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Care of the Exterior of the House

Closely allied to the housekeeper's work within the home is the care of the exterior of the house and its surroundings. It is absolutely necessary that the grounds be kept neat and clean. In addition to this they should be made attractive by the careful selection of a few trees and shrubs suitably placed. While the gardens at the rear of the house may be planned solely for the pleasure and use of the family, in planning the lawn at the sides and front the neighbours and passers-by must be considered. The grounds should be a picture of which the house is the centre, the trees and shrubs being grouped to frame the picture.

In placing shrubs, the effect of the whole landscape should be considered. As a rule, shrubs should be placed in corners, to hide outhouses from view, or to screen other places which should be shielded. The centre of the lawn should be left free, and in no case should a shrub be placed in the middle of an open space in a lawn or yard. A few flowers should be planted among the shrubs, to give colour at different seasons.

The exterior of the house must be considered, if the picture framed by the shrubs and vines is to be a pleasing one. The house should be painted in a soft brown or dark green to blend with the landscape of oaks and pines. The paint will help to preserve the house, but its colour must be carefully chosen to give a pleasing effect.

The general plan of the grounds and local conditions in regard to soil and climate will determine to a large extent the kind of shrubs to be used. Many beautiful shrubs which have been introduced from foreign countries do well in Ontario, but our native shrubs serve all decorative purposes. For damp ground there is no better shrub than the red osier dogwood. This shrub will do well on almost any kind of soil. The swamp bush honeysuckle grows quickly and is suitable for clay land; so are the black elderberry and several species of viburnum. The hazel which may be obtained from the woods makes a good dense shrub, and the wild rose also has possibilities. The common barberry is an attractive shrub; but, as it assists in the formation of wheat rust, it should not be used in rural sections. The lilac may be used where a high shrub is desirable. The common arbor vitae or cedar of the swamps makes a good evergreen shrub. It serves well as a shield for both winter and summer and thrives with moderate care. The weigela, forsythia, and spiraea are also excellent shrubs.

The ground at the back of the house should be used for vegetable gardens with flower borders. For this purpose a deep, rich soil is necessary, and every square foot of space should be utilized. Every family should learn to make use of an increased number of vegetables and fruits and to cook them in a variety of ways. No crops should be allowed to go to waste. A family of five people could be entirely provided with vegetables for the summer and autumn from a garden less than fifty by seventy-five feet.

The attractiveness, as well as the usefulness, of the borders depends upon the choice and arrangement of flowers. These should be chosen with due consideration as to height of plants, colour of blooms, and seasons of blooming. The tallest plants should be placed at the back of the border; for a border six feet wide none of the plants need be over five feet in height. There can be a riot of colours, if the flowers are arranged in clumps of four to six throughout the entire length of the border. In a well-planned flower border some flowers should be in bloom each month. Hardy perennial flowers should predominate, with enough annuals to fill up the spaces and hide the soil. The well-tried, old-fashioned flowers will give the best satisfaction. Every four years the flower borders need to be spaded, well manured, and replanted.

The following lists of flowers for borders may be suggestive:


Bleeding-heart, carnations, chrysanthemums, columbine, coreopsis, dahlias, gaillardias, golden glow, iris, larkspur, oriental poppies, peonies, phlox, pinks, platycodon, snapdragon.


Forget-me-not, foxglove, Canterbury bells, hollyhock, sweet-william, wallflower.


African daisy, ageratum, aster, calendula, calliopsis, balsam, candytuft, cornflower, cosmos, marigold, mignonette, nasturtium, petunia, poppy, stock, sweet alyssum, sweet-pea, verbena, zinnia, annual phlox, red sunflower, cut-and-come-again sunflower.

Each home gardener should study garden literature, in order to assist in solving the garden problems; for the day has passed when one needed only to scratch the soil with a shell, plant the seeds, and receive an abundant crop. Today successful gardening depends upon intelligent management of the soil and crop and upon persistent labour.


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Household Science in Rural Schools (1918).

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