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.
There are many places which would be benefited by the presence of a few large trees; whose onwers would gladly spend some money to see trees growing near their dwellings, which should give, not only shade, but should clothe them with a leafy garment to hide their nakedness. What a difference there is between a house - no matter how well proportioned and tasteful - standing upon a bare plane or an exposed hill, and one covered and sheltered by the protecting arms of shadowy trees, every lover of home and the country has too often felt. It is not always possible to choose a site which is furnished with these, and other desirable circumstances; so that trees must be supplied by the owner, and he and they must bide their time. But there are two ways at least of going about this.
One is, to contract with some enterprising early rising man of the neighborhood, to plant out a number, perhaps one or two hundred, say at fifty cents each, or even sixty cents, should he warrant them to grow. He goes to his swamp, where the trees run up tall and straight, and selects nice, handsome stems, about four inches in diameter, and say twenty-five feet in height; he takes his axe and cuts down into the shaky bog, through the four or five roots of the tree, at twelve to fifteen inches from the stem, pulls the tree down to the ground, cuts off the whole of the head, say at about ten feet from the root, and the tree is then ready to be loaded into a cart for planting on any gentleman's place. lie does this again and again; and it is quick work, for there are usually but a few long naked roots in such covers, and the labor of getting trees up is small. Having loaded them, they are ready for transportation the next day. Now in spring and autumn the nights are apt to be frosty - and should the roots be exposed to a pretty severe freezing, it would not be surprising. But let them once be delivered on the naked grounds. What then? It is easiest to plant them in rows - and saves all thought and consultation either on the part of the owner or a landscape gardener.
The planter is to have fifty cents each, and he can't spend his time shilly-shallying; so he opens the holes twenty-five inches in diameter, (or thirty-one inches,) because twice 12 is 24, and twenty-five inches* is large enough - and it may be twelve inches deep to the subsoil, which is usually hard and sterile; he places the roots in it, taking great care that the stem is perpendicular and true in the line; then he covers the roots quickly to keep them from the air, tramples the earth, and the deed is done, - the tree planted.
How does the tree grow? Sometimes well. Elms are especially tenacious of life; often though, they push weak growth along the stem the first season, for there is some strength in it, and dwindle away during the summer drouth or in the second year. Should they grow they are long in making a head; for trees are like men, starvation, neglect, want of cultivation - inevitably induce weakness, disease and death.
This is one method of planting: - there is another, and the routine of planting a single tree, one of a number which has been planted and have thriven now the third year, will suffice.
1. A hole to receive the tree was opened in the month of October, sixteen feet in diameter and three feet deep. All the tops and good soil, containing some of the yellow sub soil, was thrown out by itself - the subsoil, gravel, etc. was thrown up and carted away, and other earth brought in its place. A horse cart load of rotted stable manure, and five bushels of ashes, were well mixed with about one half of the good soil, and about one foot of depth of this compost was spread over the bottom of the hole, which was then ready to receive the roots of the tree.
2. The tree selected was an elm, standing in a damp wood, but so that the head was well branched. At the distance of five feet from the body, (which measured forty-tico inches in circumference at one foot from the ground,) a trench was opened two feet wide; the long roots were not cut. but the trench was sunk so that the tree could be gradually undermined, and with a pick the soil was dug away from among the roots so that the diameter of the ball of earth was about eight feet; while the digging was continued under the roots as far as it was possible, the fibrous roots being tied up so as to be but little broken. This done, the long surface roots were followed out, say ten or twelve feet from the tree, cut off, turned up, and tied to the stem. A block and tackle, fastened in the top of this tree, and to the root of one at some distance, was used to pull the tree over to an angle of 45°, and a stone sled was placed so that one half of the ball would rest on it - the tree was then turned into it, and another sled placed under the ball. The side of the-trench was then cut away so that the sleds would run out of the hole; ten yoke of oxen were chained to the sleds, and a chain was carried from around the stem to the draft chain, so that the tree might not slip from the sleds.
The tree was then quietly slid from its old place and into its new one - the side of the new hole being cut down so that the oxen could travel through the hole and leave the tree, sleds and all, in it. The tree was then turned down first on one side, then on another; and both sleds being removed, it was ready to have its roots placed and covered. This was carefully done by turning the tree from the perpendicular, and filling in with the hand and a wooden rammer, every cavity in the roots, with the compost earth - the bruised and mangled routs being first cut away with a knife or axe. The tree was planted one foot deeper than it stood in the woods. The long roots were stretched and pegged down to act as anchors, and the hole being then filled with the common earth - so far the roots were disposed of.
Three strong props were then securely placed so that they could not chafe the bark, or allow the tree to be disturbed by winter or summer winds - and then the autumn work was done.
3. In the spring, about first May, the top was lopped, thinned from one-third to one-half, just as the buds were breaking vigorously. The ground over the surface of the hole was mulched, (covered with manure four inches deep;) the props were examined, the tree righted, and then it took its chance. Once during the dry weather of the summer, some twenty-five buckets of water were poured over the roots.
The cost of the tree in its place was thirty dollars, it having been moved a quarter of a mile - and it is worth the cost. It, with others, now stands on Mr. Saml. E. Foster's place, at New-Haven, where it promises well.
5. Better roots can be had by this process than by cutting a ball and freezing it - because the roots need not be cut so short.
6. The tree should be planted deeper than in the wood, for many reasons.
7. The props are very important for two years at least, as the swaying of the tree in the wind would otherwise break the young new roots.
8. One-half the top may be cut away safely. Mr. Jas. Fellows, who has planted largo trees with success, in this neighborhood, thinks that none should be cut away; he and I don't agree.
9. Mulching is one of the very beat practices - and so is watering the leaves in dry weather, with a barrel of water and a hand engine.
The above tree was the largest of some twenty-five which were removed in this way, three years since. They have grown as well as such large trees could be expected to grow, and but two have died; one large Elm, which was raised with roots much broken, and one swamp White Oak. The trees were mostly Elm, Oak, and Dog-wood, and were from twelve to forty-two inches in circumference. Since then, Mr. Fellows, in this neighborhood, has planted a great number of large trees, with good success. It is quite clear thai trees of great size can be safely removed and planted, so as to grow. Two large Hickorys were planted out this year by this method; they have both gone through this season well, and may yet thrive in their new position - though they are not a safe tree to touch. Charles Wyllys Elliott.
New-Haven, Aug. 15,1852.