Too much cannot be said in favor of evergreen trees. They are beautiful objects, give depth and background to all growth in Summer, and are a blessed delight in Winter, either as the only bit of green in a brown and desolate landscape or as a contrast in the snowy scene when the great branches bend under their load of white.
Evergreens, particularly large ones, are difficult to make live, unless they have the sandy soil they love. In localities where the soil is of clay, it will be rather a struggle to get them well started. This done, however, they rarely die.
In planting evergreens, it is a good plan and well worth the trouble, to make a hole about three feet square and put in the bottom of this a good loam, to which a quantity of sand and very old manure has been added, then a layer of three or four inches of earth; plant the trees and fill in the hole with more earth of the same composition, watering well, and the tree is almost sure to live and make rapid growth. A little extra digging in making the hole to receive the tree, so that the roots have encouragement to put forth into good loose soil, will make the greatest difference in the growth of the tree.
Leaf-mould and old sods which have been finely chopped with the spade are the best fertilizers to use when planting ever* greens, but if these cannot be had, the properly prepared earth, taking care that no manure comes in contact with the roots, will be sufficient.
There is a great difference of opinion as to the best time for transplanting ever-greens. Many persons say, that they should only be set out in the Spring, while others contend that the last two weeks in August and the first two in September is the proper time. I have set them out at all times from early April until the middle of September, but in taking young pines, hemlocks, and cedars from the woods, have had the best success by transplanting them when the first new shoots appeared. In February of this year, however, the men transplanted some beautiful tall pointed cedars from the woods into the Lily garden, the trees being moved with great balls of frozen earth about the roots. They were all from fifteen to twenty feet in height, and of eight but one died, and this occurred probably because the entire work on this tree was not finished the same day. Having large, heavy roots, it was only possible to dig them up with a ball of frozen earth. These trees give such an appearance of age to this garden that no one could imagine it was not yet eighteen months old.
Some of the native evergreens, the white pine, hemlock and the many varieties of cedars, as they are called by the uninitiated, - junipers I believe they really are, - transplant easily and are to be found in many localities.
The cedar, growing tall and pointed, is regular in shape, as if sheared yearly, and is an excellent substitute for the cypress of Southern Europe. Landscape architects have learned to appreciate its value, and are now using these trees with fine effect. They have a perfect columnar growth and take the place of the handsome pyramidal evergreens of rare varieties used in formal gardens. Young cedars have a tap root, and when taken from inland pastures, which are their natural haunt, will generally be found growing closely against a large stone or rock. It seems that the seed falling there finds shelter from the hot sun, and severe cold, and that the young shoot is thus better able to struggle through the first year or two. A tree five or six feet in height will generally be easier to transplant than one of but three feet, for the tap root will have been absorbed in the larger tree. I have spent many interesting mornings first selecting my trees, and then watching them dug up.
Standard Retinispora Plumosa August twenty-seventh.
Evergreens are more difficult to transplant than deciduous trees, for they usually grow where it is stony. But if you once get the tree out with all its roots, keep it from drying up, and plant it carefully, it is almost sure to live. Four good sized trees, say six feet high, are as many as two men can dig up in a morning. The larger trees, as already noted, can be successfully moved only in Winter, and it is a day's work for three or four men to get out and plant one tree, unless the conditions are unusually favorable.
When planting shrubberies with evergreen trees and shrubs for a screen, they can be placed closely together at first and thinned out as they grow. I have two or three such shrubberies, from which it seems always possible to take out an evergreen and a shrub with benefit to those remaining, so quickly do they grow.
The Arbor vitae pyramidalis, of close growth and lending itself easily to shearing, is one of the hardiest and most satisfactory evergreens for formal planting.
The Irish juniper is another beautiful pointed tree with blue-green foliage, but it is not hardy in severe Winters. Last Autumn I protected mine, first by spreading a heavy mulch of stable manure around them and then by driving three cedar trees cut from the woods into the ground about each tree, tying all together with heavy cord, but they did not survive. Pyramid box treated in the same way also died. In future I shall have the box trees and other tender evergreens lifted from the ground, planted in boxes and stored through the Winter. In cold localities where the thermometer may drop to forty degrees below zero and not rise above ten below for six weeks at a time, as it did last Winter in our part of the country for the first time within the memory of the oldest inhabitant, it is best to take extra precautions to prevent great disaster in the garden.
In a newspaper last Spring I read the statement, which struck terror to my heart, that some astronomer had announced that the cold, wet Summer of a year ago followed by the severe Winter, was due to spots on the sun, denoting abnormal atmospheric conditions; that it would take nine years for these spots to disappear, and that accordingly the weather for nine years would be unusual. There may be nothing in this supposition, or it may be true, but it is well for every gardener not to take any chances.