THERE are so many annuals that I will write only about the few which are easiest to grow and are most desirable. For me a flower must have merits for decorating the house as well as for making the garden beautiful.
The other day I found an English book on flowers, and at once sat down to read it, expecting enjoyment and profit from every page; but at the end of a few minutes I came upon the following paragraph:
"Particularly to most women one of the chief uses or functions of a garden is to provide flowers to be cut for the decoration of rooms. But I hold that a flower cut from its plant and placed in a vase is as a scalp on the walls of a wigwam."
And I read no further in that book.
I grow flowers to gather them, both for the house and to give away. We keep about sixty vases full in the house from late May until October, and never, allow more than two colours in the same room. I have a yellow room, where only yellow and white flowers, or white and blue, are permitted; a pink room, for white and pink or pink and crimson flowers; and a hall, whose dominant tone is a rich red, where the flowers are red and white.
Some of the annuals, like Mignonette and Poppies, must be sown where they are to grow. Mignonette does best in cool, rather moist soil.
Poppies, and oh! have plenty of them and all kinds. Get the Shirley Poppies, the Giant Double, the fringed kind, and the California with their sunny petals. Sow in great numbers wherever they are wanted, here and there in the borders wherever there is space. If there is no other place, sow them in rows in the vegetable garden.
Long grass walk, with Hydrangeas; Rudbeckias in the background August twenty-fifth.
They are splendid in the house, but, alas! fall too quickly.
The Shirley Poppies are almost like fairy flowers, they are so delicate and beautiful. They are the first of the annual Poppies to bloom. Then comes the variety which grows wild in France and Germany, - scarlet, with black blotches at the base of the petals. Last to bloom are the tall, fringed double and single Poppies, - white, pink and scarlet, growing on strong stems three feet high. Poppies must be sown thinly and the earth only sprinkled over the seeds. Sow as early in the spring as the ground can be worked, and thin out to six inches apart when the plants are well up.
Nasturtiums, too, should be planted where they are to grow, also Sweet Alyssum and Candytuft. All of these make good edgings for borders. If not allowed to go to seed they will bloom all summer.
Sunflowers, the Dwarf Double, and the tall Giant Sunflowers, are fine in backgrounds and against fences.
The Following Annuals Should be Sown in the Seed-bed About April Twentieth to May First.
Antirrhinum, or Snapdragon, growing eighteen inches high. If sown in early May they will bloom from August until late autumn. The same is true of the German Ten-weeks Stocks, which have a long period of bloom. The white ones are most lovely.
Asters, all varieties; sow a quantity. They are not only beautiful, but they give an abundance of blossoms in late September and early October, when flowers are beginning to be scarce. I prefer the Giant, Comet, Ostrich Plume and the late-flowering branching kind. Of these last, "Purity" (snow-white) and "Daybreak" (shell-pink) are the best, often bearing thirty flowers on a plant and lasting, in water, five days. A small quantity of wood-ashes stirred into the soil of the Aster bed is a fine fertilizer and destroys insects that attack the roots. Transplant in June to wherever they are to blossom.
A single plant of Asters September tenth.
I have lately learned, that the only way to destroy the black beetle which appears upon the Asters and eats the flowers, is to have them picked off morning and evening and thrown into a pan containing kerosene oil, which kills them.