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.
Among the pleasures of gardening is that which aims at perfection in some one department, or in some one thing. If one has room, he may arrange for a complete specimen of landscape gardening. If not, then complete collections of some one thing, or perfect specimens of culture in certain individuals. This point of making special points of interest is much more difficult to accomplish on a small, than on a large place; but it should nevertheless never be lost sight of, that in laying out of grounds this is where the best signs of true art come in. To make every part of a place have a connected look, - that is as if it all belonged to one place, and yet to make every part of the place look as varied as possible, consistently with the oneness which it ought to have, - this is the true art. As a general rule we plant trees and shrubs without any design, except a sort of desire to have a great many varieties. We read catalogues and see accounts of things we have not, and order accordingly as we have places to put them. Still we can often combine a great variety with taste, - have quite a collection, and yet have good special features. In regard to special collections, some may try to excel in roses, some in herbaceous perennials, or some in phloxes or other smaller classes.
The great point is to aim at excellence in some one thing, if we would have all the pleasure possible from a good garden.
In many parts where our magazine goes it will be necessary to bring up the preliminaries for active spring work.
Many delay pruning shrubbery until after severe weather passes, so as to see what injury may be done - but with March all should be finished - taking care not to trim severely such shrubs as flower out of last year's wood, as for instance, Wiegelia; while such as flower from the spring growth, as the Althaea, Mock Orange, etc, are benefited by cutting back vigorously. Those which flower from young wood, cut in severely to make new growth vigorous. Tea, China, Bourbon and Noisette roses are of this class. What are called annual flowering roses, as Prairie Queen and so on, require much of last year's wood to make a good show of flowers. Hence, with these, thin out weak wood, and leave all the stronger.
To make handsome, shapely specimens of shrubs, cut them now into the forms you want, and keep them so by pulling out all shoots that grow stronger than the others during the summer season.
Graft trees or shrubs where changed sorts are desirable. Any lady can graft. Cleft grafting is the easiest. Split the stock, cut the scion like a wedge, insert in the split, so that the bark of the stock and scion meets; tie a little bast bark around it, and cover with Trowbridge's grafting wax, and all is done; very simple when it is understood, and not hard to understand.
If flowers have been standing in the ground for many years, new soil does wonders. Rich manure makes plants grow, but they do not always flower well with vigorous growth. If new soil cannot be had, a wheelbarrow of manure to about every fifty square feet will be enough. If the garden earth looks grey or yellow, rotten leaves - quite rotten leaves - will improve it. If heavy, add sand. If very sandy, add salt - about half pint to fifty square feet. If very black or rich from previous year's manurings, use a little lime, about a pint, slacked, to fifty square feet.
If the garden be full of hardy perennial flowers, do not dig it, but use a fork, and that not deeply.
Dig garden ground only when the soil is warm and dry. Do not be in a hurry, or you may get behind. When a clot of earth will crush to powder as you tread on it, it is time to dig - not before.
If perennial plants have stood three years in one place, separate the stools, replanting one-third, and give the balance to your neighbor who has none.
Box edgings lay well now. Make the ground firm and level, plant deep, with tops not more than two inches above ground.
Roll the grass well before the softness of a thaw goes away. It makes all smooth and level.
In planting trees remember our repeated advice to use the pruning knife freely.
We would again repeat a suggestion we re cently made in regard to rustic summer houses. They can often be very cheaply made. In our country they should be open on all sides.