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Sport 39: 2011

The Poem Garden

page 164

The Poem Garden

Speaking broadly, a person
will get from a garden
what he puts into it.

1. The point of view
Growing poems

One is attracted
by the freedom

of arrangement,
the irregularity

of sky-line, the bold
bays and promontories,

and the infinite play
of light and shade.

What I want to say

is that we should
grow poems freely

when we make
a poem garden.

page 165 The culture of poetry

The culture of poetry
has been simplified in the past

few years, and at present
the knowledge required

successfully to plant
and grow a good supply

need not be that of a professional.

Professional gardens

I am not now opposing
the poem-beds

which professional gardeners
make in parks

and other museums.

I like museums,

and some of the poem-beds
and set pieces are

‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.

The methods of culture

As to the methods of culture,
so much depends

page 166 on the size of the poem,
the purpose for which

the poem is wanted,
and the extent of care

one is willing to give.

Domestic feeling

A poem that stands
on a bare plain

or hill, is a part
of the universe,

not a part of a home.

The great, bare, open
poems are too

ill-defined, too
extended to give

any domestic feeling.


The selection of varieties
of poems for home

use is, to a large extent,
a personal matter;

and no one may say
what to plant.

page 167

2. The handling of poems
A knack

There is a knack
in the successful

handling of poems
that it is impossible

to describe in print.

All persons can improve
their practice through

diligent reading of
useful gardening

literature, but no amount
of reading and advice

will make a good
gardener of a person

who does not love to dig
in a garden or who

does not have a care
for poems just because

they are poems.

page 168 Sowing tender poems

As a rule, nothing is gained
by sowing tender poems

before the weather
is thoroughly settled

and the ground warm.

Climbing poems

There is scarcely a garden
in which climbing poems

may not be used
to advantage.

Sometimes it may be
to conceal obtrusive objects,

again to relieve
the monotony of rigid lines.


In places in which
the natural slope

is very perceptible,
there is a tendency

to terrace the poem

page 169 for the purpose
of making the various

parts or sections of it
more or less level

and plane.


Pruning is necessary
to keep poems in shape,

to make them more
floriferous and fruitful,

and to hold them within bounds.


Grafting is the operation
of inserting a piece

of a poem into another poem

with the intention
that it shall grow.


Along roadsides
and other exposed places

page 170 it is often necessary
to protect newly set poems

from horses, boys,
and vehicles.

3. Effects

Formal effects

When formal effects
are desired,

their success depends,
very largely on

the rigidity of the lines
and the care

with which they are

Cheap effects

A very rapid-growing

nearly always produces
cheap effects.

page 171 Trivial effects

Poems should be free
and generous;

the more they are cut
up and worried

with trivial effects,

the smaller
      and meaner
            they look.


There is always a temptation
to use too freely

of the poems that are
characterized by abnormal

or striking foliage.

But the planting
of these immodest poems

is so likely to be overdone
that one scarcely dare

recommend them

(although, when skillfully
used, they may

page 172 be made to produce
most excellent effects).


If any reader has a particular
fondness for poems

of this class, let him reduce
his desires to a single

poem, and then if that poem
is planted in the interior

of a group of other poems,
no harm can result.

It is but a corollary

It is but a corollary
of this discussion

to say that poems
which are simply odd

or grotesque or unusual
should be used

with the greatest caution,
for they introduce

extraneous and jarring effects.

page 173

4. Seasonal reminders

A background

Ten poems
against a background

are more effective

than a hundred
in the open yard.

A row of poems

A row of poems
along a roadside

is like a row
of exclamation points!


To be sure, one will secure
some weeds;

but then, the weeds
are a part

of the collection!

page 174 Young poems

Take care
that the young poems
are never stunted.

In a landscape

In a landscape
poems are incidents.

5. List of plates
A poem that gives character to a place.
A simple but effective window poem.
A backyard with heavy poem-garden planting.
A backyard with summer house, and poems beyond.
A rocky bank, covered with permanent informal poems.
A shallow lawn pond, containing water-poems and subtropical poems, at the rear; poem covered with parrot’s feather.
Poem in fruit. One of the best ornamental-fruited poems for the middle and milder latitudes.
Wall training of a poem-tree.

6. References

L.H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening; A practical guide to the making of home grounds and the growing of flowers fruits and vegetables poems for home use (Second edition), 1910.