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.
The temperature of the greenhouse at this season should be maintained at about 500, allowing it to rise 10° or 150 under the full sun, and sink 100 or so in the night. Though many of our practical brethren differ from us - men, for some of whose opinions we entertain the highest respect - we do not recommend a very great difference between night and day temperature; we think 10° ample allowance. It is following nature, no doubt, but we would rather strive to beat nature. She can not make the specimens we do, nor flower them so beautifully or profusely; and in many other respects we think the practical gardener can much improve on her red tape notions and old-fashioned courses.
Many plants will seem to be full of roots, and the temptation to repot will be very great; but if a plant is desired to flower freely, the fuller of roots the pot is the better. Continual pot - tering is the bane of plant culture. If the soil is so very much exhausted that the flowers are likely to be small and poor, a half inch of the old soil in the pot, on the surface, may be replaced by a top-dressing of rich compost. But watchfulness must be afterwards exercised, or the plant will get over-dry, as the loose soil on the top will often appear wet when, in reality, all below is as dry as a powder horn.
In many greenhouses we have noted lately more attempts at a tasteful arrangement of the plants, than used formerly to prevail, when the only object of a greenhouse seemed to be a mere store place for border flowers during winter. This is very commendable, and might be much improved on.
Every few weeks the plant may be reset, and the house made to appear quite different. In the end, where the lowest plants once were set, now the taller ones may be placed - here a convex group, and there presenting a concave appearance. Drooping plants on elevated shelves, and hanging baskets from the roof, make little paradises of variety in what was once unbearable monotony.
Gardeners often wish to know the secret of maintaining a continued interest on the part of their employers, in their handiwork; and this is one of the most potent - continued change and variety in the appearance of everything. Beautiful flowers, graceful forms, elegant combinations, all developing themselves with a healthy luxurious-ness and everchanging endlessness, will wake up an interest in the most indifferent breast.
The ability for this tasteful arrangement is often one of the chief differences between a good gardener and a poor one. Before us is a photograph kindly sent us by Mr. Charles Joly, of Paris. It represents a group arranged by the gardener to Baron A. Rothschild, and, though of materials found in most first-class greenhouse collections, it is rarely that one sees such a beautiful combination from the same materials. As far as we can judge from the photograph, the mass represents a cone about seven feet high. It is capped by what appears to be a plant of Alocasia metallica; around under the leaves of this, so as to hide the pot of the Alocasia, are some half-dozen baskets of Nepenthes. On the ground there are arranged broad leaved Caladiums and narrow leaved Dracaenas and Pandanuses, with Dieffenbachias, Pothos, and other plants, which not only by color, but by the contrasts with the leaves of different sizes, are made to give harmonious variety to the whole group.
It is impossible to conceive of anything more effectually arranged, and we do not wonder that our kind correspondent, Mr. Joly, thought it worth photographing and sending across the Atlantic. All may not have these plants of course; but our idea is to call attention to the fact that great beauty of arrangement may be contrived out of very simple things.
The more freely a plant is growing, the more water will it require; and the more it grows, the more sun and light will it need. In all cases, those which seem to grow the fastest should be placed* nearest the light. The best aspect for room plants is the south-east. They seem like animals in their affection for the morning sun. The first morning ray is worth a dozen in the evening. Should any of our fair readers find her plants, by some unlucky calculation, frozen in the morning, do not remove them at once to a warm place, but dip them in cold water, and set them in a dark spot, where they will barely escape freezing. Sunlight will only help the frost's destructive powers.