The Fourteenth of Chapters_
In this illustrated edition, by the aid of careful drawings, I have endeavoured to suggest in what the system consists; but if I were to write a book for every page that this contains, I could not hope to suggest the many beautiful aspects of vegetation which the wild garden will enable us to enjoy at our doors.
Wherever there is room, these plants should be at first grown in nursery beds to ensure a good supply. The number of nursery collections of hardy plants being now more numerous than they were a few years ago, getting the plants is not so difficult as it once was. The sources of supply are these nurseries; seed houses, who have lists of hardy plant seeds—many kinds may be easily raised from seed; botanic gardens, in which many plants are grown that hitherto have not found a place in our gardens, and were not fitted for any mode of culture except that herein suggested; orchards and cottage gardens in pleasant country places may supply desirable things from time to time; and those who travel may bring seeds or roots of plants they meet with in cool, temperate, or mountain regions. Few plants, not free of growth and hardy in the British Islands without any attention after planting, are included here:—
Bear’s Breech, Acanthus.—Vigorous perennials with noble foliage, mostly from Southern Europe. Long cast out of gardens, they are now beginning to receive more of the attention they deserve. In no position will they look better than carelessly planted here and there on the margin of a shrubbery or thicket, where the leaves of the Acanthus contrast well with those of the ordinary shrubs or herbaceous vegetation. Though quite hardy in all soils, they flower most freely in free loamy soils. Not varying very much in character, all obtainable hardy species would group well together. The most vigorous kind at present in cultivation is one called A. latifolius, almost evergreen, and a fine plant when well established. Few plants are more fitted for adorning wild and semi–wild places, as they grow and increase without care, and are for foliage or bloom unsurpassed by any of the numerous plants that have been so long neglected through their not being available in any popular system of “flower gardening.”
Monkshood, Aconitum.—These are tall, handsome perennials, with very poisonous roots, which make it dangerous to plant them in or near gardens. Being usually very vigorous in constitution, they spread freely, and hold their own amongst the strongest herbaceous plants and weeds; masses of them seen in flower in copses or near hedgerows afford a very fine effect. There are many species, all nearly of equal value for the wild garden. Coming from the plains and mountains of Siberia and Northern Europe and America, they are among the hardiest of plants. When spreading groups of Aconites are in bloom in copses or open spaces in shrubberies, their effect is far finer than when the plants are tied into bundles in trim borders. The old blue–and–white kind is charming in half–shady spots, attaining stately dimensions in good soil. The species grow in any soil, but are often somewhat stunted in growth on clay.
Bugle, Ajuga.—Not a very numerous family so far as represented in gardens, but some of the species are valuable for the wild garden, notably Ajuga genevensis, which thrives freely in ordinary soils in open and half–shady places among dwarf vegetation, and affords beautiful tufts and carpets of blue. It spreads rapidly and is hardy everywhere. The plants mostly come from the cool uplands and hills of the temperate regions of Europe and Asia.
Yarrow, Achillea.—A numerous family of hardy plants spread through Northern Asia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, etc., but more in Southern than in Central or Northern Europe. In the Alps and Pyrenees numerous species are found. The Golden Yarrows (A. Eupatorium and A. filipendulina) are stately herbaceous plants, with broad handsome corymbs of brilliantly showy flowers, attaining a height of 3 feet or 4 feet, and growing freely in any soil. These are well worthy of naturalisation. Various other Achilleas would grow quite as well in copses and rough places as the common Yarrow, but we know of none more distinct and brilliant than the preceding. The vigorous white–flowering kinds are superb for shrubberies, where their numerous white heads of flowers produce a singularly pleasing effect under the trees in summer. With few exceptions these plants have never been grown out of botanic gardens, many of them being thought too coarse for the mixed border. They are, nevertheless, remarkably beautiful both in flower and foliage, and many effects never before seen in gardens may be obtained by massing them under trees in shrubberies or copses, as a rule allowing one species to establish itself in each place and assume an easy natural boundary of its own. The small Alpine species would be interesting plants for stony or bare rocky places.
Allium.—A most extensive genus of plants scattered in abundance throughout the northern temperate and alpine regions of Europe and Asia, and also in America. Some of the species are very beautiful, so much so as to claim for them a place in gardens notwithstanding their disagreeable odour. It is in the wild garden only, however, that this family can find a fitting home; there species that do not seem attractive enough for the garden proper would afford novel effects at certain seasons. One of the most desirable effects to produce in the wild garden would be that of the beautiful white Narcissus–like Allium of the south of Europe (A. neapolitanum). The sheets of this in the Lemon orchards of Provence will be remembered with pleasure by many travellers. It would thrive in warm and sandy soils: there is an allied species (A. ciliatum) which does well in any soil, affords a similar effect, and produces myriads of star–like white flowers. Numerous singular effects may be produced from species less showy and more curious and vigorous, as for example the old yellow A. Moly.
Alstrœmeria.—All who care for hardy flowers must admire the beauty of Alstrœmeria aurantiaca, especially when it spreads into bold healthy tufts, and when there is a great variety in the height of the flowering stems. A valuable quality of the plant is, that in any light soil it spreads freely, and it is quite hardy. For dry places between shrubs, for dry or sandy banks (either wooded or bare), copses, or heathy places, this plant is admirable. I have noticed it thriving in the shade of fir trees. It is interesting as being a South American plant, thriving in any open soil.
Marsh Mallow, Althæa.—These are plants rarely seen out of botanic gardens now–a–days, and yet, from their vigour and showy flowers, they may afford unique effects in the wild garden. The common Hollyhock is an Althæa, and in its single form is typical of the vigorous habit and the numerous showy flowers of other rampant species, such as A. ficifolia. A group of these plants would be very effective seen from a wood walk, no kind of garden arrangement being large enough for their extraordinary vigour. It is not a numerous genus, but there are at least a dozen species, principally found on the shores and islands of the Mediterranean, and also in Western Asia.
Alyssum.—In spring every little shoot of the wide tufts and flakes of these plants sends up a little fountain of small golden flowers. For bare, stony, or rocky banks, poor sandy ground, and ruins, they are admirable. Alyssum Wiersbecki and A. saxatile are strong enough to take care of themselves on the margins of shrubberies, etc., where the vegetation is not very coarse, but they are more valuable for rocky or stony places, or old ruins, and thrive freely on cottage garden walls in some districts; some of the less grown species would be welcome in such places. There are many species, natives of Germany, Russia, France, Italy, Corsica, Sicily, Hungary, and Dalmatia; Asia, principally Siberia, the Altai Mountains, Georgia, Persia, and the entire basin of the Caspian, is rich in them.
Windflower, Anemone.—A numerous race of dwarf herbs that contribute largely to the most beautiful effects of the mountain, wood, and pasture vegetation of all northern and temperate climes. The flowers vary from intense scarlet to the softest blue; most of the exotic kinds would thrive as well in our woodlands and meadows as they do in their own. There is hardly a position they may not adorn—warm, sunny, bare banks, on which the Grecian A. blanda might open its large blue flowers in winter; the tangled copse, where the Japan Windflower and its varieties might make a bold show in autumn; and the shady wood, where the Apennine Windflower would contrast charmingly with the Wood Anemone so abundantly scattered in our own woods. The Hepaticas should be considered as belonging to the same genus, not forgetting the Hungarian one, A. angulosa. The Hepaticas thrive best and are seen best in half–woody places, where the spring sun may cheer them by passing through the branches, which afterwards become leafy and shade them from the scorching heats of summer.
St. Bruno’s Lily, Anthericum.—One of the most lovely aspects of vegetation in the alpine meadows of Europe is that afforded by the delicate white flowers of the St. Bruno’s Lily in the Grass in early summer, looking like miniature white Lilies. All who have seen it would no doubt like to enjoy the same in their turfy lawns or Grassy places, and there should be no difficulty in establishing it. The large–flowered or major variety might be tried with advantage in this way, and the smaller–flowered kinds, A. Liliago and its varieties, are equally suitable. They are not so likely to find favour in gardens as the larger kind, and therefore the wild garden is the home for them, and in it many will admire their graceful habit and numerous flowers. All the species best worth growing are natives of the alpine meadows of Europe.
Alkanet, Anchusa.—Tall and handsome herbaceous plants, with numerous flowers of a fine blue, admirable for dotting about in open places in sunny glades in woods or copses. They mostly come from Southern Europe and Western Asia. A. italica and A. capensis are among the most useful. The English Anchusa sempervirens, rare in some places, is an excellent wild garden plant.
Snapdragon, Antirrhinum.—The common Snapdragon and its beautifully spotted varieties are easily naturalised on old walls and ruins by sowing the seed in old or mossy chinks. Antirrhinum Asarinum, rupestre, and molle do well treated in the same way. Probably many other species would be found good in like places. About two dozen species are known, but comparatively few of these are in cultivation. They mostly come from the shores of the Mediterranean.
Columbine, Aquilegia.—Favourite herbaceous plants, generally of various shades of blue and purple, white, and sometimes bright orange. The varieties of the common kind (A. vulgaris), which are very numerous, are those most likely to be naturalised. In elevated and moist districts some of the beautiful Rocky Mountain kinds would be worth a trial in bare places. In places where wild gardens have been formed the effect of Columbines in the Grass has been one of the most beautiful that have been obtained. The flowers group themselves in all sorts of pretty ways, showing just above the long Grass, and possessing great variety of colour. The vigorous and handsome A. chrysantha of Western America is the most hardy and enduring of the American kinds. The species are of a truly northern and alpine family, most abundant in Siberia.
Wall Cress, Arabis.—Dwarf alpine plants, spreading in habit, and generally producing myriads of white flowers, exceedingly suitable for the decoration of sandy or rocky ground, where the vegetation is very dwarf. With them may be associated Cardamine trifolia and Thlaspi latifolium, which resemble the Arabises in habit and flowers. All these are particularly suited for association with the purple Aubrietias, or yellow Alyssums, and in bare and rocky or gravelly places, old walls, sunk fences, etc.
Sandwort, Arenaria.—A most important family of plants for the wild garden, though perhaps less so for lowland gardens where more vigorous types flourish. There are, however, certain species that are vigorous and indispensable, such as A. montana and A. graminifolia. The smaller alpine species are charming for rocky places, and the little creeping A. balearica has quite a peculiar value, inasmuch as moist rocks or stones suffice for its support. It covers such surfaces with a close carpet of green, dotted with numerous star–like flowers. Some of the smaller species, such as Arenaria cæspitosa (Sagina glabra var.), better known as Spergula pilifera, might be grown in the gravel, and even used to convert bare and sandy places into carpets of Mossy turf. In certain positions in large gardens it would be an improvement to allow the very walks or drives to become covered with very dwarf plants—plants which could be walked upon with little injury. The surface would be dry enough, being drained below, and would be more agreeable to the feet. Removing any coarse weeds that established themselves would be much easier than the continual hoeing and scraping required to keep the walk bare. Of course this only refers to walks in rough or picturesque places—the wild garden and the like—in which formal bare walks are somewhat out of place.
Asphodel, Asphodelus.—The Asphodels are among the plants that have never been popular in the mixed border, nor are they likely to be so, the habit of the species being somewhat coarse and the flowering period not long, and yet they are of a stately and distinct order of beauty, which well deserves to be represented in open spaces, in shrubberies, or on their outer fringes. The plants are mostly natives of the countries round the Mediterranean, and thrive freely in ordinary soils.
Lords and Ladies, Arum.—Mostly a tropical and sub–tropical family, some of which grow as far north as southern Europe. These are quite hardy in our gardens. The Italian Arum is well worthy of a place in the wild garden, from its fine foliage in winter. It should be placed in sheltered half–shady places where it would not suffer much from storms. The old Dragon plant (A. Dracontium) grows freely enough about the foot of rocks or walls in sandy, or dry, peaty places. The nearly allied Arum Lily (Calla æthiopica) is quite hardy as a water and water–side plant in the southern counties of England and Ireland.
Silkweed, Asclepias.—Usually vigorous perennials, with very curious and ornamental flowers, common in fields and on river banks in North America and Canada, where they sometimes become troublesome weeds. Of the species in cultivation, A. Cornuti and A. Douglasi could be naturalised easily in rich deep soil in wild places. The showy and dwarfer Asclepias tuberosa requires very warm sand soils to flower as well as in its own dry hills and fields. A good many of the hardy species are not introduced; for such the place is the wild garden. Some of them are water–side plants, such as A. incarnata, the Swamp Silkweed of the United States.
Starwort, Aster.—A very large family of usually vigorous, often showy, and sometimes beautiful perennials, mostly with bluish or white flowers, chiefly natives of North America. Many of these, of an inferior order of beauty, used to be planted in our mixed borders, which they very much helped to bring into discredit, and they form a very good example of a class of plants for which the true place is the copse, or rough and half–cared–for places in shrubberies and copses, and by wood–walks, where they will grow as freely as any native weeds, and in many cases prove highly attractive in late summer and autumn. Such kinds as A. pyrensæus, Amellus, and turbinellus, are amongst the most ornamental perennials we have. With the Asters may be grouped the Galatellas, the Vernonias, and also the handsome and rather dwarf Erigeron speciosus, which, however, not being so tall, could not fight its way among such coarse vegetation as that in which the Asters may be grown. Associated with the Golden Rods (Solidago)—also common plants of the American woods and copses—the best of the Asters or Michaelmas Daisies will form a very interesting aspect of vegetation. It is that one sees in American woods in late summer and autumn when the Golden Rods and Asters are seen in bloom together. It is one of numerous aspects of the vegetation of other countries which the “wild garden” will make possible in gardens. To produce such effects the plants must, of course, be planted in some quantity in one part of a rather open wood, and not repeated all over the place or mixed up with many other things. Nearly 200 species are known, about 150 of which form part of the rich vegetation of North America. These fine plants inhabit that great continent, from Mexico—where a few are found—to the United States and Canada, where they abound, and even up to the regions altogether arctic of that quarter of the world.
Milk Vetch, Astragalus.—An enormously numerous family of beautiful hardy plants, represented to but a very slight extent in our gardens, though hundreds of them are hardy, and many of them among the most pleasing of the many Pea flowers which adorn the hills and mountains of the northern world in Asia, Europe, and America. They are mostly suited for rocky or gravelly situations, or bare banks, though some of the taller species, like A. galegiformis, are stout enough to take care of themselves among the larger perennials. This plant is valuable for its handsome port and foliage, though its flowering qualities are not such as recommend it for the garden proper. The numerous species from the Mediterranean shores and islands could be successfully introduced on banks and slopes in our chalk districts and in rocky places. A. ponticus, a tall kind, and A. monspessulanus, a dwarf one, are both worth growing.
Masterwort, Astrantia.—This is an elegant genus, of which few species are known, five being European—found in Italy, Carinthia, Greece, and the centre of Europe—others from Northern Asia. They are among the few umbellates with attractive and distinct flowers, and yet they are rarely seen in gardens. In the wild garden they are quite at home among the Grass and medium–sized herbaceous plants, and partial shade prolongs their quaint beauty. In fact they are far more at home in the thin wood or copse than in the open exposed mixed border.
Blue Rock Cress, Aubrietia.—Dwarf Alpine plants, with purplish flowers, quite distinct in aspect and hue from anything else grown in our gardens, and never perishing from any cause, except being overrun by coarser subjects. They are admirable for association with the Alyssums and Arabises in any position where the vegetation is very dwarf, or in rocky bare places. There are several species and varieties, all almost equally suitable, but not differing much in aspect or stature from each other. The Aubrietias come chiefly from the mountains of Greece, Asia Minor, and neighbouring countries. Wherever there is an old wall, or a sunk fence, or a bare bank, evergreen curtains may be formed of these plants, and in spring they will be sheeted with purple flowers, no matter how harsh the weather.
Great Birthwort, Aristolochia Sipho.—A noble plant for covering arbours, banks, stumps of old trees, etc., also wigwam–like bowers, formed with branches of trees. It is American, and will grow as high as thirty feet, A. tomentosa is distinct and not so large in leaf. These will scarcely be grown for their flowers; but for covering stumps or trees they are valuable, and afford a distinct type of foliage.
Virginian Creepers, Ampelopsis.—Although this chapter is mostly devoted to herbaceous plants, the Virginian Creeper and its allies are so useful for forming curtains in rocky places, ravines, or over old trees, that they deserve mention here. These plants are not very distant relations of the vine—the wild American vines which are worthy of a place in our groves, garlanding trees as they do in a grand way. Some noble in colour of leaf are grown in nurseries—U. Humboldti being remarkable both for colour and size of leaf.
Bamboo, Bambusa.—In many parts of England, Ireland, and Wales, various kinds of Bamboos are perfectly hardy, and not only hardy, but thrive freely. In cold, dry, and inland districts, it is true, they grow with difficulty—all the greater reason for making the best use of them where they grow freely. Their beauty is the more precious from their being wholly distinct in habit from any other plants or shrubs that we grow. The delicate feathering of the young, tall, and slender shoots, the charming arching of the stems, have often been fertile in suggestion to the Japanese artist, and often adorn his best work. They may be enjoyed with all the charms of life in many gardens. The wild garden, where the climate is suitable, is the best home for Bamboos. They are so tall and so enduring at the roots that they will take care of themselves among the tallest and strongest plants or bushes, and the partial shelter of the thin wood or copse preserves their abundant leaves from violent and cold winds. Along by quiet Grass walks, in sheltered dells, in little bogs, in the shrubbery, or in little lawns opened in woods for the formation of wild gardens, the Bamboo will be at home. The commonest kind is that generally known as Arundinaria falcata (sometimes called Bambusa gracilis); but others, such as Bambusa Metake, B. Simmonsi, and B. viridis–glaucescens, are of equal or greater value. They all delight in rich, light, and moist soils.
Baptisia.—A strong Lupin–like plant seldom grown in gardens, but beautiful when in bloom for its long blue racemes of pea flowers, growing three to four feet high; it will hold its own in strong soil.
Borage, Borago.—A genus seldom seen out of Botanic gardens, where they form part of the usual distressing arrangements honoured with the name of “scientific.” Among the best kinds for our purpose are B. cretica and B. orientalis, even the well–known annual kind will be found a pretty plant, naturalised and useful for covering mounds.
Bell–flower, Campanula.—Beautiful and generally blue–flowered herbs, varying from a few inches to 4 ft. in height, and abundantly scattered in northern and temperate countries. Many kinds are in cultivation. All the medium–sized and large kinds thrive very well in rough places, woods, copses, or shrubberies, among grasses and other herbaceous plants; while those smaller in size than our own harebell (C. rotundifolia) are quite at home, and very pretty, on any arid or bare surfaces, such as sandy banks, chalk pits, and even high up on old walls, ruins, etc. In such positions the seeds have only to be scattered. C. rapunculoides and C. lamiifolia do finely in shrubberies or copses, as, indeed, do all the tall–growing kinds. Where there are white varieties they should be secured; many people will begin to see the great beauty of this family for the first time when they see them growing among the grass or herbs. The effect is far more beautiful than can be obtained in the garden proper.
Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber.—This showy and pleasing plant is only seen in highest perfection on elevated banks, rubbish–heaps, or old walls, in which positions it endures much longer than on the level ground, and becomes a long–lived perennial with a shrubby base. On the long bridge across the Nore at Col. Tighe’s place, Woodstock, Kilkenny, it grows in abundance, forming a long line on the wall above the arches; of course it could be easily grown on ruins, while it is invaluable for banks of all kinds, chalk pits, etc., and also for the level ground, except in heavy cold soils. Some of the larger Valerianas would grow freely in rough places, but none of them are so distinct as the preceding.
Knap–weed, Centaurea.—Vigorous perennial or annual herbaceous plants, seldom so pretty as autumn–sown plants of our corn bluebottle (C. Cyanus). They are scarcely important enough for borders; hence the wild wood is the place for them. Among the most suitable kinds may be mentioned macrocephala, montana, babylonica, and uniflora, the last more suitable for banks, etc.
Mouse–ear, Cerastium.—Dwarf spreading perennials, bearing a profusion of white flowers. Half a dozen or more of the kinds have silvery leaves, which, with their flowers, give them an attractive character. Most of these are used as bedding plants, but, as they will grow in any position where they are not choked by coarser plants, they may be employed with good effect in the wild garden.
Wallflower, Cheiranthus.—The varieties of the common wallflower afford quite a store of beauty in themselves for the embellishment of rocky places, old walls, etc. Probably other species of Cheiranthus will be found to grow on ruins quite as well, but at present we are not quite sure of these. The clear yellow Erysimum ochroleucum is very like a wallflower in type, and thrives well in dry sandy places. With these might be associated Vesicaria utriculata.
Meadow Saffron, Colchicum.—In addition to the meadow saffron, plentifully dotted over the moist fields in various parts of England, there are several other species which could be readily naturalised in almost any soil and position. They would be particularly desirable where subjects that flower in autumn would be sought; and they are charming, seen in tufts or colonies on the lawn or in the pleasure–ground.
Crocus.—One or two Crocuses are naturalised in England already, and there is scarcely one of them that will not succeed thus if properly placed. They should not be placed where coarse vegetation would choke them up or prevent the sun getting to their flowers and leaves. Some of the delicately–tinted varieties of vernus are well worth dotting about in grassy places and on sunny slopes, if only to accompany the snowdrop. C. Imperati is a valuable early–flowering kind, and the autumnal flowering ones are particularly desirable; but we must not particularise where all are good. “In the plantations here,” writes a correspondent, “on each side of a long avenue, we have the common Crocus in every shade of purple (there are scarcely any yellow ones) growing literally in hundreds of thousands. We have no record of when the roots were originally planted (and the oldest people about the estate say they have always been the same as far as their recollection goes); but they grow so thickly that it is quite impossible to step where they are without treading on two or three flowers. The effect produced by them in spring is magnificent, but unfortunately, their beauty is but short–lived. I have transplanted a good many roots to the wild garden, to the great improvement of the size of the individual blooms; they are so matted together in the shrubberies I have mentioned, and have remained so long in the same place, that the flowers are small.”
Virgin’s Bower, Clematis.—Mostly climbing or trailing plants, free, often luxuriant, sometimes rampant, in habit, with bluish, violet, purple, white, or yellow flowers, produced most profusely, and sometimes deliciously fragrant. They are most suited for covering stumps, planting on rocky places, among low shrubs in copses, for draping over the faces of rocks, sunny banks, or the brows of sunk fences, covering objectionable railings, rough bowers, chalk pits, hedges, etc., and occasionally for isolating in large tufts in open spaces where their effect could be seen from a distance. Not particular as to soil, the stronger kinds will grow in any ground, but the large–flowered new hybrids will thrive best in warm, rich, deep soil.
C. Viorna, C. flammula, montana, campaniflora, Viticella, and cirrhosa, must not be omitted from a selection of the wild kinds. The new garden hybrids will also be useful.
Dwarf Cornel, Cornus canadensis.—This charming little bushy plant, singularly beautiful from its white bracts, is a very attractive subject for naturalisation in moist, sandy, or peaty spots, in which our native heaths, Mitchella repens, Linnæa borealis, and the Butterworts would be likely to thrive. It would also grow well in moist woods, where the herbaceous vegetation is dwarf.
Mocassin Flower, Cypripedium spectabile.—The noblest of hardy orchids, found far north in America, and thriving perfectly in England and Ireland in deep rich or vegetable soil. Wherever the soil is not naturally peat or rich vegetable matter this fine plant will succeed on the margins of beds of rhododendrons, etc. It should be sheltered by surrounding bushes, and be in a moist position. Others of the genus, and various other hardy orchids, are worthy of naturalisation; but the mocassin flower is the best as well as the most easily tried at present.
Sowbread, Cyclamen.—It was the sight of a grove nearly covered with Cyclamen hederæfolium, near Montargis, in France, that first turned my attention to the “Wild Garden.” Both C. hederæfolium and C. europæum may be naturalised with the greatest ease on light, loamy, or other warm and open soil. C. vernum, C. Coum, and C. repandum, are also well worthy of trial. Nothing can be more agreeable to the lover of hardy plants than endeavouring to naturalise these charming flowers, now rarely seen out of the greenhouse. The best positions would be among dwarf shrubs, etc., that would afford slight shelter, on banks or sunny open spots in copses or woods. Bare or dug borders they abhor, and a sunny warm exposure should be chosen. In the case of C. hederæfolium (and perhaps some of the others) ground under trees, bare, or with a very scant vegetation of herbs, etc., would do quite well if the soil were free and warm. There is scarcely a country seat in England in which the hardy Cyclamens, now almost entirely neglected by the gardener, could not be naturalised.
The Giant Sea–kale, Crambe.—“C. cordifolia is a very fine perennial, but its place is on the turf in rich soil. It has enormous leaves, and small whitish flowers in panicles. Here it is one of the finest ornaments in a wild garden of about five acres, associated with Rheums, Ferulas, Gunneras, Centaurea babylonica, Arundo Donax, Acanthus, and others.”
Bindweed, Calystegia.—Climbing plants, with handsome white or rosy flowers, often too vigorous in constitution to be agreeable in gardens, as is the case with our common bindweed. C. dahurica, somewhat larger than the common kind, is very handsome when allowed to trail through shrubs, in rough places, or over stumps, rustic bridges, etc., and doubtless sundry other species will in time be found equally useful.
The pretty little Rosy Bindweed that one meets often upon the shores of the Mediterranean is here depicted at home in an English garden, creeping up the leaves of an Iris in Mr. Wilson’s garden at Heatherbank, Weybridge Heath. It is a great privilege we have of being able to grow the fair flowers of so many regions in our own, and without caring for them in the sense, and with the troubles that attend other living creatures in menageries, aviaries, etc. This is an advantage that we do not evidently consider when we put a few plants in lines and circles only, oblivious of the infinite beauty and variety of the rest. This beautiful pink Bindweed is the representative, so to speak, of our own Rosy Field Bindweed in the south, but nevertheless it is perfectly hardy and free in our own soils. Its botanical name is Convolvulus althæoides.
Marsh Calla, Calla palustris.—A creeping Arum–like plant, with white flowers showing above a carpet of glossy leaves, admirable for naturalisation in muddy places, moist bogs, on the margins of ponds, etc.
Rosy Coronilla, Coronilla varia.—Europe. On grassy banks, stony heaps, rough rocky ground, spreading over slopes or any like positions. A very fine plant for naturalisation, thriving in any soil.
Giant Scabious, Cephalaria.—Allied to Scabious but seldom grown. They are worth a place in the wild garden for their fine vigour alone, and the numerous pale yellow flowers will be admired by those who do not limit their admiration to showy colours.
Coral–wort, Dentaria.—Very showy perennials, the purplish or white flowers of which present somewhat of the appearance of a stockflower, quite distinct both in habit and bloom, and very rarely seen in our gardens; they will be found to thrive well and look well in peat soil beneath rhododendrons, and towards the margins of clumps of American shrubs.
Leopard’s Bane, Doronicum.—Stout, medium–sized, or dwarf perennials, with hardy and vigorous constitutions, and very showy flowers; well suited for naturalisation among herbaceous vegetation, in any position where the beauty of their early bloom can be enjoyed.
American Cowslip, Dodecatheon.—All who care for hardy flowers admire the beautiful American cowslip (D. Meadia), found in rich woods in Pennsylvania, Ohio, to Wisconsin and south–westward, in America. This would be a charming plant to naturalise on rich and light sandy loams, among dwarf herbs, low shrubs, etc., in sheltered and sunny spots. Jeffrey’s American cowslip (D. Jeffreyanum), a vigorous–growing kind, is also well worth a trial in this way, though as yet it is hardly plentiful enough to be spared for this purpose.
Fumitory, Fumaria, Dielytra.—Plants with graceful leaves and gay flowers suited for association with dwarf subjects on open banks, except D. spectabilis, which in deep peat or other rich soil will grow a yard high. The simple–looking little Fumaria bulbosa is one of the dwarf subjects which thrive very well under the branches of specimen deciduous trees, and Corydalis lutea thrives in every position from the top of an old castle to the bottom of a well shaft. I saw Dielytra eximia naturalised in Buckhurst Park, in a shrubbery, the position shady. Its effect was most charming, the plumy tufts being dotted all over with flowers. Had I before wished to naturalise this, I should have put it on open slopes, or among dwarf plants, but it thrives and spreads about with the greatest freedom in shady spots. The blossoms, instead of being of the usual crimson hue, were of a peculiar delicate pale rose, no doubt owing to the shade; and, as they gracefully drooped over the elegantly–cut leaves, they looked like snowdrops of a faint rosy hue.
Delphinium, Perennial species.—Tall and beautiful herbaceous plants, with flowers of many exquisite shades of blue and purple. There are now numerous varieties. They are well suited for rich soil in glades, copses, thin shrubberies, or among masses of dwarf shrubs, above which their fine spikes of bloom might here and there arise.
One of the prettiest effects which I have ever seen among naturalised plants was a colony of tall Larkspurs (Delphiniums). Portions of old roots of several species and varieties had been chopped off where a bed of these plants was being dug in the autumn. For convenience sake the refuse had been thrown into the neighbouring shrubbery, far in among the shrubs and tall trees. Here they grew in certain half–open little spaces, which were so far removed from the margin that they were not dug and were not seen. When I saw the Larkspurs in flower they were certainly the loveliest things that one could see. They were more beautiful than they are in borders or beds, not growing in such close stiff tufts, and mingling with and relieved by the trees above and the shrubs around. Little more need be said to any one who knows and cares about such plants, and has an opportunity of planting in such neglected places. This case points out pretty clearly that one might make wild gardens from the mere parings and thinnings of the beds and borders in autumn, in any place where there is a collection of good hardy plants. The cut on p. 28 does scant justice to the scene, which, perhaps, it is not in the power of wood engraving to illustrate.
Pink, Dianthus.—A numerous race of beautiful dwarf mountain plants, with flowers mostly of various shades of rose, sometimes sporting into other colours in cultivation. The finer mountain kinds would be likely to thrive only on bare stony or rocky ground, and amidst very dwarf vegetation. The bright D. neglectus would thrive in any ordinary soil. Some of the kinds in the way of our own D. cæsius grow well on old walls and ruins, as do the single carnations and pinks; indeed, it is probable that many kinds of pink would thrive on ruins and old walls better far than on the ground.
Foxglove, Digitalis.—It need not be said here that our own stately Foxglove should be encouraged in the wild garden, particularly in districts where it does not naturally grow wild; I allude to it here to point out that there are a number of exotic species for which a place might be found in the wild garden—some of them are not very satisfactory otherwise. The most showy hardy flowers of midsummer are the Foxglove and the French willow (Epilobium angustifolium), and in wild or rough places in shrubberies, etc., their effect is beautiful. In such half shady places the Foxglove thrives best; and, as the French willow is much too rampant a plant for the garden proper, the proper place for it too is in the wild garden. It is a most showy plant, and masses of it may be seen great distances off. The delicately and curiously spotted varieties of the Foxglove should be sown as well as the ordinary wild form.
Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium.—Vigorous perennials, with white or purple fringed flowers. Some of the American kinds might well be associated with our own wild one—the white kinds, like aromaticum and ageratoides, being very beautiful and distinct, and well worthy of a place in the best parts of the wild garden.
Sea Holly, Eryngium.—Very distinct and noble–looking perennials, with ornamental and usually spiny leaves, and flowers in heads, sometimes surrounded by a bluish involucrum, and supported on stems of a fine amethystine blue. They would be very attractive on margins of shrubberies and near wood–walks, thrive in ordinary free soil, and will take care of themselves among tall grasses and all but the most vigorous herbs.
Heath, Erica, Menziesia.—Our own heathy places are pretty rich in this type, but the brilliant Erica carnea is so distinct and attractive that it well deserves naturalisation among them. The beautiful St. Daboec’s heath (Menziesia polifolia) deserves a trial in the same way, as, though found in the west of Ireland, it is to the majority of English gardens an exotic plant. It will grow almost anywhere in peaty soil.
Barren–wort, Epimedium.—Interesting and very distinct, but comparatively little known perennials, with pretty and usually delicately tinted flowers, and singular and ornamental foliage. They are most suitable for peaty or free moist soils, in sheltered positions, among low shrubs on rocky banks, etc., and near the eye. The variety called E. pinnatum elegans, when in deep peat soil, forms tufts of leaves nearly a yard high, and in spring is adorned with long racemes of pleasing yellow flowers, so that it is well worthy of naturalisation where the soil is suitable.
Globe Thistle, Echinops.—Large and distinct perennials of fine port, from 3 feet to 6 feet high, with spiny leaves and numerous flowers in spherical heads. These will thrive well in almost any position, and hold their ground amid the coarsest vegetation. Being of a “type” quite distinct from that of our indigenous vegetation, they are more than usually suited for naturalisation. Echinops exaltatus and E. ruthenicus, are among the best kinds, the last the best in colour.
May–flower, Epigæa repens.—A small creeping shrub, with pretty and deliciously fragrant flowers, which appear soon after the melting of the snow in N. America, and are there as welcome as the hawthorn with us. In its native country it inhabits woods, mostly in the shade of pines; and usually, wherever I saw it, it seemed to form a carpet under three or four layers of vegetation, so to speak—that is to say, it was beneath pines, medium–sized trees, tall bushes, and dwarf scrub about 18 in. high, while the plant itself was not more than one or two inches high. In our gardens this plant is very rarely seen, and even in the great American plant nurseries, where it used to grow it has disappeared. This is no wonder, when it is considered how very different are the conditions which it enjoys in gardens compared with those which I have above described. Without doubt it can be naturalised easily in pine woods on a sandy soil.
Dog’s–tooth Violet, Erythronium.—A few days ago I saw a number of irregular clumps of these here and there on a gently sloping bank of turf, and, in front of clumps of evergreens, they looked quite charming, and their dark spotted leaves showed up to much better effect on the fresh green Grass than they do in borders. They were all of the red variety, and required a few of the white form among them to make the picture perfect.
So writes a correspondent in Ireland. This beautiful plant, some years ago rarely seen in our gardens, adorns many a dreary slope in the Southern Alps, and there should be no great difficulty in the way of adding its charms to the wild garden in peaty or sandy spots, rather bare or under deciduous vegetation.
The Winter Aconite, Eranthis hyemalis.—Classed among British plants but really naturalised. Its golden buttons peeping through the moss and grass in snowdrop time form one of the prettiest aspects of our garden vegetation in spring. It will grow anywhere, and is one of the plants that thrive under the spreading branches of summer–leafing trees, as it blooms and perfects its leaves before the buds open on the beech. On many lawns, spring gardens might be formed by planting some spring flowering plants that finish their growth before the trees are in leaf. Another advantage of such positions is, that the foliage of the tree prevents any coarser plants taking possession of the ground, and therefore these little spring plants have the ground to themselves, and wander into natural little groups in the moss and grass, sometimes covering the surface with a sheet of blossoms.
Funkia.—I have spoken of the conditions in the wild garden being more suitable to many plants than those which obtain in what might seem choice positions in borders, many of the plants attaining greater beauty and remaining longer in bloom in the shade and shelter of shrubby places than when fully exposed. As an instance of this, I saw Funkia cœrulea the other day, showing a size and beauty in a shady drive at Beauport, near Battle, which I never saw it attain under other circumstances. The plant was over a yard high, and bore many stately stems hung with blue flowers. The Funkias are exceedingly valuable plants for the wild garden, not being liable to accidents which are fatal to Lilies and other plants exposed to the attacks of slugs and rabbits.
Snakes–head, Fritillaria.—The beautiful British snakes–head (F. Meleagris) grows wild, as most people know, in meadows in various parts of England, and we should like to see it as well established in the grassy hollows of many a country seat. Various other Fritillarias not so pretty as this, and of a peculiar livid dark hue, which is not like to make them popular in gardens, such as F. tristis, would be worthy of a position also; while the Crown Imperial would do on the fringes of shrubberies.
Giant Fennel, Ferula.—Noble herbaceous plants belonging to the parsley order, with much and exquisitely divided leaves; when well developed forming magnificent tufts of verdure, reminding one of the most finely–cut ferns, but far larger. The leaves appear very early in spring, and disappear at the end of summer, and the best use that can be made of the plants is to plant them here and there in places occupied by spring and early summer flowers, among which they would produce a very fine effect. With the Ferulas might be grouped another handsome umbelliferous plant (Molopospermum cicutarium); and no doubt, when we know the ornamental qualities of the order better, we shall find sundry other charming plants of similar character.
Ferns.—No plants may be naturalised more successfully and with a more charming effect than ferns. The royal ferns, of which the bold foliage is reflected in the marsh waters of Northern America, will do well in the many places where our own royal fern thrives. The graceful maidenhair fern of the rich woods of the Eastern States and the Canadas will thrive perfectly in any cool, shady, narrow lane, or dyke, or in a shady wood. The small ferns that find a home on arid alpine cliffs may be established on old walls and ruins. Cheilanthes odora, which grows so freely on the sunny sides of walls in Southern France, would be well worth trying in similar positions in the south of England, the spores to be sown in mossy chinks of the walls. The climbing fern Lygodium palmatum, which goes as far north as cold Massachusetts, would twine its graceful stems up the undershrubs in an English wood too. In fact, there is no fern of the numbers that inhabit the northern regions of Europe, Asia, and America, that may not be tried with confidence in various positions, preferring for the greater number such positions as we know our native kinds to thrive best in. One could form a rich and stately type of wood–haunting fern vegetation without employing one of our native kinds at all, though, of course, generally the best way will be to associate all so far as their habits and sizes will permit. Treat them boldly; put strong kinds out in glades; imagine colonies of Daffodils among the Oak and Beech Ferns, fringed by early Aconite, in the spots overshadowed by the branches of deciduous trees. Then, again, many of these Ferns, the more delicate of them, could be used as the most graceful of carpets for bold beds or groups of flowering plants. They would form part, and a very important part, of what we have written of as evergreen herbaceous plants, and might well be associated with them in true winter gardens.
Geranium, Geranium, Erodium.—Handsome and rather dwarf perennials, mostly with bluish, pinkish, or deep rose flowers, admirable for naturalisation. Some of the better kinds of the hardy geraniums, such as G. ibericum, are the very plants to take care of themselves on wild banks and similar places. With them might be associated the fine Erodium Manescavi; and where there are very bare places, on which they would not be overrun by coarser plants, the smaller Erodiums, such as E. romanum, might be tried with advantage.
Goat’s Rue, Galega.—Tall and vigorous but graceful perennials, with very numerous and handsome flowers, pink, blue, or white. G. officinalis and its white variety are among the very best of all tall border flowers, and they are equally useful for planting in rough and wild places, as is also the blue G. orientalis and G. biloba. They are all free growers.
Gypsophila, Gypsophila and Tunica.—Vigorous but neat perennials, very hardy, and producing myriads of flowers, mostly small, and of a pale pinkish hue. They are best suited for rocky or sandy ground, or even old ruins, or any position where they will not be smothered by coarser vegetation. Similar in character is the pretty little Tunica saxifraga, which grows on the tops of old walls, etc., in Southern Europe, and will thrive on bare places on the level ground with us.
Gentian, Gentiana.—Dwarf, and usually evergreen, alpine or high–pasture plants, with large and numerous flowers, mostly handsome, and frequently of the most vivid and beautiful blue. The large G. acaulis (Gentianella) would grow as freely in moist places on any of our own mountains as it does on its native hills; as, indeed, it would in all moist loams, where it could not be choked by coarse and taller subjects. The tall willow Gentian (G. asclepiadea) is a handsome plant, which, in the mountain woods of Switzerland, may be seen blooming among long grass in shade of trees, and this fact is suggestive as to its use in this country.
Snowdrops, Galanthus.—The charms of our own Snowdrop when naturalised in the grass are well known to all, but many of the new kinds have claims also in that respect, such as Elwesi and G. plicatus. It is surprising how comparatively few people take advantage of the facility with which the Snowdrop grows in grass, so as to have it in pretty groups and colonies by grass–walks or drives. The accompanying illustration, which shows it on the margin of a streamlet in a Somersetshire valley, shows that it is not particular as to situation. It suggests the many places it may adorn other than the garden border.
Cow Parsnips, Heracleum.—Giant herbaceous plants, mostly from Northern Asia, with huge divided leaves, and umbels (sometimes a foot across) of white or whitish flowers. They are very suitable for rough places on the banks of rivers or artificial water, islands, or in any position in which a very vigorous and bold type of foliage may be desired. In arranging them it should be borne in mind that their foliage dies down and disappears in the end of summer. When established they sow themselves, so that seedling plants in abundance may be picked up around them. In all cases it is important that their seed should be sown immediately after being gathered. But it is also important not to allow them to monopolise the ground, as then they become objectionable. To this end it may, in certain positions, be desirable to prevent them seeding.
Day Lily, Hemerocallis.—Vigorous plants of the lily order, with long leaves and graceful habit, and large and showy red–orange or yellow flowers, sometimes scented as delicately as the primrose. There are two types, one large and strong like flava and fulva, the other short and somewhat fragile like graminea. The larger kinds are superb plants for naturalisation, growing in any soil, and taking care of themselves among coarse herbaceous plants or brambles.
Christmas Rose, Helleborus.—Stout but dwarf perennials, with showy blooms appearing in winter and spring when flowers are rare, and with handsome leathery and glossy leaves. They thrive in almost any position or soil; but to get the full benefit of their early–blooming tendency it is desirable to place them on sunny grassy banks in tufts or groups, and not far from the eye, as they are usually of unobtrusive colours. They form beautiful ornaments near wild wood walks, where the spring sun can reach them. There are various kinds useful for naturalisation.
Sun Rose, Helianthemum.—Dwarf spreading shrubs, bearing myriads of flowers in a variety of showy colours. The most tasteful and satisfactory way of employing these in our gardens is to naturalise them on banks or slopes in the half–wild parts of our pleasure–grounds, mostly in sandy or warm soil. They are best suited for chalk districts or rocky ones, where they thrive most luxuriantly, and make a very brilliant display. There are many varieties, mostly differing in the hue of the flowers.
Perennial Sunflower, Helianthus, Rudbeckia, Silphium.—Stout and usually very tall perennials, with showy yellow flowers, the best known of which is Helianthus multiflorus fl. pl., of which plenty may be seen in Euston Square and other places in London. As a rule these are all better fitted for rough places than for gardens, where, like many other plants mentioned in these pages, they will tend to form a vigorous herbaceous covert. H. rigidus is a brilliantly showy plant, running very freely at the root, and an excellent subject for naturalisation. H. giganteus, common in thickets and swamps in America, and growing as high as 10 ft., is also desirable. The showy and larger American Rudbeckias, such as laciniata, triloba, and also the small but showy hirta, virtually belong to the same type. All these plants, and many others of the tall yellow–flowered composites that one sees conspicuous among herbaceous vegetation in America, would produce very showy effects in autumn, and might perhaps more particularly interest those who only visit their country seats at that time of year. The Silphiums, especially the compass plant (S. laciniatum), and the cup plant (S. perfoliatum), are allied in general aspect and character to the Helianthuses, and are suitable for the same purposes.
St. John’s Wort, Hypericum.—The well–known St. John’s wort has already in many places made good its claim as a wilderness plant, and there is scarcely one of its numerous congeners which will not thrive in wild and rough places, in any soil. They have all the same bright yellow flowers as the St. John’s wort, and are nearly all taller. Some of the newer kinds have the handsome large flowers of the St. John’s Wort. It should be noted that the common St. John’s Wort so exhausts the soil of moisture that it may be the cause of the death of trees, and should therefore be looked after. Many places have too much of it, as they have of the common Laurel.
Rocket, Hesperis.—The common single Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) is a showy useful plant in copse or shrubbery, and very easily raised from seed.
Evergreen Candytuft, Iberis.—Compact little evergreens, forming spreading bushes from 3 inches to 15 inches high, and sheeted with white flowers in spring and early summer. There are no plants more suitable for naturalisation in open or bare places, or, indeed, in any position where the vegetation is not strong enough to overrun them. They, however, attain greatest perfection when fully exposed to the sun, and are admirable for every kind of rocky or stony ground and banks.
Iris, Fleur de Lis.—These plants, once so well known in our gardens, rivalling (or rather exceeding) the lilies in beauty, are varied and numerous enough to make a wild garden by themselves. The many beautiful varieties of germanica will grow in almost any soil, and may be used with good effect in woods, copses, by wood walks, or near the margin of water. I. sibirica, rather a common kind, will grow in the water; and, as this is not generally known, it is worthy the notice of any one taking an interest in aquatics. It is probable that others of the beardless kinds will also do well with their roots below the water, and if so, they will one day much improve the rather poorly adorned margins of artificial waters. On the other hand, I. pumila, and the varieties of germanica, are often seen on the tops of old walls, on thatched roofs, etc., on the Continent, flowering profusely. These facts tend to show how many different positions may be adorned by the irises.
Common Lupine, Lupinus polyphyllus.—Amidst the tallest and handsomest herbaceous plants, grouped where they may be seen from grass drives or wood walks, or in any position or soil. Excellent for islets or river banks, in which, or in copses, it spreads freely. There are several varieties, all worthy of culture.
Honesty, Lunaria.—This, which approaches the Stocks in the aspect of its fine purplish violet flowers, is quite removed from them by the appearance of its curious seed–vessels. It is one of the most valuable of all plants for naturalisation, and may be said to form a type by itself. It shows itself freely in dryish ground or on chalk banks, and is one of the prettiest objects to be met with in early summer in wood or wild.
Lily, Lilium.—There are many hardy lilies that may be naturalised. The situations that these grow in, from the high meadows of Northern Italy, dotted with the orange lily, to the woody gorges of the Sierras in California, rich with tall and fragrant kinds, are such as make their culture in copses, woods, rough grassy places, etc., a certainty. In woods where there is a rich deposit of vegetable matter the great American Lilium superbum, and no doubt some of the recently–discovered Californian lilies, will do well. The European lilies, dotted in the grass in the rough unmown glades, would not grow nearly so large as they do in the rich borders of our cottage gardens; but the effect of the single large blooms of the orange lily just level with the tops of the grass, in early summer, where it grows wild, is at least as beautiful as any aspect it has hitherto presented in gardens. Along the bed of small rivulets, in the bottom of narrow gorges densely shaded by great Thujas, Arbutus trees sixty and even eighty feet high, and handsome large–leaved evergreen oaks on the Sierras, I saw in autumn numbers of lily stems seven, eight, and nine feet high, so one could imagine what pictures they formed in early summer; therefore deep dykes and narrow shady lanes would afford congenial homes for various fine species. No mode of cultivating lilies in gardens is equal to that of dotting them through beds of rhododendrons and other American plants usually planted in peat; the soil of these, usually and very unwisely left to the rhododendrons alone, being peculiarly suited to the majority of the lily tribe. As for the wild garden, Mr. G. F. Wilson sent me a stem of Lilium superbum last year (1880) grown in a rich woody bottom, 11½ feet high!
Snowflake, Leucojum.—I have rarely seen anything more beautiful than a colony of the summer Snowflake on the margin of a tuft of rhododendrons in the gardens at Longleat. Some of the flowers were on stems nearly 3 feet high, the partial shelter of the bushes and good soil causing the plants to be unusually vigorous. Both the spring and summer Snowflakes (L. vernum and L. æstivum) are valuable plants for wild grassy places.
Gentian Lithosperm, Lithospermum prostratum.—A very distinct, prostrate, hairy, half–shrubby plant, with a profusion of flowers of as fine a blue as any gentian. Thrives vigorously in any deep sandy soil, and in such well deserves naturalisation among low rock plants, etc., in sunny positions. Probably other species of the genus will be found suitable for the same purpose.
Lychnis.—Handsome medium–sized perennials, with showy blooms, mostly of a brilliant rose or scarlet colour. If the type was only represented by the rose campion it would be a valuable one. This is a beautiful object in dry soils, on which it does not perish in winter. They are most fitted for association with dwarf or medium–sized perennials, in open places and in rich soil.
Honeysuckle, Lonicera.—Such favourites as these must not be omitted. Any kind of climbing Honeysuckle will find a happy home in the wild garden, either rambling over stumps or hedgerows, or even planted by themselves on banks.
Pea, Lathyrus.—Much having been lately written concerning the wild garden and its suitable occupants, I venture to suggest Lathyrus pyrenaicus as an addition to the list. Most cultivators of flowers are aware of the rambling habits of the greater number of plants of the Leguminous tribe, but in that particular L. pyrenaicus eclipses them all. It produces an immense quantity of bright orange–coloured blossoms, but the principal difficulty connected with its thorough development is the selection of an appropriate place for it, for a well–established plant of this species will ramble over, and by its density of growth prevent every plant and shrub that comes within its reach from thriving; indeed, it is a greater rambler than the Hop, the Bindweed, or the Bryony, and is decidedly more handsome. Tying up or training such a plant is out of the question; but there are many rough places in the wild garden where it would be quite at home and form an attractive feature. Every kind of Everlasting Pea is excellent for the wild garden, either for scrambling over hedgerows, stumps, or growing among the grass. —J. W.
Monkey–flower, Mimulus.—“Wandering one day in the neighbourhood of “Gruigfoot,” a queer–shaped hill in Linlithgowshire, my eye was attracted by a small burn whose banks were literally jewelled throughout its visible course with an unfamiliar yellow flower. A nearer approach showed me that it was the garden Mimulus (Monkey–flower), the seed of which must have escaped from some neighbouring cottage garden, and established itself here, in the coldest part of the British Isles. I took the hint, and have naturalised it by the banks of a small stream which runs at the foot of my garden, and I strongly recommend your readers to do the same. It mingles charmingly with the blue Forget–me–not, and is equally hardy.” —S. in Garden.
Grape Hyacinth, Muscari.—These free and hardy little bulbs are easily naturalised and very handsome, with their little spikes of flowers of many shades of blue.
Forget–me–not, Myosotis.—There is one exotic species, M. dissitiflora, not inferior in beauty to any of our handsomest native kinds, and which is well worthy of naturalisation everywhere, thriving best on moist and sandy soil.
Molopospermum cicutarium.—There is a deep green and fern–like beauty displayed profusely by some of the Umbelliferous family, but I have rarely met with one so remarkably attractive as this species. It is a very ornamental plant, with large, deeply–divided leaves of a lively green colour, forming a dense irregular bush. The flowers, which are insignificant and of a yellowish–white colour, are borne in small roundish umbels. Many of the class, while very elegant, perish quickly, get shabby indeed by the end of June, and are therefore out of place in the flower garden; but this is firm in character, of a fine rich green, stout yet spreading in habit, growing more than 3 feet high, and making altogether a most pleasing bush. It is perfectly hardy, and easily increased by seed or division, but rare as yet. It loves a deep moist soil, but will thrive in any good garden soil. It is a fine subject for isolation or grouping with other hardy and graceful–leaved Umbelliferous plants.
Stock, Matthiola.—Showy flowers, mostly fragrant, peculiarly well suited for old ruins, chalk pits, stony banks, etc. Some of the annual kinds are pretty, and some of the varieties common in gardens assume a bush–like character when grown in the positions above named. With the Stocks may be associated the single rocket (Hesperis matronalis), which thrives freely in shrubberies and copses.
Bee Balm, Monarda.—Large and very showy herbaceous plants, with scarlet or purple flowers, conspicuously beautiful in American and Canadian woods, and capital subjects for naturalisation in woods, copses, etc., or anywhere among medium–sized vegetation, thriving best in light or well–drained soils.
Mallow, Malva, Althœa, Malope, Kitaibelia, Callirhoe, Sida.—Plants of several distinct genera may be included under this type, and from each very showy and useful things may be obtained. They are for the most part subjects which are somewhat too coarse, when closely examined, to be planted in gardens generally; but among the taller vegetation in wild shrubberies, copses, glades in woods, etc., they will furnish a magnificent effect. Some of the Malvas are very showy, vigorous–growing plants, mostly with rosy flowers, and would associate well with our own handsome M. moschata. The Althæas, close allies of the common single hollyhock, are very vigorous and fine for this purpose, as are also the Sidas and Kitaibelia vitifolia. The Malopes are among the best of the annual subjects for naturalisation. The Callirhoes are dwarf, handsome trailers, more brilliant than the others, and the only ones of the type that should be planted on bare banks or amidst dwarf vegetation, as all the others are of the most rampant character.
Mulgedium Plumieri.—A herbaceous plant of fine and distinct port, bearing purplish–blue blossoms, rather uncommon among its kind. Till recently it was generally only seen in botanic gardens, but it has, nevertheless, many merits as a wild garden plant, and for growing in small groups or single specimens in quiet green corners of pleasure–grounds or shrubberies. It does best in rather rich ground, and in such a position will reward all who plant it, being a really hardy and long–lived perennial. The foliage is sometimes over a yard long, and the flower–stems attain a height of over six feet in good soil.
Water Lily, Nymphœa and Nuphar.—Two noble North American plants well deserve naturalisation in our waters, associated with our own beautiful white and yellow water lilies—the large Nuphar advena, which thrusts its great leaves well out of the water in many parts of North America, and the sweet–scented Nymphæa odorata, which floats in crowds on many of the pine–bordered lakes and lakelets of New England, to a non–botanical observer seeming very like our own water lily.
Daffodil, Narcissus.—Most people have seen the common daffodil in a semi–wild state in our woods and copses. Apart from varieties, there are more than a score distinct species of daffodil that could be naturalised quite as easily as this in all parts of these islands. We need hardly suggest how charming these would be, flowering in early spring and summer in the rougher parts of pleasure grounds, or along wood–walks, or any like position.
Bitter Vetch, Orobus.—Banks, grassy unmown margins of wood–walks, rocks, fringes of shrubberies, and like places, with deep and sandy loam, well drained, will grow the beautiful spring Bitter Vetch or any of its varieties or allies perfectly.
Evening Primrose, Enothera.—Among the largest–flowered and handsomest of all known types of herbaceous vegetation. The yellow species, and varieties like and allied to the common Evening Primrose (Œ. biennis), may be readily naturalised in any position, from a rubbish–heap to a nice, open, sunny copse; while such prostrate ones as Œ. marginata and Œ. macrocarpa will prove very fine among dwarf herbs on banks or in open sunny places, in light or calcareous soil. These noble and delicately–scented flowers are very easily grown and very beautiful in any position. They, however, from their height and boldness, and the freedom with which they grow in almost any soil, are peculiarly suited for the wild garden, for shrubberies, copses, and the like, sowing themselves freely.
Cotton Thistle, Onopordon.—Large thistles, with very handsome hoary and silvery leaves, and purplish flowers on fiercely–armed stems. No plants are more noble in port than these, and they thrive freely in rough open places, rubbish–heaps, etc., and usually come up freely from self–sown seeds.
Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum.—Various handsome hardy species of this genus will thrive as well as the common Star of Bethlehem in any sunny, grassy places.
Creeping Forget–me–not, Omphalodes.—The creeping Forget–me–not, Omphalodes verna, is one of the prettiest plants to be naturalised in woods, copses, or shrubberies, running about with the greatest freedom in moist soil. It is more compact in habit and lives longer on good soils than the Forget–me–nots, and should be naturalised round every country place.
Wood Sorrel, Oxalis.—Dwarf plants with clover–like leaflets and pretty rosy or yellow flowers. At least two of the species in cultivation, viz. O. Bowieana and O. floribunda, might be naturalised on sandy soils amidst vegetation not more than 5 inches or 6 inches high; and the family is so numerous that probably other members of it will be found equally free growing.
Polygonum cuspidatum.—If, instead of the formal character of much of our gardening, plants of bold types similar to the above were introduced along the sides of woodland walks and shrubbery borders, how much more enjoyable such places would be, as at almost every step there would be something fresh to attract notice and gratify the eye, instead of which such parts are generally bare, or given up to weeds and monotonous rubbish.
Pæony.—Vigorous herbaceous plants, with large and splendid flowers of various shades of crimson, rosy–crimson, and white, well calculated for producing the finest effects in the wild garden. There are many species and varieties, the flowers of some of the varieties being very sweet–scented, double, and among the largest flowers we know of. Fringes of shrubberies, open glades in woods or copses, and indeed almost any wild place, may be adorned by them; and they may also be advantageously grouped or isolated on the grass in the rougher parts of the pleasure–ground. I never felt the beauty of the fine colour of Pæonies till I saw a group of the double scarlet kind flowering in the long Grass in Oxfordshire. The owner had placed an irregular group of this plant in an unmown glade, quite away from the garden proper; and yet, seen from the lawn and garden, the effect was most brilliant, as may be imagined from the way in which such high colours tell in the distance. To be able to produce such effects in the early summer for six weeks or so is a great gain from a landscape point of view, apart from the immediate beauty of the flowers when seen close at hand.
Poppy, Papaver, in var.—The huge and flaming Papaver orientale, P. bracteatum, and P. lateritium, are the most important of this type. They will thrive and live long in almost any position, but the proper place for them is in open spots among strong herbaceous plants. For the wild garden or wilderness the Welsh Poppy (Meconopsis cambrica) is one of the best plants. It is a cheerful plant at all seasons; perched on some old dry wall its masses of foliage are very fresh, but when loaded with a profusion of large yellow blossoms the plant is strikingly handsome; it is a determined coloniser, ready to hold its own under the most adverse circumstances. Its home is the wall, the rock, and the ruin. It even surpasses the Wallflower in adapting itself to strange out–of–the–way places; it will spring up in the gravel walk under one’s feet, and seems quite happy among the boulders in the courtyard. It looks down on one from crevices in brick walls, from chinks where one could scarcely introduce a knife–blade, and after all it delights most in shady places. No plant can be better adapted for naturalising on rough stony banks, old quarries, gravel pits, dead walls, and similar places, and its large handsome flowers will lend a charm to the most uninteresting situations.
Phlomis.—Showy and stately herbaceous or half–shrubby plants, with a profusion of handsome yellow or purplish flowers. Excellent for naturalisation in warm open woods, copses, banks, etc., growing well in ordinary soil.
Virginian Poke, Phytolacca decandra.—A tall, robust perennial, within conspicuous flowers and long dense spikes of purplish berries. It will grow anywhere and in any soil; but is most imposing in rich deep ones. The berries are relished by birds. It is fine for association with the largest and stoutest herbaceous plants in rough and half–wild places.
Physostegia.—Tall, erect, and beautiful herbaceous plants, mostly with delicate rosy flowers; natives of North America, thriving in any soil. They are among the most pleasing things for planting in half–wild places, where they will not spread rampantly, nor perish quickly.
Lungwort, Pulmonaria.—Dwarf plants of the borage family, with showy blue or pinkish blossoms. Easily naturalised in woods or copses, in which position the common blue one must be familiar to many in the woods of England and France. The varieties are common in cottage gardens; they grow in any soil.
The tall Ox–eye daisy, Pyrethrum serotinum.—This fine autumn flowering plant, for years left in the almost exclusive possession of the Botanic Gardens, is one of the handsomest things we have. It grows 5 or 6 feet high, and flowers late in the year, when flowers are scarce. It is very picturesque in habit.
Bramble, Rubus.—Although we have nearly fifty kinds or reputed kinds of bramble native in Britain, some of the exotic species, entirely distinct from our own, are well worthy of naturalisation among low shrubs and tall herbaceous plants. One of the most charming plants we know for naturalising in shady woods is the large, white–flowered Rubus Nutkanus, with which might be tastefully associated the deep rose–coloured Rubus odoratus, and the early spring–flowering R. spectabilis; while the very striking white–stemmed R. biflorus is a grand object for warm slopes, sunny sides of chalk and gravel pits, etc.
The Great Reed; Arundo Donax.—This noble reed I do not like to omit here, it is so beautiful in the southern counties of England, though in cold soils and hard winters it may perish. Where the hardier Bamboos find a place this will be welcome, though in our country it is only in the warmer parts that it attains the dignity of port it possesses in the south of Europe.
Rhubarb, Rheum.—There are several species of rhubarb in cultivation in addition to those commonly grown in gardens. They are much alike in port and in the size of their leaves, R. palmatum and Emodi being the most distinct. The rhubarbs are fine things for association with large–leaved herbaceous plants in deep soils.
Rose, Rosa.—As in the case of brambles, we have many more kinds of wild roses in England than is commonly supposed, but of course nobody ever thinks of planting such things in gardens or shrubberies, where such gems as privet usually make up the underwood. There are scores of the roses of northern and temperate countries which would thrive as well in our woodlands; but as these are not to be obtained in our nurseries, it is useless to mention them. Any species of rose from a northern country might be tried; whilst of roses commonly cultivated the climbing races—such as the Boursault, Ayrshire, and Sempervirens—are the most likely to be satisfactory. The Damask, Alba gallica, and hybrid China, being hardy and free, would do, as would Felicité Perpetuelle, Banksiæflora, the Garland roses, Austrian briar, berberifolia, and microphylla rubra plena. Pruning, or any other attention after planting, should of course not be thought of in connection with these. We have seen masses of wild roses the effect of which was finer than anything we have ever seen in a rosery. Rosa Brunoniana is a very fine free and hardy species from India.
Sea Lavender, Statice.—Vigorous perennials, with a profusion of bluish lavender–coloured bloom, thriving freely on all ordinary garden soils. S. latifolia, and some of the stronger kinds, thrive in any position among the medium–sized herbaceous plants.
Spiræa, Spiræa.—Handsome and usually vigorous herbaceous plants, with white or rosy flowers, and generally ornamental foliage. Such beautiful kinds as venusta and palmata it is most desirable to try in wild places among the stouter and medium–sized perennials, where sufficiently plentiful to be spared for this purpose. S. Aruncus is, perhaps, the finest plant for the wild garden. Mr. Ellam planted out some spare stock of S. japonica in a wood at Bodorgan, and with the happiest effect. The plants grow and flower freely, the flowers appearing a fortnight later in the moist cool wood than on plants of the same kind on a north garden border; therefore they prolong the season of this favourite flower. They are planted in an irregular group, as such things should generally be, the effect being much better than that obtained by the common dotting plan.
Golden Rod, Solidago.—Tall and vigorous perennials with yellow flowers, showy when in bloom, and attractive when seen in America in autumn, mingled with the blue and lilac Asters of that country, but rarely ornamental as grown in gardens. These, like the Asters, used to be grown to excess in the old borders; but the only position they are fit for is in rough wild places, where in many cases it would be easy, with their aid and that of the Asters, to form that mixture of Golden Rod and Michaelmas daisies which is one of the prettiest effects of American vegetation in autumn.
Catch–fly, Silene.—Dwarf or spreading plants, allied to the pinks, and generally with white or rosy flowers. The choice mountain kinds, such as S. Lagascæ, alpestris, Schafta, etc., are among the most charming subjects that can be naturalised on rocky places or banks, associated with very dwarf subjects. Such fine annual or biennial kinds as S. Armeria or S. pendula are among the best for this purpose, and might be easily established by scattering a few seeds in such places.
Bloodwort, Sanguinaria canadensis.—This little plant, which abounds in the woods of Canada and North America, and which is very rarely indeed seen well grown in our gardens, will thrive under the branches of deciduous trees as well as the winter aconite, and in spring will produce an effect as beautiful as singular.
Squill, Scilla.—Several kinds of Scilla, closely allied to the common bluebell, would do quite as well in our woods as that well–known native plant, notably S. campanulata, S. bifolia, S. sibirica, etc. Bifolia and sibirica would be better on sunny banks or sheltered fringes of shrubberies with a good aspect. The tall kinds would do in woods or copses like the bluebell. With the dwarfer squills might be associated the grape hyacinth and the amethyst hyacinth (Hyacinthus amethystinus).
Comfrey, Symphytum.—Herbaceous plants of the borage order, usually vigorous, and with handsome blue flowers. One of the handsomest spring flowers is Symphytum caucasicum, and it is also one of the easiest things to naturalise, running about with the greatest freedom in shrubby or any wild places. Coarse kinds, like S. asperrimum (unfit for garden culture), thrive apace among the largest plants in wild places, and there look quite beautiful when in flower.
Scabious, Scabiosa, Cephalaria, Knautia.—Sometimes handsome and usually free–growing herbaceous plants, bluish, purplish, or yellowish in tone. Among these may be seen, in botanic and other gardens, plants suited for naturalisation, but scarcely worthy of a place in the garden. The fine S. caucasica would thrive amidst coarse vegetation in good soil, as would the Knautias.
Stonecrop, Sedum.—Minute and usually prostrate plants, mostly with white, yellow, or rosy flowers, and occurring in multitudes on most of the mountain chains of northern and temperate countries. There are few of these interesting and sometimes very pretty plants that would not grow on the top of an old wall, or thatched house, or stony bank, or bare ground, as well as our common Stonecrop. All grow in any soil, are as easily increased as any weed, and grow anywhere if they are not too much overshadowed by trees and coarse vegetation. Such kinds as S. spurium, S. pulchellum, kamtschaticum, and S. spectabile are among the most ornamental. The last, being a stout herbaceous plant, would be worth associating with such in wild places. There are nearly 100 species of stonecrop in cultivation in Britain.
Saxifrage, Saxifraga.—A very extensive genus of plants, abundantly distributed on mountains in northern countries. For our present purpose they may be broadly thrown into five sections—the mossy section, represented in Britain by S. hypnoides; the silvery section, represented by S. Aizoon; the London Pride section, by the Kerry saxifrages; the Megasea section, by the large cabbage–leaved S. crassifolia; and the oppositifolia section, distinguished by its rosy–purple flowers. With the exception of the Megasea and oppositifolia sections, which have rosy flowers, most of the saxifrages have white blossoms spotted with red; a few are yellow, and all are very hardy, and the easiest to grow of all alpine flowers. The mossy, silvery, and purple saxifrages may be naturalised with the greatest ease on bare rocky or mountainous grounds, amidst dwarf vegetation; but, as the places in which this kind of ground occurs are comparatively few, the Megaseas, and the Kerry saxifrages, are probably the most generally useful, as they can fight their way amongst coarse grass and other common herbs. There are probably nearly 150 species in cultivation in the botanic gardens of England, though in many private gardens they are very little known.
Houseleek, Sempervivum.—Very dwarf and succulent plants, with their fleshy leaves arranged in dense rosettes, and mostly with curious but seldom conspicuous flowers, abounding in mountainous regions, and very hardy. The greater number of these grow quite as freely as the common Houseleek in any arid soil, and in any position where the vegetation is not taller than themselves, such as on bare sandy banks, gravelly heaps, etc. There are about fifty hardy kinds in cultivation in the gardens in this country.
Meadow Rue, Thalictrum.—Tall and vigorous herbaceous plants, mostly without any beauty of flower when closely examined, but often affording a pleasing distant effect when seen in masses, and hence desirable for this mode of gardening, though seldom suitable for a position in the garden proper. They grow in any soil, and should be placed among rank herbs and coarse vegetation, not in the foreground, which might be occupied by more brilliant subjects. There are many kinds not differing much in aspect; some of the smaller ones in the way of our own British T. minus, deserve a place among dwarf vegetation for the elegance of their leaves. With these last may be associated the Italian Isopyrum thalictroides, which is handsome in flower and elegant in leaf.
Spiderwort, Tradescantia virginica.—A handsome and distinct North American perennial, with purple, blue, or white flowers, attaining a height of 1½ feet or 2 feet. An admirable subject for naturalisation on almost any soil, thriving perfectly on the wettest and coldest, and therefore suited for many places where other perennials would make little progress.
Wood Lily, Trillium.—Very singular and beautiful American wood plants, of which T. grandiflorum is worthy of special attention, thriving in shady places in moist rich soils, in woods and copses, where some vegetable soil has gathered.
Globe Flower, Trollius.—Beautiful plants of vigorous habit, with large handsome flowers, of a fine golden colour, like those of the buttercups, but turning inwards so as to form an almost round blossom, quite distinct in aspect. Few subjects are more worthy of a position in grassy glades where the soil is rich, although they will grow in ordinary soil. There are several distinct kinds suitable, though there is little difference in their appearance.
Tulip, Tulipa.—Various kinds of Tulips might be naturalised with advantage by wood walks and in the rougher parts of the pleasure grounds. In such positions they would not attain such a size as the richly–fed garden flowers, but that would make them none the less attractive to those who care about the wild garden.
Telekia, Telekia cordifolia.—A vigorous herbaceous plant, suited for association with Echinops, Rheum, and subjects grown for their foliage and character. It is very free in growth, and has large foliage and sunflower–like flowers.
Flame–Flower, Tritoma.—Flame Flowers are occasionally planted in excess, so as to neutralise the good effect they might otherwise produce, and they, like many other flowers, have suffered from being, like soldiers, put in straight lines and in other geometrical formations. It is only where a fine plant or group of plants is seen in some green glade that the true beauty of the Flame Flower is seen, especially at some little distance off. Although not exactly belonging to the very free–growing and extremely hardy genera of plants recommended for the wild garden, they are so free in many soils that they might with confidence be recommended for that purpose, and our sketch shows a picturesque group of them planted in this way. It would be delightful if people having country seats would study more the effects to be realised from certain types of plants. For instance, a well and tastefully placed group of these Flame Flowers would for a long time in autumn be a most effective feature in the landscape of a country seat; and there are various other plants to which the same remark applies, though perhaps to none better than these in the later months of the year.
Showy Indian Cress, Tropæolum speciosum.—Against terrace walls, among shrubs, and on slopes, on banks, or bushy rockwork near the hardy fernery; in deep, rich, and light soil. This is a brilliant plant, well worth any trouble to establish. Many fail to establish it in the garden proper, but moist, shady, and bushy places, will suit it better.
Mullein, Verbascum.—Verbascum vernale is a noble plant, which has been slowly spreading in our collections of hardy plants for some years past, and it is a plant of peculiar merit. I first saw it in the Garden of Plants, and brought home some roots which gave rise to the stock now in our gardens. Its peculiarities, or rather its merits, are that it is a true perennial species—at least on the warm soils, and in this respect quite unlike other Mulleins which are sometimes seen in our gardens, and oftener in our hedgerows. It also has the advantage of great height, growing, as in the specimen shown in our illustration, to a height of about 10 feet, or even more. Then there are the large and green leaves, which come up rather early and are extremely effective. Finally, the colour is good and the quantity of yellow flowers with purplish filaments that are borne on one of these great branching panicles is something enormous. The use of such a plant cannot be difficult to define, it being so good in form and so distinct in habit. For the back part of a mixed border, for grouping with other plants of remarkable size or form of foliage, or for placing here and there in open spaces among shrubs, it is well suited. A bold group of it, arranged on the Grass by itself, in deep, light, and well–dressed soil, would be effective in a picturesque garden. It is also known in gardens by the name of Verbascum Chaixii, which name, we believe, was given to it at Kew.
Periwinkle, Vinca.—Trailing plants, with glossy foliage and handsome blue flowers, well known in gardens. They are admirable plants for naturalisation, growing in any position, shady or sunny. There are variously–coloured and very pretty varieties of V. minor, while the variegated forms of both species are handsome, and may be naturalised like the green kinds.
Speedwell, Veronica.—Herbaceous plants, usually rather tall (1½ feet to 3 feet), in some cases dwarf and neat alpine plants with blue flowers in various shades; are among the hardiest of plants, and will grow in any soil. All the taller kinds are admirably suited for naturalisation among long grass and other herbaceous vegetation. A great number that are in cultivation in borders are only fit for this purpose. The dwarf kinds are equally suitable for bare places, or among other dwarf plants.
Violet, Viola.—A numerous race of dwarf and interesting plants, thriving freely in our climate, in half–shady places, rocky spots or banks, fringes of shrubberies, or almost any position. The very handsome bird’s–foot violet of N. America (V. pedata) would thrive in sandy level places or on rocky banks. In this family occur a good many kinds, such as V. canadensis, which, not being fragrant, or not possessing sufficient charms to ensure their general cultivation in gardens, are peculiarly suited for this sort of gardening. Our own sweet violet should be abundantly naturalised wherever it does not occur in a wild state.
Adam’s–Needle, Yucca.—Although these scarcely come into this selection, yet their fine habit and their hardiness give them a charm for us even in a wild garden. A legitimate aim, on the part of any one carrying out this to any extent, would be to try and develop a sub–tropical aspect of vegetation in certain places. In such a case the Yuccas could not be dispensed with. The free–flowering kinds (Y. flaccida and Y. filamentosa) should not be omitted, as they are more likely to spread and increase than the larger ones; all such plants are better held together in groups.
The Fifteenth of Chapters_
I was led to think of the enormous number of beautiful hardy plants from other countries which might be naturalised, with a very slight amount of trouble, in many situations in our gardens and woods—a world of delightful plant beauty that we might in this way make happy around us, in places now weedy, or half bare, or useless.
As it is desirable to know how to procure as well as how to select the best kinds, a few words on the first subject may not be amiss here.
A very important point is the getting of a stock of plants to begin with. In country or other places where many good old border flowers remain in the cottage gardens, many species may be collected therein. A series of nursery beds should be formed in some by–place in which such subjects could be increased to any desired degree. Free–growing spring–flowers like Aubrietia, Alyssum, and Iberis, may be multiplied to any extent by division or cuttings. Numbers of kinds may be raised from seed sown rather thinly in drills, in nursery beds in the open air. The catalogues should be searched every Spring for suitable subjects. The best time for sowing is the Spring, but any time during the Summer will do. Many perennials and bulbs must be bought in nurseries and increased as well as may be in nursery beds. As to soil, etc., the best way is to avoid the trouble of preparing it except for specially interesting plants. The great point is to adapt the plant to the soil—in peaty places to place plants that thrive in peat, in clay soils those that thrive in clays, and so on. Among coarse vegetation the best way is to dig the ground deeply before planting, so as to allow the planted subjects to become well established. The ground is so dried, and exhausted and impoverished in some woodland places with coarse weeds, that so much preparation is necessary.
Plants for Naturalisation beneath specimen Trees on Lawns, etc.
Where, as is frequently the case, the branches of trees, both evergreen and deciduous, sweep the turf—and this, as a rule, they should be allowed to do where they are planted in ornamental grounds—a great number of pretty spring flowers may be naturalised beneath the branches, where they thrive without attention. It is chiefly in the case of deciduous trees that this could be done; but even in the case of conifers and evergreens some graceful objects might be dotted beneath the outermost points of their lower branches. However, it is the specimen deciduous tree that offers us the best opportunities in this way. We know that a great number of our spring flowers and hardy bulbs mature their foliage and go to rest early in the year. They require light and sun in spring, which they obtain abundantly under the deciduous tree; they have time to flower and develop their leaves under it before the foliage of the tree appears; then, as the summer heats approach, they are gradually overshadowed by a cool canopy, and go to rest undisturbed; but, the leaves of the trees once fallen, they soon begin to appear again and cover the ground with beauty.
An example or two will perhaps explain the matter more fully. Take the case of, say, a spreading old specimen of any summer–leafing tree. Scatter a few tufts of the winter Aconite beneath it, and leave them alone. In a very few years they will have covered the ground; every year afterwards they will spread a golden carpet beneath the tree; and when it fades there will be no eyesore from decaying leaves as there would be on a border—no necessity for replacing the plants with others; the tree puts forth its leaves, covering the ground till Autumn, and in early spring we again see our little friend in all the vigour of his glossy leaves and golden buttons. In this way this pretty spring flower may be seen to much greater advantage, in a much more pleasing position than in the ordinary way of putting it in patches and rings in beds or borders, and with a tithe of the trouble. There are many other subjects of which the same is true. We have only to imagine this done in a variety of cases to see to what a beautiful and novel result it would lead. Given the bright blue Apennine Anemone under one tree, the spring Snowflake under another, the delicate blue and pencilled Crocuses, and so on, we should have a spring garden of the most beautiful kind. The same plan could be carried out under the branches of a grove as well as of specimen trees. Very attractive mixed plantations might be made by dotting tall subjects like the large Jonquil (Narcissus odorus) among dwarf spreading plants like the Anemone, and also by mixing dwarf plants of various colours: diversely coloured varieties of the same species of Anemone, for example.
Omitting the various pretty British plants that would thrive in the positions indicated—these are not likely to be unknown to the reader interested in such matters—and confining the selection to dwarf, hardy, exotic flowers alone, the following are selected as among the most suitable for such arrangements as that just described, with some little attention as to the season of flowering and the kind of soil required by some rather uncommon species. A late–flowering kind, for example, should be planted under late–leafing trees, or towards the points of their branches, so that they might not be obscured by the leaves of the tree before perfecting their flowers.
These selections are only proposed as aids to those dealing with special positions. The most valuable selection and best guide to the material for the beginner will be found in Chapter XIV., on the principal types of Hardy Exotic Plants for the wild garden.
Rabbits and Woods_
This sad subject has been kept for the last, as the only disagreeable one in connection with the wild garden. All I have to say of it is, there should be no rabbits in the wild garden; but the following suggestions may prove useful.
The subject should be presented in a practical light to landowners and preservers of game, and if it can be shown that the preservation, or rather toleration, of rabbits on an estate is a dead loss both to the proprietor and his tenants, probably more active measures would be taken for their extermination. It is incalculable the injury they do to young trees alone; indeed, where they prevail there is no chance of getting up cover except at an extravagant cost. Hares are less destructive, if they damage trees at all; and it is said by experienced gamekeepers that they never thrive so well where rabbits abound. And as regards pheasants, they drive them away by eating down the evergreen cover so necessary to their existence in the way of shelter in winter. Pheasants will not remain in a wood where there is not shelter of this kind; and nothing are they more partial to than the Holly, which ought to abound in every wood, but which the rabbits destroy first. Here are two sorts of game—hares and pheasants—which many can never have enough of, and the existence of which is directly interfered with by the rabbits; they should be encouraged at the expense of the latter—not to speak of the expense incurred year after year making up losses in plantation, and the expense of wire–netting and labour, etc., in protecting the trees. The extermination of rabbits in this country is not such a difficult matter as might be imagined. When it was determined here a few years since to reduce their numbers to a minimum on the farm lands and woods, it did not require more than a couple of years to do so by shooting and ferreting during the season; and they are now principally confined to one part of the estate—an extensive tract of waste land not of much use for any other purpose. I feel pretty certain that a few active poachers would undertake to clear an estate of its rabbits in a marvellously short time, and would be glad to pay a handsome consideration for the privilege of doing so. In whatever degree rabbits contribute to our food supply—and it is not much—they certainly destroy a great quantity of our corn crops, and are no profit to gentlemen or game preservers, and there is therefore no excuse for their existence.
Hungry rabbits, like hungry dogs or starving men, will eat almost anything that can be masticated and swallowed. Rabbits, as a rule, prefer to nibble over a pasture that contains short, sweet, wholesome grass, and a proportion of clover, dandelion, and daisies, but in and about woods where rabbits are numerous, the grass, from being closely and constantly eaten off, gradually disappears, and at the approach of winter is succeeded by moss, a very cold, watery, and innutritious substitute; then rabbits are driven to seek food from other sources than grass, and the bark of small trees, the leaves, stalks, and bark of shrubs, and the protruding roots of forest trees, are eaten almost indiscriminately. Amongst evergreen shrubs, rhododendrons and box are generally avoided, but I have known newly–planted hybrid rhododendrons to be partly eaten by rabbits. The elder is distasteful, and American azaleas are avoided. I have frequently seen Yew trees barked; mahonias are devoured in these woods as soon as planted; and periwinkle, which is named amongst rabbit–proof plants, is generally eaten to the ground in severe weather. Some of the bulbs and flowering plants named by your correspondent may well escape in winter, because they are not seen above ground, and where they grow, other more agreeable herbage appears, so their immunity consists in being inaccessible in a hungry time. Where rabbits are permitted, the fact that they require food daily, like other creatures, should be recognised. In the absence of wholesome food, they will eat simply what they can get. A certain portion of grass land should be retained for them and managed accordingly; a few acres might be wired round, or, to be more explicit, surrounded with wire–netting, to the exclusion of rabbits, until the approach of wintry weather, when it could be thrown open for them. If this cannot be done, and frosty weather sets in, when the mischief to shrubs is consummated, trimmings of quick hedges should be scattered about, and an allowance of turnips, carrots, or mangold wurzel made and doled out daily in bad weather. In my experience rabbits prefer newly planted trees and shrubs to those established. I have even had the fronds of newly–planted Athyrium Filix–fœmina eaten, while other ferns have been untouched. There is one hint I may give your rabbit–preserving readers: certain breeds of wild rabbits are much more prone to bark trees than others. The barking of trees is an acquired propensity more common to north–country rabbits than others. I should advise the destruction of those rabbits whose propensity for shrubs is very marked, and try warren or common rabbits from the south of England; but the best advice I can give is to have no rabbits at all. —J. S.
A correspondent who has given much attention to the subject (Salmoniceps) gives the following, as among the most rabbit–proof of plants:—“Most of the Lily family are,” he says, “rejected by them, including Daffodils, Tulips, Snowdrops, Snowflakes, Lilies, Day Lilies, Asphodels, and others, and they cannot be too extensively planted; but even in that tribe the Crocus (which is also named in the article in question) is greedily devoured. I gave—in an early number of your paper (see pp. 9 and 88, Vol. I.)—a list of all rabbit–proof trees, shrubs, and flowers then known to me, and I regret that, though keeping a watch upon the subject, I have not been able to add a single species to the list given below.”
Lists, however, and considerations of the above sort, are a poor substitute for what is really required in such cases—the extermination of pests which are destructive alike to field crops, to trees and shrubs, and to plants, and which offer at best a very scanty return for the havoc they commit.
My object in the Wild Garden is now to show how we may have more of the varied beauty of hardy flowers than the most ardent admirer of the old style of garden ever dreams of, by naturalising innumerable beautiful natives of many regions of the earth in our woods and copses, rougher parts of pleasure grounds, and in unoccupied places in almost every kind of garden.