Albert Francis Blakeslee.

Trees in winter; their study, planting, care and identification online

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destruction of roadside trees is largely the result of ignorance.
Until the town or county officials in rural communities come to
realize the real value of trees, or until public sentiment becomes
much keener than at present, this shameful practice is likely to

It is unfortunate that the farmer's woodlot is so often located
at the rear of the farm, instead of along the roadside. Everyone
appreciates the short stretches of wooded road in the country and
it is hoped that the few remaining roadside forests will not be
disturbed for many years. If it should be necessary to remove
them at some time it is further hoped that the owners will see
the wisdom of leaving a strip of from one to two hundred feet
along the roadside. This strip would make an excellent i^lace for
the farm woodlot, and for the practice of modern methods of
forest management.

Roadside Planting — In most places there seems to be no reason
for the absence of trees along the country roadside. When we
consider how easily trees may be obtained and how little trouble
and expense tree planting envolves we wonder why we should not
have them along all country roads. Suitable trees usually may be
obtained in neighboring forests without expense. If each farmer
would occasionally spend a few hours in the planting of trees, it
would not be long before the desired result would be attained.
While the planting of a row of trees along the front of a farm
may greatly enhance its value, the result is largely a public benefit
and bears the same relation to the community as sidewalks and
improved roads. For this reason it would be worth while for
every country town to take up the work of roadside planting.

It is always well to select species that are common to the
neighborhood. Exotic forms when found in the country seem out
of place and are not recommended for roadside planting. For the
sake of uniformity it is well to plant only one species on a single
stretch of road. With a view to securing early results, trees of
a rapid growing species are sometimes planted alternately with
the permanent trees. This practice is always attended with the
danger of leaving the temporary trees so long that they are
likely to affect the permanent planting. In order that trees may


bIiow lip at their best they must have plenty of room for develop-

In the selection of species for roadside planting it is well to
avoid forms that are especially susceptible to injury from insects
and diseases. The Elm in many respects is admirably suited to
roadside planting, but on account of its susceptibility to injury
from the leaf beetle it is not generally recommended. x4t the
present time it would be unwise to plant the common Chestnut
in the northeastern states on account of the prevalence of the
chestnut bark disease, for which no remedy has yet been devised.

Those who have traveled through the Niagara district of
Ontario or the Annapolis valley in Xova Scotia have been surprised
at the splendid effects obtained from the planting of fruit trees
along the roadside. There is great economy in this practice, but
fruit trees as commercially grown do not offer sufficient protection
from sun and wind. The sweet cherry is probably one of the
best kinds of fruit trees for this purpose. It is a large-growing
tree and is useful in attracting the birds. Farmers can w^ll
afford to grow some fruit especially for this purpose. The birds,
in rendering useful service, more than pay for the fruit they eat.
In some sections of Europe the municipal authorities are accus-
tomed to plant fruit trees along the public highways for the sake
of ornament and economy. The common custom being to offer
the fruit for sale on the trees and to sell it to the highest bidder.
In many cases the revenue from the sale of fruit is sufficient to
i^ay for the work expended on the road.

The custom when planting trees on country roadsides, is to
plant in straight rows. Uniformity of arrangement is not so
important for country roads as for city streets, and it is possible
with certain species to produce an effect so formal that it will not be
in keeping with the natural surroundings. The important point
is to avoid in country plantings everything of an artificial nature.

On narrow roads it is advisable to set the trees very near the
fence, but on roads that are forty feet or more in width, they may
better be set about six or eight feet from the highway limits. This
will allow for a sidewalk on the outer side of the rows of trees. If
the farmer is planting the trees at his own expense it is usually
advisable to set them on his own land, probably four or five
feet from the fence, except where the road is very wide. The


permanent trees on one side of the road should be set opposite
the spaces on the opposite side. This will allow more room for
the spreading tops and at the same time avoid the appearance oi
formality. Where the roads are narrow and where the trees must
be planted within the highway limits^ it is well to avoid the
larger-growing species.


The Location of the Home — It is remarkable that so many
country residences are located on the hill-tops, fully exposed to the
cold winter winds. Such locations usually are not only unattractive,
but are decidedly inconvenient. It is true that the higher ele-
vations offer better views of the landscape, but, as Mr. Manning
has remarked, "One soon tires of a fine view, if it is secured at the
expense of a daily climb up a long hill." It would seem more
desirable to select for the residence a less elevated site and reserve
the hill-top for an occasional view of the distant landscape. More
pleasing planting effects also may be produced on a gently sloping
hill-side. The matter of convenience is of greatest importance and^
of course, should be given precedence over esthetic considerations.

Adaptation — ^ Volumes may be written on the subject of rural
adaptation. The present discussion, however, must be limited to
that phase which relates to trees. It is hard, however, to refrain from
expressing disapproval of the type of residence usually found in
the rural districts of America. Too many of them give the im-
pression that they have been lifted from the crowded city block
and accidentally dropped in the country. The modest frame or
stone cottage with its low sloping roof and graceful dormer win-
dows seems decidedly more pleasing and appropriate than the
erect red brick house with its white mortar, its bright colored
trimmings, and its painfully-symetric outline. While good plant-
ing will go a long way toward covering up deficiencies in the
make-up of the house, the best results can be attained only when
the building harmonizes with the surroundings.

Oftentimes there is just as much lack of harmony in the choice
of species and the planting arrangement as in the stiff and formal
dwelling house. The formal style as applied to landscape art
seems entirely out of place "amid the green fields, and beside
the wanton gracefulness of luxuriant nature." In the past there
has been a great tendency to follow European styles and to use


foreign species of trees and slirubs. The attempts at formal
gardening in rural districts are becoming less frequent and it is
encouraging to note that there are fewer people nowadays who
believe that it is necessary to trim trees in a variety of fantastic
shapes to bring out their beauty. The tendency at the present
time is to use fewer of the exotic forms and to depend more upon
the native flora^ especially in respect to trees. As suggested for
roadside planting, the rural home builder would do well to go to
a neighboring forest for his trees. The foreign species are not
so well suited to the soil and climate, and this is an additional
reason for choosing native forms.

On the small or medium-sized place it is not always practicable
to engage a trained landscape gardner. The owner will probably
get more pleasure from the home surroundings if he can claim
some credit for their creation. The style may not be correct in all
its details, but it is likely to supply the needs of the family and
to increase the knowledge and interest of the owner. For the
planning and planting of large estates it is usually advisable to
engage a landscape architect of ability and reputation. There are
many so-called landscape gardeners soliciting contracts of this
kind who are wholly unreliable and who are likely to do more
harm than good.
-^ The Function of Trees in Home Decoration — The fundamental
uses of trees around the home are to furnish the great masses of
vegetation with which to frame the home picture, to direct and
restrict the views along desirable lines, to screen objectionable
objects, to emphasize the elevations of the ground, to vary the
sky-line, to furnish shade and shelter, and to give to the surround-
ings the ex23ression of comfort and homliness. Trees contribute
to these purposes mainly by their foliage which varies not only
with the species, but with the changes in season. Their flowers
and their fruit, while largely incidental, are valuable attributes
and should receive careful consideration. Even in their winter
condition, trees possess great beauty, although of a different kind.

Shrubs — It is difficult to discuss home planting without taking
into consideration the use of woody shrubs. In conjunction with
trees they are useful in the production of great banks of foliage.
As a rule, trees require much less attention than do shrubs, and by
the careful selection of species very satisfactory results may be
produced by their exclusive use. It is always well, however, to
include a few shrubs, even in the most unpretentious plantings.


Shrubs are largely used in groups and belts and not as individual
specimens. Few shrubs are sufficiently graceful and characteristic
in habit to make pleasing objects when planted singly^ but by their
great variety, a group becomes very attractive. Their place is
largely in borders with trees or buildings as back grounds and in
clumps in the open lawn or in the bends of walks and drives.
On small lots the shrubs and small trees should predominate, while
the larger areas will stand a greater proportion of large trees.

Planting for ^Yinter Effect — It is remarkable in view of the vol-
umes that have been written on subjects relating to landscape arch-
itecture, that so little attention has been given to the matter of
planting for winter effect. Most trees in the northern sections are
dormant or in their winter condition for at least six months in
every year. Although people do not use their gardens and grounds
so much at this season of the year as in the summer, the appearance
of the home surroundings in winter may be greatly improved by
the careful selection of species and by their proper grouping. The
evergreens, of course, are indispensable for winter effect, but some
of them are decidedly more desirable than others. The spruces,
unless used with discretion, are likely to be too formal for rural
planting, but when interspersed with pines and hemlocks are very
useful for backgrounds. The hemlock is the most graceful of ever-
greens and should be more generally planted around rural homes.
It thrives well in shaded locations where other species fail.
There is a great variation in color among evergreens and the somber
effect produced by some kinds may be greatly diminished by plant-
ing with them one of the brighter colored species. The same re-
sult may be attained by using some of the contrasty deciduous
trees, like the white or gray birch. The value of the birches also
may be greatly enhanced by being located in front of an ever-
green background as shown on page 231.

The Planting Plan — The work of planning the home ground
is greatly facilitated by the use of a plan. (See figs. 32 and 33).
This should be drawn to a scale and should show in the beginning
all the landscape fixtures or those features that must remain
unchanged. Such fixtures include the buildings, the irregularities
of the surface of the ground, the valuable shade trees, the orchard,
the highway and anything else that it is impracticable to move.
The next step after locating the fixtures, is to indicate on the plan
the position of the trees and shrubs to produce the desired effect.

Of course, anyone who attempts to make such a plan, must have


in his mind a fairly clear conception as to how the place should
look when finished. In other words, he must be somewhat of an
artist. The required conception on the part of the landscape gard-
ener is not unike that of the artist who paints pictures on canvas.
Many people are better artists than they suppose, and it does
not take much ability to make a pleasing landscape picture from
the ordinary country home.

The landscape gardener, whether amateur or professional, before
locating his trees should study the surroundings with a view of
ascertaining the direction of the most pleasing views. In this con-
nection he will consider the views from the various windows of the
house, from the veranda, and from various points on the lawn. In
locating the trees, then, it is necessary to keep constantly in mind
these desirable views. The next problem will l)e to block out any
objectionable viev/s, either on the home grounds or on adjacent lands.
The farm buildings may usually be screened from the house and
from the highway without seriously affecting their convenience. In
some cases the desired effect may be produced by a belt of trees
and shrubs separating the front lawn from the back yard. This
arrangement is not always the most desirable for it is often pos-
sible to give expanse to a small lawn by leaving a vista that extends
far in rear of the house. One or more clumps of trees or shrubs
carefully arranged may effectively block out objectionable views
without completely closing the view in that direction. Further-
more, skillful gardeners often appropriate views through neigh-
boring grounds in order to give expanse to a place that would other-
wise appear crampt. This is accomplished by blocking out the
neighboring houses and by maintaining vistas through the adja-
cent grounds. Similar results may be attained by opening vistas
into adjoining meadows or pasture fields.

With larger areas it is often advisable to separate the grounds in
such a way as to provide for secluded nooks, and this is very easily
accomplished by planting. Such secluded areas, however, should
be relatively small and should not detract from the unity of the
whole scheme. There is not the necessity for seclusion in rural dis-
tricts as in the cities, but when the grounds are large enough it is
advisable to arrange the shrubbery so as to separate a portion of
the rear lawn for the purpose of a home playground. It may in-
clude accommodations for pleasure and recreation, such as tennis
courts, hammocks and the like.


A common mistake in dividing the grounds into two or more
parts is in making use of a hedge or solid belt of trees. A much
more pleasing way is to use clumps of shrubbery. These may be a
considerable distance apart, but so arranged that they will block
the view from the street and at the same time maintain an expres-
sion of expanse. It is sometimes desirable, for quick results to

Figr. 31. A group of White Pines that
retain the character of an individual

plant trees close together, and a clump of trees of the same species
often produces a pleasing effect. Although the trees in a clump
lose some of their character as they mature, the group as a whole
often assumes the character of an individual tree of the species as
shown in figure 31.

The Finished Picture — Where trees and shrubs have been prop-
erly grouped the result should present a pleasing picture. The
house will naturally be the central figure and any planting scheme
that will detract attention from the house is not considered good
taste. The vistas from the highway should lead to the central
figure — the house. The shrubbery, if well planned, will form an
appropriate frame to the landscape picture. The shrubbery that is
not located in the border or frame of the picture should contribute
somewhat to the picture itself. Such trees and shrubs, therefore,
should be attractive and should be closely related to the house. If
many trees are scattered over the ground one is likely to lose sight
of the central figure and the result is likely to present the appear-
ance of a tree museum rather than a home picture.




When we think of the open country we are reminded of the cool
and shady roads, although some country roads are not so alluring
as they ought to be. The thought is comforting. On the other
hand, when we think of conditions in the city, the hot and dazzling
pavements present themselves vividly to our memory. The
thought is anything hut comforting. Blessed is the city that is
well supplied with trees. An occasional city has been so well
blessed in this respect that it has become famous the country over,
and such a city is often designated as the Forest City, the Elm
City, or the City of Parks.

The attractiveness of a city depends largely upon its trees. A
city without trees cannot be attractive, and the more trees within
the city limits, the more attractive is the city likely to be. Most
cities are anxious to attract visitors and permanent settlers, and
the success of cities in this direction will depend largely upon their
supply of trees. Trees, therfore, by making a city more attractive,
tend to increase the value of real estate. The value of trees to any
particular property is manifested by comparing the selling price of
property with and without trees. In some cases a lot with two or
three trees along its front boundary will sell at a price fifty per cent,
higher than a similar adjacent lot without trees.

The real value of shade trees to abutting property has also been
shown by court decisions, although in the past judges have usually
underestimated their true worth. The following is an extract
from an editorial in the Newark Evening News, under date of July
20, 1911: —

"The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court has
confirmed a judgment of the lower court, fixing what may be
called a good round value on trees in the city.


'^A construction company doing some work on a street, found
that the trees hindered their progress. They thereupon cut down
the trees without so much as considering for a moment their value
to the owner's property.

"Suit was at once brought against the company, the damages be-
ing laid at $500, for each tree cut down. The Plaintiff recovered
for the full amount as the value of the trees, and the court added
$1,000, more for punitive damages. It was this verdict that was
carried to the Appellate Court and has been sustained.^'

Five hundred dollars may seem a large sum for a tree in the
city, but it must be remembered that the value of the trees as
kindling wood or as lumber, or even as the material for house
trimmings or furniture, is not the thing to be considered. The
tree required many years to grow. It not only adorned the prop-
erty but it afforded health, comfort, enjoyment and protection to
its owners. Its place, when destroyed, could not be filled by an-
other tree inside of fifteen, twenty, or thirty years, and all this time
the owners of the property are deprived of its benefits.

Municipalities have just come to recognize the value of trees
from the standpoint of health. Since trees absorb the carbonic
acid gas from the air it is believed that they help to purify the air.
Health authorities are now recommending the planting of trees in
the cities with a view of mitigating the intense heat during the
summer months and of diminishing the death-rate among chil-

Although at the present time much attention is being given to
the planting and care of trees in cities, it is remarkable that the
matter has not received more attention in the past. The cost of
setting out trees is so small compared with the lasting benefits de-
rived from them, that it is hard to understand why cities and towns
should not take up the work on an extensive basis. The smaller
towns should profit from the experience of tlie larger and older
cities. The problem is decidedly less difficult with small towns,
for they can plan their streets with a view of having them lined
with trees. Trees that get a good start wlien the town is young
are more likely to thrive well and to administer to the needs of the
mature city, tlian those that are planted later, when they are sub-
jected to all the hardships of the crowded city streets.


The principles involved in the planting of city streets are entirely
different from those involved in the planting of country roads.
In the city the treatment necessarily must be of a formal nature
to harmonize with the geometric lines of city streets. City plant-
ing is done amid artificial surroundings and in this respect it differs
radically from country planting, which is always associated with
natural objects. It is important, therefore, that the trees on a city
street should be uniform in character and should be planted in
straight lines.

Arrangement of Trees on the Street — It is essential for the best
results that streets be sufficiently wide to admit of a strip of
ground between the sidewalk and the curb for the exclusive use of
the trees. This strip need not be more than four or five feet in
width, but twice this width w^ould give the street a better appear-
ance and would facilitate the growth of the trees. On some streets
there is no strip left for this purpose, and the trees necessarily
must grow through openings in the sidewalk. Trees in such posi-
tions do not look so well and are not likely to thrive so well. In
some cases, where the roots may extend beneath the walk to the
open spaces in front of the residences, the trees are not likely to be
seriously handicapped. Where the street is too narrow for a suit-
able planting strip and where there is an open space on the abut-
ting property, it would seem advisable to place the sidewalk near
the curb and to plant the trees along the inside of the walk. When
the buildings are close to the street and when there is no room for
a planting strip, the conditions are unfavorable for the develop-
ment of trees. Oftentimes the roadways are wider than is neces-
sary to accommodate the traffic. In such cases they should be re-
duced in order to make room for planting.

When the planting strip is narrow the trees are usually set in
the center, but with wider strips their position will depend upon
the width of the street and the proximity to tall buildings. Where
the street is wide the trees may be set near the curb. There is
danger, of course, in getting the trees too near the curb, where they
are likely to be injured by horses and vehicles. On the other
hand, where the buildings are tall and near the street, it is neces-
sary to place the trees as near the curb as possible, excej^t where
the streets are very wide.


Parking Strips — With very wide streets it is customary to re-
serve "parking strips" down through the center for the planting
of one or more rows of trees. Such reservations are not recom-
mended for streets less than one hundred feet in width. Where
two rows of trees are required on this strip, and this is always ad-
visable, the street should be at least 130 feet in width. The park-
ing- strip when narrow is often used for the planting of shrubbery
alone. Wider strips are often used for walks, bicycle paths, and
street railway tracks.

Very pleasing planting effects may be produced on wide streets
or avenues with parking strips to accommodate two additional rows
of trees. While it is customary to plant but one species on ordinary
streets, the appearance of avenues or boulevards may be greatly en-
hanced by planting a strikingly different species along the parking
strip. On some of the widest streets we frequently find two rows
along each side of the street. This arrangement is seldom satis-
factory for the reason that the trees are likely to become too crowd-
ed. Streets that are wide enough to accommodate four rows of
trees are usually wide enough for a parking strip which would ac-

Online LibraryAlbert Francis BlakesleeTrees in winter; their study, planting, care and identification → online text (page 6 of 31)