The smallest garden, no less than the elaborate estate, represents the results of the combination of four basic factors. They are: (1) the materials of gardening; (2) the means; (3) the methods; and (4) the background. These four factors, as well as the all-important human element.
Materials - These are, first of all, the plants that make gardens; and, second, the soil in which they grow. In the plant articles, the objective has been to describe each subject, then to give simple cultural directions, and finally to list and describe briefly the more important and promising kinds available and especially suitable in gardens.
When looking for any plant (or a genus) always look for the correct botanical name. Sometimes botanical and common names are the same, as Chrysanthemum or Zinnia. Sometimes a plant has a botanical name and also two or more common names.
Means to Gardening are the implements, accessories and aids with which plants are grown and gardens are made and cared for: tools, fertilizers, spray materials, hotbeds in fact, all objects that are neither plants nor parts of the soil. All these subjects should be studied in connection with the cultural notes on the various plants, and other articles covering the plant care factors.
Methods, which include all details of design and planning; construction and planting; and maintenance, or culture and protection. To get the most out of this information, you may have to consult several items in order to gain complete understanding of a certain subject just like caring african violet. For information on pruning a rosebush of about african violet, for example, consult not only the directions under rose, but also separate articles on pruning, shrubs, shears, etc., as well as the Garden Know-How articles. This is especially true in the case of plant enemies and their control.
Background is, of course, what all gardens furnish for the lives of those who live in them or view them. But we mean the relation of individual plants and gardens to one another, and to things outside them. It includes elementary facts about the natural sciences which underlie plant growth; it touches theories and principles, and the agencies and institutions from or through which gardeners can obtain information and help. It is that which gives to garden work a larger outlook, a broader horizon, more vision than are associated with mere manual labor.