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"Mary, my dear, I am very particular about my baskets. If ever I lend you my diamonds and you lose them I may forgive you — I shall know that was an accident; but if I lend you a basket and you don't return it, don't look me in the face again."
— "Mary's Meadow," J. H. EWING.
My trowel dwells resplendent in a pigskin sheath. No player of the violin, after finishing with his instrument, ever unscrews his bow or covers the violin itself with more care than that with which I wipe my trowel and replace it in its leathern home. So necessary has my trowel become to me that I am even now lending it as a model to a manufacturer of tolls; and my hope is that trowels of this type may soon find their-way into the hands of all those who feel with me that without perfection here the work must languish.
The Vickery Garden Basket, mentioned above, is as convenient as such a thing may be. Fitted garden baskets, however, are apt to be unsuited to individual needs. Either they contain articles useless to their owner or they lack the things he cannot do without.
Twelve or thirteen dollars, according to a writer in "The Garden Magazine," will supply the amateur with all tools absolutely necessary for his garden; and this is based upon the use of the best in tools, not the cheapest. The bill becomes higher when one begins to add to these necessaries little expediters and simplifiers of garden work; but if such additions are made only occasionally the financial strain cannot be severely felt. Thus, for instance, wall nails with the short, sharp point and the lead arm so easily bent are wonderful first aids for the putting up of ramblers or of such creepers as Euonymus radicans, which seldom seems inclined to take hold of a wall of its own motion. There is the fascinating tool known as "cueille-fleurs " which a dear traveller once brought to me from France, and which is, I think, now obtainable in this country. A rod about a yard in length has at its farther end small scissors which cut and hold a flower, and these are opened and closed by a small arrangement in the handle of the rod. Designed for reaching into a wide border or up above one's head, this is a useful addition to gardening aids. Raffia tape on a spool, with a hook which may be caught in a belt or buttonhole, is something which it is delightful to find at one's hand, and verbena pins of galvanized wire are resources which one appreciates as verbenas commence to throw about their branching stems in June. A small steel finger-cover I have often used for light cultivation around small lesser plants; and in our gardening those stout paper bags in which the Dutch bulbs come are never thrown out, but kept for bulbs of gladioli which must be sorted into their varieties at the very time when spring-flowering bulbs go into the ground.
Those three-piece sets of garden tools — rake, hoe, and spade — known as ladies' sizes are not only constantly in my own hand, but are evidently regarded with some favor by those members of the sterner sex whose business it is to keep the garden trim. These tools have small heads, but handles of the regulation length, and far be it from me to find fault if the little neatnesses of the garden can be best maintained by the use of these ladies' sizes.
Without the Capitol Lawn Edger, a marvel of a little six-inch lawn-mower going rapidly about on one wheel, we could not garden. "The tyranny of the grass edge," as Miss Jekyll calls it, loses some of its severity when this small edger is at hand. Only one going over of an edge with scissors is ever necessary after these little knives, carried along by their one little wheel, have shaved the turf finely and evenly at the edge of walk or bed.
In labels an ingenious thing from England has lately presented itself. This is shown in the illustration of the Vickery Garden Basket, rising from one edge of the basket. It consists of a stout wire so bent as to hold the somewhat shield-shaped wooden name-piece which swings from it. The label has these advantages over the average slender wooden ones which are thrust into the ground, that it is far enough above the earth to be kept clean, that one does not have to bend so low to read it, and that it is really more readily seen than the accustomed type. At a recent convention of florists' societies, accompanied by a show of flowers growing, the labels used were very favorably mentioned. Painted grass-green, they were lettered in white, and, while names were particularly clear, the labels themselves were exceedingly unobtrusive. Not that the flower enthusiast ever objects to the presence of labels; no, it is too often their absence which he has to deplore. Half the pleasure in a fine garden lies in an acquaintance with the correct names of its plant inhabitants. To be sure, these labels, as Mr. Bowles somewhere plaintively remarks, at times become tombstones. Even then, how much better to have loved, learned the name, and lost than never to have loved at all.
Two sets of the widely used Munstead baskets, whose picture is shown herewith, have hardly sufficed me during the last twenty years, and these are now weakening under continuous use. In these sets or nests there are three baskets — or really one might call them willow trays with handles — and better gathering baskets for flowers I never hope to find. They carry the name of Miss Jekyll's place and were designed by her. The sweet-pea basket shown is somewhat on the order of the Munstead basket, but the handle is higher and the pointed steel rod, by means of which the whole may stand upright in the ground, is the addition which makes this of peculiar use. A sweet-pea basket it is called, and I can testify heartily to its garden value. Two bowl-shaped baskets of split bamboo have been my companions in the garden for many years, light, capacious, convenient, and very beautiful to send about the neighborhood filled with flowers. Especially do I recall their lovely appearance when holding Clarkia of that most charming type known as Sutton's Salmon Queen. These bamboo bowls are Japanese. From Japan, too, come the small brown baskets (of which we have no picture) with arching handles entirely made of twigs woven roughly together; little boat-shaped things these, and when filled in April with crocus, scilla, and Iris reticulate, they are like entrancing bits of woodland brought within doors. From some Chinese mission station came the nest of bucket-shaped baskets woven of coarsely split strips of an unfamiliar wood and stained dark brown. These are, I understand, beyond our getting now; I shall, therefore, not describe them further than to say that their shape and lightness have combined to make them indispensable. And last, the little straw plates woven in North Carolina of a native grass are most desirable additions to garden furnishings, light, convenient, perfect for a few apples or clusters of grapes, and precisely what is needed when seedlings are to be transplanted, their tray-like proportions fitting them specially for carrying such objects as must all be seen at once.
A clever little garden accessory has lately come to hand. This is called the Crossroads Bulb Planter. It is a light, round, wooden stake of some thirteen inches in length. The lower part of the stake is divided by lines burnt in the wood, lines to show the depths at which should be planted the narcissus, hyacinth, tulip, scilla, crocus, and anemone.
THE TROWEL, THE LABEL, AND VARIOUS BASKETS
While I know little as to garden-pest remedies beyond the universal ones common to all gardeners, the blight which has affected hardy phlox within the last few years has really affected my spirits too. Nothing is a greater menace to August beauty in our gardens. It is therefore with particular pleasure that I mention two kinds of prevention, one from no less a gardener than Mr. W. C. Egan. Mr. Egan advises the cutting off of all leaves immediately upon their showing signs of infection. These should be burned. The plants then are to be sprayed every ten :lays with Bordeaux mixture until the blight disappears. The other remedy suggested by a friend who has tried it is a spray of X. L. All once each week from the time the leaves of phlox appear above ground. This is declared to be highly effective and I can from my own knowledge of this spray recommend it. In our own garden practically nothing more than this is used for roses or sweet peas. It routs the enemy quickly and completely, be he leafhopper, aphis, or that deadly worm known as the rose-slug, who in the twinkling of an eye changes a fine green rose-leaf into a white skeleton.
So generally is the camera becoming a gardening accessory that a few considerations of its best use may not be amiss. Garden photography presupposes a trained eye — an eye trained first in proportion and line, next in composition. Is it not true that one's first decision in working with a camera whose area of exposed film is, say, four or five inches must be this: Shall the picture be on lines horizontal or lines perpendicular? To take the most obvious illustration: tall spruces or poplars cry aloud for a perpendicular framing of line; apple-trees, round masses of shrubbery, for the horizontal. So in using the camera in the formal garden — a bit of high wall, tall cedars perhaps against it, there is your photographic instruction, your perpendicular hint most evident; lilies, foxglove, hollyhocks in groups suggest the same plan, while reaches of little spring flowers photographed for detail always need the horizontal position of the plate or film, with, what is to me peculiarly interesting, a high horizon line, well above the centre of the plate. Round masses of phloxes, Shasta daisies, usually mean the horizontal position likewise. All depends upon the character of the subjects to be photographed. In getting pictures of whole gardens, too, the good photographer always considers the general proportions. True, if the height of garden subjects seems to exceed the breadth, the perpendicular position is the only one; if vice versa, the horizontal. It is not often possible to photograph one's garden in its entirety, and fortunately so; for where in the actual garden would be our garden mysteries, our garden surprises, as we walk and gaze?
A knowledge on the part of the amateur of some of these principles of drawing and composition is the first requirement for successful picture-making in the garden. Amateurs there are who can do full justice in black and white to their lovely gardens, in whose productions is suggestion of color, too, equally and unmistakably delightful. Others miss the whole spirit of the beauty before them for lack of knowledge of these simple basic principles. Indeed, I am wishing to go a step farther and say that I believe we all know gifted amateurs addicted to the camera who quite unconsciously make out more beauty in their gardens and their goodly walks than actually is therein. And how legitimate this is! — the art which can so select and transmute is in itself a wonderful possession.