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.
April in the South is Spring, and the early-flowers have long since been in bloom; but April in the North scarcely finds the Violet in flower. What should we do if we were to write a "Calendar of Operations" for our readers? However, this we never attempt. What we give as "Hints," are not so much intended for the month as for the season. We speak now of the early spring season, and each must apply it as he finds to suit the latitude. Of course the trees and bushes are all pruned, litter cleared up, grass rolled, walks edged, and vegetation is pushing along. Evergreens may be set out till after the growth has been made. Deciduous trees also may be still set out, if any leaves they may have made are plucked off. They will make new ones. The main business of this department will be in setting out garden flowers.
Of flowering plants which thrive well in our climate, we have a good selection. The Geraniums are amongst the best, although botanically they are not distinct from Pelargoniums; yet it serves a good purpose to retain the name as a popular designation of an useful class in flower gardening. There are now double varieties; but for flower gardening purposes, double flowers are inferior. These varieties do not flower as freely as the single ones. This has proved to be the case with the Petunia, the Pansy, and other things, and we suppose the rule will hold good here. The Rose Geraniums flower somewhat steady throughout the year, and are indispensable for their delightful fragrance and elegant foliage. The Verbena used to be the main reliance for bedding - but the great ravages of the verbena rust, have made it somewhat unreliable; and, although it is indispensable yet, it does not take the front rank as formerly. Of double flowers we may say, however, that the Double White, and perhaps Asa Gray, a bronzy salmon, flower much more profusely than some of the older kinds.
In the class of scented flowers, the Heliotrope, the Mignonette, and the Sweet Alyssum, command a prominent place. The last is liable to suffer much from the cabbage-fly. A syringing with water, in which a few drops of coal oil has been spread, soon settles his business. There is a variegated Sweet Alyssum which is very pretty.
The Golden Feverfew is admirable for edgings. Lantanas are very desirable; but to have the best results from them, they should be planted in poor soil. Mr. Harkins' new variegated Lan-tana is said to stand the sun well. A very pretty species, trailing like a Verbena, but not much known, is L. Sellowii. The varieties of Lobelias make fair bedding plants if not put in too dry a soil, or too warm a situation. The Cuphea hyssopifolia sent out by Messrs. Hoopes is a good border plant.
The old double white Feverfew is one of the most desirable of bedding plants. White flowers can be cut from it all summer, and yet have plenty left to bloom. The Petunia, though of no account for cutting, keeps up a brilliant show the whole season. They do also very well in hot places where little else will do. The singles give the most flowers. For cutting purposes, the Monthly or Tree Carnations are lovely things, though they are ugly growing plants, and do not make much show on the grounds. The blue Ageratum is not very showy, but blooms so profusely, that every one likes to have it. The old Nierembergia gracilis is another not very showy plant, but flowers so well, and is so satisfied with indifferent treatment, that one cannot let it go. The Gazania is curious, and makes a brilliant show of orange and black on a fine day, but is not well adapted to a hot place. The little Ouphea platycentra has rather too much green for a show plant, but if the soil is not too rich, gives fair satisfaction.
The Othonna crassifolia is perhaps one of the best vase succulents ever introduced for sunny places. The new hybrid Dianthuses are beautiful bedding plants, about which see an article in another column.