This section is from the book "Beautiful Gardens - How To Make Them And Maintain Them", by Walter P. Wright. Also available from Amazon: Beautiful Gardens: How To Make And Maintain Them.
The cone - bearing trees, or Conifers, as they are called collectively, form a section of great importance. Many are evergreen, and of beautiful form, while they embrace considerable diversity of foliage, both in respect to form and hue. When planted in suitable soil, and intelligently managed, they frequently attain to enormous dimensions, while preserving an admirable grace and distinctiveness.
The Abies, or Silver Firs, comprise several of our most beautiful Conifers, such as the species Cephalonica, concolor, and Nordmanniana, and the variety nobilis glauca.
Araucaria imbricata, the Monkey Puzzle, stands alone in character. If opinions differ as to its beauty they cannot very well do so over its distinctiveness.
The Cedars include such well-known trees as the Cedar of Lebanon and the Deodar. Cedrus Atlantica and the variety glauca are more generally useful garden trees.
The Japan Cedar, Cryptomeria Japonica, is a beautiful tree when it attains size, which it does not usually do unless in a rich and sheltered position. It is much used as a small ornamental shrub. There are several charming varieties of it.
The Cypresses (Cupressus) give us some exceedingly beautiful trees, which are very valuable while in a small state. Mention may be made of Lawsoniana and its varieties, such as aurea and erecta viridis; obtusa (or Retinispora obtusa) and its varieties aurea and nana aurea; and pisifera (or Retinispora pisifera) and its varieties plumosa, plumosa aurea, and squarrosa. All of these are good.
Ginkgo biloba (or Salisburia adiantifolia), the Maidenhair Tree, has both distinctiveness and beauty to recommend it. It is not, however, evergreen.
Fig. A fine specimen of the Maidenhair Tree, ginkgo biloba.
The Junipers (Juniperus) are valuable both in a small and a large state. The species Chinensis and its varieties aurea and glauca give us three good small trees. Sabina is a dwarf tree, and its varieties procumbens and prostrata are still smaller. Virginiana, the Red Cedar, has attracted a good deal of attention in recent years, and, with its varieties, forms a useful group.
The Larch, Larix Europaea, is the most largely grown of all Conifers in this country, on account of its great economic value. Easily raised from seed, a very rapid grower, and of upright habit, it speedily gives a supply of long, straight, strong timber. It is, however, well worth a place in the garden, on account of the tender green of its young foliage in spring. The Japanese Larch, leptolepis, is rapidly coming into favour.
Libocedrus decurrens is almost as distinct, in its way, as the Monkey Puzzle, and is undoubtedly a very effective tree. There are some excellent specimens in the gardens at Orton Hall, near Peterborough, which have been raised from seed in a generation.
Among the Piceas, or Spruce Firs, we find several ornamental Conifers, such as Morinda, or Smithiana, as it is often called in the trade lists, pungens, and the variety of the latter known as glauca. The common Spruce, Picea excelsa, is useful, and it has several dwarf varieties, notably pygmaea, which is a good deal used in gardens.
The Pines (Pinus) give us some of our most familiar Conifers. The Scotch Fir, sylvestris; and the Austrian Pine, Austriaca, are two cases in point. In addition there are the Corsican Pine, Laricio; the Stone Pine, Strobus; and ponderosa. There are varieties of most of these. Most of the Pines thrive in poor soil, but being, as a class, somewhat sombre in appearance, they must not be planted too freely.
The Plum Yew, Prumnopitys elegans, is not a very well-known Conifer, but it is graceful, and well worth planting.
The Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga Douglasii, or Abies Douglasii, as it is often called by the trade, is a handsome Conifer.
The Umbrella Pine, Sciadopitys verticillata, is a unique and interesting tree, not often seen.
Sequoia, or Wellingtonia, gigantea is one of our finest Conifers. Noble examples of this beautiful tree are to be found in many gardens. Mention may be made of the two specimens planted by their Majesties King Edward VII. and Queen Alexandra while Prince and Princess of Wales at Strathfieldsaye, one of the seats of the Duke of Wellington. There is a very fine avenue of Wellingtonias at Orton Hall. The species sempervirens (Red Wood) is not so well known as gigantea, but it makes a magnificent tree.
Royal Trees - A Wellingtonia Planted By Her Majesty The Queen at Strathfieldsaye in 1875. Height, 60 Feet.
Royal Trees - A Wellingtonia Planted By His Majesty The King at Strathfieldsaye in 1875. Height, 63 feet.
The Yews are, of course, familiar. The common Yew, Taxus baccata, is used a good deal as a hedge plant. This is safe in gardens, but not in fields, for it is poisonous, and cases of horses being killed through eating it are by no means unknown. Yew-planters must take into account the slow growth of the plant. Many of the varieties are much more valuable than the common Yew, and of these may be named adpressa, Dovastoni aurea, fastigiata (Irish Yew), and fructu-lutea (yellow fruited).
The Arbor-Vitaes (Thuyas) are used both as hedge and specimen plants. The American Arbor-Vitse, Occidentalis, is the most familiar, but Japonica and Orientalis are also well known. One of the best of the Thuyas is the Japanese dolabrata, which makes a very handsome small specimen.
The Hemlock Spruce, Tsuga Canadensis, is a familiar Conifer, and there are several varieties of it, notably albo-spica, gracilis, and nana. Mertensiana is often sold under the name of Abies Mertensiana. Pattoniana and Sieboldii are two other noteworthy Tsugas.
While the foregoing remarks do not embrace every Conifer that is worth growing, they com prise most of the finest, and a selection from the different species and varieties named will add beauty, grace, and interest to the garden.
Fig. Borders Of Shrubs. A, a border of evergreens. B, a warm border of flowering shrubs.
In our fifth chapter we agreed that although we might use common shrubs, such as Aucubas and Hollies, for screens and backgrounds, we would try and find some better material for more prominent positions. Happily it awaits us in abundance. We can get shrubs and trees beautiful mainly for their foliage, and others valuable for their flowers. We can get evergreen, and we can get deciduous. We can have beauty all the year by choosing such valuable things as Berberises Darwinii and stenophylla, the Snowdrop Tree (Halesia tetraptera), the yellow and crimson Broom (Cytisus Andréanus), selected Rhododendrons (see p. 32) and mollis Azaleas, silver-variegated Maple (Acer Negundo variegata), Tree of Heaven (Ailantus glandulosa), good Almonds, Plums and Peaches, such as Prunus Davidiana, P. Persica Clara Meyer, P. triloba flore pleno, P. Pissardii, and P. pseudo-cerasus James H. Veitch; Buddleia globosa, the splendid Dogwood called Cornus albus Spàthii, such beautiful Thorns as Crataegus Oxyacantha punicea flore pleno (Paul's Double Scarlet) and C. coccinea; Scotch Laburnums (Cytisus Alpinum), the Mezereon (Daphne Mezereum), Deutzia crenata flore pleno, Forsythia suspensa, Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus sterile), Kerria Japonica flore pleno,
Fig. The Japanese Lilac, Syringa Japonica.
Lilacs like Marie Legraye and Charles X., perhaps also the Japanese Syringa Japonica; the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Magnolia grandiflora and M. stellata, the grand Mock Orange called Philadelphus grandiflorus, fine Crabs like Pyrus Malus floribunda, P.M. Scheideckeri, and P.M. spectabilis; the Sumach (Rhus Cotinus), Flowering Currants, such as Ribes aureum and R. sanguineum; Robinias, such as Neo-Mexicana and Decaisneana; the white Californian Poppy, Romneya Coulteri; Golden and Silver Elders (Sambucus nigra varieties), many Spiraeas, such as Aruncus, Filipendula flore pleno, Japonica Anthony Waterer, palmata, and Thunbergi; the Snowberry' (Symphoricarpus racemosus), and Weigelas (Diervillas), of which Eva Rathké is one of the best.