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.
(Continued from page 185.)
Between Micanopy (Mick-an-o-py) and Gainesville, a broad, unbroken prairie-like tract, probably the bed of a former lake, and composed of soil of inky blackness and exceeding richness, is crossed by the stage road uniting the two places. During the olden time - the days of slavery - these black, and in some cases semi-' marsh lands were made to yield large crops of sugar cane, an industry which at the present time, is quite in abeyance, but that will probably be revived when labor and capital become more abundant in the State. A similar soil, though in a very different position was found on the Chattahooche river about the third of a mile above the present western terminus of the Florida Central railroad. Here the jet black earth covered a low hill, or bluff of limestone, the white rock frequently appearing through it. A few acres of this black land has been cleared of the heavy timber, and had been cultivated in corn, but the forest still claimed most of it. Along the fences, bordering the upper line of this cleared field, and for a short distance up and down the river is the home, and only native habitat known of the Torreya Taxifolia, a beautiful evergreen tree.
This evergreen has been successfully grown elsewhere, and fortunately so. for it is not unlikely that the rich ground upon which it lives and thrives, probably partially formed of the decomposed limestone beneath, will before many years be made to yield a profit to its owner in the direction of crops of corn, cotton, or upland rice, and then the rare tree will stand a fair chance of disappearing from its native haunts, its own little Eden, its heaven given home.
It is very much to be desired - and this article was largely written for the purpose of saying so - that this unique Florida product may meet with better treatment and a better fate.
It appears to grow so easily, numbers of the young plants being noticed around the old ones, that it would seem as if it might be saved if allowed only the fence borders for its occupancy, where, given proper protection, it would grow up thickly and soon form an ornamental hedge. Or better still it would not be surmising greatly amiss to suppose that the owner or owners of the property might make the ground pay them a large profit by devoting it in part at least to the propagation of this handsome tree than they could realize from it if it were wholly planted in someone or more of the Southern staples. The market for the plant, as material for garden hedges and for lawn decoration, would be the entire line of the gulf coast from Cedar Keys to Matamoras which as it becomes more and more closely populated will be likely to increasingly indulge in ornamental flower and tree culture.
As one interested in botany, I throw out these suggestions with the hope that should they happen to reach the notice of the one or more proprietors of the Torreya covered tract they may give them serious consideration.
The ordinary Southern tourist, 01 rather the Florida visitor, is one of the rapid kind, and does his travelling by the shortest and quickest routes. For the few who have a little more leisure at their disposal, the writer would advise the trial of a trip over the central road to Chattahoochee Landing, where the Torreya trees may be seen, and northward up the rock-walled river, to Euphala, or the manufacturing city of Columbus at either of which connection may be made with the through lines of rail. Or, after a call at Lake City and Tallahassee, a stoppage might be made by the traveller at the pretty and quiet town of Quincy where he would be certain to receive the best of treatment and there await the arrival of a steamer bound southward on the Chattahooche. This down river ride I suggest, that a visit may be made to the town of Appalachicola, which, though I have not seen it, I conceive must have particular attractions of some kind, as it was, and may be yet, the home of the botanist Chapman, whose manual of Southern plants is known the whole country over.