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.
So many people say that their flowers, which once did well, do not thrive any more; and the reason is incomprehensible to them. In many cases the trouble is from worn-out soil; and if a little manure, or a little fresh dirt, be added occasionally, it is wonderful what an effect it will have on the'renewed growth of half worn-out root stocks. Some kinds of flowers soon grow surly and bad-tempered, unless they have a complete change of earth once in a while. The verbena is of this character. In perfectly fresh soil - that is, earth which has never grown a verbena before - it grows like a weed; but the next year it is not quite so well, and in a few years it absolutely refuses to creep, run or do anything; and we are forced to confess that the verbena won't do for us as it used to years ago.
Other flowers are not so stubbornly fastidious as the verbena; but still all more or less like to feel rejuvenated by an addition of some kind occasionally to the earth- . blessings they have already been treated to. Almost all our best hardy flowers are natives of woods or low, undisturbed lands, where the decaying leaves from the trees, or the washings of higher surface lands, make a new annual entertainment for them; and it has been found by experiment that nothing is so good for these pretty little flowers as well-decayed leaf-mould from the woods, spread around the root stocks just above the ground. But where this cannot be had, any other well-decayed vegetable refuse that may be "laying around loose," will do very nearly as well. Strong, rich manure - barn-yard manure - has not been found very good for garden flowers. It makes the herbage too strong, and the flowers less in proportion. But if nothing more natural can be got at to help the flowers along, and the soil seems exhausted and poor, this will be found much better than leaving the plants to struggle along as best they can.
This is the time of the year to think of these things. - Ex.