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.
For some years there has been an unusual degree of interest taken in evergreen coniferous trees. The amount of money expended on this class of trees is, we believe, without a parallel in the history of tree planting in Great Britain, or in the world. The prices given cheerfully for single specimens of rare sorts, has only been equalled by the memorable tulip mania. This spirit remains yet in full vigor, and bids fair to continue for a long time to come. Any one who has visited Britain recently, and looked into the parks and pleasure grounds, must have been struck with the predominance of evergreens, and especially of the newly introduced species, such as the Deodar Cedar, Auracaria imbricata, etc. Messrs. Stattdish & Noble, who have issued the little manual we notice, are among the most noted and intelligent growers of these trees, and being frequently consulted respecting the character of trees and mode of planting and management, have been induced to put some practical instructions in this form. We wish we had such a book adapted to this country, and we must have it soon.
We transfer the following remarks to our pages, because they present considerations as well worthy the attention of the planter here as in England.
The position of the different groups and detached specimens having been decided on, the first consideration should refer to drainage. A drain should lead from or intersect each position intended for a single specimen, and a number in proportion to the size be in connection with the spaces allotted for each group. It will not be always necessary to afford separate drains to each. A judicious application of cross-draining, made with reference to the natural declivities of the ground, will equally accomplish the desired purpose.
"The point next demanding attention will be trenching. The situations for single trees should be trenched to the extent of at least ten feet in diameter, and eighteen or twenty inches deep, and those for the groups of a like depth, and considerably wider every way than will be required for the reception of the permanent trees. After the necessary draining and trenching, and if a season's delay is of no moment, it will be found an excellent system to take a root crop before planting. The manure and consequent cultivation will bring the soil into an excellent condition for the reception of plants; and although a season is apparently lost, it will not prove so in reality. The increased rapidity of growth in soil so well prepared will more than compensate the seeming loss of time.
"There will, of course, occur many situations where this application of manure, as far as the trees intended to be planted are concerned, will be unnecessary, while in others of a very inferior character, both a liberal manuring and cultivation will be requisite to bring the soil into a condition for their reception, with fair prospects of success. The amount of manure and subsequent cultivation will, of course, be given in proportion as circumstances may seem to demand them.
"But there is an unhappy propensity prevalent to consider a tree as destitute of the ordinary wants of plants in general, and to believe that if it is provided with sufficient soil to cover its roots, no matter what the quality may be, it can not possibly fail to thrive; but, on the contrary, care and attention are as imperative in preparing the soil for trees, and will be followed with equally satisfactory results, as in the treatment of any other of our cultivated plants.
"An important auxiliary to success in planting, in the kind of situation we are at present treating on, is shelter. From its absence alone may be attributed many failures. The conditions which plants enjoy while in the sheltered nursery-beds are of so opposite a character to what they experience when removed to open situations, exposed to drying winds and scorching suns, and wholly destitute of shelter, that frequent failures, where no precautionary measures are taken, will not upon reflection cause much surprise.
"The preliminaries of draining and trenching having been properly attended to, and the soil in a condition to receive the plants, and the exact spot for each permanent tree determined on, mix in the site for each, if the state of the soil seems to demand it, a portion of decaying vegetable matter, as rotten leaves, for the immediate reception of the plants.
"Then, with the exception of such prepared sites, plant the whole of the trenched ground somewhat thickly with common evergreen trees and shrubs, for the purpose of affording shelter to the ornamental and permanent specimens subsequently to be placed there. If the situation is very much exposed, and the soil unfavorable, the trees planted for shelter should be allowed to make one or two seasons1 growth before placing the permanent specimens. And, in the meantime, they too should be prepared to meet the difficulties of their intended new situations, by a course of treatment, for which the following instructions are offered: Procure some pieces of elm plank about 1 1/4 inch square and nine inches long, also a quantity of larch stakes about 1 1/2 inch in diameter, and of the same length with the pieces of elm, and split them longitudinally. Then take four pieces of the elm, one for each corner, and nail to them the pieces of larch, leaving spaces about three-quarters of an inch between each two, and on one side, or rather the top, entirely open. You have now the skeleton of a box, or, perhaps, it might be properly called a crate, for the reception of a plant, and the spaces between the bars are to allow free egress to the roots.
Prepare as many crates as you intend removing plants to exposed situations. Have ready some good turfy loam, with which is mixed a little leaf-mold, fill the crates with the compost, and place a plant in each, as in the ordinary mode of potting. At first they should be placed in sheltered situations, but removal should take place twice a-year, in spring and autumn; and at each remove a less sheltered situation should be chosen, till they at last occupy a tolerably exposed locality. They should always be kept planted as deep as the top of the crate. At the close of the second season they will be in a suitable condition to be planted in their permanent places. They need not be removed from their crates, as they will be quite rotten before the roots are of sufficient size to be obstructed by them. By adopting such a course, success will be obtained where every other means have failed.