Upon the sandy knoll where our house is situated, and especially along the street, in places only accessible to a very long hose, the trees and turf suffered greatly, and the sudden drop of fifty degrees of temperature, at the end of the period of drought, had a most disastrous effect upon the leaves, which shriveled and curled and turned red, and dropped off in many instances. A vigorous young Catalpa on our lawn, which, after the cautious manner of its kind, only ventured to put on its spring gown after the first of June, and then undertook to blossom freely, was so distressed by the changes of the weather, that after the storm we found at least two bushels of leaves strewing the ground beneath it, and many others in such a condition that the lightest touch would detach them. Enough remained, however, to protect the blossoms, which are wonderful productions for a tree to bear. If each one grew in a garden on a single slender stem one would value it for its exquisite painted beauty, and delicate perfume; and to find a great spike of them decorating a burly tree is a constant source of astonishment at the prodigality of Nature. It is like the appearance of a fine gentleman of the last century in a ruffled shirt and diamond shoe - buckles, among the more plainly coated fin de siècle beaux of our own day.
I have a great admiration for a Catalpa; its huge vivid green leaves give it a semi-tropical air, and its sensitiveness to cold and storm shows that it comes naturally from a warmer clime than ours. I try to console it for its exile by lending it in summer-time our Amazon parrot for a companion, and there is no prettier sight than the vision of this lovely green bird, of exactly the shades of the sunlight and shadow on the Catalpa leaves, pluming himself un-tethered upon the inner branches, only caged by the dome of the great boughs with their verdant canopy. When the leaves are in their prime he is perfectly concealed from view by his color, even when he takes a fancy to perch upon an outer bough; and there he mocks and jeers at the passers-by with songs and laughter and merry cries, till you would think a whole primary school was let loose upon the lawn and all the pupils calling each other by name, or else that this was a lunatic asylum.
To return to the line of trees that border the street. We find that it is not safe to leave them without a heavy top-dressing to act as mulch, and this application having been delayed this year by press of business, we found one good-sized Elm, that we imagined to be settled for life, dropping its leaves and turning brown in a most unbecoming manner, while the smaller and more recently planted trees were also showing signs of distress. A good dousing and dressing brought them all to, however, and when the mowing of the swale after the rain allowed us to make the rounds of the plantation, we discovered that the only serious sufferers were our newly set Pines, which are bringing the hill into disrepute by their brown and sear condition. This eminence naturally suffers severely from drought and hot weather; the little Oaks and Chestnuts burn up, and the Pines wilt distressingly, but they are so numerous that there is nothing to be done for them but to await the survival of the fittest. An Oak once rooted is rooted forever, but it is a question of time as to when it can maintain its top, and ours have burned off year after year, until now they seem to have gained vigor enough to hang on in spite of fate.