By and by, when you have planted your roses, tucked them in their winter covers, and can sit down with a calm mind, I will lend you three precious rose books of mine. These are Dean Hole’s Book about Roses, for both the wit and wisdom o’t; The Amateur Gardener’s Rose Book, rescued from the German by John Weathers, F.R.H.S., for its common sense, well-arranged list of roses, and beautiful coloured plates, and H.B. Ellwanger’s little treatise on The Rose, a competent chronology of the flower queen up to 1901, written concisely and from the American standpoint. If I should send them now, you would be so bewildered by the enumeration of varieties, many unsuited to this climate, intoxicated by the descriptions of Rose-garden possibilities, and carried away by the literary and horticultural enthusiasm of the one-time master of the Deanery Garden, Rochester, that, like the child turned loose in the toy shop, you would lose the power of choosing.
Lavinia Cortright lost nearly a year in beginning her rosary, owing to a similar condition of mind, and Evan and I long ago decided that when we read we cannot work, and vice versa, so when the Garden of Outdoors is abed and asleep each year, we enter the Garden of Books with fresh delight.
Have you a man with quick wit and a straight eye to be the spade hand during the Garden Vacation? If not, make haste to find him, for, as you have had Barney for five years, he is probably too set in his ways to work at innovations cheerfully!
A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE
(Mary Penrose to Barbara Campbell)
June 21. The rosary has been duly surveyed, staked according to the plan, and the border lines fixed with the garden line dipped in whitewash, so that if we only plant a bed at a time, our ambition will always be before us. But as yet no man cometh to dig. This process is of greater import than it may seem, because with the vigorous three-year-old sod thus obtained do we purpose to turf the edges of the beds for hardy and summer flowers that border the squares of the vegetable garden. These strips now crumble earth into the walks, and the slightest footfall is followed by a landslide. We had intended to use narrow boards for edging, but Bart objects, like the old retainer in Kipling’s story of An Habitation Enforced, on the ground that they will deteriorate from the beginning and have to be renewed every few years, whereas the turf will improve, even if it is more trouble to care for.
At present the necessity of permanence is one of the things that is impressing us both, for after us—the Infant! Until a year ago I had a positive dread of being so firmly fixed anywhere that to spread wings and fly here and there would be difficult, but now it seems the most delightful thing to be rooted like the old apple tree on the side hill, the last of the old orchard, that has leaned against the upland winds so many years that it is well-nigh bent double, yet the root anchors hold and it is still a thing of beauty, like rosy-cheeked old folk with snowy hair. I do not think that I ever realized this in its fulness until I left the house and came out, though but a short way, to live with and in it all.