I differ from many people who knew more about garden-making than I know or than I ever shall know, in believing that it is unnecessary for the House Garden—I will adopt this name for it—to be paved between the beds. I have seen this paving done in many cases, and to my mind it adds without any need whatsoever a certain artificiality to the appearance of this feature of the garden. By all means let the paths be paved with stone or brick; I have had all mine treated in this way, and thereby made them more natural in appearance, suggesting, as they do, the dry watercourse of a stream: every time I walk on thorn I remember the summer aspect of that beautiful watercourse at Funchal in the island of Madeira, which becomes a thoroughfare for several months of the year; but I am sure that the stone edgings of the beds and of the fountain basin look much better surrounded by grass. All that one requires to do in order to bring the House Garden in touch with the house is to bring something of the material of the house on to the lawn, and to force the house to reciprocate with a mantle of ampélopsis patterned with clematis.

All that I did was to remove the turf within the boundary of my stone edging and add the necessary soil. A week was sufficient for all, including the fountain basin and the making of the requisite attachment to the main water pipe which supplies the garden from end to end.

And here let me advise any possible makers of garden fountains on no account to neglect the introduction of a second outlet and tap for the purpose of emptying the pipe during a frost. The cost will be very little extra, and the operation will prevent so hideous a catastrophe as the bursting of a pipe passing through or below the concrete basin. My plumber knew his business, and I have felt grateful to him for making such a provision against disaster, when I have found six inches of ice in the basin after a week's frost.

At first I was somewhat timid over the planting of the stone-edged beds. I had heard of carpet bedding, and I had heard it condemned without restraint. I had also seen several examples of it in public gardens at seaside places and elsewhere, which impressed me only by the ingenuity of their garishness. Some one, too, had put the veto upon any possible tendency on my part to such a weakness by uttering the most condemnatory words in the vocabulary of art—Early Victorian! To be on the safe side I planted the beds with herbaceous flowers, only reserving two for fuchsias, of which I have always been extremely fond.

I soon came to find out that a herbaceous scheme in that place was a mistake. For two months we had to look at flowers growing, for a month we had to look at things rampant, and for a month we had to watch things withering. At no time was there an equal show of colour in all the beds. The blaze of beauty I had hoped for never appeared: here and there we had a flash of it, but it soon flickered out, much to our disappointment. If the period of the ramp had synchronised for all the beds it would not have been so bad; but when one subject was rampant the others were couchant, and no one was pleased.

The next year we tried some more dwarf varieties and such annuals as verbenas, zinnias, scabious, godetias, and clarkias, but although every one came on all right, yet they did not come on simultaneously, and I felt defrauded of my chromatic effects. A considerable number of people thought the beds quite a success; but we could not see with their eyes, and our feeling was one of disappointment.

Happily, at this time I bought for a few shillings a few boxes of the ordinary echeveria secunda glauca, and, curiously enough, the same day I came upon a public place where several beds of the same type as mine, set in an enclosed space of emerald grass, were planted with echeveria and other succulents, in patterns, with a large variety of brilliantly-coloured foliage and a few dwarf calceolarias and irisines. In a moment I thought I saw that this was exactly what I needed—whether it was carpet bedding or early Victorian or inartistic, this was what I wanted, and I knew that I should not be happy until I got it. Every bed looked like a stanza of Keats, or a box of enamels from the Faubourg de Magnine in Limoges, where Nicholas Laudin worked.

That was three years ago, and although I planted out over three thousand echeverias last summer, 1 had not to buy another box of the same variety; I had only to find some other succulents and transplant some violas in order to achieve all that I hoped for from these beds. For three years they have been altogether satisfying with their orderly habits and reposeful colouring. The glauca is the shade that the human eye can rest upon day after day without weariness, and the pink and blue and yellow and purple violas which I asked for a complement of colours, do all that I hoped they would do.

Of course we have friends who walk round the garden, look at those beds with dull eyes of disapproval, and walk on after imparting information on some contentious point, such as the necessity to remove the shoots from the briers of standard roses, or the assurance that the slugs are fond of the leaves of hollyhock. We have an occasional visitor who says,—

“Isn't carpet-bedding rather old-fashioned?”

So I have seen a lady in the spacious days of the late seventies shake her head and smile pityingly in a room furnished with twelve ribbon-back chairs made by the great Director.

“Old-fashioned—gone out years ago!” were the terms of her criticism.

But so far as I am concerned I would have no more objection to one of the ribbon-borders of long ago, if it was in a suitable place, than I would have to a round dozen of ribbon-back chairs in a panelled room with a mantelpiece by Boesi and a glass chandelier by one of the Adam Brothers. It is only the uninformed who are ready to condemn something because they think that it is old-fashioned, just as it is only the ignorant who extol something because it happens to be antique. I was once lucky enough to be able to buy an exquisitely chased snuff-box because the truthful catalogue had described it as made of pinchbeck. For the good folk in the saleroom the word pinchbeck was enough. It was associated in their minds with something that was a type of the meretricious. But the pinchbeck amalgam was a beautiful one, and the workmanship of some of the articles made of it was usually of the highest class. Now that people are better educated they value—or at least some of them value—a pinchbeck buckle or snuff-box for 'its artistic beauty.

We see our garden more frequently than do any of our visitors, and we are satisfied with its details—within bounds, of course. It has never been our ambition to emulate the authorities who control the floral designs blazing in the borders along the seafront of one of our watering-places, which are admired to distraction by trippers under the influence of a rag-time band and other stimulants. We do not long so greatly to see a floral Union Jack in all its glory at our feet, or any loyal sentiment lettered in dwarf beet and blue lobelia against a background of crimson irisine. We know very well that such marvels are beyond our accomplishment. What we hoped for was to have under our eyes for three months of the year a number of beds full of wallflowers, tulips, and hyacinths, and for four months equally well covered with varied violas, memsembrianthium, mauve ageratum, the præcox dwarf roses, variegated cactus used sparingly, and as many varieties of eche-veria used lavishly, with here and there a small dracaena or perhaps a tuft of feathery grass or the accentuations of a few crimson begonias to show that we are not afraid of anything.

We hold that the main essential of the beds of the House Garden is “finish.” They must look well from the day they are planted in the third week of May until they are removed in the last week of October. We do not want that barren interval of a month or six weeks when the tulips have been lifted and their successors are growing. We do not want a single day of empty beds or colourless beds; we do not want to see a square inch of the soil. We want colour and contour under our eyes from the first day of March until the end of October, and we get it. We have no trouble with dead leaves or drooping blooms—no trouble with snails or slugs or leather-jackets. Every bed is presentable for the summer when the flowers that bloom in the spring have been removed; the effect is only agreeably diversified when the begonias show themselves in July.

Is the sort of thing that I have described to be called carpet-bedding? I know not and I trow not; all that I know is that it is the sort of thing that suits us.

Geometry is its foundation and geometry represents all that is satisfying, because it is Nature's closest ally when Nature wishes to produce Beauty. Almost every flower is a geometrical study. Let rose bushes ramp as they may, the sum of all their ramping is that triumph of geometry, the rose. Let the clematis climb as unruly as it may, the end of its labours is a geometrical star; let the dandelion be as disagreeable as it pleases—I don't intend to do so really, only for the sake of argument—but its rows of teeth are beautifully geometrical, and the fairy finish of its life, which means, alas! the magical beginning of a thousand new lives, is a geometrical marvel.

But I do not want to accuse myself of excusing myself over much for my endeavour to restore a fashion which I was told had “gone out.” I only say that if what I have done in my stone-edged geometrical beds is to be slighted because some fool has called it carpet-bedding, I shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing that I have worked on the lines of Nature. Nature is the leader of the art of carpet-bedding on geometrical lines. Nature's most beautiful spring mattress is a carpet bed of primroses, wild hyacinths, daffodils, and daisies—every one of them a geometrical marvel. As a matter of fact the design of every formal bed in our garden is a copy of a snow crystal.

Of course, so far as conforming to the dictates of fashion in a garden is concerned, I admit that I am a nonconformist. I do not think that any one who has any real affection for the development of a garden will be ready to conform to any fashion of the hour in gardening. I believe that there never was a time when the artistic as well as the scientific side of garden design was so fully understood or so faithfully adhered to as it is just now. There is nothing to fear from the majority of the exponents of the art; it is with the unconsidering amateurs that the danger lies. The dangerous amateur is the one who assumes that there is fashion in gardening as there is a fashion in garments, and that one must at all hazards live up to the dernier cri or get left behind in the search for the right thing. F or instance, within the last six or seven years it has become “the right thing” to have a sunk garden. Now a sunk garden is, literally, as old as the hills; the channel worn in the depth of a valley by an intermittent stream becomes a sunk garden in the summer. The Dutch, not having the advantage of hills and vales, were compelled to imitate Nature by sinking their flower-patches below the level of the ground. They were quite successful in their attempt to put the garden under their eyes; by such means they were able fully to admire the patterns in which their bulbs were arranged. Put where is the sense in adopting in England the handicap of Holland? It is obvious that if one can look down upon a garden from a terrace one does not need to sink the ground to a lower level. And yet I have known of several instances of people insisting on having a sunk garden just under a terrace. They had heard that sunk gardens were the fashion and they would not be happy if there was a possibility of any one thinking that they were out of the fashion.

Then the charm of the rock garden was being largely advertised and talked about, so mounds of broken bricks and stones and “slag” and rubbish arose alongside the trim villas, and the occupants slept in peace knowing that those heights of rubbish represented the height—the heights of fashion. Then came the “crevice” fashion. A conscientious writer discoursed of the beauty of the little things that grow between the bricks of old walls, and forthwith yards of walls, guaranteed to be of old bricks, sprang up in every direction, with hand-made crevices in which little gems that had never been seen on walls before, were stuck, and simple nurserymen were told that they were long behind the time because they were unable to meet the demand for house leeks. I have seen a ten-feet length of wall raised almost in the middle of a villa garden for no other purpose than to provide a foot-hold for lichens. The last time I saw it it was providing a space for the exhibition of a printed announcement that an auction would take place in the house.

But by far the most important of the schemes which of late have been indulged in for adding interest to the English garden, is the “Japanese style.” The “Chinese Taste,” we all know, played a very important part in many gardens in the eighteenth century, as it did in other directions in the social life of England. The flexible imagination of Thomas Chippendale found it as easy to introduce the leading Chinese notes in his designs as the leading French notes; and his genius was so well controlled that his pieces “in the Chinese Taste” did not look at all incongruous in an English mansion. The Chinese wallpaper was a beautiful thing in its way, nor did it look out of place in a drawing-room with the beautifully florid mirrors of Chippendale design on the walls, and the noble lacquer caskets and cabinets that stood below them. Under the same impulse Sir Thomas Chambers was entrusted with the erection of the great pagoda in Kew Gardens, and Chinese junks were moored alongside the banks to enable visitors to drink tea “in the Chinese Taste.” The Staffordshire potters reproduced on their ware some excellent patterns that had originated with the Celestials, and in an attempt to be abreast of the time, Goldsmith made his Citizen of the World a Chinese gentleman.

For obvious reasons, however, there was no Japanese craze at that time. Little was known of the supreme art of Japan, and nothing of the Japanese Garden. Now we seem to be making up for this deprivation of the past, and the Japanese style of gardening is being represented in many English grounds. I think that nothing could be more interesting, or, in its own way, more exquisite: but is it not incongruous in its new-found home?

It is nothing of the sort, provided that it is not brought into close proximity to the English garden. In itself it is charming, graceful, and grateful in every way; but unless its features are kept apart from those of the English garden, it becomes incongruous and unsatisfactory. It is, however, only necessary to put it in its place, which should be as far away as possible from the English house and House Garden, and it will be found fully to justify its importation. It possesses all the elements that go to the formation of a real garden, the strongest of these being, in my opinion, a clear and consistent design; unless a garden has both form and design it is worth no consideration, except from the very humblest standpoint.

Its peculiar charm seems to me to be found in what the nurseryman's catalogue calls the “dwarf habit.” It is essentially among the miniatures. Though it may be as extensive as one pleases to make it, yet it gains rather than loses when treated as its trees are by the skilful hands of the miniaturist. Without suggesting that it should be reduced to toy dimensions, yet I am sure that it should be so that no tall human being should be seen in it. It is the garden of a small race. A big Englishman should not be allowed into it. It would not be giving it fair play.

Fancying that I have put its elements into a nutshell, carrying my minimising to a minimum, I repeat the last sentence to Dorothy.

“You would not exclude Mr. Friswell,” said she.

“Atheist Friswell is not life-size: he may go without rebuke into the most miniature Japanese garden in Bond Street,” I reply gratefully.

“And how about Mrs. Friswell?” she asks.

“She is three sizes too big, even in her chapel shoes,” I replied.

Mrs. Friswell, in spite of her upbringing—perhaps on account of it—wears the heelless shoes of Little Bethel.

“Then Mr. Friswell will never be seen in a Japanese garden,” said Dorothy.

She does like Mrs. Friswell.


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