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Gardening Indoors and Under Glass A Practical Guide to the Planting, Care and Propagation of House Plants, and to the Construction and Management of Hotbed, Coldframe and Small Greenhouse

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To-day the garden is in the zenith of its glory. The geraniums and salvias blaze in the autumn sun; the begonias have grown to a small forest of beautiful foliage and bloom; the heliotropes have become almost little trees, and load the air with their delicate fragrance. To-night—who knows?—grim winter may fling the first fleet-winged detachment of his advance across the land, by every roadside and into every garden-close; and to-morrow there will be but blackening ruins and burned bivouacs where the thousand camps of summer planted their green and purple in the golden haze.

And what provision, when that inevitable day of summer's defeat comes, have you made for saving part of the beauty and joy of your garden, of carrying some rescued plants into the safe stronghold of your house, like minstrels to make merry and cheer the clouded days until the long siege is over, and spring, rejuvenescent, comes to rout the snows?

I do not know which is the more commonly overlooked, the importance and fun of keeping the living-rooms of the house cheerful with plants and flowers in winter, or the certainty and economy with which it may be done if one will use the plain common-sense methods necessary to make plants succeed. Too much care and coddling is just as sure to make growth forlorn and sickly as too much neglect. That may be one reason why one frequently sees such healthy looking plants framed in the dismal window of a factory tenement, where the chinks can never be stopped tight and the occupants find it hard enough to keep warm, while at the same time it is easy to find leafless and lanky specimens in the superheated and moistureless air of drawing-rooms.

It certainly is true that many modern houses of the better sort do not offer very congenial conditions to the healthy growth of plants. It is equally certain that in many cases these conditions may be changed by different management in such way that they would be not only more healthy for plants to live in, but so also for their human occupants. In many other cases there is nothing but lack of information or energy in the way of constructing a place entirely suitable for the growth of plants. To illustrate what I mean, I mention the following instance of how one person made a suitable place in which to grow flowers. Two narrow storm windows, which had been discarded, were fastened at right angles to the sides of the dining-room windows, and the regular storm sash screwed on to these. Here were the three glass sides of a small conservatory. Half-inch boards made a bottom and roof, the former being supported by brackets to give strength, and the latter put on with two slanting side pieces nailed to the top of the upright narrow sash spoken of, to give the roof a pitch. Top and bottom were covered with old flexible rubber matting which was carried back under the clapboards making a weather-proof, tight joint with the side of the house. Six-inch light wooden shelves on the inside gave a conservatory of considerable capacity....