« AnteriorContinuar »
them when in bloom with any other class of plants or flowering shrubs, and I know of nothing more beautiful. We have nothing to compare to them in their season, and the beautiful effects of large masses of Rhododendrons, whether in or out of bloom, upon the landscape in park or garden, is particularly striking; indeed, for general decoration I know of nothing so desirable.
They are not more costly than other choice evergreen shrubs, as it is not necessary to choose the select named kinds for general use.
The Rhododendrons Maximum and Catawbiense and their varieties will always prove hardy, and where grand masses of color for summer decorations are of greater importance than finely formed flowers, or well arranged trusses, the common varieties are better than the high priced sorts. It is true the more choice kinds furnish us with a greater variety of color, and they are valuable for beds or sheltered nooks near the point of observation.
As seen from the dwelling there should be some diversity of color, and there is no difficulty in obtaining select varities with flowers varying from creamy white to dark purple, and from pure rose to deep crimson. There is no limit to our choice in the selection of colors. But for large groups or beds planted some distance from the drive, and for forming masses in the foreground to ornamental planting, the common Maximum or Mountain Laurel, and the hardy varieties of Catawbiense, are quite as effective as the more expensive kinds.
Rhododendron culture can be made as universal as that of the rose, or any other florist flower, and a cullection of named sorts would be exceedingly interesting; but a thorough acquaintance and a critical taste is necessary to appreciate them. Again : some of the most beautiful are among the most tender, and require careful treatment, such as protection in winter and shelter from the hot sun in summer-in fact, require the careful treatment of the amateur. I am not looking at the subject, at present, with the eye of the florist, but from the standpoint of the landscape gardener, and use them as material for producing striking effects in the landscape and garden at a time when it is usually appreciated. The Rhododendron, when used as above described, is capable of producing effects of surpassing richness. They must be planted in bold clumps where they have room for their full development, and if placed in anything like a favorable situation, the free growing binds will soon attain a good size, and will yearly increase in dimensions.
The hardy kinds require no special preparation of the soil, for they thrive and flower freely in almost any soil, provided it is free from lime and gravel. There can, however, be no question as to the superiority of fibrous loam—the top spit of an old pasture taken off to the depth of from four to six inches is the best. The point is to have the soil full of fibrous matter. Mixtures of decayed wood and leaves are objectionable, and those who have formed beds with a mixture of such matt rial, stand a chance of the roots being injured by fungi developed by the rotten wood.
The Rhododendron is apt to suffer from drought, our summers being long and sometimes exceedingly dry, consequently, as a rule, they thrive best when planted in a moderately moist position. They also like partial shade during the summer season, but under ordinary circumstances they du exceedingly well when planted in a situation exposed to the sun the whole year. One need only consider the fitness as far as situation is concerned.
As to transplanting, they can be moved with safety at almost any time, with the exception of in the dead of winter. I, however, prefer the fallsay September and October. The nights are then getting cooler, and as
the plants will receive considerable moisture from the night dews, the check received in removal will be considerably lessened. In very dry seasons they will require several good waterings if exposed to the full sun, but in a season like the last, they do not require it. Mulching during the summer months is very essential to their well doing. In fact, I may say that I consider mulching both in summer and winter, indispensable to their successful cultivation. One year old leaves and old rotten manure make an excellent mulch,
Bedding Out. The system of bedding out has acquired great popularity through the perfection it has attained in great gardens under the hands of men skilled in color, and required by their positions to produce grand effects.
The geometric garden is an ancient feature in a rural adornment, but the fashion now adopted is essentially modern, both in design and material. Where there is ample space, variety of scenery, and the means can be afforded for this kind of display, it is appropriate and acceptable.
The love of color, as exhibited in the popular appreciation of the many varieties of foliage plants, is as general as the love of music, and a display of bedding plants, when arranged with taste, is full of delight for the artist, and admirably exemplifies the capabilities of decorative gardening. Excesses and mistakes, however, occur in all pursuits and plans of life, and gardening is no exception to the rule.
The great and common defect in this mode of decoration is its flatness. The eye soon wearies when constantly looking at mere circles and oblongs and complicated designs in the masses of color and the arrangement of beds that are only fitted to please when placed where they are seen but occasionally.
There is wanting material to interest the mind where the display consists of regular forms and color only, and the remedy is to be found in the intro. ductiun of plants of distinct and graceful outline.
The beautiful varieties of Conifers, such as Taxus, Cupressus, Thuja, and Retinospora, supply this want.
There are also many beautiful tropical-looking plants, such as Arundos, Palms, Pampas Grass, Ricinus, Yuccas, and many others in abundance that furnish ample opportunity in every garden which is at all adapted for a bedding display, for the introduction of beautiful forms which impart elegance and give a pleasing variety to the whole arrangement.
The pleasure of a garden depends so much on the proper keeping of the Lawn that I may say, without contradiction, that where the grass which constitutes the Lawn is not kept in good order there can be no just appreciation of any part of the garden, even if it be otherwise skillfully managed.
In rural adornment the Lawn is the principal attraction—the setting to the jewel, or the ground-work to the picture—and constitutes one of the greatest pleasures in connection with country homes.
As I cannot, in this short address, go into the details necessary to the acquisition of a good Lawn, I will only say to those who already possess such a pleasure, that, to keep a Lawn in good order, the following rules should be adhered to: Top dress with manure or bone dust in the spring. Roll often with a heavy roller. Use the mowing machine frequently, but do not cut too close. Water seldom in hot weather; cold water in summer is very injurious; it kills the tender grass, and promotes the growth of fall grass.
Within the past few years there is a marked improvement in the management of Lawns in this country, and now beautiful smooth Lawns, as good as those we have seen and read about in England, are here not unfrequently
Arborescent Gardening. Arborescent gardening is a term but lately adopted. It means the judicious disposition of trees and shrubs, in connection with summer bedding plants, and is destined to supersede the system of filling up the flower beds in winter with evergreens, called in England "winter gardening." Arborescent gardening, in connection with summer decoration, when properly carried out, can be made a telling feature, and obviates the necessity of drawing on a reserve of evergreens to clothe the winter scene in the flower garden.
The permanent planting of choice evergreen trees and shrubs in connection with summer bedding is a step in the right direction, and, to effect this desirable end, it will be necessary to make some changes in the present system and arrangement of the beds, so that when the trees and shrubs are planted it shall appear perfect in itself—like unto a picture frame—and when the flowers in summer are added, the whole will be complete.
The effort to make our gardens attractive in autumn and winter is a necessity. Our summers for tender plants are very short, and although the summer bedding is exceedingly brilliant while it lasts, it is but of short duration, and the gardens are empty from October until May.
It often happens that frost overtakes us in September, destroying the beauty of summer bedding plants, and is followed by fair weather for two months, at a time when out-door exercise is healthy and agreeable, consequently our gardens should then be in their most attractive form.
Arborescent gardening has been partially adopted here, and I see no reason why it should not become popular in this country. We have an abundance of material, our collection of evergreen shrubs is rich in color and form, and, by judicious arrangement, can be made to take the place of many of the summer bedding plants, thereby materially lessening the labor of annually replacing them.
There are also many deciduous trees and shrubs, such as the Purple Beech, Tamarisk, Cypress, Variegated Althea, and others, that, by a judicious use of the pruning knife, can be made objects of great beauty, and which make admirable backgrounds for summer foliage plants. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful than beds of evergreen, such as Golden Yews, Variegated Box, Golden Retinosporas, and Thujas, edged or mixed with Varieyated Euonymus, Daphne Cneorum, and others of like nature.
The field of enterprise thus open to all who have a taste for rural adornment is a rich subject that abounds with interest, and in most gardens arborescent adornment can be made a splendid feature, and, when well done, will give a lasting pleasure.
Mr. ENGLE followed with an essay on