IT is not advisable to arrange for a garden of any size without considering the question of water. Within the limits of a town supply there is only the comparatively simple matter of laying the pipes. But when the place is dependent upon its own water system, the amount to be counted upon and the situation of the garden with reference to the source of supply must be seriously considered. If possible the garden hydrants should not be more than fifty feet apart. This greatly facilitates watering. When further apart, plants are in danger of being injured by the unwieldy hose. A nozzle that will regulate the flow of water from a fine spray to a strong stream will be found convenient.
Opinions differ upon the best way to lay water-pipes through a place, some preferring to put them but a foot under ground, and turn off the water in winter; others lay them in trenches three and a half to four feet deep, so that they are beyond all danger from frost. This latter plan was followed in my garden and I recommend it as being most satisfactory.
The watering of a garden requires nearly as much judgment as the seasoning of a soup. Keep the soil well stirred and loose on the surface, going through the garden, where possible, with a rake; and if there is no room for a rake, stir gently with a trowel every five days or once a week. In this way moisture will be retained in the soil, since the loose earth acts as a mulch.
When watering, be generous. Soak the plants to the roots; wet all the earth around them, and do it late in the afternoon, when the sun is low. How often have I been obliged to chide the men for watering too early in the afternoon, and not doing it thoroughly, for, upon stirring the ground, I would find that the water had penetrated but a couple of inches. During long periods of dry weather, the garden, without water, will simply wither and burn.
Vase of double hardy Sunflowers (Hetianthus multiftorus plenus) September fifteenth.
Rhododendrons, Ferns and Lilies suffer in dry time, even though well mulched, and must be kept moist.
Japanese Iris blooms but indifferently unless quite wet.
When dry weather continues for a long period I divide the garden into three parts; one part is thoroughly watered every evening, and the following day the soil is stirred. In this way the plants suffer comparatively little. For years we had no water supply through the gardens, and really, in dry weather, life had no pleasure for me because of my unhappiness at the sight of the withered garden. I would drag watering cans about, and beg and bribe all the family to do likewise. Every afternoon, about five o'clock, one of the men would fill eight tengallon milk-cans with water, put them in a wagon, and drive about the place watering the flower beds and borders. Frequently he would fill these cans three times in one afternoon. This, as may be imagined, was slow and unsatisfactory work, and, except in the case of a small garden, is too great a task. Often in a dry time, after dinner, I bethink me of the Rhododendrons or Ferns or Iris, or some other plants to which drought means death, and I feel sure "that boy has not watered them enough." Then, in ten minutes the garden skirt, shoes and gloves are on, and those thirsty plants get a drenching to their very roots such as they would never receive from any perfunctory "boy" or gardener. I go to bed warm and weary, yet sleep is sweet from satisfaction at the thought of the garden's happiness.