This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
"Slow move the sultry hours. Oh, for the shield Of darkening boughs, or hollow rocks grotesque!"
This month may be considered the turning-point of the floral year. Spring is quite past away, and nature wears a mature and set aspect, contrasted strongly with the tender greens and budding stems of the previous months. The birds cease to charm with their songs, and a general sense of fatigue is experienced from the heat of the sun, leading to the wish expressed in the lines quoted above. In this month I have found the amateur-gardener, who cannot delegate his labours to others, is apt to become discouraged. There is much to be done, and very little disposition to do it. The exuviae of the spring flowers have to be removed; plants bedded out demand almost hourly attention in watering, pegging down, and other indispensable operations; the work of layering, piping, and general propagation, cannot safely be delayed; - yet for all this the gardener is unfitted by the dog-days, and is sometimes ready to give up his work in despair. The strongman, who has delved all his days, is conscious of his weakness; and therefore ladies who wait upon their favourite flowers themselves cannot expect to be free from it.
If I were not conscious of presumption in teaching patience to the sex who practically exhibit it in seasons of weal or woe far more habitually than we, who profess to be stronger, I should attempt by several arguments to counteract this midsummer lassitude, and urge to perseverance. Let it be sufficient to remind ourselves and others, that the surest cure of indolence is exertion; that refreshing rains will soon temper the fury of the summer heat; and that the profuse beauty of the garden will, for months to come, make compensation for every present inconvenience. Complain as we may, nature will refuse to yield up her treasures without our care and toil; and if we withhold the "sweat of our brow," the sure result will be "thorns and thistles." Labour, however, may be unnecessarily incurred, as is often done, for instance, in watering gardens in hot weather. Beware of the watering-pot! In many cases its use is more prejudicial than useful. Plants which do not flag need no help in this way; and those which must be artificially assisted should have a plentiful supply, and not a sprinkling. The philosophical principles on which watering a garden should be conducted cannot be stated here; but they should be understood by every gardener.
Lindley's Theory of Horticulture is the best exposition of this and kindred subjects which has yet been published.
The scientific increase of plants in heated soils and glass-frames must not be neglected, as many productions will only push forth roots in this way. But every lady knows how often she has been successful in striking slips and cuttings in the open air; and this simple and inexpensive plan ought not to grow into disuse. I have known pinks and wall-flowers successfully propagated in this way, when a more ostentatious display of hand-glasses and frames has failed. A German named Fechner has recently published a book to prove that plants are endowed with consciousness, and are susceptible of impressions of pleasure. If he were writing this article, he might say that ladies are successful in their simple modes of striking slips and cuttings, because the subjects of their operations feel gratified with their attentions, and disposed to reward them.
The Bury, Luton. Henry Burgess.