In September, with a little care, the flower garden can well be in it’s most satisfactory condition. Hopefully we should have limited our assertion to the first half of the month. After which time the work of disrobing begins. In preparation, it is recommended that many plants that don’t tolerate frost be taken up. They can be removed to the greenhouse, and some of the beds must be dug over preparing for planting bulbs.
Bulbs may be planted in any of the autumn months, until the ground is frozen, the earlier the better. Many bulbs will make fibrous roots in the fall. They will be ready to grow more rapidly and vigorously in the Spring. I have found that generally the earliest bulbs to blossom are those which were planted the earliest.
In this month, as before, go over the beds repeatedly with knife and string. Cut out the old blossom stalks, and tie up the dropping branches of the erect species of plants. Particularly watch the Dahlias, which by this time have grown large and top heavy. A single high wind will prostrate every Dahlia that is not well secured, and thus destroy the hopes of a season. The Dahlia will blossom every month from July to October, if forced early enough, but will give its best blossoms only as the nights grow cool and long.
Get up the tender greenhouse plants which are to be wintered before the 15th of this month. Although there is often fine weather till October, there will be an occasional frost, which will cut off every tender plant. As you begin to transplant, the beds will have a very seedy and dismantled appearance, and your judgment as a gardener will become apparent in the manner in which you conceal the losses made by transplanting.
The more hardy plants, like Carnations, Verbenas, Lantanas, and Pelargoniums may remain in the ground till October. In September we expect the last blossoms of the Perpetual Roses.
Overhaul the bulbs collected for the spring blossoms, ascertain the number you have of each variety, and how much surface they will cover. Then it is up to you to decide what beds shall be devoted to bulbs. Take out every thing in them, unless it be Roses or perennial roots, dig them over thoroughly, adding a good dressing of well-rotted manure.
This work cannot be too thoroughly done, as upon it depends the satisfactory blossom we hope for in the spring. Having prepared your beds, towards the last of the month (25th, perhaps), begin to plant, although this may be deferred till the first of October. The amount of earth required over a bulb differs with the variety, but none need more than three or four inches.
Preparing to Plant
Where it is desirable to produce any given effect, say of color, with Hyacinths, Tulips, or Crocusses, lay them out around the bed on the surface in their proper places before beginning to plant. With a view to producing whatever effects you fancy, according to the variety. Tulips and Hyacinths from six to nine inches apart, Crocusses, two or three inches. The larger bulbs from three to four. By using bulbs of well-known colors and character, the most varied effects you wish may be produced with certainty.
Where we wish a succession of bloom, nothing is more easily procured. We have only to plant bulbs of the earlier and later varieties. A very pleasant effect is achieved by adding to the beds some Pansies, as they blossom as soon as the snow is fairly gone, and last till hot weather. Snowdrops come first, then Crocusses, then Pansies, then Hyacinths, Narcissuses, Tulips, Daffodils, Single and Double Jonquils, etc.
Having laid out the bulbs as described, take a tin tube in the shape of a truncated cone. The cone should be roughly 6 inches long, about 3 inches in diameter at the large end and 1 or 2 inches at the smaller. Take the bulb in your left hand, in your right, the tube. Press the small end down into the earth as far as you wish to set the bulb. -4 inches for Tulips, etc., 12 for Crocusses. Drawing up the tube, you will find it filled with earth as high as it was pressed deep into the ground. It’s tapering shape preventing the earth in the upper and larger end from falling out at tile smaller.
Now set the bulb down at the bottom of the hole, its pointed end up. If it is a Hyacinth, shake a little sand over it; then invert the tin tube over it. Along with the removed earth to make sure the hole is replaced. This will be found to be the most neat and rapid way of planting bulbs. Any tin man will make such a tube for ten cents.
When choice Tulips are to be planted, a deal of care must be taken to arrange colors and sizes. This is so that the tallest may be in the middle and the smaller towards the edge of the bed. Connoisseurs in tulips, who pride themselves on the splendor and variety of their bulbs, resort to very elaborate preparation in the way of soil, exposure, size of bed, number of rows, etc. This is troublesome and undesirable to the general cultivator. Particularly one who does not wish his whole satisfaction in his flowers to be destroyed by the trouble of taking care of them. The utmost that the Tulip demands is to have the bed in a rather high and airy situation, sheltered from the prevalent winds, and on a light rich soil. All other details may be arranged to suit the cultivator.
Hyacinths too, have often been made the subject of elaborate memoirs. Were it necessary to resort to the care insisted on by the writers of these directions, Hyacinths would cause more trouble than they are worth. It is enough to observe the directions just given for Tulips.
With the other common bulbs we may be still less particular. When the amateur desires variety rather than whole beds of one kind, bulbs may be planted singly, or in groups, about the borders, among perennial roots, etc. When they are to be planted in this manner, it would be well to take with you a wheelbarrow of rich mould. Put a spadeful in the place where you are about to set the bulb. All blossom well in proportion to the richness of the earth immediately surrounding them.
You can plant Pansies during this month. Either amongst your bulbs as just described, in a bed by themselves, or in the borders. The Pansies to be set out are those of which the seeds were planted in June. By transplanting now, they will be enabled to get well rooted and make some growth before winter. They like a rich soil, and pay well for it. Old plants can be divided, and cuttings be made. The Polyanthus may appropriately be mixed with bulbs to vary effects; transplant this month. The ordinary Polyanthus needs no specially prepared soil. Plant White Lilies early this month.
Late in the month divide and transplant, or reset the perennial roots. Make beds for them by themselves, or in common with other plants. Endeavor to get, as you easily may, such a succession of perennials. As some flowers will give bloom during all the growing months, from May to October. Having a greenhouse to supply an unlimited amount of bedding plants, it will be well to leave gaps among the perennials, in which to set Verbenas, Heliotropes, Geraniums, Salvias, so that their successive and late blossoms may come in to fill the spaces left by dying perennials.