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.
Standing in the observatory at the top of the Lucy Linder-man Library, on the south side of the Lehigh xiver, one has a beautiful view of the town of Bethlehem, on the north bank of which the chief part of the city stands. It is one of the oldest settlements in the United States, and, though bearing an air of moderate comfort in all its surroundings, has yet a population of probably not more than 8000. Yet though not a very large town, its inhabitants have always had a taste for tree planting, and these trees, so many of mature age, growing in many cases far up above the houses, give the town from the point I am speaking, a particular air of beauty I have seldom seen when looking down from some height on other and more recent places. The town has long been famous for its schools: for here education has been in some measure divested of fashionable follies which seem inseparable from school life near more pretentious cities, and for this reason has been very acceptable to some. Numbers of excellent ladies all over the Union boast of their education at Bethlehem, and though first-class schools of the plainer sort have been established in other places, and thus now compete with the older ones of Bethlehem, somewhat to its disadvantage, they are still popular; some 100 being in one which I had the pleasure to visit.
Boys will in the future have an equal chance with girls to boast of Bethlehem, since the University of which I am now speaking, and of which this library is a part, was founded by Judge Asa Packer. Starting in life with but a limited education, like many of his class he believed that if he had had more he would have been more useful; hence it is very natural that in his desire to show his gratitude to that humanity on which he throve, he should see no better way than to give to others forever the advantages of which he himself was deprived. Unfortunately that which comes easy is not often valued, and I could not but wonder how many of the boys I saw studying here at almost no cost, would prove Packers in their turn. Still as one cannot take their riches with them, and most will want to dispose of their treasures where they will do the most good, what is more likely to be of service than institutions where ignorance may be dispelled, the poor or the suffering have their wants relieved, or where the young and unthinking may learn to become self-reliant, and do good to their less fortunate fellow creatures in turn?
The Lucy Linderman Library is another excellent idea. It is a monument erected by a gentleman to the memory of his wife. It is filled with a great number of excellent books, and many young men were in it studying at the time of my visit. How much more sensible are useful monuments like these, and how much more enduring, than the huge piles of cemetery marble which offend the eyes of people of taste and sentiment all over the land. The grounds around the Institution are being laid out in an excellent manner by Mr. Chas. H. Miller, of Philadelphia, and will do full credit when completed to the tasteful architecture of the University buildings.
Bethlehem is not only remarkable for its well planted streets and "yards," but for its remarkable success in window gardening. I do not remember to have seen any town in which so many houses had window flowers. In most large cities, and in the newer cities that envy the larger ones, the houses of the wealthier are kept dark most of the year round. In the Summer the best rooms are closed to keep out the sun, and in the "Winter are so encumbered by upholstery, that although the windows are large enough, only a few square feet of glass get the opportunity to light the room. They are made to look well by gas light, and people rarely go into them by day. But the middle and poorer classes who mostly have houses in order to enjoy life with their own families, are the chief ones who have their rooms gay with plants and flowers, and which keep out the sun and bright light quite as well as the upholsterer's art can do. This the Bethlehem people seem to understand, for, as I have said, window flowers are everywhere, - in the houses of the very rich, as well as in those of the very poor.
It was indeed a very pleasant sight for one from a fashion-slave city to enjoy.
Many of the richer people however arrange their plants in side rooms specially constructed for flowers. Small conservatories they are in fact. A very neat one of this sort I had the pleasure to see attached to the house of Dr. Linderman. I suppose it was not more than ten feet square; but the tubs of oranges and lemons, agaves and yuccas, and similar plants, used for summer decoration, were so arranged that it looked very much larger. In it was a small fountain with aquatics, ferns, fish, and other attractions for the partially shaded places, and those which flowered and needed more light were arranged around the windows on the sides. A door opened into the dining room at one end, and another on the opposite side to some kitchen offices by which the conservatory could be reached by the gardener without having to carry working materials through the better rooms. In this conservatory there was a plant of Dracaena fragrans, with several stems, perhaps twelve feet or more high, and which had retained all its lower leaves through the many years it had been growing, and presented a mass of luxuriant foliage wonderful to behold. The gardener, Mr. Thos. Love, was proud of the feat, and well he may be, for I question whether a better specimen of skilful growth was ever seen.
If any reader of the Gardener's Monthly knows of a better one, let the fact be known. Mr. Love besides his superiority as a practical gardener, has high merits as a landscape gardener. The grounds were laid out by him, and are very tastefully arranged.
Many plants thrive here in the mountains which do but poorly in the lower lands, as beautiful specimens of the English Hawthorn and Mountain Ash testify. In different parts of the grounds are plant houses; for instance a greenhouse, fern house, forcing house in which cucumbers were then in fruit, and grapery. Mr. Love is a very successful grape grower. Some bunches of certain kinds have been exhibited in New York of a size to challenge competition. A Bowood muscat has been raised of seven pounds. He regards it as of vast importance that the roots of the vines should be rather dry, and that top air should be given at all times.
Another very intelligent and successful gardener I found in Mr. O'Neil, gardener to L. J. Krause, Esq., who besides nice garden grounds, can boast of one of the most complete barns in this part of the county. Mr. Krause's greenhouses are all small; some of them built wholly by the ingenious hands of the gardener. An in-interesting fact in regard to rose culture is exhibited in one of these houses. Roses are forced for cut flowers, and are grown in a bank of earth on one side of the forcing house. Half of this bank has air drains at the bottom. The other part is elevated on the solid ground. The part with the air drains has the plants fully one-third better than the other. There are quite a number of small greenhouses, and neat places in the town of Bethlehem; among these are Mr. Smiley's and Mr. E. P. Wilbur's. Extensive grounds do not seem to exist. The cemetery grounds and the many rural walks - and beautiful they are-seem to be the chief out-door gardening experience of the Bethlehemites.