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.
Augusta Larned has a sympathetic letter in the Christian Register, on the deprivation which the poor of large cities endure in the absence of trees along the sidewalks. She thinks the efforts made to take the poor and their children, with the sick and the suffering to cool breathing places, very good, but believes that more might be done by bringing the cool health-giving trees to their doors. "The streets where the poor live are stony sepulchers in July and August" she truly says, and further that much of the foul air that now increases the death rate, would furnish wholesome food for the trees, and purify that which was left for human beings to breathe. She wonders why "flower missions" may not be developed to "tree planting missions," and why tree and plant distributors for poor people's bodies may not be as much honored as tract distributors for their souls. "It should be as good a work as sending red flannel shirts into Africa, or supplying cartloads of Bibles to the unlettered heathen," and she asks "if municipalities will not attend to keeping trees on the streets, why cannot private benevolence do the work." The suggestion is creditable to the lady's heart.
There are, however, difficulties in the way of keeping up trees on the side walks, either by private enterprise or the public bodies, but the difficulties could be easily overcome if some half dozen persons in each large town or city would take the matter seriously in hand.
Supposing most places are like Philadelphia., we will take it as a type. There is not a street in the city but was once lined with trees. This shows that every property owner desires to have trees. The time comes when public enemies destroy them. Horses are hitched to the trees, and they destroy many. Gas companies lay pipes carelessly, and the escaping gas destroys the roots. Telegraph men come along with their wires and top off trees wherever they please. Insects accumulate, and weaken the trees. The tree pruner lops off the tops, and they are short lived. The public wants the shade, but the property owner is left to battle for their protection with the whole community against him. Now this should be altered. Trees are for the common good as well as for the good of the property owner. The owner should be compelled to plant the sidewalk trees when the street is first opened for public use; but after that the municipality should have the care of them, and it should be made the duty of the Committee on Highways to look after the care and preservation of the shade trees along the city streets as well as to the paving and other matters connected with the road way. Of course there would be little inconveniences connected with such a plan.
For some reason one might like to cut his tree down, or cut away or not cut away the top, but no doubt the Road Commissioners would be accommodating, and the evils and inconveniences would be far less than now.
But how can such laws be brought about? Not by the writing or the reading of this article, not by writing a letter to some daily paper, not by talking in the parlor or on the cars that such a law ought to be; but by the actual drawing up ot a law to that effect, and impressing its importance on those who make the laws. If Miss Larned could interest a half dozen good practical working citizens to take an interest in the matter, and work hard until the law was passed, her "tree mission" would soon be a success everywhere.