The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Avenue and hedge planting in Holland

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194.Avenues, hedgerows, and osier-holts are the principal plantations of the Dutch. In these they excel; and the country, in consequence, resembles a series of gardens. Avenue trees, chiefly elms and oaks, are trained for eight or ten years in the nursery; repeatedly removed, so as to become furnished with numerous fibrous roots; and pruned, so as to have clean smooth stems from ten to fifteen feet high. Avenues, being public property, are under the care of proper officers. Judging from the vigorous growth of the trees, and the manner in which they are pruned, these officers seem to understand their business, and to do their duty. In Rotterdam, on the quays, are perhaps the finest trees in Holland; they are narrow-leaved elms, upwards of fifty feet high, with clear stems of twenty-five feet, and upwards of a century old. At the Hague are remarkably fine limes in the Mall, on the road to Scheveling; and oaks, elms, and beeches, round the palace called the House in the Wood. A tourist who visited the palace in 1830 says, �it is pretended that in this wood there are oak trees of 500 years' growth; but we saw none that in England would not attain the size of the largest at most in 120 years. Some of these, however, and the beeches and lindens, are of respectable size and healthy foliage.� (Tour in South Holland, &c., p. 73.) The hornbeam is a very common plant for the garden hedges. Every plant in the row or hedge is trained with an upright stem, and the side shoots are shorn so closely, that we often find hedges of six or eight feet high, not more than eighteen inches wide at the base, contracted to six inches wide at top. These hedges receive their summer shearing in July, by which time scarlet runners are ready to shoot up from the garden side of their base; and these, in the course of two months, cover the hedge with their fresh verdure and brilliant blossoms, presenting a good crop in October and the beginning of November, The Dutch have also very excellent field-hedges of birch and willow, as well as of all the usual hedge plants; and the gardeners are particularly dexterous at cutting, training, and shearing them. The deep moist grounds on the banks of their estuaries are particularly favourable for the growth of the willow; and hoops of two years' growth from the Dutch willow (a variety of Salix alba, with a brownish bark) are in great esteem in commerce. Their common basket willows (S. viminalis and triandra) are also excellent.