Anybody can put in a tree or a shrub and let it alone, but it takes nerve to wheel it about like a baby in a go-cart.
We have neighbors who employ the conventional methods with dazzling results, but, on the whole, we doubt if their vast and imposing plantations give them as much enjoyment as our more personal intercourse with our little family of growing things. We are quite sure that each scrubby little Pine on the hill is dearer to us than a thicket of well-fed trees planted by a nurseryman.
"You will know my children," said the Owl to the Fox, with whom she had made a compact to spare them, "by their being the most beautiful little darlings in the whole world." But when the Fox came to the nest full of big-eyed, long-billed, unfledged frights, he failed to recognize the description, and ate them all up under a misapprehension. De nobis fabula.
We are afraid that most people would pronounce in favor of the upholstering of the professional, rather than of our private efforts at lawn-furnishing, but we can recommend our method on the ground of economy, both of material and of amusement, for there is no reason why this play should not go on forever, like a Wagner opera. It has its surprises too, in the way of some happy effect that you had not imagined, and again, you are horrified at the outcome of some arrangement that seemed felicitous. We have got our own shrubs so beautifully trained now, that they do not mind moving on the first of May, any more than an old New York citizen. Up they come, blossoms and all, and never drop a petal, but go on blooming serenely in their new home as if they had always been there. One spring we had from a kind friend a present of a box of rare and beautiful little shrubs, the very names of which it took a day to look up. We knew they were coming, but not what they were to be, so a bed was prepared for them within easy reach of the hose, and, when they came, they were set out carefully, in the midst of an April snowstorm, and a cold wind, which nipped their poor little half-opened leaves most cruelly.
After they were all arranged, and the weather had moderated sufficiently for one to study the labels, we found that the arrangement would have driven a gardener wild; future trees, a hundred feet high, having been set side by side with burly little shrubs, which at present look much more important than their (to be) stately neighbors. What with snow one day, and burning heat the next, combined with steady dry weather, those shrubs have had a struggle for existence, in which they have been sturdily abetted by their natural protectors. The hose one minute, and newspapers and branches of trees the next, were called upon to supply the deficiencies of Nature, who was more than ever capricious during that extraordinary season, and since at the end of the summer they were all well and firmly established, it shows what care will do to defy the inclemencies of the weather. After a year or two they will have acquired the customs of the place sufficiently to be moved where they will make the best show, but before they reach their final resting-place it is possible that they may have several halts by the way. With a ball of earth attached to the roots, traveling does not seem to hurt them much, though no doubt it retards their growth somewhat, which is all the better if they are to be kept in proper proportion to the place, which is not adapted to anything very gigantic.
Of one thing I have become certain in this limited experience of landscape-gardening, and that is, that the pleasure is in the doing, in the vision of the mind, in the ever-expanding hope for the future. When the trees have grown too large to move, and the shrubs are irrevocably rooted, we shall surely be no happier than now, when they are viewed in a halo of imagination.