This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The value of shelter or climatic screens for orchards is becoming more and more apparent every day. As our forests become cleared away, the climate grows more harsh, dry, and absorbent of vital life, and our fruits evince it in their knotty and various deteriorated forms. The Western prairie country has been, through some of her most thoughtful horticulturists, urging the point and advantage of evergreens as shelters for many years; and gradually the persistent efforts and urgings of these men are becoming exhibited in the free planting of evergreens and deciduous trees as belts or screens protecting the orchard from the severe cold winds of the west and north, and even on their prairie lands serving, as thermometrical records show, to assist in reducing the extremes of temperature. But it is not only the Western prairies which require this protection and amelioration of atmospheric influence; our New England and our Northern and Middle States, as western New York, Ohio, etc., all apparently exhibit the want of it, at this day, as strongly as do the bleak, open prairie regions.
The records show that a quarter of a century since, fruit-growing, from the peach upward, was just as much a certainty in the Eastern States as in the most favorable of the new Western sections; but while skill and knowledge and attentive cultivation have increased, the production in quantity and quality of fruit has decreased, until many persons in the New England and Northern Middle States now hesitate to plant because of their location being an uncertain one for profitable return. Few consider the extent of forest that is yearly being cleared away, and with it the change created from a moist, equable climate to one of a dry, harsh, and extremely variable character.
It is time we set about the labor of correcting this feature of climate, and hence we now urge on all our readers to plant screen belts of evergreen and deciduous trees all around their farms or gardens, and especially around their orchards, and those portions of their grounds occupied by stock yards, out-buildings, etc. "We would mingle more or less evergreens among the orchard trees also, although some growers will tell us that the orchard trees contiguous to the evergreens will be spoiled - in their symmetry, etc., and perhaps in - the amount of product, on account of one side being swallowed up and overshadowed by the evergreens; but we must be permitted to say that, having examined this matter pretty thoroughly for some years, we are now convinced from personal observation that trees contiguous to and sheltered from the north and west by evergreens, have yearly produced their fruit and resisted late spring frosts, when those more exposed to currents of air and all unprotected, have failed. The present record of hardihood of varieties of fruits, we have no doubt, will be entirely changed in twenty years, provided due attention be given to the planting of evergreen or other trees as climatic influential agents.
It is less than a quarter of a century since all and every variety of apple grown in the New England States was regarded as perfectly hardy and successful in its order as an orchard fruit; but now we are getting occasional records of the failure and want of hardiness of old varieties, corresponding almost entirely with records of the same varieties upon the bleak, open, unprotected prairies of the West. Again, we are getting conflicting statements of the hardihood of varieties West, based upon the position of the orchard, location, and its sheltered or non-sheltered surroundings. All these point us most plainly to the fact, that while we practice skill in pruning, care in cultivation, we must remember that temperature is an all-important agent, and that if we expect to continue a successful and profitable fruit-growing country, we must take into account the effect produced on climate by foliage of trees, in their absorbents, shades, and evaporation, and set ourselves at work with a will toward the production of a remedial assistant agent, by planting belts, masses, and groups of evergreens and other trees, whose object is the creation, by their growth, of increased moisture and reduced extremes of temperature in climate.