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.
A gardener when he first enters his profession docs so with the full intention of making himself conversant with his trade in all its branches, but after a short time his attention gets attached to certain kinds of plants, or systems of gardening, and he gives to them almost his whole care. Success in certain lines is usually the cause of this. But it should not lead to the casting aside of branches more difficult to manage or that are common. His great aim should be to overcome the most difficult portions of his work, and acquire as much varied knowledge as possible. Carpet bedding is an instance of the ardor with which one branch is pushed to the detriment of the rest. It certainly does much to bring out the skill and intelligence of the gardener, but it greatly limits the variety of plants used. Designs may differ, but still we have the same plants over and over again for their carrying out. Now we should always try to vary the material in every bed so far as we can, and get away from established notions of what a bed should be, obeying only certain rules that must be conformed to. I often make beds not in conformity with my own ideas of what such should be, and find that they have as much praise bestowed on them as those in accord with my own wishes.
The now almost universal use of bedding plants in gardening has thrown into the background many old and valuable herbaceous plants, many of them having been cast aside altogether. A plant is none the worse because known a long time and found in every cottage garden. Prize it for its beauty and duration of bloom, and for the effect it may produce in connection with others. What is more effective than a border of well chosen herbaceous plants arranged properly? Yet it is as difficult a task as the gardener can undertake, for he has several considerations and important reasons to consider. The height of the plant, which often varies according to the nature of the soil, the position in which it is placed, color of the flower, contrast, the time it will flower, rotation of blooming, all have to be thought of. But how seldom do we see evidence of such thought.
Herbaceous plant borders have a great advantage in their permanency, and are less expensive than the more delicate plants and annuals that require renewing every season. Lack of room is often given as an excuse for the neglect of this class of plants. As such plants generally occupy more space than others, a little trimming in the fall should be done. It is probable these plants will be much more sought for than they have been of late years.
But this article is not to condemn any system in which men may become interested, nor to find fault with those who study certain lines of plants only, but is to urge the greatest diversity of composition in beds and borders, changing the scene as it were at every turning, trying to please the most fastidious and gratifying all with as great variety as possible; for human tastes differ just as much as tempers.
Orchid growing just now takes precedence of everything else, but the craze has about reached its height. Candid men, experienced in them, begin to confess that there are many of them hardly worth a place in our houses. Still, a plant bearing the name of orchid is at once looked on as something worth having. Just think of one of them in England bringing the high price of 235. We will no doubt have a reaction in a few years, bringing many plants again into the markets which are now thrown aside as worthless. Supt. Gov t. Grounds, Ottawa, Can.