In recent weeks we have considered the small city garlosure by fence and shrubs, the development of its intenal skeleton of walks, arbor and pool, and a general summary of the sorts of plants we will want to grow once all that has been tended to.
It is clear that the space remaining will be small-how small depends on how large we have made the sitting space-it could be a bench or it could be a terrace with chairs and table.
It also is clear from earlier thoughts that we alone must decide the actual mix, of plants grown for screening, or for foliage effects, or for flower.
We have already thought, in a somewhat gloomy way, that our desire for lilacs must be weighed against our desire for handsome foliage all year, for the lilac is not much to look at apart form its ephemeral blooms.
So here we go with specific varieties of plants to be considered for the small garden, keeping in mind two things:
First, everytime we choose one plant we automatically rule out a thousand others, and second, there is nothing magical about my own choices here. Feel free to ignore them.
Hollies-Fosteri, slender and upright, easily clipped to narrow pyramid. Excellent small toothed leaves and ample red berries, but is can be a bit tender as a young plant in a hard winter.
Butfordi-Globular bush 8 feet high, single spine at end of leaf, highly polished leaves, good red fruit; pernyl, a choice small holly up to perhaps 10 feet, but slow in growth with maybe the handsomest of all Holly Foliage, like a small intensely crisped Chinese holly, not easily found at nurseries and more expensive than quicker growers; the one called Aquipernyl is quicker, not quite as handsome, but a more generally useful plant for town gardeners, all things considered. I would not use the Japanese holly (Ilex Crenata) at all.
Mahonia-all mahonias tend to be splendid in foilage; The one called bealiihas the terminal leaflet larger than the others and is splendid, with yellow racemes of flower in late winter and blue berries following, but its toothed leathery leanes and monumental look at five feet is the main charm.
Nandian-The usual N. domestica is as good as any I have seen, and possibly no plant exceeds its grace of bamboo fern foliage, utterly unblemished at all times, and the pyramidal hanging cluster of red berriesare fine in winter. It is odd that this first-rate elegant shurb is somewhat negleted in Washington.
Osmanthus-The one commonly available is'gulftide' which is excellent, resembling a small English holly somewhat; but often its small fragrant flowers are not produced so do not count on them. The sweet olive (O. fragrans) is not at all hardy this far north except in favored sites, and although I have grown several others in the past, 'Gulftide' is best for general purposes.
Viburnum-Few genera of shrubs have so many treasures among their varieties. Juddii has small pind tennis balls of scented flower in early April, like its parent V. carlesii, but may be a better doer; also Juddii's foliage turns fine bronze red or brightisg red in fall, and it is lovely with early bulbs andwhite daffodils at its feet in spring.
Plicatum-The Japanese snowball, a fine viburnum that grows uncommonly well, and its dark pleated leavesare handsome, but the old snowball bush, V. opulus sterile, is also exceedingly beautiful, with better fall foliage color than V. plicatum. Itis sheer snobbery to down-play V. opulus, one of the fines of shrubs, and more graceful hanging over a wall than V. plicatum.
Davidii-Small evergreen with small pleated leaves and blue berries, a creature of neat an d startling beauty usually between knee and waist height, but can be killed by cold when young and in exposed places.
Plicatum mariesii-Horizontal branches, showy white flowers. Especially useful where a dogwood would be too large.
Taxus-It is hard to find an ugly yew, but one of uncommon value for the small garken is the upright T. hiscksii as it is called nurseries, though it is merely a garden hybird and not a true wild species. It makes a fine 6-or 8-foot narrow hedge and is hardly surpassed as an up-right, smallish, very dark green accent along a walk, etc. The variety called hatfieldii is handsome and fatter if you need something thicker.
Juniperus-First of all the form of the common redcedar called 'Skyrocket' which is as slender as an Italian cypress, though gray-green instead of blace-green. A great treasure and possibly unique where avery narrow, well-behaved, easy-to-grow evergreen exclamation point is called for.
Among ground-hugging or prostrate junipers the choice is endless. The Andorra juniper turns soft violet in winter as a bonus.
Magnolia-The early blooming decidous M.stellata with starry scented flowers in March (often caught by frost) is a rounded pyramidal of globular shrub or small tree to 15 feet, unsurpassed in beauty but not a fast grower. Move it in March and be patient.
Cotinus-The Venetian sumac, formerlylisted as Rhus. A good purple-leaf sort is 'Notcutt's' in which a good bit of red in the leaf prevents an impression of faded gloom. It is nota bad choice as centerpiece of a garden, and almost anything that is pink, scarlet or lime-green looks fine with it, and so do gray plants.
Prunus-It is not unthinkable in a small garden to have a plum or a peach, preferably on dwarfing stock, but in our fine soil and marvelous climatethey will not stay dwarf unless carefullu purned. The garden variety called 'Blireiana' has purple leaves, double pind flowers and makes a neat easy tree to 15 feet. It blooms earlier than the crabapples, and you can count on it with early daffodils.
Photinia-The Chinese P. serrulatahas sheaves of red leaves in March, turning green in a few weeks. Theyare beautiful with daffodils, by the way, but the great value of the plant is magnificent green foliage as you may see at Connecticut Avenue and Columbia Rosd.
Berberis-There is no end to lovely barberries, but thepurple-leaf form of B. thunbergii is especially useful to contrast withazaleas, heavy viburnums, etc., and it has the great merit of putting up with poor conditions such as drouth, shade, congestion.
euonymes-a splendid family, but possibly E. alatus compactus is best for small gardens, and I am not sure it deserves the space. Sometimes it can be whackedback so only a plume or two of its handsome stems flaunting fiery rose leaves (a unique color in gardens) remains to brighten October or early November.
Tamariz-One of the most distinct and beautiful of all shrubs,having ferny plumes of blue-gray-green and pink flowers in such garden varieties as 'Pink Cascade.' It casts no shade to speak of, and does not densely screen anything, but gives a light veil up to 8 or 10 feet. Itades drought but not soggy wet day. What a beautiful plant it is to lighten the otherwise oppressive effect of serious dense screening plants.
I should not carry on, in notes this brief, since this plant is no more wonderful than the rest, but I cannot imagine anything finer than a raised circular tiled water basin in a sunny garden with the tamarisk at one side and a rose like the red 'World's Fair' at its feet, and a few goldfish and a blue water lily and-but enough.
Azalea-It may be impossible to find an ugly azalea and how is one to choose among so many hundreds? among those often sold in Washington, notice that 'Stewartstonian,' with some of the three t's usually missing on the label, has serveral merits: It is clear dusky-scarlet, and it blooms in those occasional yearsthat freeze the flowers on most azaleas, and it had red leaves in the fall that persist all winter, and it is a very tolerant grower. The one called 'Delaware Valley White' and the white 'Treasure' are beautiful, reliabel, suggesting both swans and workhorses, if you follow. There aretoo many fine pinks to even begin on. The Kurume 'Pink Pearl' is as florious as any. There are azaleas that bloom in late May and June, if you want azaleas after the glut of April, as I do not.
Those azaleas withorange or yellow or coral-rose-shrimp-bronze tennis balls of flowers all over them are deciduous azaleas, and the Ilam and Exbury hybirds will please any gardener seeking this color range. Sometimes their leaves color to red and orange in the fall (and sometimes they get mildew, for who is perfect?).
Buxus-The boxwoods need nothing to be said in their favor except the obvious note that nothing else gives the same effect of settled steady vertue, always cheerful green. The English box is the dwarfor dwarfish B. suffruticosa and the American box is no more American than Stonehenge is, but also comes from Europe. A good collection of different varieties may be seen at the National Arboretum, which gardeners do not visit often enough, by the way. Both kinds scent the air, and most gardeners love the smell, though some are reminded of confined cats instuffy warehoused.
Bamboo-Gotcha. You thought I had more decency thanto suggest bamboo in a small garden. The one I commend to you is Shibatea kumasasa, elegant and evergreen, formal-looking, knee-high, and not very invasine.
Danae-D. racemosa, the Alexandrian laurel, is unsurpassed for making victour crowms for runners. Somewhat too elegant for joggers. It behaves like a broadleaf evergreen, standing more shade than seems reasonable, and a bit slow to get establisher. I suppose there is no plant in the world more beautiful than this, with its new intense-rich-green sheaves of new growth in spring, suggesting a palm or cycad, rising over the old black-green leaves of winter. One of my secret grudges against all nurserymen is that it never occurs to them to stock this plant. It grows shightly more than knee-high, and is wonderful with Solomon's seal, Virginia bluebells, lungworts, barrenworts, false hellebores, true hellebores and alleluia generally.
Hydrangea-The climbing hydrangea is especially good if you occupy a fourstory granite castle, otherwiseis too massive for small gardens, but maybe you could give one to an unsuspecting neighbor whose wall you do not care for.
The usual hydrangeas are a bit heavy for small gardens, a shade too well-fed for the pure and thin-lipped.
Of course, if the gardener is a bit gross himself, theymay do.
I greatly admire the one I have seen called Mariesii veitchii,which does not sound right (Maries was a plant collector for the firn of Veitch) but whatever the right name is it has glorious blue flowers ofthe lace-cap sort and, glory of glories, white variegation on the largeleaves. It is one of those plants entirely too good to be true, yet there it is. The average gardener would have a heart attack from the excitement of seeing an old established plant of this in full bloom, the leaves gleaming with white, against an apricot-colored wall (achieved by white-washing bricks, then washing them with water colored with red oxide,then yellow oxide, and lightly brushed with a dry brush when the color wash is dry). It is a showpiece plant, and its merit is wasted if it isjammed in with a lot of other things.
Hamamelis-The hybrid between Japanese and Chinese witch hazels had 3-4-inch orange filaments blooming in freezing weather. A shurb or small tree notable mainly for its seasonof bloom in late winter, and its orange and red leaves in fall.
Poncirus-The "hardy orange," a small twiggy tree with green stems and branchlets and thick thorns, producing scented waxy white blooms like orange blossoms in spring and golfball-type hard citrus fruits in fall. They are colored orange. Country people say they are poisonous. My late mother-i n-law used to give them to me with gin and tonics in the summer, I am sure with no intent of harm. A nice plant of this may be seen in the white house garden when it is occationally open to the public.
Eleagnus-A broadleaf evergreen which in the variety 'Fruitland' has waxy gray-greenleaves felted white below, and an amazing willingness to grow, if necessary, among tree roots. It has intensely sweet and voluptuous perfume from parchment white flowers (barley visible) in October. It will lean gracefully up against a tree trunk or wall, or stagger up to 15 feet.
Malus-Or crabapples afford vast choice, but for small places the sargent crab and the tea crab (sargentii and bupehensis) are best.
Crabapple authorities (there are indeed such persons) always suggest something that does not get blight in Manitoba, but the bold and fearless may as well try these two which I esteem above others. Of course you may not have space for any flowering tree at all, but these are two that you have a right to complain you do not have space for. Sargent's will just overtop afence, and the tea crab will half conceal a garage roof. The flowers of both are white, and the tea crab is sweetly scented indeed, causing the gardener to prance about on spring nights.
Philadelphus-Or mock oranges do not deserve a place in the small garden, but I know many will insist on one for its heady scent in the brief spring period of its flowering. 'Belle Etoile' is best. The purple blotch at the center is often faint, sometimes invisible, but the shrub is less weedy than many and the smell is grand.
More next we have much ground to cover.