This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The picture effects to be obtained by color in foliage are familiar to all who have studied nature. The Silver Poplars, quivering in the lightest breeze, relieve the more sombre Maples on the mountain sides. The light-green Tulip Tree and the darker Chestnut or Hickory are found together, while the White Spruce and the Hemlock aid to show off' the beauty of each other.
The Autumn tints of America are a joy of beauty to foreigners, and a continual surprise to our own people. They are so by their strong contrast; the scarlet and the golden, the green and the white, the veined and the tinted, are all massed together, and the result is a picture of indescribable beauty.
These contrasts may be obtained in the Spring and Summer, as well as the Autumn, by the planting of trees in which they are constant. Gradations of color may give a harmony which is pleasing, and distance may be gained by using lighter tints for the back-ground, and darker for the nearer trees, but the true test is the expression of pleased surprise uttered by the novice or connoisseur on entering a forest or a lawn where these strong contrasts are found.
Some thirty-five years ago, on returning from a trip over the Alleghanies, in June, and then again on the Pennsylvania hills in all the glories of October, I was so impressed with the value of strong contrasts, that I aimed for them as far as possible in planting my own lawn. The result is satisfactory; and now that the trees so planted have been growing twenty-five to thirty-five years, the effect upon visitors proves that nature is right, and that it is always safe to follow her.
The general form of my lawn is that of an amphitheatre, of which the house is the center. The largest trees are on the outside, graded down to smaller ones on the inside. While immediately around the house is clear turf, upon which robin, catbird and thrush have their love passages and mock fights, like the performers in a Roman arena. I sit upon my piazza and watch them, thinking how happy they are, with no real estate in fee, and no taxes to pay, while the changing tints of a Summer afternoon gild or shade the quivering foliage of the trees before me. The contrasted colors form a picture worthy of the pencil of Cropsey, and when the sun comes, after a shower, the pendant drops sparkle like diamonds upon gold and emeralds. Perhaps the finest effect of these contrasting colors is just before a glowing sunset, when the shadows are thrown long upon the grass, and the leaves seem almost transparent with green, scarlet and gold.
It may interest some to know what trees are planted together to obtain these effects, and I will endeavor to describe them, as my eye rests upon them from the piazza, for they are nearly all within my view from that point.
The outside lines are Stone Pine, Hemlock, Norway Spruce and Austrian Pine, forty to fifty feet high. The • color of the Stone Pine is a bright, refreshing green; the Norway Spruce is darker, the Hemlock still darker, and darkest of all is the Austrian Pine. Inside of these, two Lindens, one hundred feet high and sixty feet in diameter of foliage, stand guard, while one of them holds before her a grown-up child - a Silver Weeping Linden fifty feet high. The light-tinted Virgilia, fifty feet high and fifty feet broad, with its full racemes of snow-white flowers, is growing at the side of the Purple Beech, fifty feet high, whose dark tints are again relieved by the lighter foliage and pure white blossoms of a double flowering Cherry, which covers a diameter of fifty feet, and whose trunk, twelve feet in circumference, shows its remarkable age. The blue-green arms of the Weeping Larch, arms twenty-two feet long, on a body ten feet high, stretch out horizontally on either side, one of them grasping toward a Yellow Magnolia and the other resting upon a mass of Golden Yew. Against this last is a Magnolia Lenné, whose crimson petals just show their silver lining.
Near the dwelling, the Chinese Cypress stands sentinel, upright as a grenadier, symmetrical as an arrow, clothed with foliage soft as the green feathers of a bird, and a shade of pea green more delicate and refreshing than that of any tree I have. Its shape, a diameter of twelve feet to a height of thirty-five, is that of a true cone.
The Nordmann Fir, thirty feet high, stands alone in its grandeur. Its limbs are regular and symmetrical and its foilage compact. In the early season, the very light tint of the young-growth against the darkness of the old is very charming, like gold upon ebony, or like the cheek of a fair child against the dusky one of its parent.
From this varied foliage, the eye wanders to the lighter color of an Atlas Cedar, forty feet high, and to the unequalled charming lavender tints of the Engelmann Spruce, relieved against the darkness of an Austrian Pine. The blueish-green of a Larch, fifty feet high, is contrasted on one side with the dark-green of Euonymus, clothed in the Autumn with its brilliant scarlet berries, while on the other side stand the lighter Lilacs and the graceful curves of the Weeping Sopkora. The long arms of a Gingko, forty feet high, extend protectingly over the flowers of a Red Horsechestnut at its side. The light green of Cephalotaxus has the dark steel tint of Picea nobilis on one side, and on the other the rich dark uprightness of the Irish Yew. A light Weeping Beech, thirty feet high and forty feet broad, and a dark Nordmann Fir, thirty feet high stand near each other. Light Weeping Hemlock and dark erect Yew stand together. White Lilac and dark Euonymus flank the porte-cochere. A Cutleaved Beech, twenty-five feet high and twenty-five feet diameter, with its symmetrical cone and its exquisite refinement of foliage stand by the darker Dogwood, clothed in white. A Laburnum produces both purple and yellow flowers.
Erect Yew and Irish Yew, Picea compacta and Pichta, Pinus monticola and Picea firma go in couples.
(To be Continued).