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The Moonlight Garden
The Water Garden
The Rock Garden
The Wild Flower Garden
The Court Of The Queen Of Flowers
The Children's Garden
The Bulb Garden
The Indoor Garden
The Garden That Faces Four Ways
What Can Be Done With Half An Acre
Old And New Flowers For The Garden
Where Are And Nature Meet
Our Birds And Our Gardens
The Flower Spectrum
Garden Friends And Foes
Trees And Tree Planting
Window Box Gardening
Flowers For Cutting
The More Common Garden Flowers And How To Grow Them
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Now that the enthusiasm for gardening has come into its own, there is hardly a yard, either in town or country, which does not boast its quota of more or less skilfully arranged shrubs or blossoms. The average amateur gardener, however, is but too apt to forget a third form of vegetation which is at once less trouble than the garden, and far more effective than the shrub. This is the obvious but too often neglected tree.
Roughly speaking, trees are used for one of three purposes. The first, street planting, is that which is most apt to come within our ken. Frequently, especially in new towns and "developments," certain trees are planted along certain streets; and householders are asked to "do their bit" by purchasing and setting out those which are to stand before their homes. The selection is generally made by a committee, often upon a very slight knowledge of the subject, based, perhaps, upon other plantings which have been made elsewhere under their observation-perhaps not particularly sucessful plantings, but still,-one must have something, and there are not so very many kinds of trees, and we must stick to those we've seen, for anything out of the common way probably will not grow or else we should have seen it-and so the decision is made.
This method of selection, perhaps, may account for the wide-spread planting of the soft maple in American small-town streets. The choice of' this tree is one against which the tree-lover should, and the tree knower will, protest. The soft maple is a fast grower, but is awkward in its habit, short-lived, is brittle and frail. It is not as decorative as many of its sturdier brethren, and when so many better trees are to be had at no greater trouble or expense, its popularity is not to be understood.
For streets, no tree is superior to the Norway maple. With its symmetrical form and luxuriant foliage, which turns so beautifully in the fall, no other maple surpasses it. It grows with fair rapidity and is sturdy and resistant. The linden is also good for work of this kind, its only fault being its blossoms, which in their season litter the sidewalks beneath profusely, and send forth an odor which is, to many persons, overpowering. Apart from this; the linden is of value because of its rapid growth, its good shape, and the shade which it provides in summer. The Oriental plane tree has, in addition to the advantages of the linden, a desirable quality in its odd and striking trunk, and the fruit which decks it through the winter, making it attractive when its foliage is gone. The horse chestnut, as no one who recalls the Champs Elysees will deny, produces a luxuriant and beautiful effect as an avenue tree, especially during the spring, when it is covered by heavy masses of pink or white blossoms. The American elm, too, is one of the best trees for street use, growing with fair rapidity, living for many years, and, when a fair growth has been attained, making a delightfully picturesque arch over the street. Of late there seems to be a reaction against the elm, and it cannot be denied that there are other trees which are more enduring; but in view of the numberless elms which are known to have passed the century mark, it seems as if the charge of undue fragility cannot be fairly brought against it. The various varieties of poplar and oak are also sturdy and decorative trees for street use.
Among trees to be used as screens, the evergreen is, for obvious reasons, the best where it can be used. It is, however, too rapid a grower for invariable use. The Norway spruce, for example, is frequently well spoken of for this purpose; but the drawback to thisas well as to many of the other conifers-is the greatly increased area which it requires as it increases in growth. I have in mind a clump which was originally set out to form a hedge. When I first knew them, perhaps five-and-twenty years later, the barrier which they provided was complete, both as to sight and passage, but it had proved necessary for a very large space, increasingly expanding, to be allotted to them, while their height had increased until they might not only have shut out the offending view many times over, but so that they actually made a gloomy corner of the spot where they stood. To be sure, in themselves they were magnificent trees, and of a certainty also, many a gardener does not plant for posterity, or even with the idea of any very great permanence; but if the home which is being planted be considered as one where many years are likely to be passed, this point is one which may well be borne in mind. Under these limitations, too, the white or Austrian pines may be recommended.
Perhaps the most satisfactory "screen tree" apart from the evergreens is the Lombardy poplar. These trees are among the most rapid of growers, and if planted close together, in a very short time will form a perfect screen. As they take up little room on account of the peculiar conformation of their branches, they should be "staggered" or planted- in a group. I have seen three such trees, planted in a city back-yard, form a group which reached really imposing propor tions, and which completely fulfilled its purpose of shutting out the windows of a neighboring apartment house.
In considering trees for decorative planting, the list is so long that one hardly knows where to begin upon this fascinating subject. Of them all, the flowering trees are the most attractive for the purpose, and among these none is' superior to the red or white flowering thorn, so universal in England and so unappreciated here. The English laburnum is a charming growth, in appearance something like a tree variety of our own yellow broom or forsythia with its mass of golden blossoms. Unfortunately, however, this tree will not grow in northern latitudes, although in the warmer states it may be enjoyed to one's heart's content. Our own dog-wood, on the other hand, is strong, and for beauty can hardly be surpassed by any flowering tree. It should be mentioned that this tree has a tap-root which may not be cut if it is to live. For this reason transplanting is so difficult a task that it will be found best to purchase a nursery-grown specimen which is sure to be shipped to you in good condition. The flowering almonds, too, are the very incarnation of spring, as they gleam shining in the posts where you have stationed them; while who has not welcomed the message of the magnolia-that brave pioneer which unfolds its petals of white or rosy bloom before the very leaves themselves, and too often pays for its bravery by the mourning of blackened buds which mark the passing of the short, bright little lives at the merciless touch of frost?
As some writers group the laburnum and the magnolia among shrubs-to which category the flowering almond certainly belongs-perhaps we may wander far enough afield. from trees to cast a hasty glance, en passant, at a few of the shrubs which add especially to the beauty of the garden. Of these the first is undoubtedly the lilac, dear to the hearts of the lovers of the old-time garden. Amazingly improved from the earlier varieties, it has sacrificed nothing of its hardiness and its unconquerable love of life to its increased beauty and, if the word may be used, its increased refinement. It may be had in a variety of tones of lilac, white and pale pinkish mauve; of them all the lovely white Madame Lemoine is perhaps the best worthy of mention, although it is difficult to award the palm of beauty to any variety of this most satisfactory plant. The laurel, the azalea and the rhododendron are also excellent flowering shrubs, and may, in the vicinity of New York, be obtained in the woods and transplanted to the garden without any great search being necessary. The forsythia, the weigelia and the Spirea Van Houteii are also exceedingly desirable additions to the shrubbery about the house. If planted in clumps to gether, blooming as they do one directly after the other, the corners where they are given a home will be yellow, pink and white in succession through a great part of the spring. The forsythia, especially, is perhaps the only plant which, seen as it is in every yard, large or small, during the early spring, never irritates and never wearies with its ubiquity. It may be the beauty of the flower, and it may be merely the sunny, cheerful appearance which it is almost the first of the flowers to show forth; but there is no gainsaying its immense and deserved popularity. A path, bordered by forsythias which had grown to such a height as to form a golden arch above it, lingers in my mind as one of the loveliest incarnations of approaching summer that I can recall.
The deutzia, the sweetly scented syringa, the Japanese snowball, are other good shrubs which will fill a need in every garden. The Hydrangea paniculata must not be forgotten, with its great flowers which render it so decorative during the. summer, and which, plucked after the last frosts, are almost as decorative during the winter in the house with their rich coppery tones, as well as combining the other advantage of being everlasting and not appearing so. The althea, the ba.rberry and the Pyrus Japonica are mentioned elsewhere, in connection with hedges, their most suitable place. The smoke tree (Rhus Cotinus) must not be forgotten, nor by any means must the calycanthus, that delightfully scented little shrub the brownish blossoms of which every child must, I think, have carried numberless times in a warm little fist, and subsequently buried in a handkerchief box, in order to enjoy its fragrance.
Of course fruit trees when in bloom are distinct additions to any yard. Even later, hung with rosy or golden fruit, they are exceedingly decorative in appearance, and the upright forms, as well as espaliers, trained against a southern wall, may be utilized with excellent effect. Then there is the mountain ash, with its scarlet berries, which besides its bright appearance, has the additional advantage of attracting to its neighborhood the birds, which love to feast upon its fruit. Continuing the transition from flowering tree to fruit tree and from fruit tree to foliage, the varieties of copper colorings, notably the copper beech and copper maple, sue for recognition, while the odd shade of blue so universally popular in Koster's blue spruce must not be forgotten.
Among the other trees which are suitable for decorative planting, the birches and willows make a fine showing. A clump of white birches in a corner is a sight to conjure with o' moonlight nights, while even in the daytime the delicate growth, touched with trunks of glistening white, seems to open up the outskirts of fairyland. A great chestnut or an oak, standing majestically upon a lawn at a distance from any other tree, gives a touch at once imposing and artistic. No one, as far as I know, has treated shadows on the lawn with the attention which they deserve; but it is a subject well worth the studying, and the sunny slopes, touched here and there with a heavy mass of shade, will shine forth all the more brightly for the contrast. And for that shade, the compact mass of oak or chestnut, the charming curve of the elm, or the shadow of a clump of tulip trees, at once so tall and so graceful, will furnish just what is needed to complete the setting of the picture.
Among the trees which may be set about the lawn the Camperdown elm makes an excellent substitute for a summerhouse, and is especially popular in a family where children form a part of the household. And no mention of decorative trees would be complete without a mention of the king of them all-the cedar of Lebanon, which can be had in this country, and which is well worth a trial, in spite of its exceedingly slow growth. This tree should be purchased as large as possible, since it will, in all likelihood, only imperceptibly increase during the lifetime of the buyer. It stands out imposingly, so black against the landscape that everything about it seems to take on a paler hue, and even the smallest cedar boasts the peculiar dignity, somewhat reminiscent of that of the Japanese dwarf tree, which is an integral part of the charm of this variety.
It will be found well worth while, in selecting trees, to consider how they will appear, not only in the summer, but in the autumn, as their colors change. For example, the oak turns copper-colored, and the chestnut, yellow; a countryside in which these trees predominate leaves something lacking to the observer because of the want of crimson. This may be added by the maples, according to their variety and situation. One, sprung up wild beside a country house, turns such a vivid red each September that the light reflected from it throws a rosy glow upon the walls and ceilings within. Such an effect is charming when it can be obtained; but in any case, your planting will have failed of its full effect unless the crimson of your maples, the gold of your tulip trees, the deep yellow and red-brown of your oaks, may blend together when Jack Frost waves his wand, so that the spirit of October may be manifest in your garden.
In planting trees, those which lose their leaves in winter are best planted in October or November. A thick mulch about their roots protects them, and gives them needed nourishment. Evergreens are best planted a little earlier. This does not mean that trees cannot be set out in the spring. This system has many advo cates, provided only the planting be done before the new leaves appear. The earth in which the tree is to be set should be well enriched with manure, and it is of the utmost importance that the hole dug to receive it should be large enough to hold the roots without squeezing, when they are spread out. Failure to do this is a prolific cause of losses of sturdy stock. The tree once inserted, the roots should be covered with soil, and well packed down. It is well, in planting, to leave a little depression about the tree, which may, each day, be filled with water until the growth is established. A frequent source of the loss of trees is insufficient water at this critical stage, and I have known small evergreens, apparently dead from this cause, to come to life surprisingly when dug up and carelessly "heeled in" beside a brook or lake. Trees which arrive before preparations for receiving them are completed should be "heeled in" until the ground is ready for their reception. If frozen, they should be put in a place where they will thaw out, and kept there until planted.
It should be remembered that the planting of new trees should be done with care. A tree is not like a flower-it is a matter of more difficulty to obtain, and once planted, is planted for all time. For this very reason especial pains should be taken to make a wise selection, and not merely to put in any given place the first tree which may occur to your mind. And, your trees once planted, before you lies a lifetime of shade, of bloom and of beauty, which will be yours at the cost of no further trouble or expense. Surely the setting out of trees is well worth while, and he who plants one, plants at the same time a source of pleasure which is his forever.