This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The pansy has undergone some changes within twenty-five years; the class of fancy pansies, of which fine specimens have been shown by E. L. Beard, has been introduced within that time. But the culture remains the same. The requisites are young plants, rich mould and a regular degree of moisture. Those about to begin the culture of the pansy should procure a three-light frame, a few dozen well-selected plants, a cartload of good loam, some rotten leaf-mould, sand, and thoroughly rotten cow manure. The bed should be prepared as early as the ground and weather permit. It should be away from the full glare of the sun; if the soil is poor, wet, sodden, heavy or sandy, these evils must be counteracted by striking the medium. The plants should be placed a foot apart, and six inches from the edge of the bed, and should have a good watering after planting, and the surface of the bed must be often stirred. In dry weather it must be watered with a fine rose every evening, not merely wetting the surface, but thoroughly. The beauty of the bed will be over by July, and if it is necessary to replant, young plants should be prepared from cuttings; or by dividing the old plants and adding manure a good bloom may be obtained in autumn.
Though the pansy suffers very little from frost, it should be well protected in very severe weather. In April the frame should be reversed from south to north, thus avoiding the full glare of the sun, which is very important. To keep up a good variety, the best seed should be selected, and each color should be marked separately.
The present perfection of the carnation is the result of long and patient industry. At the be-ginning of the eighteenth century it numbered be- J tween five and six hundred varieties. Throughout the civilized world it is an especial favorite for its simple and graceful beauty, and above all for its delicious fragrance. In Europe it is universally cultivated in pots, but that method is totally unsuited here. Good, deep garden soil (yellow loam is preferable) enriched with thoroughly rotten cow manure, some leaf-mould, and, if the soil is too adhesive, some sand, are requisite.
Dig deep and thoroughly, and when the weather is fairly settled, set out the plants, nine inches by twelve apart; stir the surface frequently, and as soon as they begin to throw up their flower stems remove all but one, which tie to a neat stake. The weather about the time of flowering is usually bright and hot, thus prematurely hastening the development of the flowers. An evening visit with the water pot, sprinkling in and around the; plants, but not over the flowers, is beneficial. Shade is necessary in the hottest part of the day. For the real amateur, cotton cloth, attached to a roller and fixed on a neat skeleton framework so as to let up and down, is the thing. Second hand fishing nets, or seines, stretched double over stakes sufficiently high to walk under, answer very well, and need not be moved until the bloom is over. In Europe they display six or eight flowers, supported by a stake, but the speaker likes a good mass rather than a few.
As soon as the plants are ready for layering it should be done, thus obtaining strong plants by the middle or end of September, when they should be transferred to their winter quarters. For this purpose a bed should be made of the size of the cold frame, and the plants set thickly in it. By the end of November strew two or three inches of dry tan, or, what is preferable, pine needles, among them, put on the frame, place the sashes over them, but give all possible air, excluding nothing but heavy rains, snow and extreme frost, and when May comes round again transfer them to more agreeable and attractive quarters.
[This excellent paper was communicated to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. - Ed. G. M].