THE SUNKEN GARDEN
Extending directly west from the porch for 150 feet is an open pergola, of simple construction, but fast gaining beauty from the rapid growth of climbers which Polly and Johnson have planted. It is floored with brick for the protection of dainty feet, and near the western end cluster rustic benches, chairs, tables, and such things as women and gardeners love. Facing the west 50 feet of this pergola is Polly’s sunken flower garden, which is her special pride. It extends south 100 feet, and is built in the side of the hill so that its eastern wall just shows a coping above the close-cropped lawn. Of course the western wall is much higher, as the lawn slopes sharply; but it was filled in so as to make this wall-enclosed garden quite level. The walls which rise above the flower beds 41/2 feet, are beginning to look decorated, thanks to creeping vines and other things which a cunning gardener and Polly know. Flowers of all sorts—annuals, biennials (triennials, perhaps), and perennials—cover the beds, which are laid out in strange, irregular fashion, far indeed from my rectangular style. These beds please the eye of the mistress, and of her friends, too, if they are candid in their remarks, which I doubt.
While excavating the garden we found a granite boulder shaped somewhat like an egg and nearly five feet long. It was a big thing, and not very shapely; but it came from the soil, and Polly wanted it for the base of her sun-dial. We placed it, big end down, in the mathematical centre of the garden (I insisted on that), and sunk it into the ground to make it solid; then a stone mason fashioned a flat space on the top to accommodate an old brass dial that Polly had found in Boston. The dial is not half bad. From the heavy, octagonal brass base rises a slender quill to cast its shadow on the figured circle, while around this circle old English characters ask, “Am I not wise, who note only bright hours?” A plat of sod surrounds the dial, and Polly goes to it at least once a day to set her watch by the shadow of the quill, though I have told her a hundred times that it is seventeen minutes off standard time. I am convinced that this estimable lady wilfully ignores conventional time and marks her cycles by such divisions as “catalogue time,” “seed-buying time,” “planting time,” “sprouting time,” “spraying time,” “flowering time,” “seed-gathering time,” “mulching time,” and “dreary time,” until the catalogues come again. I know it seemed no time at all until she had let me in to the tune of $687 for the pergola, walls, and garden. She bought the sun-dial with her own money, I am thankful to say, and it doesn’t enter into this account. I think it must have cost a pretty penny, for she had a hat “made over” that spring.