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.
Over and over again for years past we have dwelt on the great necessity for shade to the soil, as the great one thing which the cultivator has to learn from American works and from American experience, that he will never learn from the best European works, because there they want the soil warmer than it is, rather than to be cooled. The coolness afforded by the shade is the great element of value in growing fruit trees in grass, and ornamental trees on lawns, which, as everyone knows, do better on a well-kept lawn than in a piece of ground where the surface is kept clear of all vegetation. It may, perhaps, have been an oversight that we have not as strongly urged the great value of shade for border flowers as for ornamental trees or fruits. The importance of this shade was very strongly brought to mind in a recent trip to the South. We remained over a day at the Relay House, below Baltimore. Thft hotel belongs to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, and the grounds around it are of the most charming description. Tasteful walks, neatly mown lawns, artistically grouped trees and shrubs, with not a weed to be seen, or anything out of place anywhere. But the great attraction was the profusion of charming flowers there, and in the highest condition of luxuriance.
In Verbenas especially, we never saw anything to equal them. The single flowers were about an inch across, and the trusses were of enormous size. The chief element in this success was the shading of the earth from the hot sun. All over the surface of the earth fresh tan bark was strewn, and gave the cool shade in which the roots luxuriate. This is not the season for shading soil; but it is in time for our "Seasonable Hints," that one can so think over and arrange things, as to have the needful shade for next season.
While caring for next summer's protection from heat, look out for winter protection from frost. Numberless things will endure frost, - at the same time remember that even in the hardiest cases frost is no benefit. In protecting, Pine Cedar and Arborvitse are often used, but they often injure by the turpentine which conies out when the branches freeze. In like manner be careful with rank, strawy manure, for the salt it contains does injury. Too great a thickness of leaves will breed mildew, besides being unnecessary. Plants often die from excessive evaporation, and bright sunlight in winter helps evaporation. Just enough covering to keep off wind and sun-light is all that most half-hardy plants need.
Many kinds of hardy annuals flower much better next spring, when sown at this season of the year. A warm, rich border should be chosen, and the seed put in at once. Early in spring they must be transplanted to the desired position in the flower border.
Few things are more valued in winter than a bunch of Sweet Violets. A few may now be potted, and they will flower in the window towards spring; or a small bed of them may be made in a frame, which should be protected by a mat from severe frost. To have Pansies flower early and profusely in spring, they may be planted out in a frame, as recommended for the Violet.
Herbaceous hardy border flowers are often propagated in the fall by dividing the roots; but unless it is convenient to protect the newly-made plants through the winter, it is better to defer this till spring, as the frost draws out of the ground and destroys many. Where it is now resorted to, a mulching of leaves or litter should be placed over the young stock when transplanted.
Chrysanthemums now in flower should have heir names and colors rectified, against the time when in spring they may have to be replanted, when they can be re-arranged with accuracy and satisfaction, according to the owner's taste.
Amongst the pretty effects which we have seen this year, have been several attempts at forming winter gardens of evergreens. It was suggested in England a few years ago, that the massing system of growing flowers in summer was objectionable in this, that it left the beds naked through the winter. To remedy this, they had a reserve garden of evergreens from which the plants were taken every year after the frost had killed the flowers, and set in the places where the flowers were. This makes the flower garden look green at least during the summer season. This reserve garden of evergreens is usually put into an out of the way place, and does not look very inviting in the summer time. In the case we have reference to, the reserve garden had the evergreens set rather wide apart, and the spaces between filled with Coleus, Achyranthus, and other colored and variegated leaves. The effect was very pretty indeed.