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.
The French habit of trimming and cutting back trees in parks and gardens is to be avoided. But there are many effects to be attained by the knife, which deserve consideration. The Catalpa is not a comely tree until it is quite old, then, as one may see in Princeton, N. J., it is as fine as an old Horse Chestnut. But by cutting it back every year to the ground it sends up a mulitude of stems bearing immense leaves of a bright green, which give a very striking effect.
The American Balsam Fir, is when young, one of the most charming of evergreens, but with age it becomes bare-legged and scraggy, and can be made seemly only by being at the back of plantations. But, when the tree has reached twelve or fifteen feet in height, if its top be excised, the side branches will fill out and give a pleasing effect.
The Acer tartaricum or Tartarian Maple, does not produce a good effect in our climate if allowed to have its own way. But by reducing it to a bush, by annual severe pruning, the young shoots will be brilliant with leaves and color.
The Salix lucida is almost worthless as a tree; but if cut back every year and never allowed to grow more than twelve feet in height, it furnishes one of the most satisfactory shrubs that can be planted near the house. The leaves will be large, fresh and brilliant.
Let me commend the Ligustrum Japonicum, or Japan Privet, to all lovers of fine shrubs. Its leaf-beauty is eminently satisfying, and it should supplant the common Privet.
I am glad to see in your January number, an article upon the Retinisporas. They are the very evergreens required in small grounds, door-yards and in cemeteries. I have had every kind mentioned in European catalogues, and have found them perfectly hardy without protection, at Peekshill, which is forty miles north of New York City. R. squarrosa, is apt to be a little cut by the Winter, but by slight clipping in Spring it soon regains its soft and misty appearance. R. obtusa and R. pisifera, should be planted with room enough, as they become fine trees. They are rapid growers, and hardy. R. obtusa is a kind of substitute for Lawson's Cypress, which will not endure our Winters. The R. lycopo-doides is all that your correspondent says; but in some respect the R. leptoclada is more curious, though perhaps not so beautiful. Its branches are like narrow fronds of fern. Its color is yellowish-brown green, and it is utterly unlike any other evergreen.
By the name R. filifera I have a species. It should be in every collection. Its branches are thread like, and fall over gracefully, with fountain-like effect. There is a dwarf kind, R. fili-formis, which yields a beautiful mat, and might be employed as an edging.
I have long ago abandoned box as an edging. It will not endure our Winters without gaps. I have fallen in love with Arborvitae Tom Thumb, as a plant for borders; it is hardy, dwarf, bears clipping well, is beautiful in Winter, and if not in too rich a soil keeps its fine foliage without apostatizing to the original species.
I commend to all lovers of the Belgian or Ghent Azaleas, the A. mollis. It is a great accession to the month of May or even June. It blooms before the common Ghent Azalea, is twice its size of blossom, has considerable range of color, and every year adds new shades. "With me it has proved hardy for the past three or four years and is a great favorite. I marvel that so few people know anything about the hardy Azaleas. They are the glory of June. Not so gorgeous as the Rhododendron, they are more hardy, easier to manage, and if they were only evergreen, would run a race with their great brothers with a fair chance of coming out equal.
But I must stop. When a man begins to talk about his trees and shrubs, only a mother talking about her children can equal his untiring loquacity.