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- The Home Acre - 3/28 -


least three feet in diameter and two feet deep. It then should be partially filled with good surface soil, upon which the tree should stand, so that its roots could extend naturally according to their original growth. Good fine loam should be sifted through and over them, and they should not be permitted to come in contact with decaying matter or coarse, unfermented manure. The tree should be set as deeply in the soil as it stood when first taken up. As the earth is thrown gently through and over the roots it should be packed lightly against them with the foot, and water, should the season be rather dry and warm, poured in from time to time to settle the fine soil about them. The surface should be levelled at last with a slight dip toward the tree, so that spring and summer rains may be retained directly about the roots. Then a mulch of coarse manure is helpful, for it keeps the surface moist, and its richness will reach the roots gradually in a diluted form. A mulch of straw, leaves, or coarse hay is better than none at all. After being planted, three stout stakes should be inserted firmly in the earth at the three points of a triangle, the tree being its centre. Then by a rope of straw or some soft material the tree should be braced firmly between the protecting stakes, and thus it is kept from being whipped around by the wind. Should periods of drought ensue during the growing season, it would be well to rake the mulch one side, and saturate the ground around the young tree with an abundance of water, and the mulch afterward spread as before. Such watering is often essential, and it should be thorough. Unskilled persons usually do more harm than good by their half-way measures in this respect.

Speaking of trees, it may so happen that the acre is already in forest. Then, indeed, there should be careful discrimination in the use of the axe. It may be said that a fine tree is in the way of the dwelling. Perhaps the proposed dwelling is in the way of the tree. In England the work of "groving," or thinning out trees, is carried to the perfection of a fine art. One shudders at the havoc which might be made by a stolid laborer. Indeed, to nearly all who could be employed in preparing a wooded acre for habitation, a tree would be looked upon as little more than so much cord-wood or lumber.

If I had a wooded acre I should study the trees most carefully before coming to any decision as to the situation of the dwelling and out-buildings. Having removed those obviously unworthy to remain, I should put in the axe very thoughtfully among the finer specimens, remembering that I should be under the soil before Nature could build others like them.

In the fitting up of this planet as the home of mankind it would appear that the Creator regarded the coniferae, or evergreen family, as well worthy of attention; for almost from the first, according to geologists, this family records on the rocky tablets of the earth its appearance, large and varied development, and its adaptation to each change in climate and condition of the globe's surface during the countless ages of preparation. Surely, therefore, he who is evolving a home on one acre of the earth's area cannot neglect a genus of trees that has been so signally honored. Evergreens will speedily banish the sense of newness from his grounds; for by putting them about his door he has added the link which connects his acre with the earliest geological record of tree-planting. Then, like Diedrich Knickerbocker, who felt that he must trace the province of New York back to the origin of the universe, he can look upon his coniferae and feel that his latest work is in accord with one of the earliest laws of creation. I imagine, however, that my readers' choice of evergreens will be determined chiefly by the fact that they are always beautiful, are easily managed, and that by means of them beautiful effects can be created within comparatively small space. On Mr Fuller's grounds I saw what might be fittingly termed a small parterre of dwarf evergreens, some of which were twenty-five years old.

Numbers of this family might be described as evergreen and gold; for part of the perennial foliage shades off from the deepest green to bright golden hues. Among the group of this variety, Japanese in origin, Mr. Fuller showed me a "sporting" specimen, which, from some obscure and remarkable impulse, appeared bent on producing a new and distinct type. One of the branches was quite different from all the others on the tree. It was pressed down and layered in the soil beneath; when lo! a new tree was produced, set out beside its parent, whom it soon surpassed in size, beauty, and general vigor. Although still maintaining its green and golden hues, it was so distinct that no one would dream that it was but a "sport" from the adjacent dwarf and modest tree. Indeed, it reminded one of Beatrix Esmond beside her gentle and retiring mother. If it should not in the future emulate in caprice the fair subject of comparison, it may eventually become one of the best- known ornaments of our lawns. At present it appears nowise inclined to hide its golden light under a bushel.

What I have said about forming the acquaintance of deciduous trees and shrubs before planting to any great extent, applies with even greater force to the evergreen, family. There is a large and beautiful variety from which to choose, and I would suggest that the choice be made chiefly from the dwarf-growing kinds, since the space of one acre is too limited for much indulgence in. Norway spruces, the firs, or pines. An hour with a note-book spent in grounds like those of Mr. Fuller would do more in aiding a satisfactory selection than years of reading. Moreover, it should be remembered that many beautiful evergreens, especially those of foreign origin, are but half hardy. The amateur may find that after an exceptionally severe winter some lovely specimen, which has grown to fill a large space in his heart, as well as on his acre, has been killed. There is an ample choice from entirely hardy varieties for every locality, and these, by careful inquiry of trustworthy nurserymen, should be obtained.

Moreover, it should be remembered that few evergreens will thrive in a wet, heavy soil. If Nature has not provided thorough drainage by means of a porous subsoil, the work must be done artificially. As a rule, light but not poor soils, and warm exposures, are best adapted to this genus of trees.

I think that all authorities agree substantially that spring in our climate is the best time for the transplanting of evergreens; but they differ between early and advanced spring. The late Mr. A. J. Downing preferred early spring; that is, as soon as the frost is out, and the ground dry enough to crumble freely. Mr. A. S. Fuller indorses this opinion. Mr. Josiah Hoopes, author of a valuable work entitled "The Book of Evergreens," advises that transplanting be deferred to later spring, when the young trees are just beginning their season's growth; and this view has the approval of the Hon. Marshall P. Wilder and Mr. S. B. Parsons, Jr., Superintendent of City Parks. Abundant success is undoubtedly achieved at both seasons; but should a hot, dry period ensue after the later planting--early May, for instance--only abundant watering and diligent mulching will save the trees.

It should be carefully remembered that the evergreen families do not possess the vitality of deciduous trees, and are more easily injured or killed by removal. The roots of the former are more sensitive to exposure to dry air and to sunlight; and much more certainty of life and growth is secured if the transfer can be accomplished in cloudy or rainy weather. The roots should never be permitted to become dry, and it is well also to sprinkle the foliage at the time of planting. Moreover, do not permit careless workmen to save a few minutes in the digging of the trees. Every fibrous root that can be preserved intact is a promise of life and vigor. If a nurseryman should send me an assortment of evergreens with only the large woody roots left, I should refuse to receive the trees.

What I have said in opposition to the transplanting of large trees applies with greater force to evergreens. Mr. Hoopes writes: "An error into which many unpracticed planters frequently fall is that of planting large trees; and it is one which we consider opposed to sound common-sense. We are aware that the owner of every new place is anxious to produce what is usually known as an immediate effect, and therefore he proceeds to plant large evergreens, covering his grounds with great unsightly trees. In almost every case of this kind the lower limbs are apt to die, and thus greatly disfigure the symmetry of the trees. Young, healthy plants, when carefully taken up and as properly replanted, are never subject to this disfigurement, and are almost certain to form handsome specimens."

Any one who has seen the beautiful pyramids, cones, and mounds of green into which so many varieties develop, if permitted to grow according to the laws of their being, should not be induced to purchase old and large trees which nurserymen are often anxious to part with before they become utterly unsalable.

When the evergreens reach the acre, plant them with the same care and on the same general principles indicated for other trees. Let the soil be mellow and good. Mulch at once, and water abundantly the first summer during dry periods. Be sure that the trees are not set any deeper in the ground than they stood before removal. If the soil of the acre is heavy or poor, go to the roadside or some old pasture and find rich light soil with which to fill in around the roots. If no soil can be found without a large proportion of clay, the addition of a little sand, thoroughly mixed through it, is beneficial. The hole should be ample in size, so that the roots can be spread out according to their natural bent. If the ground after planting needs enriching, spread the fertilizer around the trees, not against them, and on the surface only. Never put manure on or very near the roots.

Fine young seedling evergreens can often be found in the woods or fields, and may be had for the asking, or for a trifling sum. Dig them so as to save all the roots possible. Never permit these to become dry till they are safe in your own grounds. Aim to start the little trees under the same conditions in which you found them in Nature. If taken from a shady spot, they should be shaded for a season or two, until they become accustomed to sunlight. This can easily be accomplished by four crotched stakes supporting a light scaffolding, on which is placed during the hot months a few evergreen boughs.

Very pretty and useful purposes can often be served by the employment of certain kinds of evergreens as hedges. I do not like the arbitrary and stiff divisions of a small place which I have often seen. They take away the sense of roominess, and destroy the possibility of pretty little vistas; but when used judiciously as screens they combine much beauty with utility. As part of line fences they are often eminently satisfactory, shutting out prying eyes and inclosing the home within walls of living green. The strong-growing pines and Norway spruce are better adapted to large estates than to the area of an acre. Therefore we would advise the employment of the American arbor vitae and of hemlock. The hedge of the latter evergreen on Mr. Fuller's place formed one of the most beautiful and symmetrical walls I have ever seen. It was so smooth, even, and impervious that in the distance it appeared like solid emerald.


The Home Acre - 3/28

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