This section is from the book "How To Make A Flower Garden", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques.
Suggestive lists based upon the colour and season of bloom; the height of the plant; the kind of soil, whether light or heavy, moist or dry; the conditions of shade or sunshine; resistance to frost, and value for cut flowers and for maintaining an uninterrupted succession of bloom.
The following lists are believed to be fundamentally different from all other lists of similar appearance. The great fault with the extended lists found in some expensive works on gardening is that they contain too few lists and too many plants in each list. Moreover, the Latin names are often put first or used to the exclusion of the common names. The result is that such lists appal the beginner and are never used. Those which follow are designed to be of every-day practical service to beginner and expert. The writer has resolutely turned his back upon the impossible idea of absolute completeness, which has made the old lists so repellant and unpractical. The keynote of the present endeavour is suggestiveness. Hence there are many lists and few plants in each list. This must be the right principle. Surely, the average person does not need fifty or a hundred plants for some one special purpose. Four may be enough; six should be ample; ten names will give plenty of choice.
The net result of the old-time extensive list is to impress the beginner with the immense number of plants in cultivation. But such an idea is worse than useless, because it discourages the beginner. According to the "Cyclopedia of American Horticulture," there are nearly twenty-five thousand species of plants cultivated in America. But what is the use of laying emphasis on a mere cyclopedic fact of such a character? There is another idea which is much more important, viz., the great diversity of human needs and purposes which are comprised under the one word "floriculture."Here are two hundred lists of plants, and each list represents a distinct idea. There are at least two hundred distinct purposes for which people cultivate plants. The differentiation of these purposes must have its educational value. It is to be hoped that the following lists will help the amateur gardener to clear up his ideas and determine what he really wants. The author has a wide acquaintance with plants, and there are very few in the following lists with which he is not personally acquainted.
A good many duplicates will be found - e.g., the pansy appears in several lists, but this is part of the original plan, for the best plants are relatively few in number, and it is better to suggest common and easily grown ones for the various purposes to which they are adapted than rare and costly plants of doubtful suitability.
Dates of blooming are based upon the vicinity of New York. The names have been standardised with the "Cyclopedia of American Horticulture"