The native holly grows from Long Island to Florida, and is quite abundant in the woods of New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. It forms a shrub or small tree, varying from four to forty feet in height, clothed with foliage and berries of the same ornamental character as the European holly, except that the leaf is a shade lighter in its green. The plant, too, is perfectly hardy, even in the climate of Boston, while the European holly is quite too tender for open air culture in the middle states, notwithstanding that peaches ripen here in orchards, and in England only on walls.
The American laurel, or Kalmia, is too well known in all parts of the country to need any description. And what new shrub, we would ask, is there, whether from the Himalayas or the Andes, whether hardy or tender, which surpasses the American laurel when in perfection as to the richness of its dark green foliage or the exquisite delicacy and beauty of its gay masses of flowers? If it came from the highlands of Chili and were recently introduced it would bring a guinea a plant, and no grumbling!
Granting all this, let our readers who wish to decorate their grounds with something new and beautiful undertake now, in this month of May (for these plants are best transplanted after they have commenced a new growth), to plant some laurels and hollies. If they would do this quite successfully they must not stick them here and there among other shrubs in the common border, but prepare a bed or clump in some cool, rather shaded aspect - a north slope is better than a southern one - where the subsoil is rather damp than dry. The soil should be sandy or gravelly, with a mixture of black earth well decomposed, or a cartload or two of rotten leaves from an old wood, and it should be at least eighteen or twenty inches deep to retain the moisture in a long drought. A bed of these fine evergreens made in this way will be a feature in the grounds, which after it has been well established for a few years will convince you far better than any words of ours of the neglected beauty of our American plants.*
* It is interesting to recall that, subsequent to the time of Mr. Down-ing's writing, there developed in this country a much better appreciation of our native plants. Doubtless Mr. Downing's advocacy had much to do with bringing them into better favor. At the present time native species are widely used by the best gardeners and landscape architects. - F. A. W.