With such a tiny space of ground the choice of roses is very important. Hybrids take up too much room for general service. One must have a few for colour; but the mass should be Teas, Noisettes, and, above all, Bengals. This day, the second week in October, I can pick fifty roses; and I expect to do so every morning till the end of the month in a sunny autumn. They will be mostly Bengals; but there are two exquisite varieties sold by Messrs. Paul—I forget which of them—nearly as free flowering. These are Camoens and Mad. J. Messimy. They have a tint unlike any other rose; they grow strongly for their class, and the bloom is singularly graceful.
The tiny but vexatious lawn was next attacked. I stripped off the turf, planted drain-pipes along the gravel walk, filled in with road-sweepings to the level of their tops, and relaid the turf. It is now a little picture of a lawn. Each drain-pipe was planted with a cutting of ivy, which now form a beautiful evergreen roll beside the path. Thus as you walk in my garden, everywhere the ground is more or less above its natural level; raised so high here and there that you cannot look over the plants which crown the summit. Any gardener at least will understand how luxuriantly everything grows and flowers under such conditions. Enthusiastic visitors declare that I have “scenery,” and picturesque effects, and delightful surprises, in my quarter-acre of ground! Certainly I have flowers almost enough, and fruit, and perfect seclusion also. Though there are houses all round within a few yards, you catch but a glimpse of them at certain points while the trees are still clothed. Those mounds are all the secret.
I was my own gardener, and sixteen years ago I knew nothing whatever of the business. The process of education was almost as amusing as expensive; but that fashion of humour is threadbare. In those early days I would have none of your geraniums, hardy perennials, and such common things. Diligently studying the “growers’” catalogues, I looked out, not novelties alone, but curious novelties. Not one of them “did any good” to the best of my recollection. Impatient and disgusted, I formed several extraordinary projects to evade my ignorance of horticulture. Among others which I recollect was an idea of growing bulbs the year round! No trouble with bulbs! you just plant them and they do their duty. A patient friend at Kew made me a list of genera and species which, if all went well, should flower in succession. But there was a woeful gap about midsummer—just the time when gardens ought to be brightest. Still, I resolved to carry out the scheme, so far as it went, and forwarded my list to Covent Garden for an estimate of the expense. It amounted to some hundreds of pounds. So that notion fell through.