This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V25", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Having a few spare moments I thought a few notes might be interesting to some portion of your readers.
Owing to the example of some people of taste, gardening has assumed very respectable proportions in this city in the last few years, and several gardens " up town" will compare favorably with those of any city in the Union.
Some people have got the impression because orange and magnolia are used here for sidewalk trees that everything else will grow quite easily; but the sooner that impression is modified the better. Some things of course do better than in other places, Pittosporum tobira, Cycas revoluta, Hedychiums, Crinums, all the Ficus, including Parcellii, palms and roses - teas and hybrid teas, all do well in the open ground, and splendid specimens of each are to be met with.
Here, on this place, bulbs, such as hyacinths, anemones, ranunculus, and oxalis have the space allotted to them nearly covered; iris and gladiolus well up and will be all cleared away to make room for something else before you can break the ground with a crow-bar in the North. This class of stuff was scarcely known here a few years ago.
Seeds, in spite of all that has been said and written concerning them, are still inclined to be mean, particularly if they are choice, and you have only a few. They mostly came up splendidly, but if they get too dry one will probably lose them; if they get water at the bottom we are liable to lose them; and if they get water at the top we are sure to lose them; and when one does happen to get them all right they have a fashion of getting small by degrees, and beautifully less, until there is nothing left to remind one of their once happy existence but the label and the pot. Truly they are like the ways of Providence - past finding out. I find I do better with such small seeds as begonias, lobelias, mimulus, etc, by using a handful of small crocks, bits of charcoal, or rough peat, on the top of the pot or pan. Sow the seed and water with the rose. I find they seldom need anything more until they are fit to handle, but even then they are not safe, for about this time along comes a swarm of caterpillars and bugs, snails and slugs, and I often wonder we don't all go crazy at once and be done with it.
Pansies, Viola, Petunias, Dianthus, Coreopsis, etc, are all pricked off in boxes to be stowed away from frost - if we have any - and planted out about the middle of January, some to do duty all summer, and others to be burned up as soon as real hot weather comes.
The thermometer has not registered lower than 6o° outside at six a. m., this season, as yet (Nov. 15); Pointsettas are ablaze outside in the ground, roses in basketfuls, and coleus look better than they did in July or August.
I have taken the liberty of sending you some Crape Myrtle flowers which I regard as the largest and best clusters I have ever seen. I regret they are not in better condition. The plant of the white variety has some two hundred bunches on, some near the top, too high to reach, larger than the samples; the other is as well flowered for its size, but is not so large a plant. They are the prettiest flowers we have on the place at present.
Also, in a small box, I send you three beetles. They are committing great depredation amongst palms, at this time of year. The larger specimen I am informed is the male, the smaller the female. They have never been seen in this locality until recently. All palms on this place are protected by wire-netting, with a mesh too small for them to get through, but they occasionally effect an entrance through the ground near the base, as you will see by the section I send, which will explain their mode of operation a great deal better than I can.
Will some one tell me what to do with my Eu-charis? I have over one hundred of what would be, in any other place, blooming bulbs of Ama-zonica and Candida, collectively, and did not have over two dozen flowers the whole season. I used to get Eucharis to bloom well, but must have lost the secret. I have got them in pots and pans, singly and doubly, and five in a pan, in the best parts of the houses, without, however, having any bottom heat. I see that English growers recommend, in order to have them bloom well, to keep the foliage in good condition. Now, I can beat all England on foliage, mine look more like Stre-litzias than Eucharises, but leaves are all I get.
[The specimens of crape myrtle were very fine, the largest panicle being one foot in length and eight inches across at the base.
The beetles belong to a class of insects known as tumble-bugs. The palm which our correspondent sends has a hole bored at the base, an inch in diameter and into the heart of the plant. - Ed. G. M.]