This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Seeing that in the November number of your valuable and always welcome Monthly one of your correspondents complains of his want of success with the cultivation of the beech tree, I hope it will not be without interest to your readers to be informed under what circumstances the red beech (Fagus sylvatica) grows here in Denmark.
The beech is the most common and at the same time the most beautiful forest tree with us. Fascinating and lovely beyond all description is a beech forest, or even a single tree in early spring, when the delicate, glossy, bright-green foliage has just unfolded itself on the graceful, hanging branches, partially shading a gently rolling ground studded with white and blue Anemones, Primulas, Oxalis, and the entire multitude of beautiful flowers, that love to dwell under its spreading crowns. Need we add the enchanting sound of the murmuring brook, or the ever varied ringing music from the throats of hosts of feathered songsters, amongst them the nightingale, which are almost inseparable from the beech forest in our little country in order to make the scene as perfectly lovely as almost any in nature can be.
Formerly the oak (Quercus Robur) predominated in the Danish forest, but are now fast disappearing for the beech. Young self-sown plants of this beautiful tree grow very luxuriantly even if they are quite overshaded by the crowns of the oaks, and when they grow larger the oaks must give place to the beeches.
The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is, however, distinguished from the common American beech (Fagus Americana or F. ferruginea) by a more slender growth, with more hanging branches and smaller but more glossy and bright-green foliage, and very likely its claims to soil and situation are also a little different. The beech in this country grows best in a somewhat heavy clay and chalk mixed mould with a moderately moist subsoil. When these conditions exist the tree reaches its finest development. It also does better in low places in the neighborhood of lakes and rivulets and on northern slopes, than in higher localities and on southern slopes. In sandy soil deprived of chalk and in a dry situation it will either not grow at all or it becomes stunted in growth. A soil and situation that is favorable for the growth of evergreens in general will also be suitable for the beech. In laying out beech plantations or ornamental grounds in which the beech is to figure a good result is secured when the young trees are planted amongst other hardy and rapidly growing trees, which afterwards, when the beeches are well advanced and in thrifty growth, are to be gradually removed.
In older parks or pleasure-grounds, wherein the course of time ugly openings under trees with tall naked trunks have made their appearance, I use beeches (the European variety) for covering, when favorable conditions for their growth exist or may be artificially obtained by subsoiling and by supplying clay and chalky mould. By proper trimming, the beech may easily be kept in bush-form where it is desired. In order to produce a winter decoration, I plant Hollies (Ilex Aquifolium) in front of and between the beeches, as the dark-green foliage of the Hollies make a good effect against the winter withered red foliage of the beeches, and by planting the ground underneath and between the trees closely with white, red and blue Anemones, Primulas, Crocus, Snow-drops and many other spring flowers, we may, with the bright green foliage of the beeches, in spring give such ornamental plantations a character fresh and lovely as the woods in this country above described. Landscape Gardener, Aarhics, Denmark, Dec.,'8j, [In addition to the pleasure of receiving this interesting communication from so distant a part of our circle of readers, is it also to note the excellent English in which it is written by one who has had to acquire the language.
We give it just as received, without alteration even in punctuation. - Ed. G. M].