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.
Since my residence in the United States, in the numerous beautiful gardens which I have visited, many of which scarcely admit of improvement, I have not yet seen a very judicious application, nor a very discriminating use of the magnificent Evergreen shrubs which grow so profusely in North America.
In England, in France, and in Belgium, these elegant shrubs are so highly appreciated, that a garden, however small, which does not contain a clump or cluster of them can scarcely be found; and frequently sums are expended in the ornamentation of a small corner only, which would suffice for the arrangement of a whole garden; for ail localities are not equally favorable to the cheap creation of these luxuries, which certainly repay the outlay by the richness of their verdure and the brilliancy of their flowers during the most pleasant months of the year.
It may likewise be observed that the most neglected spots of the garden are generally most adapted to the cultivation of these shrubs; where the hand of the gardener seldom reaches, will be found their favorite localities; barren sites on which nothing else will grow, maybe transformed into delicions bowers, affording, during the intense heat of summer, a cool and shady retreat, surronnded by flowers and verdure of unequalled elegance.
Moreover, almost all localities in this country offer great facilities for the successful culture of these shrubs, and groups of them may be formed at the same expense as of those of any other kind, the most suitable species being nearly always either at hand, or close in the neighborhood.
Any one who has seen a group of judiciously selected Rhododendrons mingled with collections of American or of Pontic Azaleas (Az. Pontica et var.) of the Kalmia Latifolia (Laurel), Angustifolia, Aubra, of superb species of Andromeda, Mahonia Euonymus, and various other species, will hardly refrain from similarly ornamenting their own plantations, and thereby rendering a neglected spot one of the most attractive on their estate.
The neglected spots just spoken of are those on the northern aspect of the dwelling-house, and places shaded by lofty trees, chiefly pines, under which shrubs with deciduous leaves, and other plants, grow with reluctance, leaving the ground bare and unsightly; the shady sides of ravines and hills, particularly if provided with rocks, present more facilities for the picturesque than any other location.
Carriage and other roads in the vicinity of the dwelling-house, frequently leave empty spaces which it is desirable to fill with agreeable objects; in locations having a suitable exposure, the hiatus may be supplied by perennial,' annual, or bulbous plants, but those deprived of the sun generally remain barren.
The following remarks may have a tendency to attract attention to this subject, and have the effect of beautifying and adorning spots now neglected and waste.
Starting from the principle that the Evergreen shrubs of temperate climates have mostly been intended, by nature, for places too long deprived of light, or other circumstances favorable to vegetation, localities in which the time necessary for these trees to annually renew their foliage is not afforded them, there can be nothing more rational than their employment in gardens for the embellishment of similar localities.
These localities are generally those parts of the forest most thickly covered with high trees; the Evergreen shrubs are found growing beneath, most of them, if not all, deprived of light; or they will be found in lofty elevations, capped with snow during the greater portion of the year, where they have but a short space of time to develop their flowers, and make a growth which renews, at best, only a tenth of their foliage.
In these same localities, as in marshy and shady places, there will always be found a soil excessively rich in vegetable matter; black earth, composed of decayed leaves, or rotten wood; this observation indicates the kind of earth necessary for these plants. The black mould of swamps, exposed to the frost of winter, or the sun of summer, is also excellent, and more easily obtained; where both are wanting, their place may be supplied by the earth collected from the adjacent forest.
Be not alarmed at a deficiency of quantity; these plants require but little soil, sad thrive perhaps even better, provided the quantity be replaced by a quality made more congenial to them by the admixture of rocks, portions of decayed trees, etc. etc. If, therefore, you have a location exposed to the north, where the sun rarely or never darts his rajs, and 70a wish to fill it with plants, yon should first prepare the ground; remove the existing soil, if yon desire to retain the same level; if, on the contrary, an elevation is desirable, make a picturesque collection of rocks to the height required, and cover them over with the aforesaid earth, after having arranged at the bottom a layer of stones, which may act as a drain.
I will subjoin, hereafter, a list, as complete as possible, of all the plants which may be advantageously employed in the construction and adornment of these groups, pointing out, in the first place, the most lofty, in order to facilitate a well varied arrangement which may offer, at one view, a general aspect of all the different genera.
First of all, I will name the Rhododendrons, Maximum, Ponticum, Catawbiense, Caucasicum, and all the numerous and superb varieties found in European establishments.
Whatever may be said to the contrary, all these Rhododendrons are equally hardy; if the Ponticum is supposed to be too delicate for the climate of this country, it is because it has been crossed with the Rh. Arboreum, for, when uncoil-tarainated, it suffers as little as the Rh. Maximum, particularly if sheltered from the sun in winter.
After the Rhododendrons, and growing to nearly the same height, comes the Ilex with its superb varieties, bearing plumes of flowers, the Mahonias, and some species of Berberries. The list may be completed by the addition of some of the green, resinous trees from the genus Taxus - Taxus hybernica, murifera* and, especially, the ericoides; Libocedrus Doniana, Gephalo-Taxus adpressa, and many of the Junipers.
In the second place - that is, for those of lesser growth - we may select the whole series of American and Asiatic Azaleas (Az. Pontica), and their brilliant varieties.
The Kalmia latifolia, Andromeda, Clethra, Comptonia asplenifolia, may in their turn be admixed with some species of Rhododendrons of less elevation, such as Rhododendron Adansonii (hybrid), Rh. Ponticum, Rh. Ponticum salsifolium, and many others.
In the third row, the following may be planted: Andromeda polyfblia, Andromeda Mariana, and Andromeda dealbata; Ealmia Angustifolia, Ealmia rubra, and Ealmia glauca; Rhodora canadensis.
In the fourth and last class, or, rather, in the first, commencing at the lowest point, we may have an abundant choice in all the following species: Daphne Guidium; Erica cinerea, Erica herbacea, Erica spinosa, Erica vulgaris, and var.; Dryas octopetala, Gaultheria procumbens, and Shalloon, which may be used as a border or edging; the Ledum, Menziesia, and, lastly, the Empetrum and Polygala Chamara buxus.
We may also plant with very good effect, in the first row, several beautiful Ferns, perennial and bulbous flowers, as the Lilium lancifolium, Philadelphicnm, etc., and Cypripedium pubescens and spectabile.
It need scarcely be added, that the employment of various shrubs with deciduous leaves in their groups, is equally correct; and we may select, with great advantage, those which flower early, and are more liable to suffer from a late frost in the spring, as, for example, the Magnolia purpurea, Yulan discolor, Soulaogiana, the Pavonia arborea, and various others.
These groups, when once planted, require but little care, their demands being limited to a copious supply of moisture during the summer, and a covering in winter to protect them from the rays of the sun, which, be it understood, is not intended to shield them from the cold, and should consist merely of a roof of coarse canvas, or of straw matting.
The beauty and value of groups made nearly exclusively of North American shrubs, are at this day so highly appreciated in England, that the London Royal Botanical Society established, some years ago, the American garden, in which the trees and shrabs of America are cultivated to the exclusion of all others. The beauty of this garden is so freely admitted, that many horticulturists avail themselves of the opportunity given, by the crowds which frequent it during the flowering season, to exhibit any valuable or rare specimens which they may possess.
They bring from a distance of thirty, forty, or fifty miles, specimens of Rhododendrons, Kalpiias, and many other plants, far surpassing in beauty those of their native climes, and proving the efficacy of a well directed and judicious system of horticulture. In this country, the expenses necessary in Europe may be avoided, for whilst, in England, a fine specimen of Ealmia latifolia is worth from ten to twenty dollars, it may be here procured without any trouble, or scarcely any cost* on the shores of the Hudson, or in any of the forests.
Another advantage which accrues to the amateur is, that these plants, when once transplanted, may be retransplanted annually without risk, and that they admit of being forced without danger.
Those most covered with flower buds are removed in autumn, and put into pots, in which they are removed to conservatories to be forced. When judiciously treated, they will flower as early as March, frequently in February. In May or June, they may be restored to their original localities, and others may be taken thence during the following year.
[The foregoing essay, in a spirit of excellent taste, has been kindly furnished us by Mr. Baumann, in French; on making a translation, we are much pleased with it, but must caution our friends at the North how they adopt all the plants mentioned, some of which, we fear, might not be hardy; but we can see no reason why those kmnon to stand our winters should not be thus employed; the suggestion of planting in the shady and unemployed parts of the garden, should be remembered. - Ed].