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.
H., Quincy, Ill., asks: " Will you be kind enough to give us the botanical name of the 'Rocky Mountain Silver Spruce?' We are often asked to give it, and cannot do so. We enclose a paragraph clipped from a description by a well-known writer."
This we consider the most beautiful evergreen of America. A well-known writer speaks of it as follows:
. . ' But the Silver Spruce is the one gem of the trees, a sort of first, cousin of the evergreen we call the Balsam Fir in New England yards, but more richly endowed with beauty of shape and color. . . It looks as if a delicate silver powder had been strewn over its deep green needles, or rather as if a light white frost had fallen all upon and enshrouded it; and you cannot help wondering why the breezes do not shake the powder oft1, or the sun dissipate the frost, so ever present is the one illusion or the other. A soft, white, blue-green combination.' " [The description suits Abies Menziesii, and A. Engelmannii. As the latter is not common in those parts of the Rocky Mountains frequented by "well-known writers," the doctrine of chances will make the tree Abies Menziesii. It is to be hoped that the time will come when a fair knowledge of botany, so as to be able at least to write intelligently, will be regarded as part of the education of "well-known writers." As it is, they know so little of what they describe, as to make it a waste of time to puzzle out their meaning.
Abies Menziesii, if this is the "most beautiful evergreen of America" referred to, has been under cultivation in most leading American nurseries for a quarter of a century, and is generally a mean and miserable looking thing. Now and then we have seen a fair specimen, and if some care was taken in finding out what particular soil and situation just suited it, it might do its wild character, as once in a while seen, some credit. It seems also in our Eastern nurseries to be an especial"favorite of the red spider, and this is against its chances of securing admiration. The writer of this paragraph grew one once to the height of 20 feet, which kept itself very beautiful. It grew on bottom land, which seemed to suit it very well, but one extra wet spring was too much for it in that situation, and it died. It seems to want some rather difficult and exact conditions to do well. - Ed. G. M.]
Mr. J. T. Lovell says: "says Permit me to say the Rocky Mountain Silver Spruce and Abies Menziesii are one and the same. Some years ago Messrs. Hargis and Sommer, Quincy, 111., who were the first I noticed to advertise or offer for sale "Rocky Mountain Silver Spruce,' sent uss a few specimens, stating they knew the tree by no other name. They since collected for us, among the mountains of Colorado, 1,000 plants of the same, and are all precisely the same as the Abies Menziesii received from different European nurseries, answer the description of Abies Menziesii, and I know are Abies Menziesii."
"If your correspondent has collected other plants than A. Menziesii for Rocky Mountain Silver Spruce, I am very sure he has made a mistake."
[There seems no doubt but that the tree meant by the "celebrated writer" is the Men-zies Spruce. It is a pity he had not a little more knowledge of these common things, or took some pains to find out before he published his book. It would have saved us and our correspondents much trouble in finding out his meaning. But now that it is found, we trust the misleading name of " Rocky Mountain Silver Spruce" will be dropped. There are firs and spruces in the Rocky Mountains quite as "silvery" as this, and then this particular one is not confined to the Rocky Mountains, but is far better known in connection with the Pacific coast. Above all it is already well known in all the nurseries of the world as the Menzies Spruce, a name short and convenient. - Ed. G. M.]
An Ohio correspondent says: "I am not a little surprised that any one conversant with this tree should class it as Menziesii - but perhaps I have never seen a true Menziesii - but of this Abies, with its silvery blue green foliage, I have gathered thousands from the forests "or wilds of the upper lakes, grown and sold them. In damp - not wet - soil, of a light loamy or sandy nature, it grows freely, and its gently drooping branches, with its usually perfect sharp conical form, makes it one of the beauties among evergreens."
[Our correspondent evidently refers to Abies alba, and a beautiful tree. - Ed.]
An Illinois correspondent who has paid much attention to the Rocky Mountain conifers, writes that Abies Menziesii is undoubtedly the tree referred to. He also adds that Colorado seed produces hardier and better plants every way, than seeds of the same trees from the Pacific. He regards this species as one of the handsomest to cultivate. He has had plants of Pinus ponderosa from Californian seeds killed, when those from the Rocky Mountains were quite unharmed.