was not only a work of art and thing of beauty but was useful in trying
out various plants to learn their habits, etc.
Father was a busy man; he was in the banking and brokerage business in St. Louis and did his work before taking the 8 o’clock train (the Washington accommodation, as it was then known) for the City and after returning on the same train, leaving St. Louis at 5:20. He was a prodigious worker, arising at daybreak and did much of his work in building the rock-garden after dark, using an old coal-oil lamp, a relic of former days which some of you may remember.
Father was a great traveler and was always on the lookout for material, both mineral and vegetable, for his garden. He would bring seeds and plants from Europe, Central America or wherever he might be and plant the more hardy varieties out of doors and the tenderer kinds would be kept in a conservatory or a cold pit. This pit was an interesting place, built on the south side of a small hill near the rock-garden. It this pit seeds were started and plants were propagated from cutting and divisions, etc.
On the railroad bank father had his name, MATTHEWS, in large letters, planted with plox subulata, the letters being outlined in brown gravel. From this same Phlox came that which I now have on either side of the drive entering my home on Price Road, which is admired by all who drive by there in the Spring.
In 1880 father moved his family from Oakland to Grand and Belle Ave. where he continued his gardening activities. At that address he had about two acres, all intensively cultivated. Many of the rocks, corals, shrubs and flowers were moved from Oakland to Grand Ave. and later, in 1890, were again moved to his present home on Cabanne Ave., where for years he had his most beautiful garden.
Everyone who rode past his back yard on the Suburban Railroad remembers how beautiful his back terrace was in the years from about 1895 to 1925, at which time he was obliged to give it enforced neglect because of his advanced years.
At his home on Cabanne Ave., father had many fine specimens of Rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, Jatropha Manahot, and many exotics not found elsewhere in this vicinity. He had more varieties of magnolias than I have ever seen in one garden – Solangeana, Conspicua, Lenii, Acuminata, Grandi-flora, Glauca, Macrophila, Stellata and others.
His spare time was spent in floriculture and horticulture. He seemed to have the knack of making things grow and thrive. I frequently asked him questions such as “When is the best time to transplant this or that?” His answer was “When you can get it.” Or, “When is the best time to prune?” his answer would be “When your knife is sharp.” “When is the best time to water?” “When the hose is running – but soak, don’t sprinkle.”
In the early 90’s he was elected to the board of Directors of the Missouri Botanical Garden, as the first member elected to fill a vacancy on the board.