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.
Our magnificent Spring weather has made gardening more than usually enjoyable, and there has been little openly expressed hankering after the Horticultural advantages of other lands. The writer of this could not resist the temptation to take a run of a few hours to look at his neighbor's little gardens recently, and he was particularly struck by the immense number of Rhododendrons every where planted, and which seem to be thriving so well, since their simple culture is so well understood, and which is simply deep, cool soil, the surface sufficiently elevated above the surrounding soil to keep the little hair-like roots from ever being water-logged. The older planted Rhododendron beds are particularly charming. In the case of Mr. John Haines, the branch bent down with the weight of bloom, and actually had to be shored up in some instances as in an overloaded fruit tree. Mrs. Harry Ingersoll's are simply magnificent, some being nearly twenty feet high, and of an immense variety of color. The best clump of these were admirably assisted in the general effect by a very large and well-proportioned purple leaved Beech tree. Miss Fox, a neighbor of Mrs. Ingersoll, has some beds of charming varieties, but are only about twelve years set out.
They are now about five to eight feet high, and form one broad sheet of bloom.
On our trip we learned that there may, in the future, be some little troubles, which it will be well for Rhododendron growers to look after, and guard against. In one, the trouble was from a very lively aphis, which keeps to the under sides of the leaves and gives the foliage a musty look on the under surface. It makes the plants unsightly, and is an injury, though not to a very serious extent.
A worse trouble comes from a borer,a species of Buprestis, which hollows the stems in the center. It does not enter at the ground, as does the Quince or Peach borer, but on the branches. It is more after the fashion of the common Currant borer in the kind of work it does. The Belgian Azaleas near were also attacked with it, but it may be a foreign insect introduced here, and may not spread to any great extent.
Another very serious trouble was found in a very interesting collection about twelve years old. The leaves had a withery look, and some, attacked last year, were quite dead. Examining the stems just beneath the ground, we found the coarse, wooly threads of a fungus, eating its course around, in many cases completely girdling them. It is a very common fungus in woods, and many persons may have seen it on a piece of board on which a flower pot has stood. It is nonewthing that this coarse, thready fungus, so generally on dead wood, will leave it and attack living stems. Mr. William Saunders called the writer's attention, some thirty years ago. to a case in a cold grapery, where it had left an old board and eaten a way for itself around the stem of a huge Grape vine. But it is not often it does this. In this Rhododendron case, it evidently came from the half-decayed probably help those that are not beyond recovery.
On the whole, we feel that even from our small Germantown point we may congratulate the friends of Rhododendron culture on their great success. It has been a reproach that we have to go to England to see American plants. We thought it was a hard task to raise them; but since we find that all we need is a cool, airy soil, carefully avoiding wet soil, or even heavy soil, there is no more trouble in growing Rhododendrons here than cabbages.