If the view is to be limited to the confines of the garden and exterior objects shut out, it may or may not be desirable to plant tall-growing trees somewhat closely. If the ground outside falls away, and the undesirable objects are low, many tall trees will not be needed, the lower flowering trees will suffice in the main; but if the ground is high, or the objects to be hidden are lofty, then tall trees are called for. In cases where ugly factory chimneys or other tall unsightly objects are in view from the house, quick-growing trees are called for. Poplars may be thought of, not alone the stiff, cylindrical Lombardy variety, but the more spreading Black or Austrian and the White or Abele; likewise the Sycamore. The Oak, the Beech and the Elm are noble trees, but their growth is slower.
Whenever it is desired to shut out an ugly object as quickly as possible, the temptation to plant a close belt comes in, and inasmuch as the Lombardy Poplar breaks freely into growth from the bole when the head is cut off at eight or ten feet high it is often planted in a close rank and topped. The result is a screen, quite dense when the trees are in leaf, but it is stiff, and is little better than a glorified hedge. If used it should be looked at in the light of a tall hedge, not as a real ornament to the garden, and more interesting things should be planted in front of it, so that something better is seen from the house than a belt of Poplars little more attractive than a row of telegraph poles or a range of huts.
The shutting in of a house with trees must be considered in various ways. Shade and shelter have their claims, but take care that they do not degenerate into gloom and enervating closeness. There is often one particularly exposed quarter, where, at certain periods of the year, cold winds rage, pinching the plants and making the residents uncomfortable. By all means let that quarter be given tree-shelter. Again, there may be one part where something ugly shows up, or (with the presence of building land outside) may be expected to show up. By all means let that be screened too. But do not let any belt-planting, which may be called for in such circumstances, be the signal for the wholesale planting of Poplars, Sycamores, and such like close to the house.
Where trees envelop a garden on a low site there is likely to be an enervating atmosphere for long periods, and during the winter there is gloom and damp. I admit that such gardens have their moments of joy. In spells of hot, dry, summer weather, they are veritable havens of shade and peace. But there are other times.
Broadly speaking, the system of belt-planting near a house is objectionable, and should only be resorted to for a particular purpose. Except for that definite object, the planting of trees in gardens finds nobler expression in choosing special sites for individual specimens and groups farther away from the building.
Assuming that no screen-belt or shelter-belt of quick-growing trees is required, shall there be no tall trees on the confines of the place in front of the house? I think that in all places of moderate and large size provision should be made for planting a suitable number of tall trees such as Oak, Beech, Chestnut,
Birch, Elm, Maple and Poplar; and some of these should come in front of the house. There are, too, the Conifers to consider - the Cedars, the Pines, the Firs. The large deciduous trees, such as the Oak and Beech, might be planted in groups or singly, thirty to forty yards apart; the Conifers in groups a few feet apart or in some cases singly. The effects of group and single planting are described in Chapter 13., where pruning is dealt with.
When the sites for the large trees have been chosen those for the small ornamental-leaved and flowering trees may be found. These may be set as near as six to eight yards apart. Almonds, Pyrus spectabilis, Plums, Cherries, the dark-leaved Prunus Pissardii, Pyrus Malus floribunda, Lilacs, Thorns, Crabs, Robinias, Magnolias and variegated Maples will all provide welcome colour of leaf or bloom. The Pyrus family,which includes the Apple and Crab, is pre-eminently beautiful when in bloom, and there is real beauty in the fruits of the Crabs when they line the branches almost from base to tip in those seasons when they bear well. The dual beauty of some of the Thorns must also be remembered. Some of the single-flowered varieties berry freely and are very ornamental in late summer. The double Thorns are magnificent when in full bloom. In order to get as long a period of beauty as possible it is well to plant the various kinds alternately.
Fig. The apple and crab are pre-eminently beautiful when in bloom. Apple Blossom in a Cottage Garden. Painted by A. C. Wyatt.
There is no appreciable amount of shade and drip from the low-growing ornamental trees when planted in the way advised, and shrubs, both flowering and coniferous, may be planted among them. The shrubs should not be set close up to the stems of the trees. There is always the temptation to plant up too close to trees on tall, clean standard stems. Fruit-growers make the mistake and shrub-planters are liable to imitate it. Shrubs should not be put nearer than four feet. One may be set directly in front of each standard, so that the bare stem is hidden.