This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
One of the problems which have long engaged the attention of horticulturists is that of a suitable plant for both ornamental and useful hedges; one that shall be characterized by its easy growth, strength, and durability, and that is capable of withstanding not only the attacks of animals but of injurious insects also. Some of the different species of Coniferae make beautiful ornamental hedges, but practically are of little use when exposed to the attacks of animals. While some among deciduous trees such as the Hawthorn and Osage Orange, though strong and hardy enough to resist the onslaught of animals frequently succumb to the more silent attacks of insects by which they often become infested. Hence it needs no prophet to foretell that the plant which combines in the greatest degree the different characteristics I have mentioned must be the favored one.
In looking over the nursery stock on the grounds of Mr. James Craib of this city in company with that gentleman, a short time since, my attention was attracted to a fine lot of seedling Cydonia Japonica plants, and on remarking upon their fine healthy appearance and uniformity of growth, Mr. C. informed me that he was raising them for hedge plants, and it was a subject that he had been experimenting on for some time, and to show how well he had succeeded invited me to go with him to a distant part of the grounds and examine a specimen hedge of seedlings. This hedge appeared to be about 150 feet long. The plants which had been transplanted were four years old from the seed; had been trimmed as needed, are now about three feet in height and the same in width. The plants are generally of uniform size, of robust habit and are now bearing a large quantity of fruit, of various shades of color; some are of a light green, others tinted like a ripe Apricot while not a few resemble Seckel pears. The foliage is dark green and the hedge as compact as any one could desire, and not a scale or bug of any kind to be seen on it.
Here I remarked you have a " bonanza," and one that requires working and that ought to be made public, for this is the kind of hedge that we have been waiting for so long.
Perhaps on reading this some may smile and say what is there new about a Cydonia Pyrus Japonica hedge. I answer true to a certain extent there is not, for I have been familiar with the plant ever since I can remember anything about plants. Neither is there anything new about "electricity," except in its scientific application to the uses of the present time ; this is an age of progress and none of us are too old to learn. I have seen much larger hedges of Cydonia than this one, but they were very much older. Mr. Charlton a neighbor of Mr. C. has a magnificent one which in its season is a perfect blaze of blossoms, and what has kept this plant from being more generally adopted has been the supposed difficulty in raising the plants. What is claimed for this seedling hedge, and which to me is manifest, is its quickness of growth, its sturdy character and fecundity in early Summer. Mr. C. tells me it is a mass of bloom ranging through nearly all the gradations of color, from a bright scarlet to the various shades of orange to yellow and creamy white.
If as I am im-formed this hedge is but four years old from the seed and is now, as any one can see who may choose to visit his nursery, loaded with fruit, his estimate of the crop being more than twenty bushels, the advantages of raising the plants from seed will be readily understood, especially as they can be raised with the same facility that apple seedlings can. The usual mode has been to raise the plant from root cuttings, but this is a tedious process especially in unskilled hands. When the fact is taken into consideration that nearly all plants that are raised from seed are not only of quicker growth but stronger and more durable than those raised from cuttings, it becomes obvious that if by raising the plants from seed at less expense and with half the trouble a good hedge can be obtained in four years, whereas by the old method of root cuttings it takes from seven to eight years to obtain the same results, the new one will receive the most favor. If these seedlings continue to bear fruit, as they now promise, and the fruit can ever be utilized as an article of commerce, it will become doubly valuable as a hedge plant.
Having seen and grown the Cydonia Japonica as an ornamental plant in various parts of the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, I can testify as to its hardiness and adaptability as a hedge plant in nearly all parts of the United States and Canada, and doubt not that it could be made to succeed even on the plains or wherever water can be obtained to irrigate when necessary.