Summer's hand can be made to hang a natural curtain before your house
ANNE ELIZABETH WILSON
NOW is the time when, having prepared the house for summer, we are ready to devote ourselves to the garden. I have often thought, when I have been going into the intricacies of that other art, interior decoration, that there should be a parallel art for gardens called exterior decoration. Certainly, there is as much scope, and there are as many laws to be heeded. Last year, at about this time, we treated of the furnishing of the garden; in this article I shall go into those points which, being fixtures, might correspond to the backgrounds against which one furnishes a room. First, a house which is not curtained within is bare. How equally bare is that house which is not curtained from without? There is a natural curtain for the stiff lines of houses, which summer’s own hand hangs upon them year by year. The vines of Canada are a part of exterior decoration, which every lover of a home or garden should understand and cultivate. Vines can cover, even beautify, unsightliness; they enhance good lines, and give a sense of permanency and charm to whatever structure they may cling to. A vine-covered wall, fence, or pergola; a trellis of climbing roses or clematis, are symbols of the garden in which tradition clings, and where the sense of home is present.
Useful Canadian Vines
TN CANADA, such vines as the Japanese or Boston Ivy, the Virginia Creeper, the Dutchman’s Pipe, the American bittersweet, clematis, and the climbing roses flourish. Vines are very easy to establish and should be planted as early in the spring as feasible. Even though the rest of the ground, the lawns and the flower beds, are not yet ready for planting, vines may be planted close to the house and will soon begin their coverage of new walls.
The English ivy cannot be grown in all parts of Canada. It has been grown in southern Ontario, Annapolis in Nova Scotia, and the British Columbia coast.
A good substitute for the English ivy is the Japanese or Boston ivy, which is an attractive climber with glossy leaves and which grows close to the wall. Its leaves, however, fall in the autumn. Boston or Japanese ivy succeeds best along the St. Lawrence River above Montreal, along Lake Ontario and through south-western Ontario, and in the milder parts of other provinces. In sections where the winters are heavy, it usually winter kills. In places where changes in climate are sudden and severe, it is best grown on the northern or eastern side of buildings, for here the temperatures do not change so suddenly as in some other countries where they are more exposed to the sun.
Virginia creeper is an excellent native climber which is of more general adaptation than the other. It is present in Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It grows rapidly, and its graceful festoons make it perhaps
more pleasing to the eye than the closer growing English or Japanese ivy. In autumn it changes to brilliant tones, which give it added attractiveness. Its only drawback is that it is subject to the attacks of insects called leafhoppers which often so destroy the foliage that the leaves fall prematurely. Spraying with tobacco is about the only remedy for these pests, and should be done before the insects become active. A good circulation of air sometimes helps to prevent the onslaught of the hoppers. There is a variety of Virginia creeper known as Englemann creeper which is particularly suitable for growing against walls, as it is closer growing than the ordinary variety. The regular Virginia creeper is excellent for verandahs, fences, or covering old trees and stumps.
There is another variety known as Self-fastening Virginia creeper, sometimes called hairy creeper, because of its downiness. This variety seems to repel the insect pests. It is a native of Eastern Ontario.
A cleaner type of vine, and one giving excellent shade because of its large elephant-ear leaves, is Dutchman’s Pipe. It is excellent for verandahs and pergolas. This vine seems not to be so susceptible to insect pests, and its only drawback is its slowness in getting established. After a second season, however, the growth of its twining stems is usually rapid. It is a vine which seems to be hardy all through Canada except in the prairies.
Another clean vine for the verandah is the American bittersweet. It has glossy bright green foliage, which is very attractive. There is a fruiting form of this vine which carries orange and scarlet berries in the autumn, when touched by frost. There is a Japanese bittersweet, which has more attractive fruit than the native, but the foliage is not so good. Bittersweets are good for covering stone walls, fences and stumps, and, after the foliage has dropped, the fruit is attractive until covered with snow. These, too, are hardy except in certain parts of the prairies Roses are, of course, one of the greatest favorites among the climbers. Except in parts of Canada where the winter is mild, as in British Columbia, and certain parts of south-western Ontario, most of the roses need protection in the winter. Taking down the vines and covering them with straw, leaves, or waterproof boxes, are some of the best methods of winter protection. Some of the most hardy varieties, as tested out at the Ottawa Experimental Farm, are the American Pillar, the Crimson Rambler, the Dorothy Perkins, Doctor Van Fleet, Euphrosyne, Evangeline, Hiawatha, Mrs. S. W. Flight, and Pauseneschon, but there are many other lovely varieties which are equally satisfactory where winters are mild.
Wistaria is used in the warmer portions of Canada for verandahs and trailing over other parts of the house. It is particularly lovely over garden arches or pergolas. If the vine is taken down and given winter protection, with earth or mulch, it usually winters satisfactorily.
Honeysuckle is another favorite. There is nothing much sweeter than English honeysuckle or woodbine, as it known in the old country. Except in the warmer portions of Canada, however, the flower buds are killed and it loses much of its attractiveness. The scarlet trumpet honeysuckle, while it is killed back more or less at Ottawa and Montreal, nevertheless blooms on the new wood andus the most satisfactory honeysuckle in eastern Ontario, and continues to bloom all summer. Among the native honeysuckles which may be used, the most satisfactory is probably the hairy honeysuckle.
The clematis is a well-known vine. ItS rich purple flowers make it attractive on fences and trellises. Clematis is a very permanent vine, and once it is established it usually will live for many years. There are varieties with smaller flowers, such the native Virgin’s Bower and the European Traveller’s Joy, which are both rampantgrowers. These have clean foliage and small white flowers. Where a large amount of growth is desired they are excellent. These are not hardy in the West, although satisfactory throughout eastern Canada, but may be substituted there by the native Alberta species, the Western Virgin’s Bower. This grows in dry situations and where cold is intense. Japanese clematis blooms in the autumn. This also has small white flowers which are
sweet scented, Japanese clematis succeeds only in milder climates, and in western Ontario, where it grows well, it has been known to reach a height of fifteen feet in growth.
Other vines which may be cultivated are the wild or domestic grape, both of which, however, need spraying to keep them free from insects, and the common hop. This last is particularly useful in the prairie country. Although not an attractive vine in comparison with others, it nevertheless gives a good shade and a screen from the sun in warm weather.
Decorating the Doorway
1VTOW, having hung our curtain, let us
’ proceed to the finer details. Perhaps the first to catch the eye, is the doorway. It is the first sign of welcome for friend or stranger entering our portals. A doorway always should be well lighted. There are many attractive forms of door lanterns in wrought iron. Often it is possible to pick up old lanterns which have been used in ships or even the quaint old farm lantern, which has fallen into disuse, may be wired and made most picturesque. A formal doorway is attractive when flanked by a pair of potted shrubs. Rough stone pillars may also be used. A pair of long flower boxes on the stone railing of porch steps is attractive. The appearance of. -the
cottage type of house is enhanced by a pair or a single settle before the door or on its diminutive porch. Often a decorative medallion or tile may be set in concrete above the door. There are many forms of attractive door hardware, such as iron locks, handles and knockers. They are not part of the necessities of life, but they are the additions to bare requirements which make for charm.
A pair of flower urns may mark an entrance very effectively. This is illustrated in a photograph of a terrace entrance here reproduced.
The use of flagstones in the small or large garden is an effective background decoration. Flagstone is essentially native material, and may be picked up in almost any part of the country. Stepping stones may be sunk into the lawn singly or in pairs, or in narrow informal paths to garden beds. If paths are required for frequent use, wider walks may be laid with straight lines, the stone in the form of squares and rectangles, and with narrow strips of turf, one and one-half to two and sometimes three inches in width. Good sandy loam and leaf mould may be worked.around such stones and sown with clover, which nestles snugly between them. These little strips of turf easily may be cut with the lawn mower with the rest of the grass. They are best mown, however, when dry, for the mower may slip if the grass is wet after dew or rain. When walks are curved, stone may be laid in random forms, but always with jointings at consistent widths. There are a few rules in laying flagstones. First, straight lines should not persist further than two full-sized stones. There should not be too much contrast in size between stones; that is grouping of large stones with conspicuously smaller ones. Also the ribbons of turf between stones should be kept more or less uniform wherever possible. Beautiful colors may often be found in native stones, pink and pale
green and gray, which, when weather beaten seem almost to melt into the grass itself. On terraces, flagstones m^y be used most attractively to make informal steps.
COME charming effects have been ob^ tained in garden fixtures—such as benches built around old trees, thatched lychgates, and summer houses. Old Hickory may be built around trees so that it is almost part of the growth itself. Thatching is still widely practised in the
older countries, and there is no reason why it should not be brought into the scheme of beautification in Canada. First of all, in attempting thatching, one must get good, long, unthreshed rye or wheat straw, preferably wheat, starting it at the
eaves of the roof or whatever you are thatching. Lay the straw along at whatever thickness is required, twelve inches, fourteen or even eighteen—a shallow thatch never looks well. You then set the straw to the laths and rafters with stout tarred string or wire. The first row is laid as far as one can reach from the ladder. This layer is called a stelch. Working upwards, each new layer covers
the cord which secures that beneath it, and thus you go on until you reach the bridge. In laying the second stelch, one must be careful to blend together its edges and the edges of that already made, so that the rain may not find its way between them, and so on until the roof is covered. When all is done the thatch is smoothed down and straightened with a gigantic comb, like the head of a large rake, one end serving as a handle. Lastly, the eaves are cut to shape and trimmed with shears. In order to give the roof a
finished appearance, the thatching may be bound down with at least two belts of buckles and runners. These are made from slips of withy, twisted and doubled in their middle and pointed at the ends. The runners are long straight slips of the same.
The buckles, being placed over them, are pushed tightly into the thatch, their points being driven upwards, so that the rain may not be let in. A roof, well thatched, will last from forty to seventyfive years and even longer. One gardener in Canada, Harold Marten, at Port Dalhousie, Ontario, has made a specialty of thatching. I am certain that anyone writing him would receive any informa-
tion on the subject which they required. He has one of the most beautiful old world gardens in eastern Canada.
What myriad little touches may we not add to any garden! A white-washed boulder here, a low wall there, like the panellings, the plaques or the curtaining in our rooms. Truly a garden may be developed almost as we work upon the interior of the home, against the soft green carpet of its lawns, the color of its shrubbery, and the initimable grace of its draperies on wall and trellis.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.