Many of you in the country, as we well know, are compelled by circumstances to live in houses which some one else built, or which have, by ill-luck, an ugly expression in every board or block of stone, from the sill of the door to the peak of the roof. Paint won't hide it, nor cleanliness disguise it, however goodly and agreeable things they are. But vines will do both; or, what is better, they will, with their lovely, graceful shapes, and rich foliage and flowers, give a new character to the whole exterior. However ugly the wall, however bald the architecture, only give it this fair drapery of leaf and blossom, and nature will touch it at once with something of grace and beauty.
"What are our favorite vines?" This is what you would ask of us, and this is what we are most anxious to tell you; as we see, already, that no sooner will the spring open, than you will immediately set about the good work.
Our two favorite vines, then, for the adornment of cottages in the northern states, are the double Prairie Rose, and the Chinese Wistaria. Why we like these best, is because they have the greatest number of good qualities to recommend them. In the first place, they are hardy, thriving in all soils and exposures; in the second place, they are luxuriant in their growth, and produce an effect in a very short time - after which, they may be kept to the limits of a single pillar on the piazza, or trained over the whole side of a cottage; in the last place, they are rich in the foliage, and beautiful in the blossom.
Now there are many vines more beautiful than these in some respects, but not for this purpose, and taken altogether. For cottage drapery, a popular vine must be one that will grow anywhere, with little care, and must need no shelter, and the least possible attention, beyond seeing that it has something to run on, and a looking over, pruning, and tying up once a year - say in early spring. This is precisely the character of these two vines; and hence we think they deserve to be planted from one end of the Union to the other. They will give the greatest amount of beauty, with the least care, and in the greatest number of places.
The Prairie roses are, no doubt, known to most of you. They have been raised from seeds of the wild rose of Michigan, which clambers over high trees in the forests, and are remarkable for the profusion of their very double flowers (so double, that they always look like large pouting buds, rather than full-blown roses), and their extreme hardiness and luxuriance of growth, - shoots of twenty feet, in a single year, being a not uncommon sight. Among all the sorts yet known, the Queen of the Prairies (deep pink), and Superba (nearly white), are the best.*
We wish we could give our fair readers a glance at a Chinese Wistaria in our grounds, as it looked last April. It covered the side of a small cottage completely. If they will imagine a space of 10 by 20 feet, completely draped with Wistaria shoots, on which hung, thick as in a flower pattern, at least 500 clusters of the most delicate blossoms, of a tint between pearl and lilac, each bunch of bloom shaped like that of a locust tree, but eight inches to a foot long, and most gracefully pendant from branches just starting into tender green foliage; if, we say, they could see all this, as we saw it, and not utter exclamations of delight, then they deserve to be classed with those women of the nineteenth century, who are thoroughly "fit for sea-captains".
For a cottage climber, that will take care of itself better than almost any other, and embower door and windows with rich foliage and flowers, take the common Boursault Rose.* Long purplish shoots, foliage always fresh and abundant, and bright purplish blossoms in June, as thick as stars in a midnight sky, - all belong to this plant. Perhaps the richest and prettiest Boursault, is the one called by the nurserymen Amadis or Elegans; the flower a bright cherry-color, becoming crimson purple as it fades, with a delicate stripe of white through an occasional petal.
There are two very favorite climbers that belong properly to the middle states, as they are a little tender, and need protection to the north or east. One of them is the Japan Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica); the species with very dark, half evergreen leaves, and a profusion of lovely delicate white and fawn-colored blossoms. It is the queen of all honeysuckles for cottage walls, or veranda pillars; its foliage is always so rich; it is entirely free from the white aphis (which is the pest of the old sorts), and it blooms (as soon as the plant gets strong) nearly the whole summer, affording a perpetual feast of beauty and fragrance. The other, is the Sweet-scented Clematis (C. flammula), the very type of delicacy and grace, whose flowers are broidered like pale stars over the whole vine in midsummer, and whose perfume is the most spiritual, impalpable, and yet far-spreading of all vegetable odors.
* These once most popular roses have now been almost supplanted by Crimson Rambler, Dorothy Perkins, Hiawatha and their like. - F. A. W.
* These varieties are now little grown. - F. A. W.
All the honeysuckles are beautiful in the garden, though none of them, except the foregoing, and what are familiarly called the "trumpet honeysuckles," are fit for the walls of a cottage, because they harbor insects. Nothing, however, can well be prettier than the Red and Yellow Trumpet Honeysuckles, when planted together and allowed to interweave their branches, contrasting the delicate straw-color of the flower tubes of one, with the deep coral-red hue of those of the other; and they bloom with a welcome prodigality from April to December.