in May, and having large, long, sweet spikes ; with sweet williams, in white, pink, scarlet and other colours, purchasable separately or mixed ; with tall white and yellow biennial mulleins (verbascums) ; with bedding violas (tufted pansies) in white, yellow, bronze, and violet (the florists‘ named varieties are best raised from cuttings) ; and finally with wallflowers, a host in themselves for beds and borders, in yellow, crimson, chestnut, maroon, palest cream and—perhaps best of all—in the beautiful modern shade of orange.
If one omits antirrhinums (snapdragons), it is in no way from want of admiration, but rather from the belief that for outdoor sowing early autumn is soon enough, when at the same time one may sow many beautiful hardy annuals, such as candytufts, chrysanthemums, clarkias (the doubles under glass in September for early bloom in pots), collinsia bicolor, annual coreopsis (or calliopsis), cornflowers, godetias (the doubles under glass in Sep tember for early bloom in pots, like clarkias), larkspurs, the little limnanthes Douglassi, linarias (toadflax), the pretty blue nemophila insignis, the long-lasting blue phacelia cam panularia, various poppies, the dwarf pink saponaria calabrica and the slightly taller but still dwarf silene pendula, sweet peas, sweet sultans and viscarias.
Of course antirrhinums, together with the beautiful yellow, pink, orange, scarlet and crimson nemesias, also with China asters, ten-week stocks, marigolds, zinnias, phlox Drummondii, nicotianas (white and coloured tobaccos), salpiglossis, etc., are often sown in gentle heat in winter and hardened in frames in order to provide material for planting out in June, when late bulbs, such as Darwin and cottage tulips, have been carefully lifted from beds and borders and laid-in to ripen. It is by these and other means that modern English gardens are made beautiful at low cost.