Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/22

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
14
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and there are some risks in importing trees which are avoided by purchasing those which are homegrown.

The Messrs. Douglas are probably the largest and most successful raisers of forest-tree seedlings in the United States; and, while they are sending out trees by the million, for the encouragement of farmers and others of small means who have had no experience in, planting, or find it difficult to procure trees, at the suggestion of Professor Sargent, of the Arnold Arboretum, they offer to send out dollar packages of trees by mail, post-paid, to any part of the country. These packages contain each from seventy-five to a hundred forest-trees. By this means any one who has any interest in trees, or who would like to make an experiment in growing them, may at trifling cost have them delivered safely at his own door. Two years ago seventy-five thousand trees were sent out in this way as a beginning, and not a single one, it is said, failed to reach its destination in a good condition.

It may be well to make one statement in regard to planting a particular class of trees. These are the evergreens, or the conifers, including of course the larches. For shelter-belts on farms and by road-sides, and for ornamental planting near dwellings, no trees are more desirable. They commend themselves also for their bright-green foliage, holding on through the long winters which prevail over so large a portion of the country. They have been less planted than is desirable, because planting them has so often resulted in failure. This has come principally from not understanding the different nature of these trees from that of all others. The sap of the pine family is resinous and hardens whenever the bark of the roots becomes dried by exposure either to the sun or the wind, and when once hardened no application of water will dissolve it and set it flowing again. The tree is death-struck. Nothing can save it. Hence the one important thing in transplanting evergreens, whether from their native woods or from the nursery, is to keep the roots in a moist state until they are safely bedded in the ground again. This is the secret of success. This done, no trees are more easily or successfully managed. We would as soon undertake to transplant a hemlock or a pine as a currant-bush. There is no more need of failure with the one than with the other.

We have assumed all along, if we have not directly asserted, that the planting of trees on the large scale will be pecuniarily profitable, while it is, on many accounts, so desirable. We turn to this point now, however, more distinctly, because, although tree-planting is desirable for the repair of the rapid waste of our existing forests and to maintain a supply of lumber for the various uses of life, indispensable indeed, and most important also in its bearings upon climate, agricultural production, and upon all the industries and comforts of life, it is the argument of pecuniary profit upon which we must chiefly rely for any efficient action in the work of forestry. Nothing can be plainer, to any one who looks at the subject in a comprehensive way, than that