First of all, there are the seeds to be gathered - for why incur the expense of buying when those raised in your own garden may be just as fine and much fresher than those from the seed stores? Small cardboard or tin boxes, each with a pasted label with the name of the seed it contains, are the best in which to store the seeds.
Gather the seeds from the plants into a cigar box, and after carefully removing all the husks and dead particles, transfer them to the labeled boxes. Only enough of the annuals should be allowed to form seed pods to supply the quantity needed for sowing. Among the seeds easiest to gather, and surest to grow the following spring are Asters, Balsams, Centaureas (Cornflowers), Cosmos, Calendulas, Poppies of all kinds, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Sunflowers, Zinnias, Hollyhocks, Sweet Williams, Foxgloves, and Larkspurs. Sweet Peas should not be allowed to form seed pods or they will cease to blossom.
Vase of White Japanese Iris.
Care must be taken to store the seeds through the Winter in a perfectly dry place. In case they are left in an unoccupied country house they should be protected from mice, as all flower seeds seem to be articles of delicacy much appreciated by these creatures. The flower seeds can be gathered all through the months of September and October until the plants are killed by frost. When gathering them do not omit the little black bulbils found on the stems of the Tiger Lilies. These should be planted as soon as dried, in some sunny place marked with sticks, which are not to be removed during the Winter, to insure that the ground where they have been planted will not be disturbed in the Spring.
Pansy seeds may be sown the first week in September in rows, in rich soil that has been made very fine. Water them daily, and by the time the ground freezes they will be nice little plants, able to endure the Winter. Do not transplant them this first Autumn, but allow them to remain until the Spring in the rows where they have grown. They will do better next year if undis-talk Pansies, however, that were sown in July may be transplanted in October to their final places. If they have been grown for flowering next year, all blossoms should be cut as soon as they appear. In this way the plants become larger and stronger. In localities where the Winters are severe a light covering of leaves or stable litter will help the plants to make an earlier start in the Spring.
If new beds and borders are to be made in your garden, the first days of September are not too early to begin. When these have been carefully staked out, the ground should be dug out two feet in depth and all stones removed. Put first a foot of old manure in the bottom of the bed, and then proceed to fill up with alternate layers, of about four inches each, of top soil (that taken from the first foot of soil taken out) and manure. If the top soil is of a clayey nature, it should be put in a pile and mixed with one-fourth sand to lighten it before returning to the bed. This should be filled very full, as with the disintegration of the manure the bed will sink.
The owner of the garden may have noticed during the Summer that plants in certain beds or borders have not done well. The earth has seemed hard and dry, and the plants have not been luxuriant either in foliage or bloom. The soil is either poor or exhausted, or it has not been properly prepared. These beds should then be re-made by lifting the plants, setting them, after watering well, in a shady place and proceeding exactly as if making new beds. It is best to take up at one time only so much space as can be entirely finished and the plants reset in one day. Ground thus prepared will raise splendid plants for several years if given a top dressing of fine manure in the Spring after the plants have started.
About the twentieth of September, in the Middle States, one may begin to expect frost. The first frost often comes when the garden is glorious with bloom and color, and will make sad havoc in a single night. It frequently happens that after one such frost there will not be another for several weeks. Be on the watch, therefore, and protect your plants if possible.
The Cannas, Salvias, and Dahlias are in the height of their glory at this time. When frost is expected, drive a stake into the center of the Carina and Salvia beds, and several more stakes around the edges. Let them be several inches higher than the plants, then cover with carriage covers or pieces of burlap or old sheets. If there are September-flowering Chrysanthemums just coming into blossom, drive a few stakes among them and cover with newspapers. Newspapers spread over the tops of Dahlias will also protect them from the early frost. Half an hour spent after sunset in covering the plants will bring great reward in prolonging their lives for possibly two weeks longer.
If seedling Foxgloves, Canterbury Bells, Columbines and Sweet Williams have been raised in your garden, they should be transplanted to the beds about the twentieth of September, so that they may become well rooted before the cold weather.
Sweet Williams make a fine effect when planted in large masses, and are very satisfactory grown as an edging. Columbines also make a good edging for a border filled with perennials and annuals. If the plants are strong and healthy, and are set out about four inches apart, they will grow quite together the following Spring.
Foxgloves, which grow from three to four feet high, should be planted rather far back in the borders. They are most effective planted in clumps of from six to a dozen plants, set about eight inches apart, and alternating with clumps of Phloxes.
Canterbury Bells grow about two feet high, and with these plants also the best effect is to be obtained when they are grown in clumps of six or eight. Strong plants in rich soil will be quite a foot across when blooming. If planted a foot apart, they will grow together, and, with the Foxgloves, produce the most beautiful effect of the entire Summer. In case none of these plants have been raised, and no more fortunate kindly neighbor, with the free-masonry that exists among gardeners, can give them to you, they should be bought and planted at once, if they are to blossom in next Summer's garden.