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.
The professional tree-trimmer of large cities usually waits till winter before he commences his destructive practices; but we note many trees about the Philadelphia streets are being beheaded while the leaves are on, and probably the same spirit of progression is rife elsewhere. Why these trees should thus be treated no one seems to know. In our inquiries, we have merely the answer that they look ' pooty." Once in a while a tree may have been selected for a street tree that is too tall for the spot, and though we hasten it to the grave by heavy pruning, it is too tall for a narrow sidewalk and must be cut back. If these trimmers knew anything at all they would know how to cut off a large branch. But few of them do. Either huge strips of bark are peeled off below where the branch is cut, or the branch itself is split down through the middle. The man who knows his business cuts a little on one side before he saws or chops on the other, and the cut-away top falls without splitting or injuring the part that is left.
It is very often difficult for the man ignorant of gardening, to tell the amount of gardening skill there is in the man he employs; but he may safely discharge the fellow who does not know how to cut away a large branch without injuring the part that is left.
A pretty idea, developed the past year or so, is to have colored-leaved shrubs, kept short by pruning, formed into masses like Coleuses and other bedding-plants. They can be taken up every year, so as to make new combinations, if desired. Blood-leaved Beech, Variegated Althaea, Golden Honeysuckle and Golden Spiraeas, are favorites in this style of gardening; and there is the additional advantage that the beds do not look so naked in winter.
It is now so well understood that we may have an immense addition to our list of hardy evergreens if we will only shelter them, that we expect all those who love these varied winter favorites will take measures this season to plant shelter belts in exposed places, or else to set the common hardy trees like Norway and Hemlock Spruce, and Scotch, Austrian and White Pines thickly about, so that the rarer ones can be put between them.
Almost all young trees are tenderer than they are when older. It is therefore no test of the hardiness of some rare thing, that a small plant is killed in the winter. Silver Firs almost always get killed back for a few years in this section, unless protected, but yet gain a little in strength. After they are ten years old they will endure our hardest weather. So Spanish Chestnuts, English Walnuts, and many others, will die back considerably, until they get strength. Therefore, protect any valued young plant, if possible, no matter how hardy its reputation may be.
Nice smooth lawns are great attractions. If not level and smooth, earth may he filled in the hollow places at this season, and raked smooth and level. If not over two or three inches deep, the grass beneath will come through and make a sod before next summer; but if deeper, a little grass seed may be sown.
In treating hedges of Osage, Honey Locust, or other deciduous plants, we like the plan of letting them grow as they will for two or three years, and then, when the stems are a couple of inches thick, saw to the ground. A mass of strong sprouts then pushes up, which can be pruned into shape the next summer. Where hedges are to be thus made, or older ones have been neglected, they can be cut down to the ground any time in the fall or winter season. It seems that in spite of all that has been said, Osage Orange and Honey Locust are the best plants for farm fences, or where any very strong fence is desired. Berberry, Silver Thorn, and Pyrus japonica are the next best - indeed, except that it takes rather longer to make a good fence, the last named would be as good as the two first in all except cheapness.