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.
We are pleased to notice the Hemlock is attracting more attention. We consider it, beyond all question, the roost graceful, the most beautiful tree of the evergreen family indigenous to North America for ornamental purposes. It is a native of our northern hills, and too common to be generally appreciated; it is, notwithstanding, the most beautiful of evergreens. It is distinguished from all other Pines, by the softness and delicacy of its tufted foliage; from Spruces by its slender, tapering branchlets, and the smoothness of its limbs; and from the Balsam Fir, by its small terminal cones, by the irregularity of its branches, and of the gracefulness of its whole appearance. It is as handsome as the Deodar, and is very much like it. The latter droops more, and is silvery in its foliage, instead of bronzy; but they are much alike otherwise, and are the best possible companions in pleasure grounds. It is of considerable importance, being in its perfection a more beautiful tree than the White fine, or any other evergreen. It is far less formal in its shape than other trees of the same family.
Its branches being slender and flexible, do not project stiffly from the shaft; they bend slightly at the terminations, and are easily moved by the wind; and as they are very numerous, and covered with foliage, we behold in the tree a dense mass of glittering verdure, not to be seen in any other tree in the forest. A great many persons, who only know the Hemlock in the wood, affect a contempt for it as an ornamental tree. They think it "shaggy, ugly, and wild looking." They only show their ignorance. Few have the least idea of its striking beauty when grown singly in a smooth lawn, its branches extending freely on all sides and sweeping the ground, its loose spray and full feathering foliage flaunting freely in the air, and in its full proportions of the finest symmetry and harmony.
Let us see what further can be said of it Hardy, of fair growth when well established, color vivid green, unchanged by hardest frosts, and the style of branch and leaf superbly graceful. Nothing can exceed the beauty of its growth in early summer. For airy gracefulness, and the absence of that stiffness more or less prevalent in most evergreens, we must be allowed, therefore, to claim the first place for the Hemlock, as a tree for the lawn or park. The Norway Spruce, and several others, have their several excellences, but, all things considered, they must yield the palm to this.
The Hemlock is mostly unknown as a shade tree; it is seldom seen by the roadside, except on the edge of the wood, and not in cultivated grounds. In its native haunts, by the side of some steep mountain, it is most often a grand and picturesque tree. But, unfortunately, it has the reputation of being a difficult tree to transplant; and so it is, if taken from the forest and carelessly handled, though we have seen many of them removed with scarcely the loss of half-a-dozen in the hundred; yet, we are bound to confess, that in the ordinary rude handling it is impatient of removal. They will not bear the exposure to the sun and air, even for a short period, which seems to have little effect upon most deciduous trees. Once their roots fairly dried and shrivelled, they are slow to regain their former vital power, and the plant in consequence dies. If one can not give time and pains to do the work well, let him buy his trees from the nursery, and then they will be sure to live. When taken from the woods, it is best done in winter; or, if the soil is sufficiently tenacious, with a damp ball in spring, as has been done successfully by the writer. The want of success usually attending the transplanting of it from the woods, has prevented the general adoption of it as an ornamental tree.
Some noble specimens are occasionally seen in rude situations, where the cultivator has not interrupted their spontaneous growth; and the poet and the naturalist are inspired with a pleasing admiration of their beauty, because they have seen them only where the solitary birds sing their wild notes, and where the heart is unmolested by the crowding tumult of human settlements.
The young Hemlocks, by their numerous irregular branches, clothed with foliage of a delicate green, form a rich mass of verdure; and when, in the beginning of summer, each tiny twig is terminated with a tuft of yellowish green recent leaves, surmounting the darker green of the former year, the effect, as an object of beauty, is equalled by the very few flowering shrubs, and far surpasses that produced by any other tree.
As it bears pruning to almost any degree, without suffering injury, it is well suited for hedges, and screens for the protection of more tender trees and plants, or for concealing disagreeable objects. A hedge of this kind may be made in a few years, to assume the appearance of an impenetrable evergreen wall, really impene-trable to the wind and to domestic animals. It adds also to the landscape in winter, by the green foliage, which is always cheering to the sight at that dreary season.
We must not omit, while speaking of the evergreens, to say a word concerning.