This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
In this department the chief part of the work is keeping order and sweetness. Whatever style the beds and borders are arranged in, the same attention as to general management is necessary - rolling, sweeping, using lime-water to keep worms quiet, and prevent their mischief in lawns. Where flower-beds can be turned up to frost by trenching, it will be of much advantage to the bedding plants next summer; drought is thus prevented from burning up the roots, which it does when they cannot get down out of its reach. Tulips and Hyacinths should be protected during severe weather. Turfing, box-planting, and repairing of edges, may be done at any time that weather is mild enough for the operation. Now is a good time to have composts ready for potting. Stock of cuttings for next year's supply may be examined, and when kinds are scarce they may be placed in warmth to start them into growth; when large enough, they can be taken off as cuttings, and propagated. This applies to such kinds as Verbenas, Petunias, Heliotropes, Iresines, etc. All hardy and half-hardy plants under protection of glass should have plenty of air and light. Watering must now be done with much care. Dribbling of surfaces will now be more destructive than usual.
Avoid throwing the water about the structures, especially when there is no means to dry it off quickly. A small hotbed made now with leaves and a little horse-manure would bring many things on to be increased, and also do well for propagating; but steam and unhealthy vapours should not be confined.
The whole stock of plants should now be noted, and every means used to get such kinds as are weak in number or quality to meet the purpose for which they are required. At present amateurs (experienced ones will laugh at the nonsense) may be in a dilemma to know what to do with their flower-gardens, while opinions of "leading" practical men are so conflicting. Some of them seem to become desperate when they cannot pervert (it may be superior minds) to their petted notions. " A man of independent mind" can afford to remain in a thoroughly sound practice till his taste may mislead him into the fallacy of turning lawns, geometrical gardens, and well-kept borders into receptacles for weeds, and the various huge plants which are so fascinating to some. They bloom for a few weeks, then have the knife applied to give them a decent exterior. We go in for wild gardens, alpine gardens, herbaceous gardens, Rose gardens, spring gardens, and others; but to mix them all together (as we once saw a poor fellow in a northern asylum put all his groceries and other viands into his huge worsted blue-bonnet) is a practice we hope never to be perverted to. We are content to look quietly on at the amusing correspondence which may be seen in the various horticultural papers.
Proceed with potting all such plants as Pelargoniums, Verbenas, Petunias, etc, which are to make a display when all the most useful spring and early summer flowering-plants have done their best. When pits or other structures can be spared in which such plants can be turned out instead of potting them, a great saving of labour and pots will be effected. Dahlias may be put into heat to increase their numbers by cuttings : place the latter into small pots in a little sandy loam, with a heel if possible; plunge the pots into bark or other beds before they are allowed to flag, and they will soon root, then they may be grown on slowly till danger from frost is past. All hardy and half-hardy plants may be increased without delay : nearly all are the better of a growing temperature under glass till they are ready to plant out. Carnations, Pansies, Phloxes, Pentstemons, and all hardy herbaceous plants, may now be planted out when the ground is in order. Hardy annuals may be sown. Sweet-Peas, Mignonette, Stocks of choice kinds, Asters, Lobelias, may again be sown, cuttings taken off, and the stock got up to its proper quantity. All annuals requiring heat may be sown in pots.
Iresines, Alternantheras, and similar heat-loving plants, should be kept by themselves if possible : they may be propagated rapidly now, and be in good condition long before they can be planted out.
The herbaceous borders should be forked over; plants which are growing beyond bounds may be reduced, and all pieces not wanted carefully taken out of the collection. Trenching, manuring, renewing of soil, or otherwise preparing the flower-garden when not occupied with spring plants, may be attended to with all promptitude. Order should now prevail: weeds, tree-leaves, patchy lawns, and moss-covered walks, must not exist.