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.
In two publications, not yet a year old, I see the Siberian arborvitae referred to as a native of Siberia, and in one of them it is stated that the oak leaved mountain ash is in reality a variation of the White Beam tree of Europe.
I have grown thousands on thousands of trees from the Siberian arborvitae, the seeds gathered from trees standing remote from any American arborvitae in fruit, and in every case have found four-fifths of the seedlings undis-tinguishable from the American arborvitae, except that, on the whole, they would appear a little more compact in the block after being transplanted than the American ; the remainder would partake more of the appearance of the Siberian, so much so in one instance that we selected about eight hundred from a seeding of over fifty thousand, and set them in a block away from other arborvitaes. Nearly all of this eight hundred had much the appearance of Siberian, but did not grow uniform ; some of them were quite dwarf. Finally we did not find one in the whole lot that we considered worthy of propagation, as being in any respect better than the Siberian.
We have grown a large quantity of mountain ash trees, both from the weeping mountain ash and the oak leaved mountain ash. The seedlings from the weeping mountain ash could in no way be distinguished from seedlings grown from the common European mountain ash, where the two stood side by side in seed drills, the plants from, say, five to fifteen inches. I offered Mr. Phoenix the ten rows grown from the weeping if he could distinguish them from the common; there was not a weeper among them, nor any way to distinguish them from the common.
I have grown many thousands of seedlings from seeds of the oak-leaved mountain ash, and in one sowing of at least twenty thousand trees thought we had got something nice. I was so selfish as to go and select every promising tree out of the lot before digging them. These were planted for shade trees along the inside of the fence of one of our nurseries. They have stood there nearly, or quite, twenty years, and stand there now; I have grown our mountain ash seedlings from them for many years, yet never raised a White Beam from them, nor a mountain ash as good as the oak-leaved, or differing from the common type of the European mountain ask enough to make it worthy of propagation by grafting or budding.
I am sorry to be compelled to confess that all my attempts to produce something nice from sports or hybrids have been absolute failures. Whatever I have produced of value has been produced by sheer accident, and in nearly every instance from common seeds sown in the nursery beds or nursery rows.
You may recollect a conversation I had with you and promised to raise the green variety of the black spruce to see if it would produce both the green and glaucous varieties; I have done so several times, but in every case have the green variety pure, although I saw the seeds collected myself from trees standing near several other kinds of spruces. I sent cones to Dr. Engelmann several years ago, but although the cones were larger and somewhat different from the glaucous variety he could find no botanical difference. By the green variety I mean the red spruce of the nurseries.
[A work "just issued," which should refer to the Siberian arborvitae as a distinct species, or as a native of Siberia, must be regarded as a work of very poor standing. An author who, in these days, could make such a statement should lay aside his pen forever. - Ed. G. M].