The Garden Guide

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

Roadside tree planting

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396. Rows of trees along the public roads are formed and preserved with great care, especially in Prussia. The mulberry is the tree used in some of the warmer districts, and in other places the lime and the elm; the Lombardy poplar is also common near most towns of Germany, especially Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig. Some attention is every where paid to public avenues; and the highways being, as in France, generally kept up by the government, improvements can be executed promptly and with effect. There being, in general, no accompanying hedges, and the trees being trained with naked stems to ten or fifteen feet high, according to the lowness or exposure of the situation, little injury is done to the materials of the road in wet weather. The breeze passes freely between the stems of the trees; the traveller and his horses or cattle are shaded during sunshine, and sheltered during storms; and the man of taste is furnished with a continued frame and foreground to the lateral landscapes. The practice of planting along the public roads in Germany is generally directed by the respective governments of the different states. Almost all the roads of Bavaria and Wirtemberg are so planted. The tree considered best for the more elevated parts of the country and the poorer soils is the cherry; that for the lower and better soils is the apple. The pear, plum, chestnut, and walnut are also planted in suitable situations; and in some countries the white mulberry prevails, being cultivated for the sake of its leaves for silkworms. M. Hempel, in the Memoirs of the Pomological Society of Altenburg (vol. ii.), recommends the lime, the horse chestnut, the oak, the beech, the birch, the common acacia, and the different species of pines and firs. These he would plant in single rows, where the soil is good, and in double rows where it is indifferent, or the situation bleak. But he greatly prefers planting fruit trees, and would form all public roads into avenues of sweet chestnuts, walnuts, geans, cherries, pears, apples, &c.; or a mixture of these, according to the soil, climate, and exposure. Where it is practicable, he would plant a row of apples and pears next the road, and another row of chestnuts and walnuts four yards distant from these; thus forming a sort of summer avenue on well side of the main road, to protect the traveller from the sun and rain. In low sheltered situations, where the direction of the road was east and west, he would plant walnuts, cherries, and pears on the north side; and low trees, such as apples and mulberries (the latter to be pollarded for the silkworm), on the south side, so as not impeding the sun's rays from drying the roads after rain. This enthusiastic pomologist would even turn the field-hedges into sources of fruit. Where hawthorn hedges already exist, he would cut them down, and graft their roots entre deux terres (a few inches under ground), with pears and services: on the sloe he would graft plums of different sorts; crab-tree hedges he would turn into hedges of good sorts of apples; and where hedges were to be planted ab origine, he would oblige, under a severe penalty, all proprietors and occupiers of land to use the commoner sorts of plums. But in certain situations he would, however, admit of the elder, filbert, sorbus, and other fruit-bearing shrubs, provided circumstances were unsuitable for plums and pears. As hedges for sheltering gardens, he will allow of nothing but espaliers of fruit trees, or fruit shrubs on beds, or double rows of raspberries. (Gard. Mag., vol. ii. p. 347.)