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 fern offers itself as one of the best classes of plants to use in house and conservatory gardening. As a rule they are petted too much. There are some kinds which will only do under closely glazed cases, or in dark rooms, or in damp situations; but the greater number of them will do very well when treated as ordinary plants. Of course if one desires to get extraordinary specimens, such as we see in the hands of skilled gardeners, and are often brought out at horticultural exhibitions, these little niceties of cultivation must receive due attention; but as a rule creditable plants can be produced by ordinary skill. One advantage which they possess over ordinary plants is that they lend themselves more readily to make designs adapted to the limited demands of home life. There are many illustrations in books and magazines of fern stands and' fern cases. We give with this an illustration of a fern pillar, and there are many plans intermediate by which much more interest may be had from ferns than is usual.
This fern pillar is constructed in segments, one of which is shown at the base of the complete pillar, so as to allow of the plants being placed in the shells set at openings of the circles. As the plants are set in through the holes in the shells of course the earth is placed in. When a section is planted, filled with earth, and finished, another section is placed on, and the work of the last section repeated, until the whole is finished. If the shells are property adjusted, water can be given each plant in the shell, and the waste water will enter the mass of soil in the column, and there would be none to escape from the base to soil carpets; but for security the pillar, if in a room, should stand on a piece of oil-cloth. It might in some cases be found necessary to have an ornamental dish or "saucer" made to catch the drainage. This pretty pillar was designed by Mr. Tzerman, of the Manchester Botanic Garden, some years ago, and was intended to be made of terra-cotta materials. But it could be made of wood at no great expense, to last for several years, or modifications of the forms to suit materials at hand.
After the Winter is fairly over, and it becomes time to set the pot plants out of doors, most ferns may be set under trees, or other shady places, just as other plants are, and some people even set them out in the ground in the shade, and re-pot towards Fall. Towards Spring, insects are more apt to abound in plants under glass than at other times. Coal oil is yet one of the best remedies; about half a tea cup full is poured on a barrel of water. In syringing, one syringe full is forced down into the barrel and then a second one rapidly drawn out, or otherwise all the oil keeps at the top of the water.