This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
It is much the fashion in this our day to adorn the garden with vases, stands, baskets, etc. of flowering plants; and the main thing is to have them well filled throughout the season; in fact, they should form a perfect bouquet, on which the eye may ever repose with pleasure. To attain this early in spring, you may make use of white and yellow Alyssums, Primulas, and Cinerarias, in pots, until the half-hardy annuals are ready, and it is safe to expose them; then let the outside be well planted with Nierembergia, trailing Lobelias, and blue Anagallis; and, if your stand is large enough, a Maurandya here and there will have a very good effect. Behind these, Verbenas of various colours, Tom-Thumb Geraniums, a Petunia or two, and a good common yellow Calceolaria, with a Heliotrope to shed a grateful perfume, will fill your box with a tolerable and pleasing variety; but much will depend upon the taste displayed in the grouping of your flowers. An eye for colour, like an ear for music, is the gift of nature - it cannot be acquired.
I have seen men of no education, who, from possessing this faculty, would distance all competitors in the arrangement of a border or a box of cut flowers.
The stand, box, or basket may be ornamented as profusely as you like; and much taste and ingenuity have I seen, particularly in the various modes of coaxing even climbing plants to exhibit their evolutions; but for the purposes of general effect a very simple contrivance will be found to answer. I have known a great share of admiration given to a very simple one indeed: an old water-butt was sawn in two about a foot from the bottom, and the sides covered with the bark of the ash-tree; it was placed merely pro tempore upon the stump of a large Portugal Laurel which stood upon my lawn and wanted removing, age having quite robbed it of its beauty. "The cheerful spring came kindly on," the stump sent out its bright green leaves; and I was really reminded of the old story of the origin of the Corinthian capital: the Grecian girl had carelessly put down her basket and covered it with a tile; a plant of Acanthus growing near had shot up around it; and Callimachus, struck with the beauty of the combination, caught from it one of the most elegant of architectural decorations. There was my old tub with a wreath of laurel most gracefully twining round it; and so it has continued from year to year.
By just thinning the twigs, we keep the laurel within bounds; and as I sit in my garden-chair admiring the bouquet of gay flowers springing up from its evergreen vase, I say with our great Lake poet:
"Less vivid wreath entwined Nemean victor's brow, less bright was worn Meed of some Roman chief in triumph borne With captives chain'd, and shedding from his car The sunset splendours of a finish'd war Upon the proud enslavers of mankind".
Old pollard-trees, of themselves, make beautiful receptacles for flowers; and an octagonal box of about 5 feet diameter and 14 inches deep, the outside covered with small pieces of split larch in various patterns, makes a stand of very good proportions. It should be made of inch deal, and the bottom should be perforated, to afford good drainage.
If the above desultory hints should draw out some more active correspondents, who will furnish The Florist with descriptions and designs for increasing the beauty of our gardens, it will amply reward your old contributor, The Sedentary Man.
A RUSTIC CHAIR FOR THE SEDENTARY MAN, BY W.L.