On the Situation, Soil, Fencing



Those who have gardens already formed and planted, have, of course,
not the situation to choose. But, I am to suppose, that new gardens will, in a
country like this, be continually to be formed; and, therefore, it is an essential part
of my duty to point out what situations are best, as well with respect to the aspect
as to the other circumstances.
The ground should be as nearly on a level as possible; because, if the
slope be considerable, the heavy rains do great injury, by washing away the soil.

However, it is not always in our power to choose a level spot; but, if there
be a slope in the ground, it ought, if possible, to be towards the South. For,
though such a direction adds to the heat in summer, this is more than
counterbalanced by the earliness which it causes in the spring.
By all means avoid an inclination towards the North, or West, and towards
any of the points between North and West. After all, it may not be in our power to
have a level spot, nor even a spot nearly level; and then we must do our best
with what we have.
I am speaking here solely of a Kitchen garden. Of ornamental Gardening I
shall speak a little in the Chapter on Flowers. From a Kitchen garden all large
trees ought to be kept at a distance of thirty or forty yards.
For, the shade of them is injurious, and their roots a great deal more
injurious, to every plant growing within the influence of those roots. It is a
common but very erroneous notion, in England, that the trees, which grow in the
hedges that divide the fields, do injury by their shade only.
I had a field of transplanted Rutabaga, in the hedge on the North West
side of which there were five large spreading oak trees, at some distance from
each other. Opposite each of these trees, which could not shade the Rutabaga
much, there was a piece of the Rutabaga, in nearly a semi circular form, in
which the plants never grew to any size, though those in all the rest of the field
were so fine as to draw people from a great distance to look at them.
One gentleman, who came out of Sussex, and who had been a farmer all
his life time, was struck with the sight of these semi circles; and, looking over
the hedge, into a field of wheat, which had a ditch between it and the hedge, and
seeing that the wheat, though shaded by the trees, was very little affected by
them, he discovered, that it was the roots and not the branches that produced the
mischief.
The ditch, which had been for ages in the same place, had prevented the
roots of the trees from going into the field where the wheat was growing. The
ground where the Rutabaga was growing had been well ploughed and manured;
and the plants had not been in the ground more than three months; yet, such
was the power of the roots of the trees, and so quickly did it operate, that it
almost wholly destroyed the Rutabaga that stood within its reach.
Grass, which mats the ground all over with its roots, and does not demand
much food from any depth, does not suffer much from the roots of trees; but,
every other plant does.
A Kitchen garden should, therefore, have no large trees near it. In the
spring and fall tall trees do great harm even by their shade, which robs the
garden of the early and the parting rays of the sun. It is, therefore, on all
accounts, desirable to keep all such trees at a distance.
If it be practicable, without sacrificing too much in other respects, to make
a garden near to running water, and especially to water that may be turned into
the garden, the advantage ought to be profited of; but as to watering with a
watering pot, it is seldom of much use, and it cannot be practiced upon a large
scale. It is better to trust to judicious tillage and to the dews and rains.
The moisture which these do not supply cannot be furnished, to any
extent, by the watering pot. A man will raise more moisture, with a hoe or
spade, in a day, than he can pour on the earth out of a watering pot in a month.
SOIL
The plants, which grow in a garden, prefer, like most other plants, the best
soil that is to be found. The best is, loam of several feet deep, with a bed of
limestone, sandstone, or sand, below.
But, we must take what we find, or, rather, what we happen to have. If we
have a choice, we ought to take that which comes nearest to perfection, and, if
we possibly can, we ought to reject clay, and gravel, not only as a top soil, but as
a bottom soil, however great their distance from the surface.
Oak trees love clay, and the finest and heaviest wheat grows in land with
a bottom of clay; but, if there be clay within even six feet of the surface, there will
be a coldness in the land, which will, in spite of all you can do, keep your spring
crops a week or ten days behind those upon land which has not a bottom of clay. Gravel is warm, and it would be very desirable, if you could exchange it for
some other early in June; but, since you cannot do this, you must submit to be
burnt up in summer, if you have the benefit of a gravelly bottom in the spring.
If the land, where you like to have a garden, has rocks, great or small,
they, of course, are to lie carried off; but, if you have a stony soil, that is to say,
little short of gravel to the very surface, and, if you can get no other spot, you
must harmer your tools to pieces amongst the stones; for it has been amply
proved by experience, that to carry away stones of the flint or gravel kind
impoverishes the land.
However, we are not to frame out plans upon the supposition of meeting
with obstacles of this extraordinary nature. We are not to suppose, that, in a
country where men have had to choose, and have still to choose, they will have
built, and yet will build, their houses on spots peculiarly sterile. We must suppose
the contrary, and, upon that supposition we ought to proceed.
Having fixed upon the spot for the garden, the next thing is to prepare the
ground. This may be done by ploughing and harrowing, until the ground, at top,
be perfectly clean; and, then, by double ploughings: that is to say, by going, with
a strong plough that turns a large furrow and turns it cleanly, twice in the same
place, and thus moving the ground to the depth of fourteen or sixteen inches, for,
the advantage of deeply moving the ground is very great indeed.
When this has been done in one direction; it ought to be done across, and
then the ground will have been well and truly moved. The ploughing ought to be
done with four oxen and the plough ought to be held by a strong and careful
ploughman.
This is as much as I shall, probably, be able to persuade any body to do in
the way of preparing the ground. But, this is not all that ought to be done; and it
is proper to give directions for the best way of doing this and every thing else.
The best way is, then, to trench the ground; which is performed in this
manner. At one end of the piece of ground, intended for the garden, you make,
with a spade, a trench, all along, two feet wide and two feet deep. You throw the
earth out on the side away from the garden that is to be. You shovel out the
bottom clean, and make the sides of the trench as nearly perpendicular as
possible.
Thus you have a clean open trench, running all along one end of your
garden ground. You then take another piece all along, two feet wide, and put
the earth that this new piece contains into the trench taking off the top of the new
two feet wide, and turning that top down into the bottom of the trench, and then
taking the remainder of the earth of the new two feet, and placing it on the top of
the earth iust turned into the bottom of the trench.Thus, when you have again shoveled out tile bottom, and put it on the top
of the whole that you have put into the trench, you have another clean trench two
feet wide and two deep.
You thus proceed, till the whole of your garden ground be trenched; and
then it will have been cleanly turned over to the depth of two feet.
As to the expense of this preparatory operation, a man that knows how to
use a spade, will trench four rod in a day very easily in the month of October, or
in the month of November if the ground be not frozen.
Supposing the garden to contained an acre, and the laborer to earn a
dollar a day, the cost of this operation will, of course, be forty dollars; which,
perhaps, would be twenty dollars above the expense of the various ploughings
and harrowings, necessary in the other way; but, the difference in the value of
the two operations is beyond all calculation.
There is no point of greater importance than this, poor ground deeply
moved is preferable, in many cases, to rich ground with shallow tillage; and when
the ground has been deeply moved once, it feels the benefit for ever after. A
garden is made to last for ages; what, then, in such a case, is the amount of
twenty dollars?
It is well known to all who have had experience on the subject, that of two
plants of almost any kind that stand for the space of three months in top soil of
the same quality, one being on ground deeply moved, and the other on ground
moved no deeper than is usual, the former will exceed the latter one half in bulk.
And, as to trees of all descriptions, from the pear tree down to the currant
bush, the difference is so great, that there is room for no comparison. It is a
notion with some persons, that it is of no use to move the ground deeper than the
roots of the plant penetrate.
But, in the first place, the roots go much deeper than we generally
suppose. When we pull up a cabbage, for instance, we see no roots more than a
foot long; but, if we were carefully to pursue the roots to their utmost point, even
as far as our eye would assist us, we should find the roots a great deal longer,
and the extremities of the roots are much too fine to be seen by the naked eye.
Upon pulling up a common turnip, who would imagine, that the side, or
horizontal roots, extend to several feet? Yet I have traced them to the length of
four feet; and Mr. Tull proved, that they extended to six feet, though he could not
see them to that extent with his naked eye. But, though the roots should not extend nearly to the bottom of the moved
ground, the plants are affected by the unmoved ground being near at hand. If this
were not the case, plants with very short roots might be cultivated on a brick
pavement with earth laid upon it to the thickness of a foot; and yet, no plant will
live and thrive in such a state, while it will do very well in ground along side the
pavement, though moved only a foot deep.
Plants require a communication with, and an assistance from, beneath as
well as from above, in order to give them vigor and fecundity. Plants will live, and
will grow to a certain extent in earthen pots, or in boxes made of wood; but, there
must be holes in the bottom of both, or the plants will die.
It is, therefore, of the greatest importance, that the ground be moved to a
good depth, and, he who is about to make a garden should remember, that he is
about to do that, the effects of which are to be felt for ages.
There is, however, one objection to trenching in certain cases. The soil
may not only not be good to the depth of two feet, bit it may be bad long before
you come to that depth and, in this case, the trenching, in putting the good soil at
bottom, might bring a hungry sand, or even a gravel or clay to the top, which
must not be done by any means; for, even in the case of trees, they would
perish, or become stunted, because their roots would not find their way from the
bad soil to the good.
Your first trench must be opened in the manner described in that
paragraph; but you must not then proceed to turn the top of the next two feet into
the bottom of the trench. Let us suppose, now, that you have your first trench,
two feet wide as before directed, open and clean. This being the case, take a foot
deep of the next two feet all tile away along, and, for this once, throw it over the
open trench to add to the earth that you have already thrown out of that trench.
Then you will have the bottom, foot of earth left. Dig out this and turn it
into the bottom of your open trench, and then the first trench will be half filled up,
and you will have got your second trench open.
Then go to a new two feet wide, that is the third two feet. Take the top foot
deep off from this, and throw it on the top of the earth that you have just turned
into the first trench; and then, where that first trench was there will be earth two
feet deep; the bad soil at bottom and the good soil at top.
Then you go on regularly. The bottom foot of the fourth two feet wide
piece you turn into the bottom of the second trench, and the top foot of the third
two feet wide piece you throw on the top of the earth which is at the bottom of the
second trench. And, thus, when you have done, you will have moved all your ground two
feet deep, and will have the bad soil at bottom and the good at top.
At the end of your work, you will, of course, have an open trench and a
half; and this must be filled up by carrying the earth, which came out of the first
trench, round in a cart or wheel barrow, and putting it into the space that you will
have open at last.
It must be observed, however, that, though the soil be good in its nature
down to two feet deep, that which comes to the top in the first node of trenching,
will not be, immediately, so good for use, as the soil which has been at top for
ages. It is, in such a case, of great advantage to place the old topsoil at the
bottom; because when roots find the soil good to such a depth, the plants and
trees thrive and bear surprisingly.
But, then, the new top soil must be exceedingly well worked and well and
judiciously manured, in order to make it equal to the old top soil.
The ground being trenched, in October, ought to be well manured at top
with good well rotted dung, or with soap boiler's ashes, or some other good
manure; and this might be ploughed, or dug in shallowly.
Before the frost is gone in the spring, another good coat of manure should
be put on; well rotted manure from the yard; ashes; or, rather, if ready, from a
good compost. Then, when the frost is gone, the ground will be instantly fit for
digging and planting; and, it will bear almost anything that can be put into it.
Thus will the round be prepared; and here I close my directions with
regard to the nature and preparation of the soil. But, it seems necessary to add a
few words on the subject of manures as adapted to a garden. It is generally
thought, and, I believe, truly, that dung, of any sort, is not what ought to be used
in the raising of garden vegetables.
It is very certain, that they are coarse and gross when produced with aid of
that sort of manure, compared to what they are when raised with the aid of
ashes, lime, rags, and composts. And, besides, dung, in hot soils and hot
climates, adds to the heat; while ashes, lime, rags and composts do not; but, on
the contrary, they attract, and cause the earth to retain, moisture.
All the ground in a garden ought always to be good; and it will be kept in
this state if it be well manured once every year. Perhaps it will scarcely ever be
convenient to any one to manure the whole garden at one time: and this is not of
so much importance.
Clay, or any earth, burnt, is excellent manure for a garden. It has no seeds
of weeds or grass in it. A compost, made of such ashes, some wood ashes, a small portion of horsedung, rotten leaves, and mould shoveled up under trees,
round buildings, or on the sides of roads. All these together, put into a heap, and
turned over several times, make the best manure for a garden.
A great deal more is done by the fermentation of manures than people
generally imagine. In the month of June take twenty cart loads of earth, which
has been shoveled off the surface of a grassy lane, or by a road side, or round
about barns, stables, and the like. Lay these twenty loads about a foot thick on
some convenient spot.
Go and cut up twenty good cart loads of weeds of any sort, and lay these
well shaken up, on the earth. Then cover the weeds with twenty more cart loads
of earth like the former, throwing the earth on lightly. In three days you will see
the heap smoke as if on fire. If you put your hand into the earth, you will find it too
hot to be endured. In a few days the heat will decline, and you will perceive the
heap sink. Let it remain a week after this, and then turn it very carefully. This will
mix the whole well together. You will find the weeds and grass in a putrid state.
Another heating will take place, but less furious than the former. Turn it a
second time in seven days: and a third time in seven days more. And by this
time you will have forty cart loads of manure, equal in strength to twenty of yard
dung, and a vast deal better for a garden, or, indeed, for another land.
It is not expensive to obtain this sort of manure; and such a heap, or part
of such a heap might at all times be ready for the use of the garden. When such
a heap were once formed, some ashes, fish shells or bones reduced to powder,
or other enlivening matter, might be added to it, and mixed well with it; and thus
would a store be al ways at hand for any part of the garden that might want it.

FENCING

Here, as in the case of Situation, I am supposing the garden about to be
made. Those who already have gardens, have fences. They may improve them,
indeed, upon my plan; but, I am supposing the case of a new garden; and, I am
also supposing a garden to be made in what I deem perfection. Those who
cannot, from whatever circumstance, attain to this perfection, may, nevertheless,
profit from these instructions as far as circumstances will allow.
The fence of a garden is an important matter; for, we have to view it not
only as giving protection against intruders, two legged as well as four legged, but
as affording shelter in cold weather and shade in hot, in both which respects a,
fence may be made of great utility in an American Garden, where cold and heat
are experienced in an extreme degree.
In England the kitchen gardens of gentlemen are enclosed with walls from
ten to sixteen feet high; but this, though it is useful, and indeed necessary, in the way of protection against two legged intruders, is intended chiefly to afford the
means of raising the fruit of Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, and Vines, which
cannot, in England, be brought to perfection without walls to train them against;
for, though the trees will all grow very well, and though a small sort of Apricots
will sometimes ripen their fruit away from a wall, these fruits cannot, to any
extent, be obtained, in England, nor the Peaches
and Nectarines, even in
France, north of the middle of that country, without the aid of walls.
Hence, in England, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, and Grapes, are
called Wall Fruit. Cherries, Plums, and Pears, are also very frequently placed
against walls; and they are always the finer for it; but, a wall is indispensably
necessary to the four former.
In America a fence is not wanted for this purpose; but it is very necessary
for protection; for shelter; and for shade. As to the first, gardeners may scold as
long as they please, and law makers may enact as long as they please, mankind
never will look upon taking fruit in an orchard or a garden as felony nor even as
trespass. Besides, there are, in all countries, such things as boys; and every man
remembers, if he be not very forgetful, that he himself was once a boy.
So that, if you have a mind to have for your own use what you grow in
your garden, the only effectual security is an insurmountable fence. This prevents
the existence of temptation, in all cases dangerous, and particularly in that of
forbidden fruit: therefore the matter reduces itself to this very simple alternative:
share the produce of your garden good humorously with the boys of the whole
neighborhood; or, keep it for your own use by a fence which they cannot get
through, under, or over.
Such a fence, however it is no trifling matter to make. It must be pretty
high; and must present some formidable obstacles besides its height.
With regard to the second point; the shelter; this is of great consequence;
for, it is very well known, that, on the south side of a good high fence, you can
have peas, lettuces, radish, and many other things, till ten days earlier in the
spring, than you can have them in the unsheltered ground.
Indeed, this is a capital consideration; for you have, by this means, ten
days more of spring than you could have without it.
The shade, during the summer, is also valuable. Peas will thrive in the
shade long after they will no longer produce in the sun. Currant trees and
Gooseberry trees will not do we'll in this climate unless they be in the shade.
Raspberries also are best in the shade; and, during the heat of summer, lettuces,
radishes, and many other things, thrive best in the shade. It will be seen presently, when I come to speak of the form of a garden,
that I have fixed on an Oblong Square, twice as long as it is wide. This gives me
a long fence on the North side and also on the South side. The form gives me a
fine, warm extensive border in the spring, and the latter a border equally
extensive and as cool as I can get it, in the heat of summer.
Of the various benefits of this shelter and this shade I shall, of course,
speak fully, when I come to treat of the cultivation of the several plants. At
present I shall confine myself to the sort of fence that I would recommend.
I am aware of the difficulty of overcoming long habit, and of introducing
any thing that is new. Yet, amongst a sensible people, such as those, for whose
use this work is intended, one need not be afraid of ultimate success; and I,
above all men, ought not to entertain such fear, after what I have seen with
regard to the Rutabaga.
The people of this country listen patiently; and if they be not in haste to
decide, they generally decide wisely at last. Besides, it is obvious to every one,
that the lands, in the populous parts of the country, must be provided with a
different sort of fence from that which is now in use; or, that they must be, in a
fess years, suffered to lay waste.
Yet, with all these circumstances in my favor, I proceed with faltering
accent to propose, even for a garden, a live fence, especially when I have to
notice, that I know not how to get the plants, unless I, in the outset, bring them, or
their seeds, from England!
However, I must suppose this difficulty surmounted; then proceed to
describe this fence that I would have, if I could.
In England it is called a Quick Set Hedge. The truth is, however, that it
ought rather to be called an Everlasting Hedge; for, it is not, as will be seen by
and by, so very quickly set; or, at least, so very quickly raised. If I could carry my
readers into Surrey, in England, and show them quickset hedges, I might stop
here, and only provide the seeds or plants.
But, not being able to do that, I must, as well as I can, describe the thing
on paper. The plants are those of the White Thorn. This thorn will, if it be left to
grow singly, attain the bulk and height of an apple tree. It bears white flowers in
great abundance, of a very fragrant smell, which are succeeded by a little berry,
which, when it is ripe in the fall, is of a red color. Within the red pulp is a small
stone and this stone, being put in the ground, produces a plant, or tree, in the
same manner that a cherry stone does.
The red berries are called haws; whence this thorn is sometimes called
the haw thorn; as in GOLDSMITH'S Deserted Village: " The haw thorn bush, with seats beneath the shade." The leaf is precisely like the Gooseberry leaf, only
a little smaller; the branches are everywhere armed with sharp thorns; and the
wood is very flexible and very tough.
The haws are sown ill drills, like peas, and they are taken from that
situation and planted very thick in rows, in a nursery, where they stand a year or
two, if not wanted the first year. Then they are ready to be planted to become a
hedge.
In England there are two ways of planting a hedge, as to position of
ground. One on a bank, with a ditch on the side: the other on the level ground.
The latter is that, of which I have now to speak.
The ground for the Garden being prepared, in the manner before
described under the head of Soil, you take up your quick set plants, prune their
roots to within four inches of the part that was at the top of the ground; or, in
other words, leave the root but four inches long, taking care to cut away all the
fibres, for they always die; and they do harm if they be left.
Make the ground very fine and nice all round the edges of the piece
intended for the garden. Work it well with a spade and make it very fine, which
will demand but very little labor.
Then place a line along very truely; for, mind, you are planting for
generations to come! Take the spade, put the edge of it against the line; drive it
down eight or ten inches deep; pull the eye of the spade towards you, and thus
you make, all along a little open cut to receive the roots of the plants, which you
will then put into the cut, very upright, and then put the earth against them with
your hand, taking care not to plant them deeper in the ground than they stood
before you took them up from the nursery.
The distance between each plant is twelve inches. When this line is done,
plant another line all the way along by the side of it, and at six inches from it, in
exactly the same manner: but, mind, in this second line, the plants are not to
stand opposite the plants in the first line, but opposite the middles of the
intervals.
When both lines are planted, tread gently between them and also on the
outsides of them, and then hoe the ground a little, and leave it nice and neat.
This work should be done in the first or second week of October, even
though the leaves should yet be on the plants. For, their roots will strike in this
fine month, and the plants will be ready to start off in the spring in a vigorous
manner. If you cannot do it in the fall, do it the moment the ground is fit in the
spring; because, if you delay it too long, the heat and drought comes, and the
plants cannot thrive so well. In both cases the plants must be cut down almost close to the ground. If
you plant in the fall, cut them down as soon as the frost is out of the ground in the
spring, and before the buds begin to swell; and, if you plant in the spring, cut
down as soon as you have planted.
This operation is of indispensable necessity; for, without it you will have no
hedge. This cutting down to within half an inch of the ground will cause the
plants to send out shoots that will, in good ground, mount up to the length of
three or four feet, during the summer.
But, you must keep the ground between them and all about them very
clean and frequently hoed; for the quick sets love good culture as well as other
plants.
Some people cut down again the next spring; but, this is not the best way.
Let the plants stand two summers and three winters, and cut them all close down
to the ground as you can in the spring, and the shoots will come out so thick and
so strong, that you need never cut down any more.
But, you must, this year, begin to clip. At Midsummer, or rather, about the
middle of July, you must clip off the top a little and the sides near the top, leaving
the bottom not much clipped; so that the side of the hedge may slope like the
side of a pyramid. The hedge will shoot again immediately, and will have shoots
six inches long, perhaps, by October.
Then, before winter, you must clip it again, leaving some part of the new
shoots, that is to say, not cutting down to your last cut, but keeping the side
always in a pyramidical slope, so that the hedge may always be wide at bottom
and sharp at the top.
And thus the hedge will go on getting higher and higher, and wider and
wider and wider, till you have it at the height and thickness that you wish; and
when it arrives at that point, there you may keep it.
Ten feet high, and five feet through at bottom, is what I should choose;
because then I have fence, shelter and shade; but, in the way of fence, five feet
high will keep the boldest boy off from trees loaded with fine ripe peaches, or
from a patch of ripe water melons; and, if it will do that, nothing further need be
said upon the subject!
The height is not great; but, unless the assailant have wings, he must be
content with feasting his eyes; for, if he attempt to climb the hedge, his hands
and arms and legs are full of thorns in a moment; and he retreats as the fox did
from the grapes, only with pain of body in addition to that of a disappointed
longing. I really feel some remorse in thus plotting against the poor fellows; but, the
worst of it is, they will not be content with fair play: they will have the earliest in
the season, and the best as long as the season lasts; and, therefore, I must,
however reluctantly, shut them out altogether.
A hedge five clear feet high may be got in six years from the day of
planting. And, now let us see what it has cost to get this fence round my
proposed garden, which, as will be seen under the next head, is to be 300 feet
long and 150 feet wide, and which is, of course, to have 900 feet length of hedge.
The plants are to be a foot apart in the line, and there are to be two lines;
consequently, there will be required 1500 plants, or suppose it to be two
thousand. I think it will be strange indeed, if those plants cannot be raised and
sold, at two years old, for two dollars a thousand.
I mean fine stout plants; for, if your plants be poor, little slender things that
have never been transplanted, but just pulled up out of the spot where they were
sown, your hedge will be a year longer before it come to a fence, and will never,
without extraordinary care, be so good a hedge; for, the plants ought all to be as
nearly as possible of equal size; else some get the start of others, subdue them,
and keep them down, and this makes an uneven hedge, with weak parts in it.
And, when the plants are first pulled up out of the seed bed, they are too small to
enable you clearly to ascertain this inequality of size.
When the plants are taken out of the seed bed and transplanted into a
nursery, they are assorted by the nursery men, who are used to the business.
The strong ones are transplanted into one place; and the weak ones into
another: so that, when they come to be used for a hedge, they are already
equalized.
If you can get plants three years old they are still better. They will make a
complete hedge sooner; but, if they be two years old, have been transplanted,
and, are at the bottom, as big as a large goose quill, they are every thing that is
required.
The cost of the plants is, then, four dollars. The pruning of the roots and
the planting is done, in England, for about three half pence a rod; that is to say,
about three cents. Let us allow twelve cents here. I think I could earn two dollars
a day at this work; but, let us allow enough.
In 900 feet there are 54 rod and a few feet over: and, therefore, the
planting of the hedge would cost about seven dollars, To keep it clean from
weeds would require about two days work in a year for five or six years: twelve
dollars more. To do the necessary clipping during the same time, would require about
thirty dollars, if it were done in an extraordinary good manner, and with a pair of
Garden Shears.
Of the beauty of such a hedge it is impossible for any one, who has not
seen it, to form an idea: contrasted with a wooden, or even a brick fence, it is like
the land of Canaan compared with the deserts of Arabia. The leaf is beautiful in
hue as well as in shape. It is one of the very earliest in the spring. It preserves its
bright green during the summer heats.
The branches grow so thick and present thorns so numerous, and those
so sharp, as to make the fence wholly impenetrable. The shelter it gives in the
early part of spring, and the shade it gives (on the other side of the garden) in the
heat of summer, are so much more effectual than those given by wood or brick or
stone fences, that there is no comparison between them.
The Primrose and the Violet, which are the earliest of all the flowers of the
fields in England, always make their first appearance under the wings of the Haw
Thorn.
Goldsmith, in describing female innocence and simplicity, says: "Sweet as
Primrose peeps beneath the Thorn." This Haw Thorn is the favorite plant of
England: it is seen as a flowering shrub in all gentleman's pleasure grounds; it is
the constant ornament of paddocks and parks; the first appearance of its
blossoms is hailed by old and young as the sign of pleasant weather; its
branches of flowers are emphatically called "May," because, according to the Old
Style, its time of blooming was about the first of May, which, in England is called
"May Day;" in short, take away the Haw Thorn, and you take away the greatest
beauty of the English fields and gardens, and not a small one from English rural
poetry.
And why should America not possess this most beautiful and useful plant?
She has English gew gaws, English Play Actors, English Cards and English
Dice and Billiards; English fooleries and English vices enough in all conscience;
and why not English Hedges, instead of post and rail and board fences?
If, instead of these steril looking and cheerless enclosures the gardens
and meadows and fields, in the neighborhood of New York and other cities and
towns, were divided by quick set hedges, what a difference would the alteration
make in the look, and in the real value too, of those gardens, meadows and
fields!
It may be said, perhaps, that, after you have got your hedge to the desired
height, it must still be kept clipped twice in the summer; and that, therefore, if the
fence is everlasting, the trouble of it is also everlasting. But, in the first place, you
can have nothing good from the earth without annual care. In the next place, a
 wooden fence will soon want nailing and patching annually, during the years of
its comparatively short duration. And, lastly, what is the annual expense of
clipping, when you have got your hedge to its proper height and width, and when
the work may be done with a long handled hook instead of a pair of shears, which
is necessary at first?
In England such work is done for a penny a rod, twice in the summer.
Allow three times as much in America, and then the annual expense of the
garden hedge will be less than four dollars a year.
Thus, then, at the end of the first twenty years, the hedge would have cost
a hundred and nine dollars. And, for ever after, it would cost only eighty dollars in
twenty years. Now, can a neat boarded fence, if only eight feet high, and to last
twenty years, be put up for less that six dollars a rod? I am convinced that it
cannot; and, then, here is an expense for every twenty years, of three hundred
and forty eight dollars.
A Locust fence, I allow, will last for ever; but, then, what will a fence all of
Locust, cost? Besides the difference in the look of the thing; besides the vast
difference in the nature and effect of the shelter and the shade; and besides,
that, after all, you have, in the wooden fence, no effectual protection against
invaders.
However, there is one thing, which must not be omitted; and that is, that
the hedge will not be a fence, or, at least, I would not look upon it as such, until it
had been planted six years.
During these six years, there must be a fence all round on the outside of it,
to keep off pigs, sheep and cattle: for, as to the two legged assailants nothing
will keep them off except a quick set hedge. If I had to make this temporary
fence, it should be a dead hedge, made of split hickory rods, like those that
hoops are made of, and with stakes of the stoutest parts of the same rods, or of
oak saplings, or some such things.
The workmanship of this, if I had a Hampshire or Sussex hedger, would
not cost me more than six cents a rod: perhaps, the stuff would not cost more
than a quarter of a dollar a rod; and this fence would last, with a little mending, as
long as I should want it. But, as few good hedgers come from England, and as
those who do come appear to think, that they have done enough of hedging in
their own country, or, if they be set to hedging here, seem to look upon
themselves as a sort of conjurors, and to expect to be paid and treated
accordingly, the best may, probably, is, to put up a temporary post and rail
fence, sufficient to keep out a sucking pig: and to keep this fence standing until
the hedge has arrived at the age of six years, as before mentioned. There yet remains one advantage, and that not a small one, that a quick
set hedge possesses over every other sort of fence; and that is, that it effectually
keeps out poultry, the depredations of which, in a nice garden, are so intolerable,
that it frequently becomes a question, whether the garden shall be abandoned, or
the poultry destroyed.
Fowls seldom, or never, fly over a fence. They, from motives of prudence,
first alight upon it, and then drop down on the other side; or, if they perceive
danger, turn short about, and drop back again, making a noise expressive of their
disappointment.
Now, Fowls will alight on wooden, brick, or stone fences; but never on a
quick set hedge, which affords no steady lodgment for their feet, and which
wounds their legs and thighs and bodies with its thorns.
What has been said here of forming a hedge applies to meadows and
fields as well as to gardens; observing, however, that, in all cases, the ground
ought to be well prepared, and cattle, sheep and pigs kept effectually off; until the
hedge arrive at its sixth year.
If I am asked how the white thorn plants are to be had in America, I
answer, that I saw a Tree of Hawthorn at McAllister's Tavern, near Harrisburg, in
Pennsylvania, loaded with red berries. In short, one large tree, or bush, would
soon stock the whole country; and they may be brought from England, either in
plant or in berry.
But, there are many here already. If more are wanted, they can be had
any month of December, being shipped from England, in barrels, half sand and
half berries in November. The berries, which are called haws are ripe in
November. They are beaten down from the tree, and cleared from leaves and
bits of wood. Then they are mixed with sand, or earth, four bushels of sand, or of
earth, to a bushel of haws.
They are thus put into a cellar or other cool place; and here they remain,
always about as moist as common earth, until sixteen months after they are put
in; that is to say, through a winter, a summer, and another winter; and then they
are sown (in America) as soon as the frost is clean out of the ground.
They ought to be sown in little drills; the drills a foot a part, and the haws
about as thick as peas in the drills. Here they come up; and, when they have
stood till the next year. These haws may be had from Liverpool, from London, or
from almost any port in Great Britain or Ireland.
But, they can be had only in the months of November and December.
Seldom in the latter; for, the birds eat them at a very early period. They are ripe
early in November; and, half haws half sand, may be had, I dare say, for two dollars a barrel, at any place. Three barrels would fence a farm! And, as America
owes to Europe her Wheat, why be ashamed to add fences to the debt? But
(and with this I conclude,) if there be a resolution formed to throw all lands to
common, rather than take the trifling trouble to make live fences, I do hope that
my good neighbors will not ascribe these remarks to any disposition in mine to
call in question the wisdom of that resolution.