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.
Gardening does not merely consist in having a piece of ground with some grass, some trees, and some flowers; but it means a study of these things so as to get the most pleasure from the materials at command. The stud}' of gardening should be like the study of any other art. We may see "General Washington " or the "Konig Wilhelm " on a tavern sign, and know very well whom the paintings represent, - yet we would not have them hung in our parlors. We want something better. It is just as true of gardening. There is the same difference between a good garden and a mere " yard" as there is between a good painting and a mere daub. Gardening, as an art, is a pretty study. Let us hope the winter will not pass away without a thought of this.
Our readers will not forget the experiences of the past memorable winter, and how plants had the moisture dried out of them by the extraordinary combination of three agents all in one day, namely, a dry air with high wind, a low temperature, and roots so deeply frozen that their ability to absorb moisture was seriously impaired. It is hardly likely that these three agencies, all so favorable to a destructive loss of sap, will occur together so soon again; but we can learn from this the importance of preserving plants from losing their juices too rapidly.
This can be done in some degree by laying a mulch over the roots on the surface of the ground, which will prevent the ground from getting frozen to the full depth of the roots. Besides this we have often pointed out the advantages to places of being sheltered from cold winds in winter by belts of evergreens. This advice will be appreciated at this season. Many plants like the Deodar Cedar, Cedar of Lebanon, and English Holly, can only be grown in this region, when the plants are protected by these belts. The best kinds of Evergreens for making belts, on account of their rapid growth and warmth imparting character, are the White Pine, Scotch Pine, and Norway Spruce; among deciduous trees the Larch, Silver Maple, Birch, Scotch or Sycamore Maple, and the Cottonwood Poplar, which can be cut away as the others grow.
Besides trees for shelter, good hedges serve the triple service of shelter, protection from trespass, and beauty, - setting aside their cheapness as compared with lumber fences, now that their proper management is understood, their superiority in the points we have designated gives them commanding claim on every one's attention. They need not be always of evergreens. Beech and Hornbeams are excellent deciduous things.
Thinning is not nearly enough practiced. We often hear people complain that their trees were originally planted too thick. This is rarely the case. The warmth of thick planting makes all grow faster; and besides who wants to look at a skeleton of a place for a dozen years, while the fleshy branches are growing over it. The true philosophy is to plant thick, and thin annually.
In the Southern States, more active operations will be going on preparing for spring work.
Many kinds of trees that do not seem to thrive well, will be greatly improved next year by having a surface dressing of manure or rich soil thrown about them. Evergreens are no exception. A singular notion used to prevail, that manure of any kind was injurious to evergreens, probably through noticing that they were usually found in poor, barren soil. Our best American coniferae growers, however, have long practiced manuring them, and with the best results. Guano has been found particularly beneficial to the Spruce family, and it will probably be found as good for the whole family of evergreens.