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.
Of all the plants and shrubs that are cultivated for ornament, none takes such a prominent place as the Rose. People have tried shrubs, such as are cultivated in colder countries than this, but many of them die during our hot Summer months; and shrubs and trees from warmer countries, most of which are killed by frost in Winter; but the Rose stands all this, and not one has been found yet too tender for our climate. Especial favorites are the Noisettes, Teas, Bourbons, and some of the Bengal varieties, with a few Hybrid Per-petuals, such as La Reine, Giant of Battles, La France, Boule de Neige; all these are free bloomers, blooming at any time in the year when heat and moisture are not in excess or wanting. Nearly all other Hybrid Perpetuals are shy bloomers with us, as sometimes in April, our Rose month, when the weather is unfavorable, and an early drought and cold dry winds blowing, the flower-buds will not open; while those enumerated above bloom any time in the year when the conditions are favorable.
But I gathered two large bouquets of Roses once on the 15th day of January.
The Oleander is not hardy, and if planted out must be protected, or the frost will kill it. In the capitol grounds, where there are many, they are protected every "Winter by being wrapped up with mats and carpets.
The Pomegranate is hardy, so is the Fig, but the latter needs a sheltered place, or a late frost may spoil the first crop. The former is only cultivated for ornament, as the fruit is never seen at the fruit-stands.
Jasminum officinale is hardy, but of the more tender kinds only J. revolutum succeeds tolerably well out doors.
Magnolia grandiflora, though indigenous to Texas, growing abundantly on the sea coast near Houston, 150 miles from this place, behaves in the same way; the cause of it must be the dryness of the air. Houston sends up in Spring time baskets full of these flowers, which the boys sell in the streets for fifteen cents apiece and more.
Solanum jasminoides does well outside, so would also Passiflora coerulea, if it was not for a host of brown caterpillars with which it is covered during Summer; the butterflies from which they come are light-brown with black spots, and these never deposit an egg on any other plant as long as there is the least bit of green left on this plant.
Lantanas are mostly hardy, though some varieties are benefited by a little protection during Winter; they evidently enjoy our warm sun, unless they get too much of it in July and August, when they quit flowering until after the Fall rains if they come early enough.
Verbenas do not often survive our Winters. These little wretched things have continuously to struggle between being roasted or frozen.
Only two Yuccas are cultivated, Y. gloriosa and Y. draconis; the former is a beautiful sight when in bloom, in April, with its hundreds of creamy white flowers; the latter flowers in July.
Dracaena Draco and Phoenix sylvestris I planted out, but both perished; they had not rain enough in Summer, and too much cold in Winter; but a citizen has two plants of Phoenix dactylifera in his garden several years old, raised from the seed of dried Dates, which hitherto have stood all the vicissitudes of our fickle and extreme climate.
Bananas may be grown on the south side of walls and houses, and if the plant is protected during Winter, fruit may be raised sometimes, but it is cultivated for ornament only, and sparingly too.
Cape Jasmine is seldom cultivated in the garden; it stands most of our Winters, but is sometimes cut down, and then our dry Summers do not seem to suit it.
Zonale Geraniums will stand less frost than Verbenas, so we must class them as not hardy; though it seems strange to me that Bryophyllum calycinum, of which I planted out some plants on the north side of a fence, where it propagated itself very freely, passed several Winters with but little injury.
Cassia corymbosa and C. laevigata seem to feel quite at home in our climate.
Along the sidewalks and other vacant places in the city we often meet with a peculiar small tree with thorns and green bark and yellow flowers; it is the Parkinsonia aculeata, a denizen of the lower Rio Grande valley, but acclimatized in Austin and other cities of Texas. It is a legu-minosae, suborder caesalpineae. Its pinnate leaves are over a foot long, leaflets very small and numerous, quarter of an inch long and one-sixteenth of an inch wide; the mid-rib of the leaf is flattened, and when the leaflets drop off, which they easily do, the leaves, or rather leaflets give the tree the appearance of being clothed with grass instead of leaves. It flowers abundantly from early Summer to late in Fall,and at the date I write this, October 24th, there is in my yard one of these trees covered all over with flowers.
Another stranger, is the so-called Willow Ca-talpa, Chilopsis lineata, which is frequently seen in gardens and yards. It is a straight and tall tree, growing over twenty feet high; its leaves are small, resembling Willow leaves, hence the name; it has terminal flower-spikes of a purplish color, which are in shape like those of the Catalpa, and blooms from May to Autumn, never suffering from dry or hot weather.
Caesalpinia (Poinciana) pulcherrima is hardy, and Daubentonia magnifica also, but the last named does not seem to do so well as the former.
Of Holland Bulbs, Hyacinths and Polyanthus Narcissus do best. Our early Summer forces the Hyacinths into bloom in March or even sooner, so the early varieties are the best. Roman Nar_ cissus bloom, if planted in October, usually about New Year, when they are cut down by frost if the flower-buds were not already before.
Only the early varieties of Tulips will do here. I planted once a dozen late flowering, on the north side of my house, but I did not get as many bulbs when I took them up as when I planted them, and the next year even these perished. our Winters are evidently too warm and too short]
I am only acquainted with three species of Lilies that stand the chances in the garden: Lilium candidum, L. tigrinum, and L. longiflo-rum; Lilium speciosum and L.auratum flower too late in the season when the sun is too hot; and of the other species I do not know that an attempt has been made to cultivate them except as pot plants.