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.
Long Branch, N. J., one of the finest summer resorts on the American coast, is not only noted for its bathing facilities, beautiful drives, villa residences and hotel accommodations, of which the West End, Ocean House, and Howland House, are among the largest summer hotels in this country, but it has also become famous as the residence of John Hoey, Esq., one of the most liberal patrons of horticulture in the United States; and for the sake of the fine old art we would there were a few more like him.
Hollywood Park, the residence of Mr. John Hoey, is situated about one mile from the Long Branch depot, and is, with a few restrictions, open to the public at all seasons; and every lover of the beautiful misses a great treat who does not visit it. Long before you arrive on the grounds, you can see the rather conspicuous fences, painted red and yellow, which is a feature of the place and quite ornamental.
On entering the grounds I was met by the gardener, Mr. James McKay, who, when I explained my visit and tendered him my introduction by the editor of the Gardener's Monthly, showed me every attention and courtesy that was possible. The sight amazed me and is almost beyond description. I feel that my feeble efforts are quite inadequate to do justice to the beauties of the place or to the skill of the gardener.
The grounds are beautifully laid out in walks and drives; the lawns are embellished by a great many bronze statues with granite bases. But the flower beds are the glory of the outside, and require hundreds of thousands of plants to fill them, and sixty men or more to take care of them. One very large oval bed of Alternanthera, which is clipped every three days, contained the Shaksperian quotation: "This is an art which does mend nature but the art itself is nature." The letters were formed of Semperviviums, which gave it a very pretty and novel effect; the words were around the base of a statue and the whole flower bed was as near perfect as human hands could make it, and was alone well worth a journey to see.
Mr. McKay next called my attention to two immense ribbon beds, one on each side of the walk, and perhaps some eight to ten hundred feet long, filled in eleven strips with, 1st, Ste-via variegata; 2d, Geranium Mountain of Snow; 3d, Achyrauthus Gilsonii; 4th, Geranium Mountain of Snow; 5th, Achyranthus Lindenii; 6th, Coleus El Dorado; 7th, Achyranthus Gilsonii; 8th, Stevia vaiiegata; 9th, Coleus Verschaff-eltii; 10th, Stevia variegata; 11th, Coleus Negro. The yellow Coleus El Dorado forming the centre strip, gave it a gorgeous appearance. Mr. McKay uses the variegated Stevia very extensively in all the flower beds requiring a I light colored leaf, and prefers it to the Centaurea or Dusty Miller.
There were also several beds of Geraniums; one filled with Happy Thought was very pretty; and one filled with a bronze or golden kind, called Crystal Palace Gem, looked very attractive: but for masses of color and free flowering qualities, Mr. McKay finds none to beat geranium General Grant, of which there were some very extensive beds. The Canna with Musa Ensete in the middle, planted out in masses, gave the gardens quite a tropical appearance. While the Dahlia and Gladiolus beds were very conspicuous. Near the mansion was a row of fifty real porcelain vases, worth perhaps one hundred dollars each, which were very tastefully filled, and added vastly to the attractions of the place. Near the vases was a collection of some three thousand Agave plants, of some two hundred varieties, some of which were expected to flower very soon.
Hollywood contains in all some two hundred acres, one hundred of which are in the flower gardens and separated from the other parts by a beautiful Norway spruce hedge, which is clipped regularly twice a year - once in June and again in August.
Some idea of the extent of the flower beds may be gained when it is known that it takes between two and three millions of plants to fill them: these, with a very few exceptions, are all grown on the place, requiring greenhouses especially for propagation.
The conservatories consist of nine ranges, twenty-three greenhouses in all; five of which are three hundred feet long. All the large houses are built of iron, and heated with Hitching's hot water apparatus, and all have plaster or cement walks which give the houses a very neat and clean appearance. The first house I visited was in the shape of an immense oval building, and filled on all sides with Caladiums grown in very large pans; these of themselves were a sight to behold, consisting of many hundred specimens in about thirty five varieties.
Another house was filled with Dracaenas, Marantas, Alocasias and Begonias, interspersed with some magnificent specimens of Sphcero-gyne latifolia, which lent a charm to the other surroundings. Mr. McKay allows the Marantas a season of rest and lets the plants become partially dry, keeping them in that state until they show signs of growth. Treated in this manner the various leaf markings become more intense, and last much longer on the plants.
I next entered a range of houses, consisting of a large rotunda-shaped one in the centre, and two large houses running east and west from it. The central rotunda contained some magnificent specimens of Ferns; prominent among them was a very large plant of Cybotium crinitum, said to be the largest in America. Arranged between the ferns were large pans of different varieties of Selaginella, whose varied forms gave an indescribable effect to the surroundings. Here, also, was a gigantic specimen of Pitcher Plant, Nepenthes Hookerii, with over seventy-five very large pitchers on. In fact, had Mr. McKay told me there were a hundred, I could have readily believed him, so truly grand was the specimen. There were, also, some very fine plants of Bananas, Bird's Nest Ferns, Gold and Silver Ferns, and Tree Ferns, nestling among which was a very fine plant of Elk's Horn Fern, Platycerium grande, growing on a flat piece of board without earth of any kind. A very rare, curious and valuable plant.
The western wing was devoted to the growth of Orchids: of these there were a very large collection. Prominent among them was some very fine specimens of the Holy Spirit plant, Peris-teria elata in full bloom, with spikes of flowers three and five feet in height There were also some very fine plants of Ærides, Vanda, and Dendrobium in bloom; but of course the late winter months are the time to see the Orchids in their full glory. At this time and in early spring it is no infrequent thing to have a thousand Orchids in bloom at one time. Most of the plants that were suspended from the roof were grown on clay blocks, burnt soft in order to be porous to the moisture. This not only added to their neat appearance, but gave no harbor to insects, which is too often the case with wooden baskets. There were some twenty-six kinds of Cypripe-dium, and at least a dozen varieties of Nepenthes whose pitchers were very singular and beautiful. But before I leave the Orchids I must not forget the Phalsenopsis Schilleriana, said to be one of the largest specimens in the world.
The eastern wing is devoted to the growth of the Cactus, of which there are some nine thousand plants of about five hundred varieties. Any attempt to enumerate the names would take up too much of the Monthly's valuable space. It is sufficient to say that the collection contained specimens of almost every known kind in the world, many of which had pet names bestowed on .them. One prominent and curious specimen is known as Rip Van Winkle, on account of being covered with long white hair. Many of the plants were in bloom, and the gorgeous tints of the flowers contrasted strangely with the ugliness of the stems.
Range number four was originally built at Paris, and was on exhibition at the World's Fair at Vienna, in 1870, where Mr. Hoey purchased it. The building is a very pretty and neat affair, some one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet long, the eastern wing of which is devoted entirely to the growth of Dracaenas, and the western wing to the cultivation of Crotons, hoth of which contain some magnificent plants, whose various colored foliage would require the brush of the artist to describe rather than the rambling pencil of your correspondent.
House number five is known as the Camellia house, being devoted principally to the cultivation of this magnificent flower, of which there are some three hundred and fifty specimens.
We next come to the Rose houses, three in number, which cover a space nine hundred feet long and twenty-five feet wide. Part of the houses are built with sash, but the new range of them are fixed roofs. The roses are all planted out in rich and deep beds of soil, and consist principally of Cornelia Cook, Safrano, Bon Si-lene, Douglas, Niphetos, Isabella Sprunt and Marechal Neil. The air seems heavy with their perfume, and look which way you will the eye rests on innumerable buds. In the heighth of their season one thousand to twelve hundred is their average crop. These are sent to Mr.Hoey's personal friends, and distributed among the various hospitals and charitable institutions of New York and Brooklyn.
Leaving the Rose houses I was next shown two houses devoted to the cultivation of Smilax; and a description of Mr. McKay's system of growing it may not be out of place. After the plants are cut down, water is gradually withheld and the roots allowed to become partially dry, they are then taken up and potted in six-inch pots and kept in a dormant state during summer to be again planted out in the fall of the year. The beds for their reception are about eight inches deep, and composed of about equal parts of fresh loam, decayed cow manure and sand. After the plants are all set out in this composition, galvanized wires are stretched over the surface of the ground the width of the beds, and from these strings are carried to the roof of the house, the plants being so close to each other as to present the appearance of one solid mass of Smilax.
I next entered the Palm house, an iron structure of three hundred and fifty feet in length, filled with some of the rarest palms in the world and the finest specimens in the country, whose numerous and diversified forms and colors are beyond description and must be seen to be appreciated.
All the greenhouses have cement floors, which give them a very neat and clean appearance. They require one thousand to twelve hundred tons of coal annually to heat them.
My attention was next called to the collection of Azaleas, all grown as standards, and trained umbrella style, of which there were nine hundred plants, some of them having two or three varieties grafted on them. Mr. McKay prefers to grow them in a partially shaded position during the summer, and for that purpose has a building covered on all sides with laths, set about two inches apart, which break the direct rays of the sun.
The vegetable garden exhibited the same thoughtful care that everywhere characterises the place. The produce seemed to be of the best and newest kind, grown in a style far surpassing anything that has been our good fortune to gaze upon.
Hollywood Park and its various attractions will be long remembered by those who have had the good fortune to visit it, and I advise all lovers of horticulture to visit it at their very earliest opportunity, as at any time of the year it presents innumerable attractions, which, be it said to the credit of its liberal minded owner, are not kept for a selfish purpose, but with a generous and whole-soul feeling are offered to the instruction and delight of our fellow-men. And I feel assured that, to true lovers of nature, the expense of going, and the time lost, will never be regretted.
But I cannot conclude this article without saying that never before, in all my wanderings, which have extended nearly half way over the civilized world, did I receive so much courtesy as that shown me by Mr. James McKay, the skillful director at Hollywood Park, who holds a position that would baffle the best gardener in the country to fill, and Mr. Hoey is fortunate in having secured the services of such a thorough horticulturist. And as Mr. Hoey has facetiously named one of his Cactuses Kip Van Winkle, I cannot do better than wish him my friend Rip'sToast: "May he live long and prosper".