BULBS can be planted at any time in the autumn before the ground freezes; the first week in November is as good a time as any. The cost of Tulips, Narcissi and Daffodils is not great. They multiply and need not be disturbed for three or four years.
The earliest of all flowers to bloom is the Snowdrop. After the long, cold winter, with the melting of the snow and the first suspicion of milder air, these frail beauties send up their graceful bells of white. With what triumph the first one is found and brought to the house, and what a thrill of joy it gives to know that spring will soon be here! Snowdrops can be planted thickly in the borders and also, like Crocuses, in the grass. The foliage of both will die before it is time to mow the lawn.
Crocuses, which should be planted in the grass, will begin to bloom as soon as the Snowdrops pass. The gay little things make the lawn, while still brown, a carpet of bright colors. I heard of a gentleman who planted ten thousand of them in this way, and was rewarded by a most beautiful display at a time when there were no other flowers.
Tulips I plant everywhere in the borders about four inches apart, all kinds, such as single, double, Gesnerianas and Parrot Tulips; but always a quantity of only one kind together. The bed where later the Salvias are put, has three hundred Golden Yellow Tulips. When these have faded, the Salvia plants are set out in the same bed, without disturbing the bulbs. This can be done if the men are careful, and when the Tulip leaves are quite yellow they are cut off (for unless allowed to ripen the bulb does not grow and multiply.) Every three years all Tulips are dug up in the autumn, after the Salvias have died; the bed is then made very rich, and the Tulips reset. There are generally more than enough to refill the bed. The same treatment is pursued in the Canna bed, only here the Tulips are double white.
Garden arch, covered with Japanese gourds August twenty-seventh.
Tulips will bloom from April twentieth until the last of May, if both the very early as well as the late kinds are planted. The late varieties are the Parrot and Gesneriana, which latter grow two feet high and are very showy.
I have been constantly surprised to find that many good gardeners take up all bulbs when through flowering in the spring, store through the summer and replant in the autumn. This is not only unnecessary, but it is better for the bulbs to remain in the ground as nature intended. Mine have always been so treated and have been successful.
In planting bulbs in newly prepared soil, great care must be taken that they do not come in contact with manure. To prevent this, the man should have a box of sand, in a handful of which each bulb should be set. Spring flowering bulbs should be planted about four inches deep.
Poeticus Narcissus and Daffodils, both single and double, do well when naturalized in grass that need not be cut until the foliage of the bulb has died in June. They also make a very good edging for a border along a walk.
The single Van Sion and Emperor Narcissus are excellent varieties. The old-fashioned sweet-scented Jonquil and double Van Sion, or Double Yellow Daffodil, are as satisfactory as any of the numerous kinds named in the catalogues. One early spring, the Double Yellow Daffodils were all in bloom on the tenth of April.
Narcissi and Daffodils live for generations. I know some double yellow Daffodils growing in my great-grandfather's garden, that were planted over seventy years ago. The place was sold and the house burned about thirty years since, and all this time has been entirely neglected. Some one told me that Daffodils and Narcissi still bloomed there bravely in the grass. With a cousin, one lovely day last spring, I took the train out to this old place and there found quantities of the dainty yellow flowers. We had come unprovided with any gardening implements, having nothing of the kind in town, and brought only a basket for the spoils, and a steel table-knife. We quickly found the knife of no avail, so borrowed a sadly broken coal-shovel from a tumble-down sort of a man who stood gazing at us from the door of a tumble-down house. The roots of the Daffodils were very deep, and neither of us could use a spade, so the driver of the ramshackle wagon taken at the station was pressed into service. Handling of shovel or spade was evidently an unknown art to him. The Daffodil roots were nearly a foot deep, but we finally got them, several hundreds of them, all we could cany. The driver seemed to think us somewhat mad and said "Them's only some kind of weed," but when I told him the original bulbs from which all these had come were planted by my great-grandmother and her daughter, and that I wanted to carry some away, to plant in my own garden, he became interested and dug with all his heart The bulbs were in solid clumps a foot across and had to be pulled apart and separated. They were the old Double Yellow Daffodil and a very large double white variety, the edges of the petals faintly tinged with yellow and delightfully fragrant. My share of the spoils is now thriving in my garden. By the process of division every three years, these Daffodils can be made to yield indefinitely, and perhaps some great-grandchild of my own may gather their blossoms.
Hyacinths, too, should have a place in the spring garden. They are more expensive, as a rule, than Tulips, Narcissi and Daffodils, but, in large or small quantities, are well worth the money. The single varieties are generally preferred, while, of all kinds, the white and pale blue are the loveliest.
Vase of Phlox; single blossoms actual size August second.
Nothing in the garden gives so much pleasure as the early spring flowers. Perhaps this is because they are the first to bloom. Every one knows how beautiful the first lovely Dandelion seems, gold-starring the new grass. Many bulbs can be had for little money, and I would say to all, plant as many as you can squeeze in. From April fifteenth to May fifteenth I receive in town, twice a week, great boxes of spring flowers from my garden, enough each time to fill sixteen to twenty vases; yet my orders to the men are to cut always so that the flowers cannot be missed from the garden.
Spiraea Van Houttel May thirty -first.