I’m sending you a list of the wild things at hand. Will you tell me in due course which of the ferns are best for our purpose? I’ve noticed some of the larger ones turn quite shabby early in August.
A SIMPLE ROSE GARDEN
(Barbara Campbell to Mary Penrose)
Oaklands, June 5. Yesterday my roses began to bloom. The very old bush of thorny, half-double brier roses with petals of soft yellow crepe, in which the sunbeams caught and glinted, took the lead as usual. Before night enough Jacqueminot buds showed rich colour to justify my filling the bowl on the greeting table, fringing it with sprays of the yellow brier buds and wands of copper beech now in its velvety perfection of youth. This morning, the moment that I crossed my bedroom threshold, the Jacqueminot odour wafted up. Is there anything more like the incense of praise to the flower lover? Not less individual than the voice of friends, or the song of familiar birds, is the perfume of flowers to those who live with them, and among roses none impress this characteristic more poignantly than the crimson Jacqueminot and the silver-pink La France, equally delicious and absolutely different.
As one who has learned by long and sometimes disastrous experience, to one who is now really plunging headlong into the sea of garden mysteries and undercurrents for the first time, I give you warning! if you have a real rose garden, or, merely what Lavinia Cortright calls hers, a rosary of assorted beads, try as far as possible to have all your seed sowing and transplanting done before the June rose season begins, that you may give yourself up to this one flower, heart, soul, yes, and body also! It was no haphazard symbolist that, in troubadour days, gave Love the rose for his own flower, for to be its real self the rose demands all and must be all in all to its possessor.
As for you, Mary Penrose, who eschewed hen-keeping as a deceitful masquerade of labour, under the name of rural employment, ponder deeply before you have spade put to turf in your south lawn, and invest your birthday dollars in the list of roses that at this very moment I am preparing to send you, with all possible allurement of description to egg you on. For unless you have very poor luck, which the slope of your land, depth of soil, and your own pertinacity and staying qualities discount, many more dollars in quarters, halves, or entire will follow the first large outlay, and I may even hear of your substituting the perpetual breakfast prune of boarding-houses for your grapefruit in winter, or being overcome in summer by the prevailing health-food epidemic, in order that you may plunder the housekeeping purse successfully.
[Illustration: MY ROSES ARE SCATTERED HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE.]