Read CHAPTER VII of Ethel Morton's Enterprise, free online book, by Mabell S.C. Smith, on


“Look out, Della; don’t pick that! Don’t pick that, it’s poison ivy!” cried Ethel Brown as all the Club members were walking on the road towards Grandfather Emerson’s. A vine with handsome glossy leaves reached an inviting cluster toward passers-by.

“Poison ivy!” repeated Della, springing back. “How do you know it is? I thought it was woodbine Virginia creeper.”

“Virginia creeper has as many fingers as your hand; this ivy has only three leaflets. See, I-V-Y,” and Ethel Blue took a small stick and tapped a leaflet for each letter.

“I must tell Grandfather this is here,” said Helen. “He tries to keep this road clear of it even if he finds it growing on land not his own. It’s too dangerous to be so close to the sidewalk.”

“It’s a shame it behaves so badly when it’s so handsome.”

“It’s not handsome if ‘handsome is as handsome does’ is true. But this is stunning when the leaves turn scarlet.”

“It’s a mighty good plan to admire it from a distance,” decided Tom, who had been looking at it carefully. “Della and I being ‘city fellers,’ we’re ignorant about it. I’ll remember not to touch the three-leaved I-V-Y, from now on.”

The Club was intent on finishing their flower garden plans that afternoon. They had gathered together all the seedsmen’s catalogues that had been sent them and they had also accumulated a pile of garden magazines. They knew, however, that Mr. Emerson had some that they did not have, and they also wanted his help, so they had telephoned over to find out whether he was to be at home and whether he would help them with the laying out of their color beds.

“Nothing I should like better,” he had answered cordially so now they were on the way to put him to the test.

“We already have some of our color plants in our gardens left over from last year,” Helen explained, “and some of the others that we knew we’d want we’ve started in the hotbed, and we’ve sowed a few more in the open beds, but we want to make out a full list.”

“Just what is your idea,” asked Mr. Emerson, while Grandmother Emerson saw that the dining table around which they were sitting had on it a plentiful supply of whole wheat bread sandwiches, the filling being dates and nuts chopped together.

Helen explained their wish to have beds all of one color.

“We girls are so crazy over pink that we’re going to try a pink bed at both of Dorothy’s gardens as well as in ours,” she laughed.

“You’d like a list of plants that will keep on blooming all summer so that you can always run out and get a bunch of pink blossoms, I suppose.”

“That’s exactly what we want,” and they took their pencils to note down any suggestions that Mr. Emerson made.

“We’ve decided on pink candytuft for the border and single pink hollyhocks for the background with foxgloves right in front of them to cover up the stems at the bottom where they haven’t many leaves and a medium height phlox in front of that for the same reason.”

“You should have pink morning glories and there’s a rambler rose, a pink one, that you ought to have in the southeast corner on your back fence,” suggested Mr. Emerson. “Stretch a strand or two of wire above the top and let the vine run along it. It blooms in June.”

“Pink rambler,” they all wrote. “What’s its name?”

“Dorothy ”



James went through a pantomime that registered severe disappointment.

“Suppose we begin at the beginning,” suggested Mr. Emerson. “I believe we can make out a list that will keep your pink bed gay from May till frost.”

“That’s what we want.”

“You had some pink tulips last spring.”

“We planted them in the autumn so that they’d come out early this spring. By good luck they’re just where we’ve decided to have a pink bed.”

“There’s your first flower, then. They’re near the front of the bed, I hope. The low plants ought to be in front, of course, so they won’t be hidden.”

“They’re in front. So are the hyacinths.”

“Are you sure they’re all pink?”

“It’s a great piece of good fortune Mother selected only pink bulbs and a few yellow ones to put back into the ground and gave the other colors to Grandmother.”

“That helps you at the very start-off. There are two kinds of pinks that ought to be set near the front rank because they don’t grow very tall the moss pink and the old-fashioned ‘grass pink.’ They are charming little fellows and keep up a tremendous blossoming all summer long.”

“‘Grass pink,’” repeated Ethel, Brown, “isn’t that the same as ’spice pink’?”

“That’s what your grandmother calls it. She says she has seen people going by on the road sniff to see what that delicious fragrance was. I suppose these small ones must be the original pinks that the seedsmen have burbanked into the big double ones.”


“That’s a new verb made out of the name of Luther Burbank, the man who has raised such marvelous flowers in California and has turned the cactus into a food for cattle instead of a prickly nuisance.”

“I’ve heard of him,” said Margaret. “‘Burbanked’ means ’changed into something superior,’ I suppose.”

“Something like that. Did you tell me you had a peony?”

There’s a good, tall tree peony that we’ve had moved to the new bed.”

“At the back?”

“Yes, indeed; it’s high enough to look over almost everything else we are likely to have. It blossoms early.”

“To be a companion to the tulips and hyacinths.”

“Have you started any peony seeds?”

“The Reine Hortense. Grandmother advised that. They’re well up now.”

“I’d plant a few seeds in your bed, too. If you can get a good stand of perennials flowers that come up year after year of their own accord it saves a lot of trouble.”

“Those pinks are perennials, aren’t they? They come up year after year in Grandmother’s garden.”

“Yes, they are, and so is the columbine. You ought to put that in.”

“But it isn’t pink. We got some in the woods the other day. It is red,” objected Dorothy.

“The columbine has been ‘burbanked.’ There’s a pink one among the cultivated kinds. They’re larger than the wild ones and very lovely.”

“Mother has some. Hers are called the ‘Rose Queen,’” said Margaret. “There are yellow and blue ones, too.”

“Your grandmother can give you some pink Canterbury bells that will blossom this year. They’re biennials, you know.”

“Does that mean they blossom every two years?”

“Not exactly. It means that the ones you planted in your flats will only make wood and leaves this year and won’t put out any flowers until next year. That’s all these pink ones of your grandmother’s did last season; this summer they’re ready to go into your bed and be useful.”

“Our seedlings are blue, anyway,” Ethel Blue reminded the others. “They must be set in the blue bed.”

“How about sweet williams?” asked Mr. Emerson. “Don’t I remember some in your yard?”

“Mother planted some last year,” answered Roger, “but they didn’t blossom.”

“They will this year. They’re perennials, but it takes them one season to make up their minds to set to work. There’s an annual that you might sow now that will be blossoming in a few weeks. It won’t last over, though.”

“Annuals die down at the end of the first season. I’m getting these terms straightened in my so-called mind,” laughed Dorothy.

“You said you had a bleeding heart ”

“A fine old perennial,” exclaimed Ethel Brown, airing her new information.

“ and pink candy-tuft for the border and foxgloves for the back; are those old plants or seedlings?”


“Then you’re ready for anything! How about snapdragons?”

“I thought snapdragons were just common weeds,” commented James.

“They’ve been improved, too, and now they are large and very handsome and of various heights. If you have room enough you can have a lovely bed of tall ones at the back, with the half dwarf kind before it and the dwarf in front of all. It gives a sloping mass of bloom that is lovely, and if you nip off the top blossoms when the buds appear you can make them branch sidewise and become thick.”

“We certainly haven’t space for that bank arrangement in our garden,” decided Roger, “but it will be worth trying in Dorothy’s new garden,” and he put down a “D” beside the note he had made.

“The snapdragon sows itself so you’re likely to have it return of its own accord another year, so you must be sure to place it just where you’d like to have it always,” warned Mr. Emerson.

“The petunia sows itself, too,” Margaret contributed to the general stock of knowledge. “You can get pretty, pale, pink pétunias now, and they blossom at a great rate all summer.”

“I know a plant we ought to try,” offered James. “It’s the plant they make Persian Insect Powder out of.”

“The Persian daisy,” guessed Mr. Emerson. “It would be fun to try that.”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to buy the insect powder?” asked practical Ethel Brown.

“Very much,” laughed her grandfather, “but this is good fun because it doesn’t always blossom ‘true,’ and you never know whether you’ll get a pink or a deep rose color. Now, let me see,” continued Mr. Emerson thoughtfully, “you’ve arranged for your hollyhocks and your phlox those will be blooming by the latter part of July, and I suppose you’ve put in several sowings of sweetpeas?”

They all laughed, for Roger’s demand for sweetpeas had resulted in a huge amount of seeds being sown in all three of the gardens.

“Where are we now?” continued Mr. Emerson.

“Now there ought to be something that will come into its glory about the first of August,” answered Helen.

“What do you say to poppies?”

“Are there pink poppies?”

“O, beauties! Big bears, and little bears, and middle-sized bears; single and double, and every one of them a joy to look upon!”

“Put down poppies two or three times,” laughed Helen in answer to her grandfather’s enthusiasm.

“And while we’re on the letter ‘P’ in the seed catalogue,” added Mr. Emerson, “order a few packages of single portulaca. There are delicate shades of pink now, and it’s a useful little plant to grow at the feet of tall ones that have no low-growing foliage and leave the ground bare.”

“It would make a good border for us at some time.”

“You might try it at Dorothy’s large garden. There’ll be space there to have many different kinds of borders.”

“We’ll have to keep our eyes open for a pink lady’s slipper over in the damp part of the Clarks’ field,” said Roger.

“O, I speak for it for my wild garden,” cried Helen.

“You ought to find one about the end of July, and as that is a long way off you can put off the decision as to where to place it when you transplant it,” observed their grandfather dryly.

“Mother finds verbenas and ‘ten week stocks’ useful for cutting,” said Margaret. “They’re easy to grow and they last a long time and there are always blossoms on them for the house.”

“Pink?” asked Ethel Blue, her pencil poised until she was assured.

“A pretty shade of pink, both of them, and they’re low growing, so you can put them forward in the beds after you take out the bulbs that blossomed early.”

“How are we going to know just when to plant all these things so they’ll come out when we want them to?” asked Della, whose city life had limited her gardening experience to a few summers at Chautauqua where they went so late in the season that their flower beds had been planted for them and were already blooming when they arrived.

“Study your catalogues, my child,” James instructed her.

“But they don’t always tell,” objected Della, who had been looking over several.

“That’s because the seedsmen sell to people all over the country people living in all sorts of climates and with all sorts of soils. The best way is to ask the seedsman where you buy your seeds to indicate on the package or in a letter what the sowing time should be for our part of the world.”

“Then we’ll bother Grandfather all we can,” threatened Ethel Brown seriously. “He’s given us this list in the order of their blossoming ”

“More or less,” interposed Mr. Emerson. “Some of them over-lap, of course. It’s roughly accurate, though.”

“You can’t stick them in a week apart and have them blossom a week apart?” asked Della.

“Not exactly. It takes some of them longer to germinate and make ready to bloom than it does others. But of course it’s true in a general way that the first to be planted are the first to bloom.”

“We haven’t put in the late ones yet,” Ethel Blue reminded Mr. Emerson.

“Asters, to begin with. I don’t see how there’ll be enough room in your small bed to make much of a show with asters. I should put some in, of course, in May, but there’s a big opportunity at the new garden to have a splendid exhibition of them. Some asters now are almost as large and as handsome as chrysanthemums astermums, they call them and the pink ones are especially lovely.”

“Put a big ‘D’ against ‘asters,’” advised Roger. “That will mean that there must be a large number put into Dorothy’s new garden.”

“The aster will begin to blossom in August and will continue until light frost and the chrysanthemums will begin a trifle later and will last a little longer unless there is a killing frost.”

“Can we get blossoms on chrysanthemums the first, year?” asked Margaret, who had not found that true in her experience in her mother’s garden.

“There are some new kinds that will blossom the first year, the seedsmen promise. I’d like to have you try some of them.”

“Mother has two or three pink ones well established plants that she’s going to let us move to the pink bed,” said Helen.

“The chrysanthemums will end your procession,” said Mr. Emerson, “but you mustn’t forget to put in some mallow. They are easy to grow and blossom liberally toward the end of the season.”

“Can we make candy marshmallows out of it?”

“You can, but it would be like the Persian insect powder it would be easier to buy it. But it has a handsome pink flower and you must surely have it on your list.”

“I remember when Mother used to have the greatest trouble getting cosmos to blossom,” said Margaret. “The frost almost always caught it. Now there is a kind that comes before the frost.”

“Cosmos is a delight at the end of the season,” remarked Mr. Emerson. “Almost all the autumn plants are stocky and sturdy, but cosmos is as graceful as a summer plant and as delicate as a spring blossom. You can wind up your floral year with asters and mallow and chrysanthemums and cosmos all blooming at once.”

“Now for the blue beds,” said Tom, excusing himself for looking at his watch on the plea that he and Della had to go back to New York by a comparatively early train.

“If you’re in a hurry I’ll just give you a few suggestions,” said Mr. Emerson. “Really blue flowers are not numerous, I suppose you have noticed.”

“We’ve decided on ageratum for the border and larkspur and monkshood for the back,” said Ethel Brown.

“There are blue crocuses and hyacinths and ‘baby’s breath’ for your earliest blossoms, and blue columbines as well as pink and yellow ones! and blue morning glories for your ‘climber,’ and blue bachelors’ buttons and Canterbury bells, and mourning bride, and pretty blue lobelia for low growing plants and blue lupine for a taller growth. If you are willing to depart from real blue into violet you can have heliotrope and violets and asters and pansies and primroses and iris.”

“The wild flag is fairly blue,” insisted Roger, who was familiar with the plants that edged the brook on his grandfather’s farm.

“It is until you compare it with another moisture lover forget-me-not.”

“If Dorothy buys the Clarks’ field she can start a colony of flags and forget-me-nots in the stream,” suggested James.

“Can you remember cineraria? There’s a blue variety of that, and one of salpiglossis, which is an exquisite flower in spite of its name.”

“One of the sweetpea packages is marked ‘blue,’” said Roger, “I wonder if it will be a real blue?”

“Some of them are pretty near it. Now this isn’t a bad list for a rather difficult color,” Mr. Emerson went on, looking over Ethel Blue’s paper, “but you can easily see that there isn’t the variety of the pink list and that the true blues are scarce.”

“We’re going to try it, anyway,” returned Helen. “Perhaps we shall run across some others. Now I wrote down for the yellows, yellow crocuses first of all and yellow tulips.”

“There are many yellow spring flowers and late summer brings goldenrod, so it seems as if the extremes liked the color,” said Margaret observantly.

“The intermediate season does, too,” returned Mr. Emerson.

“Daffodils and jonquils are yellow and early enough to suit the most impatient,” remarked James.

“Who wrote this,” asked Mr. Emerson, from whom Ethel Brown inherited her love of poetry:

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high on vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

“Wordsworth,” cried Ethel Brown.

“Wordsworth,” exclaimed Tom Watkins in the same breath.

“That must mean that daffies grow wild in England,” remarked Dorothy.

“They do, and we can have something of the same effect here if we plant them through a lawn. The bulbs must be put in like other bulbs, in the autumn. Crocuses may be treated in the same way. Then in the spring they come gleaming through the sod and fill everybody with Wordsworth’s delight.”

“Here’s another competition between Helen’s wild garden and the color bed; which shall take the buttercups and cowslips?”

“Let the wild bed have them,” urged Grandfather. “There will be plenty of others for the yellow bed.”

“We want yellow honeysuckle climbing on the high wire,” declared Roger.

“Assisted by yellow jessamine?” asked Margaret.

“And canary bird vine,” contributed Ethel Blue.

“And golden glow to cover the fence,” added Ethel Brown.

“The California poppy is a gorgeous blossom for an edge,” said Ethel Blue, “and there are other kinds of poppies that are yellow.”

“Don’t forget the yellow columbines,” Dorothy reminded them, “and the yellow snapdragons.”

“There’s a yellow cockscomb as well as a red.”

“And a yellow verbena.”

“Being a doctor’s son I happen to remember that calendula, which takes the pain out of a cut finger most amazingly, has a yellow flower.”

“Don’t forget stocks and marigolds.”

“And black-eyed-Susans rudbeckia grow very large when they’re cultivated.”

“That ought to go in the wild garden,” said Helen.

“We’ll let you have it,” responded Roger generously, “We can put the African daisy in the yellow bed instead.”

“Calliopsis or coreopsis is one of the yellow plants that the Department of Agriculture Bulletin mentions,” said Dorothy. “It tells you just how to plant it and we put in the seeds early on that account.”

“Gaillardia always reminds me of it a bit the lemon color,” said Ethel Brown.

“Only that’s stiffer. If you want really, truly prim things try zinnias old maids.”

Zinnias come in a great variety of colors now,” reported Mr. Emerson. “A big bowl of zinnias is a handsome sight.”

“We needn’t put any sunflowers into the yellow bed,” Dorothy reminded them, “because almost my whole back yard is going to be full of them.”

“And you needn’t plant any special yellow nasturtiums because Mother loves them and she has planted enough to give us flowers for the house, and flowers and leaves for salads and sandwiches, and seeds for pickle to use with mutton instead of capers.”

“There’s one flower you must be sure to have plenty of even if you don’t make these colored beds complete,” urged Mr. Emerson; “that’s the ‘chalk-lover,’ gypsophila.”

“What is it?”

“The delicate, white blossom that your grandmother always puts among cut flowers. It is feathery and softens and harmonizes the hues of all the rest.

‘So warm with light his blended colors flow,’

in a bouquet when there’s gypsophila in it.”

“But what a name!” ejaculated Roger.