This section is from the book "How To Make A Flower Garden", by Wilhelm Miller. Also available from Amazon: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques.
If the soil is light or sandy, a stream of water from a garden hose will sometimes be useful in settling and packing it. It is also usually well to cut off say two-thirds of the last year's growth of branches. Do not disfigure a tree by cutting off large limbs or "topping" it. Do not attempt to have too great a variety of trees. It is frequently desirable to make a specialty of one kind of tree - for instance, the thorn-apple - using it abundantly, and having comparatively few trees of other kinds. In this way one garden may be given a character that will distinguish it from others. I know of one flower garden that is being formed in an opening between groups of oaks, and no other trees will be planted.
Examples of tree covered with showy flowers. Magnolia stellata; hardy In New England; blooms In April.
Hooker's hemlock (Tsuga Hookerii), showing the light-green tips of the new growth. All conifers are particularly beautiful at this stage.
The Colorado blue spruce is often seen in flower gardens.
Trees not only furnish a background for the shrubs and flowers, but they make a boundary for the sky. This fact should be borne in mind in the selection of kinds and in deciding on their arrangement. It is desirable to have a large sky space, and this space outlined by the trees should have a shape as informal as the shape of a cloud. The trees should also be chosen with reference to the size of the garden. For a small flower garden only shrubs should be used as a boundary, or perhaps- there might be a single tree or a group of trees on the north side. For a large garden, trees might be used on every side, since in that case there would be plenty of space along the north boundary for plants that delight in sunshine, or the outline could be varied by planting crab-apples in one place and oaks in another.
Large trees can now be transplanted by experts during every month In the year.
A wild plum (Prunus Americana).
The pepperidge, extravagant in horizontal branches.
TREES IN WINTER, SHOWING THE BEAUTY.
A wild thorn-apple tree.
The native white birch of New England AND VARIETY OF THEIR BRANCHES.
Swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor).
In such a garden it will generally be found that an irregular boundary is the most pleasing. Such an arrangement gives shady bays, with projecting points that catch the sunshine and give character to the picture.
The effect desired will not be produced in a single year. The ground about the trees and shrubs will need cultivation until these are well established. It would be well if this planting could be done a year or two in advance of the planting of flowers. After the trees are established they may grow more rapidly than was expected, so that soon the problem of cutting away branches or even whole trees presents itself. A garden is not like a house, since it is continually growing, and one must live with it and study it in order to be able to train it in the way it should go. When a branch is to be cut, saw it off next to the trunk or next to the larger branch from which it springs. If a tree must be removed, see that this is done before it injures the trees around it. Sometimes it will be desirable to retain a group of trees in which, although the trees crowd each other, the effect of the whole is satisfactory.
No winter scene is perfect without the evergreens.
The dead and weak limbs In every neglected tree-top are the beat of arguments for frequent pruning. If the weakest competitors in the tree-top are not removed. Nature prunes them in her own way.
In conclusion, I think of the ideal flower garden occupying a valley or a depressed space of ground, usually protected on all sides, with the exception of that toward the house, by a woody growth, this growth to vary in size from that of the smallest shrubs to that of the largest trees, the latter, of course, being used only in a very large garden. This border of woody growth will form a frame or setting for the flowers, shielding the sun from ferns and other shade-loving plants in one place, giving the flowers the advantage of his rays in another, and protecting everything from the driving winds. A flower garden can only be perfectly satisfactory when the flowers are in comfortable places - that is, when they have sufficient sunlight, shade, moisture, dryness, and protection from wind, and some of these comforts the trees will help to give.