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.
Something new occasionally is needed to keep up high public favor in plants and flowers; but old favorites continue in every summer garden, and, in windows in winter, we see many of the more old fashioned beauties of nature. And why not? A large Calla Lily, a Fern, or a Hyacinth helps wonderfully to keep up the cheerfulness of a room, when, outside, nothing can be seen but snow or rain; and in the summer, there is the pleasure of rivalry with a neighbor in getting up a-flower bed which every passer-by will stop and admire. It does not always require room or money. Even the smallest corner will be beautified by having a rose bush, which, when in full flower, will excite the owner to try his power on something on a larger scale. The pleasure that one gets out of an hour's work among flowers, is something known only to one whose time is locked up in an office all day, or is otherwise restrained from doing anything but routine work.
Wild flowers cultivate well. It always gives me great pleasure to walk through the woods in spring and gather some of the wild beauties of nature in the shape of flowers and ferns for garden culture, and these are getting more popular every day. A rockery does for them and is one of the easiest kind of flower beds to make. If you live in the city, Philadelphia for instance, and have a side or even a back yard that you want to have looking pretty, hire a drayman to bring you a load of topsoil, and dump it in the place you want your bed to be. If you want a round, square or oblong bed, shape it to that design. You will then want some large stones, which must be stuck in all over the heap, leaving only about three or four inches sticking out. Leave it until it rains, or you can give it a good watering which will thoroughly settle it.
And now comes the most pleasant part of it - the gathering of the plants from the woods. As I said before, if you live in Philadelphia you can go along the Wissahickon, or in any woods which are not devastated by people who have no eye for nature. Many fine flowers can be found, if carefully hunted for. Go along some small stream that is surrounded on both sides by trees and bushes, and you may see the fine lace-like foliage of the maiden-hair fern (Adiantum pedatum), and probably in the same place there will be found white, yellow or purple violets. You do not want many of each, for in a year they will spread and kill out some of the more tender plants. In the same place you might possibly find some Orchis or Cypripediums. These two can easily be distinguished. They both have smooth leaves; the Cypripedium leaves are more oblong than the Orchis, which is rather round than otherwise, and has only two leaves, and the flower stalk comes out of the ground bare, while the Cypripedium leaves are scattered along the flower stalk. The common name of the latter is Lady Slipper, this is enough to distinguish it from the Orchis. This has several large bright colored flowers on a spike. You can get many pretty flowers in this way from the woods.
Hunt where no one seems to go, that is the best and surest direction for finding good things. Ferns of all kinds will make the rockery the more beautitul. A little moss laid on the rocks will also add to the charms of it. You can get some of the more common cultivated wild flowers from a florist or nurseryman, or a small package of seed from some seedsman; these, if proper care be taken of them, will make as pretty a bed as cultivated greenhouse plants, and will be something which will not have to be planted over every year, and cost little but the pleasant labor of hunting for them.
A very pretty rockery could be made of these wild plants, such as Ferns, in variety, Delphinium, Lychnis, Tulips, Scutellaria, Tradescantias, Violets, Orchis, Cypripediums, Pentstemons, Dianthus, and many others, which, if they cannot be found around your own town, can be bought from some nursery or as seeds of a seedsman.
Rev. A. B. Muzzey tells the Massachusetts Horticultural Society that in the practice of horticulture in its highest branches three things are necessary - first, a practical knowledge; and to supply this want we have papers and discussions of a practical cast. Second, money is wanted; and, with a right spirit and culture, the more the better. He was glad to see men grow rich honestly, and furnish the means for refining and elevating pursuits. But something is wanted beyond producing marketable articles, however laudable that may be. Man has an inherent love of beautiful things, and through a taste for the beautiful products of horticulture a deep and glorious part of human nature is ultimately reached. Some are content for a time with the practical view, but sooner or later there comes a point where we must increase the taste for the beautiful. There is among the American people a great lack of culture and taste, but they are taking steps to supply it, and if this society does not assist in educating the taste of the community, it will, in part at least, have failed of its object. A man may be possessed of wealth, but there is something wanting to him if he has not a sense of the beautiful and does not know what a magnificent world we live in.
Why has the Great Artist so clothed the universe in beauty, but that it may be appreciated and enjoyed by his children?