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.
It is usually towards spring that the tenderer trees and shrubs suffer from winter weather. There is yet time to protect them. It is often wind rather than frost which does the injury, or perhaps the sun shining on plants when frozen. Good dry material which keeps back the wind is therefore a better protection than material which holds moisture and breeds mould. The same applies to the protection of small seedlings or herbaceous plants. A mass of manure or wet leaves is a very bad protection.
To have nice trees and shrubs winter pruning is desirable. The practice of shearing a plant, as we often see them sheared, is anything but tasteful. Remember, that as the twig is bent the tree is inclined, and there are much prettier things to incline a tree to than to make a sort of nest which even the proverbial crow would despise. The thinning out of branches and the bending of branches here and there to make them grow as we would like them to, is a great art, and yet a very interesting one in gardening.
Flower beds are often very desirable near where large trees are growing. But the roots of the trees take most of the food. The beds should be dug out about two feet deep every year and filled in with fresh earth, or the same earth mixed with manure. The object is as much to cut away the roots as anything. The decaying roots in the earth will make some manure.
Since lawn mowers came into general use it is often the practice to let the mowings remain to act, as it is said, as manure. But it is found in practice that this material often kills the finer grasses by its shade, and helps the coarser weeds to grow. It is much better to rake it off after mowing and top dress the lawn with some rich material. It is not necessary that this should be coarse stable manure, making the lawn unsightly all winter. Guano, phosphates, or rich earth that can at once be raked fine, is much better. Avoid bone, cinders, or any gritty matter that will dull the blades of the mowing machine.
Trees love manure as well as grass. Evergreens especially like well-decayed manure. There is a great pleasure in a thrifty tree. It can be placed on the surface beneath the trees.
If possible, without too much cost, vary some of the arrangements of the preceding year.
Much of our rural pleasures come from changes of the seasons, and in gardening the continual growth of trees makes a certain class of changes from year to year. We can help this still more by a little art. It does not, in very many cases, require much time or money so to alter the appearance of a place as to make it bear a very different look to what it did in the past year. A new clump of cheap shrubbery may be planted, or an old one taken away to admit a new view that may have grown up since the original planting. A strip of grass may be laid down on what was once bare gravel. Here a small rockery may be put together; there a nest of roots thrown up, and ferns and trailing plants freely interspersed between them. In this corner you may place a stump, and entice Ivy or some climbing vines to grow over it - a rustic arbor may be formed in some inviting nook, and in another shade-enticing spot a rustic chair or bench be fixed Even the outlines of the flowerbeds may be changed, or of the walks themselves, or even the contour of the surface in some instances, and all, in many cases, at the expense of a very small expenditure of time and money.