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.
We take up our pen on this 1st day of April to offer a few "Seasonable Hints." They are for our magazine, which is to appear on the first of May. It seems hard to tell just now what will be "seasonable" at that time. Only think of the thermometer on the side of the office showing 11° below the freezing point. Then there are letters on the table from all points of the compass about "snow on the ground," and "frost," and "cold winds." How long is this to last! But spring will probably soon come; for here is a rose plant from the open ground in New Orleans with leaves and shoots several inches long! It will be as well, then, to write for May, - it will no doubt all come along right in good time.
Speaking of New Orleans, suggests the absence of good lawns in Southern gardening. It is probably from following too closely the kinds of grass popular in more northern climes. In the writer's occasional trios to the South he has noted many kinds of wild grasses that would probably make good lawns. Those should be selected for trial that creep and are evergreen. Near the Spanish Fort, below New Orleans, some years ago, he noted an orchard of orange trees that had the surface covered with Bermuda grass, which has a strong creeping character. It formed a dense mass of about four inches deep at that season (February). It is possible this would not stand the close clipping of a lawn-mower, but it seemed very probable that it would. Has anyone tried it? If not, there are others. Even in the North we have not in every case got the best lawn grass. Just here about Philadelphia we need nothing better than Poa pratensis - the Kentucky blue-grass; but then Pennsylvania is not all the United States. Some of our colleges which love to experiment might try patches of various kinds as lawn grasses.
From May to June will be the great bedding-plant month. The colored-leaved plants still play their useful parts. Of Coleus, up to this season the old Verschaffeltii and Queen Victoria retain their popularity with gardeners. It remains to be seen whether some of the newer ones will rule over them or not.
In planting out flowers don't take them at once from the hot-house to the open ground. Set the pots out for a few days in a cold frame with plenty of air, or under a tree in a sheltered place. Before turning them out of pots, water; and when set in the earth, press the soil very hard about the flower roots. If the ground be dry, the earth cannot be pressed too hard.
Deciduous trees can be safely transplanted after the leaves have pushed, and up to the first of June; but the new leaves must be taken off, and the young shoots shortened. In a few-weeks they will push out a new crop of leaves. According to "natural laws" as laid down in the books, it would injure the trees very much; but after a many years' observation of the facts, we do not find it hurts the vitality of the trees very much, while few ever die so treated. Evergreens seem to do better in May than in any other spring month. Of evergreens, still rare, Thujopsis borealis, Cupressus Lawsoniana, Libocedrus decurrens and Golden Retinispora, are really good additions to our list.
Trellisses and stakes for climbing plants and vines should be put in at or before setting out the plants. These plants always seem to grow with more freedom and vigor when they can find something at once to cling to. Climbing vines add greatly to the interest of a garden. They can be trained into all sorts of forms and shapes; and many of them, for gracefulness of form or beauty of their flowers, cannot be excelled by any other tribe of plants.