‘Mary’s Meadow’ & Other Tales of Fields & Flowers

Juliana Horatia Ewing


EVERY child who has gardening tools,
Should learn by heart these gardening rules.

He who owns a gardening spade,
Should be able to dig the depth of its blade.

He who owns a gardening hoe,
Must be sure how he means his strokes to go.

But he who owns a gardening fork,
May make it do all the other tools’ work.

Though to shift, or to pot, or annex what you can,
A trowel’s the tool for child, woman, or man.

’Twas a bird that sits in the medlar-tree,
Who sang these gardening saws to me.



AUTUMN-SOWN annuals flower soonest and strongest
What you sow in the spring, sow often and thin.

BULBS bought early are best chosen.

If you wish your tulips to wake up gay,
They must all be in bed by Lord Mayor’s Day.
“Cut my leaves this year, and you won’t cut my flowers next year,” said the Daffodil to Tabitha Tidy.

CUT a rose for your neighbour, and it will tell two buds to blossom for you.

DON’T let me forget to pray for travellers when I thank Heaven I’m content to stay in my own garden. It is furnished from the ends of the earth.

ENOUGH comes out of anybody’s old garden in autumn, to stock a new one for somebody else. But you want sympathy on one side and sense on the other, and they are rarer than most perennials.

FLOWERS are like gentlemen—“Best everywhere.”[a]

GIVE Mother Earth plenty of food, and she’ll give you plenty of flowers.

HE who can keep what he gets, and multiply what he has got, should always buy the best kinds; and he who can do neither should buy none.

IF nothing else accounts for it, ten to one there’s a worm in the pot.

JOBBING gardeners are sometimes neat, and if they leave their rubbish behind them, the hepaticas may turn up again.

KNOWN sorts before new sorts, if your list has limits.

LEAVE a bit behind you—for conscience’s sake—if it’s only Polypodium Vulgaris.

MISCHIEF shows in the leaves, but lies at the root.

NORTH borders are warmest in winter.

OLD women’s window-plants have guardian angels.

PUSSY cats have nine lives and some pot-plants have more; but both do die of neglect.

QUAINT, gay, sweet, and good for nosegays, is good enough for my garden.

RUBBISH is rubbish when it lies about—compost when it’s all of a heap—and food for flowers when it’s dug in.

SOW thick, and you’ll have to thin; but sow peas as thick as you please.

TREE-LEAVES in the garden, and tea-leaves in the parlour, are good for mulching.

“USEFUL if ugly,” as the toad said to the lily when he ate the grubs.

VERY little will keep Jack Frost out—before he gets in.

WATER your rose with a slop-pail when it’s in bud, and you’ll be asked the name of it when it’s in flower.

XERANTHEMUM, Rhodanthe, Helichrysum, white yellow, purple, and red.
Grow us, cut us, tie us, and bang us with drooping head.
Good Christians all, find a nook for us, for we bloom for the Church and the Dead.

YOU may find more heart’s-ease in your garden than grows in the pansy-bed.

ZINNIA elegans flore-pleno is a showy annual, and there’s a coloured picture in the catalogue; but—like many other portraits—it’s a favourable likeness.

[a] “Clowns are best in their own company, but gentlemen are best everywhere.”—Old Proverb.    [back]

Mary’s Meadow

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