As at the end of the eighteenth century, amidst wars and revolutions of all kinds, botanists and gardeners and flower-painters went quietly on their way, so it has been now, and since I published my ' Second Pot-Pourri' a great number of excellent gardening books have come out, and, as time goes quickly and fashions alter, I think it may not be uninteresting that I should give a slight sketch of the books I have thought it worth my while to buy in the last three years. In 1900 Miss Gertrude Jekyll brought out her second book, 'Home and Garden.' Her account of her home is most charming, and never did bird build a more appropriate nest, and, as the Italians say, 'Ad ogni uccello suo nido e caro.' Like her first volume this one is excellently illustrated from photographs taken by herself, which are very superior to the ordinary run of photographic illustration. I feel sure that all Miss Jekyll's books will be referred to again and again long after the mass of present garden literature is of no more value than autumn leaves. Next came out with indefatigable energy from her pen 'Wall and Water Garden' ; here the illustrations from photographs begin to fall off and become commonplace. They are evidently not taken by herself, and have none of the individual charm so noticeable in the earlier books.The letterpress, on the contrary, is, I think, more useful, original, and instructive than perhaps any of the others. Her advice about cutting up flat ground by low walls, uncemented and with earth in between, is, I believe, entirely Miss Jekyll's own idea and is most useful and beautifying. In wet heavy soils where there are no stones, these walls could be made with clinkers, or spoilt bricks, as they absorb the moisture, whereas stones keep it in. I think anyone who casually looked at Miss Jekyll's books when they first came out, will be surprised on going back to them to find how much instruction there is in them for all sorts of gardens - villa gardens, wood gardens, field gardens, terrace gardens, and water gardens. For those about to make a new garden, the ' Wall and Water Garden ' is most essential. I think tanks, both big and little, especially oblong and square, are the most beautiful additions to a garden. Unless carefully watched the builders always place the waste pipe too low down. What is really desirable is that the water should be level with the edge, whether it be stone or brick or merely grass, or, as in the case of dew-ponds on the top of a chalk hill, the ground should slope gently into the water. Last year came ' Lilies for English Gardens, A Guide for Amateurs'; ' Country Life Library, 1901.'Most of these lily notes appeared in the 'Garden,' Miss Jekyll being at that time co-editor of the paper. I myself have made no progress in lily-growing in the last three years. The lilies I buy flower and flourish for one year or two, but the summers of late have been hot and unfavourable. In spite of trying every kind of cultivation and receipt the Lilium candidum is generally more or less diseased with me, and the heads of bloom are not really fine. The Lilium croceum lasted two or three years, but now most of them have died off. I have one little white Martagon lily which comes up faithfully year after year. Lilium Hansoni was originally brought to mestraight from Japan. It flourishes very well, and stands re-planting and even dividing. That it has done well in this light soil through these last hot dry summers, flowering every year, should be noted as I have rarely seen it in other gardens. It blooms in June, and has bright green whorled leaves up its stalk and an orange flower slightly spotted with dark brown. Miss Jekyll says it is a lily that should be more known and grown. All the other lilies which were brought me from Japan at the same time some years ago have dwindled and finally disappeared. The late frosts this spring destroyed hundreds of auratums in Mr. Wilson's garden at Wisley. I think we may gather from Miss Jekyll's book that a lily garden means very frequent buying of bulbs. They are certainly more worth the money than many other plants, and in a woody dell near a house there is no more delicious effect than large clumps of well-grown lilies protected from cold winds and late frosts by refined and not too strong-growing shrubs and a certain number of overhanging trees. But half shade and moisture they must have, even if this is only procured by increasing the rainfall from planting them in a dell into which the sides drain. In this situation, and with the natural support of shrubs, I have seen Tropaolum specio-sum flowering luxuriantly.
Last of all this year comes 'Roses for English Gardens,' by Miss Jekyll and Mr. Edward Morley. I was much disappointed with the illustrations of this book. I do not think roses growing or cut lend themselves to photography, but 'Roses coming over a Wall' facing page 60 is a lovely exception. I had intended to make a fresh list of the roses which have done well here, but all Miss Jekyll's advice is so admirable that those who care for their rose gardens will be sure to have the book.
Chemistry of the Garden : a Primer for Amateurs,' byHerbertCousins. - This isa first-rate little book published by Macmillan in 1899, price 9d. Everyone should possess it. It is full of helpful, plain instruction as regards soils, manures, chemical requirements of plants and vegetables, and excellent directions for reducing blights and diseases that attack gardens.
small Gardens, and How to Make the Most of Them,' by Violet Biddel, another little 9d. book, familiar and chatty in style, and modern in feeling, names many plants which would otherwise be forgotten, and hints at many methods for gaining beauty of form and colour in small spaces. Best of all it preaches originality; for any garden, however small, which is the individual expression of its owner is of interest to every other gardener, who thereby sees variety.
Flowers and Gardens,' by Mr. Forbes Watson. - This book, which I waited for for years, was republished in 1901, and prefaced very gracefully by Canon Ellacombe. It will always be loved and cherished by those who are fond of flowers. It curiously recalls some of Ruskin's writing. Forbes Watson approached his subject from a somewhat unusual standpoint; he was a great lover of flowers, a student of botany, and had the artistic temperament combined with marked religious convictions. We can hardly believe from the portrait in the beginning that Mr. Watson was only twenty-nine when he died. He practically wrote it on his death-bed. We now know who was the friend to whom the notes were entrusted when the pen fell from the author's hand, and who so well fulfilled his trust. The book has great charm, a charm which is no doubt due to the way in which it reflects the soul of the author, who was one of the old-school doctors with strongly-developed taste for natural history. Mr. J. B. Paton in his preface says : 'The papers published in this little volume were written to solace the languor of the last months of life, when a malady, which had crept by slow approaches upon him, broke down his strength, and arrested a professional career which had begun but recently. They betoken a mind gifted with quick, clear, and delicate perception, independency of judgment, and unsparing truthfulness. These were my friend's characteristic gifts. They are dimly mirrored in these pages, but more clearly in the memory of those who knew him well. To them this little volume will be welcome because of him ; to others, perchance, it may be welcome for the worth it has, because it tells of the beauty there is in God's fairest, frailest handiwork in flowers, and bears some trace of the rarer amaranthine beauty of a soul which wore the white flower of a blameless life.'