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.
In most of the countries of Europe, summer gardening is the most attractive, and most that is done there is with that view. With us the spring and autumn are more enjoyable, and if American gardening is ever to have a distinctive feature of its own, it will be from efforts specially directed to one or both of these. Our summers are usually hot and dry, and people are either " away," or very much indisposed for out-door enjoyment, except such as may be found in shady woods, or on some heights where the cool breezes blow. At any rate we shall not go wrong by doing our best for good effects with spring flowers, and it is time to think about these things now. There is scarcely anything more beautiful in spring than a bed of Hyacinths and Tulips well intermixed. The Hyacinths go out of flower just as the Tulips come in. In the spring Gladiolus and Tuberoses can be placed between these; or if desirable some flowering bedding plants, and in this way the gaiety and interest can be preserved from spring to fall. Crown Imperials are capital things for the centre of small beds, and the regular bedding plants can go around them. Narcissuses keep their foliage too long after flowering, as does the Snowdrop. These can hardly be made available where regular bedding is desirable for summer.
They are best in odd patches by themselves. Crocus does well anywhere. It may even be set in the grass about the lawn, as it is generally over before the first mowing takes place. But it would not be admitted into our best kept lawns. The vast tribe of lilies come in rather late for spring gardening, but few will care to he without them. Besides these there are many little items which are noted in almost all bulb catalogues, from which many interesting spring blooms can be had. No one will go amiss in looking well to this class of plants. The best time to plant is from now to frost. Mice and vermin are very liable to attack these roots. Poisoning is the best remedy.
Unless very well acquainted with the varieties of Hyacinths and other bulbs, it is best to leave the selection of the kinds to the dealer. The best manure for all kinds of bulbs is rotten cow manure. Half rotten stable manure or rank matter of any kind, is not good. Very rich garden soil, without manure is better than to have this matter fresh.
Of Tulips there are many classes. The single dwarf varieties are very early; the double ones of the same class come next. The Parrot Tulips, so called from the singular warty edges of the petals, are the next earliest, and then the Tulip, so well known for its large, full cups of all colors.
The next most popular bulb is the Narcissus, of which there are only white and yellow varieties - but these so varied in shade and shape as to afford a dozen or more of single and double kinds.
The Crocus is another popular bulb, as there are so many shades of color, white, yellow, blue. and the many shades between, they make gorgeous masses in the spring flower garden. They have a beautiful effect when placed in clumps on the lawn, where the flowers come through and expand before the grass begins to grow. The sloping sides of a terrace are often made to blaze with beauty in this way; and besides, the extra warmth of these terrace banks, when full to the sun, make the roots flower much earlier than they will in the level garden ground. Crown Imperials have been much improved of late years, and there are now some dozen or more of varieties. But the old Red and the old Yellow are good things to have at any rate.
The Snowdrop is, perhaps, the earliest to flower of all bulbs, being, in Philadelphia, often out by the 1st of March. There are the double and the single, both desirable - but the last we think the prettiest. They should by planted where they are to remain several years, as the after-removal, as with other bulbs, is not favorable to an abundant bloom.
Persian Iris, Ranunculus, and Anemone, are very popular and beautiful bulbs in Europe, but do not reach anything like the same perfection here.
Among the miscellaneous hardy bulbs, which flower early and are very desirable, are Japan Lilies of all varieties, and all kinds of Lilies, although they are scarcely to be ranked with spring flowers, many of them, indeed, not open ing till July.
Then there is the Allium moly, two kinds, yellow and white; Camassia esculenta, a plant of the Squill family, and very pretty; Erythroni-ums, white and yellow; Leucojum orstivum, and L. vernum with white flowers; various Ornithoga-/urns; the American Pancratiums; Scillas of various kinds, especially S.Sibirica; Zephyran-thus Atamasco, and we may add the various Paznias. These are all hardy, and really good things.
As a rule the Lily is planted in too dry or too hot a place, and this is very much against its success.
October and November in most States of the Union are first-class planting months. We must however, call attention to the great value of pruning trees and shrubs at transplanting, as well as hammering the earth firmly about the roots, in order to have the best of success. In some cases pruning is an essential. It is extremely rare that a Holly unpruned survives transplanting in our climate, while when pruned they always live, even with comparatively bad treatment.