Where the climate is like that of New York, perennials can be planted safely about the 15th of April, and the earlier it is done, the less chance there is that they will receive a setback. Success in planting depends much upon attention to details. Care must always be taken, to properly prepare the ground, to give the roots plenty of room, to water well at first and not to allow the poor things to suffer for want of food and moisture.
Along in May if a mulch of grass-clippings, leaves from the Autumn before, or old stable manure, be spread over the Rose-beds, tuberous ooted Begonias and Lilies, it will help them greatly through the summer.
Of the great number of hardy perennials the following are a few of those easiest grown and most satisfactory: Acordtum na-pellus (Monkshood), Agrostemma, Anemone Japonica, Aquilegia (Columbine), Bocconia, Boltonia, Coreopsis grandiflora. Delphiniums, Dianthus, Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding- Heart), Dictamnus, Furikias, Helianthus multiflorus plenus (double hardy Sunflower), Henterocallis (Day Lily), Hibiscus, Hollyhocks, Iris, Lobelia (Cardinal flower), Oriental Poppy, Penstemon, Phlox, Platycodon Marie si, Scabiosi Caucasia, Spireas, Tri-tomas, Veronica, Yuccas. The seed bed must be prepared as soon as the ground can be worked, and the seeds of perennials sown about April 10th. The earth for this bed should be made very light and fine, and from the time the seeds are sown until they are transplanted to their final home the little seedlings must never be allowed to dry out. Of the foregoing, the following will be found easy to raise from seed: Columbines, Hollyhocks, Sweet William, Platycodon Marie siy Delphiniums, Coreopsis, Hibiscus, Rockets, and Oriental Poppies. Also of the biennials, Foxglove and Campanula (Canterbury Bells). But it is better at first for the amateur to buy the plants of the other varieties.
Annuals may be sown from April 20th to May 10th, according to the season. Asters for late blooming may be sown up to the end of May.
In planting, tall-growing things should be set at the back of the bed or border, with the low-growing ones in front. Catalogues usually give the height, period of blooming and color of flowers, so that, with a little study, even the beginner in gardening cannot go astray. The flower gardener must remember that fine effects can only be produced by masses of color, and that a number of each variety of plants should always be set together. Never put one or two lone plants by themselves, with the rest of their family scattered about singly or in couples. Speaking of large clumps reminds me of a plot eighteen feet by forty, entirely filled with tall-growing perennial Larkspur, which is a beautiful sight when blossoming, and with fifty Japanese Anemone Whirlwind, grown in a mass, which surpasses in beauty all other sights in the garden when they are blooming.
The making of an entirely new garden is a most delightful experience, but, like the marriage estate, is something not to be undertaken "lightly or unadvisedly." The amateur, who is a beginner in flower gardening, would scarcely be successful in planning, making, and planting a new garden, particularly a formal garden, without experienced advice. After selecting the location and determining the general conditions and character of the new garden, the place should first be carefully measured, and plotted accurately, almost to the inch. Then make a plan for the whole in detail, with the shape of every bed. After this has been done, and the gardener is convinced that as far as can be foreseen it is the most satisfactory arrangement for the ground, and will give her the garden of her dreams, let the actual work begin and let it not be delayed after the frost has left the ground.
Rocks (if they are in the wrong place) should he blasted out and stones and stumps removed. The sod should be turned up with a plow, and then carted off and piled in some out-of-the-way place to decompose. It will then be ready to be returned to the garden and made useful as a valuable fertilizer, or in planting trees, shrubs and Rhododendrons, for which it is especially valuable if chopped up and put in the bottom of the hole made to receive the roots. The ground should then be carefully levelled, thickly covered with manure, plowed deeply and harrowed thoroughly three or four times; if the garden is not too large, it should be spaded over as well. It is then in condition for laying out the beds and walks. For this work there should be a large quantity of garden cord, a long measuring tape, many pointed stakes, and a wooden mallet. The center of the plot is first marked with a stake, and from this point the other measurements are taken off according to the plan, the outlines of each bed being marked by stakes driven in about every three feet, with cord stretched along between them. Cord must also be stretched to mark the paths; stakes should then be driven to mark the places for trees, which should be the first thing planted. If it is to be a formal garden, pyramidal-shaped evergreens are the best for the purpose.
In preparing the beds, better flowers will be produced for a longer time if, for a bed ten feet long by four feet wide, some bone-meal, leaf-mould (if any can be found) and wood-ashes - a pailful of each - be added to a wheelbarrow of manure, with a sprinkling of lime, and then thoroughly spaded in. If the soil be heavy, add also enough sand to lighten it. This seems a prescription of many ingredients, but it is worth the trouble.
If the garden is in a locality where Box will grow, although the expense is considerable, it will be a great addition to edge the bed and paths with Box. But great care must be taken to set the little Box plants perfectly straight. The beds may then be planted with perennials, annuals, and Lilies, according to your taste; but remember always to preserve harmony of color and to secure effect by planting a number of each variety together.
If the paths are to be of grass, the grounds, after being levelled, need only be raked smoothly, the grass seed sown and carefully raked in with an iron rake and the paths rolled.
Grass paths have but two disadvantages. They are impracticable near the house or where they are put to severe usage, as turf is unable to resist the wear of constant walking. They are, also, often damp with dew in the early morning and always wet for a time after a rain, but they will dry quickly if the grass be kept closely cut, and the owner can supply herself with overshoes when she would sally forth upon the wet turf. How many of us must plead guilty to walking upon the grass borders of graveled paths because the gravel was tiresome or reflected the heat! For those, however, who spend the four Winter months in the country, gravelled walks are a necessity if they are to be used at all.
If they are to be gravelled, they must be dug out a foot or more in depth, filled in first with broken stone, then a layer of coarse gravel and finally the fine gravel, and all well rolled. All this having been done, the gardener has only to keep trespassers from the newly-sown grass, to water his garden in late afternoon and to possess his soul in peace until, when a month has slowly passed, he will find the beds covered with the sturdy green shoots of the new plants, the Box-edging putting forth tender leaves, the grass a velvet carpet, and he can then bid his friends come to see the new garden and picture to them its future beauties, which imagination has already painted upon his mind.