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.
1. Every vine, shrub or tree that approaches the condition of evergreen, is valuable for its winter beauty. Hall's Japan Honeysuckle is the most valuable of all the family of hardy Honeysuckles. It is hardy, luxuriant, a real everbloomer the Summer through, of fine green leaf, and, except under long continued severely cold weather, it is evergreen. Under my window, as I write, is a vine spread upon the ground, as green as in midsummer.
The Flexuosa, or Chinese, is near by, quite shrunk with cold, and will do no more till Spring. If one can have but one, that one should be Hall's. If suffered to grow along the ground, it will root at almost every joint, and furnish abundance of new plants without trouble.
I have enjoyed a method of treating Honeysuckles on the lawn, viz., putting about a vigorous root five or six stakes, say four feet high, surrounding them with twine, about three hoops at equal distances, and allowing the vine to cover them. By the second year an altar of green will be formed, most comely to the eye. If the Aurea reticulata shall be used, it will give a splendid golden effect. Golden vines should not be suffered to twine with others, as the appearance will be that of a sickly vine mixed with a healthy one; but, kept separately, the effect is admirable.
The Lonicera fragrantissima is a shrub that comes very near being evergreen. In sheltered places it will hold its leaves till after Christmas. At Peekskill, forty miles north of New York, on the flanks of the Highlands, it is yet (Jan. 4) in good condition, though it has passed through several severe freezings. Its perfume in Spring is delicious.
2. Why has not the Styrax been brought into notice ? It has gone through last Winter, at Peekskill, without being harmed. There are few shrubs that can compare with it for beauty in its blossom season, and it ought to be in every garden. I can get it only by sending to England for it. It is finer than Andromeda arborea, which with me is not hardy enough to flourish, or I am not skillful enough to make it live except as an invalid. I do not know the specific name of my Styrax, but I think it is Styrax japonica. There are several native species that deserve to be introduced to our nurseries, to say nothing of scores of other things unknown and unattainable now. I know the reply. Nurserymen cannot afford to cultivate stock for which there is no demand. True, in large quantities; but American nurseries have now reached a degree of development that will enable many of them to bring forward unknown plants, and give them such publicity as shall create a demand. Some agreement might be had by which one would fill out a special department, another a different one, so that out of six or eight nurseries a gentleman might secure what he wished.
I cannot secure from any or all American nurseries the hardy Pines. Even Pinus mitis, so abundant in the fields, is a stranger to most nurseries - not to the catalogues. Oh, no! the catalogues are all right, but orders come back unfilled in a manner that leads one to think that catalogues are copied from European lists, or are made up as fancy work.
3. Speaking of Conifers, much is written about transplanting. My experience is, that evergreens may be transplanted at any time of the year when the ground is open and workable. I do not lose the half of one per cent of the hundreds that I annually move. If they are ripped up and jerked out of the ground, laid in the sun, and, worse yet, in the mud, until others have been slaughtered, and then hauled in an open cart, stuck into a cramped hole, chunks of dirt thrown in, and trodden down by one's feet, no wonder they die. It would be a shame if they did not. Take up the roots largely, cover them from the light as you would your children's bodies, plant them in a larger hole than that which they have left; take time; press the roots as if you were combing your own hair for a party; see that they are not planted an inch deeper than they stood before moving, and then mulch - mulch - mulch - them. After that you may whistle at Summer droughts or Winter freezing. I have had as good luck in orders from nurseries in September and October as in March or April. I lost some - I always do, for the most careful nurserymen are careless, judged by my standard. I had as lief transplant in July as in May, in November as in June. It only requires a little more care.
In that murderous season, four or five years ago, I had planted many scores of Coniferous evergreens, but did not lose one per cent. - on the windy hills and sharp climate of Peekskill - and all because the plants were abundantly planted and abundantly mulched. Mulching, Summer and Winter, is supreme safety, for ornamental trees and for fruit trees. 1 have saved a pear orchard by a system of mulching in Summer as well as Winter.
4. I mean to write you bye-and-bye of my mistakes and blunders; successes are all very well; everybody likes to narrate them. But there is great instruction in well-considered blunders; only, men are ashamed to relate them; and so much knowledge is lost. There is hardly a department of culture, esculent vegetables, ornamental trees, fruit trees, flowers, vines, etc., etc., in which I have not been rich in mistakes. Ought they to die unrecorded? Enough. My paper has given out, and your patience, too, doubtless.
[It is not often Mr. Beecher makes such mistakes as that suggested by the last four words-- Ed].