This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It is surprising how many elements of beauty we have around us of which we neglect to make any use. Especially is this true of our beautiful Fall flowers and of our remarkably fine Autumn foliage. Of the latter we have often spoken, and recommended that its peculiar features be studied with the view of using it in the artistic decorations of our gardens. Of the former we speak now through having seen in a country " yard" a very pretty combination of very common Fall flowers. The common Michaelmas Daisy - one of the loveliest of native Asters - was growing in the midst of a little piece of grass near the cottage door, making a mass of bright purple and gold, probably three feet over and three or four feet high. Around this the common Golden Rod, Solidago Canadensis, was placed, and then another circle of the corymbose Aster - Aster corymbosus - with "white-brown " flowers. The writer has never seen any combination in the stylish flower gardening, copied from foreign flower beds, that equaled this single mass of flowers gathered together from the native woods. In the plannings for next season's work, which is very likely to be among the "work for November, " it may be well to think of these things.
And then another matter of interest in regard to collecting-hardy herbaceous plants is, that there are a large number of rare native plants not yet in cultivation, which many an owner of a first-class collection would give a good deal to possess. A collection from one's own neighborhood would therefore often be really one of the most valuable one could have, and be the foundation of a series of exchanges with others, which would soon swell a little collection to one of the best. In the culture of herbaceous plants it is well to remember that generally a part dies every year. They seldom come up in exactly the same place every year, but a bud or runner pushes out and the old part dies. Though all herbaceous plants move in some such manner, they do not all go directly under ground, but make bunchy stocks just above ground. In their native places of growth they manage to get covered with decaying leaves from the woods or shifting sands on the plains, but in cultivation nothing of this kind can be naturally accomplished, and unless art comes to aid the plants they soon die away. An Auricula, a Primrose, or a Carnation is a good illustration of this.
In the two former a new crown is formed on the top of the old one, and as the lower parts in time die away, unless new earth is drawn up, success with such flowers will not be great. The best plan is to take up and replant every few years, or cover the running parts above ground with earth, so that they may have a chance to get new roots from the advancing stocks. This is noticed here at this season to show that earth is the natural covering for herbaceous plants, and therefore one of the surest ways of preserving them safe through Winter is to draw earth over them. In the Spring they can be unearthed and then divided and set a trifle deeper than before, which is all they want. "We are often asked how to preserve Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Pansies, Phloxes, Hollyhocks and so forth, safe till Spring. The principles here laid down will explain the practice.
The planting of trees will still continue to engage our attention at every favorable opportunity. Many prefer at this season to remove trees in the Winter by the " frozen ball" system. There is nothing gained by this practice. To those unacquainted with this mode of planting we may as well describe it. Just before frost is expected, a trench is dug around a tree a few feet from its base, leaving the tree, so that with a rope at the top, it can be easily drawn over. A hole is then dug for it in the situation desired. When the " ball" has become frozen through around the tree, it is removed to the prepared hole; and when a thaw comes the soil is filled in around it. We have said there is nothing gained by it, and there are many disadvantages. If the tree has been removed a " time or two " before, as most nursery trees have, it will have an abundance of fibres near the stem, and can be successfully removed without much regard to the " ball of earth, " either in Fall or Spring. If it has never been removed before, that is a tree growing naturally, it will have no fibres at its base, and so no "ball of earth" can preserve them; so that a tree which can be moved successfully on this freezing system, can be as successfully done without it.
The disadvantages of it are that it exposes the injured roots for a long time to the injurious action of the frost and the elements, besides the frequency of the operation being improperly done by several attempts being made at its completion. We have given the system a fair trial, and have done with it. The main object should be to preserve all the roots possible with the tree, keep them moist and preserve from injury, then go ahead and don't wait for frost.