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.
Many years ago Michaux, the botanist, suggested the following method of utilizing a very common shrub, or small tree, found everywhere throughout South New Jersey, and bearing the name of Quercusilicifolia, or to adopt Michaux's term, Q. Banisteri. the holly-leaved, bear, or been accorded American lawn planting material.
Grand as the oaks are, we turn to the elms as capable of furnishing us lawn planting of equal if different importance. Here we have Roessel's golden elm (Ulmus campestris aurea), a small elm, as elms go, but bearing leaves solidly and beautifully suffused with yellow. It grows, of course, nearer the house, in accordance with its smaller habit. Ulmus vimipalis is another slow growing elm. It is, however, distinct and elegant, with small rough leaves and numerous smooth, slender, twig-like branches, which are even somewhat pendulous, like those of the famous cut-leaved birch. Ulmus campestre Berardi is a beautiful miniature elm of slender growth and pyramidal habit, with deeply and delicately cut foliage. There is also a weeping variety of much rarity, called Ulmus rugosa pendula, with large rough leaves. The Siberian elm (Ulmus parviflora) is an old elm, perhaps, but quite new on our lawns. On the lawn in question, there is a fine specimen, with upright habit and dark, slightly curled small leaves, which remain green far into winter.
I know, indeed, of hardly one true deciduous tree that stays green as late.
A great contrast with these smaller forms is afforded in the same genus by Ulmus fulva pendula. It stands in a prominent position, where it can be seen against a background of sky without injuring valuable views from the house. The position is selected, of course, opposite a slight break in the boundary of foliage. The leaves of this slippery elm are not unlike those -of the common American elm, except that they are far more remarkably weeping and persistent in hanging on the branches late in fall. American elms, we know, are somewhat remarkable for their dull fading tints which appear, during some seasons, as early as mid-August. The special characteristic after all, of this weeping elm, is the way it throws about great far-reaching branches, which curve out and downward in a very grand fashion. Such a vigorous erratic growth, however, needs curbing, and the pruning knife must be used at times remorselessly. I have to designate just what weeping elm I mean, for there is another well known and choice variety of European origin and equally pendulous habit, called the Camperdown weeping elm, which is by no means rapid growing.
Many years ago Michaux, the botanist, suggested the following method of utilizing a very common shrub, or small tree, found everywhere throughout South New Jersey, and bearing the name of Quercusilicifolia, or to adopt Michaux's term, Q. Banisteri. the holly-leaved, bear, or black scrub oak. Our distinguished botanist says: "The presence of this oak is considered an infallible index of a barren soil, and is usually met with on dry sandy land mingled with gravel. It is too small to be adapted to any use; but near Goshen, on the road to New York, I observed an attempt to turn it to advantage, by planting it about the fields for the purpose of strengthening the fences. Though this experiment seemed to have failed, I believe the bear oak might be usefully adopted in the Northern States for hedges, which might be formed from twenty to twenty-four inches thick by sowing the acorns in three parallel rows. They would be perfected in a short time, would be agreeable to the eye,and probably would be sufficient to prevent the passage of horses and cows."
During the past summer, inquiries as to the use of Q. ilicifolia, as suggested, were made in the two localities of New Jersey where the hedge is the accepted mode of fencing, but without receiving satisfactory answers. The impression, however, in both places seemed to be that the bear oak had not yet been tried as a hedge plant.
An experiment to determine this small oak's value for hedging purposes could be tried so easily, and a conclusion could so quickly be reached, that I should suppose the simple presentation of the Michaux suggestion would be sufficient to induce several of our more enterprising nurserymen, or farmers, to become experimenters with it. As the plant is an abundant bearer of fruit, there would be no difficulty of obtaining all the seed needed.