Thus it comes about, with the most successful of hardy mixed borders, that, at the end of the third season, things will become a little confused and the relations between certain border-brothers slightly strained; the central flowers of the clumps of phloxes, etc., grow small, because the newer growth of the outside circle saps their vitality.
Personally, I believe in drastic measures and every third or fourth year, in late September, or else April, according to season and other contingencies, I have all the plants carefully removed from the beds and ranged in rows of a kind upon the broad central walk. Then, after the bed is thoroughly worked, manured, and graded, the plants are divided and reset, the leavings often serving as a sort of horticultural wampum, the medium of exchange among neighbours with gardens, or else going as a freewill offering to found a garden for one of the "plotters" who needs encouragement.
The limitations of the soil of my garden and surroundings serve as the basis of an experience that, however, I have found carried out practically in the same way in the larger gardens of the Bluffs and in many other places that Evan and I have visited. So that any one thinking that a hardy garden, at least of herbaceous plants, is a thing that, once established, will, if not molested, go on forever, after the manner of the fern banks of the woods or the wild flowers of marsh and meadow, will be grievously disappointed.
Of course, where hardy plants are massed, as in nurseries, horticultural gardens, or the large estates, each in a bed or plot of its kind, this resetting is fax simpler, as each variety can receive the culture, best suited to it, and there is no mixing of species.
Another common error in regard to the hardy garden, aided and abetted by Garden Goozle, is that it is easy or even practicable to have every bed in a blooming and decorative condition during the whole season. It is perfectly possible always to have colour and fragrance in some part of the garden during the entire season, after the manner of the natural sequence of bloom that passes over the land, each bed in bloom some of the time, but not every bed all of the time. Artifice and not nature alone can produce this, and artifice is too costly a thing for the woman who is her own gardener, even if otherwise desirable. For it should appeal to every one having a grain of garden sense that, if the plants of May and June are to grow and bloom abundantly, those that come to perfection in July and August, if planted in their immediate vicinity, must be overshadowed and dwarfed. The best that can be done is to leave little gaps or lines between the hardy plants, so that gladioli, or some of the quick-growing and really worthy annuals, can be introduced to lend colour to what becomes too severely of the past.
There is one hardy garden, not far from Boston, one of those where the landscape architect lingers to study the possibilities of the formal side of his art in skilful adjustment of pillar, urn, pergola, and basin, this garden is never out of flower. At many seasons Evan and I had visited it, early and late, only to find it one unbroken sheet of bloom. How was it possible, we queried? Comes a day when the complex secret of the apparent simple abundance was revealed. It was as the foxgloves, that flanked a long alley, were decidedly waning when, quite early one morning, we chanced to behold a small regiment of men remove the plants, root and branch, and swiftly substitute for them immense pot-grown plants of the tall flower snapdragon (Antirrhinum), perfectly symmetrical in shape, with buds well open and showing colour. These would con-tinuein bloom quite through August and into September. So rapidly was the change made that, in a couple of hours at most, all traces were obliterated, and the casual passer-by would have been unaware that the plants had not grown on the spot. This sort of thing is a permissible luxury to those who can afford and desire an exhibition garden, but it is not watching the garden growing and quivering and responding to all its vicissitudes and escapes as does the humble owner. Hardy gardening of this kind is both more difficult and costly, even if more satisfactory, than filling a bed with a rotation of florists' flowers, after the custom as seen in the parks and about club-houses: to wit, first tulips, then pansies and daisies, next foliage plants or geraniums, and finally, when frost threatens, potted plants of hardy chrysanthemums are brought into play.
No, The Garden, You, and I know that hardy plants, native and acclimated, may be had in bloom from hepat-ica time until ice crowns the last button chrysanthemum and chance pansy, but to have every bed in continuous bloom all the season is not for us, any more than it is to be expected that every individual plant in a row should survive the frost upheavals and thaws of winter.
If a garden is so small that half a dozen each of the ten or twelve best-known species of hardy herbs will suffice, they may be bought of one of the many reliable dealers who now offer such things; but if the place is large and rambling, affording nooks for hardy plants of many kinds and in large quantities, then a permanent seed bed is a positive necessity.
This advice is especially for those who are now so . rapidly taking up old farmsteads, bringing light again to the eyes of the window-panes that have looked out on the world of nature so long that they were growing dim from human neglect. In these places, where land is reckoned by the acre, not by the foot, there is no excuse for the lack of seed beds for both hardy and annual flowers (though these latter belong to another record), in addition to space for cuttings of shrubs, hardy roses, and other woody things that may be thus rooted.
If there is a bit of land that has been used for a vegetable garden and is not wholly worn out, so much the better. The best seed bed I have ever seen belongs to Jane Crandon at the Jenks-Smith place on the Bluffs. It was an old asparagus bed belonging to the farm, thoroughly well drained and fertilized, but the original crop had grown thin and spindling from being neglected and allowed to drop its seed.