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.
The English and Irish Yews would undoubtedly make fine hedges in our climate. Mr. Reid has commenced his experiments with these, and sees no reason why they should not succeed as well here as in Europe; in very severe winters they become a little brown, but when placed in hedges they will stand the severity of winter better than as single plants. These like the Juniper would be only for ornament.
The Norway Spruce (Abies excelsa) makes a rapid hedge row, and where shelter from winds is required, we know of no plant better suited for that purpose, especially in northern latitudes. It will take much space if allowed to attain its full beauty and height; if a low screen be wanted, the leader may be annually stopped, and the side branches trimmed back the entire last year's growth; this makes a heavy, thick, blackish-green fence of great importance where high winds are offensive or injurious.
The Deodora will probably make a handsome hedge plant, but has not yet been sufficiently long in use, and is still too expensive.
The whole Yew family is remarkable for its substantial and enduring qualities. The lives of single specimens number hundreds of years, and they were largely used when the topiary style of gardening was in vogue. On Long Island all of them are hardy, while the Irish or pyramidal is the better when shielded by other shrubs from the keenness of a northwestern wind. Indeed all of them would be the better for this slight protection.
The common English Yew, is too well known to need description. Its dark foliage and capability of being clipped into fantastic forms, give it a place which can only be attained by other members of its own family.
The Erect Yew is the most prominent of these. It is more upright in its form,more hardy against cold, smaller and finer in its foliage, and in many ways superior to the common English Yew.
The Irish Yew has nothing like it in form. The diameter of its foliage is scarcely one-fifth of its height, and its color is rich and dark.
The Japan Yew has larger leaves, stronger and more luxuriant growth, and larger diameter of foliage, in proportion to its height, than the Irish Yew, which it somewhat resembles in form.
The Golden Yew is the most sinking of all. When the new growth is upon it, in June, its surface is like burnished gold, to be seen from all points. I know of nothing so valuable for rich color effects, and cannot easily forget the view which burst upon me when I came from -behind the shrubbery upon the Italian garden of Elvaston Castle, where crowns and pagodas and birds and arm chairs, made of the Golden Yew, interspersed with clipped forms of the English Yew, made a charming scene which I cannot describe to you in adequate terms.
The Elegant Yiw is a lighter tipped variety, somewhat resembling the Golden.
The Cephalotaxus is a yew-like Chinese tree, introduced by Fortune, the Chinese explorer. It has a very light foliage, bears clipping well, and is so marked in its character that it should be in every collection.
[To be Continued.)