"How exquisitely sweet This rich display of flowers, This airy wild of fragrance, So lovely to the eye, And to the sense so sweet." - Andreini's Adam.
"And round about he taught sweet flowers to grow." - Spencer.
"The leading faults in all the flower gardens 1 have seen, are, the want of a proper selection of kinds, and a very bad mode of arranging them. It makes very little difference how elegant or striking a plan you may have for a flower garden, if that design is badly planted, so as to conceal its merits, or is filled in with a collection of unsuitable kinds that have a coarse, or ragged habit of growth, or remaining in bloom too short a time..
* This article was written at my request by Mr. Robert Murray, Landscape Gardener, of Waltham, Mass. I have always admired the exquisite taste he has exhibited in the arrangement of the flowering plants and shrubbery, in the garden under his management on the "Gore Farm," as it is called, in Waltham, of which he had the sole charge for many years, while it was in the possession of the late Hon. Theodore Lyman, and afterwards S. C. Green, Esq.
For a number of years past, Mr. Murray has devoted himself to the study and practice of landscape gardening, in which profession he has been eminently successful. Where ornamental grounds are to be laid out, I know of no other person who is better qualified than Mr. Murray to execute the work to the satisfaction of his employer, however refined he may be in his taste on this matter. I have oftentimes been pained to see places beautifully situated by nature, and susceptible of great improvement by artistic skill, almost ruined by the unfortunate mistake of employing a person without skill or taste in laying it out. Better that the place should have remained in a state of nature, than to have employed an ignoramus, in such an important work. A work of this sort is a work for an age, and if badly planned and executed, cannot be corrected, without much expense and loss of time. Beware then of being "penny wise and pound foolish."
A flower garden that deserves the name, should resemble a rich picture, where the artist has all his colors nicely contrasted and blended together; rejecting almost every kind that does not afford a continual display of beautiful colors, and sweet odors, and have a neat and agreeable habit of growth. I know that it is difficult to restrain a passionate lover of flowers from having a great variety of species, but the most beautiful flower gardens that I have seen, and had the management of, were those where but very few kinds were introduced, and those kinds possessing the qualities I have already mentioned. And it will, likewise, add very much to the effect of the selection, to give up .the old method of mixing and intermingling the species and varieties in all the beds, and adopt the' modern style of grouping and massing the colors in separate figures, selecting the most delicate and beautiful shades of pink and white, light blues, and straw-colored yellows, with the soft tones of crimson and vermillion. These beautiful colors, when boldly brought into contrast, so as to form a pleasing attraction to the eye, make a more immediate and forcible impression than a confused mixture, not distinct enough anywhere to give a decided effect to the whole. The system of massing plants has another great advantage, of preventing you from seeing any bare surface of soil, or parts of figures not covered with foliage and flowers, the parched appearance of such bare surface, when seen, tends to impair the air of freshness and beauty of the flowers, and when beds are planted with a large mixture of different varieties, such as straggling and spreading, tall and short, it is almost impossible to prevent large portions of the soil from being seen.
I would recommend, not to have the flower beds scattered promiscuously over a lawn, without any connection with each other, but a simple group of regular beds or figures of various sizes, such as circles, or ovals neatly cut out, and occupying about the centre of the lawn; when these are well kept, the freshness and verdure of the green turf, gives a fine contrast to the flower beds, and adds very much to the brilliant colors of the flowers themselves. In some of the beds, I would aim at producing splendid masses of one color, and in others, such as the largest beds, a mixed and choice collection of animals, which would give a variegated mass of colors throughout the season: in other beds by themselves, I would fill up with exotic flowers, or flowering shrubs, such as are brought forward under glass for bedding out, such as Heliotropes, Lan-tanas, Bouvardias, Geraniums, Fuchsias, Ageratums, Verbenas, etc.
The following collection and arrangement for a large oval bed will be found to give a brilliant display of colors from July to November. In the first row, Mignonette to be sown all round the border, eighteen inches from the edging; after the seed is through the ground, plant all the various colors of Portulaca alternately, one foot apart in the same row. The second row, three feet from the edging, plant all the fine mixed colors of Phlox Drummondii, eight inches from each other. The third row, four feet from the edging, sow with white Candytuft, planting all the fine varieties pi China Pink three inches apart in the same row. The fourth row, five feet from the edging, plant with Purple Globe Amaranth eight inches apart, with a German Ten Week Stock between the Amaranths. The fifth row, six feet from the edging, plant alternately, all the various colors of fine double German Asters, six inches apart in the row. The space remaining in the centre, fill with all the different colors of the Petunia, planting one foot apart amongst the Petunias, bulbs of all the fine colors of the Hybrid Gladiolus, which, when in bloom with their long densely flowered racemes of blossoms, varying from white to salmon and carmine, scarlet and crimson, standing up among the creeping Petunias, will make a fine display.
'The annuals that I have been in the habit of sowing in separate beds, are as follows: The splendid collection of German Asters, German Ten Week Stocks, Double Chinese Pink, all the varieties of Phlox Drummondii, Petunias, Coreopsis Drummondii, which makes a fine yellow bed, Purple Globe Amaranths, and Mignonette. I do not wish any one to imagine that I decry and discard all the other annuals and tender bedding-out plants, not mentioned here, they are all very pretty, and some of them curious, but they should, in my opinion, only be planted in borders along side of gravel walks, or amongst flowering shrubs.
The variety and beauty of many tall growing plants should secure them a place in every garden of large size, that has long lines of borders along side of gravel walks, especially when the borders have a back ground of green trees and shrubs; they are then set off with a beautiful and charming effect. The following is a select list of a few of the most showy perennials, biennials, and annuals: The tall growing ones for the back ground, viz., Dahlias, Hollyhocks, all the tall growing Phloxes, Digitalis alba and purpurea, Spiraeas, Delphinium elatum,. etc., Campanulas and Salvias; in addition to these there should be light frames for a few choice climbers, such as the Mau-randias, purple, white, and pink varieties, Sweet Peas, Cypress Vine, Tropoeolum of sorts; mixed Morning Glories; Thunbergias, mixed. Then should come the plants of middle height to be gradually sloped off with masses of Petunias, Gladiolus, French and African Marigolds, Asters, Balsams, Globe Amaranths, Canterbury Bells, blue and white, Coreopsis in variety. Delphinium Sinensis, formosum, etc., all the varieties of Helichrysums or Eternal Flower, African Hibiscus, Mirabilis in variety, Dwarf-rocket Lackspur in variety; all the beautiful Ne-mophilas, etc. With good taste in their arrangement so that all the colors are well blended, these flowers will make a very brillant show through all the summer."