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.
It sometimes seems to one endeavoring to direct the public mind, and improve the public taste, that his labors are all but thrown away. As we go through distant cities, and note how barbarous practices and aboriginal indifference prevail it seems bad enough ; but the conceit as to the value of effort in public enlightenment is completely dissolved when we look around on the garden practices about our own Philadelphia city. Trees, properly planted rather thickly at first, are left to fight for life with each other as they grow up; the desire for rapid growing trees induces the planting of rubbish, which grow too fast at last, only to be hacked by tree butchers, become miserable eye-sores, and very soon after sicken from disease, and meet premature death. Thousands of sound, healthy trees are planted only to die from the ignorance of removal; and valuable trees and shrubs, beautiful if pruned as true horticultural intelligence would have them pruned, are cropped over annually like the head of a prize fighter, and make the most abominable looking objects instead of the ornamental trees and shrubs which nature designed them to be.
We want another Moses to lay down some horticultural commandments, and to press them on to public observance with all the zeal and energy of the great Hebrew leader. He thought he had covered all when he forbade his followers, not to make to themselves the likeness of anything in the heavens or on the earth, and he never dreamed that there would arise cultivators of plants who would worship objects of their creation, not like to anything either in heaven or earth. Surely his holy wrath would be stirred at what he would be compelled to see! Our ire - the editorial anger - often rises when he passes the city squares, and the grounds around public property. But before the pen is dipped in the ink to record his opinions of " City Fathers," he glances at the grounds of those who love to see them lashed, and it is all the same. Can we expect representatives to do more than the people they represent? Of course there are some exceptions. Not all public work or all private grounds are disgraceful in a gardening sense.
A few are worthy of all praise, but somehow there does not seem enough of these, as there should be after almost a quarter of a century of work in editing a Gardener's Monthly.
Still we must not lose all heart. We will still have some faith though small, that the seed we sow may here and there grow to a good sized tree, which will not be butchered and torn by the "trimmer's" ignorance. Let us therefore look at once - now at this season - and see how we may make the trees and shrubs objects of beauty. Take the flowering shrub. If you let it alone, it will probably get too large for the place it occupies; or it will send out its sprawling branches with no more pleasure to the eye, than the tangled hair of an unkempt child. Suppose now it is a Deutzia, Wiegela, Forsythia, or something which has flowered this season, take out at once those branches which have weakened themselves by blooming, cutting them away clean to their source. In many cases this will be to the ground, that is in cases where there are numerous vigorous shoots coming up from the ground. The idea is to give encouragement to numerous vigorous young wood, without leaving any stumps of the old growth. The bush may have some of its strong growth nipped here and there, to make it dense, but generally there will be enough of the new shoots which follow from the thinning out, to fill up all the open spaces. So of trees. It is extremely injurious to cut off large branches.
If the place where the tree is growing is limited in space, cut out the branches down to some younger strong shoot, which, starting lower near the trunk, may replace the branches getting beyond the limit desired. By looking at this matter, at this season, every year, a tree will never outgrow its boundaries and will always look fresh and young. You will never be tempted by a tree-butcher to "saw the head uv it off fur yees".