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.
A ND by this title we do not mean the flow* ering plants alone, but those with richly tinted foliage should be included. Much as we love beautiful flowers in all their variety of color, form and fragrance, still there is an indescribable charm in a happy combination of colors, when the gay tints of the Coleus, Alternan-thera, Iresine, etc., are associated in close proximity, and arranged in neat designs.
Let us first review these brilliant-leaved plants, and see what they are capable of producing when artistically disposed. Suppose, for example, we select the most simple, and, to our eye, the most beautiful form for a flower bed - the circle.
We may either adopt the massing system or the ribbon arrangement, for they are alike susceptible of splendid effects. Now, for our suggestions in regard to planting. For massing, three circles of about six feet in diameter, arranged in an equidistant group, can be made to form a charming feature on the lawn by planting one of the beds solid with Iresine Lindenii, edged with Artemisia stellarina; the second filled with the rather new white-leaved Glaucium comiculatum, edged with Alternanthera versicolor; and the third of Golden Gem Coleus, edged with Alternanthera amana A single circle of large size, say twelve feet in diameter, may be planted in the ribbon style as follows: First an edging of Artemisia stellarina, next a ring of Alternanther a versicolor, then one of Coleus Golden Gem or Princess Royal, then of Coleus Verschaffeltii, then of Centaurea gymnocarpa, and lastly a center plant of Iresine Lindenii. One of the most gorgeous beds we ever beheld was an immense parallelogram set with the above named plants, in precisely the order suggested, and rarely eould a person pass by without
We have seen this trio of beds planted with Alter-nanthera, a distinct variety in each, and all edged with Artemisia. In the latter part of snmmer, when the beds presented a compact mass of highly tinted foliage, the effect was really gorgeous.
Stopping to admire the same. The laborer, with his kettle on his arm, hurrying to his daily work, turned his head and gave an approving smile; the nurse would forget her charge the moment that she came within the circle of its magic influence; the florist would sit down to study out the great attractive feature in this apparently simple arrangement; and even the man who universally pooh-poohs flowers would involuntarily exclaim, "Well, that is rather pretty, anyhow."
There are very many pretty designs whereby this class of plants may be used for adorning our grounds, but to explain them properly would require illustrations. There is a class called succulents which are capable of producing remarkably pretty effects when arranged according to a suitable design. The best of these are the various species of Echereria, Sempervivum, Sedum and Agave. We have seen in Europe beds of these plants arranged in the most complicated manner, yet each curve and angle was so well marked, that the whole could not but leave a pleasant impression upon the visitor. These are almost unknown in this country, and yet for bedding purposes they are well adapted to our climate.
When we speak of flowering plants for bedding out, we scarcely know where to commence, nor where to stop, so great is the number of really valuable varieties, any of which will prove acceptable. Suppose, for instance, we adopt the group of three circles mentioned in connection with bright - foliaged plants. A greatly admired design might be produced by using solely Geraniums. In one we should plant the Gen. Grant; the second should be composed of Master Christine, and the third Mrs. Pollock or Pride of Mount Hope, where the tricolors stand. If an edging is desired, there is nothing better than Artemisia stellarina.
A large circle or ellipse forms a dazzling show when planted solid with Scarlet Geranium, and for this purpose we know of nothing superior to the old Gen. Grant. Those who prefer a little contrast may use an edging of the Golden Feather, Pyrethrum, and a fine specimen of the Abutilon Thompsonii in the center. Beds massed with the Tree Periwinkle (Vinca), both red and white, are quite showy, but to look well they should be used freely, as small groups do not show to advantage. A pretty border for the White Vinca may be composed of the little Cuphea platy-centra, which produces myriads of small scarlet tubular flowers all summer long.
Dahlias, when scattered over the lawn singly, look meagre and out of place, but when massed together in a large bed, with the taller-growing kinds on the back, and the little "bouquet" varieties in front, they make a grand show. But Dahlias should never occupy a prominent position on the front lawn; rather place them on the side or back, where visitors may catch a glimpse as they enter. They are entirely too conspicuous and large for the finer portion of our grounds.
The Double White Feverfew (Pyrethrum) looks well in a mass, and will bloom throughout the season by clipping oil' the old decayed flowers; and even Heliotrope, when used in the same bed with the above, shows to great advantage, its fragrance lending an additional charm, which the most indifferent admirer of flowers cannot resist.
Those who have only seen a single plant of the Lantana in a mixed flower bed, have no idea of their beauty when a large number of colors are grouped together. The brilliancy of color, the multitude of bloom, and their free growth are all unsurpassed. As an edging we would suggest the little Lobelias; and whilst we can never hope to compete with the English gardens in cultivating this plant, still it succeeds satisfactorily in most places with us. To have it in perfection, cut off all the flower stems the moment their beauty is over, and a new set will at once take their places.
Every year we have a bed of Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens), and during the summer we almost conclude we will never plant it again, as green foliage alone is not very attractive on a lawn; but as autumn approaches, and the bed becomes a mass of dazzling scarlet, we wonder why we ever allowed a disparaging thought to creep in.
Verbenas and Petunias are lovely all through the season, especially when planted in large masses. They are very appropriate to cover the surface of shrubbery beds, when the latter plants are small; and the contrast afforded by the evergreen foliage of a Rhododendron clump in close proximity to these flowers is exceedingly pleasing.
But we must not forget the annuals, as very many of these furnish the landscape gardener with valuable material for producing particular effects in his art. Space will not allow us even to enumerate all the fine plants in this department; so we shall content ourself with calling attention to a few of the most useful.
Asters and Balsams produce the best show when set in lines of different colors, and now that we have so many forms of each, they may be arranged very tastefully; and in this connection allow us to suggest as a handsome border for the same, mixed colors of Phlox Drummondii. Portulacca should have a bed to themselves, and on a clear day nothing can well exceed their brilliancy. The double form is greatly superior to the single.
A bed of Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum) is a beautiful sight, provided we have poor soil, and a good selection of colors. If the soil should be rich, the plants run to vines, and flower indifferently. Mary golds, either in masses or ribbons, always look well if they are old-fashioned. Mignonette and Sweet Alys-sum form very neat and fragrant edgings for walks, although neither are very attractive. The Perilla Nhnkinensis is a capital annual "foliage plant," as the leaves are of a rich dark purplish hue. It looks' well when assorted with other species, or in a solid mass, with a light-colored border. Ten Weeks Mocks - or, as our grandmothers called them, Stock Gillys - are especially showy when in bloom, but, unfortunately, that is not all summer. We might name many more, but the Foregoing will make sufficient variety for the majority of our gardens.
* Wo very nearly forgot to mention the Double Zinnia one of the very showiest of all. These are best suited for large beds on the side rather than at the trout of the dwelling.
Among hardy perennials there are very few that will answer for ornamental gardening on highly cultivated lawns; but we must have beds of Perennial Phlox, Chrysanthemums. Iris, Paeonies, etc., in a somewhat retired spot, where they will not offend the eye when out of bloom. In perfection, it is no trouble whatever to walk some distance for the purpose of enjoying their lovely flowers.
Our paper must close with a few remarks upon plants suitable for the sub-tropical garden, an invention of latter years, and one that has made an entire revolution in gardening affairs. The bed may be of any desired shape, although a circle or ellipse is capable of being arranged more readily than most other forms. We would recommend for the center a fine plant of Ricinus; then, grouped around this, a choice collection of Carinas, with an occasional plant of Arundo donax variegata; then a mixture of Pampas Grass, Erianthus Ravenna (a beautiful grass), Colocasia, Dwarf Carinas, Solamums and Wigandias; whilst on the outer edge should be a confused mass of bright - colored foliage, such as Abutilon Thampsonii, Iresifie Lindenii, Euphorbia marginal a, etc., with a few plants of Yucca to destroy the uniformity of outline. In these beds, regularity of arrangement is not admissible, however much we may admire it in other classes. The list of plants for this style of gardening is increasing every year, and the few kinds above named are but a small portion of what may be used for the purpose.