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.
An editorial letter that appeared in the February number of your excellent journal of this year, suggested that a few words on the state of advancement in horticulture in and around the Iron City might be interesting to many of your readers. The letter referred to, merely touched the subject. The horticulturist in this city has much to contend with, from the impure atmosphere, a thing that can readily be understood by those who have visited this city. One of the most prominent effects of this, is the exclusion of all evergreens in the localities where the smoke is most prevalent, and even in the remoter districts, these are confined to a few hardier varieties. Among the most notable features of horticulture in the vicinity are the Allegheny Parks, located in the heart of that city. They were originally used as commons, or cow pasture, but in later years have been improved and are now enjoyable parks. We are glad to note a marked improvement in the appearance of these grounds lately, and last summer the bedding was really very fine. The greenhouses belonging to the city, being rather limited in capacity, the work has not been as elaborate as it would have been, had there been more material to work with.
Indeed it is astonishing how much the little glass which is there has been made to do. There was one piece of carpet bedding which was particularly noticeable. It was a square frame around a design combining a maltese cross, an elephant and a camel. The idea was well carried out, but the animals were naturally but clumsy representations, at best, and were not likely to encourage imitation; but as the bed was located in the children's playground, the idea was perhaps commendable as an amusement for them. There were several other beds which were probably as near perfect both in design and execution as they could be made with the present knowledge, and in so murky an atmosphere. Connected with the greenhouse is a show-house, which is well stocked with a fine collection of rare ornamental plants, all showing evidence of the care bestowed upon them. In short, Mr. Hamilton, the superintendent, and Mr. Herron, the head gardener, deserve great credit for the marked improvement which they have inaugurated. In the neighborhood are to be found a number of well-to-do florists, who in point of variety of stock and quality of plants grown by them compare very favorably with eastern firms.
But the atmosphere is too dull for them to succeed as well with winter-blooming plants as other florists, at least they have not until now done so, although they are persistent in the effort and may succeed yet. These florists grow all the plants of recent introduction, worthy of cultivation. Private greenhouses are also numerous, and some have fine collections of the finer class of plants.
One gentleman (Mr. Charles Clark) is the happy possessor of a fine specimen of Seaforthia elegans, fully twenty feet in height, also a large Philodendron, which has been fruiting freely during the last three years. Indeed, as you leave the heart of the city and get out among the suburbs, you find a refined taste displayed in all the gardens surrounding the houses, both large and small, and much attention is paid to planting handsome trees and shrubs, though there is a sameness about it which the nurserymen find it hard to break up. The lawns are kept neatly shorn and carpet bedding and other more desirable styles of gardening are quite universal; showing a steady increase in the taste for such things. The cut flower trade in the cities is extensive and plant decorations for festive occasions are popular.
Pittsburg has also an attractive cemetery within its limits, "The Allegheny Cemetery" of which our people are very proud. The choice of the site was a fortunate one in the first place, as it has many natural advantages in the shape of running water, gentle slopes thickly wooded and steep banks with rocky projections, so that with but little expense it was made very attrac. tive leaving but little for the art of the landscape gardener. The cemetery is also supplied with a well equipped set of hothouses, which furnish the grounds near the main gate with bedding plants sufficient to make a brilliant display. At one point in the grounds has been formed a beautiful sheet of water, and from other parts fine views can be had of the surrounding country, including the Allegheny river and its banks.