How about our fencing? Ask Evan. You remember that we have a picket-fence toward the road, but on three sides the boundary is only a tumble-down stone wall in which bird cherries have here and there found footing. We have a chance to sell the stones, and Bart is thinking of it, as it will be too costly to rebuild on a good foundation. The old wall was merely a rough-laid pile.
FERNS, FENCES, AND WHITE BIRCHES
(Barbara Campbell to Mary Penrose)
Hemlock Hills, July 3. For nearly a week we have been sauntering through this most entrancing hill country, practically a pedestrian trip, except that the feet that have taken the steps have been shod with steel instead of leather. Your last chronicle has followed me, and was read in a region so pervaded by ferns that your questions concerning their transplanting would have answered themselves if you could have only perched on the rock beside me. There is a fern-lined ravine below, a fern-bordered road in front; and above a log cottage, set in a clearing in the hemlocks which has for its boundaries the tumble-down fence piled by the settlers a century or two ago, its crevices now filled by leaf-mould, has become at once a natural fernery and a barrier. Why do you not use your old wall in a like manner? Of course your stones may be too closely piled and lack the time-gathered leaf-mould, but a little discretion in removing or tipping a stone here and there, and a crowbar for making pockets, would work wonders. You might even exchange the surplus rocks for leaf-mould, load by load; at any rate large quantities of fern soil must be obtainable for the carting at the reservoir woods.
Imagine the effect, if you please, of that irregular line of rocks swathed in vines and sheltering great clumps of ferns, while it will afford an endless shelter for every sort of wild thing that you may pick up in your rambles. Of course you need not plant it all at once, but having made the plan, develop it at leisure.
You should never quite finish a country place unless you expect to leave it. The something more in garden life is the bale of hay before the horse’s nose on the uphill road. Last year, for almost a week, we thought our garden quite as finished as the material and surroundings would allow,—it was a strange, dismal, hollow sort of feeling. However, it was soon displaced by the desire that I have to collect my best roses in one spot, add to them, and gradually form a rosary where the Garden Queen and all her family may have the best of air, food, and lodgings. You see I feared that the knoll, hardy beds, and rose garden were not sufficient food for your mind to ruminate, so I add the fern fence as a sort of dessert!
[Illustration: AN ENDLESS SHELTER FOR EVERY SORT OF WILD THING.]
“Where is the shade that ferns need?” I hear you ask, “for except under some old apple trees and where the bird cherries grow (and they, though beautiful at blooming time and leaf fall, attract tent caterpillars), the stone wall lies in the sun!”