Augustin Gattinger.

On trees and shrubbery : adapted to the soil and climate of Nashville, in relation to yards, streets and public parks online

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On Trees and Shrubery
Adapted to the soil
and climate of Nashville

August Gattinger



Villiam McPherson








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DR. J. D. Pi.rxKKT, I'lntUlcHt of the Nashville Board of Health:

DEAR SIR In compliance with a request of the Board of
Health of this city I have the honor to transmit to you herewith
a general treatise on Arboriculture and Horticulture, with refer-
ence to the embellishment of this city, and the conditions of our
climate and locality.

Yours very respectfully,


Nashville, September 1, 1878.

The development of artistic taste and a growing sentiment of
the Beautiful in Nature, have of late within this community
achieved very gratifying results. Modern architecture, embody-
ing the wonderful improvements and cdmforts of an inventive age
with the insuperable models of the classical phases of this art, is
rapidly supplanting the dull structures of a bygone unaspiring
age. The expanding contact with the world and their growing
wealth and prosperity invite the citizens to surround themselves
with those luxuries and refinements, which elsewhere adorn long
established seats of government and commerce.

Now, since art more than ever before leans with pious devotion
upon nature, it becomes of consequence a rational desire to bring
in harmonious union the charming aspect of nature with our city
and domestic life.

The advantages of this movement are plain. It increases health
and cheerfulness, the love of home, and strengthens the patriotism
of the citizen.

Public opinion favors propositions in regard to the adornment
of the city with parks and avenues, and private enterprise has
embellished a great many homesteads with trees and flower-bees
in elegant devises. The monotonous, obstructive and at random
method of tree planting formerly pursued, gives us now more
annoyance than pleasure, and the ubiquitous Paper Mulberry,

11 467G65


with its cumbersome umbrage, and the Ailanthus, with its un-
pleasant odors, have been unlucky selections for general planting.
It is a remarkable and astonishing fact, that men, living in the
midst of primeval forests, constituted of the most magnificent
trees in the world, had to go on a pilgrimage to the other side of
the globe, to the shrines of Buddha and the South-sea Islands, to
obtain a pair of trees of no peculiar merits for ornamental plant-

However, we ought to look even upon such errors with a degree
of reverence as the first attempts in a prudent and beneficial enter-
prise. Civilization and culture of plants have been wedded to-
gether in all ages of which we possees historical records, and law r s
and religious ceremonies relative to the culture of cereals and
fruit-bearing trees were recognized by the most ancient nations
of both continents. A sacred law prohibited the adorers of Osiris
to damage fruit trees, and the first commandment in the Zend-
Avesta says : " Thou shalt cultivate the field, and plant fruit-
bearing trees." The acknowledgment of the great blessings con-
ferred upon man by the arborescent vegetation in support of life
and aid in the simple industries, led primarily to the veneration
and worship of trees, and this sentiment of reverence advises us
to find in it the root and origin of the early rising of a profound
sense of the love of nature amongst the Semitic, Indie and Iranic
nations. Wherever the mind had matured so as to be able to
conceive the beautiful in the aspect of nature and to create the
desire to enjoy this pleasure in the fullest measure, there was ori-
ginated the first artificial plantations. Diodorus describes the
gardens laid out by Semiramis at the foot of the mountain Bagis-
tanos. Rows of cypresses, whose obelisk-like form recalls to the
mind the shape of flames, stood around the sanctuary of the tem-
ple of Zoroaster, and the residences of the Persian kings were
surrounded by extensive artificial plantations of great beauty.
These ancient Asiatic gardens, " Paradeisoi " of the Greek authors,
derive their name from the old Persian " Purdes," and this again
descends from the Sanscrit "Paradesa," which means an environ.

I take occasion to make some historical remarks to guard against
the acceptance of that hollow phrase, "Modern Civilization," as
the originator and distributor of every art and knowledge, thought
to elevate and beautify human life.


Admiration of and respect towards the majestic and venerable
in Plant-Life, has originated and is still at home in the East, and
many confirmatory facts are recorded. Herodotus speaks of the
joy of Xerxes when he beheld the great Plantain in Lydia, to
which he presented gold and jewels, and gave her an attendant in
the person of one of the 10,000 Immortals. Great was, by the
Hellenic nations, the fame of the majestic Palm-tree in Delos and
an old Plantain in Arcadia. The Buddists in Ceylon are paying
their veneration to the colossal Holy Fig-tree of Anurahdepuva.
He is said to have grown up from the branches of the parent-
tree under which Buddha went into Nirvana.

The aspect of Nature, for which the Greeks and Romans had
very little conception, took impression at an early day upon the
remotest Asiatic nations. Already under the victorious dynasty
of the Han (100 A. 0.), in China, had parks and pleasure
gardens extended over the country in such dimensions, that from
the encroachment upon agriculture, the people became alarmed
and revolted. A Chinese author of those times has so touchingly
and with such clear comprehension laid down the rules for land-
scape gardening, that a modern artist could not improve upon the
principles, although the means and material at disposal have now
immensely increased. "What enjoyment," says he, "do you ex-
pect to derive from a pleasure-garden ? In all centuries men
have agreed that plantations ought to compensate man for those
amenities, of which the remoteness from a life in the free and
unbound natural state, his genuine and loveliest domain, deprives
him. The art, therefore, to lay out a garden, consists in the en-
deavor to render the cheerful picture of an open country, luxuri-
ance of growth, and so to combine it with shade, seclusion and
quiet, which will produce upon the senses the illusion of a rural
retreat. Diversity, in which the country excels, ought to be
effected in the selection of surface, alternation of hills and dales,
in rivulets and lakes, covered with aquatic plants All symmetry
is wearisome; ennui and disgust is felt in gardens where every
design betrays constraint and artincialness."

Out of this early developed pleasure in the imitation of the
physiognomic of nature, proceeded progressively, in the course of
centuries, after intervals of mental stagnation, a system of inquiry
and investigation into the conditions of diversity of natural objects,
which we now call natural philosophy.


This modern or scientific culture has accomplished the beautiful
achievement, to enable us, nearly in all places, where inclemency
of climate or insufficiency of the soil threaten us with painful pri-
vations, to produce artificially, by culture and grouping; of native
and -exotic plants, the charm of landscape and diversified vegeta-
tion, which in their fullness and reality, with personal observation,
we could otherwise only experience by dangerous and distant

At this time has also been fully demonstrated the powerful in-
fluence of vegetation, especially of the forest, on the condition of
climate and health. Humidity and fertility of the soil, the quan-
tity and frequency of atmospheric precipitation, are governed by
the expanse of forest-covered country. The return of resolved and
apparently inert matter into organic circulation, and lastly, con-
scious existence, is effected principally by the action of roots and
foliage, which absorb from the air carbonic oxyd and other gase-
ous or vaporous products, likewise from the soil as aqueous solu-
tions of very simple or more compound constitution. The chemical
changes going on within the tissues of plants effect not only the
growtli of the same, but maintain the state of the atmosphere and
the springs in a condition fit for the existence of animal life.
Very strong arguments are in favor of the opinion that the odors
and exhalations of certain trees and plants destroy, by oxydation,
deleterious gases, or floating organic corpuscles, which would pro-
duce malaria or zymotic diseases. Different species of the Euca-
lyptus family have of late years earned great reputation as disin-
fectants for malaria regions. This blissful property is thought to
be due to the exhalations of their foliage and the enormous ab-
sorbtive power of their roots. The interposition of forest, streaks
of timber, and even rows of sunflowers, has frequently and in
different countries been credited with the demarcation of epi-

The permanent injury to the health of cities arises from the
deterioration of the soil through the water and air contained and
absorbed in it. The ground upon which our dwellings are erected,
consists of loosely aggregated gravel, limestone flags and sand,
very frequently, and to the disgrace of our city administration,
of vast accumulations of debris and street sweepings. Even there,
where solid rock forms the foundation, hollows, crevices and de-


pressions are filled with such loose material. In these interstices
are contained considerable quantities of air, which even in very
compact gravelly soil constitutes one third of its volume. When-
ever water penetrates into the soil, it displaces the air, either in
part or entirely, and seeps into the depth until it meets an imper-
vious stratum, upon which it flows along until it flows off with
the general drainage of the country, or reappears in lower situated
springs and wells. The water during this passage carries with
it all substances which can either be floated or dissolved ; princi-
pally organic remains or excretions. The oxygen of the air
largely contained in the porous soil, combines with those sub-
stances, decomposing them. Hereby are formed large quantities
of gaseous substances, like carbonic oxyd and carbonic acid, am-
monia, nitric oxyd, hydro-sulphates, and so on. As long as this
decomposition is effected completely, little injury can result.
The quantity of impurities which the soil neutralizes may some-
times be very great, and depends altogether upon its mineral
nature, which is the greatest in clayey soils. Sooner or later a
"state of saturation" takes place, and the use of water thus defiled
contains the germs of a host of diseases, cholera, dysentery, typhus.

Not less deleterious are the gases arising from such soil, carried
upwards by various forces. Solid or liquid substances, by their
conversion into gases, expand and occupy much greater volumes;
the motion of the wind and the heating of the surface from solar
radiation, have the same effect. Such gases are different from
those produced by combustion through oxygen, being products of
putrid fermentation, and abounding in disease-creating germs.
It is evident that covering all surfaces wherever practicable with
sods, must greatly counteract or avert these evils.

The unendurable heat of a southern desert-region is proverbial.
Every particle of heat radiated upon it by the sun is either accu-
mulating in the soil, reflected or radiated. Surfaces covered with
vegetation annihilate heat, so to speak, in proportion to the mass
of the vegetation. For, the solar rays in contact with vegetable
tissues, are converted into chemical action, and effect thereby the
growth of tissue.

Cities are in one sense miniature deserts, and it would be an
inappreciable gain to the health and comfort of the citizens, if
they would rear climbing and trailing plants in profusion. The


temperature would be lowered in the immediate vicinity in day
time, and the radiating walls would not fill by night the interior
of houses with smothering heat. Prolonged high temperatures
are productive of malignant forms of diseases.

Such vine-covered trellises could be advantageously applied in
confined and narrow localities, where trees would obstruct the
circulation of the aerial currents, or be otherwise in the way.
Windows are very easily kept clear from being overrun from
vines, and the free access of air and light into the apartments is
not cut off, as is often the case with trees, when they are either
planted too close to the house, or if such kinds are chosen which
are unsuitable from too large dimensions. Houses too much
shaded are surrounded with an atmosphere of stagnant air and
are damp and mouldy.

The irregularity of the original plan of this city, the rugged ness
of the surface, which presents in many places the naked rock or
but a thin coating of soil, make uniformity in planting of trees
along streets and avenues utterly impossible. Fifteen feet dis-
tance from a wall is the nearest a tree of middle size ought to be-
planted. Where the pavements are only nine feet wide and the
building close up to them, climbers w r ith or without trellis work
should exclusively be used. Small courtyards should never con-
tain any trees, but if the enclosing walls are covered over with
ivy, which thrives Avell in shaded situations, it will be pleasant to
the eye, and air and light will not be shut out.

However, all the benefit that may result from judicious tree-
planting, covering by trellises and sodding of the ground, cannot
overcome the miasmatic emanations from adjoining swamps and
morasses, nor prevent the ingress of sirocco-like blasts from the
neighboring stony heights, south and south-west from the city.
The ponds ought to be drained and the desolate hills and wastes
covered with suitable growth. Presently wide spaces intervene
of open and unshaded ground between the city and the nearest
accessible grove or forest. The healthy and harmless pleasure of
enjoying a walk in the open air, sheltered against the hot sun and
unpleasant winds, or more distant excursions on foot, is not at-
tainable here. Human nature needs and seeks diversitv and
enjoyment, and if the avenues to legitimate pleasures are closed,
the morals and social feelings will become sadly affected.


A number of our citizens will visit the Paris Exposition this^
year. They will carry home with them unextinguishable impres-
sions of the public spirit that animates the French people. At
every step and turn they can see and learn how much happier
men live and look with an openhearted and social disposition,
compared with those prone to anxious seclusion and rank de-
marcation. Even religious devotion is not apt to dull with them
the gay colors of life, and the pious visitor of the high mass in
the Madeleine or Notre Dame, enjoys in the following hours, with
equal sincerity the earthly pleasures of the Champs Elysees, Bois
de Boulogne and other attractions of this brightest and most
beautiful of all cities. In magnificence and number of public
gardens and parks, in taste, and means of execution of adornment,
the French capital takes the lead. Perhaps the noblest feature
of Parisian gardening or Parisian improvements, is the great
abundance of healthy young trees that are introduced into the
very heart of the city, and planted wherever a new road or bou-
levard is constructed. It is indeed very surprising to see how
well this is done, and to what an extent, as well in the centre of
Paris, on the boulevards, along the Seine, as on the scores of
miles of suburban boulevards, radiating avenues and roads, the
sides of which one would think capable of supplying Paris with
building ground for a dozen generations to come. All the plant-
ing in all the London parks is as nothing compared to the avenue
and boulevard planting in and around Paris. Every tree is trained
and pruned so as to form a symmetrical straight-ascending head,
with a clean stem. Every tree is protected by a slight cast-iron
or stick basket, neat wads and ties preventing this from rubbing-
against the tree injuriously; it is staked when young, and when
old, if necessary. Most important of all, nearly every tree is
fortified with a cast-iron grating six feet wide or so, which effec-
tually prevents the ground from becoming hard about the trees
in the most frequented thoroughfares, permits of any attention
they may require when young, and of abundance of water being
quickly absorbed in summer. The expense for these strong and
wide gratings must be something immense, but the result more
than pays for all the expense by the grateful shade and beauty
they afford in all parts of the city. The kinds most in use there for
avenues are the Plane, Sycamore, Maple, Chestnut, large-leaved


Elm, the Robinia and Ailanthus, and here and there, Pawlonia.
All streets more than twenty-six meters (eighty-five feet) wide,
are bordered on each side by rows of trees. If thirty-six meters
(one hundred and eighteen feet) wide, there is a double row ; and
if forty meters (one hundred and fifty feet), there is usually a
plateau in the middle, with a carriage way and side walk on each
.side. The trees are set at least five meters (nearly seventeen feet)
from the houses, and they are five meters apart and 1.5 meters
from the borders of the walks. The gardens, squares or planted
places (besides the four great promenades of the Boisde Boulogne,
the Pare de Buttes-Chaumont, the Bois de Vincennes, and the
Pare de Montsouris, together amounting to one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-five hectares), are seventy-four in number,
amounting to fifty -seven hectares.

All operations in horticulture must be carried on in strict ac-
cordance with the laws of vegetable growth, or damage and failure
will follow. Trees and shrubs for transplanting should be started
from the seed. Only certain sports, that have originated in lateral
shoots or branches of an otherwise normal growth, make an excep-
tion, and can only be preserved and multiplied with the preservation
of their sport-character by cuttings ; otherwise they would re-
lapse again into the original normal form. Seedlings have to be
transplanted once or twice and remain in the nursery, until they
have attained a suitable size tor permanent planting. The age at
which their growth is accomplished varies according to species
or kind of tree, three or four years from sowing being the usual
length of time required. The cheapest and best way to obtain
young trees is, to purchase them in nurseries, where they are
reared on an extensive scale. Trees ;lug up at random in the
forest ought positively to be rejected, because their roots are
generally too irregular and without the sufficient number of fibrous
or working roots. Furthermore, a large proportion of them are
so tall that their unproportionatc length has to be reduced by
topping, whereby the circulation of the sap becomes more or less
interrupted, and the tree will never thrive well. Another mis-
take is the transplanting of too old trees. It takes very partic-
ular prepartions in, and close attention after, transplanting in such
cases. To trim down the limbs and top and transport them with
greatly injured roots, will so much stunt them that they succumb


after a protracted illness, presenting a pitiable aspect while stand-
ing. By the respiration carried on in the foliage, the circulation
in the cambium, as well as the absorption of food and moisture
by the roots, is secured. As soon as the ascent and circulation
of sap in and up through the cambium is arrested, then the heat
and the winds will dry up and shrivel the cells and spiral vessels
in a manner to render them permanently impervious, and the
pealing or cracking of the bark and decay follows immediately.
Partial decay of the trunk is frequently the cause of the breaking
down of trees from high winds.

To prepare the ground for transplanting, a hole ought to be
dug about three feet deep and three feet square, if possible a good
while before transplanting, to cause the earth thrown up at the
side of the pit to become thoroughly loosened from exposure to
air and heat or cold. For every tree a stout stake should be
ready, either of cedar or oak-heart wood, at least three inches in
diameter and ten feet in length. This stake is to be firmly in-
serted in the bottom of the pit, to the south side and close up to
the point where the trunk of the tree is to stand. It being fixed
perpendicular, the soil formerly thrown out, must be replaced
again nearly or quite to the brim of the pit. On top of the loose
soil the roots of the sapling should be carefully spread, and cov-
ered with the balance of the thrown up soil. After a turned up
sod has been placed over, a good watering should be given.
Lastly, the tree is tied to the stake with osier or soft cordage.
In all exposed situations a box or basket, of iron or slats, or an
envelope with thorns from the osage orange or honey locust, fas-
tened with wire, may be put around for protection.

To secure a regular growth and to prevent the breaking down
of limbs or entire trees by storms, judicious trimming is required.
It is applicable by all deciduous trees, and in some of the broad-
leaved evergreens, but never by the conifers. Whenever per-
formed, the cutting must be done close to the trunk, never leaving
a projecting part. Nature has provided in a living tree, for the
repair of wounds by the deposit of new wood from around the
edges, which gradually closes over the injury, and when wholly
united, the annual deposit of wood goes on regularly, as if nothing
had occurred to prevent it. A sharp knife or saw should be used,
cutting first on the under side to prevent the tearing down of the


bark and wood, when the limb is dropping. When finished, the
cutting should be smooth and vertical, and the surface be painted
over with thick coal tar. The proper time for trimming and
pruning of trees and vines, the grapevine included, is the close of
autumn, after all the leaves have fallen; and the season best
adapted for transplanting deciduous trees as well as evergreens,,
is early in the spring, as soon as the frost is out of the ground.
Especially by evergreens great care must be taken to transplant
them with a good ball of earth, and to avoid the loosening, break-
ing and drying of the fine rootlets.

The climbing or trailing vines do either possess proper organs
for direct attachment on smooth surfaces, or depend on some sort
of suitable support for the attachment of tendrils or twining stems.
For the latter kinds, a spalier of lattice work or wire trellises are
employed. The stretching of galvanized wire on walls is the
cheapest and neatest looking method. In the first instance, sev-
eral strong iron spikes are driven into the wall at the ends in
the right angle formed by the two walls, and then rough nails or
rather hooks are driven into the wall in straight lines, exactly in
the line of direction in which the wire is wanted to pass. The
wires are placed at about ten inches apart on the walls, and the
little hooks for their support are placed at about ten feet apart
along each wire. The wire about as thick as strong twine is
passed through the little hooks, fastened at both ends of the wall>
into the strong iron nails, and then stretched as tight as possible.
Their distance from the wall should be about one inch.

To answer the question, what trees, shrubs or ornamental plants
to select, an acquaintance with the natural growth or flora of the
region must precede, and the results of experiments with imported
plants awaited or noted. To discuss the relative merits of all the
material that could possibly be adduced, would require volumes.
Happily nature has so lavishly endowed this region, that we
could fare no better by traveling great distances, than by con-
fining ourselves to the immediate vicinity. The composition of
the soil and configuration of surface are sufficiently diversified to
insure a great diversity of vegetation to select from. The moist
and shady banks of the river, the hot and airy limestone flats

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Online LibraryAugustin GattingerOn trees and shrubbery : adapted to the soil and climate of Nashville, in relation to yards, streets and public parks → online text (page 1 of 3)