Though the greater part of the garden is as yet only planned and merely enough set out in each part to fix special boundaries, as in the case of the rose bed, I realize that as a whole it is too open and lacks perspective. You see it all at once; there are no breaks. No matter in what corner scarlet salvia and vermilion nasturtiums may be planted, they are sure to get in range with the pink verbenas and magenta phlox in a teeth-on-edge way.
From other viewpoints the result is no better. Looking from the piazza that skirts two sides of the house, where we usually spend much time, three portions of the garden are in sight at once, and all on different planes, without proper separating frames; the rose garden is near at hand, the old borders leading to the sundial being at right angles with it. At the right, the lower end of the knoll and the gap with its bed of heliotrope are prominent, while between, at a third distance, is the proposed location of the whitebirch screen, the old wall rockery, etc. The rockery and rose garden are in their proper relation, but the other portions should be given perspective by framing, and the result of my day-dreams is that this, according to nature, should be done by the grouping of shrubs and the drapery of vines.
I now for the first time fully understand the uses of the pergola in landscape gardening, the open sides of which form a series of vine-draped frames. I had always before thought it a stiff and artificial sort of arrangement, as well as the tall clipped yews, laurel trees in tubs, and marble vases and columns that are parts of the usual framework of the more formal gardens. And while these things would be decidedly out of place in gardens of our class, and at best could only be indulged in via white-painted wooden imitations, the woman who is her own gardener may exercise endless skill in bringing about equally good results with the rustic material at hand and by following wild nature, who, after all, is the first model.
I think I hear Evan laughing at my preachment concerning his special art, but the comprehension of it has all come through looking at the natural landscape effects that have happened at Opal Farm owing to the fact that the hand of man has there been stayed these many years. On either side of the rough bars leading between our boundary wall and the meadow stands a dead cedar tree, from which the dry, moss-covered branches have been broken by the loads of hay that used to be gathered up at random and carted out this way. Wild birds doubtless used these branches as perches of vantage from which they might view the country, both during feeding excursio and in migration, and thus have sown the seed of their provender, for lo and behold, around the old trees have grown vines of wild grapes, with flowers that perfume the entire meadow in June. Here the woody, spiral-climbing waxwork holds aloft its clusters of berries that look like bunches of miniature lemons until on being ripe they open and show the coral fruit; Virginia creeper of the five-pointed fingers, clinging tendrils, glorious autumn colour, and spreading clusters of purple blackberries, and wild white clematis, the "traveller's joy" of moist roadside copses, all blending together and stretching out hands, until this season being undisturbed, they have clasped to form a natural arch of surpassing beauty.
"The silver maple by the lane gate."
Having a great pile of cedar poles, in excess of the needs of all our other projects, my present problem is to place a series of simple arches constructed on this natural idea, that shall frame the different garden vistas from the best vantage-point. Rustic pillars, after the plan of Evan's that you sent me for the corners of the rose garden, will give the necessary formal touch, while groups of shrubs can be so placed as not only to screen colours that should not be seen in combination, but to make reasons for turns that would otherwise seem arbitrary.
Aunt Lavinia has promised me any number of Chinese honeysuckle vines from the little nursery bed of rooted cuttings that is Martin Cortright's special province, for she writes me that they began with this before having seed beds for either hardy plants or annuals, as they wished to have hedges of flowering shrubs in lieu of fences, and some fine old bushes on the place furnished ample cuttings of the old-fashioned varieties, which they have supplemented.
Aunt Lavinia also says that the purple Wisteria grows easily from the beanlike seed and blossoms in three years, and that she has a dozen of these two-year-old seedlings that she will send me as soon as I have place for them. Remembering your habit of giving every old tree a vine to comfort its old age, and in particular the silver maple by the lane gate of your garden, with its woodpecker hole and swinging garniture of Wisteria bloom, I have promised a similar cloak to a gnarled bird cherry that stands midway in the fence rockery, and yet another to an attenuated poplar, so stripped of branches as to be little more than a pole and still keeping a certain dignity.
"A Curtain To The Side Porch."
The honeysuckles I shall keep for panelling the piazza, they are such clean vines and easily controlled; while on the two-story portion under the guest-room windows some Virginia creepers can be added to make a curtain to the side porch.
As for other vines, we have many resources. Festooned across the front stoop at Opal Farm is an old and gigantic vine of the scarlet-and-orange trumpet creeper, that has overrun the shed, climbed the side of the house, and followed round the rough edges of the eaves, while all through the grass of the front yard are seedling plants of the vine that, in spring, are blended with tufts of the white star of Bethlehem and yellow daffies.