In our variable climate it is necessary to protect many of the herbaceous plants before winter sets in, especially in the vicinity of Boston and other places upon the sea coast. Farther back in the country, where the ground is covered with snow from December to April, it is not so important, as the snow is the best protection they can have. Many Alpine, Siberian, and other plants from high latitudes, are not hardy when exposed to the vicissitudes of our winters, but in their own localities they are snugly stowed away under deep snow, all ready to burst into flower as soon as the snows are dissolved, where summer succeeds winter, without any spring. But when exposed here to the hot suns of February and March, succeeded by cold freezing nights, when the ground is bare, by the process of freezing and thawing, the plants are thrown out of the. ground, and soon perish. Even many quite hardy herbaceous plants are thus destroyed. The only remedy to prevent this damage is to give all herbaceous plants a slight protection, which should be done before the piercing cold winds of December set in.
Leaves afford the best protection, and of these I prefer oak leaves, although any other kind will do very well. A thick covering of manure from the stable is injurious for many plants. Deep covering with any material is to be avoided. A covering of leaves three or four inches thick, is sufficient. A little brush laid over the leaves, will prevent them from being blown off by high winds. Do not be in a hurry to take off the covering before the first of April, and if the weather is severe, let it remain a few days longer. Some of the hybrid Roses, denominated pillar Roses, are best protected by laying down and covering with earth, in the same manner as we protect Raspberry canes, but care must be taken to prevent the stems from being broken. When taken up in the spring, strong stakes or poles should be substantially fastened into the ground, to which they should be tied to prevent the action of the wind, and keep the bushes in shape. Thus treated, I have seen pyramids of Roses, twenty feet high, which, without this protection, would have died down to two or three feet of the ground. Roses will bear any quantity of manure, and should receive a heavy dressing of stable or any other coarse material, applied to the roots in November, and spread and dug lightly into the ground in April. This affords the best protection to Roses and herbaceous Paeonies.
Tree Paeonies, which though very hardy, may have an additional protection of straw neatly tied over then-tops, the flower buds are sometimes injured without it. Young Altheas, some of the Spiraeas, and all tender shrubs may be treated in the same way. The Chinese Wistaria will receive much benefit by laying down, and covering with earth, the same as recommended for pillar Roses, as not unfrequently the flower buds are destroyed by the severity of the winter, and it is a great disappointment to loose the bloom of this, the most elegant of all ornamental climbing plants.
Having all the plants protected, much relief will he afforded to the amateur, as he thinks of his pet flowers, securely covered and safe from the effects of the extreme changes which so often occur in our climate.