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.
Those who fail in the cultivation of ordinary window plants, should make use of their common garden shrubs for winter bloom. I have from Christmas till Spring, a fine show of Lilacs, Daphne, Deutzia gracilis, by simply prying out the offsets or suckers of the larger lawn bushes in October, leaving them in the cellar until wanted; then potting them, and placing in the conservatory or bay window. They come into rapid growth and abundant bloom. In the Spring they will serve to plant out if desired. All these shrubs if allowed to develop their flowers in the shade will produce white blossoms, although much less perfect than when granted plenty of air and sunshine; light is absolutely essential to develop their normal colors. This is not an absolute fiat in reference to color, as is sometimes stated, for the best will not only grow in the dark, but will display the most exquisite shadings imaginable. It is possible that some vegetables have a power of gathering light, as the eyes of some animals gather in the feeblest ray, where others are blind. As we say cats see in the dark, so there is a power, possibly or probably, in some vegetable tissues to respond to the different rays that do not touch our optic nerves.
The shrubs at all events require light in abundance.
For northern latitudes we cannot too strongly favor the Geranium. It is so easily propagated in quantity, so easily preserved through the winter, so hardy against light frosts, so persistent and profuse of bloom that it is certainly unrivalled as a bedder. It is however of little use to endeavor to keep them through hung up by the roots, or in a damp cellar. Let them be cut back to a few leaves, potted or crowded together in a box and then kept in a dry room with but little water. Much pleasure can be secured by raising seedlings of the newest varieties, such as Sir John Moore, Mercy Grogan, Napoleon, Attraction. I have a fine collection, quite equal to any that I have procured by purchase. It is astonishing what advance has been made in developing this family within the past ten years. Among the noblest I reckon Pa-bellon, John Moore, Santley, Princess of Wales, Startler, Dr. Torrey, Martins, Diego Podda. But the list of new and superb varieties is so long that any collection soon needs revision.
I have only recently learned to secure superior and profuse bloom from the double sorts; they must not be cut back as we are accustomed to cut the single varieties.
Among rare trees for this section I am succeeding perfectly in growing the native Persimmon. My tree is now from the pip six years old It stands the severest winters, when there has been no protection of snow, without losing an inch of wood. Hydrangea paniculata stands at the head of all summer-blooming shrubs, and needs no protection. I am going back among vines to the dear and home-like honeysuckles. They have such a healthy welcome, and are withal so careless of growth, provided only that they can have the humming birds and moths.
I want to put in a plea for more native trees in planting lawns and streets, especially the Linden. No one neglects the Maple and the Elm; but a Beech with elbow-room, or a grove which is still better is seldom seen. Yet there is not a more comfortable home-like tree in existence. It is unique, sheltering, rich in foliage, and exquisite in leaf. Not the least attraction is its hospitality in Autumn. It loves the squirrels and the boys. The Linden is for grand foliage, stately trunk, and honey-making purposes un-equaled. I have a grove of lindens for my bee-house shelter.
Among all our recently acquired garden flowers, nothing surpasses the golden or Japanese Cockscomb. The, astonishing confusion of brilliant colors, the vast variety of Mendings cannot fail to gratify any one. The plant and plume are equally graceful, and the leaves often half crimson and half golden, are as fine as the flowers. Transplanted with care a choice specimen or two can be kept in the window till Christmas, and then dried for future use.