This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I observe in the March number of the Monthly the request of A. L. O. E. These initials are so intimately associated with the name of that noble lady, Miss Tucker, that it is difficult to think of them as a nom de plume, except in connection with the name of a lady.
Replies to questions thus put are likely not to cover the whole ground. In the first place, one can hardly guess with absolute certainty just how much horticultural skill the querist possesses, nor have we any means of knowing the predisposing causes to failure. The answers must, therefore, of necessity, be of a general character.
Why six scarlet geraniums for bedding purposes? We use only two except in a small way on trial. As a scarlet bedder, the geranium called General Grant, has not yet been beaten. Please remember, however, the writer is in the immediate vicinity of Baltimore. We use for scarlet geranium, General Grant and a seedling which we do not think sufficiently distinct from the former to need a name. If we used another it would be Coleshill, and for a double scarlet Sapier pompier. For white, Emily Vaucher; for pink, Christine and Christine Neilson; for a silver-leaved one, Mountain of Snow. Marshal McMahon is a good type of the bronze section. Now as to Centaurea. The habit it has of dying out in places along the lines is well nigh universal, and not only amateurs but skilled gardeners also, would be glad to discover a remedy. Nature has thus far been fairly kind to us, perhaps in return for the love we bear her, but remembering her reputation for fickleness one feels dubious of saying much.
In the matter of propagation, C. gymnocarpa is not difficult, but requires patience, unless one could winter over old plants, cut well in early in January, bring them into heat, and when the young growth is a little more than an inch long take it off with a small heel of the old wood. Insert these cuttings in the propagating bench, and they will root and grow readily. Remembering, however, that this is for amateurs, who, like ourselves in that particular, have no room to spare; we take our cuttings along in the autumn, nearly up till frost, put them in sand, in a cool place, and keep them there till February, when we pot them and induce them to grow a little, planting out latter end of April. Under this treatment a great many of the cuttings are merely callused when potted off. It will be thus seen there is nothing difficult nor scientific in the treatment of Centaurea gynnocarpa. Should more light be needed, the Monthly is ever ready to supply it. Pyrethrum gets pretty much the same treatment as Centaurea.
A. L. 0. E. says: - "Will the Gardener's Monthly please ask its contributors to say something about bedding out suited to the capacity of amateurs? Especially would like to know the six of the better kinds of scarlet geraniums for that purpose? The best pink and the best white? Perhaps Mr. Flitton - I think his initials are N. F. F. - would not object to name the variety which he uses; his beds are ablaze with bloom the entire summer, superior to anything I have seen anywhere? Also, when is the best time and manner or method of rooting Centaurea gymnocarpa? I observe it has a disagreeable habit of dying out in gaps. Have been told that seedlings would do better than cuttings, and tried both; each has tried to do its worst, and both, I must confess, have succeeded admirably in the attempt.
"One other little item I saw at the same place, a circular bed about twelve feet diameter; it was planted with somewhat of a Maltese cross with Echeveria, the angles filled in with Alternanthera in varieties, edged with Pyrethrum aureum, and skilfully kept. It was a perfect little gem the whole season. Any information about these matters would doubtless interest a large number of your amateur readers besides."