This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
This is particularly the month to pay attention to the hardy annuals. The sooner they are sown, the finer they will flower; that is, provided they are really hardy. Tender annuals, such as Globe amaranthus, Balsams, etc, rot if they are sown before the weather becomes quite warm. The seedmen's catalogues usually distinguish these classes for their customers. In sowing annuals, the soil should be slightly stirred with a broad-bladed knife or trowel; and after the seeds are sown, they should have a little soil sprinkled over them, about one-sixth of an inch deep, ac-cording to the size of the seeds; barely enough to cover is all that is required. Failures usually arise from the seeds being buried too deeply. Failures also frequently occur from the soil with which the seeds are covered being to stiff or clayey,"baking" after a rain. Light sandy earth or decayed vegetable loam from the woods should be employed for the purpose. Stick a peg in where the seeds are sown, so that when turning out the plants in May from pots, the annuals will not be disturbed. Also take care to preserve the names of the kinds.
This is a great part of the interest in flower-garden.
Walks should now have their spring-dressing - the verges cut, and a thin coating of new gravel laid on. Before putting on the new, harrow up the face of the old gravel with a strong iron-toothed rake. Roll well after the new is laid on.
This is the proper season to lay down boxedgings. To make them properly, the soil along the line of the edge should be first dug, and then trod very hard and firm, so that it may sink evenly together, or the line will present ugly-looking undulations in time. Rooted plants should be employed; cuttings are sometimes used, but frequently die out in patches; a good edge can rarely be made from them. The plants should be set pretty low down, leaving the plants, when set, one or two inches above the soil, according to their stockiness. Sometimes box edgings are laid around beds formed in grass. When so, a few inches of clear ground should be kept clean between the grass and the box, or the weeds will be so intermixed with the box, after awhile, as to render it a nuisance.
Herbaceous plants do badly if several years in one place. Every second year, at this season, take up and divide them. Sow as soon as possible some hardy annuals. The earlier they are in the ground after the frost leaves it, the finer they bloom.
Ornamental hedges judiciously introduced into a small place, add greatly to its interest. No easier method offers whereby to make two acres of garden out of one in the surveyor's draught. The arbor-vitse (Chinese and American), Hem lock, Holly, Beech, Hornbeam, Pyrus japonica, Privet and Buckthorn may be applied to this purpose.
Shrubs are not near enough employed in planting small places. By a judicious selection a place may be had in a blooming state all the year: and they, besides, give it a greater interest by their variety, than is obtained by the too frequent error of filling it up with but two or three forest trees of gigantic growth. Plant thickly at first, to give the place a finished appearance, and thin out as they grow older. Masses of shrubs have a fine effect on a small place. The center of such masses should be filled with evergreen shrubs, to prevent a naked appearance in the winter season.
Many things that appear frosted a little at the tops should be severely cut down; it will prevent disappointment in the end. Shoots that are injured in winter - especially in the case of the rose - will often have just sufficient vigor left to enable them to put forth leaves, and sometimes even go so far as to attempt to flower, and then die off suddenly under the first hot sun.