This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
About Raspberry time I looked in on the pretty little city garden of P. R. Freas, the well known and able editor and proprietor of the German-town Telegraph. It comprises, I should suppose, an acre of ground, long and narrow as-city gardens must necessarily be, and we fancy few gardens of this character are better arranged to get back more pleasure for the money than this. The house fronts on the street, and all around it are rare shrubs and trees, evergreens and deciduous, with open spaces of well kept lawns with roses and flowers, the whole backed up by one of the most beautiful Hemlock hedges it is any one's good fortune to see. In the front is a neat iron fence, which is just my idea of what a garden fence should be. There is just enough of opening here and there to give views of the very pretty grounds inside, to any one who may stop to examine it, - while there is plenty of seclusion for the proprietor and his friends to sit and enjoy the pleasures of the garden without feeling that the eyes of all the world may be upon them. The land gradually slopes from the house to beyond the middle of the ground, from which it again rises to the extreme end.
At this end are the stables, carriage house, grape house, and the best part of the vegetable garden; the fruit department chiefly occupying the centre of the grounds, and of course the floral pets being more near the dwelling. The central and lower level of the garden was once spongy and wet, but by a little judicious filling it is perfectly dry, and gave the advantage of forming a pond where there can be boating, water lilies and other aquatic plants, rustic arbors, over clear and limpid streams, in which fish sport and play in the shade during a hot Summer day, and afford a delightfully cool spot to those who may be in the mood to avoid the broiling sun and enjoy the antics of the finny • denizens of the waters. Then there are rock gardens in the moist places, among which Ferns and shade loving plants grow in luxurant profusion.
Sitting in the summer house, with the placid waters of the little lake in front of me, I was never more impressed with the beauty of a clump of trees instead of the never ending but yet pretty enough single stem tree which is everybody's rage to possess. I have often stopped to admire willows which have been osiered when young, but which have been left to grow up with half a dozen stems from near the ground, and which, when the whole mass becomes fifty feet or more high, and each main branch as thick as one's body, are very beautiful, - but here, across the lake from me, was an English Bird Cherry having twelve main stems,all of which had reached a height of perhaps fifty feet. It was a sight for all seasons. In the Spring with its myriads of racemes of rather large flowers, - int the Summer by the profusion of large black drupes, - in the Fall by its handsome colored foliage, - and in the Winter season by the abundance of its slender, graceful branchlets, on which, I should imagine the eye would never tire. Even of this pretty tree I have seen beautiful single specimens, - trunk straight and head shapely, - but I think none ever impressed me as this mass-seen here. Among the rare trees which abound here is one of the best Lawsou Cypress I kuow of.
It is probably 20 feet high, and very shapely from the ground to the summit. A curious growth of Wistaria much interested me. It had originally twined around a large tree which had died, and nothing was left for the coils but to increase in size. Of course the growth is chiefly between the coils, and these were flattened so as to be not more than two inches thick, though nearly six inches wide. In the course of no distant time the coils will meet and unite, and then we shall have the tree enveloped in a uniform living tube of Wistaria wood. Though the lover of Rhododendrons, Roses, and hardy flowers will find quite enough for half a day's study about the dwelling house, he cannot but be attracted to the remarkably healthy fruit trees, especially pears, to which a six feet walk through, the middle of the garden invites him. Cross walks at intervals meet him and which divide the garden into numerous blocks or squares. Healthy box edgings, kept low and neat, line these walks, which are graveled or ashed, and kept scrupulously clean. A few feet inside these box edgings, are devoted to old fashioned flowers: Irises,. Sweet Williams, Phloxes, Lilies, and such like, and different kinds of. vegetables occupy the ground beyond.
We have seen some "truck patches " where it is thought that it " costs too much" to have box edgings and nice flowers aside them, because the ground can not be ploughed,, but all must be done by hand, - but it is wonderful how much can be done by a digging fork; and when the extra beauty of a garden like this and the general superiority of the fruits and vegetables are set against the ordinary ploughed "truck patch," few but the very poor to whom a penny saved is worth more than a dollar full of enjoyment, would care to choose the slovenly thing we often see. After all it is not a very costly thins; to have a garden like this when the right gardener is found. Here one does it all, and an excellent gardener in Mr. McCafterty, evidently has the good "Major" found. The fruit trees especially seem to know they are in good hands. Seldom have I seen any in a more healthy or self satisfied condition. The leaves were green and glossy, and the fruit almost fully swollen, free from spot or blemish, and hanging in the greatest profusion from every tree. Care is taken, to give an abundance of food, not to injure the roots more than can possibly be avoided, and above all, to take care that they never overbear. Thinning out of superabundant crops is always in order.
Dwarf Pears do equally well with standards. Of the latter there are some very old trees; I measured one which proved •five feet round. The ground being rather low, and therefore cool, though dry as good garden soil ought to be, is particularly favorable to the Raspberry, Strawberry, Currant, and other cool country species of fruit, while in the higher and dryer places the Grape does remarkably well. All sorts of kinds are being tested as they appear, and this gives the proprietor a chance of knowing whereof he speaks in his excellent family paper. The Raspberry does wonderfully well for him. .Kinds which we rarely see, and which people think long since died out, are here in fruit in their original perfection. But then a few hours trouble in bending down the canes and •covering with earth in the Fall is not begrudged to them. It it is found here that even the kinds •conceded to be the hardiest are benefited by this treatment.
I went away from this delightful little spot wondering why the like was not more often seen. Here is a space of ground which furnishes fruits and vegetables in abundance, enough for a whole family for a year, with plenty left for an abundant distribution, to favored friends, - and all by the labor of one good gardener. Besides this there are pieces of garden art, and numerous trees and flowers to satisfy even a fastidious lover of garden beauty. The reason why not, we fancy often is that too much is attempted, - too large a garden laid out, - too much put on the man in charge. He becomes dissatisfied and careless, - it is " all one to him what goes in the day's work," the owners are disappointed, - the place becomes a nuisance in weeds and neglect, and then it is found, that " things can be bought cheaper in market." But after all there must be a genuine love for the garden, such as Major Freas shows for it. Then the gardener is encouraged to have something nice for his employer to praise.