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 Gather ye roses while you may,
Old time is still a-flying,
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
                      — Herrick. 

THE first two weeks of September are very like August, both in bloom and in weather. Save for Michaelmas Daisies there are few flowers peculiar to this period, but if the season has not been too dry Phloxes will still be in fine colour, the second flowering of Delphiniums at its height, and all the host of Boltonias, Pyrethrums, Heleniums, Helianthuses, and Rudbeckias making a rich display, while the annuals indulge in the maddest gayety as their season draws to its close. Groups of garnet-jewelled speciosum Lilies here and there in the borders lend a touch of elegance and distinction to the garden, and the cool nights and heavy dews have incited the Mallows to larger and finer results in their great silken blossoms. Nepeta, the invaluable, blooms again with delicate enthusiasm. Indeed, it has never ceased to bloom entirely, but the cooler weather has started it off afresh, and where it fringed the top of the low, retaining walls in May, it now hangs in soft-coloured mats and festoons to the bottom. How delightful has been this Nepeta all through the season. Pale Daffodils and pink and mauve Tulips pierced in succession its pleasant mat of gray foliage; later China Roses and white Lilies were charming with it, and now the long arms of purple Asters are flung across it in assured harmony, and the Showy Stonecrop, Sedum spectabile, finds a happy setting for its strange pink blossoms.

The hardy Aster or Michaelmas Daisy is, of course, the important flower of the month, and lovely and invaluable it is, though I find it not in many a good garden. Because it grows in cloudlike masses by the dusty roadsides, mingling happily with the Golden Rod and Ferns, many do not look upon it seriously as a garden flower. And it is from these same wild forms that the fine garden sorts now to be had have been developed. No flower adds so much to the beauty and grace of the autumn garden as this, and I should like to root out all the Cannas and Salvias, so blatant in many a fine garden at this season, and fill their places with a tide of tender colour and graceful growth so generously furnished by the Michaelmas Daisies. All shades of lavender, mauve, and purple are to be had, besides pinkish tones, blush and pure white, in plants which are from one foot to six feet in height and which exhibit many delightful variations in form and habit. The blooming of the various sorts covers a long period, from August until November, but September is their festival month. They adapt themselves with supreme grace to any sort of gardening, and it would be difficult to know how to make an autumn garden beautiful without their aid. Borders made up almost entirely of these flowers are very lovely if one’s garden is large enough to permit any part of it being given up to a single season. I saw many such borders splendidly carried out in England and in Scotland. The gray-foliage plants, Lyme Grass, Lavender Cotton, Artemisias, Nepeta, and Stachys lanata are largely used with the Michaelmas Daisies with perhaps a few buff-coloured Dahlias and Gladioli and the strange mauve-pink of Sedum spectabile. Clematis paniculata, grown on tall pea-brush and cut back severely every year to prevent its growing too rampant, is lovely grown at the back of such a border and allowed to trail its fleecy bloom and later its strange, smoky seed vessels about over the soft-coloured Asters. The gray-foliage plants would need to be planted in generous groups toward the front of the border, with dwarf Asters in between and the wand-like branches of the taller kinds brought forward here and there and tied to low pea-brush. Pea-brush, by the way, is by far the best staking to use for these flowers, as it allows them to show all their natural grace. We put the brush in when the plants are about two feet tall, arranging the Aster branches so as to make the brush as inconspicuous as possible and later clip off any ends which show after the plants have reached their full height.  

"Groups of garnet-jewelled speciosum lilies here and there in the
borders lend a touch of elegance and distinction to the garden."

Many varieties of hardy Asters are offered in the catalogues and not all are good — some being very weedy in character and poor and dull in bloom. It is a good plan to see them in bloom in some nursery, if possible, before buying, but the following list, while not of the newest, will be found to contain only very good sorts.

Forms of Aster Amellus are numerous and beautiful. They are among the earliest to bloom and range from one and one-half feet to three feet in height. The type has large purple flowers and grows two feet tall: 

Aster amellus var. Distinction — purple-blue-two feet.
             "          "    Perry’s Favourite-reddish-pink — three feet. 
             "          "    Onward-deep violet — one and a half feet.
acris — soft blue-lovely — three to four feet. August, September.
A. alpinus
 — bright purple — one foot. All summer.
          "      var. albus — white---one foot. All summer.
A. ericoides — masses
of small white flowers — three to four feet. September.
          "        var. Enchantress of small blush flowers — three to four feet. September.
          "          "    Hon. Edith Gibbs of small lavender-gray flowers — three to four feet. September.
          "          "    Hon. Vicary Gibbs of small pinkish mauve-two and a half feet. September.
A. grandiflorus —
very large purple flowers — two feet. October and November.
laevis var. arcturus — purple-blue — dark-stemmed — four feet. August.
A. novae-angliae — New
England Aster. Very fine.
A. novae-angliae
var. Mrs. J. F. Raynor — purplish-crimson — five feet. September and October.
         "          "         "   Novelty — bright mauve — three to four feet. September and October.
         "          "         "   Ryecroft Purple-very conspicuous — five feet. September and October.
         "          "         "   Wm. Bowman — rosy-purple- — four feet. September and October.
A. novie-belgii — (These
are among the best.) 
           "            var. Beauty of Colwall — tender lavender — double —  four to five feet. September and October.
           "              "    Climax — almost blue-four feet. September and October.
           "              "    Elsie Perry — almost pink — three feet. September and October.
           "              "    F. W. Burbidge — rosy-lavender — four feet. September and October.
           "              "    Flossy — good white-three to four feet. September and October.
           "              "    White Queen-one and a half feet. September and October.
           "              "    Robert Parker — lavender — four to five feet. September and October.
           "              "    St. Brigid — blush — four to five feet. September and October.
           "              "    Top Sawyer — lavender — five to six feet. September and October.
           "              "    Margurite-lovely blue-five feet. September and October. 

Two other charming Asters of recent introduction are Perry’s Pink — bright rose and blooming late-two to three feet, and St. Egwin — pinkish-mauve — three feet — September. This plant forms finely rounded bushes covered with bloom.1

 If more white is desired among the Asters Boltonias and Pyrethrums may be used and groups of Japanese Anemones.

These plants are perfectly hardy, coming through the coldest winters unharmed. Any garden may grow them, for they require no special conditions and will thrive in any soil. About every third year the old clumps should be broken up and replanted as the increase is rapid and the plants become untidy and unmanageable.

Groups of lavender and purple Asters in front of a wall covered with warmly coloured Virginia Creeper create an indescribably rich effect, and the flaming Tritoma allowed to pierce a fountain-like mass of pale-coloured small flowered sorts is very magnificent.

After the middle of September, though no hint of the destroyer is in the air, a vague undercurrent of uneasiness makes itself felt in the garden. The flowers appear to redouble their efforts; bloom follows bloom in anxious haste, and the borders look as if colour had been poured recklessly upon them “from a beeker of richest dyes.” By some instinct the flowers know that the breath of the frost king is not far off and they desire to accomplish all their duty before it blows upon them. Perhaps there will be one more week, perhaps two, and it is within the realm of the possible that old November, driving his storm-steeds and followed by his Indian bride blowing warm breaths from her scarlet lips, will arrive and find the China Roses still blowing, Dahlias unharmed, and Honeysuckle waving gracious censers over a sunlit garden. Last year hard frost held off so long that after the first light snowstorm I found the tearful faces of pink Verbenas shining through the snow and the heads of fresh Sweet Alyssum looking as if they had donned little nightcaps vastly becoming.

 But we have not arrived at this point yet and turn with gratitude to the groups of Japanese Anemones which have begun to open their lovely flowers. Among the strong colours and coarser growths of the autumn garden this exquisite, refined flower looks as if it belongs at the other end of the year and unfit to cope with frosts and winds, but it is quite strong and brave and will withstand several degrees of frost without flinching. According to soil and situation Anemone Japonica will vary much as to height. Well grown, the flower stems should rise three feet, or more, and break into a loose spray of lovely blossoms, white, or in shades of pink and rose. I have had the best results with these flowers in rich rather heavy soil and partial shade, and I find they take a year or two to become sufficiently at home to create much of an effect. They appear very late in spring so, in digging about the borders, care must be taken not to injure the fleshy roots.

In Mr. H. H. Thomas’s book, “The Ideal Garden,” he says: “The Japanese Anemone likes a shady spot, it dislikes being disturbed, and thrives in quite ordinary soil. The rootstock is woody, and a large stock may be worked up by cutting the rootstock into pieces about three inches long, and placing them in sandy soil in a cold frame in Autumn or Spring. The pieces of root are inserted horizontally, not perpendicularly, about two inches beneath the soil.” There are many varieties of this charming flower but none can compare (in my opinion) to the old white, var. alba, and to Queen Charlotte, which has no peer in the floral world for silvery pink perfection of colour, save in a La France Rose. The single sorts are much lovelier than those with an increase of petals which spoils the simplicity and hides the brush of gold in the centre that is one of the chief charms.

No more charming association for Japanese Anemones in the white and pale pink varieties could be found than bushes of metallic-leaved Rue, and others of the gray-leaved brotherhood are nearly as good. The “bleak blue” of Monkshood is fine with white Anemones, and both Aconitum Wilsoni and the later Aconitum autumnale may be used. Mr. Th6mas speaks of the charm of Lobelia cardinalis with white Anemones, but regrets the lack of hardiness of the Lobelia, which must be taken up and stored in the winter. This we do not understand, for here, where the mercury falls many degrees below zero every winter, the Cardinal Flower is the glory of our wet meadows and stream margins, and has no covering save that which nature provides.

Chrysanthemum nipponicum is a Japanese plant which all summer long has been valuable for its strong, rounded bushes and thick, dark foliage. It grows about two and one-half feet high, and while its large, white, daisy-like flowers have the slightly chilled look common to many white flowers at this season, it is still well worth having.

This is a busy time in the garden, for as October comes in one may, with impunity, begin clearing up a little, making over such beds and borders as require it, dividing the Phloxes and other hardy things which are outgrowing their strength, and rearranging one’s colour schemes. It is well to do as much of this sort of thing as possible in the autumn while defects are still fresh in one’s mind, for in the all-beautifying light of spring one is apt to feel that perfection is already an accomplished fact in one’s garden. Also there is always more work to be done in spring than one counts upon, and anything accomplished now may provide us with a breathing space at that season when we should be so grateful for time to just sit and drink in the loveliness stealing into the world around us.

Autumn planting of perennials is advised by many who are in a position to know, and I have heard nurserymen say that their customers get more careful attention and stronger plants at this season; but certainly any plants whose absolute hardiness is questioned are best set out in spring, so that the strain of winter will not come upon them before they are strongly established. It is now that one’s home nursery comes into important requisition, for one may lift the plants with good balls of earth, so that the roots are almost undisturbed, and set them down in their new homes quite unbeknownst to themselves. If the weather has been dry the earth about the plants should be well soaked, so that it will adhere to the roots when lifted.

Snowdrops, Scillas, Chionodoxas, Crocuses, Tulips, Daffodils, Iris reticulata, English Iris, Crown Imperials, and the lesser Fritillaries, and all sorts of Lilies, save candidum, may now be tucked away for the glorification of the coming year. Hardy Roses may be set out, and many shrubs and trees and vines; altogether, there is plenty of work to do, and it is well there is, else one might grow low-spirited in this season of farewells and be crossing the flowerless bridge of winter before one has quite come to it.

The autumn Crocuses come every year as a surprise. Though I know they are there I never seem to quite expect a Crocus at this season, and when, one fine day in late September, I come suddenly upon a group of the rosy-lilac bubbles which mean C. zonatus, poised lightly above a gray blanket of Cerastium, it is always something of a shock. Zonatus is a lovely, jewel-like thing, but said not to be quite hardy, so the Cerastium coverlid is much to its mind, and besides protects its delicate flowers from spattering mud. C. speciosus is an emperor among Crocuses; its large blue-purple bowl is carried on a long stem and within it burns its flame-capped stigmata like a candle, or perhaps the torch of its hardy little spirit. Speciosus blooms late. It is usually well into October before I come upon them, standing gravely beneath the Lilac bushes, or piercing the gray-leaved creepers at the front of the Michaelmas Daisy border. Surely there is much interest and a touch of mystery attached to these frail flowers standing so carelessly at the gate of winter. Their nakedness —  for the leaves are borne in spring and wither long before the vase-like flower comes — adds to the feeling that they are “somehow different,” but nevertheless one is glad to have them — the more the better. We have here only the two kinds, but there are others which would be worth trying: C. nudiflorus, pulchellus, iridiftorus, cancellatus, and sativus are a few. They may be planted in late summer and early autumn and, like their brothers at the other end of the year, enjoy a light, well-drained soil, free from clay and manure. A cushion and covering of sand is advisable, and a ground cover of some small creeper, such as Gypsophila repens, Veronica prostrata, or Cerastium, is a protection to their frail beauty.

The first week of October sees many changes upon the fair face of the garden, and by the middle of the winter the gay tints are lowered to halftones and there is little colour, save here and there a sparkle where an indomitable California Poppy stiff blooms, or a luminous spike of Larkspur reaches skyward, less opulently clothed, less tall, but never before so heavenly blue. It is an endearing quality, this of the Delphiniums, to come back at the very end of the season that we may carry the memory of their perfect blue through the lowering days to come. Many times, after very low temperature in late November, I have gathered a few of these azure wands, still frailer and more delicately clothed, but dearer far than the great splendid flower stalks of midsummer. Dear, too, are the little nosegays of China Roses and Mignonette one may gather at this season, the sprays of Honeysuckle or the wide-eyed purple Pansies.

There is not now that exuberant plenty, with the resulting confusion, which belongs to mid-summer, and what flowers there are stand out in the simple autumn sunlight, that seems to envelop the world in a sort of luminous sheen, with a special meaning and significance. It is now that we are especially grateful to the gray and metallic-leaved plants, for their foliage is in nowise impaired by the early frosts, and the soft-hued mounds and bushes and trails are particularly lovely and helpful in creating a few more charming pictures for us before winter claims our garden. Here a late pink hardy Aster trails a branch across the Rue bushes — there a few loose white rugosa Roses gleam above some hoary Southernwood bushes, and a flame-coloured Nasturtium has burst into a riot of bloom below the rounds of Lavender Cotton. In another part of the garden self-sown pink Snapdragons in the retaining wall are lovely with the festooning Nepeta, and little mists of Gypsophila muralis gleam at the wall foot.

But it is to the “bitter-sweet Chrysanthemum” that we turn in these last days of the garden’s life with a feeling of grateful love. Even the esthetic Anemone japonica must give way before the affection we feel for this hardy child, born of the sun and frost. Not the splendid creatures one sees upon the show bench, or in the florist’s windows, but those small, spirited fellows, in brown and old gold, russet, garnet, old pink, and smoky rose, which linger to the very end in the garden, the biting cold of November nights seeming merely to tone them up and impart a defiant quality to the audacious little tufts of colour. Often it is difficult to find these really old-fashioned hardy Chrysanthemums in the nurseries, but frequently, in driving, or walking about the country in the autumn, we come upon them in the gardens of village or country people. Some of the best I have were found in this way, and the owners are glad to give a root or two which will quickly spread into a fine clump. I cannot give a list of named sorts, for my own all came as gifts. They love a warm, sunny situation and a rich, deep soil, and if once or twice during the summer a little well-rotted manure is dug about the roots the response will be whole hearted and generous. Every year, in spring, the plants are best divided and the soil enriched before they are replanted.  

1Other valuable sorts are Feltham Blue, Peters White, Mrs. Perry Improved, King George, Climax, Wm. Marshall, Beauty of Ronsdorf.

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