Of the many ways in which the cultivation of flowers is undertaken none is so popular as the "mixed" or "hardy" border (Fig. 155). Such borders are seen on nearly every property and occupy different and varied positions. They may be planted in front of shrubbery belts (Fig. 156), in the kitchen garden (Fig. 159), along sides of walks (Fig. 165), and against walls and buildings (Fig. 157).
It is to be regretted that hardy borders are usually placed to the rear of the house. Although some perennials do have a short season of bloom, and others are not provided with pleasing foliage, even with these deficiencies, if the selection of plants be carefully made, borders may be so planted that they will be attractive all through the season. On small places particularly, the flowers should be in the front, much as they are in the cottage gardens of England, where borders along walks and fences are so attractively treated. In these plantings it is obvious that the floral arrangement is given preference to the outline of the beds and this is as it should be. Irregular beds of meaningless outline should be avoided and the simplest forms adopted.
Perennial borders should never be planted against a hedge; it is preferable to leave about two or three feet between the hedge and the bed. Many plantings are ruined after the first year or two by the roots of hedge plants which grow apace in the enriched soil of the flower borders.
When borders are placed along walks it is advisable to leave at least eighteen inches of turf (Fig. 166) between the bed and the walk. It is difficult to mow and trim a narrower strip.
A very satisfactory arrangement of beds along a fence (Fig. 158) is to have a narrow bed, say two feet wide, for the taller growing varieties right against the fence, then a turf strip, two and one-half or three feet between this and a larger bed on the lawn side. This will afford a charming vista and give more variety to the scene.
The vegetable garden (Fig. 159) may be much improved by the introduction of perennial borders along the walks which bisect it and also along the outer walks. It is not necessary to sacrifice, to any great extent, the utilitarian side of the garden for this esthetic feature, as the beds may be made quite narrow (Fig. 160). From four to five feet is a desirable width and will afford an area susceptible of very pleasing treatment. It is well to give character to borders of this kind by planting tall flowering shrubs at the corners formed by the intersection of the walks and at the outside corners.
The width of the borders will vary somewhat according to location. In the open, where it is practical to reach beds from both sides, they may be made six feet wide. In positions where they can only be reached from one side the width should not exceed four feet; three feet is preferable.