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The subject is a vast one, and naturally falls into two divisions:—

1. How to plant and tend a tree.

2. The kind of trees to plant.

The second division just as naturally falls into two sections:—

(a) Native Trees.

(b) Exotic Trees.

How to Plant and Tend a Tree.

There is an old joke that the mustard manufacturer lives not by the condiment people eat, but by what they leave on their plates. To parody this, the nurseryman lives by the plants that people kill, and far less by those they succeed in growing. Plants are killed by drought, floods, heat, cold and accidents of all kinds, but the primary causes of the deaths of the vast majority of those planted are avoidable, and spring from ignorance and neglect. Where a man raises his own plants the probability is that he has studied the conditions of plant-life, and he usually succeeds with them as they grow older.

The loss of young plant-life is appalling, and let us see if we can do something to reduce it. Let me take a number of suggestions seriatim:—

1. Employ a skilled tree-planter. — I am primarily addressing those who have the control of the planting of trees in streets and parks. I am quite aware that some amateurs can arrive at a considerable degree of excellence in gardening operations, but public bodies have not exceptional and gifted amateurs at their disposal, and they should go into the market and secure the best skilled labour available. I have been often shocked to learn of the unskilled and careless men to whom local authorities have entrusted tree-planting. If a man's watch gets out of repair he does not take it to a handy-man. I am quite aware that some local authorities have not work (or rather in these enlightened days I ought to say will not see that there is work) for a skilled gardener the whole year round. In the age of enlightenment it will be found that the gardener of the municipality has more to show for a certain expenditure of money in the adornment of district them any other kind of workman. But, until wiser counsels prevail, at least let the planting be done by a gardener, and let him have a retaining fee to do any necessary work to the trees, at least during their period of youth. If we neglect some symptom of our own health, that the ignorant may deem trifling, it may become serious and may even result in death. The wise citizen seeks skilled advice in time, and, what is more, he follows it. So, in regard to a tree, a


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gardener may often save its life if called in in time. Let us have no more instances of road navvies being interrupted in their good work of roadmaking to attend to the wants of trees.

2. Plant only healthy young trees. — This should be an axiom, but I have often seen miserable trees planted out that no professional gardener would ever plant out if he were a free agent. I allude to pot-bound plants, to plants suffering from insect or fungus pests, or indicating debility in some way, perhaps the result of delay or illtreatment since they left the nursery. Then accidents sometimes happen to the stems or roots of young trees before they are planted out, and the gardener always performs the necessary pruning operations in such cases before planting. Give the plant a good start. It will have the battle of life to fight, and do not let it enter into the contest maimed.

3. Trees must be planted at the proper time. — In New South Wales the vast majority of trees are planted out during the months of June, July and August. With deciduous trees, i.e., those which lose their leaves, such is planes, oaks, elms, it is absolutely necessary that the planting should take place when the leaves are all off, and when the tree is quite at rest. This is, of course, in the winter. The vast majority of evergreen trees are also most safely planted during the winter months. As a rule evergreens are sent out in pots, but sometime the ball of earth is tied up in canvas, such plants having been dug up open root out of the nursery. Plants in pots can usually be planted out with a maximum of safety -that is to say, with ordinary care, there is a minimum of failure in the case of such plants; but, in the desire for good large plants, it must never be forgotten that a very real danger is that the plant may be pot-bound. There the skill of the professional gardener comes in. He would at once advise which of a certain consignment of pot plants are worth planting out.

I have alluded to the fact that some trees may be planted out at seasons other than the winter. For example, during the autumn anything in pots can be planted out. But in this case we must have two plantings, for the deciduous trees can never be planted out except in winter. And, if the plant be in a pot, it may often be transplanted late in the spring, and even in the summer, but this lateness always handicaps the plant, which should get accustomed to its new surroundings before or during the winter months.

In some places there are only two seasons, the wet and dry. In such areas you can only safely plant when the rain comes. But get the ground ready, so that when the time comes to plant, the planting may not be delayed by work that should have been finished previously.

4. Large holes, with drainage well provided for. — If you will not arrange for this, do not go any farther-abandon tree-planting. If the soil be good and deep, which is very rarely the case in the Sydney district, it is best to plough and subsoil, if a row of trees be desired: the soil is disturbed and the drainage is attended to. But in the vast majority of cases separate holes have to be dug. Holes should be square, and, wherever possible, each side should be 8 feet long. The depth, should be not less than


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3 feet. If rock be present, it must be gadded or blasted out for as great a depth as funds will allow, for it must be remembered that the presence of rock, especially solid or continuous rock, indicates very adverse conditions to tree life. Then when the proper depth has been reached, give a parting shot to stir up the rock a bit, leave a good depth of rubble at the bottom of the hole, then place a layer of pieces of rock of smaller size, and fill up with the best soil that can be procured.

But before filling up, drainage must be secured. With holes in the solid rock this, of course, means more blasting, for a channel must be made for the water to flow away, since nothing is more deleterious to the fine roots of trees than to let them chill or drown in water.

If we have sandy soil, this must be dug out for as big an area as funds will allow, and where there is a hard-pan a few feet below the surface (which is often the case), this must be removed. Sometimes this hard-pan is only of medium hardness, but it may contain much ferruginous matter in solution, and is sometimes even acid, and deadly to young plants. Now, the expense of providing good soil becomes serious, for usually sandy and sandstone land is at a considerable distance from good soil, and the cost of cartage is therefore very great. There is an old Latin proverb to the effect that you can only get nothing out of nothing, and if you think you can cheat a tree, you will be very much mistaken. You might just as well think that it would not matter to your horse whether you gave him nutritious food or not. Remember that the, work of a gardener is largely buried in the earth, and that the Plant will explain to the world the condition of affairs below the ground level. When a tree looks sickly or stunted, depend upon it that the fundamental cause, in the vast majority of cases, is bad drainage or poverty of soil.

Trees in paved towns are often planted near the edge of the footpath, and they should be planted as far from it as can be conveniently arranged. But a matter of the greatest importance is to see that the kerbstone nearest the tree is as shallow as the safety of the pavement will permit. You might just as well put the tree in a pot as to force its roots against a deep kerbstone.

5. Plenty of fairly good soil. — I have already dealt with this in the preceding section, but it is of such paramount importance that I bring it forward, for special reiteration. If you expect a tree to flourish it must have something to feed on in the way of good soil. Only in very rare cases should manure be added to soil at the planting, and when this is deemed to be necessary, the manure should be well rotted. Where a tree is suffering from debility, the digging in of a, little bone-dust often gives the necessary stimulus in the direction of health. It is oftenest necessary to give trees a little nutriment in towns, especially where the tree has been planted in a pot-hole in hard or rocky soil.Most town trees are, however, supposed to do without any soil nutriment. In fairly good soil, and where the tree, can spread out its roots and live its life, the question of manure, is wholly unnecessary, and indeed, it has been shown, as the result of experiment, that the timber crop is the least exhausting to the soil Of any crop whatever.




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6. Stake properly. — Remember that the young tree will not be anchored for many a day. That different situations are of different degrees of shelter. That different soils have varying capacity for anchorage, and facilitate the development of roots in different degrees. Even when there is little danger of the tree being actually blown out of the ground, some trees have a greater tendency than others to heel over or to deflect from that uprightness which is so admired in a tree. In a word, staking is necessary during the early years. Such staking should be adequate, and the best time to do this is prior to planting the young trees, in order to avoid possible damage to the roots, a contingency likely to occur when the stakes are driven into the ground alter the tree is planted. Stakes should be of durable, strong timber, should be driven well into the ground, usually vertically., and the size of the stake should vary with the size of the plant.

Sometimes the stake is changed, two or three times, as growth proceeds. Usually the stake is driven home vertically, but some gardeners prefer the less neat-looking oblique method of staking, where the stem and the stake touch each other at one point only. With vertical staking two or more ties can be attached to the stake, and thus the young tree has support for a large portion of its length, but there is some danger, of the stake interfering with the root-system, and also with the base of the stem.

7. Attend to the state of the stake-ties if necessary. — The great curse of gardening in New South Wales is what I may term the Micawber system- the "thank-heaven-that's-settled" frame of mind; the neglect to make adequate provision for maintenance. How many men start well with a garden. But they forget that in forming a garden well they have only done one portion of their work. What would one think of a man who had a horse in good condition given him, one which was well bred and altogether desirable, and who would say he will cost nothing for maintenance? And is not this what thousands of our citizens are doing to-day? They are in charge of trees or own gardens, and expect these living things to flourish and be a source of pleasure to beholders, and all this without further expenditure of labour or money, or both. Let us apply this specifically to stake- ties. I have seen plants securely tied at the time of planting, and death has resulted from these very ties, which should have been an aid and not a torture and danger to the young plant. This has happened in two ways -from insect pests and from throttling. Many insects are constantly on the lookout for shelter to lay their eggs and for other purposes. Tree-loving beetles and moths walk up or fly up the stem, and find comfortable shelter in the stake-ties. These may become a mass of insect eggs or larvæ. Frequently beetles pierce the trunk just at the ties, so that the ties, instead of being a protection, are an absolute detriment. Then by having strong ties, which the tree cannot snap, as its trunk expands, the natural growth of the tree is impeded; it is cinctured, early flowering is induced and the tree, if it lives at all, has a short life. I have known wire to be used for stake-ties, which, of course, cuts into the stem. There is only one remedy for this, and that is the dismissal of the man guilty of it. As regards stake-ties of a more yielding material they should be renewed at least once a year, and the old ones carefully collected and burnt.




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Of course, trees are liable to attacks by fungi and insects. In the United States costly and bulky appliances are in use for the purpose of fumigating and spraying big trees. I am not, however, in favour of spraying, as a rule. The best spraying appliances are the axe and mattock, together with a nice warm fire. The continued presence of parasites on a tree spells debility. The tree was sick to begin with, or it has met with accidents, or it is worn out, or in poor or ill-drained land, or is overcrowded. The obvious remedy is to seek the cause of the debility, which enables the parasite to get a hold. If that is not coped with, the parasite will pay more frequent visits until death results. Use spraying and fumigating methods simply as adjuncts to the treatment of the fundamental cause, which is dragging the sick tree down to become a prey to fungus and insect vermin. In the same way the physician uses lotions for skin diseases, only to palliate distressing symptoms. He properly says that to effect a cure we must get at the cause; we must improve the general health, and so he inculcates a course of treatment that he looks upon as getting at the root of things. And that is just the policy of the wise tree-doctor.

Smooth-barked trees are very liable to attack by wood-boring beetles. The stringybark trees of our forest are supplied by nature with a thick blanket which prevents beetles attacking them too easily. The smooth-barked plane is very vulnerable, and hence stake-ties for them are very dangerous things.

They are also liable to attacks by a little curculio beetle, which riddles them. I have seen the trunks of planes girdled with a band of sticky fly-paper to intercept these little beetles. But, obviously, such a method is only capable of application in places where there is very little dust. It certainly could not be applied in city streets.

8. White Ants. — Most people have observed an official tapping the wheels of railway carriages of express trains with light hammers, when such, trains arrive at a station, and are proceeding to a further stage on their journey. This is a matter of precaution, as a flaw in a wheel might result in disaster. In like manner the staffs of our public parks are constantly inspecting the trees to see if a branch is too top-heavy, or has cracked., or whether P. trunk is suffering from white-ant (a very common pest) or decay, or whether it is likely to heel over with the wind after soaking rain. Numbers of branches and not a few trees are annually removed simply because they are a possible source of danger. The writer has no intention of hearing the verdict of a coroner's jury, "The deceased was killed by a limb of a tree which fell upon him, and the dangerous condition of said limb should have been ascertained by the Director of the Botanic Gardens, whom we therefore find guilty of manslaughter." The public may be assured that special precautions are taken on their behalf, and such precautions sometimes necessitate hard pruning and even removal of trees which appear healthy to a superficial observer. Here let me refer my readers to a very useful paper, "Diseases of Shade and Ornamental Trees," by B.T. Galloway and. A.F. Woods, the "Year-book of Agriculture, U.S.A.," for 1896, pp. 237-254.




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9. Attend to the watering, should it be necessary, at the proper time. — Young trees should have a good sousing at the time of planting, and the settlement of the soil which results should be partly made up by the addition of a little good soil. It is best not to make the level of the soil around the newly planted tree equal to that of the surrounding land, but to leave a little depression, so that moisture may find its way to the roots of the young tree. Bearing in mind that a young tree is a baby tree, it naturally requires a little extra care during its early days. Amongst other requirements it is necessary to see that its roots are kept moist, particularly during a period of westerly winds. When the tree is watered, a good soaking is necessary. for the application of a little drop of water does more harm than good.

Plants breathe by means of their leaves, which have quite a large number of breathing holes. These holes get clogged up by the fine dust common in cities, although most leaves possess contrivances to minimise the danger from choking. This dust should be washed off as frequently as possible, and nothing is better than water, sprayed as finely as possible. No tree can live a vigorous life if choked with dust, and trees in the forest are not subjected to this drawback. One of the special disabilities under which trees in towns suffer is caused by the fact that the soil around the stem is often trampled hard, or is covered with asphalt or other impervious paving material. How is it possible for the rain. to get to the tree and help it to live its life? Broad tree-guards protect the tree, in this respect, but the most usual method is to have iron gratings. Usually, however, the gratings are too small; they should be not less than 5 by 4 feet. The pattern of the grating, is of very great importance. The holes to admit the rain should be as large as possible, and the lines of the casting should be as narrow as possible at the surface of the pavement. In other words, every drop of rain which falls on the grating should percolate through. Different patterns of gratings are made, but I hope that public bodies will keep the main idea in view, and reject any grating which intercepts much of the rain.

10. Attend to pruning, if necessary. — I have already incidentally referred to root-pruning, necessary in consequence of injuries in transit. Roots are sometimes pruned because the trees are pot-bound, and for other reasons, but unless the tree is a very valuable one, I would put a tree which requires much root-pruning on to a good hot fire.

Some people think that only roses and fruit, trees require pruning, but street and park trees sometimes require this, and the operation should always be entrusted to a first-class man. Sometimes a branch becomes too heavy, and hence in the interests of safety it requires treatment. Then in windy localities trees may get too much of a top, and so they are carefully thinned, so that when that unexpected gale comes along it will simply blow through the branches, and not fell the tree or blow its he ad off. Then trees require pruning for the removal of puny or diseased branches or to induce symmetry of growth. Sometimes trees are pruned to secure a more compact growth in lieu of spindliness. If a tree be healthy to begin with, and it be planted in good soil, with sufficient moisture and shelter, it can live its life vigorously and healthily. A healthy, symmetrical tree is a beautiful object, and rarely requires interference. The knife and saw of the pruner are usually to counteract defects, the result of debility at the time of planting, overcrowding, accidents during growth, or uncongenial soil and surroundings. Pruning is a requirement of civilisation amongst tree growths, and is a regrettable necessity. If trees grew naturally they would require no pruning. In the same way, if a man has a healthy constitution and is so fortunate as to escape accidents, he does not require the knife of a surgeon.

Trees, particularly in streets, live an existence almost as artificial as the remainder of the dwellers in towns. To begin with a clean stem is necessary, so as not to interfere with foot and wheeled traffic. To secure this a certain amount of pruning is required.

Some trees, such as figs and many deciduous trees, may be very freely cut without endangering their life, but others, such as the Myrtaceæ, including our gums and Tristania and many other evergreen trees, must be pruned with care, and always when the tree is at rest, i.e., with no flush of new growth at. the top.

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