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.
S. S. P., Philadelphia, asks: "Can you tell me who is responsible for the planting of evergreens in our public squares located in the built up portion of the city, as they do not seem to learn by experience, continuing to plant the same class of evergreens only to have them eke out a miserable existence of a few months, to the great disgust of those, who feel an interest in the ornamentation of the squares. As you are well aware, evergreens never have done well planted in our city, or in New York, Baltimore or Boston, but nevertheless our city fathers continue to plant them, without any regard to the waste of money it entails, or their utter unsuitableness. Perhaps you can also tell me from what class of men, are selected those to whom the planting is entrusted, from the manner in which the holes are dug and the trees tumbled in, 1 have been led to suppose they had been educated as grave-diggers, so admirably do they seem suited for the purpose. Certainly they never before planted trees, which requires the greatest care if they are expected to succeed, and you can well appreciate how a lover of aboriculture feels when he sees his favorites crowded into small holes, just large enough to receive them, and left without any support to be blown about by the winds, before they are able to take care of themselves.
Now, I do not propose being critical, but merely ask for information; may I trouble you for light?"
[The planting in the city squares is done by the Commissioner of City Property; and is usually carried out under his immediate supervision or direction. He probably does the best he knows how, but he cannot be expected to know whether a man is 'a grave digger,' or a skilled gardener. If the citizens of Philadelphia, or any other largo city cannot invent a plan by which those who are fitted for the several offices shall get into them, they have little right to complain when the only plan they can think of does not work as they wish. Under the present system those who are already in office decide who shall be the candidates for vacant positions, and it is but human nature that friends, irrespective of fitness should be the lucky persons. To suppose that those who thus decide who shall be city commissioner should give the office to a stranger who knows something to a personal friend who does not know, is not in accordance with every day experience. So far as Philadelphia is concerned it is a matter of surprise that, considering the system under which the office-holders are nominated by other office-holders, they generally do so well; and it is an argument that there is more good in humanity generally, than it gets credit for.
In this case of the city squares we fancy the present commissioner does quite as well as any other gentleman would do elected under such a system and we are not disposed to criticise him harshly when it is the systemof nominations that is to be blamed for all this scandalous waste. Bad as the squares are now, we have seen them very much worse than they have been the past few years. Evergreens would grow very well in the city squares if half the deciduous trees were taken out, as they ought to be. Neither grass nor evergreens will grow where the whole earth is a mass of roots from mature trees. - Ed. G. M].