Other ground covers.

Under trees, and in other shady places, it may be necessary to cover the ground with something else than grass. Good plants for such uses are periwinkle (_Vinca minor,_ an evergreen trailer, often called "running myrtle"), moneywort (_Lysimachia nummularia_), lily-of-the-valley, and various kinds of sedge or carex. In some dark or shady places, and under some kinds of trees, it is practically impossible to secure a good lawn, and one may be obliged to resort to decumbent bushes or other forms of planting.


Almost any land contains enough food for the growing of good crops, but the food elements may be chemically unavailable, or there may be insufficient water to dissolve them. It is too long a story to explain at this place,--the philosophy of tillage and of enriching the land,--and the reader who desires to make excursions into this delightful subject should consult King on "The Soil," Roberts on "The Fertility of the Land," and recent writings of many kinds. The reader must accept my word for it that tilling the land renders it productive.

I must call my reader's attention to the fact that this book is on the making of gardens,--on the planning and the doing of the work from the year's end to end,--not on the appreciation of a completed garden. I want the reader to know that a garden is not worth having unless he makes it with his own hands or helps to make it. He must work himself into it. He must know the pleasure of preparing the land, of contending with bugs and all other difficulties, for it is only thereby that he comes into appreciation of the real value of a garden.

I am saying this to prepare the reader for the work that I lay out in this chapter. I want him to know the real joy that there is in the simple processes of breaking the earth and fitting it for the seed. The more pains he takes with these processes, naturally the keener will be his enjoyment of them. No one can have any other satisfaction than that of mere manual exercise if he does not know the reasons for what he does with his soil. I am sure that my keenest delight in a garden comes in the one month of the opening season and the other month of the closing season. These are the months when I work hardest and when I am nearest the soil. To feel the thrust of the spade, to smell the sweet earth, to prepare for the young plants and then to prepare for the closing year, to handle the tools with discrimination, to guard against frost, to be close with the rain and wind, to see the young things start into life and then to see them go down into winter,--these are some of the best of the joys of gardening. In this spirit we should take up the work of handling the land.