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.
Every one has heard of the beauty of our Western prairies when decked in their floral robes of summer. And every one has tried, at some time, to form, in the imagination, a picture of a landscape, sweeping away in the distance as far as the eye can discern. But to one who has never seen such a sight a true conception of the real scene is impossible. To a mind in sympathy with nature there is something in such scenes to elevate it and excite the most lively emotions. There is something almost sublime in the grand stretch of these vast plains as they sweep away to the distance, at times almost as level as the bosom of the sleeping ocean, then rising in the most gentle and graceful undulations, and again ascending in bolder but beautifully rounded, or occasionally breaking into the abrupt bluff or precipitous cliff, but everywhere impressing and almost oppressing the mind with a sense of vastness and immensity of space that is almost overwhelming, till to the mind, as to the sight, in the misty distance heaven and earth seem to meet and mingle into one.
But while this sense of vastness may elevate, if not awe, the beholder, I apprehend most minds in contemplating these scenes would find their greatest pleasure in the varied forms and colors of the vegetable world with which these plains are so profusely covered. The prevailing vegetation is composed of grasses, but generally of strange forms and species to the emigrant from our eastern States. But after all the flowers that wave in the breezes and blaze in the sunlight will be objects of greatest interest. Many of them will suggest old, familiar kinds, while many by their novelty of form and brilliancy of colors, will impress the mind in the radical difference of vegetable forms in different parts of our country. Two species of Allium, one with purple and the other with white flowers, spread a carpet of bloom over acres of land early in the season, before the taller plants have grown enough to obscure them from sight. Then comes a Mallow that to casual observers has the leaf of the Verbena and the flower of the Portulacca, spreading its branches on the ground, radiating from the base as a centre, and spreading its brilliant crimson flowers to a distance of a yard in every direction.
Similar to this in manner of growth, but entirely different in form, is the Sensitive Briar, that often produces, from a single root a perfect bed of beautiful rose-colored bloom, from five to eight feet in diameter. Large patches of dwarf Helian-thus, with their yellow rays expanded in the sunlight, look like fields of glittering gold. Dwarf roses as fine, in both form and color, as many that are cultivated with care, expand their petals and shed their fragrance in countless profusion. But time and space would fail me to speak of the countless species that, with their white, blue, crimson, and gold, join with the many shades and forms of foliage to bedeck the plains, while they perfume every passing breeze with their balmy fragrance. It must be seen to be appreciated.