This section is from the book "Beautiful Gardens - How To Make Them And Maintain Them", by Walter P. Wright. Also available from Amazon: Beautiful Gardens: How To Make And Maintain Them.
There is joy unspeakable in the garden in June. The Rose garden is full of foliage, and buds are opening here and there. The arches and pergola, which have hitherto awakened painful memories of scaffolding, are now nearly hidden in green leaves. The Sweet Peas are halfway up the sticks, and the first buds are appearing. The green of the young Ivy leaves is very tender on walls and banks. The level of the herbaceous borders has been steadily rising, and the taller plants are now breast high. There is quite a sensible amount of bloom. Pinks are out. Double Daisies are standing up in their rows as stiffly as soldiers on parade. Pyrethrums are throwing up their pretty flowers in abundance. The Leopard's Banes are full of their cheerful yellow blossoms. The huge fat buds on the Paeonies are showing colour, and awaken the most lively anticipation of coming glory. The Clematis on the summerhouse has nearly reached the top, and it is very pleasant to sit within and see the slender shoots gently swaying in the sun warmed breeze. The nights are delicious, with their perfumed coolness long drawn out; and almost more so are the dawns, with their lovely lights on the green paths.
Fig. A combined pillar and arch of roses.
Arum Lilies. - It was a habit of Eunice's to prime herself with gardening calendars, and then ask Wilkins, with an air that implied possession of whole tomes of horticultural lore, if such and such seasonable operations were in hand. The author had an idea that this impressed Wilkins for some time; at all events, he discussed things with a grave and even concerned air, as though recognising that legitimate professional points had been raised. Unfortunately, however, Eunice got her plants mixed up, and the secret was out. Thus, she asked Wilkins one day if the Arum Lilies were planted out yet. His air of surprise should have warned her, but she did not observe it. "We're so fond of Lilies, you know, Wilkins, and I do so love those great striped ones with the scented flowers." "Auratums them are, marm; not Arums. You grow Arums in a conservatory - at least, I mean most rightly in a room window." Wilkins made his correction very hastily, for he had caught a warning look from the author, by whom he had been specially warned not to put anything about glasshouses into Eunice's pretty little head for another year at least, for financial reasons. "Of course I meant auratums," fibbed Eunice, and then, realising that her ground was insecure, she pounced down on the word conservatory. "I don't see why we shouldn't have Arum Lilies and auratum Lilies as well," she said gravely; "and if it's only a conservatory that stands in the way-" She looked at the author with a reproachful air, plainly asking why a conservatory had not been previously provided for the special purpose of enabling her to avoid this slip over the two kinds of Lily. "I - I will write for estimates, dear," said the author meekly. [Future efforts to forget this promise were thwarted, and the only relief to his feelings that he got was in surreptitiously burning the calendars which had hitherto afforded him such diversion.]
Flower Beds. - We had a sort of "spring cleaning" with the flower beds, lifting out the bulbs, and putting in things for summer and autumn bloom. That plant of ill-memory for him, the Begonia, still held its place in Wilkins's heart, and we filled a whole bed with plants which had been growing close together in boxes in the shelter of a cold frame. His summary dismissal had not destroyed Wilkins's loyalty to his old master. "It hurt him more than it did me, sir, I lay, if the truth was known," he said. "He kep' out of my way after I had the notice, and when I met him accidental just before I left, what do you think he did, sir? Why, he came up and shook hands with me, and said, 'God bless you, Wilkins; I - I-' and then he went off with tears in his eyes." "Tears of shame, let us hope," growled the author. "No, sir, no! What could he do, poor old gentleman? He that ill and shaky, and the wilful young missus that would have her own way in everything? No, no, sir; you mustn't say that, please. He was a rare good master to me for many a long year."
Dahlias were planted the first week in the month.
Fig. An Old-Fashioned English Garden.
Cannas. - A group of Cannas at the Temple flower show had won Eunice's heart. It was a flower she had never before seen, and the beautiful colours, in association with handsome green and brown leaves, threw her into a state of feverish excitement. Scarcely knowing what she did, she had ordered the whole show group to be sent down next day. The florist's young man had raised his hat by the very edge of the brim in acknowledging the order (all florists' assistants salute in this way), and when Eunice had flown to the other end of the group to take another look, had winked solemnly at the author and said: "That's the seventh lady that's ordered the lot, sir, within the hour. Shall I send two dozen young plants? Very good, sir. Address, please?
If the firm should ask for references, sir, shall I-?
Thank you!" We now planted these two dozen young Cannas in state, with some plants of Salpiglossis among them to take off the stiffness.
A Rose Enemy. - The Roses were strong and hearty, and every day more and more flowers opened, but a tiresome maggot began to curl the leaves, and had to be subdued by tedious hand picking.
Fig. The beautiful white free-flowering rose felicite perpetue one of the best for pillars.
Fig. Crimson rambler rose over an old well at Old Warden Park, Biggleswade.
Weeds on the Walks. - There was trouble, too, with the gravel, for some showery days brought a great rush of weeds. A watering of weed killer browned them over, and they troubled us no more.
The Lawn. - We were glad to see plants growing so fast, but not so happy over the progress of the grass on the lawn, which could hardly be kept down with one mowing a week. Cutting was not the end of it, either, for rolling was necessary, Wilkins said, and the edges had to be clipped as regularly as the lawn was mown. [One sometimes hears people speak of "having a large lawn to keep down labour." But does a lawn mean less labour than an equal area of cultivated garden? The author doubts it. If dressing, sweeping, mowing, rolling, and edge clipping are all taken into consideration, grass probably takes up as much time as flowers. To reduce labour considerably one must plant evergreen shrubs.]
The Kitchen Garden. - "Asparagus cutting must now cease for the season," read Eunice from her calendar. [It was the last one unburned, and it shared the fate of the others on the day that the bill for the new conservatory came in.] "That does not affect us, because, for some silly reason which nobody understands, we can't even begin to cut ours." [When the author interjected that both he and Wilkins understood perfectly well Eunice hurriedly read on.] "Watch for black fly in Broad Beans, and pinch out the tops when the flowers begin to set. That'll do; come on and find Wilkins." That worthy admitted that the flowers on our Broad Beans had set, and that the hour for pinching the tops had come. And it was done accordingly. We made another sowing of French Beans, rammed the soil close between the Carrots to keep away maggots, and planted Celery in the trenches and shaded them with newspapers until such time as they should have got well rooted. We had our first salad one joyous day in the Rose month. It was a somewhat meagre one, consisting of a rather attenuated Lettuce, Mustard and Cress, and a few Onion striplings, but it was an earnest of good things to come. The sight of Peas in pod was a cheerful one, and encouraged us to make one more sowing "for the Christmas supply, you know, Wilkins," explained Eunice, who had got confused with Pears; and Wilkins, after looking rather startled, said, "Quite so, marm," and coughed discreetly behind his hand. We planted Tomatoes. In default of a wall we made a row of strong stakes, four feet high and two feet apart, and put out a plant to each. We planted a Vegetable Marrow on a piece of well-manured ground, and - last but greatest - we dug our first dish of Potatoes on the twenty-third of the month.
The Fruit Garden. - It had been a much debated question whether we should get any Strawberries the first summer, and Wilkins had voted against it, adding, by way of consolation, that the plants would be all the better next year. This had by no means satisfied Eunice, who argued that if it was natural for a Strawberry plant to bear Strawberries (and if it wasn't it had no right to be called a Strawberry at all, that was all she had got to say), it would certainly be better if it bore fruit this year than if it didn't. Her triumph was complete when, after signally worsting Wilkins in argument (according to her full conviction) on this point, the Strawberries crowned their extraordinarily rapid growth by throwing up a vigorous forest of flower trusses. Wilkins took his defeat in excellent part, and spread straw between the rows to keep the earth from the fruit. We had a pleasant surprise, too, with the Gooseberries, which produced a sprinkling of berries in spite of the mauling they had had from the birds, and of the fact that they were still young and only half developed bushes. There being a good show of Melon flowers out, we cross fertilised them. The cordon trees on the wires beside the path had set fruit freely, but we had thinned it down severely, in order to avoid overstraining the young and imperfectly established trees. Each was allowed six fruits, and no more. With the ever-present risk of the destruction of the crop by birds we felt compelled to fix a framework of supports to sustain fish netting over each line of trees. True, the fruits were hard and green as yet, but we had set our hearts on dessert of our own growing, and were not disposed to take risks.