The Garden Guide

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

Forestry in Spain

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3. Spanish Gardening, in respect to its Horticultural Productions, and the Planting of Timber Trees and Hedges 519. Planting timber-trees or hedges is scarcely known in Spain. Ropes are made throughout Cordova from the fibres of the Agave, and Inglis tells us that the flower- stalks are cut into light beams for constructing cottages. The wood of the wild olive is very hard. About Bilboa, timber is very scarce; though there is an old law which directs that six trees shall be planted for every one cut down. In other parts of Spain there are numerous large forests. The forests of Spain, however, Captain Cook observes, 'have suffered much from the destruction of the trees by the peasantry; and though there is an excellent code of forest laws, they are inoperative, from the general habit which prevails of evading their execution. Some of the most magnificent forests in the Castiles, in Andalusia, and Estremadura, have been passed by nearly unnoticed, both by native and foreign botanists, though the herbaceous plants have, in most parts of the country, been carefully examined by Cavanilles, Roxas de San-Clemente, and others. In the maritime district there are few forests naturally; and a law, by which the king is proprietor of every tree in these districts fit for naval purposes, completely prevents them from being planted. Nothing can be done until the government resolutely puts an end to this system, by sweeping away every impediment, and enforces the execution of the laws, and the appropriation of common and waste lands to the purpose of planting. In many districts they may be said to be entirely without wood for any purpose, whilst the country around is in a state of wild and unproductive waste. This is the case in various parts of the Castiles, of Aragon, and of Andalusia and Estremadura. In the mining districts they are compelled, in many places, to burn the aromatic shrubs of the country, which are rapidly consumed, and even now are becoming scarce, and are only suited for certain purposes; whilst the more solid fuel must be brought coastwise from distant parts. In the cities the fuel is becoming more and more scarce, and must generally be fetched from great distances,'