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.
Ik a former number we promised to give the results of some experience in treating that most beautiful of our native evergreens, the hemlock. Its value and importance is attracting much attention, both as a single tree, a screen, a hedge, or a shrub, and we know nothing more deserving attention from American planters.
It is a difficult tree to procure in many neighborhoods, (though it will be seen several extensive nurserymen advertise it) and where that is the case it may be grown from the seed, which is procurable from dealers in this vicinity. These are to be mixed with sand, if you cannot plant them immediately. As soon as the Spring opens, make a bed on the north side of a fence, where it will be shaded the greater part of the day ; the bed should be composed of one-third sand, one-third good loam, and one-third light leaf-mould, well incorporated and sifted. Plant the seeds in drills, and cover the bed with a little old spent tan, or more leaf mould, to keep it light and moist; water it regularly every evening in dry summer weather to prevent the young seedlings from dying off. The young plants may be moved as soon as they have vigor enough to take the positions they are designed for.
If they can be obtained from the woods, about eighteen inches in height, time will be saved, but in this case it will be useless to remove them without a covering of earth for the roots brought with them; with a little care there is no difficulty in this ; to make the removal certain, sprinkle water from the rose of a watering pot upon the roots after you have got them into your vehicle. The operation should be accomplished about the time they are first putting forth their beautiful young growth, and on a cloudy day. In planting them use the same soil as recommended above for the seeds, and mulch the roots for a foot or two around with stones; these are to be raised every year and a little additional leaf mould put on and the stones replaced, till the plant has made a growth of several years.
The best examples of hedges of hemlock that have anywhere come under our notice, are those of Moses Brown, Esq., on Schoolhouse line, Germantown, Philadelphia. They have been a labor of love, and the result of careful culture for many successive years; here may be seen hedges of various ages and modes of planting. At first the double row, amd plants one foot apart, was adopted; this plan has produced handsome thickset hedges, but it consumes a great number of plants, and a single row two feet and a half apart has been found by actual repeated experiment, to serve the purpose equally well, and to possess the advantage of exhausting the soil much less. Mr. Brown brings his trees from their native habitat near by, and subjects them to the shears at once to give them a trim look and to induce a close habit. They make little progress for the two first years, but after that their beauty becomes apparent, and they rapidly assume character and importance. Mr. Brown mulches all his hemlock hedges with stone, and feeds them annually with leaf mould.
He does not trim them more than once a year, and that in the Spring preferring the luxuriant full appearance which nature produces; but where a set hedge or solid looking wall is desired, we should recommend, as heretofore, a close cutting in September.
As a single shrub, regularly kept down by the shears, the hemlock is extremely beautiful, as it also is as a screen without much use of the shears; as a single tree nothing need be more ornamental, and standing alone their habit of growth is highly picturesque. A visit to Mr. Brown's premises in the morning when the dew is on the trees, or rather a shower of rain when the sun shines through the branches of these beauties of nature, is highly gratifying; so fond is he of the hemlock, that his place is a fair show, embracing the perfect large tree and all the various forms it is capable of assuming. When once established the Hemlock, though not quite so rapid in growth as the Norway Fir, is by no means to be classed with the slow-growing evergreens, and remember it is green and perfectly hardy.