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.
Thorough draining will much improve a forest, not only in the increased growth of the trees, but in the greater comfort of getting about in it. All, or nearly all woods are closer and firmer on a dry than on a wet soil. Often the vegetable matter that forest ditches afford would pay very well for the trouble of cutting them; and it will generally be found that these drains will effect quite as favorable a change in the forest crop as in the field crop, though their influence would not be perceived so immediately.
It is becoming an object in the older States to make forests for timber. On sandy soils, and such as compose the western prairies, the locust grows so rapidly that it soon arrives at a size profitable for many uses. On a moderately rich, sandy soil, the yellow or seed locust, if not sown too thick, is large enough at eight years old to make good fence posts, and would do very well for the rails of a "post and rail" fence. The sprouting propensity of this tree precludes all necessity of replanting. The character of the locust for durability is such that, if possible to get, it would be very generally used for railroad ties. A prairie or New England farmer could hardly make a surer provision for his children, than to make a locust plantation of a portion of the land he holds in reserve for them.
Now, Mr. Editor, these thoughts are intended more as suggestive of a great deal that should be said on forest culture, than for any intrinsic value of their own; and I hope they may be the means of calling out more familiar pens.
[ Our correspondent truly says that "no branch of agricultural industry is of greater importance than forest management" We heartily thank him for bringing forward a stick could be thrust to ascertain how much water had accumulated; and rarely the box is turned on its side to discharge any surplus. This box externally is covered with strips of oak bark; a longer piece being used in the middle of the ends and sides, to represent handles. This is all very simple and easy in practice, and once obtained will last for a long series of years, being moved into a shady spot in summer, and brought in-doors at early frost.
Two or three winters nursing will bring the plant to the size we have mentioned; and if a little care is exercised to train it on one side of the trellis, it can be at any time cut from its strings, and a larger trellis supplied, as its size increases. The supports may be of oak, cut thin, interspersed with bamboo cross-pieces. In time it may require shifting to a larger case; and will then, if you do not choose to trim it to suit your window or corner, form a large screen in a drawing-room, sufficiently dense to divide conversation parties from each other; or several of them placed around the walls of a room used for dancing, etc., would form elegant ornaments. They would always impart a warm and summerish hue, and should thus be trained for every conservatory, as a back-ground or terminating view. No person of taste ever sees our friend's fine specimen, without expressing a wish to possess just such another.
The soil suited to this plant is a mixture of good garden mold and thoroughly decayed leaves. Properly planted in this, the rapidity of the growth of the Giant Ivy will be very satisfactory, whether in a parlor box, or against a wall or tree. We should, however, remark that it will be best to take a well rooted plant from a pot; the ivy requiring a year at least to obtain a firm foundation in the earth, after which there is scarcely any limit to its progress.
The Giant Ivy has not been generally introduced in America; but every one who has coached through Ireland will retain vivid recollections of its effects on the eye. In our opinion it is one of the great points in the scenery, and helps materially to give that beautiful island its designation of "Green isle of the ocean." We should be glad to see it much more generally introduced around our mansions. Even in cities a single ivy plant in a small garden, running over and clinging to an old tree or the walls, is a perpetual enjoyment. Where no old tree exists, you can easily bring to the spot most seen from the window a stump ten or twenty feet high, and plant it for the purpose; or employ a trellis, taking care in the latter case to tie up the new growth regularly. The ivy succeeds best in the open air when planted on the north or northeast side of what it is intended to cover. If you have a coppice or a piece of woods accessible to your country mansion, plant a few roots near the trees every spring.
They will sometimes run among the leaves on the ground, making a superb appearance, and ever and anon will catch hold of the bark and run "high in air," when you can but remark with admiration the different size and appearance of the beautiful foliage; that on the ground will be smaller and of a different hue from that which has got up into, and rejoices in, more light and air. Sometimes, and in some seasons of drouth and extreme cold, you may be unsuccessful; and hence the hint is given to persevere in successive spring plantings. You may as well recollect, too, that ivy persists in not clinging to plastered walls. In some cases it may be coaxed to do so by nailing to the wall, directly under the youngest tendrils, a strip of an old cloth coat. To this the ivy attaches itself, and having a firm hold, it will sometimes continue to cling where otherwise it would entirely refuse its courted efforts.
To all who are not too far north to employ this beautiful vine - the most beautiful we have, when its endurance and age, with its exquisite green at all seasons, in doors or out, is considered - we say plant the Giant or Irish Ivy; and if too far north for winter exposure, treat it to a box, as we have recommended, and winter it in your living room.