Of the perversity of Hemlocks I could write a volume. I knew something of their waywardness in the State of Maine, but even in Massachusetts, where everything is regulated by law, they show no higher sense of duty.
In vain do you coax along a beautiful little tree, carefully raised in a nursery till it has a fine ball of roots, to live and thrive for several seasons; at the end of that time you find it in the spring yellow and brown and bare, with every sign of premature decay about it. In a clump they may condescend to grow, or on a hill, but if you don't want a clump, or a hill on the lawn, what then?
Any one who has ever set his affections on a Peach orchard knows something of the shameless coquetry of its behavior; and in the course of these chapters I shall be compelled to record instances of misconduct even in the most innocent and carefully brought up trees as well as in the wild and unsophisticated ones. Even the common White Birch, which will live anywhere and everywhere, and thrive on a sandbank, goes and gets itself eaten up with rosebugs the minute we try to utilize it on a lawn. Lombardy Poplars, too, in spite of much specious promising, behave shamefully; and I have known a Catalpa to grow undaunted in an inclo-sure for twenty years and then succumb in a cowardly way to one cold winter. The fact is, though I am loath to say it, as a class you cannot absolutely depend upon trees, and when you say that - why, you say everything!
I have also something to add concern ing our grove of Chestnut-trees, that were taken from a plantation of trees in our neighborhood, which had been made some years ago, on one of the neglected places hereabout. They had been set out when small, and left to take their chances without cultivation for certainly ten years. How much they had received when very young I cannot say, for their gardener has long since moved away. When we got them they were some three inches in diameter one foot from the ground, and slim and stately, with fairly good roots, but not like those of frequently moved nursery trees. We topped them when they were set in the autumn, and as they did not seem very vigorous, the next year we cut them back very severely, of different lengths, as an experiment. Some of them we left ten feet high, and one of them which had poor roots and looked sickly we cut down to within two feet of the ground.
Last summer they all put out vigorous tops with enormous leaves, but they are much beset by the aphis, which makes havoc with the first growth, and later by the insatiable rosechafer; yet, in spite of these drawbacks, they thrive in the rich deep soil of the swale, sheltered by the hill from the sun and the burning southwest winds. They are planted about fifteen feet apart, as we thought they would do better in close company, and they can be trimmed out when they are larger if it seems desirable. Smaller ones are set on the hillside, where they seem to flourish, and some future generation may see our hillside, like those noble slopes of the Connecticut valley, waving with their splendid foliage.