This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Many people are very impatient to begin planting. If the sun shines warmly for a few hours they think it is almost too late to plant trees - even though the ground is half frozen. Practical gardeners and experienced nurserymen, wearied with importunities and often suspected of intentional delays, lose patience, and on the principle that it is better to have peace now though it bring trouble hereafter, send on or plant the trees. The earth being wet, pastes instead of powders, and but a meagre portion of the roots come in contact with the soil. All roots or parts of roots that do not touch the earth might as well not be there. Far better to have a poorly dug tree well replanted than a tree with all its roots, that is reset in pasty ground. Indeed it is a disadvantage to have a tree with numerous roots when it is planted in pasty ground, for it is still more difficult to get the paste through the numerous little roots. And so fibrous rooted plants are in more danger than those with a few coarse woody roots. Hemlock Spruce, Norway Spruce and Arborvitae often die in large numbers when a few warm days in May or June come, if they have been planted when the ground was pasty.
If the leaves commence to fall it is a sign that the roots are not in contact with the earth, and should receive attention at once. When the ground is dry the surface should be beaten with heavy paving rammers. Peradventure some of the earth may be then pressed in about the fibrous roots.
In transplanting flowers that have roots large enough to admit of the practice, it is best to dip the roots, immediately before planting, into water. This will obviate the necessity of after-watering, and its consequent injurious effect. If the plants appear to flag, shade or put an inverted flower-pot over the plants for a few days; if this does not bring the plant to, it must have water.
Flower-gardening, as we have often said before, affords scope for many pretty fancies, besides arrangement of color, which in the hands of a person of taste, render a garden a paradise of enchantment. Borders and edgings of ivy, periwinkle or variegated plants, may be made to appear as frames to the pictures of pretty flowers enclosed by them. Waves and fringes of green may be led along through a large flowerbed, and the various divisions formed be filled with its own color, making a natural and living bouquet; different colored gravels may be chosen for paths between beds; different shades of green may be made by the selection of grasses of different hues, where grass walks are employed. Old stumps or roots may be occasionally introduced in the centre of beds and covered with green vines, or flowering climbers, as taste may dictate; rustic baskets and vases, and even in many instances where artificial styles prevail, the topiary art may be called in and good effects result from the use of the knife and shears on certain plants.
Trellisses and stakes for climbing plants and vines should be put in at or before setting out the plants. These plants always seem to grow with more freedom and vigor when they can find something at once to cling to. Climbing vines add greatly to the interest of a garden. They can be trained into all sorts of forms and shapes; and many of them, for gracefulness of form, or beauty of their flowers, cannot be excelled by any other tribe of plants.
In the first mowing of lawns remember what we have often said about close mowing. If cut too close the grass plant is weakened, and little creeping weeds have a good chance to grow. Under no circumstances should less than a half inch be left on the plant. If the grass has been injured by too close mowing for a few years past it may be renovated by leaving the grass high in proportion to its weakness. In very bad cases it may have an inch or even an inch and a half of herbage left uncut.