The English gardens are so well enclosed by hedges and screens and arches of Yew and Holly that the character of each flower and its colour is vividly brought out against their sombre yet sparkling background. The effect obtained is so satisfactory that if one pays any attention to the subject at all, the fact stands out prominently that a good background should be supplied for flowers if the best results are desired; a background of hedges, or brick walls, and a setting of trees that will form a frame, or second enclosure, and will serve the double duty of warding off or breaking the force of inhospitable winds.
Yew Buttresses; Arley.
In the famous garden of Levens, in Westmoreland, which was laid out about the year 1700 by a Frenchman named Beaumont, in a Dutch style, and which has since become absorbed by its surroundings and Anglicized, many strangely cut forms of Yew and Box that resemble chessmen, or the wide-petticoated figures of a Noah's ark were used together with solid blocks of Yews with rounded roofs and mushroom finials, and arched recesses forming arbours. Miss Jekyl says that this effect might be supposed to be puerile, but that such is far from the case. The square-clipped trees offer facets to the light which plays upon them with infinite variety, and the weird, stiff forms accent and differentiate the many good hardy perennials with which the garden abounds. The borders in the Rose division are planted with white Pinks that make an attractive, feathery fringe for the delicately tinted Roses, a most excellent use for this charming and persistent little plant. The garden at Arley is alcoved with the gracefully curved Yew buttresses of a massive Yew wall, that terminate in steeple-shaped finials.
A small garden should be so planted that every part of it will be interesting from the beginning of Spring until the first frosts of Autumn, and so constituted that when considered in its entirety it will present a well balanced and colourful appearance, showing no gaps in the greenery nor queer freaks of colour among the blooms. Every plant should have sufficient room to develop, and should be so placed that as it approaches the time of its maturity it will smoothly glide into its allotted position in the garden picture. The slowly developing foliage of the late-blooming plants should be utilized as a background for the earlier varieties, so that one set of bloom may gradually take the place of another, and neither will be regretted among the kaleidoscopic changes of the months. As the flowers of the early, low-growing sorts fade and wither something must be ready to take up the burden of bloom; and the spent plant, if it has a tendency to shabbiness, should be screened and shielded by its nearest neighbours. Thus will the ground be hidden from early May, and the symmetry and balance of the garden, both in regard to colour and shape, be preserved throughout the season.
The luxuriance and wildness of growth should become intensified day by day until the climax is realized in a glorious abandon of Phlox and Lily and Dahlia, as August wanes.
No colour schemes should be followed in a garden of this size, for they are delusive and unsatisfactory; and there should be no violent contrasts, no exotic shapes introduced with which to obtain brilliant effects. A few flowers will supply all the colour and character that are needed, and will be inexpensive to establish; once started the care and labour required will be small.
Although a flower garden should be given over in the main to flowers, it is a good plan to plant in it a few small trees or shrubs with which to break the monotony of the Winter bareness of the beds. Lilacs should be placed where you will see them every day, where their influence may be ex-, erted and their companionship enjoyed. Two white Lilacs planted on opposite sides of the garden end will, in the course of a little time, grow into picturesque trees and become features of the enclosure. A Laburnum might be placed near a path over which it will bend gracefully and nod its yellow clusters; it is a tree that has a great deal of garden character and colour. The Flowering Almond, pink or white, was found in the very oldest New England yards; it is a typical New England garden shrub that has associations with the early days of Massachusetts Colony and Providence Plantations. An Almond should be placed in a corner near a path, where the miniature blossoms may be seen and examined. It blooms early when there is very little colour in the garden and is always a welcome sight.
A good specimen of Rosa Rugosa might also be placed in one of the beds, well in from the path, where its fresh green foliage will have a good chance to show off some of the other flowers; use the red variety and prune it back a little to keep it in bloom. Rugosa blooms in early May when rose flowers are a rarity. One of the large bush Roses such as Mine. Plantier or York and Lancaster might be established in a slightly secluded corner, and room left to plant other things around it to hide its bloomless and very often shabby form later in the season. Tartarian Honeysuckle looks well in the garden, and it is almost evergreen. It is one of the characteristic shrubs of Westchester County (N. Y.) yards. In all not more than four or five specimens of trees and shrubs should be set out, and these merely for company's sake; their presence is not necessary to the success of the Summer garden.
The Yew Garden; Arley.
In the central bed, whether it be round or square, put an old Box if it is possible to obtain one; if not, a nursery grown tree will have to do; but under no circumstances use a standard or one of pyramidal form. Buxus sempervirens is the best variety for this position, but B. arborescens grows more rapidly and to a greater height, although it does not show as much real Box character or colour, nor is it strongly odoriferous. If a sundial is used in this position instead of a Box, the bed should be turfed over, rounded up a little and made into a sort of mound. Do not place a sundial in a flower bed, for the flowers will be trampled down and destroyed by people trying to reach it, and it will also have the appearance of a useless garden ornament, which should not find a place in a garden of this sort.