This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Happy is the man who understandingly communes with nature, and, " Finds tongues in trees, bocks in the runn'ng brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything."
So wise, and happy a mortal, would intuitively love to linger beneath the boughs of the goodly thorn. Neither the historical oak, classical myrtle, laurel, or palm, has a more romantic renown, than clings to the Hawthorn, of poetical and legendary fame. The tender swain seems to find love's elysium under the trysting tree, and thus passionately pleads:
" Bonnie Mary Hay, will ye gang W' me When the sun's in the west, to the hawthorn free? To the hawthorn tree, in the bonnieberry den? And I'll tell you Mary, how I love you then."
As the seductive theme seems to run smoothly, I am tempted to quote Lauder's observations on the subject. Alluding to Gilpin's remarks on the hawthorn: " Even in a picturesque point of view, which is the point of view in which he always looks at nature, the hawthorn is not only an interesting object by itself, but produces a most interesting combination, or contrast; as things may be, when grouped with other trees. We have seen it hanging over rocks with deep shadows under its foliage; or shooting from the sides in the most fantastic forms, as if to gaze at its own image in the deep pool below. We have seen it contrasting its tender green, and delicate leaves, with the brighter and deeper | masses of the holly and alder. We have seen it growing under the shelter, though not under the shade of some stately oak; embodying the idea of beauty protected by strength. Our eyes have often caught the motion of the busy mill-wheel, over which its blossoms were clustering. We have seen it growing grandly on the green of the village school, the great object of general attraction to the young urchins, who played in idle groups about its roots; and, perhaps the only thing remaining to be recognized when the school boy returns as a man.
We have seen its aged boughs overshadowing one-half of some peaceful woodland cottage; its foliage half concealing the window, whence the sounds of happy content and cheerful mirth came forth. We know the lively season, - When the milkmaid singeth blythe, And the mower whets his scythe, And every shepherd tells his ta!e Under the hawthorn in the dale;' and with these, and a thousand such associations as these, we cannot but feel emotions of no ordinary nature when we behold this beautiful tree."
Such an example of exquisite word painting by so experienced a master, is exceedingly beautiful. Its equal is only to be found in the consummate limning of gentle Goldsmith, whose marvelous touches of tenderness and pathos, always reach the heart. It would hardly be possible to draw a fairer picture of men and things, as he saw and portrayed them, in fewer words than the following: -
" The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whispering lovers made."
Could your correspondent only find language half as sentimental, while essaying the subject of hawthorn growing, he would undoubtedly enlist a legion of tree lovers, eager to shoulder a spade, and earnestly demonstrate their zeal at planting. To espouse a cause so conducive to health and happiness, would be eminently proper for all " fair women and brave men." And the much neglected, though very comely hawthorn, is the companionable, and debonair little tree, I desire to interest all good folks in fostering. Both ethereal and pastoral pleasures will naturally combine to enthuse our hearts, while peacefully strolling among the wildlings, along the forest margins, where they too often blossom and blush unseen. And with unalloyed happiness, thus blending with recreative joys, while selecting and marking the various kinds when in full foliage for identification and removal afterwards, will be a labor of love, far more refreshing and satisfactory than we often engage in.
Ohio seems to be abundantly stocked with many wild species; especially in Franklin and Wyandot counties. In the last named county may be found some very charming landscape sketches, where many fine examples of crab and thorn growths may be seen in all their various contours of graceful beauty.
A mind sensitive to the charms of nature, which happily feels and appreciates the pure delights of a quiet ramble through primeval forest glades, dingle and dell, will there find much to his heart's satisfaction.
Snugly ensconsed in the cosy corner of a copse, the writer discovered there specimens of remarkably large old thorns: Crataegus coccinea, C. prunifolia, and C. cordata. They were huge and grotesquely shaped, gray with usnea, lichen and moss, and were altogether as striking in aspect as hoary old time could make them. Looking upon the sylvan picture, I thought with what ecstatic feelings Ruskin would have viewed it, whose admiration for natural beauty, and florid descriptions thereof, are so remarkably rich in original metaphor and gorgeous imagery.
Then, again, there were others spruce and gay with foliage and flowers, richly scenting the morning air, " O'er fell and fountain sheen. O'er moor and mountain green."
The recollections of old familiar friends, like well-remembered trees, are happily lasting, and leave indelible impressions of bygone times.
One of the best specimens of Crus-galli, or cock-spur thorn in Wyandot county, is growing upon the lawn of one of the aesthetic citizens of Upper Sandusky, on the corner of South street and Sandusky avenue. Taken altogether as regards size and symmetry, it is unique, and no fairer scene indicative of domestic bliss or social friendship, can well be imagined than the circle of happy friends often gathered beneath its ample shade. There is also in the same grounds a handsome bush of C. oxyacantha or English hawthorn, of both which the jolly warm-hearted proprietor, and his amiable helpmate are equally proud.
These very beautiful bushy little trees are of all deciduous kinds, as well adapted for ornamentation as any the landscape gardener would wish to handle. With the use of the pruning knife or shears, they may be made to assume any desirable form; or, if left to their own natural bent will please every eye susceptible to the impressions. of arborescent beauty. Botanists enumerate some twenty-four distinct species with several varieties belonging to most of them, natives of the United States and Canada. Annexed are a dozen kinds which the enthusiastic amateur may easily find where hawthorns generally grow. To wit: C. parvifolia, a minor of but three or four feet high, while its dapper companion C. nana rises from four to five feet high, and is slightly over-topped by its six or seven feet compeer, C. virginiana Ascending in altitude from ten to thirty-five feet, are the majors; C. spathulata, C. flava, C. apiifolia C. crus-galli, C. salicifolia, C. macrantha, C. coccinea, C. prunifolia, and C. ovalifolia.
There are also a number of foreign species and hybrids, many of which are highly ornamental, and may be had at most of the first-class nurseries.
In taking leave of this very agreeable subject, let me, if possible, induce the kind and patient reader to plant at least one hawthorn, in some suitable spot, where it may remain an organic memorial of the planter, after he has gone from the glory of this world, whose fashion so soon passeth away.