Box edging should be set out in the spring, that it may be thoroughly rooted before winter.
Great care must be taken in setting out the Box, that the row be absolutely straight and even. The garden cord is carefully stretched; a shallow, narrow trench is dug with the spade, and then the little plants are placed about three inches apart, each plant against the string. The trench is half filled in with earth, then a layer of manure, and finally more earth packed down. Box planted in this way should grow and thrive, especially if given, along in May, a little bone-meal.
I write feelingly of Box edging to-day. Last week, Holy Week, I spent in the country, and most of my time was passed on my knees. For, when not at church or driving the intervening five miles, I was setting out plants in the garden, and that, like one's prayers, requires kneeling. Four men were working, setting out plants and trees, but the earth was so sweet and warm and brown that it was impossible to keep away from it. With trowel in hand and joy in my heart, I set out hundreds of little Box plants, transplanted Columbines, Foxgloves and Canterbury Bells. Big robins were hopping tamely about, calling to one another; blackbirds and meadow-larks were singing their refrains; the brave plants were pushing their way through the earth to new life, and I thought how good it was to be alive, to have a garden to dig in, and, above all, to be well and able to dig.
Sun-dial in center of formal garden August second.
With work in the garden care and worry vanish. The cook (as some cooks of mine have done) may announce that " 'tis a woild waste of a place. I be lavin' the mornin'." The hamper of meat does not arrive on the one train from town, or somebody smashes something very dear to your heart, - just go to the garden, tie up some Roses or vines, or poke about with a trowel, and though murder may have been in your thoughts, in half an hour serenity will return. And what does it all matter, anyway? Another maid can cook for a few days, and there are always bacon and eggs.
Philosophy is inevitably learned in a garden. Speaking of eggs, I think of hens. Living on a farm, of course there have always been hens and chickens. These creatures were provided with houses and yards and fences, and given every inducement to remain where they belonged; yet with diabolical ingenuity they would escape from their quarters, dig under the fence, fly over it, or some one would leave a door or a gate open, and then, with one accord, all the flock would make for the gardens and scratch and roll in the borders. This sort of thing happened repeatedly, until I felt there must be a league between the farmer's wife and the hens. But the limit of endurance was reached when, one afternoon, coming out to look at a bed of several dozen Chrysanthemums set out in the morning, I found the poor plants all scratched out of the ground, broken and wilted. Then in wrath the fiat went forth, "No more hens on this farm, those on hand to be eaten at once." For days a patient family had hen soup, hen croquettes, hen salad and hen fricassee, until the last culprit came to her end.
There is no more charming and interest-ing addition to a garden than a sun-dial. For hundreds of years sun-dials have been used as timekeepers, and though some of the very old ones were occasionally set into the facade of a building, they are generally found in the plaisaunce or garden, mounted upon quaint pedestals. Sun-dials are supposed, by their owners, to keep accurate time, but it must be remembered that there is always a difference between clock-time and sun-time. While, to-day, our lives are frequently portioned into minutes, and it would seem as if one might loiter and be lazy in a garden, if anywhere, still even among the flowers we find a "tempus fugzt" For a time after my sun-dial was set, it was amusing to notice how often, about half after eleven o'clock, and again at five, this late addition to the garden would claim the attention of the workmen.
My sun-dial stands in the center of a formal garden where four paths meet, forming a circle twenty feet across. The pedestal is a simple column of marble, four and one-half feet high, slightly tapering toward the top, with beveled corners. This is placed on a stone foundation three and one-half feet deep, laid in cement. The pedestal I found at the yard of a second-hand building-material man, on Avenue B, in New York city. After it had been set in place, I wanted it rubbed up and a chipped place smoothed. The only available man for this work, was the gravestone-cutter from the nearest town. When he was recognized at work in the garden by passing countrymen, they supposed, of course., that some one was buried there, and many have been the inquiries as to "whose be that mouny-ment."
Crimson Rambler Roses twine about the pedestal; At the corners of the four paths are standard Box trees, which stand like sentinels, and between them there are Bay trees in terra-cotta vases of simple shape - copies of antique ones.
The dial made for the latitude bears this inscription, "Utere praesenti, memor ultimae" (Use the present hour, mindful of the last), which I found in an old book on sundials in the Avery Library, at Columbia University.