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.
Lawns and walks require close attention to keep them in good order. Mowing frequently, and rolling after showers, will keep this part of the grounds in good condition. A watering with guano-water, at the rate of a small handful to 3 gallons, will aid grass which has been lately sown. Dustings of guano in showery weather will help it on.
All plants for decoration outside should now be gradually hardened, by exposing them to light and air when weather will permit. Such plants as Pansies, Cerastium, Variegated Dactylis, and other hardy plants, should be put in their permanent quarters. Planting is generally-commenced from the 20th to the end of the month. The ground should break freely with the trowel while planting is going on, and the soil be pressed gently to the roots. A watering should be given afterwards if the ground is very dry, and dry soil drawn over it will prevent evaporation; but if watering has to be repeated, a good soaking all over should be given. Annuals for late blooming should now be sown, and those up thinned to 3 or 4 inches apart. Let the hoe be freely used among Roses, and if the soil is light and the weather dry give good soakings of water. Cow-dung water, reduced by using 1 gallon to 6 of soft water, will be found a safe stimulant. Look after suckers, which soon take the lead on weakly-growing kinds. They should be cut off close to the stock. Tulips may be kept from heavy rains - canvass coverings stretched on wooden frames answer well - if fine flowers are valued by growers of these bulbs.
Stake and tie up Pinks and Carnations when they are ready; ' wind soon snaps the flower-stems when they are tall. Give attention to plants under glass by shifting them as the roots come to the sides of the pots. See that drainage is kept clear, and that no weeds or greenness appear on the surface of the pots. Frequent stirring keeps the soil healthy. Water may now be given in the after-part of the day to everything except plants lately taken from heat to cold. A stock of Calceolarias, Fuchsias, Pelargoniums, Heliotropes, etc, may be potted for window-gardening or for flowering in greenhouses. Some of the free-growing Verbenas have a fine appearance growing in pots or baskets. If the leading shoots are trained out flat on circular wire, and the side-shoots allowed to grow upright, they are superior to any Achimenes extant, and no unsightly stakes are seen. Windows can be kept gay with Stocks, Asters, Mignonette, Geraniums, Nasturtiums, tfec. Great attention with water is necessary. We lately saw a window in Edinburgh gay with Tulips, Narcissus, Isolepis gracilis, common Ferns, Saxifragas, etc. Shells of cocoa-nuts, baskets, pieces of rock, etc, were used for growing them in with excellent effect.
Glass cases were placed in front of the windows, divided into apartments to suit the various kinds of plants. One great fault was that air could not be given to the dwelling except by passing through the plants. Though the fragrance was pleasant, we are not of opinion that it was conducive to health.
Disbudding of fruit-trees will now require prompt attention where well-managed trees are desired. Go over outward-growing shoots, just rubbing them off, and stop all gross growths which are likely to take the lead to an undue extent; young trees are generally more in want of this attention than older ones. Newly planted trees may require water at the root; they may also sink in the ground and hang on their fastenings; timely attention may save much injury. Use the syringe or garden engine if insects make their appearance, but not when the trees are in flower. Tobacco-powder may be used with advantage when green-fly may get among the leaves.
Mowing and sweeping of lawns will now take up much time, and whatever other labour may be expended on the grounds, badly-kept grass and walks covered with weeds will overbalance all other good appearances. Beds and borders to receive bedding-plants, whether as hardy annuals, hardy herbaceous plants, or the ordinary bedding half-hardy kinds, should be in good order by well digging or trenching the soil, manure or fresh soil being given as may be necessary. Well-prepared soil, sweetened by working it, and by frost, gives a good start to plants when turned out. The hardiest things should be turned out first. Calceolarias and Verbenas are hardier than Petunias, Heliotrope, Coleus, Perillas, etc. The last two should be left to the last. No plants which are liable to suffer from frost should be turned out before the 20th of the month. Injudicious mixing and complicated shapes are some of the evils which are common at the present time. Some admire glaring masses, while others are strongly opposed to them. Distinctness and simplicity of design are generally most telling. Plants for turning out should now have plenty of air, but exposure to cold drying winds is to be avoided. When planting there is nothing gained by turning the plants into sodden soil and giving drenchings of cold water.
When watering is done with planting it should be poured over the roots and the dry warm soil drawn over it. If the soil round the roots is in nice moist condition, much watering will not be required. A good soaking all over the planted ground when weather is warm, and the hoe used freely over the surface as soon after as can be done, is the best treatment for the plants. Rare kinds to be grown for stock should be planted in good soil in any space where the plants will not be overlooked. They need not be allowed to flower very freely when plenty of cuttings only is wanted. Plant out a good stock of Violets; water them well. Elowering-plants in pots will now be numerous. Airing, shading, watering, turning round to light are some of the daily inportant matters. Such plants as Pelargoniums, Fuchsias, Calceolarias, with their pots well filled with roots, may be liberally supplied with clear manure-water. After hot dry days sprinkling overhead all plants will cleanse and refresh them; all watering in structures may now be done in the after-part of the day. Primulas, Cinerarias for next season's work, may be kept shaded from strong sun; a frame turned to the north suits them well while making their growth; sow more seed.
All forced shrubs when done with should be hardened carefully before turning them out. They should not be starved if required for work next season. As Azaleas, Camellias, Cytisus, Acacias, and similar flowering-plants are done blooming, let all flower-pods be cut off, any necessary trimming done, and let them be potted and placed in a growing atmosphere to make their wood, syringe them freely, and when enough growth is made they may be hardened with more light and air to form their flower-buds. Clarke's insect-destroyer syringed on Azaleas, first laying the pots on their sides, will keep thrip, etc, in check. Balsams, Globe Amaranthus, and Cockscombs, must have plenty of pot-room; a gentle bottom-heat with fresh air makes growth sturdy. Heaths and New Holland plants may be placed out of doors in a shady position where worms cannot get into the pots. This may be done about the end of the month; smaller plants of these are the better of a frame or pit to use the lights for shelter from drenching rains. Before plants of any kind begin fresh growth they are generally allowed to have a period of rest, if it has not been had during the flowering time.
Then any necessary cutting back is done, and when young growths begin to appear fresh soil and larger pots are given, but often the ball of soil is reduced and replaced with fresh stuff in same pots after they have been washed. Good drainage must always have attention. Chrysanthemums will now be making rapid growth. A general stopping may be given. Some good growers never stop more than once. Cuttings for small pots may be put in; layers may also be put into small pots. Give the roots plenty of water and sprinkle the plants overhead. - M. T.