This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The English papers are deploring the fact that the rage for carpet bedding have turned away people's attention from other pretty styles of gardening, and some of them are therefore turning their shafts wholly against this way of doing things. But this is perhaps the other extreme. A carpet bed ably designed and neatly executed is a beautiful object; but we need not let the fashion take complete possession of the flower garden. We should like to see the greater employment of belts and borders of mixed flowers, with back grounds of low shrubs or evergreens, and intermixed among them the taller or stronger growing hardy herbaceous plants. There are many things, such as Phloxes, herbaceous Spiraeas, Irises, Dracocephalums, Funkias, Asters, Veronicas, Columbines, Mon-ardas, and Tradescantias, that do remarkably well under such circumstances. It is really a sort of wild garden, touched up by the hand of art, as all garden work, wild or otherwise ought to be.
It is however getting too late for theoretical instruction. The time has come for hard practical work, and brief hints will be more acceptable than long essays, we may therefore say that among the matters requiring immediate attention in the gardens of the Northern and Middle States will be to prepare ground for planting. Soil loosened two feet deep dries out less in summer than soil one foot deep. Rich soil grows a tree larger in one year than a poor soil will in three. Under drained soil is cooler in summer than soil not under-drained. The feeding roots of trees come near the surface; therefore plant no deeper than necessary to keep the tree in the soil. If there be danger of its blowing over, stake it, but don't plant deep. One stake set at an angle, is as good as two set perpendicular. Straw or mat set round the tree keeps the bark from rubbing. Large stones placed around a transplanted tree are often better than a stake. They keep the soil moist, admit the air, and encourage surface roots. Shorten the shoots at transplanting. This induces growth, and growth produces roots; and with new roots your tree is safe for another season.
Unpruned trees produce leaves, but little growth, and less new roots.
Place broad-leaved evergreens where they will get no sun in winter, yet away from where the roots of trees will make the ground dry in Summer. Deep soil, but shallow planting, is all important for them. In transplanting, take care of the roots. Good roots are of more importance than good "balls." Balls of earth are useful in keeping fibres moist; but don't sacrifice the best fibres five or six feet from the tree, for the few fibres in the ball at the base. When roots are rather dry, after filling a portion of soil, pour in water freely. After all has settled away, fill in lightly the balance of the soil, and let it rest for a few days. This is as a remedy, not as a rule; for watering this way cools the soil, ultimately hardens it, and in other respects, works to the injury of the transplanted tree.
Unless inside of a round ring, or circular walk, don't plant trees or shrubs in formal clumps. They are abominations in the eyes of persons of taste. Meaningless irregularities, form the opposite extreme. Remember, "Art is nature better understood".
In your flower-beds, if the plants sickened last year, change the soil. Renovated earth is renewed health to consumptive flowers. Sow annuals as soon as the ground is warm. Too early sowing and deep covering rots seeds very often, this is frequently the cause of one's seeds being "bad." Prepare flowers in their winter quarters for the summer campaign, by gradually inuring them to the air before setting out finally. Set out when all danger of frost is over. Don't set out a plant with a dry ball; but water well while in the pot an hour or so before.