SOMETIMES there is a hot sunny strip at the side of a house but not much sun in the back where the terrace is.
Usually the town gardener sensibly settles for colored caladium leaves, striped lily turf, impatiens (which bloom fairly heavy shade) or simply green ivy, pachysandra, fatsia, andromeda or camellias.
But another possibility is to take a number of 6-inch pots, fill them with light soil (2 parts good garden dirt and 1 part sand is better than all garden dirt) and plant a seed of double-flowered balsam in each.
Good mixtures are easily available from major seed houses.
The pots, sitting in the sunny strip, will need watering every day or, sometimes, twice a day. Balsams are reliable for letting the gardener know when they need water. The whole plant wilts to the point you think it is dead. It perks up with water.
In suprisingly few weeks (quicker than marigolds or zinnias) the balsams bloom in the pots--lavender, purple, crimson, pink and so forth. No yellow.
At this point the plants will be maybe 10-inches high and almost as wide. Stocky little beasts, full of flower buds. They may then be moved to the shady terrace. Having had a good sunny youth, they endure the shady rigors of middle age rather well.
There is something prim about the flowers, like inch-wide fat little roses or camellias. The plants are tough as weeds. I suggest them merely as a source of color and variety for gardeners who are getting somewhat queasy with impatiens. You know how it is. Right up to here.
These little balsams may be sown even in August and the pots brought indoors to bloom for a while in the fall after it's cold.
Gardeners who do not have enough junk in their houses also may start nasturtiums and petunias in pots, to bring indoors for winter.
I notice, with a blend of pride and dismay, the rubber tree, the fiddle-leaf fig, the palms, monsteras, and Lord only knows what else, are growing with splendid vigor in their pots and tubs around the edge of the summer house.
They sit in the shade of a large old whacked-back Norway maple. This may be the place to say gardeners sometimes chide me for disparaging remarks about large maple trees, and I say you really have to know a maple intimately to despise it fully.
I keep sawing off branches, so that enough light seeps through for the tropical foliage plants. These things have to be watered every day, or every other day, and it would be a strange gardener indeed who did not applaud their lavish contentment at being set outdoors for the summer.
On the other hand, they do make the living and dining rooms somewhat jungly from October to mid-May. They start going downhill in December, and look a bit tired by spring, but revive mightily all summer.
For some years I have been tempted by morning glories in the house in the winter. You have seen pictures of them, no doubt, trained on strings around sunny windows indoors, with snow visible outside.
Usually I think of this in October. But success depends, I am sure on establishing the morning glories in large pots, planting the seeds in August, so they are several feet high by the time they are brought indoors. I proposed to try one in a 12-inch pot, if I don't forget it, giving it an east window this winter.
You will notice the day lilies have petered out, after providing the best color of the summer. With me they began blooming June 5, but it was only June 24 they began to really look like much. They made plenty of color for the next four weeks, then tapered off, and now there are only occasionally flowers.
There are late varieties, of course, which I keep together in a group, to make a small show after the main-season sorts are gone. They are indicated as "Late" in catalogues, and only start blooming inn late July, continuing for three or four weeks.