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- The Home Acre - 2/28 -

and children enter into its very materiality; walks are planned with a loving consciousness of the feet which are to tread them, and trees planted with prophetic vision of the groups that will gather beneath the shade. This could scarcely be true if the acre were turned over to architect, builders, and landscape-gardeners, with an agreement that you should have possession at a specified time.

We will suppose that it is early spring, that the ground has received its second plowing, and that the carriage-drive and the main walks have been marked out on paper, or, better still, on a carefully considered map. There is now so much to do that one is almost bewildered; and the old saying, "Rome was not built in a day," is a good thing to remember. An orderly succession of labor will bring beauty and comfort in good time, especially if essential or foundation labors are first well performed. Few things will prove more satisfactory than dry, hard, smooth carriage-roads and walks. These, with their curves, can be carefully staked out, the surface-earth between the stakes to the depth of four or five inches carted to the rear of the place near the stable, or the place where the stable is to be. Of the value of this surface-soil we shall speak presently, and will merely remark in passing that it is amply worth the trouble of saving. Its removal leaves the beds of the driveway and walks depressed several inches below the surrounding surface. Fill these shallow excavations with little stones, the larger in the bottom, the smaller on top, and cover all with gravel. You now have roads and walks that will be dry and hard even in oozy March, and you can stroll about your place the moment the heaviest shower is over. The greater first cost will be more than made good by the fact that scarcely a weed can start or grow on pathways thus treated. All they will need is an occasional rounding up and smoothing with a rake.

While this labor is going on you can begin the planting of trees. To this task I would earnestly ask careful attention. Your house can be built in a summer; but it requires a good part of a century to build the best trees into anything like perfection.

The usual tendency is to plant much too closely. Observe well- developed trees, and see how wide a space they require. There is naturally an eager wish for shade as soon as possible, and a desire to banish from surroundings an aspect of bareness. These purposes can, it is true, often be accomplished by setting out more trees at first than could mature, and by taking out one and another from time to time when they begin to interfere with each other's growth. One symmetrical, noble tree, however, is certainly worth more than a dozen distorted, misshapen specimens. If given space, every kind of tree and shrub will develop its own individuality; and herein lies one of their greatest charms. If the oak typifies manhood, the drooping elm is equally suggestive of feminine grace, while the sugar-maple, prodigal of its rich juices, tasselled bloom, and winged seeds, reminds us of wholesome, cheerful natures. Even when dying, its foliage takes on the earliest and richest hues of autumn.

The trees about our door become in a sense our companions. They appeal to the eye, fancy, and feelings of different people differently. Therefore I shall leave the choice of arboreal associates to those who are to plant them--a choice best guided by observation of trees. Why should you not plant those you like the best, those which are the most congenial?

A few suggestions, however, may be useful. I would advise the reader not to be in too great haste to fill up his grounds. While there are trees to which his choice reverts almost instantly, there are probably many other beautiful varieties with which he is not acquainted. If he has kept space for the planting of something new every spring and fall, he has done much to preserve his zest in his rural surroundings, and to give a pleasing direction to his summer observation. He is ever on the alert to discover trees and shrubs that satisfy his taste.

During the preparation of this book I visited the grounds of Mr. A. S. Fuller, at Kidgewood, N. J., and for an hour or two I broke the tenth commandment in spite of myself. I was surrounded by trees from almost every portion of the northern temperate zone, from Oregon to Japan; and in Mr. Fuller I had a guide whose sympathy with his arboreal pets was only equalled by his knowledge of their characteristics. All who love trees should possess his book entitled "Practical Forestry." If it could only be put into the hands of law-makers, and they compelled to learn much of its contents by heart, they would cease to be more or less conscious traitors to their country in allowing the destruction of forests. They might avert the verdict of the future, and prevent posterity from denouncing the irreparable wrong which is now permitted with impunity. The Arnolds of to-day are those who have the power to save the trees, yet fail to do so.

Japan appears to be doing as much to adorn our lawns and gardens as our drawing-rooms; and from this and other foreign lands much that is beautiful or curious is coming annually to our shores. At the same time I was convinced of the wisdom of Mr. Fuller's appreciation of our native trees. In few instances should we have to go far from home to find nearly all that we wanted in beautiful variety--maples, dogwoods, scarlet and chestnut oaks, the liquid- amber, the whitewood or tulip-tree, white birch, and horn-beam, or the hop-tree; not to speak of the evergreens and shrubs indigenous to our forests. Perhaps it is not generally known that the persimmon, so well remembered by old campaigners in Virginia, will grow readily in this latitude. There are forests of this tree around Paterson, N. J., and it has been known to endure twenty- seven degrees below zero. It is a handsome tree at any season, and its fruit in November caused much straggling from our line of march in the South. Then there is our clean-boled, graceful beech, whose smooth white bark has received so many tender confidences. In the neighborhood of a village you will rarely find one of these trees whereon is not linked the names of lovers that have sat beneath the shade. Indeed I have found mementoes of trysts or rambles deep in the forest of which the faithful beech has kept the record until the lovers were old or dead. On an immense old beech in Tennessee there is an inscription which, while it suggests a hug, presents to the fancy an experience remote from a lover's embrace. It reads, "D. Boone cilled bar on tree."

There is one objection to the beech which also lies against the white oak--it does not drop its leaves within the space of a few autumn days. The bleached foliage is falling all winter long, thus giving the ground near an untidy aspect. With some, the question of absolute neatness is paramount; with others, leaves are clean dirt, and their rustle in the wind does not cease to be music even after they have fallen.

Speaking of native trees and shrubs, we shall do well to use our eyes carefully during our summer walks and drives; for if we do, we can scarcely fail to fall in love with types and varieties growing wild. They will thrive just as well on the acre if properly removed. In a sense they bring the forest with them, and open vistas at our door deep into the heart of Nature. The tree is not only a thing of beauty in itself, but it represents to the fancy all its wild haunts the world over

In gratifying our taste for native trees we need not confine ourselves to those indigenous to our own locality. From the nurseries we can obtain specimens that beautify other regions of our broad land; as, for instance, the Kentucky yellow-wood, the papaw, the Judas-tree, and, in the latitude of New Jersey and southward, the holly.

In many instances the purchaser of the acre may find a lasting pleasure in developing a specialty. He may desire to gather about him all the drooping or weeping trees that will grow in his latitude, or he may choose to turn his acre largely into a nut- orchard, and delight his children with a harvest which they will gather with all the zest of the frisky red squirrel. If one could succeed in obtaining a bearing tree of Hale's paper-shell hickory- nut, he would have a prize indeed. Increasing attention is given to the growing of nut-trees in our large nurseries, and there would be no difficulty in obtaining a supply.

In passing from this subject of choice in deciduous trees and shrubs, I would suggest, in addition to visits to woods and copse, to the well-ornamented places of men who have long gratified a fine taste in this respect, that the reader also make time to see occasionally a nursery like that of S.B. Parsons & Co., at Flushing, N.Y. There is no teaching like that of the eyes; and the amateur who would do a bit of landscape-gardening about his own home learns what he would like and what he can do by seeing shrubs and trees in their various stages of growth and beauty.

I shall treat the subject of evergreens at the close of this chapter.

As a rule, I have not much sympathy with the effort to set out large trees in the hope of obtaining shade more quickly. The trees have to be trimmed up and cut back so greatly that their symmetry is often destroyed. They are also apt to be checked in their growth so seriously by such removal that a slender sapling, planted at the same time, overtakes and passes them. I prefer a young tree, straight-stemmed, healthy, and typical of its species or variety. Then we may watch its rapid natural development as we would that of a child. Still, when large trees can be removed in winter with a great ball of frozen earth that insures the preservation of the fibrous roots, much time can be saved. It should ever be remembered that prompt, rapid growth of the transplanted tree depends on two things--plenty of small fibrous roots, and a fertile soil to receive them. It usually happens that the purchaser employs a local citizen to aid in putting his ground in order. In every rural neighborhood there are smart men--"smart" is the proper adjective; for they are neither sagacious nor trustworthy, and there is ever a dismal hiatus between their promises and performance. Such men lie in wait for newcomers, to take advantage of their inexperience and necessary absence. They will assure their confiding employers that they are beyond learning anything new in the planting of trees--which is true, in a sinister sense. They will leave roots exposed to sun and wind-- in brief, pay no more attention to them than a baby-farmer would bestow on an infant's appetite; and then, when convenient, thrust them into a hole scarcely large enough for a post. They expect to receive their money long before the dishonest character of their work can be discovered. The number of trees which this class of men have dwarfed or killed outright would make a forest. The result of a well-meaning yet ignorant man's work might be equally unsatisfactory. Therefore, the purchaser of the acre should know how a tree should be planted, and see to it himself; or he should by careful inquiry select a man for the task who could bring testimonials from those to whom he had rendered like services in the past.

The hole destined to receive a shade or fruit tree should be at

The Home Acre - 2/28

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