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.
It was feared that the great taste for cut flowers which has developed of late years would materially interfere with plant cultivation by amateurs; but this has not been found the fact. It is now rare that any house is found without pot plants of some kind. It has been found by experience that only a limited number of species is adapted to commercial purposes in the professional cut flower work. Bouvardias, Roses, Carnations, Mignonette, Sweet Alyssum, Heliotrope, Violets, Callas, Poin-settas, Orchids and a few others exhaust the commercial list, - and tasty people are not satisfied with these. After learning what these are they want to know more; they learn to admire first and then want to grow them. It is not at all uncommon now for the fashionable caller to be entertained by a look at the window plants, or perchance the small conservatory filled with numbers of delightful things. Sometimes we think ladies do much better with winter plants in their sunny windows than even gardeners do. The writer of this had greatly to admire a crab cactus, healthy and brilliant with flowers, which the lady gardener assured us was extremely easily grown in the window; a magnificent plant of the Creeping Cereus, was preparing to follow in a few weeks.
These cactuses, by the way, do remarkably well in baskets, or as bracket plants. They are probably well known by these names now. Their botanical names are Epiphyllum truncatum and Cereus flagelliformis. So many ladies succeed so well that hints for culture from the professional man seem almost superfluous.
We can hardly say as much for general greenhouse work, for many that we see around will admit of better management. They are usually much too hot for our bright and light climate.
In the arrangement of plants in the greenhouse, continual change is commendable. Every few weeks the plants may be re-set, and the houses made to appear quite different. In the end where the lowest plants once were set, now the taller ones may be placed; here a convex group, and there presenting a concave appearance. Drooping plants on elevated shelves, and hanging baskets from the roof, make little paradises of variety iu what were once unbearable monotony. Gardeners often wish to know the secret of maintaining a continued interest, on the part of their employers, in their handiwork, and this is one of the most potent - continued change and variety in the appearance of every thing. Beautiful flowers, graceful forms, elegant combinations, all developing themselves with a healthy luxuriousness and ever-changing endlessness, will wake up an interest in the most indifferent breast.
The temperature of the greenhouse at this season should be maintained at about 500, allowing it to rise 1o° or 150 under the full sun, and sinking 1o° or so in the night. Though many of our practical brethren differ from us, men for some of whose opinions we entertain the highest respect, we do not recommend a very great difference between night and day temperature; we think 1o° ample allowance. It is following nature no doubt; but we would rather strive to beat nature. She cannot make the specimens we do, nor flower them so beautifully or profusely, and in many other respects we think the practical gardener can much improve on her red-tape notions and old-fashioned courses.