The Plane and Lime have long been regarded as the best trees of the town, but it behoves us to remember that several trees much more valuable than these for flower or leaf beauty - trees such as the many forms of Prunus, including the Almond, the Gean or Wild Cherry and the purple-leaved Plum, the Catalpa, the Mountain Ash, the False Acacia or Robinia, the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus) and the Paulownia - will thrive in town gardens.
Those who learn their gardening from the civic authorities become wedded to the Plane, but it is more particularly a street tree. It certainly has its value, for it will endure impure air and flourish in ordinary soil. Moreover, it will bear a good deal of cutting. This is par excellence the London street tree. In Berlin, the Lime or Linden is favoured. This tree has a strong odour when in bloom, which some people find disagreeable; the point should be considered when selecting trees for positions near houses.
The Wych Elm will thrive in town gardens, and the Lombardy Poplar and Horse Chestnut are quite at home in the suburbs of the largest towns. It has been mentioned elsewhere that the Lombardy Poplar may be used as a kind of glorified hedge, for if planted about six feet apart and beheaded at eight feet, it will throw out a dense thicket of shoots from bottom to top of the main stem, thus forming a thick screen. It is a tree, for utility rather than ornament.
The Horse Chestnut ought to be planted much more freely in the larger suburban garden than the Plane, the Lime, or the Poplar. It is neither columnar nor cabbagy; on the contrary, its habit is well balanced and symmetrical. It spreads sufficiently to give valuable shade and shelter. Of the beauty of its flowers nothing need be said.
The Mulberry might be thought of as a distinct and interesting tree for the gardens of suburbs, small towns and garden cities.
Fig. The Laburnum May Be Planted In The Suburbs And In Garden Cities. The Laburnum is here shown growing in Kew Gardens. Colour photo by R. A. Malby.
As commonly seen, that is, in its variegated form and without berries, it is apt to look "tame." When well berried, however, and particularly if intermingled with the green-leaved berry-bearing form, it loses its monotonous effect. Planters should order both variegated and green-leaved berry-bearers or female trees, and also male trees to plant in the neighbourhood, for in this shrub the sexes are on different plants.
Another good suburban and garden city shrub is the Euonymus, which will thrive quite close to the largest town. It is a lively and exhilarating shrub. The Japanese form should be chosen, because this is evergreen, and one of the brightest varieties of it is latifolius aureus, which is as good as a burst of sunshine on a winter day.
There is nothing better for a low wall in a suburban or garden city enclosure than Pyrus (Cydonia) japonica; for a pillar than the yellow winter Jasmine, nudiflorum; and for an arbour or arch than Clematis mont ana.
As flowering shrubs for the border, the following may be used: Amelanchier canadensis, Berberis aquifolium (B. Darwinii, B. stenophylla and others thrive splendidly at Kew and would do in the garden city), Colutea arborescens, the Bladder Senna; Daphne Mezereum (this will do in surburban gardens, near the largest towns and is deliciously scented), Deutzia crenata flore pleno, Forsythia suspensa and F. viridis-sima, Hypericum calycinum, Kerria japonica flore pleno, Lilacs, Philadelphus grandiflorus (large Mock Orange), Potentilla fruticosa (a low shrub that could be used for the rock garden), Rhus Cotinus, Ribes aureum, R. sanguineum and its forms (atrosanguineum is particularly rich in colour), Skimmia japonica, Weigelas and Yuccas.
A little consideration of the foregoing will serve to show that there is a much wider range of choice for the town, suburban and garden-city planter than is generally known. There are, of course, towns and towns. There are acid towns like Widnes, coal towns like Dudley, foundry towns like Lincoln, factory towns like Sheffield, residential towns like Winchester and Canterbury, garden-towns like Bournville, Letchworth and Port Sunlight. Very few shrubs or trees will succeed under the walls of huge works from the chimneys of which volumes of gritty smoke and smuts or noxious fumes are poured. But the largest of towns may be harmless to most vegetation if factories are few and well scattered.
The old kindly practice of planting trees for shade along town streets is reviving. In the new type of town we may expect to see wider thoroughfares than in the old, and not only that, but a liberal provision of corner sites and squares kept open for trees and shrubs. In fact, there is a movement - a noble and wholly beneficent movement - for wide streets and green corners in towns instead of narrow streets and tavern corners.
New communities have opportunities which the old did not enjoy. Urban authorities have a large and increasing mass of enlightened public opinion behind them, and there should be no such evils either in the towns or suburbs of the future as those which grew up in the old, and which still throw their evil shadow over the homes of the poor.