Author: Rexford, Eben E. (Eben Eugene), 1848-1916
Amateur Gardencraft: A Book for the Home-Maker and Garden Lover
A BOOK FOR THE HOME-MAKER
AND GARDEN LOVER
EBEN E. REXFORD
WITH 34 ILLUSTRATIONS
PHILADELPHIA & LONDON
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY, 1912
PRINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS
The home that affords the most pleasure to its owner is the one which is largely the result of personal effort in the development of its possibilities. The “ready-made home,” if I may be allowed the expression, may be equally as comfortable, from the standpoint of convenience,—and possibly a great deal more so,—but it invariably lacks the charm which invests the place that has developed under our own management, by slow and easy stages, until it seems to have become part of ourselves.
Home-making is a process of evolution. We take up the work when everything connected with it is in a more or less chaotic condition, probably without any definite plan in mind. The initial act in the direction of development, whatever it may be, suggests almost immediately something else that can be done to advantage, and in this way we go on doing little things from day to day, until the time comes when we suddenly discover what wonderful things have been accomplished by our patient and persistent efforts, and we are surprised and delighted at the result. Were we to plan it all out before beginning it, very likely the undertaking would seem so formidable that it would discourage us. But the evolutionary process takes place so gradually, as we work hand in hand with that most delightful of all companions, Nature, that work becomes play, and we get more enjoyment out of it, as it goes along, than it is possible to secure in any other way if we are lovers of the beauty that belongs about the ideal home. The man or woman who sees little or nothing to admire in tree, or shrub, or flower, can have no conception of the pleasure that grows out of planting these about the home—our home—and watching them develop from tiny plant, or seed to the fruition of full maturity. The place casts off the bareness which characterizes the beginning of most homes, by almost imperceptible degrees, until it becomes a thing of beauty that seems to have been almost a creation of our own, because every nook and corner of it is vital with the essence of ourselves. Whatever of labor is connected with the undertaking is that of love which carries with it a most delightful gratification as it progresses. In proportion as we infuse into it a desire to make the most of any and everything that will attract, and please, and beautify, we reap the reward of our efforts. Happy is the man who can point his friends to a lovely home and say—”I have done what I could to make it what it is. I have done it—not the professional who goes about the country making what he calls homes at so much a day, or by the job.” The home that somebody has made for us never appeals to us as does the one into which we have put ourselves. Bear that in mind, and be wise, O friend of mine, and be your own home-maker.
Few of us could plan out the Home Beautiful, at the beginning, if we were to undertake to do so. There may be a mind-picture of it as we think we would like it to be, but we lack the knowledge by which such results as we have in mind are to be secured. Therefore we must be content to begin in a humble way, and let the work we undertake show us what to do next, as it progresses. We may never attain to the degree of knowledge that would make us successful if we were to set ourselves up as professional gardeners, but it doesn’t matter much about that, since that is not what we have in mind when we begin the work of home-making. We are simply working by slow and easy steps toward an ideal which we may never realize, but the ideal is constantly before us to urge us on, and the home-instinct actuates us in all our efforts to make the place in which we live so beautiful that it will have for those we love, and those who may come after us, a charm that no other place on earth will ever have until the time comes when they take up the work of home-making for themselves.
The man or woman who begins the improvement and the beautifying of the home as a sort of recreation, as so many do, will soon feel the thrill of the delightful occupation, and be inspired to greater undertakings than he dreamed of at the beginning. One of the charms of home-making is that it grows upon you, and before you are aware of it that which was begun without a definite purpose in view becomes so delightfully absorbing that you find yourself thinking about it in the intervals of other work, and are impatient to get out among “the green things growing,” and dig, and plant, and prune, and train. You feel, I fancy, something of the enthusiasm that Adam must have felt when he looked over Eden, and saw what great things were waiting to be done in it. I am quite satisfied he saw chances for improvement on every hand. God had placed there the material for the first gardener to work with, but He had wisely left it for the other to do with it what he thought best, when actuated by the primal instinct which makes gardeners of so many, if not the most, of us when the opportunity to do so comes our way.
I do not advocate the development of the æsthetic features of the home from the standpoint of dollars and cents. I urge it because I believe it is the duty of the home-owner to make it as pleasant as it can well be made, and because I believe in the gospel of beauty as much as I believe in the gospel of the Bible. It is the religion that appeals to the finer instincts, and calls out and develops the better impulses of our nature. It is the religion that sees back of every tree, and shrub, and flower, the God that makes all things—the God that plans—the God that expects us to make the most and the best of all the elements of the good and the beautiful which He has given into our care.
In the preparation of this book I have had in mind the fact that comparatively few home-owners who set about the improvement of the home-grounds know what to do, and what to make use of. For the benefit of such persons I have tried to give clear and definite instructions that will enable them to work intelligently. I have written from personal experience in the various phases of gardening upon which I have touched in this book. I am quite confident that the information given will stand the test of most thorough trial. What I have done with the various plants I speak of, others can do if they set about it in the right way, and with the determination of succeeding. The will will find the way to success. I would not be understood as intending to convey the impression that I consider my way as the way. By no means. Others have accomplished the same results by different methods. I simply tell what I have done, and how I have done it, and leave it to the home-maker to be governed by the results of my experience or that of others who have worked toward the same end. We may differ in methods, but the outcome is, in most instances, the same. I have written from the standpoint of the amateur, for other amateurs who would make the improvement of the home-grounds a pleasure and a means of relaxation rather than a source of profit in a financial sense, believing that what I have to say will commend itself to the non-professional gardener as sensible, practical, and helpful, and strictly in line with the things he needs to know when he gets down to actual work.
I have also tried to make it plain that much of which goes to the making of the home is not out of reach of the man of humble means—that it is possible for the laboring man to have a home as truly beautiful in the best sense of the term as the man can have who has any amount of money to spend—that it is not the money that we put into it that counts so much as the love for it and the desire to take advantage of every chance for improvement. Home, for home’s sake, is the idea that should govern. Money can hire the work done, but it cannot infuse into the result the satisfaction that comes to the man who is his own home-maker.
But not every person who reads this book will be a home-maker in the sense spoken of above. It will come into the hands of those who have homes about which improvements have already been made by themselves or others, but who take delight in the cultivation of shrubs and plants because of love for them. Many of these persons get a great deal of pleasure out of experimenting with them. Others do not care to spend time in experiments, but would be glad to find a short cut to success. To such this book will make a strong appeal, for I feel confident it will help them to achieve success in gardening operations that are new to them if they follow the instruction to be found in its pages. I have not attempted to tell all about gardening, for there is much about it that I have yet to learn. I expect to keep on learning as long as I live, for there is always more and more for us to find out about it. That’s one of its charms. But I have sought to impart the fundamental principles of it as I have arrived at a knowledge of them, from many years of labor among trees, and shrubs, and flowers—a labor of love—and it is with a sincere hope that I have not failed in my purpose that I give this book to
The Home-Maker and the Garden-Lover.
|The Lawn: How to Make It and How to Take Care of It||17|
|Planting the Lawn||34|
|The Hardy Border||81|
|The Garden of Annuals||97|
|The Bulb Garden||116|
|The Rose: Its General Care and Culture||128|
|The Rose as a Summer Bedder||149|
|Plants for Special Purposes||176|
|Arbors, Summer-Houses, Pergolas, and other Garden Features||189|
|Flowering and Foliage Plants for Edging Beds and Walks||216|
|Planning the Garden||223|
|The Back-Yard Garden||220|
|The Wild Garden||234|
|The Winter Garden||243|
|Window and Veranda Boxes||250|
|Spring Work in the Garden||257|
|Summer Work in the Garden||264|
|Fall Work in the Garden||268|
|By Way of Postscript||272|
|“Not Wholly in the Busy World, nor Quite Beyond it, Blooms the Garden that I Love“||Frontispiece|
|Ivy, Climbing Roses, and Colorado Blue Spruce||34|
|A Bit of Informal Border||37|
|Shrubs Along the Driveway||44|
|American Ivy and Geraniums||60|
|Japan Ivy Growing on Wall||75|
|Shrubs and Perennials Combined in Border||83|
|The Peony at Its Best||90|
|A Bit of the Border of Perennial Plants||92|
|A Bed of Asters||106|
|Bed of White Hyacinths Bordered with Pansies||125|
|Hybrid Perpetual Rose||130|
|Dorothy Perkins Rose—The Best of the Ramblers||145|
|A Garden Glimpse||170|
|The Odds and Ends Corner||180|
|A Pergola Suggestion||195|
|A Simple Pergola Framework||198|
|A Border of Creeping Phlox||220|
|Planting to Hide Foundation Walls||272|
The Illustrations are reproduced from photographs by J. F. Murray.
THE LAWN: HOW TO MAKE IT AND HOW TO TAKE CARE OF IT
HE owner of the average small home seldom goes to the expense of employing the professional gardener to do the work of lawn-making. Sometimes he cannot afford to do so. Sometimes skilled labor is not obtainable. The consequence is, in the majority of cases, the lawn,—or what, by courtesy, is called by that name,—is a sort of evolution which is an improvement on the original conditions surrounding the home, but which never reaches a satisfactory stage. We see such lawns everywhere—rough, uneven, bare in spots, anything but attractive in a general way, and but little better than the yard which has been given no attention, were it not for the shrubs and plants that have been set out in them. The probabilities are that if you ask the owner of such a place why he has no lawn worth the name, he will give one or the other of the reasons I have made mention of above as his excuse for the existing condition of things about the home. If you ask him why he has not undertaken the work himself, he will most likely answer that he lacks the knowledge necessary to the making of a fine lawn, and rather than experiment with it he has chosen to let it alone.
Now the fact is—lawn-making has nothing mysterious about it, as so many seem to think. It does not call for skilled labor. It need not be an expensive undertaking. Any man who owns a home that he desires to make the most of can make himself a lawn that will be quite as satisfactory, in nearly every instance, as the one made by the professional gardener—more so, in fact, since what we make for ourselves we appreciate much more than that which we hire made for us. The object of this paper is to assist home-makers in doing just this kind of work. I shall endeavor to make it so plain and practical that anyone so inclined can do all that needs doing in a satisfactory manner. It may not have that nicety of finish, when completed, that characterizes the work of the professional, but it will harmonize with its surroundings more perfectly, perhaps, and will afford us quite as much pleasure as the work of the expert.
If the house has just been built, very likely everything about it is in a more or less chaotic condition. Odds and ends of lumber, mortar, brick, and all kinds of miscellaneous building material scattered all over the place, the ground uneven, treeless, shrubless, and utterly lacking in all the elements that go to make a place pleasing and attractive. Out of this chaos order must be evolved, and the evolution may be satisfactory in every way—if we only begin right.
The first thing to do is to clear away all the rubbish that clutters up the place. Do not make the mistake of dumping bits of wood into hollows with the idea that you are making a good foundation for a lawn-surface. This wood will decay in a year or two, and there will be a depression there. Fill into the low places only such matter as will retain its original proportions, like brick and stone. Make kindling-wood of the rubbish from lumber, or burn it. Get rid of it in some way before you begin operations. What you want, at this stage of the proceedings,