When at last we came to the clearing, we found Pines in plenty, but, unfortunately, the soil was rocky, and the trees were hard to dislodge, and did not come up with as good a ball of earth as in the sandy hill where we had found them before; but we packed them well away in the cart, with moss about their roots, and a rubber blanket to keep off the sun, and pretty soon the wagon was nodding with trees four or five feet high, closely jammed together, and Birnam Wood was on the march for Dunsinane.
The hill had been dug the day before, and some twoscore holes prepared for the new-comers, so that by noon-time those of the first load were all firmly wedged into their beds, to be staked and tied later, to prevent their rocking with the wind, which gives them at present quite the air of a paddock of frisky young colts, carefully hitched to prevent their getting away.
That night there was a brisk and most encouraging shower, and the next day, after the rest of the holes had been filled with a second load of Pines, there came down quite a respectable rain, so that we greatly plumed ourselves upon our foresight in having got our trees in the nick of time, just as the drought "broke".
But, alas, for the prescience of man, and for our corner in Pines! We mulched them all well with sea-weed, to keep in what moisture we might, and waited confidently for more rain; but no rain came! Two weeks more of dry weather ensued; many of the green tassels hung sadly down, a cold, dry wind blew, twisting and turning them in every direction, and mercilessly whipped the branches about, giving the poor things a cruel foretaste of what they are likely to encounter as time goes on. If the new trees look about upon their well-rooted neighbors, they must be struck with the havoc made upon them by the northwest wind. It is always the northwest side of a tree that is brownest and thinnest, and which shows the most broken branches, and the greatest number of withered, copper-colored spines.
Not until the last of May did the rain come down in earnest, too late for any but the most healthy of the Pines to reap the benefit of its invigorating freshness, and they still had the hot summer before them.
To show the importance of moisture to a Fine, I will add that among the trees brought, there were about a dozen that had no ball of earth attached to them, and reached here with perfectly bare roots. Knowing it was useless to set them on the hill in this condition, they were all planted in a very wet place at the foot of it, which is kept as a nursery for decrepit and rootless trees. If from anywhere we receive a tree poorly provided with roots, or of drooping and unhappy aspect, or if we bring one home that looks unpromising, into that moist spot it goes, and never a tree has perished there yet, no matter how forlorn, a specimen it was when it went into the ground. This nursery is called the Tree Hospital, and we find a year in it is a cure for most of the ailments that roots are heir to.
In this last experiment, the ten trees planted there, though quite the worst of the lot, never showed a sign of wilting through all the dry weather. Their tassels stood up straight and stiff, of a clean bright green, and, though so unpromising to start with, they will probably in the end leave the others far behind. Even the Hemlocks, so troublesome on the lawn, thrive in this low and sheltered spot, where we have finally sent the worst of them for repairs. I have been told, by one who knows, that what the Hemlock cannot abide is the March sun, which does mischief, while the blaze of summer is harmless to it.