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Nursery-Rhymes-Fun News, Issue #164 -- <
January 15, 2020

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“MARY FRANCES,” called Billy, as she came into the house, “I say, let’s start work in your garden today. The first thing we should do is to dig and spade it.”

“Oh, Billy, it looks as though it had been done,” answered Mary Frances. “I guess I can plant it right away.”

“Ha! Ha!” laughed Billy. “Why, it has to be dug deep; the earth has to be turned under, and compost mixed with it and all pulverized before little seeds or plants can take hold with their roots.”

“How deep?” asked Mary Frances.

“Oh, about a foot, I guess,” said Billy; “but don’t let’s talk too loud if you want to keep this garden a secret. Let’s go out and have a look at it.”

“You needn’t mind—” began Mary Frances, but Billy was well on the way.

“That old Rhode Island Red! See what he’s done!” exclaimed Billy, frowning at the large rooster and shooing him away.

“Oh, Billy,” begged Mary Frances. “Poor old Feather Flop! Don’t scare him! Maybe he thought he was helping!”

“Helping?” laughed Billy. “Helping! If he tries to help that way when things come up, the garden will be ruined!”

“Oh, he wouldn’t do that, Billy,” cried Mary Frances. “He’ll be good, I know.”

“Well,” said Billy, “you’re responsible for his behavior then—he’s your rooster. I’d like to see him live with some other family.”

“He will be good, Billy, I feel sure,” answered Mary Frances. “But you are very kind to dig my garden up.”

“Well,” answered Billy with a very grown-up air, “I know what sort of an undertaking this is. How’re you going to lay the garden out?”

“Oh, I don’t know yet,” answered Mary Frances. “Won’t you help me plan it?”

“Yes, but it’s best to begin with pencil and paper; that’s the first thing Miss Gardener told us in our ‘Home Garden Course.’”

“Well, here they are,” laughed Mary Frances, throwing open the play house door.

“Fine,” said Billy, seating himself at Mary Frances’ little desk and helping himself to the articles needed.

“But wait,” he continued. “If I show you how to plan this surprise garden you must carry out my directions. I don’t get caught with any promise to do all the work.”

“Oh, no! No—indeedy! Of course not; I’m just crazy to start and I promise not to trouble you a bit.”

“Well then,” said Billy, “here goes - first: How much ground have you to work in?

Let us say 15 x 25 feet in front of the play house for the Flower Garden, and 15 x 15 feet in the rear for the Vegetable Garden.”

He quickly drew an outline of the two gardens with a pretty sketch of the play house between.

“Now,” he went on, “you will wish to leave a walk down the center with a border of flowers on each side,” sketching them in.

“You see, the beauty of a garden depends so much on the way it is laid out that garden planning has become a profession, and the man who studies it is known as a landscape gardener.”

“My,” laughed Mary Frances, “how much you learned at the garden school; you’re lots better than a seed catalogue.”

“Much obliged,” replied Billy, “that’ll do for bouquets. Now listen: the way to grow early Spring flowers is to plant bulbs in the Autumn—about the first of November. Then, early in March, sometimes even in February, tiny snowdrops will pop up and, a little later, beautiful crocuses.”

“Won’t that be grand!” cried Mary Frances.

“Yes, in the next lesson perhaps, I’ll give you a list of bulbs and plants which you can set out at the proper time.

“The best scheme for the vegetable garden is to work it out into small rectangular beds between well-kept walks,” said Billy.

“How perfect!” exclaimed Mary Frances examining the sheet of paper which Billy handed her. “I can just imagine how beautiful my gardens will look. Isn’t it a lovely idea to have that circle in the walk!”

“It would look fine if it had a sun-dial built in the center,” said Billy, much pleased with his sister’s praise.

“Oh, Billy, Billy,” laughed Mary Frances, “I believe, I do believe you are going to surprise me!”

“What are you talking about?” cried Billy. “I must be going. We will have another lesson tomorrow, because you didn’t interrupt more than twice while I was talking during today’s lesson. You, see, it pays to be good,” he teased as he went off.

“Alright, Billy,” said Mary Frances, “I am looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson already. I can’t wait to get started on my garden and I promise Feather Flop won’t be a bit of trouble.”

Neither of the children had noticed the head of the big rooster as he peered curiously through the curtained window of the play house while they were talking.

As Mary Frances came out of the door, Feather Flop walked around the corner of the house. The little girl was so absorbed in looking at the plan that she did not see the rooster.

“Caw-caw!” Feather Flop cleared his throat. “Caw-caw!”

“Why, Feather Flop,” cried Mary Frances, “How you surprised me! I was so busy studying out Billy’s plan for the garden——”

“Is he anywhere about?” inquired Feather Flop, looking around anxiously. “I thought I saw him go.”

“Yes, he’s gone, Feather Flop,” laughed Mary Frances. “But let me show you—he has been planning such a delightful garden for me.”

“Delightful!” shrilled Feather Flop. “Delightful! I don’t think so.”

“Why, what makes you say that? How do you know what he planned?” inquired Mary Frances.

“I heard every word, every word,” said the rooster. “Of course you didn’t see me—I was peeping in the window.”

“Oh, Feather Flop!” cried Mary Frances. “Were you eaves-dropping?”

“I was listening,” acknowledged Feather Flop, “and I don’t approve of the plan at all.”

“Why, what’s wrong with it?” asked Mary Frances. “I think it’s beautiful.”

“It’s not sensible!” said Feather Flop. “It’s not useful!”

“But it seems perfect to me. How would you change it, Feather Flop?”

“Nobody can eat flowers!” exclaimed Feather Flop. “See here,” he looked over Mary Frances’ shoulder as she sat down on the bench, and pointed with his claw, “that plan fills the entire front yard with bloomin’ plants and gives only the little back yard for such things as taste good!”

“Dearie me! Dearie me!” laughed Mary Frances. “Is that it, Feather Flop? Why, don’t you love to see beautiful flowers?”

“Not half as much as I do to eat beautiful lettuce and beet tops and other beautiful vegetables,” declared Feather Flop, shaking his head sadly.

“It’s too bad, Feather Flop,” said Mary Frances, smoothing his fine feathers, “but I’ll see that you get plenty of such green things as you like.”

“Oh, thank you, little Miss,” said the rooster. “If you will do that, I’m ready to help with your silly—I mean your brother’s, plan.”

“Thank you, Feather Flop, for all your help,” said the little girl, “and good-bye for now. I must go or maybe mother will send Billy to look for me.”

“Good-bye! good-bye!” cried Feather Flop, jumping off the bench and running away as fast as possible.

Hmmm. Had you suspected Mary Frances and Feather Flop could communicate? I admit I did not. I think we are in for much fun and adventure as we follow Mary Frances and Feather Flop in the future.

Are you planning a garden? It does sound like quite a lot of fun, does it not?


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