Gardening Articles


If we plant trees or shrubs upon our grounds with the hope of making them more attractive, and at the same time indulge in the common and mistaken idea that, if we only plant them that nature will take care of their future,

and grow them into handsome and shapely trees and shrubs--we labor in vain. It is not uncommon to see in the centre of refinement and culture every where, sadly neglected door-yards; these are filled with rampant bushes, and wide-spreading evergreens; such yards have more of a "cemetery look" than should belong to the surroundings of a cheerful home. With a little pruning in the proper season, these unshapely bushes might become things of beauty, and not only look better, but will do better, if given a severe trimming in the spring. Hedges of Privet, Purple Barberry, and Japan Quince, look much prettier along the walk than the old-fashioned fences, which are now being rapidly done away with. They should be kept pruned low as to not allow them to grow over two feet high. The proper time for trimming hedges of all kinds is in mid-summer, after the shrubs have made a thrifty growth; we would advise an annual pruning in order to have the hedge looking finely. It is a bad plan to allow a hedge of any kind, especially an evergreen one, to run a number of years without trimming. If a hedge is neglected so long, and then severely pruned, it will look stubby and shabby for a year or two after. With a pair of sharp hedge-shears, a person having a straight eye will make a good job of the trimming every time. The spring is the time of the year in which to do the pruning of all kinds of plants, vines, and shrubs, that are out of doors, as they are then dormant. Some prefer to prune grape vines in the fall, just after they have ripened and shed their leaves. We think it unsafe to prune anything too severely in the fall, especially the grape vine. Much experience has taught us to select the month of March as the time of the year most suitable for performing the operation. Every one who has a garden should possess a pruning knife with a long blade, curved at the end, for the operation. Armed with this implement, let us take a walk upon the lawn, and down into the garden, while the snow is still white upon the ground. The first thing that we meet as we enter the garden, is the large grape trellis, with its mass of tangled brown canes, a perfect mat of long vines and curling tendrils. How are we to attack this formidable network of vines in order to do anything with them? The first thing to be done is to sever all the cords and ties that fasten the vines to the trellis, and allow them to fall to the ground for convenience in trimming them. Spread the vines out full length upon the ground, and beginning at one of its arms, cut each shoot of the previous season's growth back to two eyes; if the canes are too numerous some may be cut out entirely. After all the "arms" of each vine have been pruned in this manner, the vine can be returned to the arbor and tied up as before. If there is a prospect of cold weather let the vines lie upon the ground, as they will be less liable to "bleed," or to suffer from the cold. This is the simplest way we know of to trim grape vines, and any amateur gardener can do it if he tries this manner. Walking a little further, we come upon some rose bushes: there are too many branches among them, and too much old wood, and some that is entirely dead. With our knife we will remove at least one half of this excess of wood, leaving as much young wood of the previous season's growth as possible by thinning out the old limbs and dead wood severely. Here is one Moss Rose bush, the stems appear as brown and looking as seared as a berry; it is apparently winter killed, and by cutting into it we find that to be the case; the roots are in all probability sound, and we will cut the stems down to the ground and cover the place with a forkful of stable manure; if the roots are alive it will grow and bloom the coming summer. Here is a large standard Rose with a fine top, we will head this back short, cutting each stem to an eye or two of the bottom. Proceeding to the lawn we run across some weeping deciduous trees, among them is a large Kilmarnock Weeping Willow, its beautiful pendant branches fairly reach the ground, and switch the snow as they sway to and fro. Nothing more beautiful could be imagined. We would head this back close, and it should be done every spring and most of the old wood thinned out. This large climbing Rose that clings so close to the piazza, should be trimmed about in the same way as we did the grape vine, and also this large Clematis Jackmanii should be cut to the ground and allowed to start up anew in the spring. Here is a clump of shrubbery among which we see the Weigela, Spiraeas, Purple Fringe, Deutzia crenata, Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, the Syringa, and a number of other favorite shrubs. These will all need more or less cutting back and trimming, and now is a good time to do it. We know one gentleman who boasted the finest display of Roses in his county, who was in the habit of cutting his Rose bushes down to the ground every spring, and when they began to grow he had dug in around each one an abundance of well rotted compost, "and," said he, "I have never seen the day, from June to October, that I could not pluck a large bouquet of the choicest Hybrid Perpetual roses, while my next door neighbor, who also had rose bushes, could find no flower after June." I will say that this gentleman was in the habit of cutting his roses once a day, and never allowing the flowers to fade on the bush, which is an excellent plan to keep up a perpetuity of bloom.

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