This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In Philadelphia and many other parts of the eastern section, the month between the middle of November and middle of December was a very mild period for an American winter, and the garden in many respects was very agreeable. Coniferous trees, with their great variety of tints and habits were particularly beautiful, and since the introduction of colored-leaved evergreens, suggested possibilities that could not have been thought of years ago. There are now Golden Retinosporas, Arbor Vitses and other things, - bronzes, greys and purples, - which would make excellent combinations in the hands of good artists. Not only are these prettily tinted plants to be found among coniferse; but among Mahonias, Euonymuses and similar evergreen things are much material that would enter gaily into combinations for these elegant winter effects, when snow was not too deeply on the ground. Of course these evergreen gardens would need to have some protection from wind by plantations of larches or some other windbreak. All evergreens in a state of nature are more or less gregarious. They crowd together and shelter one another. They do not mind frost so much as they mind the wind.
When therefore we stick out plants like a Mahonia or a Yew, or an evergreen Euonymus, where the boreal blasts have full sweep against them, we subject them to tests nature never intended for them, and it is not fair when they succumb under such treatment to write to your favorite paper and tell the story of their tenderness under your own wrong. There are no doubt many gardens where shelter for beautiful evergreens cannot be provided, - but those who can have it, know how many hardy things there are.
The Gardener's Monthly has repeatedly called attention to the advantages of thick planting, not only for the shelter it affords in the winter season, but also because it enables one to have pretty scenes in trees, shrubs and garden effects at once, and without waiting a whole life time to see the full effects of the landscape gardener's plan. But this thick planting entails the duty of annual thinning out, and pruning, and this is a very good season to think about it.
Wherever any part of a tree does not grow freely, pruning of such weak growth, at this season, will induce it to push more freely next year. All scars made by pruning off large branches should be painted or tarred over, to keep out the rain. Many fruit trees become hollow, or fall into premature decay, from the rain penetrating-through old saw cuts made in pruning. Also„ the branches should be cut close to the trunk, so that no dead stumps shall be produced on the tree, and bark will readily grow over. Many persons cut off branches of trees in midsummer, in order that the returning sap may speedily clothe the wound with new bark, but the loss of much foliage in summer injures the tree, and besides painting the scar removes all danger of rotting at the wound.