This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
With all reverence be it said, must be lovers of flowers; for they are scattered by the divine bounty, with lavish hand, over field and meadow, on mountain and in valley. They nod to us from the tall trees, they open their starry eyes by the side of the dancing, musical streamlet, and smile serenely on us from the bosom of the placid lake. They are the acme and perfection of natural beauexquisitely fair and perfect, by continual culture. Indeed, the finest, choicest flowers are the very result of civilization, cultivation, and refinement, and preach a continual lesson to our race, of the wonderful and transforming influence of a fine culture and perfect training. The Rose, with form of beauty and soul of perfume. - the brilliant and long illustrious Tulip. - that lively, sparkling little pet, the Verbena, and the stately, gorgeous Dahlia, are all creations of civilization and high culture. What a change, from the strag-ling bramble, with insignificant blossoms, to the protean queen of flowers. - with full blooms of every various tint and fragrant odor; or from the coarse and single Mexican flower, with its scanty petals of dull purple, to the splendid, full, round, quilled, cupped Dahlia, with every variety of shading, streaking, and tinting and coloring - except blue.
And I should take delight in the Dahlia for this, if for no other reason, that it is a glowing and exquisite history, as well as a persuasive exhortation of the importance and value of high, true culture. And we should be thankful for any work that treats lucidly on the subject of flowers. - and especially for a writer, that without any pretence of mere technical science, makes an intelligible, practical book - like the one before us - for popular use, that can aid us in the pursuit of this most elevating and refining art - by selecting for us a good assortment of shrubbery, as well as of annuals and perennials, explaining simply their habits and wants, and showing us how to cultivate them. And here, a word or two now, at the opening of the season, may not be amiss on the subject of Flower Beds and Flower Borders. - In all cases, where possible, I prefer borders to beds; it is so difficult to relieve the latter from an air of stiffness, primness and artificiality, that reminds one of the old fashioned, Frenchified, geometric school of gardening. Again: the paths and avenues on which the boders touch, should never be straight or angular.
In the early days of science it was said, that nature abhorred a vacuum; but it is always true, that nature abhors straight lines and angles, and delights in curves; and so does the lover of the beautiful, and every horticulturist of true taste. See to it, then, if you would "gratify both soul and sense," that you make your avenues and walks and patbs, curvilinear. A flower border is most beautiful when stealing out and sloping down to the avenue, from luxriant groups of trees and shrubbery, that are verdant down to the very ground. If these are wanting, low evergreens, or a deep green hedge, or at any rate, a back ground of verdure - with the tall flowers set off against it, has a most beautiful and charming effect. These tall flowers at the back of the borders should be Yuccas, Spireas, as, Lobelia fulgens, Campanulas in variety, Foxgloves, Gladiolii,Bee Larkspur, L. sinensis, Hollyhocks, and all such plants as send up tall and brilliant spikes of flowers, from a pyramid of leaves against the back ground of shrubbery.
Mingling in with these, there should be light frames for the best climbers, such as the Calystegia pubescens, Lobb's pretty new Nasturtium, pink, white, and purple, Maurandias, Eternal and Sweet Peas, Thunbergias, Cypress Vine, and Canary Bird flower, (Tropoeolum peregrinum.) Then should come the flowers of middle height and bright colors. - and these should gradually slope off into masses of Petunias, Portulaccas, Verbenas, Convolvulus minor, Ca-lystegias, Scarlet Geraniums, etc, etc. Indeed, a temporary or late flower garden, can be rapidly improved with nothing but Fever-fews, Scarlet Geraniums, Petunias and Verbenas, by properly arranging and grouping the colors - and marking the distances with a bunch of Gladiolii or Roses. Beds of Roses, Verbenas and Mignonette, with a climber or Dahlia, if you please, in the center, in a round, oval or curvilinear figure, are admissible, cut out of the turf and embroidered upon a lawn. Poeonias and Dahlias should not, I think, be in a border, but should set alone among shrubbery, between evergreens, etc.
Word On grouping according to forms and colors as
The care to bring complementary colors together, has sometimes a fine effect - as in case of vivid orange-scarlet, and azure blue - the scarlet of Smith's Geranium, Scarlet Lychnis, or Defiance Verbena, with the blue of Salvia patens, Camellia Celestis, and the blue Nemophila. White and scarlet, orange with purple, yellow with blue, pink with white or deep purple, look well. Next your Scarlet Geraniums place a knot of Camellias, or pin down a blue Salvia. In another place, or on the other side of the Geranium, set double white Feverfews. Place a mass of blue Nemophila or of white Verbenas, beside Ransom's Defiance, (I am talking of Verbenas) - put Eclipse, Brill's Rosy or Beauty Supreme, with Frost's purple. St. Margaret with Othello, or the common purple Verbena. Star masses of new blue Convolvulus; next Escholtzia, (Chryse's,) and masses of Calystegia, set with masses of the new Plumbago larpentae. Flowers should also be grouped in the borders according to their forms. Double white Feverfews, and purple Senecias, together. Malope, purple and white Lavateras, and African (annual) Hibiscus, together. Scarlet and orange colored Cacalia, Mexican Ageratum and white Eupatorium, in a group.
It is everything to a flower garden, to arrange and group flowers according to heights, forms and colors, so that in place of the chaotic, hap-hazard, higgledy-piggledy style so common, the order, grace, and beauty of true divine Art, should rule and harmonise all things in it.
Dedham, Mass., March 17.