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.
The present system of bedding out with tender plants, has been in vogue for about thirty years and has so nearly superseded the valuable class of hardy herbaceous plants that they are almost unknown to the general cultivator, excepting, perhaps, the old-fashioned Phlox, Single Hollyhocks and Paeonies and a few other flowers and herbs which were grown in the gardens of our grandmothers.
Very many intelligent people are becoming tired of the set figures, glare and sameness of the beds that are so universally used for summer decoration, and are anxiously looking about for something to take their place in a measure.
We would not wish to do without bedding-out plants entirely, for they are very striking and beautiful in certain positions, but that they should entirely supersede prettier and more interesting flowers is not desirable.
The tender bedding-out plants have to be renewed every year at a considerable expense and require very careful attention for success. They only furnish flowers from about the middle to the last of June until the first frosts, a season when people are taking their summer vacations; the beds for the remainder of the year are bare earth or a mass of decaying vegetation.
The hardy herbaceous plants cost but little more at first, require very little attention for success and they live and increase year after year. With a dozen different kinds, flowers can be had from April until very severe frosts; with a larger number, every color, and a great variety in form and fragrance will be represented. Many of them are evergreen and would look finely as single plants, or in beds all the year.
Hard}' plants are usually arranged in borders with the large growing varieties at the back and a gradation in size to the small ones on the edge, but we need not be confined to this arrangement. I believe that when the same amount of study is bestowed on this class of plants that has been on the tender plants, equally as good and far more interesting effects can be produced.
Grass beds are exceedingly graceful and pretty. The Eulalia Japonica, Zebrina and Variegata are both remarkably pretty; Erian-thus Ravennae, Festuca glauca and many others are fine.
The lilies and all hardy bulbs are included in this class. The Tulip is well known as a showy early bedding plant.
The great variety of beautiful Phlox, in shades of pink, purple, red, crimson, salmon and white, variously marked, are being added to every year by foreign cultivators, and the old single Hollyhock has been transformed into one of our most beautiful flowers, with double and single varieties, having shades almost black, copper, rose, yellow, red, white and intermediate shades. These and the Larkspurs have been greatly improved, mostly by foreign cultivators, but they are very little known here. A large list of very fine hardy herbaceous plants might be mentioned in the classes spoken of, but I will not take the room in this article.
There is a broad field for improvement in many of the herbaceous plants by hybridization, selection of seeds and the cultivation of sports, and it is to be hoped that many cultivators will experiment on this class of plants and make known their results through this paper or otherwise.