This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Recently, in the absence of other occupation, I visited the nursery grounds of the Messrs. Smith & Powell, at Syracuse, N. Y. They have in real estate about 1,240 acres, of which say 540 are used as nursery grounds. Ere I write more of the trees, etc, that I saw in the grounds, I shall speak of Mr. Wm. Brown Smith's labors. As near as I can learn, without too pertinaceous and impudent questions, it is something over 30 years since he joined Mr. Thorp, who had established a nursery on four acres of ground, issued a hand-bill catalogue of trees for sale, etc. Time has passed, and this energetic, industrious man has also passed through trials and tribulations which so many experience. Thanks to the Great Giver of all good, Mr. Smith has now a son-in-law as partner, and from four acres his nursery has grown to over five hundred, most admirably filled with a collection of all the best varieties of trees and shrubs, arranged in a most systematic manner, and grown healthy and stocky. His residence is in the city limits, but most of the nursery and farm proper is outside thereof. Mr. Powell, now his son-in-law, and partner in business, we found a gentleman of intelligence, industry and perseverance.
His leading fancy, however, is the improvement of stock - as neat cattle, horses, etc. - and so by his fancy the firm are working up ground that it embraces in different localities somewhere near 1,250 acres.
As it may interest some of the readers of the Gardener's Monthly, we will say that the landed property of Smith & Powell embraces one tract of 120 acres, one of 16 acres, one of 50, one of 53, one of 700, one of 100, one of 18, etc, acres. These have the lands best suited to a healthy growth of trees, and are given specially to them, the balance being used for pasture or farm purposes. Upon the old homestead, as it were (16 acres), are not only the residence, but many good things in the way of ornamental trees. There is a Kentucky coffee tree 50 feet high, and 20 feet broad in its branches; also a Magnolia tripetela of a rounded form in branches of 20 feet each way. This concern has given special attention to trees for street or ornamental planting, and the show of maples, elms, etc, is too great to write of. Of fruit trees, a great variety and of all ages are in blocks on land suited to their healthy vigor, and all are treated so that the buyer can have a stocky tree with low branches if he so desires. Passing along we noted Louis Phillippe cherry, a variety which the writer imported from Le Roy in 1854, and which has no equal as a preserving fruit.
Again as I passed a stake labelled "Elliott's Favorite," Mr. Smith said, that of all the sweet cherries this was the best in flavor and quality. I found many new features of value in the management of this concern, and of them I will first mention the practice they have of taking up, the varieties of fruit trees, and re-planting them in blocks, so that any one, needing an orchard at once, can take these trees, plant them with their fibrous roots, and the following year obtain fruit.
Next, I noticed among evergreens that every other row was of a more stocky and compact nature than its associate. I asked the how and why? The answer: We root-prune them by the use of an underground plow, which with a horse attached on each side cuts under the tree and at the same time cuts the side roots without in the least disturbing the tree, yet it at once forms new fibrous roots, and when removed a hedge of four feet high can be made as perfect as if it had been planted at one foot high and yearly trimmed. While we note this, we must not forget to say that this concern keeps up a full stock of all the best evergreens and other ornamental trees of all sizes. Neither should we neglect to tell the readers of the Monthly that we found the true Corsican pine in these grounds. Those who know of the Corsican know that among the long-leaved pines it is one of the best. It is between Austrian and Scotch, compact, hardy and beautiful as a specimen tree, or as a hedge. Ere I leave my readers let me say that I saw a mile of Honey Locust hedge that four years since Was started with two-year-old seedling plants from the grounds of Smith & Powell, and that was now four feet high, and so thick and perfect that not a bird or animal could pass through it.
Again I must note the fact-that S. & P. make plantation belts of evergreens to check the forces of winter winds, and in the making they have alternated the black American Spruce with the Norway, and its silvery, glossy foliage contrasts most beautifully as well as gracefully. Passing over the grounds we noted seedlings of varieties of trees, located as our own as well as their judgment told that the soil was suited to their healthy growth. We asked if they should use all. The reply was, we expect to do so, but while we make no pretension to grow stocks for sale, we are ready to sell to an honest and reliable man who desires to grow trees healthy and true to name. To close these random remarks, let me say that every person who visits Syracuse, N. Y., should go over Smith & Powell's nursery and farm grounds.
[Since this letter was in type, we believe we have seen it in another publication. It ought therefore to be credited to the publication in which it first appeared. We have therefore to say to our co-temporary that it was received by us supposing it to be original. We have to make this explanation as we would not have the Gardener's Monthly even suspected of using the property of its neighbors without proper credit. We are glad, however, to insert the article, for we know of no firm in the Union whose efforts | deserve more praise than the firm of Smith & Powell. - Ed. G. M.]