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.
With the appearance of winter there will be anxiety about the protection of tender trees; and when we speak of tender trees we may as well understand that the list of those things that will stand exposure to keen winds is very small, indeed. There are very few things that will stand a severe winter when both roots and branches are encased in frost, and the winds dry out all the moisture. After the trees get large and the roots push below the general frost line, the list of "hardy " things is increased; but even this list may be doubled by protecting the tree from severe wind. A large number of trees and shrubs, thought rather tender, want nothing more than shelter from wind. Even grass is better for protection.
Leaves are the natural protectors of grass; clearing them from lawns has a tendency to impoverish the vegetation. Mowing of course also weakens a lawn. This makes an occasional top dressing advisable, - any decaying matter will do. This is the season to apply it. We would not, however, use stable manure when other can be had.- It is so disagreeable in color all winter, - and there are other objections besides. Sometimes lawns, after frequent mowings, become so weak, that not even manurings will bring them up again; for, as we have often taught our readers, cutting off green herbage weakens vitality. When this is the case, small Veronicas and other minute weeds, which the scythe does not cut, grow strong enough to crowd out the enfeebled grass. We have seen resort made to weeding in such cases with little beneficial results. The best plan is to break up the lawn at this season, let it lie all winter, and seed it again anew in spring. The Blue Grass of Kentucky or Green Grass of Pennsylvania - botani-cally Poa pratensis - is better than any "mixture " for making a first-class American lawn.
For reasons we have given, lawns run out faster when a mowing machine is used, than when scythe cut, but the advantages of a machine are so great, that we wonder that they are not in more general use. There are many good ones now, all excellent for the purpose.
As soon as the ground gets caked with the first real frost, herbaceous plants should be protected. Though hardy, they will repay this extra care, - mostly natives of woods or grassy places in their native state, they expect a covering of leaves or dry grass. We find dry leaves the best material for the purpose, a few inches is a sufficient depth, - a little soil being thrown on to prevent the leaves blowing away. Where such material is not at hand, the common garden soil may be drawn over them, as before recommended in these pages.
There is some danger of Pampas Grass rotting by moisture getting down in the hollow of the leaves into the heart of the stem. A friend tells us he guards against this by burning off the old leaves of the Pampas before putting the dry leaf covering on. Last year we kept them remarkably well by turning the whole plant over on its side, and then covering leaves and roots with a foot of earth. It was a severe winter, but the plants were in good condition in spring.
As soon as the first white frost has awakened Dahlia leaves, the stems should be cut back to a few inches of the ground, the label securely fastoned, and the root placed away in a cool place secure from frost till next March, when it should be "sprouted," divided and again set out. Most of the tender plants that we desire to preserve over the season, have now been lifted from the borders, and removed to winter quarters, - and in a few weeks the beds will present a rough and forsaken appearance. It is too often the practice to leave the borders Just in this neglected condition till spring time returns.