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 best time of the year to transplant evergreens depends on the kind of winters and summers that we are likely to have. Any where south of the Potomac autumn planting would be unquestionably the best, while in what may be called the Middle States, there is possibly no advantage in one over either. If we plant in autumn and a comparatively mild or moist winter ensue, the autumn planting will be very successful - and equally successful will be spring planting if a moderately moist and not over fervid summer follows the work. Further north, on the whole, spring is most successful, and of all the spring months May is the best for transplanting evergreens; it is the time when the young shoots are about starting into their season's growth, and the roots pushing at the same time; nothing or very little is lost ty evaporation while waiting for the new fibres to grow.
Evergreen shrubs are not considered generally successful in our climate; but this is rather owing to our perversity in exposing them to the winter's sun, or planting them in too dry a soil, than to any insuperable difficulty of climate.
Evergreen shrubs, such as mahonias, yews, eu-onymus, tree box, etc., should be planted only on the north side of buildings, fences or screens; or under the shade of trees or bushes. The great danger in the latter case is that they will become too dry in summer, by the roots of the trees abstracting so much moisture from the soil. This is the common cause of failure with the rhododendron, kalmia and similar evergreens, which it is often attempted to grow under the shade of trees. In this case the proper course of procedure is to dig out the bed two feet deep previous to planting the evergreens; filling in or mixing with the natural soil some spongy or fibrous material. This will keep the soil moist and cool through several summers, until the roots of the covering timber, attracted to so much loose and moist soil, will be pretty troublesome. When this trouble arises, the way to proceed is to dig out all around the mass of evergreens two feet deep, severing all the roots that have interloped from the trees - and this should be repeated every few years, or as often as the soil seems to suffer from drought through the summer season. By this care, which in practice is found very trifling, evergreens thrive with a vigor and beauty in our climate that is truly surprising.
Last month we suggested that peculiar effects could be obtained by taking a few species and making an essential feature of them by successful growth for spring adornment. So also, much may done for summer effect outside of mere leaf and bedding plants. Why are not the class of succulents used more for bedding purposes? We do not mean that they should supplant flowering things, of course. Succulents generally have no blooms adapted to cutting. Usually, in fact, they are very shy of blossoming; but they afford much varied form, and many of them have strikingly gay colors. They grow so well in our climate - asking no care - giving really so much in return for so little, that certainly we should make more use of them than we do. For vases, rock work, etc., they are almost indispensable. Amongst sedums, opun-tias, and mammillaria, are some quite hardy species - so that winter or summer, they are self-supporting contributors to our floral pleasures.
Then again, the dwarf evergreens are not made as much use of as they might be; chiefly, because we employ them too sparingly. It is usual to plant them mainly for their botanical interest. We find persons pride themselves on having this or that rare thing in their " collection," just as the numismatist values his old coins; not for the use he can make of the rare penny, but because so few possess one. The real value of these plants is their capacity for adornment, and this is seldom brought out, unless they are used in groups or masses. It may be said that they are frequently too expensive to be used on a large scale; but it is the limited demand for them which keeps up the price. If one has not the means to buy them by the dozen at once, they may be increased on one's own ground. Almost all these dwarf evergreens root very readily by layers. A slit may be made in their stems near the ground, in June, and good rich earth mounded up about them, and generally they will be rooted by the next season. Some may be increased by inarching. Common kinds may be set against the rare ones.
A little bark cut away from the stock, and from the kind to be inarched, and then the two cut places brought face to face together and tied with bark, woolen string, or any thing of that character, and they will be firmly united together before fall. Or they may be grafted on other things growing at a distance, by burying a small bottle till the mouth is level with the ground, at the base of a little plant to be grafted; fill it with water, then put a branch of the choice kind in the bottle, and tie together as in inarching, which it really is.
In preparing flower beds, we often notice a mistake made in copying from European gardening. There is too much earth in them.
In planting out flowers don't take them at once from the hot house to the open ground, set the pots out for a few days in a cold frame with plenty of air, or under a tree in a sheltered place. Before turning them out of pots, water; and when set in the earth, press the soil very hard about the flower roots. If the ground be dry, the earth cannot be pressed too hard.
Don't make the beds very high, or the rains in summer will run off too rapidly. After smoothing the surface peg down the plants as much as possible so as to cover the surface soon. The plants also push out side shoots easier. Where small twigs can be had, split and double them like hair pins, for pegging down; where these are not at hand, small pieces of bast mat or twine, doubled and dibbled in the earth by the ends, make very fine pegs.
In this climate, hothouse plants often make noble bedders. The Chinese Rose Hibiscus, is a first-class thing, making a gorgeous show all summer. The Geranium also is getting immensely popular. The tree Carnation is also in much request. The Madagascar Periwinkle, rose and white, is also now often seen in beds and masses.
Climbing plants grow faster on trellis than left to themselves; stick them in as soon as the climbers are set out.
Mow lawns very early the first mowing; or at every subsequent mowing the lawn will look brown; a thin sprinkling of salt is good for the lawn - just enough salt to see the grains on the surface about a quarter of an inch apart. An over-dose will destroy the grass. Frequent rolling is one of the best ways to get a good close sod. When coarse weeds get in the lawn, hand weeding is the best remedy.