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The Midwinter Gardens Of New Orleans
by [?]

Or if ashamed, certain other beguilements, other masked democratic tyrannies, entering, reassure it; bliss of publicity, contempt of skill, and joy in machinery and machine results. An itinerant ignoramus comes round with his own lawn-mower, the pushing of which he now makes his sole occupation for the green half of the year, and the entire length, breadth and thickness of whose wisdom is a wisdom not of the lawn but only of the lawn-mower; how to keep its bearings oiled and its knives chewing fine; and the lawn becomes staringly a factory product.

Then tyranny turns the screw again, and in the bliss of publicity and a very reasonable desire to make the small home lot look as large as possible, down come the fences, side and front, and the applauding specialist of the lawn-mower begs that those obstructions may never be set up again, because now the householder can have his lawn mowed so much quicker, and he, the pusher, can serve more customers. Were he truly a gardener he might know somewhat of the sweet, sunlit, zephyrous, fragrant outdoor privacies possible to a real garden, and more or less of that benign art which, by skilful shrubbery plantings, can make a small place look much larger–as well as incomparably more interesting–than can any mere abolition of fences, and particularly of the street fence. But he has not so much as one eye of a genuine gardener or he would know that he is not keeping your lawn but only keeping it shaven. He is not even a good garden laborer. You might as well ask him how to know the wild flowers as how to know the lawn pests–dandelion, chickweed, summer-grass, heal-all, moneywort and the like–with which you must reckon wearily by and by because he only mows them in his blindness and lets them flatten to the ground and scatter their seed like an infantry firing-line. Inquire of him concerning any one of the few orphan shrubs he has permitted you to set where he least dislikes them, and which he has trimmed clear of the sod–put into short skirts–so that he may run his whirling razors under (and now and then against) them at full speed. Will he know the smallest fact about it or yield any echo of your interest in it?

There is a late story of an aged mother, in a darkened room, saying falteringly to the kind son who has brought in some flowers which she caresses with her soft touch, “I was wishing to-day–We used to have them in the yard–before the lawn-mower–” and saying no more. I know it for a fact, that in a certain cemetery the “Sons of the American Revolution” have for years been prevented from setting up their modest marks of commemoration upon the graves of Revolutionary heroes, because they would be in the way of the sexton’s lawn-mower.

Now in New Orleans the case is so different that really the amateur gardener elsewhere has not all his rights until he knows why it is so different. Let us, therefore, look into it. In that city one day the present writer accosted an Irishman who stood, pruning-shears in hand, at the foot of Clay’s statue, Lafayette Square. It was the first week of January, but beside him bloomed abundantly that lovely drooping jasmine called in the books jasminum multiflorum.

“Can you tell me what shrub this is?”

“That, sor, is the monthly flora! Thim as don’t know the but-hanical nayum sometimes calls it the stare jismin, but the but-hanical nayum is the monthly flora.”

The inquirer spoke his thanks and passed on, but an eager footfall overtook him, his elbow felt a touch, and the high title came a third time: “The but-hanical nayum is the monthly flora.”

The querist passed on, warmed by a grateful esteem for one who, though doubtless a skilled and frequent tinkler of the lawn-mower within its just limitations, was no mere dragoon of it, but kept a regard for things higher than the bare sod, things of grace in form, in bloom, in odor, and worthy of “but-hanical nayum.” No mere chauffeur he, of the little two-wheeled machine whose cult, throughout the most of our land, has all but exterminated ornamental gardening.