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.
"F. A. B.," Philad'a., asks : " Can you not write out for the readers of the Gardener's Monthly the talk you gave on Lilies at the State Horticultural Society ? By an abstract I saw in a Harrisburg paper, I am sure it would interest us all. There seems to me many novel points in it, you have not given us in the magazine".
It is perhaps unfortunate that the editor has not time to write out papers for public addresses. Wherever a few verbal remarks are acceptable, he does not mind offering them. This particular talk was taken down by a short-hand reporter, and will probably appear in the Proceedings of the Society. It would be too long for the Gardener's Monthly, even if written out. Perhaps the annexed very good abstract made by the reporter of the Bucks Co. Intelligencer, will satisfy our correspondent :
"Thomas Meehan, editor of the Gardener's Monthly, talked very interestingly about 'Lilies and other bulbs and how to grow them.' It was important to be successful in growing fruits, vegetables and grain that you may make money, he said, else you could more easily and better buy them ; but what was the object of gaining money in this or any other way ? We could eat but a certain amount, and wear but a certain amount. One of the most laudable objects was to surround yourselves with beauty which you and others could enjoy. Our physical comfort demanded beauty; and comfort, after a few of the essentials of life, depended much on the imagination. Fremont's men, when nearly frozen in the Rocky Mountains, ate in an Indian hut what they supposed to be dried fish, with great relish. When, however, they learned they had been eating dried worms, they sickened with the idea. Likewise, the Indian would believe a mess almost perfection, until it was whispered to him there was dog meat in it, and he too would become sick. You must cultivate the beautiful, the ideal, or you lose half the value of life. They add charms the practical cannot always give. Oscar Wilde says we love the lily only for its beauty. This I think a mistake. There are associations connected with it which add to its value.
The imagination comes in to lend a charm - it is one of the oldest of known flowers, its history goes back two thousand years, its meaning is the ' Flower of all flowers.' The ancients claimed for it divine origin - their tradition being that it grew from a globule of milk dropped by Juno; hence its purity. There are lessons in the formation and habits of the flower that are useful to the fruit growers. The same causes that produce colored leaves in the autumn produce flowers earlier. Color is not caused altogether by chemical action. It is the different degrees of heat that cause leaf and flower; the flower grows through the winter; it takes less heat to make a flower bud than a leaf bud ; hence you should discourage the growth of flower buds in winter. Late in the fall these buds on the peach and other trees begin to swell, and they grow all winter. If they grow too fast the frosts kill them, but the leaf buds do not grow and are never killed - hence whatever will retard the growth of buds will benefit the trees. Mulching will often prove of benefit, in keeping the sun's rays and air from the roots. The growth of plants is not continuous as is generally supposed.
It is by waves they grow and rest; until a lily flower is fertilized it droops; hence when the lily first opens it bends towards the earth; as soon as fertilized it changes its position and turns out from the stock, and if it is to seed, becomes erect. This knowledge is important to those desiring to change the character of plants by fertilization. They need not wait years to know if the cross was effective. The lily family is of Arctic origin. Its main home is near the regions of perpetual snow. In Siberia and the northern part of China and Japan they abound, while at the Gulf of Mexico there is but one species. This must be remembered in planting the lily. It wants a cool, moist place, and should be planted deep, that the sun may not injure the roots; six inches is not too deep. The root is subject to fungus, which is very destructive. The growers understand this in Japan where they propagate these plants; hence they are encased in clay that they may be entirely protected from its contact. It would be well for those growing lilies here to remember this, and use nothing but well rotted manure. Lilies may be propagated slowly by offsets, but florists understand a quicker way of getting a supply; they separate the scales of the bulb and plant each scale.
New bulbs form on them and new plants are started".