SOME of the perennials to be sown yearly in the seed-bed from about April first to tenth, are the following:
Columbines of all varieties, yellow, white, shading from pink to red and from pale blue to darkest purple.
Of Columbines every garden should have plenty. Blooming about May twentieth for three weeks, they are a perfect delight. They are very hardy, germinate readily in the seed-bed, are easy to transplant and need but little care. I have never been able to get them much over three feet in height, but then I have often a dozen stalks of bloom on a single plant, which is very satisfactory. The first dozen plants were sent to me by a friend from his garden on Long Island; now I have hundreds of them, - single and double, white, yellow, all shades of red and pink, pale blue, and a blue one with a white center almost like an Orchid; many shades of purple, also purple and white.
Hollyhocks, single and double, of all colours. In order to get the desired colour effect with these, keep each variety separate.
No one can have too many Hollyhocks. Plant them at the back of the borders among the shrubbery, along fences, and in great clumps in any odd corner, or around buildings; they are never amiss, and always beautiful. I find that a Hollyhock cannot be counted upon to bloom more than three years. First-year stalks are about four feet high; afterwards, if in good soil, they will be from six to eight feet. There were hundreds of this size in my garden last summer, each plant with from three to five towering stalks of bloom. As soon as they have gone to seed, I save what seed I want and the stalks are then cut down and burned. By sowing the seeds as soon as thoroughly ripe and dry, plants can be raised which will be large enough to transplant in October, and will bloom the next year. These young plants should be given a slight covering the first winter, that they may not be winter-killed.
Hollyhocks in blossom July twelfth.
When in a border, the Hollyhock, which will flourish in any soil, grows to such an extent that Lilies or Phloxes, or anything else near by, are likely to be crowded out, unless care is taken to cut off the lower leaves, which become enormous. I have this done usually three times before they bloom, beginning early in May, and great wheelbarrow-loads of leaves are taken away at each cutting.
Sweet Williams, red, white and pink. These will grow from eighteen inches to two feet. The stems are straight and stiff, and the trusses of bloom about five inches across, with individual flowers as large as a nickel; they keep well in water and make a beautiful edging for a border, or give great effect when planted in masses. They bloom for three weeks or more, and make fine decorations for church or house.
Platycodon Mariesi, beautiful blue; they resemble Canterbury Bells, and, as they blossom after the Canterbury Bells, are valuable in continuing the period of blue flowers, with the advantage of being perennials.
Delphiniums, perennial Larkspurs, all varieties. These seeds I have found more difficult to make germinate than any others, so I do not rely upon what I raise, but purchase many plants. My best results have come from saving the seeds from the first crop of blossoms, drying thoroughly, and then sowing at once. I have found these seeds more sure to germinate than those bought in early spring. Perhaps nature intends them to be sown in this way, instead of nine months later.
One can never say enough in praise of Delphiniums. Three - year - old plants will send up eight to ten beautiful great spikes of the richest blue, four feet high. The moment a blossom withers, cut the stalk many of the old homesteads there are em bowered in them.
The Magnolia conspicua and Magnolia Soulangiana can be grown either as small trees or large shrubs. In intensely cold localities they are somewhat difficult to bring through the first two or three Winters, but if given some protection by driving evergreen branches into the ground about them, they will generally survive. They grow rapidly when once well established.
Everyone knows the value of the Lom-bardy poplar in giving emphasis to the landscape; when properly planted they are very effective.
I have been told by landscape gardeners, that the Lombardy poplar no longer flourishes to great age in this country as formerly, and as it still flourishes abroad, one man of great experience saying to me that he did not know of a single perfect row of these trees that had been planted within the last twenty years, in every case some having died down to the ground; another will immediately spring up. I had four crops of blossoms from some of my Delphiniums last summer, so that, from the end of June until the middle of October, there were always some of them in blossom. Some varieties of tall English Delphiniums are very beautiful. Among them is one, Coeles-tinum, of the loveliest shade of light blue, with very large, double individual flowers. As I have said before, the Delphinium blossoms at the same time as Lilium candidum, and should be planted near by. Great bunches of these two flowers, in tall vases, are lovely as well as unusual.
There is a horrid small white worm which attacks the roots of the Delphinium, and gives no sign until you see the plant dying. I have found that keeping the soil around the plant well covered with coal ashes is a preventive. Delphiniums are hardy and long-lived (unless the worm gets them), and, once planted, they live a dozen years.