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  More grows in the garden than the gardener sows.
                                                                                                 — Old Proverb.

Most subject is the fattest soil to weeds.
                                                                                               — Shakespeare.  

YES, even into the garden trouble finds its way. Borne upon the silver blade of the frost, the beating wings of the wind, the parched tongue of the drought, it burrows in the ground, flies in the air, creeps in at the gate and over the wall, and here, as elsewhere, the seeds of trouble are sown and lusty progeny arise and thrive. Trouble in the garden, however, is without sting; rather is there incentive and exhilaration in the problems to be met and solved, the enemies to be vanquished.

Garden trouble may for convenience of attack be divided into five sections, each of which has a rather depressing number of subdivisions — that is, they seem depressing when gathered together into one chapter, as they never are in any one garden, for the blessings in every garden far outnumber the adversities. Here is the blacklist: weeds, insects, plant diseases, animals, and the elements. I believe there are those who would create a sixth division — gardeners — but, being my own head gardener and constituting a large portion of my working force, this form of trouble has not yet come to me. My assistant is a young man possessed of that rarest and most golden of virtues among gardeners, that of sticking to the letter of his instructions without casting about in his mind for variations on the spirit, and who, after six years’ association with the garden people, calls almost every plant a Lily, yet has a perception so delicately tuned to the difference between weeds and licensed dwellers, an eye and hand so savage for offending sucker and ruinous insects, and a nature so genuinely kind to man and beast and the very least seedling, that he counts along with such of the garden’s blessings as the gentle showers and the mild south wind.

Jonas, for so we shall call him, has other good qualities. He does not insist upon cleaning up the garden paths too thoroughly. He takes out what he is told, but the colony of self-sown Pansies at the foot of the garden steps is quite safe, and the green embroidery which outlines the joints of a flight of steps and will one day burst into a lavender glory called Candytuft is not treated to the startling language and summary methods Jonas keeps for weeds. Many a pleasant accident is saved for our delight by his unconscious discernment. Mulleins, for a long time, he could not understand or endure, and whether they were our native sort or those raised with care from imported seed they all came out and knew the rubbish heap, but now the order is reversed and they all stay in, natives and foreigners towering together, and it is better so. There are those who hint that Jonas’ “castiron back” lacks the hinge of concentrated endeavour, and perhaps this, too, is fortunate, for, while I like to talk of discernment, it may be that when Jonas leans upon his hoe and his gaze sinks deep into the green of the mountain, or intently follows the sweeping flight of some broad-winged bird ‘tis then my little outlaws get their innings — the wise-faced Pansies in the path nudge each other and grow apace, and the wanton Poppy-person in the grass spreads out her silken skirts and rocks for glee.

But we have not yet come to trouble, and it is a serious matter, not to be lightly treated. Well, weeds, of course, are the most persistent of our troubles; but, after all, what is a weed? They appear to have different meanings for different minds. Wordsworth defines them as “flowers out of place,” the ever-kindly Emerson thought “a weed is a poor creature whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Thoreau wrote: “Flowers must not be too profuse and obtrusive, else they acquire the reputation of weeds,” and Shakespeare had no patience with weeds and wrote vindictively of their sinning. I have a fine book published by the Canadian Government upon the subject of weeds, which gives what seems to me a fair definition: “Any injurious, troublesome, or unsightly plant that is, at the same time, useless or comparatively so.” Many weeds have much charm, and I have to confess to a foolish fondness for some very troublesome ones, but one must, after all, be a consistent gardener and mind the old saw:

  “One year’s seeding,  
       Seven years’ weeding.”

  Weeds, of course, are annual, biennial, and perennial, and it is rather important to know to which section one’s garden weeds belong. The extermination of annual and biennial weeds, if never allowed to bear seed, is a simple matter, but perennial weeds present greater difficulties. The roots of most of them are outrageously persistent, any tiny piece being detached at once becoming the self-supporting head of a thriving family, well versed in the art of defying man, and woman, too. To this class belongs the succulent “Pussley,” which Henry Ward Beecher says is the “vegetable type of immortality.” It must be gotten out of the ground entirely, else the labour is vain.

Cutting the tops off weeds has the same effect as cutting children’s hair: thickens the growth, and when one turns them under, burying roots and seeds, one is increasing one’s tribulations a hundredfold.

The seeds of many weeds retain their vitality for a long time and will lie in the ground for years, awaiting the psychological moment to burst forth in fresh and green contempt of our lax working methods. It is the part of wisdom to burn all weeds, whether in seed or not, and to keep the ground well stirred, especially in the spring, to insure the destruction of all aspiring seedlings.

Weeds rob the soil of food intended for plants that are in the garden by invitation and in times of drought are a real menace, for they are a thirsty lot and do not hesitate to take all they can get of the meagre supply of moisture in the ground.

The list is not long of those plants which give Jonas and me great trouble in the garden.

The worst is Chickweed, an insignificant appearing thing, with a meek white eye and no conscience. It looks a harmless thing, but do not be deceived; the seed is as hardy as iron and is ripening all the time. Even in midwinter, if the sun but opens half an eye upon it, the tiny blossoms unfold and become seed. It loves the rich soil of the garden, but in spite of its taste for high life it is not too nice to harbour plant lice, or to covet anything that is its neighbours. It is one of the most difficult weeds to eradicate but is dealt with more easily in dry weather. It is an annual.

Butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris) is a truly lovely thing, so lovely that I used to encourage it to grow in a thicket of peach-leaved Campanulas, among whose lilac and white blossoms the little yellow weed was charming. This was several years ago and we have made little headway in getting rid of it, but the poor Campanulas were choked to death in short order. It is a deep-rooting perennial and keeps itself going by means of its colonizing rootlets and seeds, which are ripe in August. Do not suffer it.

In the loose soil of the garden Plantains are easy enough to pull out. They are perennial and increase by seeds which ripen in July. In paths and grass a curving grapefruit knife is of great assistance in removing them.

It is difficult to know how a great coarse thing like the Burdock finds its way into the garden, but so it does and is most unsightly. It is a biennial, with a great thick taproot, which C. D. Warner says “goes deeper than conscience.” Cut below the crown of the plant and apply a handful of salt. This will insure its speedy demise. The curled-dock, too, is a coarse and ugly perennial interloper, which should be pulled up before seed forms. It harbours plant lice. Sheep Sorrel, or Sourgrass, is a relative of the above, and on account of its multitudinous seeds and fast-travelling perennial root-stock becomes a great nuisance in the garden. Every smallest particle of it should be removed.

In this garden we have great trouble with Black Bind-weed or Wild Buckwheat, a little twining annual vine with shining, arrow-shaped leaves and small greenish flowers. Strangulation is its delight, and the only remedy against it is to remove it before seeding.

Shepherd’s Purse, a near relative of Pepper Grass, is often quite an embarrassing little plague here, and it is one of those weeds toward which I feel a kindness — it is so pretty in the spring, spraying its delicate greenery about upon the moist brown earth, and one experiences a pang in rooting out a thing so young and pretty. But be strong! To say that Shepherd’s Purse is a hardy annual does not do it justice, for like the Chickweed, when not actually frozen into passivity, it is blooming and ripening seed, and statistics say that a single plant is capable of maturing 50,000 seeds, and this at a disgracefully early age. This industrious young thing is prone to attacks of various diseases which will spread to other plants and vegetables.

I do not know how we came to be so annoyed by the Night-flowering Catchfly, or Sticky Cockle, unless it is that the young plants very much resemble several of our lawful citizens and so are overlooked. It is a tall annual, covered all over with glandular hairs and bearing yellowish-white flowers which open at night.

Dandelions are ever a trouble, and yet how glad we are to see them in early March, venturing a tousled yellow head here and there in sheltered corners. My little boy calls them his, “spring friends,” and does not like the harsh treatment they receive. In the loose soil of the garden it is easily pulled up, but in lawns and paths more drastic measures are necessary. Salt put upon the crown of the plant is said to kill it.

Jonas tells the children and me that the Dandelion is a great weather prophet, and the Chickweed, too. If the winged seeds of the former fly upon a windless day, rain is certain, and if the meek eyes of the Chickweed close on a clear day, rain may be expected before many hours.



In considering these animal and vegetable enemies of our plants it is well to remember that plants in lusty health are much less liable to succumb to disorder than those in a weak and depleted condition. Here, as elsewhere, an ounce of prevention is the better course.

Cutworms. Disgusting, fat grayish worms about an inch long. Its ogrish vocation is to bite off the tops of promising young plants. It may frequently be found callously sleeping just beneath the soil at the foot of its victim. Let no mercy temper your justice. In cultivating the soil in spring keep a sharp lookout for cut-worms and grubs. Little piles of bran made into a paste with sugar and water and seasoned with Paris Green will prove a fatal attraction. Deep holes dug at short intervals among young plants will often prove their undoing, for they are stupid fellows and falling in are unable to get out.

White Grub. Not unlike the cutworm, but lighter in colour and more difficult to get at, as it works at the roots of the plants, injuring them fatally. The white grub is most prevalent where there is fresh manure. The only way I know of to get rid of it is to turn it out of the soil and destroy it.

Wire Worms. These are the grubs of a kind of beetle. They are about three-eighths of an inch long and look like a piece of rusty wire. They attack the roots of plants in great numbers and are more in evidence in dry, hot soils. Arsenites sprinkled upon little piles of fresh clover is said to appeal to them.

Red Spider. This is an infinitesimal but most pestiferous visitant, which carries on its depredations on the under sides of the leaves of plants, causing them to turn brown. It flourishes most in dry weather, and spraying the plants with some force or washing them with soapsuds are the remedies.

Aster Beetle. A merciless black beetle, which descends upon the garden in hordes in. late summer, attacking the Asters, both perennial and annual, and others of the composite class. A very weak solution of Paris Green applied with a spray-bellows has proven a good remedy.

Green Fly, or Aphis. This is a tiny, soft green creature, which swarms upon the tender young shoots of Roses, Coral Honeysuckles, and many other plants, sucking up their life juices and spoiling their fair promise. I read that it breathes through pores in its sides, so ordinary strangling is of no avail against it, and to kill it one must stop up those pores. Tobacco dust is said to accomplish this mission, but after all, what can one hope to do against a creature that in five generations is not only able, but willing, to become the progenitor of five thousand million descendants. In Dean Hole’s “Book About Roses” the following interesting facts concerning the aphis are quoted:

“Insects in general come from an egg; then turn toa caterpillar, which does nothing but eat; then to a chrysalis, which does nothing but sleep; then to a perfect butterfly which does nothing but increase its kind. But the aphis proceeds altogether on a different system. The young ones are born exactly like the ‘old ones but less. They stick their beak through the rind and begin drawing up sap when only a day old and go on quietly sucking for seven or eight days; and then, without love, courtship, or matrimony, each individual begins bring ing forth young ones and continues to do so for months, at the rate of from twelve to eighteen daily.” Tobacco seems a slight thing to pit against such determined fecundity.

Rose Beetle. A detestable creature with the misleading appearance of a firefly. It comes in swarms when the lovely Rose buds are at the point of unfolding, and tears and devours until, instead of the fair blossoming of our dreams, there remains only a mangled, agonized frame.  It seems agreed that there is no hope against this plague save hand-picking – a loathsome task, and we are not apt to remember in our rage that the rose beetle, like Shakespeare’s “poor beetle,”    

   “In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great 
                  As when a giant dies.”    

Leaf Roller. A caterpillar especially destructive to Rose bushes.  He is the larvae of a moth or butterfly, and there are several varieties of him, some brownish, some yellow, and some greenish, but all with the luxurious habit of rolling themselves comfortably in a fresh green leaf. He must be picked off and put an end to, for he is hatching less innocent things than plans.

Mildew is a disease of plants which may be compared to a heavy cold in ourselves and is usually caused by sudden atmospheric changes, or long continued damp weather. Some plants are much more prone to this trouble than others. It shows in white splotches upon the leaves. Spraying with Bordeaux mixture is very good if done in the early stages, or powdered sulphur upon the leafage and upon the earth around the plants.

Rust, which occurs in yellow spots on Rose leaves, may be checked by spraying with Bordeaux.

Black spot appears on full-grown Rose leaves in small black spots which quickly spread to cover nearly the whole leaf. Pick off and burn the diseased leaves and spray the rest of the plant with Bordeaux.

Various Rose afflictions may be held in check by several thorough sprinklings with powdered hellebore in early spring, the first given before the leaves unfold.

It is a good plan to spray the flowering fruit trees in the garden in early spring with a weak solution of Bordeaux; also the Hawthorns and Pyrus Japonica.



  We have had little trouble from animals in our garden. Our own dogs, while enjoying the sun-bathed paths as napping places and occasionally choosing a cushiony mat of Cerastium, are on the whole very well behaved, usually following the paths quite decorously instead of taking short cuts across the beds. A chipmunk has kept bachelor hall in the garden for several years without doing the least harm to our tender young shoots, and we are very fond of him. More than one soft gray “cotton-tail” comes and goes among our treasures unrebuked, because he merits none, though the dogs entertain opinions which make them restive under our mandate that bunny “belongs” and shall be let alone, and I suspect the look-of-a-gun in Jonas’ eye.

Cats do harm in the garden by interfering with the birds, so they are not allowed.

Moles do much harm if they elect to make your garden the scene of their wanderings. A good trap is the best means of getting rid of them, and the directions for use will come with it. Sometimes in the early morning we can see friend mole at work, heaving the ground as he goes along, and he then may be dug out and disposed of, poor little soft thing! But, if we do not get him, we may remember that all his ways are not evil, for he is fond of grubs and wire worms and eats many of them, so at least he is trying to pay his way.

In rural France the government erects signs informing the people of the good or bad characteristics of various animals and insects, that they may not, through ignorance, take the life of any which is a help to the farmer and horticulturist. The request to protect the birds is made, as it should be everywhere, as by devouring countless insects they are doing the country an inestimable service. It is a delight to encourage and protect them in the flower garden, for they are gay company and work hard for their board and lodging. We do all we can to make the garden irresistible to them: there are enticing baths of nicely graduated depth, there are tempting trees and thickets of vines, and there are the overhanging eaves of the garden-house. Food is provided at all seasons, and freedom from cats and guns assured, and the small people who play in the garden would no more touch a nest, or cause anxiety to a brooding mother, than they would rob a bank.

Toads, too, should be encouraged in the garden, for they have hearty appetites and devour countless insects, and they do no harm to plants. We have entertained for several years the fattest and solemnest toad I ever saw. Every spring, early in May, he appears from the same corner of the garden, a trifle depleted after his winter sleep, but soon to be his corpulent self again, for he loses no time in getting to work on the fat insect fare which he loves.

The little red insect we call the Ladybug devours plant lice and never does the least harm to any plant; indeed, if it were not for the Ladybug and the larvae of the Syrphus fly plant lice would very soon increase beyond control. Many other animals are our friends in devouring insects, caterpillars, and mice; the black snake, the hedgehog, and the skunk are some, which, with this knowledge, we may think of more kindly. The work of bees and butterflies in receiving and distributing pollen is well known, and luckily these need no extra encouragement, for where there are flowers and sunshine there will be these happy denizens of the air.  

“The pedigree of honey  
Does not concern the bee;  
A clover, any time, to him  
Is aristocracy.”

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