If these Rhododendrons do not grow in your vicinity, they can be ordered from a florist. In the hills, about five miles from us, acres of them grow wild, and twice a year I send my men with wagons to dig them up. They stand transplanting perfectly if care is taken to get all the roots, which is not difficult, as they do not grow deep. Keep them quite wet for a week after planting, and never let them get very dry. A good plan is to mulch them in early June to the depth of six inches or more with the clippings of the lawn grass, or with old manure. When once well rooted, the Rhododendrons will last a lifetime. They seem to bear transplanting at any season. Some think they do best if taken when in full bloom. I have always done this in April or late October, and, of a wagon-load transplanted last October, all have lived. Many of these were like trees, quite eight feet tall and too large to be satisfactory about the house, so they were set among the evergreens in a shrubbery.
Rhododendrun maximum under a Cherry tree July fourth.
In cold localities, where the thermometer in winter falls below zero, Rhododendrons should be mulched with stable litter or leaves to the depth of one foot, after the ground has frozen. They should also have some protection from the winter sun, which can be easily given them by setting evergreen boughs of any kind into the ground here and there among them. Rhododendrons are as likely to be killed by alternate freezing and thawing of the ground in winter as by summer drought.
The lovely Azalea mollis, and many beautiful varieties of imported Rhododendrons, are usually described as "hardy," but I cannot recommend them to those who live where the winters are severe. In such places their growth is very slow, and many perish.
Maidenhair, the most beautiful of the hardy ferns, is to be found in quantities in many of our woods, particularly those covering hillsides. Their favorite spot is along the edges of mountain brooks. I know such a hillside, where Maidenhair Ferns are superb. But nothing would induce me to venture there again, since I have been told it was infested with rattlesnakes, and that the woodchoppers kill a number of them every year. This fact, too, gives me scruples about sending the men to dig them up, although it is an awful temptation.
All ferns should be transplanted late in the autumn, or very early in the spring before the fronds are started, as they are very easily broken. This is particularly the case with ferns from wet places. When planted on the east or north side of a house, the tall ones at the back, and Maidenhair and other low varieties in front, they make a beautiful bank of cool green. They must be kept moist, however, to be successful, and in dry weather require a daily soaking.
The Cardinal Flower, whose natural haunt is along the banks of streams, and whose spikes are of the most beautiful red, can also be safely transplanted, and will bloom in deep, rich soil equally well in shade or sun and will be very effective among the Ferns. About the end of November, after cutting the dead stalks, cover each plant with a piece of sod, laid grass-side down. Remove this the first of April, and the little sprouts will soon appear above the ground. Cardinal Flowers bloom for nearly a month - during the last two weeks of August and first two weeks of September.
Vase of Delphinium Pereiminl Larkspur) June twenty-first.