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

life.






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

house.




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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

grow.



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

seed.



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

growing.









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,

mignonette.






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

lily.



Some climbers are cobaea, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, English ivy,

Boston ivy, cypress vine, hyacinth bean, climbing nasturtiums, and

roses.



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

ornamentation.



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

temperature.






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.





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