The Spirit of Adventure
Color in Garden - Plate 11b

More precious to a lifetime of gardening titan any other asset is a spirit of adventure and a stubborn skepticism of the established order.

People who garden entirely by predetermined rules and accepted precedents miss much of the joy inherent in garden­ing. There are rewarding experiences ahead for the independent mind that refuses always to believe that "it can't be done," and scorns to be held down by unequivocal pronouncements that things must be done a certain way. If free thinkers had not dared to try new things, in new ways, and to defy authority occasionally, there would be little progress in the world of plants-and much less fun.

In the beginning of his contact with growing things a child has a fresh outlook, unfettered by rules, restrictions, fears and doubts. Keep it that way if you can. Once a young gardener has assimilated some of the elementary facts of plant growth, let him try anything that excites his curiosity.

Seedling trees emerging from acorns, walnuts and hickory nuts cached away for the winter by squirrels, and missed on their pickup rounds, may someday father the notion that trees will sprout as easily from seed for a boy as for a squirrel. Don't disparage the idea. Many kinds will.

All sorts of tree seeds are available from dealers specializ­ing in the unusual. A child can start a tree nursery of almost any kind of tree he fancies, both evergreen and deciduous, in­cluding some that are quite uncommon. The rare Franklinia alatamaha, with its fall-blooming, large waxy-white blossoms, is a rapid grower. It sometimes blooms when only three feet tall. The unique dove tree (Davidia involucrata) is slow to germinate, but the lovely flower-bracts resembling creamy-white, resting doves are a promise worth waiting for. It is from China, and completely hardy. Persimmons, palms, and even cedars of Lebanon (Cednis libani) are among other in­teresting possibilities. Some tree seeds are slow to germinate. Certain ones are subject to damping-off and other catastrophes. Others are quick and easy. Suppliers will tell you these things

A tree nursery is a reasonably simple project for a child to manage. It is just an open seedbed, protected by a lath shade made by spacing lath one inch apart on a lath frame. Legs at the corners keep it about fifteen inches above the ground. Until seeds germinate the lath is covered with burlap. Then, with this covering removed, the lath serves as a shade for the first year or two and makes frequent watering unneces­sary.