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.
Your comments on the Beech Tree do not help me out of my dilemma at all, and do not seem to have been understood. The trees will grow here, for awhile, but grow poorly, and soon die out; but no matter, all I wanted to know, and have others know, was, that if they and the chestnut would not grow in strong limestone soils, there would be no use planting them in such land.
I see on page 339, November number, that W. D. K., of Virginia, found the white spruce growing on the top of White Top Mountain. This tree seems to have a wider range than any other of our conifers, and flourishes in a drier atmosphere than any other spruce. Professor Aughey, State Botanist of Nebraska, stated that the Engelmann spruce was found in Northwest Nebraska; this I doubted very much, as it is only found on the highest altitudes. However, to make sure, I went there to see, and found it to be the white spruce. I followed it into the Black Hills, and there I was informed by Professor Jenney that a different species was to be found in the highest altitudes, naming Terry's Peak. I explored to the very summit of Terry's Peak, only about fifty feet lower than the highest peak in the Black Hills, and found the white spruce growing within six feet of the summit. It is the only conifer in the Black Hills aside from Pinus ponderosa, which is the prevailing tree. This tree, the white spruce, seems just as much at home with ponderosa, in the Black Hills, as with P. Banksiana, in Minnesota. It grows in more exposed situations and in a drier atmosphere than the Norway spruce could be made to stand, and never surfers in foliage in the spring after a hard winter as the Norway spruce does on the prairies.
I believe it to be (next to the Colorado spruces) by far the best spruce for the Northwestern prairies. It is not so rapid in growth as the Norway, but holds its foliage at the base much better than the black or the red spruce, which latter, although not allowed by botanists to be distinct from the black spruce, reproduces itself invariably from seeds, varies in form, color, general appearance and even in cone from the black, and - I may as well out with it - is different from the black spruce.
Wankegan, Ills., Nov. 21st, 1883.
[We are a little uncertain what is meant by white spruce. The white spruce of nurseries is the black spruce of botanists, and the white spruce of botanists is the black spruce of the cultivator. When botanists write " Abies alba, white spruce," they mean what is called black spruce in gardens.- Ed. G. M].