This book records the work of many seasons and recounts a gar-
dener's high hopes and disappointments. But the results are not
final. As Liberty Hyde Bailey of Hortus points out, "There is no
finality in the interpretation of nature." When a plant that has been
described as blooming in a garden for many summers sickens and
dies, a reader is sure to come along and say, "Where is that flower
that you wrote about?" And when one dismissed as unsuited to the
South blooms gaily for a neighbor, the reader is sure
come along
say, "There is that plant that you said would not grow here."
Opinions are like seeds. Some are viable for hundreds of years, and
some for a short time only. A gardener's opinions change with the
seasons, and in my part of the world the seasons are extremely vari-
able. In January of one year the children will be skating on the pond
and the too-eager blossoms of the Japanese apricot will be seared;
in January of another we will be having lunch in the sun and pansies
and crocuses will be in bloom.
And yet, specific information is the only kind that is of use to
the gardener. Generalizations are safe but not helpful. In order to
collect the data that I need for my own garden I keep a card index
of all of the plants that come into it. I put down where they come
from, when they were planted, and when they bloom. All too often
I put down when they die. I measure every petal and leaf, and some-
times even count the stamens. I sniff the flowers to see if they are
fragrant, and if they are, I try to tell what their perfume reminds me
of. Unfortunately there is no standard for odors, so I alone know
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