People question us about our Willows, and ask whether we are to make a hedge of them or allow them to grow up into trees. "If you allow the Willow-trees to grow up," they ask, "won't they shut off all your view? and if you don't allow them to, won't the labor and trouble of cutting them back every year be serious?"
We do mean to let them grow into trees at their own sweet will, at least for the present. The knoll is so high, and the slope of the ground, from the foot of it to the edge of the place, so decided, that our veranda-floor is some twenty-five feet above the level where the Willows are set, so that they can grow for some years to come without becoming an annoyance. They are also quite a long distance away, as the line runs diagonally between us and the meadow. Should they ever become a serious obstruction, polling once in five years, we think, will keep them where we want them, as from our elevation we can look directly over the top of a very tall old Apple-tree which stands at the foot of the slope near the house, and a Willow in the distance will have to be quite a tree to be really troublesome. A vista cut here and there in the line will really enhance the charm of the prospect, but at present they are not more than fifteen feet high.
Another inquiry has been made with regard to the preparation of the soil on the hill for the Pines.
Unfortunately, we did nothing in the way of making a bed for them beyond the process I have described. No doubt, they would have fared much better for a little feeding, and more of them would have lived, but the hill was very steep and hard, to get at, even with a wheelbarrow; and, besides, we had no soil to spare, for we needed everything we could get for the lawn, and did not care to buy any for so doubtful an enterprise. We therefore tried our experiment under the sternest conditions. However, those tiny Pilgrim fathers of the future forest stood the trial like little men. Some of them, it is true, died of consumption, and some of fever; but the survivors are growing tall and stout on their poor pickings, and will do us credit yet.
There is one of them, nicknamed Epis-copus, from its birthplace in the church lot, which is a beautiful illustration of that fable called Nature and Education, in "Evenings at Home," a book which was the delight of the childhood of a previous generation, and an infinite bore to the present advanced infant.
I spied the poor thing one day hanging by one root to the side of a sandhill, which was being graded to a smooth slope, and asked the men who were working there to let me have it. Though much ridiculed for its shapeless and unpromising aspect, it was given a comfortable shelf pretty well down on the slope, and coaxed to hold its head up by various devices. Unused to kind treatment, this wayside waif, which had got used to growing nearly upside down, hung its head and sidled up against the hill, and seemed to find its branches as much in its way as the legs and arms of a guttersnipe in a parlor; but time and training, and the neighborhood of Boston have their influence even on a Pine, and that clerical tree is now a very Bishop in erectness and dignity, having been lopped and pruned and tied to stakes, till it puts the most symmetrical of the other Pines to shame by the vigor of its development, proving that if anything can "beat Nature" it is Education.
The consolation of having a limited number of trees is that each one acquires an individuality, and their owner gets to know them as a shepherd does his flock. I wish every one could learn the way in which these little growing things take hold of one's interest, and people life in the country, and that this pursuit could be taught to children as a branch of their education.