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 best trees, like the best people, are the rarest; possibly we attach more interest to the rare, both in trees and in the human species, by an unjust standard; yet in the former, the slowness of growth which adds to the value of the wood, and is apt to influence our estimate of beauty, is one cause of the scarcity of fine specimens among us. We are but young planters, and we want immediate effects. How then can we expect to find a large tree like the Holly, which requires no less than a century to bring it to perfection It is rather a hopeless case, we confess, and yet we would fain advise every one who plants not to forget the Holly, the most beautiful of our native evergreens, its shape, color and form of leaves, and its ever ornamental berries considered.* It is slow to germinate, slow to grow, and difficult to move from the spot where nature placed it; and yet there is no reason to despair, if you begin right As a hedge it has no compeer, and he who first shows a fine Holly hedge of some extent in America will be entitled to the thanks of all posterity, as well as his cotemporaries.
The Holly, like Magnolia glauca, adapts itself to the soil in which it is placed. In New Jersey, near the sea coast it thrives admirably in dry sand; in Maryland, in gravely soil; while in South Carolina, Georgia, and Lower Louisiana, it seeks shady places on the edges of swamps, where the soil is cool and fertile. In all these situations it is vigorous and enduring. The writer has lately seen, with extreme admiration, immense numbers near Absecom, in New Jersey, a new watering place of extraordinary capabilities, to which a railroad has just been opened from Philadelphia. Some of them are undoubtedly more than a century old, and growing close to the edge of the boundary of the sea; exposed to all the fury of the north-east- winds, they have been blown into fantastic shapes at the tops, but have firmly resisted the awful storms which make that coast the dread of the mariner.
The difficulty of germinating the Holly seeds may be overcome with skill and knowledge; probably the recommendations in Michaux's great work on American Trees are the best; but there are doubtless other methods, such as the use of hot water, and passing them through the stomachs of domestic birds, to rid them of their viscous covering, which would be efficacious. The writer has succeeded best where considerable moisture was regularly present In one instance a large quantity was planted in the bed of a grapery, and in two years after only a few came up; these it was observed were under a drip of the glass, which was imperfect, and in no other spot did they vegetate - a fact suggestive and important.
* In making some garden calls a few days ago at Astoria, in company with Mr. HooG, wo were shown a beautiful Holly tree, a perfect cone about eight or ten feet high, every way as fine as any of the size we have seen In England. It was standing in an open exposed situation, and appeared quite at home in it The time for the Holly and other such alow growing trees has scarcely arrived yet in this country; planters have been impatient; Silver Maples, Pawtonlas, Abelea and Allantus, have been more in demand. This arose from the necessity of having shade and shelter, in new places. The Holly is a luxury in ornamental gardens, and like other luxuries will be sought for only when no.
The mention of Michaux's Sylva reminds us to say that a new edition of that invaluable work has been called for by the public, and is just ready for issue. It is entirely indispensable to the student of arboriculture, and having the advantage of new American notes, it is becoming the vade mecum of all who plant The newspapers herald the advent of a Jenny Lind or a Grisi, as evidence of our social advancement and liberality in the expenditure of money; they puff away at these and similar surface polishings in perfect ignorance of this great book, which is penetrating to our most distant settlements, and diffusing taste and information where Grisi and Mario can never teach, and where its results will live for the admiration of future generations when the very names of "dear Jenny" and our present visitors will be forgotten.*
We cannot but wish, sometimes, that our newspapers would devote a little corner to country affairs; we should so like our visitors from the great cities when they come to see us, to know a Willow from a Deodar, or even a Larch from a Pine; but no they go on from generation to generation, in entire ignorance of what constitutes rustic beauty and ornament; they travel thousands of miles to get a peep at some landscape from a mountain height, the ingredients of which, its geological and arboricul-tural treasures they are entirely ignorant of. How much more pleasure would they enjoy, if they had instructed themselves to observe and admire the beauties of nature. We, as a people, know too little of Astronomy, of Geology, and of Botany; and we shall so continue till our teachers of youth know something themselves of these sciences. It is too amusing to see our city teachers with their scholars on a pio-nic in the country; they cannot tell the young and inquiring youths the name of a single tree, unless indeed, they find chestnuts, or acorns beneath them! This must be altered; no teacher should pass an examination at a Normal School, unless he can tell a Currant bush from a Magnolia, when neither have fruit or flower.