This section is from "Scientific American Supplement Volumes 275, 286, 288, 299, 303, 312, 315, 324, 344 and 358". Also available from Amazon: Scientific American Reference Book.
Pretentious gardens are now gayly decorated with glowing masses of pelargoniums and vincas, belts of rich coleuses and fiery alternantheras, patchwork of feverfew and mesembryanthemum, and scroll-work of house leeks, but amid this gay checkering it is wonderful how few flowers there are for cutting for bouquets. As tender plants, except the few that may have been wintered in windows and cellars, are beyond the reach of most of our country folks, I will consider those only that are perfectly hardy and in full blossom now, July 21.
Koempfer's irises, blue, white, purple, streaked, marbled, and otherwise variegated, are in bloom; they are the grandest of their race, and as different varieties succeed one another, they may be had in bloom from June till August. They are easily raised from seed or by division--prefer rich, moist land, and if in a partly shaded place, their blossoms last longer than in full sunshine.
Trumpet lilies are bursting into bloom; the scarlet martagon is at its best; speciosum, tiger, and American Turk's cap lilies are yet to follow. I find the trumpet lilies have done better this year than any of the other sorts in open places. Most of the yellow day lilies are past, but the tawny one is at its best; they are all hardy, and seem to thrive alike in wild or cultivated land. Seibold's funkia (called also day lily) has pale bluish flowers, and large, handsome glaucous leaves: the undulated-leaved funkia has beautifully variegated leaves, and pale bluish blossoms; these, together with several others of their race, are in bloom. They like to grow in undisturbed clumps in rich and faintly-shaded nooks; if grown in full sunshine they bloom well enough, but their leaves get "scorched."
The European meadow sweet (Spiraea ulmaria), two feet high, and the Kamtchatka one, four feet high, are in bloom; the double varieties are far finer, whiter, and more lasting than the single ones. They will grow anywhere. There are many fine kinds of sedum or liveforever in season; some of them like album (white), pulchellum (pink), spurium splendens (pink), hispanicum (white), may more properly be called stonecups, but the stronger-growing sorts, as S. warscewiczii (yellow), should be regarded as liveforevers. They like open, sunny places, and dislike artificial waterings.
Dicentra eximia (pink-purple) is free, neat, copious, and a perpetual bloomer, as is also Corydalis lutea (yellow). The climbing fumitory comes up of itself from seed every year, and is now running over bushes, stakes, and strings, and is full of fern-like leaves and flesh-colored flowers. The long, scarlet wands of Pentstemon barbatus are conspicuous in the borders; this should be in every garden, it is so profuse and hardy. Many speedwells still remain in fine condition, notably Veronica longifolia; they are a hardy and a showy race of plants, and will grow anywhere. The main lot of perennial larkspurs are past, but by cutting them over now many flower spikes will be produced during the fall months. The yucca or bear-grass is in perfection; its massive flower scapes are very telling. It will grow anywhere, and once established it is hard to get rid of.
Many kinds of perennial bell-flowers are in fine condition, as the carpathian, peach-leaved (second crop), nettle-leaved, common harebell, and vase harebell. In the case of many of the tall-growing kinds, better results are obtained by treating them as biennials than perennials. No garden should be without the double white feverfew; the more you cut it the more it blooms. Anthemis tinctoria, yellow or white, the yellow is by far the best, and the lance-leaved, large-flowered, larkspur-leaved and eared coreopsises are fine, seasonable perennials, as are likewise the yellow, white, and pink yarrows, double sneezewort, the cone flowers, and large-flowered fleabanes, and all grow readily in any ordinary garden soil, and with little care. Hollyhocks are in perfection; feed them well and prevent many sprouts to each stool. Many kinds of meadow rue, as garden plants, have a bold, graceful appearance; they love moist soil.
In good soil and a partly shaded spot we have no handsomer plant in bloom than the tall bugbane (Cimicifuga racemosa); from a bunch of thrifty leaves arise a dozen scapes of racemes, creamy white, and six feet high. The scarlet lychnis and its many varieties are nearly past, but the large-flowered, Haag's, and others of that section, are in their prime, and showy plants they are. They are true and lasting perennials, bloom well the first season from seed, quite hardy, copious, and effective; any ordinary garden soil. The pyrenean prunella has large purple heads; the false dragonhead (Physostegia), pale rose-purple spikes; centranthuses, cymes of red and white; centaureas, heads of yellow, blue, and purple; pinks, divers shades of red and white; and monkshoods, hoods of blue or white; and all are very hardy, ready growers, and copious bloomers. The bee balm, one of our handsomest perennials, has bright red whorls; it spreads upon the surface of the ground like mint, and thus may be divided and increased to any extent. It loves rich, moist land, but is not fastidious. Among the evening primroses the Missouri one is the brightest and biggest; speciosa, white, from Texas, of blossoms the most prolific; glauca, riparia, fruticera, and linearis, all yellow; many others, though perennial, are best treated as annual or biennial. The spiked loosestrife planted by the water's edge of a pond is far finer than in the garden border. It has hundreds of red spikes.
Add to these, everlasting peas, musk mallows, spiderwort, globe thistles, bold senecios, the finer milkweeds, Scabiosa, Gallium, Chinese Astilbe, various kinds of loosestrife (Lysimachia), and many others as perennials, and Coreopsis, balsams, zinnias, marigolds, stocks, Swan river daisy, mignonnette, sweet peas, sweet alyssum, morning glories, larkspurs, canary flowers, cucumber-leaved sunflowers, verbenas, petunias, corn flower, Drummond phlox, double and single poppies, snapdragons, Phacelia, Gilia, Clarkia, candytuft, red flax, tassel flowers, blue Anchusa, Gaillardia, and a multitude besides of seasonable annuals, which can all be raised quite easily without a frame or green-house, and what excuse has any farmer for having a flowerless garden in midsummer?--William Falconer, in Country Gentleman.