This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
There is an old saying, with reference to the well-known uncertainties of our English climate, which I used to think a calumny, and even bordering on the ridiculous, but which I have now found to my cost is not always to be depended on, at least in the north of England. It is this, that July is the only month in the year in which we are secure from frost. Many years ago, "Francis Moore, physician," got great credit for a singular hit in the almanac that goes under that name, something like Mr. Murphy's in 1838, whereby he and the weather between them deprived June of its summer character; the almanac predicting (by a misprint, as it is said), snow in that month, and the phenomenon actually occurring. But in July, I believe, we have hitherto neither expected nor experienced any thing more wintry than hail. So it was, however, that last week, which saw that month expire and August begin, contained three frosts here in the north-east of Lincolnshire; the first of the three, on the last day of July, being so hard that a neighbour told me there was ice as thick as a half-crown piece.
I did not myself see it, nor was I aware there had been frost, until its effects were visible, and it was too late to prevent them, although on the preceding evenings I suspected there would, or rather might be, frost, from the exceeding clearness of the sky, with cold north and east wind. I used to employ a registering thermometer out of doors, but my premises are so exposed to the night-visits of pilfering neighbours, that I always lost them, and therefore discontinued the practice.
It would be interesting if any of your correspondents in various parts of England, who have noticed the state of the weather lately, would communicate the extremes of temperature reached by day and by night during the week I speak of. The weather is very unsettled now, for the last few days it having been altogether as hot and sultry; and on the day on which I am writing (August 10) four sheep have been killed, and a small haystack consumed, by three several flashes of lightning within a short distance of my house.
My bed of Pelargonium cuttings suffered a good deal, as I implicitly followed the directions of Mr. Dobson (oh, fie! Mr. Dobson), in protecting them from the sun by day, and exposing them to the frosts of a July night. Well might the late Mr. Rogers say, "The summer has set in with the greatest severity." Probably their liability to injury depended in some measure on their state of growth, and not altogether on the tenderness of constitution of the different sorts; but the order in which they most suffered was as follows: Cavalier, Marc Antony, Crusader, Gustavus, Erectum, Competitor, Rosetta, Rosy Circle. All others escaped.