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.
The example set by Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Allegheny, deserves to be followed by many other cities, notably New York and Brooklyn.
The bearing fruit testifies how much of an educator is the planting of trees and flowers in public places. It has been my pleasure to note and study its influence upon the masses, and wherever plants and flowers are used as common property there is a cheerfulness in the people, a something to elevate and instruct. The mechanic, after the toil of the day, the children after school hours, are always happier and better prepared for another day's work; and let it be recorded there is neither disturbing or pilfering of plants in public places, and this without any previous opportunity for many of the people to even see flowers.
During last summer, at Allegheny City Park, during a Sunday afternoon and evening, I saw thousands upon thousands of happy faces taking in all the beauties of their park. No roystering or vulgarity, no violations of the simple rules there in force, but all in common look upon the place as their individual property.
I must say a few words about Allegheny Park, and Mr. W. Hamilton, its very able superintendent. In the whole of the Union there is not a more difficult place to obtain satisfactory results, being more or less much affected by the smoke of Pittsburgh and its vicinity, yet here were splendid green lawns, and the floral effect scarcely equalled in the most favorable situations.
I was informed the entire number of plants used was in the neighborhood of 30,000. There were magnificent beds of cannas nine feet in height; immense plants and clumps of Caladium esculentum; grand beds of geraniums and Coleus, a pyramid of Coleus, thirteen feet high, consisting of eleven bands, about twelve inches broad, with point of Arborvitae globosa; a broad base of Achyranthus, and other plants, the entire width of base being thirty-eight feet.
Some remarkably fine carpet beds and a menagerie panel, the length forty-eight feet, and breadth fourteen feet. The animals being one elephant and one camel, worked out in a most life-like representation, the centre being occupied by a richly-executed Maltese cross.
With regard to carpet and pattern bedding, it has some detractors, and may be quite justifiable, but I have no doubt there is much good result from it. The children, above all others, are benefited, and among the thousands of children in Pittsburgh and Allegheny there are but very few that do not remember the elephant and camel in the park, and this will be a life-long impression with many. 1 maintain that what pleases the masses is what must be aimed at in public places. We have not here long spring months to enjoy spring flowers and the generality of hardy blooming plants. Again, carpet-bedding is said to be conventional, and not natural. What are wall papers, what are curtains, and what are carpets proper, but conventional. At Allegheny there are not only bedding plants, but quite a fine collection of deciduous shrubs in bold masses and singly. The best of shade trees and trees of smaller growth is somewhat limited on account of the smoke difficulty; but here are good limes, maples, poplars, several varieties; some elms, and the best of all is the ailanthus.
The greenhouses contain a fine collection of plants, considering the limited accommodation. These also are open to the people at all times, most of the plants being labeled correctly with scientific and popular names, country and uses.
So I would say to boards and corporations in cities, give the people their garden, let them have something to cheer a toilsome life, and depend upon it, no outlay of money will ever pay so much interest as the park fund.