This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", 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.
[As the question of staking was first raised by us, we must point out that our correspondent misrepresents our object in doing so. We did not raise the question of expense connected with much necessary staking and tying "as an obstacle to the culture of hardy plants." Our object was to show that in our experience - and in a great measure on account of staking and tying - we did not find herbaceous plants cheaper than bedding plants, as some represent them to be. Any one by referring to our remarks in the 'Gardener' of last November will see what our object was, and by a glance at the last paragraph will find a recommendation of herbaceous plants, and not an obstacle to their culture. We might also appeal to the facts of our practice as a still more forcible refutation of our correspondent's misrepresentation, for we propagate and grow more of a few genera of hardy herbaceous plants than would suffice to fill the whole of an ordinary-sized flower-garden. We could also "instance many important families in which stakes are not required" that we grow in quantity.
We take this opportunity of referring to a recent issue of the 'Garden' where also comments are made on "J. H., B.'s" article, and where "the resorts to which we are driven to defend our position" are sneeringly alluded to. The writer in the 'Garden' is in perfect ignorance of our position, so he manufactures one to suit his purpose. Long before the editor of the 'Garden' came to this country, we had devoted for years much of our spare time to hardy herbaceous plants, and we could show him a herbarium of them that was formed before he knew a Rose from a Thistle. Before the 'Garden' was in existence, we wrote of hardy herbaceous plants that they were indispensable for certain styles of gardening; and for years before and after the advent of the 'Garden,' this magazine continued to devote no inconsiderable portion of its columns to the description and culture of these plants. That is part, and only part, of our "position" in relation to herbaceous plants.
We may further add that it may perhaps be considered as much in the interest of careful gardening and good order to refer to the proper support - with stakes that shall be the least possible offensive to the eye - of plants that cannot be made to stand erect without them, as it is to write - as has been written in the 'Garden' - of a border composed of those plants that do not require support, and to include Picotees and Carnations; or to state - as has been stated in an article quoted into the 'Garden' from the 'Field' - that when well grown, stakes are not required to support them against the elements ! These are statements that nay fitly be coupled with others suggesting a litter of leaves and long grass as fitting adornments for gardens, - suggestions which may "do for the marines but not for the line," and that sound more like the utterances of some phenomenon who has never had charge of a garden establishment, who has no standing in either the science or art of horticulture ! and who in consequence supposes apparently that he is the embodiment of all horticultural wisdom ! Our gardening and "position" are before the public, and whatever they may amount to, we want nothing more than that they be judged on their merits.
Will the writer in question tell us where his gardening could ever be judged of 1 We leave it to others to say whether we have ever been an optimist or an obstructionist in regard to any branch of gardening; but we do not aspire, and refuse to be chained, to this writer's chariot-wheels, and this is just the secret of these kind of references to our "position".
This magazine and its aids - sneeringly referred to in the 'Garden' - have brought out quite as many acceptable writers on gardening as our contemporary has done, and their writings have been used to pad its pages, so that its sneers are not quite graceful in this respect. For the capacity of growing hardy herbaceous plants, a very towering position is claimed by our contemporary. We never condemned that capacity; and if it pleases it, we have not the slightest desire to dim the lustre of its fame in that branch of horticulture. - Ed].