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Flower Gardening

The comforts and joys of life depend largely upon small things. Of these
small things perhaps none holds a position of greater importance in
country life than the adornment of the home, indoors and outdoors, with
flowers tastefully arranged. Their selection and planting furnish
pleasant recreation; their care is a pleasing employment; and each
little plant, as it sprouts and grows and develops, may become as much a
pet as creatures of the sister animal kingdom. A beautiful, well-kept
yard adds greatly to the pleasure and attractiveness of a country home.
If a beautiful yard and home give joy to the mere passer-by, how much
more must their beauty appeal to the owners. The decorating of the home
shows ambition, pride, and energy--important elements in a successful

Plant trees and shrubs in your yard and border your masses of shrubbery
with flower-beds. Do not disfigure a lawn by placing a bed of flowers in
it. Use the flowers rather to decorate the shrubbery, and for borders
along walks, and in the corners near steps, or against foundations.

If you wish to raise flowers for the sake of flowers, not as
decorations, make the flower-beds in the back yard or at the side of the


Plants may be grown from seeds or from bulbs or from cuttings. The
rooting of cuttings is an interesting task to all who are fond of
flowers. Those who have no greenhouse and who wish to root cuttings of
geraniums, roses, and other plants may do so in the following way. Take
a shallow pan, an old-fashioned milk pan for instance, fill it nearly
full of clean sand, and then wet the sand thoroughly. Stick the cuttings
thickly into this wet sand, set the pan in a warm, sunny window, and
keep the sand in the same water-soaked condition. Most cuttings will
root well in a few weeks and may then be set into small flower-pots.
Cuttings of tea roses should have two or three joints and be taken from
a stem that has just made a flower. Allow one of the rose leaves to
remain at the top of the cutting. Stick this cutting into the sand and
it will root in about four weeks. Cuttings of Cape jasmine may be rooted
in the same way. Some geraniums, the rose geranium for example, may be
grown from cuttings of the roots.

Bulbs are simply the lower ends of the leaves of a plant wrapped tightly
around one another and inclosing the bud that makes the future
flower-stalk. The hyacinth, the narcissus, and the common garden onion
are examples of bulbous plants. The flat part at the bottom of the bulb
is the stem of the plant reduced to a flat disk, and between each two
adjacent leaves on this flat stem there is a bud, just as above-ground
there is a bud at the base of a leaf. These buds on the stem of the bulb
rarely grow, however, unless forced to do so artificially. The number
of bulbs may be greatly increased by making these buds grow and form
other bulbs. In increasing hyacinths the matured bulbs are dug in the
spring, and the under part of the flat stem is carefully scraped away to
expose the base of the buds. The bulbs are then put in heaps and covered
with sand. In a few weeks each bud has formed a little bulb. The
gardener plants the whole together to grow one season, after which the
little bulbs are separated and grown into full-sized bulbs for sale.
Other bulbs, like the narcissus or the daffodil, form new bulbs that
separate without being scraped.

There are some other plants which have underground parts that are
commonly called bulbs but which are not bulbs at all; for example, the
gladiolus and the caladium, or elephant's ear. Their underground parts
are bulblike in shape, but are really solid flattened stems with eyes
like the underground stem of the Irish potato. These parts are called
_corms_. They may be cut into pieces like the potato and each part will

The dahlia makes a mass of roots that look greatly like sweet potatoes,
but there are no eyes on them as there are on the sweet potato. The only
eyes are on the base of the stem to which they are joined. They may be
sprouted like sweet potatoes and then soft cuttings made of the green
shoots, after which they may be rooted in the greenhouse and later
planted in pots.

There are many perennial plants that will bloom the first season when
grown from the seed, though such seedlings are seldom so good as the
plants from which they came. They are generally used to originate new
varieties. Seeds of the dahlia, for instance, can be sowed in a box in a
warm room in early March, potted as soon as the plants are large enough
to handle, and finally planted in the garden when the weather is warm.
They will bloom nearly as soon as plants grown by dividing the roots or
from cuttings.

In growing annual plants from seed, there is little difficulty if the
grower has a greenhouse or a hotbed with a glass sash. Even without
these the plants may be grown in shallow boxes in a warm room. The best
boxes are about four inches deep with bottoms made of slats nailed a
quarter of an inch apart to give proper drainage. Some moss is laid over
the bottom to prevent the soil from sifting through. The boxes should
then be filled with light, rich soil. Fine black forest mold, thoroughly
mixed with one fourth its bulk of well-rotted manure, makes the best
soil for filling the seed-boxes. If this soil be placed in an oven and
heated very hot, the heat will destroy many weeds that would otherwise
give trouble. After the soil is put in the boxes it should be well
packed by pressing it with a flat wooden block. Sow the seeds in
straight rows, and at the ends of the rows put little wooden labels with
the names of the flowers on them.

Seeds sowed in the same box should be of the same general size in order
that they may be properly covered, for seeds need to be covered
according to their size. After sowing the seed, sift the fine soil over
the surface of the box. The best soil for covering small seeds is made
by rubbing dry moss and leaf-mold through a sieve together. This makes a
light cover that will not bake and will retain moisture. After covering
the seeds, press the soil firm and smooth with a wooden block. Now
sprinkle the covering soil lightly with a watering-pot until it is
fairly moistened. Lay some panes of glass over the box to retain the
moisture, and avoid further watering until moisture becomes absolutely
necessary. Too much watering makes the soil too compact and rots the

As soon as the seedlings have made a second pair of leaves, take them up
with the point of a knife and transplant them into other boxes filled in
the same way. They should be set two inches apart so as to give them
room to grow strong. They may be transplanted from the boxes to the
flower-garden by taking an old knife-blade and cutting the earth into
squares, and then lifting the entire square with the plant and setting
it where it is wanted.

There are many flower-seeds which are so small that they must not be
covered at all. In this class we find begonias, petunias, and Chinese
primroses. To sow these prepare boxes as for the other seeds, and press
the earth smooth. Then scatter some fine, dry moss thinly over the
surface of the soil. Sprinkle this with water until it is well
moistened, and at once scatter the seeds thinly over the surface and
cover the boxes with panes of glass until the seeds germinate.
Transplant as soon as the young plants can be lifted out separately on
the blade of a penknife.

Many kinds of flower-seeds may be sowed directly in the open ground
where they are to remain. The sweet pea is one of the most popular
flowers grown in this way. The seeds should be sowed rather thickly in
rows and covered fully four inches deep. The sowing should be varied in
time according to the climate. From North Carolina southward, sweet peas
may be sowed in the fall or in January, as they are very hardy and
should be forced to bloom before the weather becomes hot. Late spring
sowing will not give fine flowers in the South. From North Carolina
northward the seeds should be sowed just as early in the spring as the
ground can be easily worked. When the plants appear, stakes should be
set along the rows and a strip of woven-wire fence stretched for the
plants to climb on. Morning-glory seeds are also sowed where they are to
grow. The seeds of the moonflower are large and hard and will fail to
grow unless they are slightly cut. To start their growth make a slight
cut just through the hard outer coat of the seed so as to expose the
white inside. In this way they will grow very readily. The seeds of the
canna, or Indian-shot plant, are treated in a similar way to start them

The canna makes large fleshy roots which in the North are taken up,
covered with damp moss, and stored under the benches of the greenhouse
or in a cellar. If allowed to get too dry, they will wither. From
central North Carolina south it is best to cover them up thickly with
dead leaves and let them stay in the ground where they grew. In the
early spring take them up and divide for replanting.

Perennial plants, such as our flowering shrubs, are grown from cuttings
of the ripe wood after the leaves have fallen in autumn. From North
Carolina southward these cuttings should be set in rows in the fall.
Cuttings ten inches long are set so that the tops are just even with the
ground. A light cover of pine leaves will prevent damage from frost.
Farther north the cuttings should be tied in bundles and well buried in
the ground with earth heaped over them. In the spring set them in rows
for rooting. In the South all the hardy hybrid perpetual roses can be
grown in this way, and in any section the cuttings of most of the
spring-flowering shrubs will grow in the same manner. The Japanese
quince, which makes such a show of its scarlet flowers in early spring,
can be best grown from three-inch cuttings made of the roots and planted
in rows in the fall.

Many of our ornamental evergreen trees, such as the arbor vitae, can be
grown in the spring from seeds sowed in a frame. Cotton cloth should be
stretched over the trees while they are young, to prevent the sun from
scorching them. When a year old they may be set in nursery rows to
develop until they are large enough to plant. Arbor vitae may also be
grown from cuttings made by setting young tips in boxes of sand in the
fall and keeping them warm and moist through the winter. Most of them
will be rooted by spring.

The kinds of flowers that you can grow are almost countless. You can
hardly make a mistake in selecting, as all are interesting. Start this
year with a few and gradually increase the number under your care year
by year, and aim always to make your plants the choicest of their kind.

Of annuals there are over four hundred kinds cultivated. You may select
from the following list: phlox, petunias, China asters, California
poppies, sweet peas, pinks, double and single sunflowers, hibiscus,
candytuft, balsams, morning-glories, stocks, nasturtiums, verbenas,

Of perennials select bleeding-hearts, pinks, bluebells, hollyhocks,
perennial phlox, perennial hibiscus, wild asters, and goldenrods. From
bulbs choose crocus, tulip, daffodil, narcissus, lily of the valley, and

Some climbers are cobaea, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, English ivy,
Boston ivy, cypress vine, hyacinth bean, climbing nasturtiums, and

To make your plants do best, cultivate them carefully. Allow no weeds to
grow among them and do not let the surface of the soil dry into a hard
crust. Beware, however, of stirring the soil too deep. Loosening the
soil about the roots interrupts the feeding of the plant and does harm.
Climbing plants may be trained to advantage on low woven-wire fences.
These are especially serviceable for sweet peas and climbing
nasturtiums. Do not let the plants go to seed, since seeding is a heavy
drain on nourishment. Moreover, the plant has served its end when it
seeds and is ready then to stop blossoming. You should therefore pick
off the old flowers to prevent their developing seeds. This will cause
many plants which would otherwise soon stop blossoming to continue
bearing flowers for a longer period.

=Window-Gardening.= Growing plants indoors in the window possesses many
of the attractions of outdoor flower-gardening, and is a means of
beautifying the room at very small expense. Especially do window-gardens
give delight during the barren winter time. They are a source of culture
and pleasure to thousands who cannot afford extended and expensive

The window-garden may vary in size from an eggshell holding a minute
plant to boxes filling all the available space about the window. The
soil may be in pots for individual plants or groups of plants or in
boxes for collections of plants. You may raise your flowers inside of
the window on shelves or stands, or you may have a set of shelves built
outside of the window and inclosed in glazed sashes. The illustration on
page 119 gives an idea of such an external window-garden.

The soil must be rich and loose. The best contains some undecayed
organic matter such as leaf-mold or partly decayed sods and some sand.
Raise your plants from bulbs, cuttings, or seed, just as in outdoor
gardens. Some plants do better in cool rooms, others in a warmer

If the temperature ranges from 35 deg. to 70 deg., averaging about 55 deg., azaleas,
daisies, carnations, candytuft, alyssum, dusty miller, chrysanthemums,
cinerarias, camellias, daphnes, geraniums, petunias, violets, primroses,
and verbenas make especially good growths.

If the temperature is from 50 deg. to 90 deg., averaging 70 deg., try abutilon,
begonia, bouvardia, caladium, canna, Cape jasmine, coleus, fuchsia,
gloxinia, heliotrope, lantana, lobelia, roses, and smilax.

If your box or window is shaded a good part of the time, raise begonias,
camellias, ferns, and Asparagus Sprengeri.

When the soil is dry, water it; then apply no more water until it again
becomes dry. Beware of too much water. The plants should be washed
occasionally with soapsuds and then rinsed. If red spiders are present,
sponge them off with water as hot as can be borne comfortably by the
hand. Newspapers afford a good means of keeping off the cold.

Next: The Cause And Nature Of Plant Disease

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