This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In bedding, some of the principal points seem to be often lost sight of. One is in the use of plants dissimilar in height, and that cannot be trimmed to it. If flowering plants are used in conjunction with foliage, the lowest grower should be chosen, as foliage can be trimmed to any height almost; but flowering plants can only be pegged down, and many of them do not well admit of that.
Let us take as an example W. D.'s bed, where he wants to represent a flag, red, white and blue, and use C. W. Warde's plants. The first point is to look from what point this bed is to be most seen, and place it so that the design can be best distinguished; the lowest side to that point; now, by the use of Ageratum Mexicanum, the highest will be closest. This plant grows two feet, pegs badly, and will be one foot higher than the others, Centaurea and Achyranthes, and the effect is lost and confused, as an even surface is 'indispensable to show this design. The Ageratum, John Douglas, is a low, compact grower, and will show a compact mass of blue the whole season if treated properly ; there is no better blue - is one of our best bedders. I never strike them sooner than a month before I use them, as they are very liable to red spider, and if put out old and affected with them, they soon burn up and make a poor show. Let the cuttings be put in soft a month before use, and they will be one mass of blue in a short time.
There is no doubt but the Ageratum Mexicanum is good in ribbon lines.
Browallia, recommended by C. E. Parnell, is a plant growing one and a-half feet; flowers late and small, with much foliage, and will make a very poor show of blue. Now, if W. D. does not get his bed to show an even surface, the effect will be lost, and like many designs, we have to be told what it is, before we can tell what is meant by it.
It will never do to plant and expect that lines, etc, will be complete without frequent trimmings. When plants are growing rapidly, I look over them once a week, and see if leaves or shoots are getting out of place, and have them trimmed; never wait till you see them in disorder, so that when you trim you take the most beautiful part of the foliage; in fact, never allow them to grow so that trimming will be noticed.