I think all garden loversshould visit, whenever they can, either at home or abroad, botanical gardens or the larger nurserymen's gardens.Glasnevin, near Dublin, is oneof themost interestingbotanical gardens I have ever seen, old and established, and planted in the truest botanical style - viz., picturesquely, and with the earth in parts thrown up into the mounds so essential for giving different aspects toplants. I was told by friends who visited Bruges this year - for, alas! I did not go myself - that when tired of the wonderful art exhibition there, they found the nursery gardens round the town full of attractions and interest.At Brussels, Linden's garden has a very good show of orchids and Congo plants. The most remarkable feature in the methods of foreign nurserymen is the extraordinarily clean and clever way in which things are grown.At Mr. Linden's, orchids are only watered once a week owing to his system of saucers, which enables the plants to get theirmoisture in the nearest possible approach to their natural circumstances. Each pot rests on a little porous stand rising from the centre ofa saucer,thespace round remaining full of water.There is, of course, no hole in the saucers, which helps to keep the houses clean andfree from the drip which makes the wood and ground of ordinary hothouses so damp, and helps to harbour all the pests.The floors of these Belgian greenhouses were covered with finely-chippedgreylimestone.This description,which was given me by a friend, makes me long for some practical invention that would save the great trouble of the dripping of our own greenhouses in winter.It is most destructive and extravagant.If ordinary saucers are used for such plants, say, as carnations and pelargoniums, or indeed anything but water-loving plants, the result is damping off and general ill-health.I think zinc trays of various lengths and widths filled with shingle, or in some cases cocoanut fibre, as for bulbs which want more moisture, might solve the drip difficulty and enable shelves to be placed one above the other without injury, which is now impossible.
In my neighbourhood, Messrs. Waterer's garden near Woking has been established over 100 years, and, quite apart from their principal business, which is that of rhododendrons and azaleas, there are at these nurseries an immense number of interesting specimen plants well grown in a peculiar way. For those who are young enough, and who have large places, it would be of great instruction and interest to observe what planting for posterity means, though few people care to do that now. At Messrs. Waterer's they have wistarias and Bignonia radicans (B. grandiflora is the handsomer plant, and does best on a house) grown as shrubs, first supported on poles, but gradually grown, carefully pruned and twisted about, till they form self-supporting and most picturesque groups. In any private garden wistarias need never be cut down, as the old branches can be laid along the ground, and flourish equally well quite a long way off. I know an old plant in this neighbourhood that was so saved, and which now covers luxuriantly a new pergola. The suckers of wistaria are also easily layered in the summer, then cut off, and potted up and forced in a cool house in spring. The early horticultural shows this year had lilac and white wistaria so grown, and also the common laburnum as a standard, and very pretty they look in large conservatories.
It is impossible to give advice about a garden till one has seen it, and thoroughly taken in its aspects, its soil, its surroundings, and its natural advantages. I should love to begin garden-making all again, and to my mind perfection would be a woody slope, with a south and west aspect, protected from the north and east, and with a really good soil. 'What does a good soil mean?! I am asked. This can easily be judged by the wild flora of the neighbourhood. Woods where primroses and blue hyacinths grow well are not bad; but think of the woods in Somersetshire or near Petersfield where the wild orchid flourishes, the butterfly and bee orchid and the white helleborine, not to mention the more ordinary lilac kinds ! The herb-paris tribe, with their quaint growth, Solomon's seal, wild garlic, forget-me-not, and violets, all of them grow in these districts, and later on they are choked and covered by stronger-growing things like campions, cen-taureas, and euphorbias, hiding the spring carpet of bloom. What a picture this is compared with the dry commons and miniature flora of Surrey. Unfortunately the soil where vegetation flourishes is one apparently less well adapted for the health of man, though if the air is bracing and people healthy, a rich soil will be considered not unwholesome in the future. The combination of good soil and fair aspect is perhaps rare, but I know two gardens in Surrey with these advantages. One is partly terraced and arranged in the most interesting manner down the side of the hill, and more or less divided into the four quarters of the world, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, by planting the shrubs, trees, and flowers of each division as far as possible together. I had heard of a garden of this kind in Scotland, but had never before seen one. When it is a little older, it will be as beautiful as it is now interesting and instructive. The other garden was planted by Messrs. Backhouse, of York, and is down a sunny slope with large rocks and very informal terracing, and nooks and corners made by throwing up mounds and hillocks. Many plants will not grow at all if exposed to the summer sun all day long, and the breaking up of even a flat piece of ground in small gardens in this way is an immense advantage and improvement. All down one side of this garden was an artificial streamlet made with rocks and pools for various moisture-loving plants.
In making a new place, this very attractive feature would not be difficult if the house were built on the top of the hill, and the roof-water collected in a large tank. If the water were allowed first to flow down the hill of itself to show what its natural course would be, all stiffness would be avoided and blocking would be made easy; and with the natural rainfall encouraged into the channel a very small dribble from the tank would maintain it.