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Flower Border Planting


There is no prescribed rule as to what one should put into these informal flower-borders. Put in them the plants you like. Perhaps the greater part of them should be perennials that come up of themselves every spring, and that are hardy and reliable. Wild flowers are particularly effective.

Every one knows that many of the native herbs of woods and glades are more attractive than some of the most prized garden flowers. The greater part of these native flowers grow readily in cultivation, sometimes even in places which, in soil and exposure, are much unlike their native haunts. Many of them make thickened roots, and they may be safely transplanted at any time after the flowers have passed.

To most persons the wild flowers are less known than many exotics that have smaller merit, and the extension of cultivation is constantly tending to annihilate them. Here, then, in the informal flower-border, is an opportunity to rescue them. Then one may sow in freely of easy-growing annuals, as marigolds, China asters, petunias and phloxes, and sweet peas.

One of the advantages of these borders lying at the boundary is that they are always ready to receive more plants, unless they are full. That is, their symmetry is not marred if some plants are pulled out and others are put in. And if the weeds now and then get a start, very little harm is done. Such a border half full of weeds is handsomer than the average hole-in-the-lawn geranium bed.

An ample border may receive wild plants every month in the year when the frost is out of the ground. Plants are dug in the woods or fields, whenever one is on an excursion, even if in July. The tops are cut off, the roots kept moist until they are placed in the border; most of these much-abused plants will grow.

To be sure, one will secure some weeds; but then, the weeds are a part of the collection! Of course, some plants will resent this treatment, but the border may be a happy family, and be all the better and more personal because it is the result of moments of relaxation. Such a border has something new and interesting every month of the growing season; and even in the winter the tall clumps of grasses and aster-stems hold their banners above the snow and are a source of delight to every frolicsome bevy of snowbirds.

I have spoken of a weedland to suggest how simple and easy a thing it is to make an attractive mass-plantation. One may make the most of a rock or bank, or other undesirable feature of the place. Dig up the ground and make it rich, and then set plants in it. You will not get it to suit you the first year, and perhaps not the second or the third; you can always pull out plants and put more in. I should not want a lawn-garden so perfect that I could not change it in some character each year; I should lose interest in it.

It must not be understood that I am speaking only for mixed borders. On the contrary, it is much better in most cases that each border or bed be dominated by the expression of one kind of flower or bush. In one place a person may desire a wild aster effect, or a petunia effect, or a larkspur effect, or a rhododendron effect; or it may be desirable to run heavily to strong foliage effects in one direction and to light flower effects in another.