The ash is a fine ornamental tree for private grounds, public parks, or for the way-side. When planted closely for timber they grow straight and free from low laterals, and early reach a size that makes the thinnings valuable for poles and fencing. Mr. Budd, a tree grower of Iowa, says: "A grove of ten acres thinned to six feet apart, containing twelve thousand trees, at twelve years were eight inches in diameter and thirty-five feet high, the previous thinning paying all expenses of planting and cultivation. Ten feet of the bodies of these trees were worth, for making bent stuff, etc., forty cents each, and the remaining top ten cents, making a total of $6,000 as the profit of ten acres in twelve years, or a yearly profit of $50 per acre." Mr. Edward Norton of Farm-ington has about sixteen thousand white ash plants, raised from last year's seed, now in rows to be planted next spring. They are very thrifty, and average about one foot in height. Very few of them died during the summer. He has gathered seed enough for about one hundred thousand plants, which he intends to start next spring.
The seeds of the ash are abundant, ripening by the first of October. They may be easily gathered after the first frost. If sown in the fall they should be covered with three inches of straw. If to be sown in the spring the seed may be mixed with damp sand. With all seedlings care should be taken to keep down the weeds. In some of the nurseries connected with the forest schools, I noticed the seed-beds were protected by green bushes during the hottest and dryest part of the summer. For field planting, the land should be plowed and made mellow in the autumn, that the trees may be planted early in the spring. A little over five thousand plants will be required to the acre, where they are set in rows four feet apart, and two feet apart in the rows. The weeds can be kept down for three years with a cultivator, when the ground will be sufficiently shaded to require no further cultivation.
Connecticut is rich in its variety of native trees, having nearly sixty species, of which about forty are sizable for timber. Among the native trees worthy of cultivation may be named the white ash, white oak, sugar maple, chestnut, hickory, butternut, white pine, willow, and the elm. The latter, when growing under favoring conditions, has been pronounced "the most magnificent vegetable of the temperate zone." Much as the willow has been used as an ornamental tree, its economic value has not been appreciated in this country. The white willow is especially commended by experienced arborists. While most at home in low grounds and beside streams, it is hardy and will grow, though not as thriftily, on dry uplands and in poor soils. Professor William H. Brewer says: " In England, where it is often sixty or seventy feet high in twenty years, there is no wood in greater demand than good willow. It is light, very tough, soft, takes a good finish, will bear more pounding and knocks than any other wood grown there, and hence its use for cricket bats, for floats to paddle-wheels of steamers, and brake-blocks on cars. It is used extensively for turning, planking coasting vessels, furniture, ox-yokes, wooden legs, shoe-lasts, etc. Its charcoal is used for making gunpowder, its bark for tanning, its sprouts for withes and baskets. In some sections of Europe it has been planted from remote times as one of their most valued trees." Starting from cuttings and growing rapidly it can be very easily propagated. Fuller says: " It groweth incredibly fast—it being a by-word that the profit by willows will buy the owner a horse before that by other trees will pay for the saddle." Mr. Sargent says: "As willow timber could be produced far more cheaply than that of any of our native trees, it should soon come into general use here for the purposes requiring lightness, pliancy, elasticity, and toughness—qualities which it possesses in an eminent degree, and for which more valuable woods are now employed. Less than one-third of the willow used in the United States for basket making is produced here, the remainder being imported from Great Britain, France, Holland, and Belgium, at an annual cost of five millions of dollars. The osier proper, the product of Salix viminalis and its allies, can be grown without trouble in any wet, undrained soil, capable of producing little else of value; but the better sorts of basket willow are only successfully produced with careful cultivation on rich, well-drained soil. Under such conditions it is a profitable crop, capable of netting at least $150 a year to the acre, and well worth the attention of our farmers." The experiment of raising willows is worth trying, though I do not anticipate so large profits as Professor Sargent promises.
For the reclamation of our pastures and waste lands abandoned to hard-hack, sumac, and other worthless brush, the European larch deserves to become a favorite. A native of the Alps, Apennines, of the Tyrol and Carpathian Mountains, it is a very hardy tree, and at home in a variety of well-drained soils, especially on rough, rocky, or gravelly ground, and the most rugged ravines. There are in our State large tracts of bleak hill-sides and mountain declivities or summits, now practically worthless, where the larch, thickly planted, would soon choke out brush, weeds, and grasses. As an ornamental tree it grows finely even in deep and rich loam, but its extraordinary qualities for timber may be impaired when grown on the rich prairies of the West or the best lands of the East. When raised under right conditions it combines the two qualities of rapidity of growth and durability of wood more than any other tree. This wood was in high favor with the Romans for the building of ships and bridges. Julius Caesar spoke strongly of its strength and durability.
Last summer I heard a lumber-man in Venice say that its durability was amply attested there, as most of the houses of the city are built upon larch piles, many of which, though in use for centuries, show no signs of decay. In a large Doge's palace, now used as a hotel, he showed me some very ancient larch window-casings which are still sound. For gondola posts in the canals adjoining the houses the larch is preferred. In wharves and many other positions in England where there is an alternation of wet and dry with the tide, the larch has stood this most trying test far better than oak. In England it is regarded as the best timber for railway ties. Monville says: "In Switzerland, the larch, as the most durable of woods, is preferred for shingles, fences, and vine-props. These vine-props remain fixed for years, and see crop after crop of vines bear their fruit and perish without showing any symptoms of decay. Props of silver fir would not last more than ten years." Evelyn says: "It makes everlasting spouts and pent-houses, which need neither pitch nor painting to preserve them." Michie affirms that " For out-door work it is the most durable of all descriptions of wood. I have known larch posts that have stood for nearly fifty years." Professor Sargent expresses the opinion that " For posts it will equal in durability our red cedar, while in the power to hold nails it is greatly its superior." The chestnut railway sleeper loses its power to hold iron in about seven years, though the tie itself may not so soon seriously rot. The larch, while it holds iron as firmly as oak, unlike the latter, does not corrode iron.