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.
Pruning, nailing up shoots to walls and fences, clearing off moss from bark of trees, lifting and replanting bushes, are some of the important operations when weather is mild; but we would neither plant nor prune during frosty weather. A mixture of lime, soot, and clay makes a good paint for bushes when infested with moss, or when birds feast on the buds. Fork manure over the roots of stunted trees and bushes if lifting cannot be practised. Save prunings of Gooseberries and Currants for young plants, a stock of which should be kept in some corner on every place, as bushes are liable to die off occasionally. When pruning is done, branches should not be left crossing each other, but kept clear and upright - cutting out a portion of old wood to be replaced by new. Always prune so that sun and air may have free access to the fruit.
Alterations may be carried forward in the pleasure-grounds when weather will allow. Turf may be laid, Box and other edgings may be repaired or made new, old shrubs grubbed out or cut down, if worth leaving to spring again. Deciduous trees may be planted, but evergreen shrubs may be left unplanted till they are about to start into new growth in spring. Mulching and staking should have attention with newly-planted shrubs. Level and gravel walks; turn those where it can be done. Leaves may be forked in over the roots of shrubs where free growth is wanted, but the roots should not be injured. Cutting of Laurels, Privet, etc, may be done when weather is severe.
Let trees and shrubs have early attention after snow has fallen heavily, otherwise much damage may be done if the trees are not shaken. Every part of the grounds may be kept clean and orderly, and worm-casts taken off. Waterings of lime-water will keep worms from working, if it does not reach them to destroy them. Old wasted soil may be removed from flower-beds, and turf added. The advantages of deeply-trenched beds will be experienced in summer, if the weather should be of either extremes of wet or drought.
Bulbs may require protection - they will bloom all the better for it. Roses may be planted and mulched; deep strong soil suits them. Tender kinds require protection in severe weather. Secure a good stock of Briers for budding on; plant them in rows, to be ready when the season arrives. Shrubs for forcing should be lifted some time before they are wanted, and kept under protection; force them gently at first, and whenever their buds begin to open, plenty of air must be given. Camellias in flower require plenty of water - a close damp atmosphere is against them when in bloom. Keep foliage sponged with tepid water when necessary; dirt on plants should never be tolerated. Hard-wooded plants must have fire-heat applied continuously, and always have fresh air when it can be given with safety: a temperature of 40° is safe for greenhouse plants, - a damp stagnant atmosphere would soon do much damage. "Water at the root with great care, giving enough when required, but dribbling the surfaces will lead to ruin: drenchings of cold water at this season soon do mischief. Use tepid water for all plants, and manure-water in a weak state for Cinerarias in flower. Primulas in flower require plenty of air: a damp close atmosphere causes rotting at the neck.
A portion of those which, have flowered early and are healthy should be kept growing, to be lightly shaken out and grown on for early work next season. Pelargoniums should be kept growing slowly, and water withheld as much as possible for some time. Give plenty of air to prevent spotting. Sweet-scented Pelargoniums should be grown in quantity. Poinsettias should not be kept damp when flowering; cold draughts soon put an end to their beauty. Look well after those which have flowered; and when time arrives, cuttings may be had- - cutting down old plants for early work. Chrysanthemums when done flowering should have their flower-stalks cut off, and the plants encouraged to make cuttings, and be fit for dividing: nothing in pots, however hardy, should be exposed to frost.
Bedding-plants should be kept free from decaying leaves, keeping all surfaces stirred. Fresh air should have free course when it can be admitted; frosty winds would do much damage. Never use fire-heat if it can be avoided. Shut up early to harvest sun-heat. Keep Auriculas dry, air carefully, take away any decaying matter when it appears. Keep moss and weeds from all surfaces; prevent drainage from being stopped up; slugs may do much damage if not seen to in time. Lily of the Valley and bulbs in pots must be kept from frost: take supplies into gentle warmth as required. Bulbs done flowering may be saved for planting out. M. T.