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.
To this family, many varieties of which are the pride of our Southern States, too little attention is given by the majority of tree planters; whether it is because of good plants being difficult of obtainment, or from their being rather sensitive and unwilling to be carelessly and negligently handled when transplanting, we find few planters make room for them on their lists or in their grounds; but we do not see how any landscapist can form an extensive group of evergreens and deciduous trees without using more or less of Magnolias. In our experience we have found no difficulty when transplanting, provided we kept the roots from cold drying winds or clear burning suns; exposure to either of which, by reason of their soft spongy texture, is injurious, and often destructive of life. Of the varieties, all are beautiful; but some are not perfectly hardy when grown in our Northern States. The Acuminata, or Cucumber Tree, as it is frequently called, is very upright, almost cone-like in its form, and for backgrounds or the center of groups one of the most desirable of all deciduous trees.
The Glauca, or Swamp Magnolia, is almost a sub-evergreen, often retaining its foliage until January, even in our Northern States. Unless grafted or budded on the acuminata, it is only a dwarf, growing from six to twenty feet high - more like a bush than a tree. In moist, cool situations it often flowers all the season - from June to September. The fragrance of its flowers, together with the rich, glossy, pale green foliage and young shoots, form for it a shrub tree that, were it now to be newly introduced, would cause an excitement, in the arboricultural world, that is rarely known. Some sub-varieties, as Longifolia Gordoniana, etc., are better because larger in foliage, and perhaps a little stronger in growth, but their actual hardihood in all positions we think remains to be tested. Magnolia Tripetela, called Umbrella Tree, when grown north of Philadelphia, seldom acquires much size, but sends up numerous stems from its crown to replace decaying ones, which have perhaps flowered two or more years. In the warmer parts of our country it forms a large tree, and in all grounds is especially desirable.
Of the Chinese varieties, Magnolia Conspicua and Soulangeana are the most generally known - both good; but if either one was to be selected, we should choose the Soulangeana, because it is a more rapid grower, and because its flowers appear to escape injury from frosts better than the Conspicua. Both form spreading round-headed trees of middle size, and should always be arranged in the foreground of a group of evergreens, because of their flowering early in spring before the growth of their leaves. A variety called Magnolia Lenne is described in Hovey's Magazine as being as hardy as the Conspicua, of vigorous habit, with flowers the color of the Soulangeana, but more than twice the size, full as large as a tea-cup." Magnolia Purpurea and Gracilis are both shrubs, and perhaps should not here be spoken of; but as we have found in planting that their arrangement as undergrowth to the Conspicua and Soulangeana produces a happy effect, we venture to mention them. Among Elms, we give the preference to what is termed English Elm - Ulmus Campestris - because of its less-spreading habit as compared with our American Elms, and more because of its retaining its foliage later, thus carrying the season of foliage almost into the winter months.
A great number of varieties of this species occur among the trees sold, because all are grown from seed. The planter can frequently select trees of a dozen different habits among those offered by the dealer. The Cork-barked is considered only a va-riety but the cork-like covering of its bark renders it a tree of marked character, and always commanding notice. The Osage Orange, where a tree of medium size is wanted, possesses characters that should bring it more in use as an ornamental tree than has been the case. It forms a very regular round-head, with glossy dark green leaves, very much like the Orange. It is entirely free from insects.
Fig. 16. - Magnolia Acuminata.
Fig. 17. - Magnolia Glauca.
Fig. 18. - Magnolia Conspicua.
Fig. 19. - English Elm.
Fig. 20. - Osage Orange.
The Persimmon, or Virginia Date Plum, is another desirable shade tree, too little planted. It forms an upright round-head, rather erect than spreading. Varieties may be selected yielding fruit that ripens early in September or before frosts, and very palatable, in fact by many persons preferred to foreign dates; but the greater number of the trees grown do not produce a fruit at all eatable until after several severe frosts have mellowed its natural harsh astringency.
There are many other trees of value that we could name, but for want of room must defer doing so until a future time.
Fig. 21. - Persimmon Tree.
The Tribune says, that to avoid failure in transplanting, set them out late in the spring; dig carefully; place the roots naturally, and use only fine, partially dry, sandy soil.
Geo. Ellwanger, in a letter to the Utica Herald, respecting the hardiness of the Magnolias, says, that with the exception of the Evergreen species, all succeed well as far north as Rochester, and are annually covered with bloom. In Mr. Ellwanger's grounds they have been grown for more than a quarter of a century, and have proved as reliable as our native Oaks and Maples.