Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
Land hunger is so general that it may be regarded as a natural craving. Artificial modes of life, it is true, can destroy it, but it is apt to reassert itself in later generations. To tens of thousands of bread-winners in cities a country home is the dream of the future, the crown and reward of their life-toil. Increasing numbers are taking what would seem to be the wiser course, and are combining rural pleasures and advantages with their business. As the questions of rapid transit are solved, the welfare of children will turn the scale more and more often against the conventional city house or flat. A home can be created in rented dwellings and apartments; but a home for which we have the deed, a cottage surrounded by trees, flowers, lawn, and garden, is the refuge which best satisfies the heart. By means of such a suburban nook we can keep up our relations with Nature and all her varied and health-giving life. The tired man returning from business finds that his excited brain will not cease to act. He can enjoy restoring rest in the complete diversion of his thoughts; he can think of this tree or that plant, and how he can fill to advantage unoccupied spaces with other trees, flowers, and vegetables. If there is a Jersey cow to welcome him with her placid trust, a good roadster to whinny for an airing, and a flock of chickens to clamor about his feet for their supper, his jangling nerves will be quieted, in spite of all the bulls and bears of Wall Street. Best of all, he will see that his children have air and space in which to grow naturally, healthfully. His fruit-trees will testify to his wisdom in providing a country home. For instance, he will observe that if sound plums are left in contact with stung and decaying specimens, they too will be infected; he will see that too close crowding renders the prospect for good fruit doubtful; and, by natural transition of thought, will be glad that his boys and girls are not shut in to the fortuitous associations of hall- way and street. The area of land purchased will depend largely on the desires and purse of the buyer; but about one acre appears to satisfy the majority of people. This amount is not so great that the business man is burdened with care, nor is its limit so small that he is cramped and thwarted by line fences. If he can give to his bit of Eden but little thought and money, he will find that an acre can be so laid out as to entail comparatively small expense in either the one or the other; if he has the time and taste to make the land his play-ground as well as that of his children, scope is afforded for an almost infinite variety of pleasing labors and interesting experiments. When we come to co-work with Nature, all we do has some of the characteristics of an experiment. The labor of the year is a game of skill, into which also enter the fascinating elements of apparent chance. What a tree, a flower, or vegetable bed will give, depends chiefly upon us; yet all the vicissitudes of dew, rain, frost, and sun, have their part in the result. We play the game with Nature, and she will usually let us win if we are not careless, ignorant, or stupid. She keeps up our zest by never permitting the game to be played twice under the same conditions. We can no more carry on our garden this season precisely as we did last year than a captain can sail his ship exactly as he did on the preceding voyage. A country home makes even the weather interesting; and the rise and fall of the mercury is watched with scarcely less solicitude than the mutations of the market.
In this chapter and in those which may ensue I merely hope to make some useful suggestions and give practical advice--the result of experience, my own and others'--which the reader may carry out and modify according to his judgment.
We will suppose that an acre has been bought; that it is comparatively level, with nothing of especial value upon it--in brief, that the home and its surroundings are still to be created.
It is not within my design to treat of the dwelling, its architecture, etc., but we shall have something to say further on in regard to its location. Before purchasing, the most careful investigations should be made as to the healthfulness of the region and the opportunities for thorough drainage. Having bought the acre, the question of removing all undue accumulations of water on or beneath the surface should be attended to at first. The dry appearance of the soil during much of the year may be misleading. It should be remembered that there are equinoctial storms and melting snows. Superabundant moisture at every period should have channels of immediate escape, for moisture in excess is an injury to plant as well as to family life; while thoroughly and quickly drained land endures drought far better than that which is rendered heavy and sour by water stagnating beneath the surface. Tile-drains are usually the cheapest and most effective; but if there are stones and rocks upon the place, they can be utilized and disposed of at the same time by their burial in ditches--and they should be covered so deeply that a plow, although sunk to the beam, can pass over them. Tiles or the top of a stone drain should be at least two feet below the surface. If the ground of the acre is underlaid with a porous subsoil, there is usually an adequate natural drainage.
Making haste slowly is often the quickest way to desired results. It is the usual method to erect the dwelling first, and afterward to subdue and enrich the ground gradually. This in many instances may prove the best course; but when it is practicable, I should advise that building be deferred until the land (with the exception of the spaces to be occupied with the house and barn) can be covered with a heavy dressing of barnyard manure, and that this be plowed under in the autumn. Such general enriching of the soil may seem a waste in view of the carriage-drive and walks yet to be laid out; but this will not prove true. It should be remembered that while certain parts of the place are to be kept bare of surface-vegetation, they nevertheless will form a portion of the root-pasturage of the shade and fruit trees. The land, also, can be more evenly and deeply plowed before obstructions are placed upon it, and roots, pestiferous weeds, and stones removed with greatest economy. Moreover, the good initial enriching is capital, hoarded in the soil, to start with. On many new places I have seen trees and plants beginning a feeble and uncertain life, barely existing rather than growing, because their roots found the soil like a table with dishes but without food. If the fertilizer is plowed under in the autumn, again mixed with the soil by a second plowing in the spring, it will be decomposed and ready for immediate use by every rootlet in contact with it. Now, as farmers say, the "land is in good heart," and it will cheer its owner's heart to see the growth promptly made by whatever is properly planted. Instead of losing time, he has gained years. Suppose the acre to have been bought in September, and treated as I have indicated, it is ready for a generous reception of plants and trees the following spring.
Possibly at the time of purchase the acre may be covered with coarse grass, weeds, or undergrowth of some kind. In this case, after the initial plowing, the cultivation for a season of some such crop as corn or potatoes may be of great advantage in clearing the land, and the proceeds of the crop would partially meet expenses. If the aim is merely to subdue and clean the land as quickly as possible, nothing is better than buckwheat, sown thickly and plowed under just as it comes into blossom. It is the nature of this rampart-growing grain to kill out everything else and leave the soil light and mellow. If the ground is encumbered with many stones and rocks, the question of clearing it is more complicated. They can be used, and often sold to advantage, for building purposes. In some instances I have seen laboring-men clear the most unpromising plots of ground by burying all rocks and stones deeply beneath the surface--men, too, who had no other time for the task except the brief hours before and after their daily toil.
I shall give no distinct plan for laying out the ground. The taste of the owner, or more probably that of his wife, will now come into play. Their ideas also will be modified by many local circumstances--as, for instance, the undulations of the land, if there are any; proximity to neighbors, etc. If little besides shade and lawn is desired, this fact will have a controlling influence; if, on the other hand, the proprietor wishes to make his acre as productive as possible, the house will be built nearer the street, wider open space will be left for the garden, and fruit-trees will predominate over those grown merely for shade and beauty. There are few who would care to follow a plan which many others had adopted. Indeed, it would be the natural wish of persons of taste to impart something of their own individuality to their rural home; and the effort to do this would afford much agreeable occupation. Plates giving the elevation and arrangement of country homes can be studied by the evening lamp; visits to places noted for their beauty, simplicity, and good taste will afford motives for many a breezy drive; while useful suggestions from what had been accomplished by others may repay for an extended journey. Such observations and study will cost little more than an agreeable expenditure of time; and surely a home is worth careful thought. It then truly becomes your home--something that you have evolved with loving effort. Dear thoughts of wife 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 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 ground should be thoroughly prepared for a hedge by deep plowing or by digging; the trees should be small, young, of even height and size, and they should be planted carefully in line, according to the directions already given for a single specimen; the ground on each side mulched and kept moist during the first summer. In the autumn, rake the mulch away and top-dress the soil on both sides for the space of two or three feet outward from the stems with well-decayed manure. This protects the roots and ensures a vigorous growth the coming season. Allow no weeds or even grass to encroach on the young hedge until it is strong and established. For the first year no trimming will be necessary beyond cutting back an occasional branch or top that is growing stronger than the others; and this should be done in early October. During the second season the plants should grow much more strongly; and now the shears are needed in summer. Some branches and top shoots will push far beyond the others. They should be cut back evenly, and in accordance with the shape the hedge is to take. The pyramidal form appears to me to be the one most in harmony with Nature. In October, the hedge should receive its final shearing for the year; and if there is an apparent deficiency of vigor, the ground on both sides should receive another top-dressing, after removing the summer mulch. As the hedge grows older and stronger, the principal shearing will be done in early summer, as this checks growth and causes the close, dense interlacing of branches and formation of foliage wherein the beauty and usefulness of the hedge consist.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.