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.
It is now so well understood that we may have an immense addition to our list of hardy evergreens if we will only shelter them, that we expect all those who love these varied Winter favorites will take measures this season to plant shelter belts in exposed places, or else to set the common hardy trees like Norway and Hemlock Spruce, and Scotch, Austrian and White Pines thickly about, so that the rarer ones can be put between them.
Not a quarter of a mile from where we are writing these lines are three beautiful specimens of the Picea Morinda, one of them perhaps twenty feet high, and forming a picture of beauty that we seldom see in any tree. Yet if we apply for a young plant in any Philadelphia nursery we should be told that the tree was " too tender for that latitude." The secret of the success of these specimens is that the wind is on all sides broken by a number of Norway Spruces about thirty feet high.
Almost all young trees are tenderer than they are when older. It is therefore no test of the hardiness of some rare thing, that a small plant is killed in the winter. Silver Firs almost always get killed back for a few years in this section, unless protected, but yet gain a little in strength. After they are ten years old they will endure our hardest weather. So Spanish Chestnuts, English Walnuts, and many others, will die back considerably, until they get strength. Therefore, protect any valued young plant, if possible, no matter how hardy its reputation may be.
Leaves are the natural protectors of grass; clearing them from lawns has a tendency to impoverish the vegetation. Mowing of course also weakens a lawn. This makes an occasional top dressing advisable, - any decaying matter will do. This is the season to apply it. We would not, however, use stable manure when other can be had. It is so disagreeable in color all winter, - and there are other objections besides. Sometimes lawns, after frequent mowings, become so weak, that not even manurings will bring them up again; for, as we have often taught our readers, cutting off green herbage weakens vitality. When this is the case, small Veronicas and other minute weeds, which the scythe does not cut, grow strong enough to crowd out the enfeebled grass. We have seen resort made to weeding in such cases with little beneficial results. The best plan is to break up the lawn at this season, let it lie all winter, and seed it again anew in the spring. The Blue Grass of Kentucky or Green Grass of Pennsylvania - botanically Poa pratensis - is better than any "mixture" for making a first-class American lawn. For reasons we have given, lawns run out faster when a mowing machine is used, than when scythe-cut, but the advantages of a machine are so great, that it is no wonder they are now in general use.
There are many good ones now, all excellent for the purpose.
Every one who has dug up a potato knows that when the tuber has finished its growth, all between it and the parent stalk dies. If the potato were to remain undisturbed till Spring, frost and other things of course uninjuring it, it would push up from the place where it stood, and a new set of potatoes push out, and the space between them and the original, get wider every year. So year after year there would be this continual progression, - a wandering away from the first centre, until in time the living plant might be a mile away from the original spot which gave it birth. Something of this kind goes on in all herbaceous plants, - a part progresses, and a part dies every year. It is for the want of this knowledge that so many friends lose these plants. Though all herbaceous plants move in some such manner, they do not all go directly under ground, but make bunchy stocks just above ground. In their native places of growth they manage to get covered with decaying leaves from the woods or shifting sands on the plains, but in cultivation nothing of this kind can be naturally accomplished, and unless art comes to aid the plants they soon die away. An Auricula, a Primrose, or a Carnation is a good illustration of this.
In the two former a new crown is formed on the top of the old one, and as the lower parts in time die away, unless new earth is drawn up, success with such flowers will not be great. The best plan is to take up and replant every few years, or cover the running parts above ground with earth, so that they may have a chance to get new roots from the advancing stocks. This is noticed here at this season to show that earth is the natural covering for herbaceous plants, and therefore one of the surest ways of preserving them safe through Winter is to draw earth over them. In the Spring they can be unearthed and then divided and set a trifle deeper than before, which is all they want. We are often asked how to preserve Carnations, Chrysanthemums, Pansies, Phloxes, Hollyhocks, and so forth, safe till Spring. The principles here laid down will explain the practice.