The time for planting of hardy perennials and shrubbery is optional
with the gardener, many things doing quite as well when planted at one
season as at another, but in the planting of spring blooming bulbs less
latitude exists; these must be gotten into the ground in fall if any
measure of success is desired. The handling of this class of plants is
one of the luxuries of gardening, as they come all ready to commence
root growth, but in a perfect dormant condition, and may be gotten into
the ground very much at one’s convenience, and regardless of weather;
the earlier they are planted the stronger root growth they will be able
to make before the ground freezes, which makes for stronger bloom in
Crocus, scillas, narcissi, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the like
may be planted from the time they can be procured from the florist
(which is usually in September) until the ground freezes. They will
grow and bloom to perfection in any good, well-drained garden soil,
providing it is not infested by moles and ground mice but beware of
these, as they seem to possess an insatiable appetite for bulbs and
once they have entered a bed will seldom leave it until they have
exhausted its resources.
I recall that a few years ago I planted, in an empty canna bed on the
front lawn, some five hundred choice, named tulips. The following
spring just three tulip plants appeared above ground—the moles having
destroyed the other four hundred and ninety-seven. In the flower garden
where other hundreds of bulbs had been used to border beds of hardy
perennials, they fared somewhat better, the greater part coming up, but
many had been destroyed and still others carried far from the place of
their planting, coming up as much as three feet away in the middle of
paths and in sod.
One of the most satisfactory ways of using tulips is to plant them
as a border to beds of perennials or shrubs, setting them in single,
double or triple rows, along the edge and leaving them to ripen and
increase from year to year; in this way one gets the greatest good
at the least expenditure of time and space. When they are planted in
beds by themselves it is customary to lift them when through blooming
and to heel them in some out-of-the-way spot until the tops have died
when they may be lifted and stored in paper bags until time to plant
out again in the fall. This leaves the beds free for summer annuals
or bedding plants. If it is not desired to lift them, then one may
sow seed of some annual of light root growth such as the myostis or
forget-me-not, the schizanthus, pansy, verbena, or phlox Drumondii, as
these plants will not interfere with the maturing of the bulbs and the
protection afforded them from the heat of summer will be of benefit.
The soil for any variety of bulbs should be rich, mellow and thoroughly
well drained and it is better in planting any but the smallest bulbs
to remove a few inches of the top soil and having leveled off the
surface mark it in straight lines from side to side each way so that
the lines cross each other and set a bulb at each intersection of the
lines. For tulips the lines should be five inches apart each way and
for hyacinths seven inches. Where solid beds of hyacinths or tulips
are planted small bulbs, such as crocus, scilla or winter aconite, may
be used for filling in the spaces between with charming effect. White
crocus and blue scillas are especially dainty, or the lovely ixias may
be used but in this case the beds must be very carefully protected
against the cold and covering removed with discretion in the spring.
Narcissus, daffodils, jonquils and all that family appear to better
advantage when planted in long double or triple rows and should be set
a foot apart each way and about four inches deep. These bulbs increase
by forming new bulbs in a circle around the old bulb and should be
allowed abundant room to increase and once planted should not be
disturbed until they have become too crowded to bloom well.
Crocuses are never so lovely as when studding the green of the lawn
in early spring and this is the simplest form of planting, it only
being necessary to lift a bit of sod with a trowel, slip a crocus bulb
underneath and press the sod back above it. Plant them informally,
singly, in groups. Scatter them freely about with the hand and bury
them where they fall. There is one precaution, however, to be observed
in this system of planting—the lawn-mower must be withheld in spring
until the crocuses have matured their leaves or there will be no
flowers the following spring.
All spring bulbs profit by a liberal application of _old, well-rotted_
manure but this should be either spaded deep in the beds below where
the bulbs will set or used as a top dressing after the soil removed
before planting has been replaced and not allowed to come in contact
with the bulbs. Manure is not only harmful in itself but it is also
the home of the little white wire worms so injurious to all bulbs and
especially to lilies, and almost always when bulbs are found to be not
doing well the trouble will prove to be either worms or poor drainage.
A part of the winter covering of all bulb beds should be lifted as
soon as growth starts in the spring as a stockier, stronger growth
results but the finer portion should be left and in case of such tender
bulbs as ixias that removed may be kept handy to replace in case of an
unusually cold snap.
Many of the miscellaneous bulbs offered by the florists are desirable
when grown in well established groups, but lack effect planted singly
or in too small groups. One of the loveliest of summer-blooming bulbs
is found in the anthericum or St. Bruno’s lily. These should be set
in colonies in the hardy border where they may remain undisturbed for
years. Plant about three inches deep and four inches apart. Alliums,
chinodoxia, and bulbs of this class need grouping to be at their best,
otherwise they are apt to appear rather straggly. I like to see bulbs
colonized among the shrubbery and the edge of evergreens where they
appear at their best in the early days of spring and do not seriously
interfere with the use of the lawn-mower later on.
May often be achieved by a wise selection of varieties. Any extensive
planting runs up into dollars fast, especially if the larger sized
shrubs are selected. Fortunately successful planting depends as much
upon a number of plants of one variety as upon the size and distinction
of the sorts. A dozen plants of one variety of spiræa, for instance, is
far more effective than one plant each of twelve varieties—try it and
see if I am not right.
If, therefore, one has several strips of lawn to embellish with
shrubbery and wishes to economize the expenditure as far as possible
it will be found a most excellent plan to make a mixed planting on
the most urgent section, selecting those shrubs which by their manner
of root formation offer possibilities of rapid increase and use the
product for subsequent planting; taking all of the sort of plant so as
to leave as few varieties in the old bed as possible and in this way
simplifying the ultimate planting of the entire grounds.
When these new offspring have reached a presentable size they may be
retained and the other sorts which can now be spared may be removed to
a new location, planting out the youngsters in their vacated positions.
There are three classes of plants which lend themselves very readily
to propagation through root division, layering and root offshoots. The
first is found in those plants which make an exuberant root system of
many fine feeding roots and many stems. A good example of this class is
found in the Hydrangea arborescens which may be lifted, pulled apart
and the several plants reset without in any way disturbing its growth
intention. In this respect it differs materially from H. paniculata
which, while making a generous root system, has but the one main stem
and so is incapable of division but is easily propagated by cuttings
thrust into the ground in the shade of the plant early in June. H.
arborescens is similar in habit to many perennials which are increased
by root division, as for instance the Shasta daisy, English daisy,
English violets, polyanthus and others.
Often a plant of H. arborescens purchased from the florist will admit
of the removal of two or three smaller parts without seriously injuring
the appearance of the original plant and if these are set out and well
cared for they will quickly develop into blossoming plants for this
form is an early and reliable bloomer.
Spiræa Anthony Waterer is another shrub which may be increased by
pulling apart the roots; indeed this plant is benefited by occasional
treatment of this sort, doing much better and flowering more freely.
Planted in front of taller shrubs it is a very desirable and reliable
plant and if the faded flowers are removed after the spring florescence
it will continue to produce flowers throughout the summer.
One of the most easily propagated shrubs is found in the symphoricarpus
or snow-berry; indeed, in the case of this pretty shrub the difficulty
is not to increase one’s stock as the new growth is usually prostrate
the first year, lying supinely on the ground and if left undisturbed
will throw out roots at the joints and rapidly produce attractive
little plants as robust as the parent stock. Lifting the branches
occasionally will prevent rooting but usually one likes to have the
new plants form. I do. After becoming well rooted the branch should be
severed between the plant and the parent. As the root growth is dense,
consisting of a mass of fibrous roots, the young plants can be lifted
at almost any time and reset without much check to growth. The pale,
pinky-white flowers come in mid-summer, followed by the white berries
which remain on the bushes well into the winter and are very attractive.
Somewhat similar in its way of increase is the Deutzia-Pride of
Rochester. That magnificent shrub which challenges our admiration when
covered with its drooping, bell-shaped white flowers late in June
and which, under favorable conditions, assumes the proportions of a
small tree. Like the symphoricarpus the lateral branches are more or
less inclined to a recumbent or prostrate habit or because of their
flexibility are easily pegged down and root easily at the joint but do
not make as vigorous root growth and the joint should have a little
earth drawn over it and be kept moist by placing a stone on top. This
shrub is so altogether desirable that several branches may well be
devoted to the increase of stock, one or more plants being produced
from each branch.
Of those shrubs which throw up suckers from the roots the lilac will
occur to most people as a well-known example, so if in buying the
newer, double-flowered sorts one will insist on purchasing plants upon
their own roots and not be satisfied with grafted plants one will soon
become possessed of a quite respectable planting of lilacs of notable
size and color of bloom. The suckers should be removed as soon as they
have had one season of growth for the protection of the parent plant
which will be much depleted in bloom by their permanent presence.
One of the most beautiful foliage shrubs, the fern-leaved sumac—Rhus
typhina laciniata—forms root rhizomes which send up volunteer plants
at each joint. These should be removed and replanted. This is one
of the most beautiful ornamentals with which I am acquainted, quite
rivalling the Japanese maples. The leaves are compound or pinnate,
fifteen to eighteen inches long and of a dark, rich green on the upper
side, glaucous beneath and with a rich red midrib—an elegant fern-like
spray which is very useful in cut flower work and in autumn turns to
the most vivid crimson imaginable. It does best when protected from
severe wind, from which it seems to shrink, distorting its symmetrical
growth. In good rich soil a half dozen offshoots may appear the second
year after planting and after one has once become familiar with its
beauty all will be welcome.
Another small tree or shrub with similar characteristics is the Aralia
spinosa or Hercules’ club as it is commonly called. This also has the
compound leaves somewhat resembling the black walnut but of gigantic
proportions, two to three feet in length and of equal breadth, giving
the tree a most tropical effect. It is very easily transplanted and a
few trees in a clump are very effective or it is fine as a specimen
tree and owing to its abundance of spines can be utilized effectively
as a hedge. Where only a single tree is wanted it is easily kept in
check by cutting out the rhizomes with a spade close to the parent
The euonymus, or burning bush as the Indians always called it,
propagates itself by means of its coral berries which appear in
quantities in late summer or early fall. One finds the volunteer plants
appearing every spring in places where one least expects them and one
can lift and transplant them wherever desired.
Another most attractive shrub which may be easily raised from seed sown
in spring is the Buddleya—a plant with long racemes—in the newer
form of B. veitchiaa, over twenty inches long, of violet mauve flowers
of a delightful violet fragrance. Spring-sown seed will often produce
blossoming plants the first season which in the second will attain a
height of from three to five feet and be a perfect bouquet of bloom
throughout the summer. The branches are somewhat pendulous and in the
young state are better for a little support. They afford delightful
material for cut-flower work and the odor has that fugitive elusive
quality of the violet, seeming to come from different directions and to
elude one’s search.
It will be found an excellent plant to combine with Spiræa Van Hutti as
it comes into bloom after that splendid plant has rested on its laurels
for the summer and keeps the hedgerow alive with bloom and fragrance.
The planting of shrubbery about the home is so important that it may
well take precedence of the flower garden proper or even the grading
of the lawn itself. Indeed, if one owns the site of a home and the
building is yet in the future, no better expenditure of one’s spare
time and dollars can be inaugurated than such initial planting as shall
insure the presence of blooming shrubs about the home at the time of
its completion so that all may be beautiful and perfect together,
rather than that two or three years must elapse before one can begin to
enjoy the results.
Hardy shrubs vary very greatly in the precociousness of their bloom,
certain forms giving quite noticeable results the second season, while
others need two or three years’ growth even to indicate what their
ultimate beauty will be.
The location, too, will have much to do with results. For a low
planting about the foundation of the house, in front of porches
or to top low terraces many plants may be employed which would be
unsatisfactory in places at a distance where a general effect is
desired more than an intimate relation. For masking a building, hiding
an undesirable view and the like, tall-growing shrubs and flowering
trees are usually preferred and these being of more or less slow growth
require time to develop.
In all shrubbery planting it will be found that a number of plants of
one sort is far more effective than one or two plants each of many
distinct kinds. The mistake is often made of planting only shrubs
which bloom together, producing a medley of more or less inharmonious
colors and form for a few weeks in spring leaving the shrubbery bare
and uninteresting for the remainder of the year. This is a mistake I
have often made in my own garden, but one which I usually rectify by
planting in other shrubs which will come forward when the first have
ceased to bloom.
For a number of years a very beautiful hedge of Hydrangea paniculata
grandiflora has separated the lawn from the flower garden; only
one objection could be urged against it—its flowerless condition
throughout most of the summer. To overcome this objection, scarlet
salvias were alternated between the plants and an edging of scarlet and
white phlox made a mass of color from mid-June until well into October.
This, of course, was not legitimate shrubbery planting, so recourse was
made to alternating Hydrangea arborescens with the paniculata. These
coming into bloom late in June gave a very satisfactory arrangement,
but this year Deutzia-Pride of Rochester, which also blooms in June,
was introduced and I am anticipating much pleasure from the addition.
A hedge of Spiræa Van Hutti extending from the house to the road is
very beautiful in early May, but inconspicuous and uninteresting the
remainder of the summer. If it had been in a situation demanding a
heavier planting I should have alternated the plants, setting them
behind the spiræas, with forsythias—whose golden yellow blooms make
bright the garden in earliest spring—and between the forsythias
introduced the deutzias.
There are few more satisfactory and graceful plants for use in front
of a porch than this Spiræa Van Hutti; its gracefully curved branches,
though growing to a good length, curve away gracefully from the
building, bending with their weight of snowy bloom almost to the ground
and the growth is very strong and rapid, but never coarse. It is the
very best early blooming shrub to date.
Very lovely effects may be secured by alternating the spiræa with the
Weigela Eve Rathke, and keeping this down to a somewhat prostrate
habit; this will give a perfect sheet of bloom from early May until
the last of June and a less-pronounced show of flowers throughout the
remainder of summer from the weigela.
There is a strong tendency when purchasing shrubbery to select a little
of everything—one plant of each, perhaps. I do this myself—not
without excuse perhaps on my part, for we people who write for
the benefit of others have to get our knowledge by, often costly,
experience, and not by the mere reading of nursery catalogues. It is
sometimes a most excellent thing to gratify this inclination providing
one has a piece of land which can be devoted to experimental purposes
and where one can shift things about until one has gained just the
right combination and exposure for each plant. A strip of ground twelve
or fifteen feet wide and as long as available will give room for a very
successful planting of small trees and shrubs and hardy perennials may
be introduced to fill in until the shrubs have reached an effective
size. Ulmarias, hardy phlox, oriental poppies, rudbeckias and the like
will be found very useful and tall clumps of lilies should always be
interspersed in all permanent plantings.
It will often be found that some shrub which one has admired at close
range is entirely ineffective in the shrubbery border; take, for
instance, the Tartarian honeysuckle—a pretty enough thing close at
hand but ineffectual and insignificant at any distance.
For a long shrubbery border of twelve or fifteen feet wide no better
selection of shrubs can be made than these seven perfectly reliable
and hardy shrubs—Forsythia, April; Spiræa Van Hutti, May; Deutzia
Pride of Rochester, June; Hydrangea arborescens, July, August;
Hydrangea paniculata, September; Althea, October and November. These
are—with perhaps the exception of the althea, which is sometimes
uncertain—absolutely hardy and reliable plants which increase in size
and beauty from year to year and insure a constant succession of bloom
throughout the summer and fall so that by their use the shrubbery
border need never be without flowers.
In planting a border of these mixed shrubs attention to arrangement
will have much to do with success. Of course it will occur to the
most inexperienced that the taller shrubs should be in the rear, but
it is not necessary or desirable that they should be planted in a
rigid, unbroken line. Better that the line be somewhat waved, dipping
forward occasionally a step or two. Then it will, of course, occur that
the lowest forms will be in front, but this line, too, maybe broken
occasionally with advantage, allowing the second row to step forward
enough to prevent too much formality of outline.
Where immediate effect is desired, and this is invariably the case,
either large specimen shrubs should be used or, if the smaller sorts
seem more available, then these should be set as close again as would
be done in the planting of large specimens and after they have made two
or three years’ growth and have begun to crowd, every other plant may
be lifted and used to start a new shrubbery elsewhere.
This was what was done with my hydrangea hedge, started as a border
between the front lawn and a pear orchard. The plants were first
set three feet apart in a single row. When they had filled up the
intervening space they were lifted and used for a hedge in the rear
of the lawn, this time being set six feet apart, a distance which they
soon closed, and for weeks in the fall were a wonderful mass of bloom.
A hedge of Spiræa Van Hutti replaced the hydrangeas in the front and
these will probably remain undisturbed for a number of years as, owing
to the proximity of a magnificent maple tree, they do not make the
strong growth they do in more favorable situations.
Although I have suggested the forsythia, spiræa, deutzia, hydrangeas
and althea, etc., as the seven very best shrubs for general planting
there are very many more worthy of adoption. Among these the various
weigelas, especially the red varieties, the syringas and the lilacs
should not be overlooked. Of the latter, far too little is known, most
people being content with a bush or two of the old-fashioned purple and
white of their grandmothers’ garden, and perhaps, as a truth, these old
sorts appeal to our hearts more strongly than the newer, more showy
varieties and it is in no spirit of disparagement that I urge the
adoption of some of the newer sorts—not to displace, but to supplement
and extend the lilac season over a period unknown to the old-time
Syringa vulgaris, alba and purpurea are usually through blooming by
the twentieth of May, or thereabouts, but Emodi, with its rosy-white
flowers, is ushered in with the early days of June and Josikaea shows
its first purple blooms late in the same month about the time that the
creamy-white panticles of Japonica appear. The new double-flowered,
named sorts come into bloom about the time of the common sorts and are
well worth the extra cost they involve. Mme. Cassimire Perier and Pres.
Grevy are two of the finest sorts and should be in every collection.
In buying lilacs it will pay well to purchase those on their own roots.
Most of the named lilacs are grafted on common stock and the suckers
are annoying and worthless and if allowed to grow will seriously
interfere with the blooming of the graft. Such shoots as come from true
roots can be detached and used to increase the supply of plants and
are, therefore, most valuable additions.
One of the most beautiful small trees for planting where a light and
feathery effect is sought or against a background of evergreens is
found in the tamarix. I know of nothing so airy and graceful as these
at all times and especially when in bloom. The flowers, which are very
tiny, quite cover the branches at the time of blooming in May, in
mid-summer and in fall according to their season and there is a marked
difference in the foliage which in certain species shows a decided
blue tinge which is very beautiful. Unfortunately they are not always
entirely hardy at the north and require a somewhat protected position.
They are very useful at the seashore, being one of the few things which
can stand the salt air. As they make a rapid growth one can afford to
experiment with them until just the right environment is found for they
are well worth trying for and planted in groups of the different sorts
will give a succession of bloom all summer. They are very useful for
cut-flower work, making exquisite bouquets when placed in dull green
majolica or similar holders.
Very careful preparation of the ground for shrubbery is essential as
once planted they usually remain undisturbed for years; for this reason
the earth should be dug very deep, underdrained, if necessary, and
After planting the ground should be kept cultivated by hoeing or by
the use of the scuffle-hoe—anything which will maintain a dust-mulch,
prevent the earth drying out and caking and retain the moisture. The
success of the planting depends upon this one feature more than upon
any other one thing. A plant insufficiently supplied with moisture
during the growing season is quite certain to succumb to the rigors of
the succeeding winter—not, indeed, on account of the cold itself, but
the condition in which it entered the winter.
The best season for the planting of all hardy shrubs is early spring,
before growth starts, the next best, late fall after the foliage has
dropped. Altheas and white birch trees, however, do better with spring