This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V29", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Of the divine origin of trees, no reasonable doubt can possibly exist in the minds of all capable of understanding the records of Sacred Writ. In it, we are informed that "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." And ever since the remote period, when they are first mentioned as having taken root in the virgin soil, we may naturally infer that the higher nations rose in civilization, the more they would admire and appreciate the arborescent growth the bountiful Creator had provided, so "pleasant to the sight and good for food".
The many pleasing allusions to trees the Book contains, assure us the good people in the long ago were not unmindful of their use and beauty. And as the voice of God was first heard among trees in a garden, how natural it seems to us in these degenerate times, to believe "the groves were God's first temples;" and where in leafy seclusion fallen man may calmly meditate and "look through nature up to nature's God".
Without at present presenting further references to their Biblical history, let us briefly look at them with aesthetic eyes, where we find them "in mossy mead and shady dell," and the more we see of them in their native habitats, or where placed by the hand of intelligent man, the more we are likely to love them - yes, to love them. But to those who may not have opportunities to enjoy a ramble among them, however much they may desire, I respectfully call attention to what others have said about them, and to which I will venture to add a few suggestions and observations of my own. And by way of illustration, I will quote from an eminent writer, who, in every sense, was highly qualified to graphically delineate whatever subject he essayed to discuss. And in so doing.I hardly think it possible for poetic pencil to draw a more enchanting picture of a sylvan scene, where captivating nature appears to have so highly excelled in rendering the balmy greenwood shades so delightful to meander among, as the following sentimental lines from the pleasing pen of Sir Walter Scott.
It will be observed, that in every line, the marvelous strokes of his graphic limning may be seen; and in which, the most perfect of artistic touches imaginable catch the discerning eye and heart, with enchanting idealic views of lovely landscapes, and fascinate us with romantic glimpses of undulating woodlands. And these matchless sketches, are all exquisitely delineated forest scenes, descriptively true to nature in their umbrageous resemblance of arboreal elysians. And as the interesting panorama unrolls before the mental vision of the reader, and appeals to his love of the beautiful, makes it difficult to believe during the engrossing moments, that he is not actually on the picturesque spot, with which the sensitive mind is so deeply enamored. And as the writer transcribes the pleasing pictures of waving woods, vernal groves, and "each dingle's bosky depths," and in fancy rambles to wher, "The solitary woodlands lay As slumbering in the summer's ray," the refreshing odor of wild flowers, blending with the scent of graceful fern fronds and green wood-moss, seems to greet him again.
And while thus delightfully absorbed with the landscape's charms, imagination returns to where the woodlark's melodious sonnet, commingles with the sweet carols of the linnet, finch, blackbird and thrush, while among the trees, "the wind breathes soft as lover's sigh".
"'Tis merry in greenwood - thus runs the old lay, - In the gladsome month of lively May, When the wild bird's song on stem and spray,
Invites to forest bower; Then rears the ash his airy crest, Then shines the birch in silver vest, And the beech in glittering leaves is drest, And dark between shows the oak's proud breast,
Like a chieftain's frowning tower; Though a thousand branches join their screen, Yet the broken sunbeams glance between, And tip the leaves with lighter green,
With brighter tints the flower: Dull is the heart that loves not then The deep recess of wildwood glen, Where roe and red-deer find sheltering den,
When the sun is in his power".
It is questionable if ever the English language was couched in a more winsome diction than the talented author uses in the above lines. His sublime conceptions of the varied charms of natural scenery, pure and simple, as the Creator designed it, and, as he viewed it, unmarred by the hand of man, are truly wonderful, as his inimitable witchery of word painting proves.
The prosy and facile pen of William Gilpin, in his " Forest Scenery," has given us many delightful essays upon the subject under notice, both practical and sentimental; and are as instructive as they are pleasant to peruse.
The brilliant, scholarly, though somewhat erratic Byron, who must have often felt " the charm of a poet's dream," especially when meandering alone through shady glens and dingles, inhaling the healthful odors of the grove - while communing with placid nature, and listening to the peaceful sounds of forest life, which gently whispered soothing words of comfort to his troubled mind - exclaims, "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods." Surfeited, and disgusted with " the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil," as he was - he knew there was no dissembling there, as nothing false or untrue - animate, or inanimate, is a natural denizen there. No, whatever else might be delusive about the busy haunts of men, all things there were what they seemed to be. And who has not experienced - who has lived long enough - that which the poet expressed in the remaining part of that remarkably beautiful stanza? when reviewing the strange mutations of the past, while musing in umbrageous solitudes. And many are the poetic effusions of gifted authors, whose delight it was to "hold up the mirror to nature," when portraying pastoral, or woodland scenes.
Ever since the days when the lofty trees of " the sacred groves " have " cast their shadows from on high, for Time to count his ages by," has contemplative man entered the leafy sanctuary with reverential feelings. There is invariably a most pure and satisfactory pleasure to be found in peaceful arboreal recesses, where, for a time, we may forget the strife and contentions which alas! too often, vex and perplex us elsewhere. Happily, in some shady silent glen, or beneath the majestic forest trees, where avaricious man has not yet destroyed them, we may still enjoy the cheery smiles of the fair face of Nature, which never fails to charm the sensitive and appreciative beholder.