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 most distinguishable feature in English gardens is, the massiveness of their ornamental plantations, and the rich verdure of the grass. On analyzing these shrubberies we shall find that, while much of their beauty depends upon the materials of which they are composed, and the skill displayed in the arrangement, much more is the incidental result of thick planting. In this respect there is much to improve upon in the formation of pleasure-grounds with us.
It is true that we cannot have the Laurels, Arbutus, Alaternus, Garyas, or view the Hollies and Rhododendrons of more favored climates, - for although the two last are natives, the holly is so impatient of removal that it is not available in quantities, and the Rhododendron requires peculiar situations in order to develop its true beauty.
This deficiency of evergreen shrubbery with us is severely felt by those desirous of ornamenting their grounds, and .1 would desire to call the attention of such to the fact, that by abandoning the immediate attempt to introduce choice low-growing evergreens, and plant largely of well-known, hardy trees, and keep them low and spreading if desired, by judicious and timely pruning, they would much sooner realize massive and effective scenery, and at the same time secure conditions that would enable them to cultivate successfully many beautiful and choice shrubs.
One of the best plants for these tree shrubberies is the hemlock- spruce; cutting back and trimming the branches increases rather than diminishes its beauty. Even the rigid growth of the Norway fir may be checked, by cutting out the leading shoot and removing the points of the side branches. I have known most beautiful evergreen masses produced in this way. The white pine will assume a spreading form when similarly treated; so also the Scotch and Austrian pines, and in short, all trees may be kept dwarf by careful periodical pruning.
The Deodar cedar, on account of the silvery appearance of its foliage, is well adapted to brighten and relieve the monotony produced by the dark foliaged evergreens. It is rather tender, even in the middle States, and frequently loses the topmost shoots in severe springs, but this rather increases its beauty for our purpose, and I would strongly advise those who are about planting, to set out groups of three or more plants of the above, (the plants being four or six feet apart,) deprive them of all perpendicular shoots, and encourage them to spread horizontally; surround these groups with plants of dark foliage, and a very pleasing variety of winter scenery will be produced.
The Pinus-pumilio is a compact dwarf tree, suitable for edgings or marginal plantings; Pinus cembra, Swedish juniper, and the Irish yew, from their upright growth, will impart an expression to the mass.
Then we have a large-class of Arbor Vitaes and Junipers, available for our purpose. The Mahonias are admirable in small thickets. The new Mahonia japonica promises to be perfectly hardy, and will furnish us with the long-wished-for desideratum, - a real hardy, broad-leafed evergreen shrub; it retains its color during winter, not changing to a reddish brown like the M. aquifolium.
Under the shade and shelter of these hardy shrubberies we may hopefully experiment, and with much probability of success, in the introduction of the beautiful Rhododendrons, Ealmias, Laurus, and Laburnums. Hollies in great variety would flourish when sheltered from the arid winds of spring. The Rhamnus alaternus, Aucuba-Japonica, Phillyreas, Daphnes, Chimonanthus, and the evergreen Magnolias would also be protected from excessive evaporation, and consequently pass through the severity of winter uninjured.
The beauty of evergreen plantations is very much enhanced in spring by introducing flowery deciduous bushes. The Dogwood, Halesias, Magnolia conspicua, M. purpurea and M. soulangeana, and the Judas tree, enliven the scenery during early summer; the dogwood and white magnolia are espe-, cially attractive when backed by evergreens.
In the matter of deciduous shrubbery we have no dearth of material; but the same treatment may be applied to deciduous trees, as suggested for evergreens. A novel feature might be produced by planting profusely of sugar and red maples, sweet and sour gums, tulip poplars, scarlet oaks, wild cherry, sassafras, etc., and keeping them in the form of low bushes; the great variety of color assumed by the foliage in autumn would have a brilliant effect, if the planting was situated so as to contrast opposing colors.
The subject might be treated much more fully, but as planting season is now at hand, these suggestions may direct attention to the matter to which they allude.