This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Your "Hints to Beginners," in the June number of the Horticulturist, induces me to state a few facts in my experience in the cultivation of flowers, etc.
Some three years since, I was totally ignorant of the beauty of flowers, as well as of the pleasures to be had in their cultivation; but having erected a cottage upon a half acre of ground, and being desirous of having it adorned somewhat, I concluded to try and cultivate a taste in the floral as well as the horticultural line. I began with a dozen Roses, that an amateur friend selected for me, of the following varieties: Madam Laffay, Rivers, Le Roi, La Reine, Ophire, Phoenix, Lamarque, Souvenir de la Malmaison, Queen of the Bourbons, Chromatella, Mrs. Bosanquet, and Hermosa. With "Buist on Roses" and hints gathered from your magazine, I succeeded admirably the first season. My plants grew finely and bloomed freely during nearly the increased my stock by adding Jaune Desprez, Geant des Batailles, Bougere, Solfatare, La Reine des Belges, and some others. I concluded, also, to try my success with some other flowers. I procured from a nurseryman a dozen Dahlias (his own selection), and a finer variety for so small a number I never saw. They made a growth of from four and a half to seven feet, and were full of bloom from the middle of July until the frost took them. The only trouble I had was to find stakes enough to keep them supported.
Pleased with my success, I next added a bed of Tulips. These bloomed finely, and have been no trouble. Last spring I added a dozen Dwarf Chrysanthemums of various colors, the selection of which I left to the nurseryman. With these, judging from the statement of "W.," in your June number, I must have been unusually successful. The plants were received about the 10th of May, and were planted in an open border, about two feet apart During dry weather I watered them freely, and occasionally pinched off the ends of the longest shoots. About the middle of September, not finding pots sufficiently large, I put them into common painted pails (boring the bottoms of course), and set them on the north side of my cottage for a few days, until established. They began to bloom about the middle of October, and from that time until the 10th of December were a perfect mass of bloom from the rims of the pots up. Upon several of the plants there were from 150 to 200 blossoms during the whole time. Such a magnificent display of Chrysanthemums had never been seen in our village before, and they attracted much attention. Last October I set out beds of Hyacinths, Narcissus, and Crocus. My good fortune attended me with them. The varieties were splendid, and the bloom early and fine.
This year I have added to my collection a variety of Verbenas, Salvias, and Heliotropes. What success I may have with them is yet to be seen; but, judging from the past, I am confident of the future; and those of your readers who are floral "Know-nothings," as I have been, may be encouraged to try, and with every addition to their flower department will find new pleasures and enjoyment.
A word in regard to wintering Roses, having lost some by not giving them proper care. One of the best plans I have found, and of the least trouble, is to turn them down, throwing over them leaves or straw, and covering with two boards nailed together at right angles. This keeps them dry and does not exclude the air. Another is, to heel them in a cold frame, and cover slightly with straw or litter of any sort. I have lost a number of choice plants by covering with tan bark and boards - a plan which I have frequently seen recommended.
The most splendid and constant blooming Roses I have, are Geant des Batailles, Jaune Desprez, Souvenir de la Malmaison, Lamarque, and La Heine des Beiges. I have an Augusta that has given a few splendid flowers this season; and if it proves hardy, it will be the greatest acquisition to the family with which I am familiar.
I notice that one of your correspondents inquires in reference to tan, spent tan, etc., as a mulching for the Strawberry. Having used it with unvarying success for the last three years, I am satisfied it is the best thing possible. I take the tan bark which has been used at tanneries (it does not matter how soon after being rejected), and cover the beds from one to two inches deep, being careful not to cover the crowns of the plants. This should be done as soon as the beds are planted, and July and August are the months for this. This mulching keeps the ground moist and cool, prevents frost from hearing out the plants in winter, and protects the fruit from dirt. Some are of opinion that there is a peculiar virtue in tan, by which the product and flavor are improved. How this may be, I know not; but more splendid fruit than I have grown, or in greater abundance, has never been seen in this vicinity. The varieties I cultivate are McAvoy's Superior (decidedly the best), Longworth's Prolific, Burr's New Pine, Walker's Seedling, and Schneike's Pistillate. This last I do not like; it is sour, and decays rapidly after ripening.