This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A narrow border of gay flowers has a very-pretty effect when set next to an open fence, especially if bordered with grass or a grass plat. Stiff looking plants, such as box, should not be used for borders, those of brick or tile are preferable, and even these ought to be nearly covered with low-growing plants, such as Sweet Alyssum, Forget-me-nots (Myosotis), Oxalis, Pan-sies, Peristrophe variegata, Silene, Stone crop, Candytuft; or when set in the grass, Echeveria, Bamboo variegata, Houseleek; and if shaded somewhat, Tradescantia. Love-entangled makes a lovely border the second summer after planting White or pink fairy-lilies (Zephyranthus) might be added to this list.
Beds bordered with Bamboo variegata, to which are added first, Echeveria, then Sedum, then other varieties of these, finishing with an Aloe, or Drcaena in the centre, if a circle or star has the effect of mosaic work, and needs very little attention during the season. Points may be put in solid with House-leek or Echeveria The common hardy Opuntia vulgaris has a distinguished appearance, if given a circular bed to itself, and like the mosaic beds, requires little or no care during the summer.
For shade, or half-shade, there are no plants so fine as ferns, our native kinds among the best, because hardy and, with care, permanent. The tall growing kinds fill up corners, or form pretty contrasts to flowering begonias, which bloom well in shade or part shade. Or these mixed with the varieties of tradescantia form a lovely bed. We know of one unsightly corner formed by a wall and fence that was transformed into beauty by means of hanging baskets on the wall, tall-growing begonias set on bricks in the corner, then other begonias and leaf plants.
An old tin bucket filled with drooping ferns and tradescantia formed a centre-piece, around which were grouped Rex and summer-blooming begonias, interspersed with Tradescantia and low-growing ferns. Peristrophe variegata would make a fine border for such a bed, as would also Sedum coerulea. Among many other plants for shade may be mentioned the tropical plants maranta zebrina, and other varieties, climbing and exotic ferns, the lovely Campsidium filici-folia, the Paullinia - Caladiums, formerly thought to be shade-loving plants only, are found to do as well in full sun if properly watered.
For half shade is the splendid scarlet Lobelia, which in a side yard, partially damp, we saw run into variegations from the original deep scarlet up to rose pink, and even white, all being remarkably beautiful. Add to these the blue and white Browallia, Pansies, Fuschias, Coleus, Gloxinias, Forget me-nots, etc. The latter should be separated in the early spring or it will die out. It should also, to ensure a second bloom, be cut down after the first blossoming. It may again be separated in August if desirable.
For sunny situations the flowers are too numerous but for slight mentioning; with this reservation - that all large-growing plants, such as peonies, large iris, or flags, the tall-growing garden lilies, or plants which form large groups, should be avoided for small yards as they diminish the apparent space, while small-growing plants reverse this. Among other pretty plants we put in a plea for Phlox Drummondii, and the petunia. The former may be made a blaze of beauty by the use, daily, of dish-water as a stimulant, and will so continue for most of the summer. The petunia is so faithful " under adverse circumstances," and has been so much improved by German florists, that it rivals the most refined beauties of the garden. Those who have never seen a pure white petunia blotched and lined with rose and carmine, and its petals delicately fringed are unaware of its marvelous possibilities.
Pretty devices to hold and set off the beauty of plants are numerous, among them are iron brackets to fasten to a wall or fence, for holding pots of flowers, long hooks to hold hanging-baskets. Pots to hang to the fence or wall, wire frames for suspending pots to the wall, small shelves for a few pots. Baskets of wire to hold moss and earth, which may be stood or hung about, not to mention costly vases, jardinieres and ornamental pots or jars. Care should be taken that these adornments are not set in formal rows. The appearance of pretty yards has been spoiled by brackets set on every post. Let them be alternated or varied by a difference in shape or size, or by a shelf-box or other •device. Nature makes variety, and we should follow her rules if we would have perfect taste. For vines there are many pretty arrangements ; one I saw was a large hoop cut and each end fastened to an upper window sill. Strings were fastened to this at regular intervals and brought together near the ground. Vines trained in this way make a lovely window shade.