"I like a shrubbery, too, it looks so fresh;
And then there is some variety about it. In spring, the Lilac and the Snowball flower, And the Laburnum, with its golden strings Waving in the wind; and when the autumn comes, The bright red berries of the Mountain-ash, With pines enough, in winter, to look green, And show that something lives."
The flower-garden will be incomplete without a shrubbery A collection of shrubs and trees, embracing the different varieties to be obtained at our nurseries, will add much to the interest of the pleasure-ground. They should not be planted at regular distances, or in straight lines, as in that way they look too set and unnatural; but, when grouped together, the various sorts gracefully intermingled with the taller species in the background, they present, at all seasons of the year, an interesting sight.
Shrubs are divided into two classes - Deciduous and Evergreen. Deciduous shrubs are those which lose their leaves in autumn. However uninteresting the naked branches of this class of shrubs may appear, to the careless observer, when denuded of their foliage, they are not devoid of beauty to the lovers of nature; but, when mingled with evergreens, are pleasing even in winter. The twigs of some species are red; others yellow, or various shades of brown; and then many species are covered with a profusion of berries, of different colors, which, contrasting with the evergreens, give a lively look to the shrubbery, even in the most dreary months.
The culture of hardy shrubs is, in general, simple and easy. The chief things to be noticed are, - the proper season for planting, the situation in which the plants will thrive, the kind of soil best suited to their growth, and the encouragement given to enable them to thrive afterwards.
The proper Season for Planting. - As soon as the leaves begin to fall, in October, deciduous trees may be planted with safety, with few exceptions. Altheas, and some other sorts liable to be winter-killed, had better not be removed until spring. The spring planting, of all deciduous trees and shrubs, should be done as early as possible, - as soon as the ground can be worked to advantage, and before the buds begin to expand.
Evergreens, in general, if carefully taken up, may be planted with success in any season of the year, provided dull and dripping weather be taken advantage of for that purpose. There are particular seasons, however, when they will thrive with much greater freedom than at others. I have been as successful about the first of June as at any other time, and have also succeeded in planting, the 1st of July, and in August; out, as a general rule, when they commence their growth, the last of May. It is indispensable that all large trees and shrubs be removed with good balls, and that the roots be uninjured. In planting evergreens, (and the same may be said of deciduous trees,) whether it be done on a dull day, a wet day, or a dry day, it is very necessary to keep in view the expediency of keeping the plants for as short time out of the ground as possible, - if only a few minutes, so much the better. If any quantity are to be planted, the plants should be "heeled in," as it is termed, (that is, the roots covered with earth,) and taken out, as they are wanted. I have generally been successful, without watering as I planted; but others think it necessary, and one writer says : "In all seasons, situations, and soils, the plants should be well soaked with water as soon as the earth is put about the roots. Where the water is not at hand, so that it may not be easily carried or wheeled by men, a horse with a water-barrel on wheels should be used. As soon as the plant has been put into its place the earth should be filled in, leaving a sufficient hollow round the stem, and as far as the roots extend, to hold water, which should then be poured on in sufficient quantity to soak the ground down to the lowest parts of the roots; in short, the whole should be made like a kind of puddle.
"By this practice, which is particularly necessary in spring and autumn planting, the earth is carried down by the water, and every crevice among the roots is filled. Care must always be taken to have as much earth above the roots of the plants as will prevent their being exposed when the water has subsided. The best plan is to take an old birch broom, or anything similar, and, laying it down near the root, pour the water upon it; this breaks the fall of the water, and prevents the roots from being washed bare of such earth as may adhere to them. In this way time is saved, for the water may be poured out in a full stream from the pail, a watering-pot, or even from a spout or pipe in the water-cart or barrel, when the situation is such that this can be brought up to the plant.
"After the first watering is dried up, the earth should be levelled round the stem of the plant, and as far out as the water has been put on, but not trod. If the plants are large, a second watering is sometimes necessary; but in ordinary sized plants, one watering is quite sufficient. And, after remaining twenty-four hours, more or less, according to the nature of the soil, the earth about the stem and over the roots should be trod as firm as possible, and, after treading, should be dressed with a rake."
"The Situations in which the plants will thrive. - With regard to the situation in which each shrub should be planted, little can be said here. To form a correct judgment of this, a knowledge of the natural habits of each is required. This knowledge may be easily obtained by referring to a botanical catalogue and other works treating on the subject. Some shrubs love a dry and elevated situation, and will not thrive, crowded with others; some are rather tender, and must have warm and sheltered places; others are very hardy, and will thrive planted anywhere; others, again, will not grow freely, unless they are placed in low, damp ground; and others do not flourish if much exposed to the rays of the sun.
"The kind of Soil best suited for them. - With respect to soil, hardy shrubs may be divided into two kinds, viz., first, shrubs requiring common soil; and, second, those shrubs constituting the American garden. A rich, light, hazel loam, undoubtedly suits the greater part of the first class of plants, although many of the stronger-growing kinds will make fine bushes on almost any kind of soil. The American plants, Kalmias, Rhododendrons, Andromedas. etc., etc., make the finest plants and the best show, if they are planted in a soil composed for the most part of sandy peat; but, in the absence of this, a very good compost may be made for them of light hazelly loam, river sand, and vegetable or leaf mould, equal parts, or a little peat earth mixed with it. After having taken out the original soil from the proposed border to about a foot and a half deep, substitute the above mixture in its place.
"To encourage the growth of the Shrubs after being planted. - Whilst the plants are small, constantly keep down all rank-growing weeds, and clear off all rubbish that would otherwise retard their growth; also they receive much benefit by the surface of the ground being often stirred with a Dutch hoe, as it prevents the surface baking hard in dry weather."
Watering shrubs, except in peculiar situations, during dry summers, appears to be of very little if any benefit; on the other hand, it takes up much time, and is the means of the ground baking hard when dried by the sun again. When they have advanced to a large size, all the care that is required is to cut off the overhanging branches, so as not to allow them to smother each other, or the stems of those overhung will become naked and unsightly.