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.
Asking a friend, who had a beautiful rural residence, why she did not plant vines, or creepers as the English would say, over the walls, she replied by referring to a mutual acquaintance who had done so with the result of making the walls so damp that the vines had to be cut away. It so happened that we knew all about the affair. The vines were allowed to cover the eaves, over the gutters and push their way in under the shingles of the roof. Thus obstructed, the water made its way down into the wall, from the top under the roof, and of course the wall was wet. Vines should always be kept cut down below the roof It is a little trouble to do this once a year, but we cannot get even our shoes blacked without some trouble. Those who know how beautiful and how cosy looks a vine-covered cottage will not object to the few hours' labor it requires to keep vines from stopping up the gutter. Vines really make a wall dry. The millions of rootlets by which they adhere to the wall absorb water; and an examination will prove a vine-covered wall to be as "dry as an old bone." One great advantage of a vine-covered cottage, not often thought of, is that it is cooler in summer and warmer in winter than when there is but a mere naked wall.
There are only a few vines that will cling of their own accord.
These are the varieties of the English Ivy, the Trumpet vine, and the different kinds of Ampelop-sis; and even the English Ivy will not stick to smooth walls. But if the Trumpet vine or the Ampelopsis be planted with the ivy, the latter will cling to the other vines as well as to the wall,' and then keep safe hold. The evergreen Euonymus makes a good self-climbing vine, though not as much used as it really deserves to be. In order to have the beauty of variety which the great number of hardy vines affords, it is best to have trellises over the face of the walls. These are best made of strong galvanized wire. Iron hooks should be fastened, by melted sulphur, into stones sunk under ground, and others up under the eaves, and the wires attached to these. Cross wires can then be fastened to these, so as to make the meshes about a foot apart. Properly done these wires will last a lifetime, and the vines will, with a very little help, make their way of their own accord up the wires. Recently the writer noted a plant of the red-berried Pyracantha trained up over wires in this way. Evergreen, and covered by bright red berries, few things could make a cottage wall more gay.
Wires, trellises, and other preparations can be made for this vine planting before the springtime comes.
The chief enjoyment in this department at this season, lies in planning out the necessary improvements, arrangements, and work to be done during the next active season. In gardening there are two styles of flower-growing, - one which looks to the enjoyment of beautiful flowers individually; the other for the effect which color gives to the beauty of one's ground. In the first place, hardy herbaceous plants, annuals, bulbs and such like plants, are to be employed, and the flower-beds for them must be arranged with this view, so as to afford opportunities for individual examination. There is nothing better for this than long, narrow borders; such, for instance, as the narrow belts along the walks of a vegetable garden.
In thinking of what might be done to render the garden more interesting, one might resolve to pay some attention to the improvement of some common garden flower. All we have to do is to take note of some possible improvement we desire, and select the seed of such as come the nearest to the ideal. This is the way florists get their new races. Take for instance the petunia. As a rule it grows in a very straggling manner. We want a more bushy and dense grower. Among our plants we note one which is less rampant than the rest. We save seed from this, and again the next season select the least straggling, and so on, from year to year, till the desired result has been gained. This has really been done with this petunia. Herewith is an illustration of what we suggest with the petunia in the hands of Haage & Schmidt, of, Erfurt, who, in common with other Prussian florists, bestow great care on improving everything. They call it Petunia nana compacta; but anyone may get "nanas" or "compactas" with other garden flowers, as this firm has with petunias.
Petunia nana compacta.
Pruning should be completed as soon as possible. Some judgment is required in pruning flowering shrubs, roses, etc, although it is usual to act as if it were one of the most common-place operations. One of the most clumsy of the hands is commonly set with a shears, and he "goes through" the whole place, clipping off every thing indiscriminately. Distinction should be made between those flowering shrubs that make a vigorous growth, and those which grow weakly; and between those which flower on the old wood of last year, and those which flower on the new growth of next season, as the effect of pruning is to force a strong and vigorous growth. Those specimens that already grow too strong to flower well, should be only lightly pruned; and, in the same individual, the weakest shoots should be cut-in more severely than the stronger ones. Some things, like the Mock Oranges, Lilacs and others, flower on the wood of last year. To prune these much now, therefore, destroys the flowering; while such as Altheas, which flower on the young wood, cannot be too severely cut-in, looking to that operation alone.
In pruning roses, the fall-blooming kinds, which flower on the new growth, may be pruned as severely as we wish; in fact, the "harder" they are cut-in the better. In this class are the Noisette, Bourbon, Tea, China and Hybrid Perpetual and Perpetual Moss. Without considerable experience, it is difficult for the amateur to distinguish these classes. The best way to get over the difficulty is to obtain the catalogues of the principal rose-growers, in which each kind is usually classified. Amateurs should pay more attention to the scientific - if we may so term it - study of the rose, and its classification and general management. No class of flowers is more easily understood, and no one affords so rich a fund of perpetual interest..