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.
WE have no greater proof of the increasing love for flowers, than is afforded by the general inclination to once more pay especial attention to the class of plants above named. Fashion, with her unyielding demands, has for several years past insisted upon geometrical beds of variegated flowers and highly-colored foliage arranged in stripes and masses, so formal in their character that for a while it seemed as if we were drifting back to the old days of " Topiary work " and Italian gardens.
The traveler in Europe is at once struck with the prevalence of what is there termed the Alpine Gardens, in all the first class places, and he wonders why they are not better known at home. Americans, as a general rule, are slow to adopt innovations of this kind, and especially after having become so interested in the present formal system of arranging their parterres; but thanks to the few pioneers in floriculture, who are always ready and willing to take the lead in every good work, herbaceous plants will soon be as eagerly sought after, and as justly prized, as their merits deserve. We enumerate their claims as follows: They are hardy; they form a succession of bloom from the snows of early spring to those of early winter; every possible shade and tint of color is represented; in their growth and habit there is such a wide field to select from that we can produce any desired effect; and they are readily and rapidly reproduced.
In accordance with their choice of location, gardeners have classified them into three divisions, and the several apartments devoted to their culture are known under the following titles: First, the Bog Garden, for growing aquatic plants, or those preferring a moist situation; secondly, the Alpine Garden, composed of stones and gravelly soil, for plants that are natives of rocky eminences and high mountain elevations; and thirdly, the Common Herbaceous Garden, embracing all plants that succeed well in ordinary garden soil.
All of these divisions may bo gathered into one enclosure, and the effect will be visibly heightened by so doing.
If water can be introduced by a concealed pipe into a mass of rockwork, the owner can then cultivate ferns and other moisture-loving plants, by having a small jet or jets of water to rise from the summit and sprinkle the surface for some distance around. Or the water may be allowed to bubble up out of some fissure, and then slowly run along between and over the rocks, forming a miniature rivulet, and occasionally a tiny cascade, until it reaches the base, where it may spread around for some distance to form the Bog Garden,
This does not necessitate a very-great outlay of money, unless the work should be on an extensive scale. Anyone with a little ingenuity can construct a small garden such as we have described, simple in its appointments, yet always neat and natural in appearance. Our own woods and swamps will furnish us with a complete outfit of plants, and if means are at our command to indulge in a few foreigners, these can be added from time to time, as taste may dictate.
In removing our wild flowers we must in-variably study the requirements of their nature, and endeavor to supply these in their new home. It will not do to remove delicate ferns nor choice little plants from the north side of a thicket out into the blazing sun of our gardens. Rather select a shady spot and obtain a portion of rich leaf-mould in which to plant them, and the novice will be surprised to find how readily and kindly they will take to their new quarters.
The little aquatic garden may be adorned with the gay Cardinal Flower (Lobelia car-dinalis) and Blue Lobelia (L. syphilitica); the Arrow Head (Sagittaria), Pickerel Weed (Pontederia), Water-Chinquepen (Nelum-bium), Water Lily (Nymphoea), Yellow Pond-Lily (Nuphar), Lizard's Tail (Saururus), Marsh Marygold (Caltha), Side-Saddle Flower (Sarracenia), Sun Dew (Drosera), Native Phlox, Lilies, Iris, etc.
For the Alpine department, we may select the numerous dwarf plants found mostly on rocky declivities, such as the Mountain Pink (Phlox subulata), Talinum, Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium), Early Saxifrage, Rock cress, Arrow-leaved Violet, Birds-foot Violet, Sedums, Sempervivums, Wild Columbines, Ferns, etc.
For the general Herbaceous Grounds we have such a multitude of handsome plants, that it is difficult to make a selection of the best. In looking over a late catalogue issued by a prominent English florist, we have counted over 3,000 names of species and varieties, independant of the so-called •'Florist Flowers" - such as Chrysanthemums, Phloxes, Larkspurs, etc. A very good selection may be made from the following list, all of which will prove satisfactory to the lover of flowers. Double flowering and Bed-flowered Milfoils, Monkshoods, Anemones, Columbines, Milk-weeds, Asters, Campanulas, Lily of the Valley, Larkspurs, Pinks, Dicentras, Fraxinella, American Cowslip, Day Lilies, Iris or Flags, Blazing Stars, Lychnis, Paeonies, Poppies, Penstemons, Phloxes, Jacob's Ladder, Primroses, Double Crowfoots, Chrysanthemums, Salvias, Catch Flys, Meadow Sweets, Violets, Variegated Thymes, Spiderworts, Tricyrtis, Veronica, and a host of hardy bulbs. Indeed their names are legion, and we cannot go far wrong in any thing we introduce, provided it shall not prove to be a pernicious weed.
In our little botanic garden, we must not forget to form a sand-bed for such plants as prefer this dry soil; and here we may cultivate the various hardy Cactuses, the delicate little Pyxidanthera, from the sandy pine barreus of New Jersey, the Turkey Beard from the same localities; and if mixed with a portion of peat, and partially shaded, we may test many of our beautiful native orchids.
Our own woods, roadsides and pastures furnish a sufficient variety to stock a small garden, if we would but take the pains to carefully remove them. Of the cultivated plants, all may be increased by division early in the autumn; or by seeds sown as soon as ripe. If the latter are kept until spring, a frame of boards should be prepared, and covered with a glass hot-bed sash. The soil must be made very fine and sandy; and the seeds sown thinly on the surface; the covering to be applied by shaking a little soil through a sieve, so as merely to hide the seeds from view. More seeds are lost annually by burying them deeply, than by any other mismanagement.