Pluck the primroses; pluck the violets; Pluck the daisies, Sing their praises; Friendship with the flowers some noble thought begets.
THOUGH the old garden has a quaint attraction from its very antiquity, the effort to make its successor the subject of a chapter reminds me of the remark of a literary man, who paid his only visit to Scotland in the winter-time, that he realized more fully than ever before how great was the genius of Sir Walter Scott, which had given world-renown for picturesqueness to those low, round, bare, uninteresting hills, the Trossachs. Lacking that genius, I am somewhat dismayed at telling the story of my very unimportant little garden. Our late, cold springs render it rather a dreary object of contemplation even in the month of May, and with only the power of words to help the reader's enjoyment, I shall have to ask indulgence for the meagre record of its very simple charms.
Mrs. Carlyle used to tell a story of an Irish prison that was to be built out of the stones of an old one, while the prisoners were to be kept in the old jail until the new one was completed. This tale suggests our fashion of constructing a new garden out of the former one, and in our case the prisoners showed a decided preference for the original institution, and were with great difficulty persuaded to leave it. We started out with no very definite plan beyond killing two birds with one stone, always a desirable object when one is short-handed, and the results are not particularly impressive.
While the house at Overlea was building, the carpenters kept their tools in a part of the old dwelling that was still standing, and their constant journeys to and fro, between the knoll and the workshop, wore a narrow winding path, along which we had a flower-bed dug, to put such roots in as we wished to bring with us from the rented place that we were occupying, and also to serve as a home for such plants as we might dig up about the farm. Some sprigs of Box, broken from the arbor, and set in the soil at the edge of the bed, took root and made a rough border, and here, in August, I transplanted Lily bulbs, and a little later put in such perennials as needed to be set out in the fall.
Between this flower-bed and the street were three rows of straggling old Pear-trees that gave some suggestion of possible fruitfulness, though it seemed likely that they were too old to profit by pruning. They had been famous in their day, and still preserved the remnants of a reputation, though more modern varieties have borne away the palm in newer gardens. But Bartletts and Sheldons and Seckels will never be out of date, and there are others, the very names of which the old settlers have forgotten, which still yield sweet and luscious fruit, when the weather and the insects permit. Half dead they seemed when we first went to work at them, cutting away the dead branches and scraping their mossy trunks, to the infinite disturbance of the insects which had clustered there for warmth, and we recognized that only strong methods would revive them.