This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I enclose some slips from a Long Island paper written by Elias Lewis, of Brooklyn, an active member of the L. I. Historical Society, who has made many trips through Long Island noting its geological aspects and collecting descriptions of the large trees found here. He has made a list of the varieties of trees and shrubs indigenous to our Island, and sketches of their habits and usefulness, and when completed and it is published will endeavor to send a copy to thee. This appears to be only a few extracts from his notes. The largest tree I believe found here is a Black Walnut, growing on the farm of the late W. C. Bryant, at Roslyn. It is twenty-eight feet in circumference, and is a monster. Its arms must extend to a radius of fifty feet from the body, and the branches would make very large trees of themselves. Our trees seldom rise very high in proportion to their size, except the Liriodendrons; and finer specimens I have no where seen than are found growing among us. Long Island is much better wooded than it was when first discovered. The settlers soon protected the scattered trees from the frequent fires, and soon learning the importance of preserving the young timber from the depredations of cattle, it has greatly increased in quality and quantity.
When timber is cut off in forty to sixty years, it grows thicker and faster; many pieces of woodland fenced in and properly cared for are worth from one to two hundred dollars per acre, while land immediately adjoining and cleared is not worth fencing. We have found no evergreen withstands the salt spray in proximity to the ocean, like the Austrian Pine and Poplars and Dutch Cork Elm among deciduous trees.
The following are the extracts referred to by Mr. Hicks from the Brooklyn Eagle:
"For timber the locust ranks among the most valuable of Long Island trees. It is abundant and widely distributed. It grows on almost every variety of soil, but best in the light or sandy loams. In Queens County, especially from Oyster Bay westward, this tree has been seriously damaged by insects, but from Stony Brook eastward to Wading River, in Suffolk County the insects have not appeared, and the trees are extremely thrifty and beautiful. Among the most persistent enemies of the locust are the caterpillar of the locust tree moths. This attacks old and large trees, boring the wood in winding avenues; a grub of the painted Clyrus beetle burrows in the young bark, devours its soft inner portions in the Pall and penetrates the wood in the Spring. Beside these is a small reddish caterpillar which lives in the pith of small branches, causing a swelling and spongi-ness of the branch, so that it readily breaks. For full and interesting details upon this subject we refer the reader to Dr. Harris' work on ' Insects Injurious to Vegetation' and to our 'Common Insects,' by Dr. Packard.
"Three Locust trees on the lawn around the residence of Daniel Bogart, Esq., of Roslyn, are one foot from the ground, nine, ten and twelve and a-half feet in girth. A still larger one in the dooryard of the late Elwood Valentine, at Glen Cove, was measured by Isaac Coles, Esq., and found to be thirteen feet in girth. Several nearly as large have been cut down or have fallen from decay at Glen Cove, Doxies, Sands Point and elsewhere during the last thirty years. These trees were among those imported from Virginia. It is believed that those on Mr. Bogart's ground, several now or recently at Sands Point and two on the dooryard of the old Thorne mansion at Little Neck, now occupied by Eugene Thorne, Esq., are of the first imported and planted on Long Island.
"The date must have been not far from the year 1700. It is not doubted, I believe, that they were first introduced by Captain John Sands', of Sands Point. He moved from Block Island to that place about 1695, and died in March, 1712".
"A few more facts illustrating the character of our forests may be of interest. Near the residence of Samuel B. Parsons, Esq., of Flushing, are two White Oaks, estimated by that gentleman to be as old as the celebrated Fox Oaks were at the time of their fall. Two Chestnut Oaks, on land of William T. Cocks, near Glen Cove, were found by Isaac Coles to measure fifteen feet in girth, respectively. A White Oak. on land of Mrs. Young, of Greenvale, is fourteen and three-fourths feet around, and a hickory near by is twelve feet in girth. The Post Oak is found by Mr. Elihu Miller, at Wading Riverr to measure from nine to eleven feet in girth-The Spanish or Pine Oak attains a large size in Kings County, and the so-called scrub oak grows in favorable soil to a height of twenty-five feet.. A tree of that species in Greenwood, is thirty feet high. The White and Black, or the Sweet Birch, the Hornbeam or Ironwood, the Dogwood, Sassafras, Tulip, Tupelo or Pepperidge, Sweet Gum, Red Maple, Red Mulberry, the Black Wild Cherry and Black Walnut, with many others abound in woodlands or in swamps and hedgerows. Mr. Miller called our attention to the value of the White Birch and Balsam Poplar, as among the deciduous trees which grow and flourish in the poorest soil.
Few trees are clad! in more beautiful foliage than the White Birch "The Button Ball, Platanus occidentalis, attain a large size. One at Wheatley, in Queens County, is twenty-one feet in girth and a few feet above the ground has five immense branches, their girth being respectively, ten, nine and one-half, eight, and seven feet. The trunk above the branches is thirteen feet around".