The value and importance of protection afforded to buildings, gardens, and orchards, by a belt of evergreen trees, in a climate like New England, are but little appreciated or understood even by our most intelligent amateurs and horticulturists. To say nothing of the pleasing and grateful appearance of such a plantation, well arranged, to a person of taste, at a season of the year when, without evergreens, everything out of doors looks drear and cheerless, as a subject of real comfort and utility, it is one which deserves the serious consideration of every one who desires good fruit, rare flowers, or comfortable quarters. An evergreen hedge, or, what is better, a belt of evergreen trees, excludes the cold, searching winds, and enables the horticulturist to bring to perfection many fruits and flowers that would not, without such protection, be enjoyed. Let it be tried, and there will be found a material difference in the range of thermometers placed on both sides of such a belt. As a matter of taste, no one will deny that a variety of evergreens judiciously planted, adds much to the ornament and beauty of a country residence. Where there is to be any pretension to a shrubbery, a backing of evergreen trees is indispensable. The intermingling of the many deciduous shrubs, bearing ornamental, persistent berries, with the diversified growth and varied colors of the wood, gives, even -in winter, a cheerful and pleasant aspect to the pleasure-grounds; and, in summer, when the shrubs and trees are clothed in their magnificent apparel, adorned with their gorgeous flowers, the back-ground of hemlock, fir, spruce or pine, makes a fine conrast, and gives additional beauty to the various forms, colors, and shades, of the foliage and flowers of the deciduous plants and trees.
To understand to perfection the most harmonious arrangement of evergreen trees, a person should travel a few days in some parts of the State of Maine, the home of a large portion of this beautiful tribe. Let him study, for a while, the exquisite groups and combinations of the various species, as he finds them carelessly and naturally arranged in their native habitats, and he need not study books, nor consult the landscape gardener, to be informed of the best style of planting his evergreens, and other shrubs or trees. He will find Nature the best teacher.
There is no greater departure from correct taste, than to plant the fir, or other evergreens of that habit, singly, or in regular rows. The hemlock, Norway spruce, and others, may sometimes be planted singly on the lawn; but, as a general rule, most of the evergreens should be planted in groups, or belts, varied with the different sorts. Evergreens seem to be social in their habits, if we may so speak; they seem to flourish best when grown together. Some of the evergreen trees, planted in the solitary style, soon lose their lower limbs, become ragged and unsightly, - a nuisance and an eye-sore to those who are compelled to see them from day to day. Naturally, from cold latitudes, they require the protection and shelter of each other, to screen their roots from the powerful action of the summer's sun. When grouped together, and the lower branches encouraged to grow to the ground, they receive this protection, and will give ample satisfaction to those who adopt this style of planting.
Our own country affords all the variety needful to make an elegant shrubbery, a warm belt, or protective hedge. But there are many evergreens, of foreign growth, that are desirable, to give additional variety and charm to a collection of our own trees. Some of them, as yet, are of doubtful hardiness; but, under the lee of our beautiful hemlocks, spruces, or pines, they will be placed in the most favorable circumstances for successful trial; and Net only these, but the magnolias, rhododendrons, and other equally difficult trees and shrubs to manage in a northern climate, will, if anywhere, succeed.
Mr. Downing says : "Well-grown belts of evergreens, pines and furs, which, --------- in conic forms arise,
And with a pointed spear divide the skies,' have, in their congregated strength, a power of shelter and protection that no inexperienced person can possibly understand, without actual experience and the evidence of his own senses. Many a place, almost uninhabitable from the rude blasts of wind that sweep over it, has been rendered comparatively calm and sheltered. Many a garden, so exposed that the cultivation of tender trees and plants was almost impossible, has been rendered mild and genial in its climate, by the growth of a close shelter, composed of masses and groups of Evergreen Trees."
Most of the northern Evergreen Trees are enumerated and described by Mr. Emerson, in his excellent work on "The Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts," to which we would refer our readers for many interesting details and particulars, and from which we have made many extracts.
He says : "The pines, firs, junipers, cypresses, larches, hemlock, and yews, with some foreign trees, form a very distinct and natural group. The name Evergreen, by which they are commonly known, is liable to the exception, that one of the genera found in this climate, the Larch, loses its leaves in winter. The Evergreens are divided into three sections :
"1st. Those whose fruit is a true cone, with numerous imbricate scales, like the fir and pine.
"3d. Those with a globular, compound fruit, like the yew."