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.
Finding that I would have to stay in Washington on a hot night in August, I gladly accepted an invitation from my friend, Mr. John Saul to drive out to his nursery and stay over night with him, where it would be cooler. This alone would have been incentive enough, but I was anxious to see again the fine Crotons, Ferns and Dracaenas that have been so much admired at different exhibitions. Mr. Saul's place, I should judge, is about three miles from Washington, on the Seventh street road. On going there we passed the Soldiers' Home, which is to the right of the road as you drive out. I do not know how much land Mr. Saul has, but should suppose somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred acres. The hot weather and short visit allowed me to see but a small part of what was worth seeing. A noticeable feature in his nursery and greenhouses is that though he is up with the most advanced in the novelties of the day, he holds on to many good old plants, which he says are sure to come up again. I think I saw in the few hours I was there more of my old friends of some twenty years ago than I had seen for a long time. I find that Mr. Saul beds out a great number of hothouse plants in the open ground. Certainly no plants could have done better, besides the great saving of labor in watering.
The rather new and beautiful Tabernamontana Cammasa was in full bloom, and Antigonum leptopus was rambling about as freely as it did when Dr. Seeman found it. As I took no notes at the time, I cannot recall the many plants that are handled this way. He also beds out his Amaryllis in the summer, and I saw a block of probably one-eighth of an acre doing finely. He also seems to have Eucharis Amazonica completely under control, and grows it out of doors in summer in pots, for cut flowers. Every pot had one or more spikes of bloom, and more than a half peck of flowers were cut and taken to the city of Washington for high-priced bouquets, the day I was there. Another plant grown largely by Mr. Saul for cut flowers is Stephanotis. I think he has the whole of one side of a house covered with it planted out, and giving abundance of beautiful trusses. With such flowers as Stephanotis, Eucharis, Tabernamontana, and plenty of the choicest rosebuds, and at times orchids, Mr. Saul can get up a bouquet even in the hot August clays fit for any lady in the land. It is hard to tell how many greenhouses and pits he has, for they are dug into the sides of the hills, or on the level to suit the different plants grown.
As I passed blocks of azaleas, roses, geraniums, camellias, and many other plants, I was obliged to ask Mr. Saul where he would winter his immense stock. He said he would get rid of a great many by his fall sales, and the rest would go in somewhere. Having had some experience in putting plants back after a summer growth out doors, I do not envy him his job. He finds the new California lilies somewhat difficult to manage. They will not all bear the same treatment; some like moist land and others dry loam.
The weather was too hot to enjoy the greenhouses, but early in the morning I took a look at the Crotons and various foliage plants. Every leaf perfect and well-colored. They require great attention at all times to grow them as he does, and a house to themselves, for I am sure few plants could stand the moist heat that they get. Mr. Saul to be up with the times has gone into orchid culture, and is importing direct from Mexico, Central America and the East Indies, and elsewhere. Though he has only been handling orchids a few years, he seems to be getting along finely, more especially with the East India kinds. Dendrobium formosum from twelve to fifteen inches long and as thick as your finger; D. Pierardii three to five feet long. D. fimbiatum oculatum, D. tortile and many others making the rankest growth I ever saw, oftentimes double the size of that made in their own habitats. Mr. Saul says that Dendrobes do best with plenty of heat, and the house saturated with moisture when growing, gradually dried off after they have made their growth, and then kept cool and dry with plenty of light during the winter months.
He told me Dendrobes that could stand from 90° to 100° in the summer, were not hurt (if properly dried off) even if the thermometer fell occasionally to 40° or 45° in the winter. His place seems a little out of the way, but if a lover of fine plants will drive out there and catch him as I did with a lazy day on his hands (which is not often), I think he will be well repaid for his trouble. He has all the new fruit as fast as it comes out, and gives it as good a test as he can before he recommends it. He is bringing up a couple of his sons to the same business, and I hope they will have the same love for flowers that he has.