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.
It can scarcely be doubted that some variation is needed in our style of flower garden adornments. Exactly what that need is does not seem so well understood; or it may be merely difference of opinion, variation of tastes, etc., which causes the seeming want of unanimity. One thinks we ought to go back to herbaceous plants considerably; another that the beds should be more mixed in the planting - we suppose somewhat after the manner in which we used to sow annuals in patches here and there through the herbaceous borders, etc., a quarter of a century since. The prime factor, however, very often in solving the problem as to what style of decoration it is better to follow, is, what means we have at command. There are many places where very little may be done in herbaceous planting, in the growing of hollyhocks, dahlias, etc, and yet it may be desirable to change the style somewhat. Would it not be well to introduce the carpet-bedding style and mosaiculture (is that a word?) in those places of limited room? In the latter style we may carry out the acute angles of any figure whatever, whilst the outline of the bed or beds - here I would say do not attempt too much - may be circular or oval.
Of course I wish it understood that these remarks are not intended, and do not apply to those gardens laid out in a correct geometric design, but to places less pretentious, where there is usually a clump of beds or so, with here and there an individual bed to occupy space or for some other reason. It is these individual beds that may be made interesting, not by changing the shape of the bed but by working a design thereon. The form best adapted for this style of decoration is, in my opinion, circular or parallelogram, with the acute angles just rounded off. The designs which may be worked out upon the above forms are almost innumerable. To those who have not had experience in this style of planting, it might not be out of place to offer a suggestion. Suppose a circular bed, and raise a figure of a Maltese cross upon it about four inches above the level. For this purpose, however, it is well to make the outer ends of the cross narrower than usual. Plant in the centre a nice little agave, and around it Echeveria metallica; then plant the entire cross with E. secunda glauca.
To plant the spaces between the cross run a line through the centre of each space with a taller growing alter-nanthera, as bicolor, filling in the angular spaces with the different varieties of the same, being careful of course to keep them properly balanced by planting the same variety in opposite angles. Edge with Pyrethrum aureum. This is a very simple arrangement, easily kept in shape, looks well, and is generally satisfactory.