This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It has long been regarded as a law of life, applicable alike to animal and vegetable forms, that each species is exactly adapted to the particular habitat where it occurs; and naturalists, assuming this law, have sought to solve the problem how this remarkable adaptation has been brought about, instead of pausing to question the alleged law of adaptation itself. And yet there have never been wanting numerous and obvious facts, especially in the vegetable kingdom, which, if interpreted at all, must be conceded to be incompatible with such a law, at least unless materially modified and greatly enlarged.
Mr. Thomas Meehan has remarked the fact that "almost all of our swamp-trees grow much better when they are transferred to drier places, provided the land is of fair quality. He referred, among others, to sweet-bay. red maple, weeping-willow, etc., as within his own repeated observations growing better out of swamps than in them." He further observes that "plants as a general rule, even those known as water-plants, prefer to grow out of water, except those that grow almost entirely beneath the surface."
A great many facts are at hand to prove that those plants which are found habitually growing in wet ground may be easily made to grow in dry ground. The Iris versicolor (blue flag), which, in a state of Nature, grows universally in marshes, and keeps perpetual company with Nuphar (pond-lily) and Sagittaria (arrow-head), is a common occupant of the driest gardens. The Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower), which I have found below tide-water mark, is also a common garden-flower, and not difficult to cultivate.
Almost as much may be said for Lobelia syphilitica (great lobelia). The calla, the caladiums, and the anthuriums, belong to this class, and the list might be indefinitely extended, - Lester J. Ward, in Popular Science Monthly for October.