In some portions of Germany the law formerly required every landholder to plant trees along his road frontage. Happy would it be for us if the sovereigns of our soil would make each such a law for himself. Happy, also, if the law of usage, fashion, or interest here, as did the civil law there, required that every young man before he married should plant a tree. In some of our Western States tree-planting by the road-side is encouraged by a bounty from the State treasury, and in the fields by both a bounty and exemption from taxation for a term of years. The law in Minnesota provides that " every person planting, protecting and cultivating forest trees for three years, one-half mile or more along any public highway, shall be entitled to receive for ten years thereafter an annual bounty of two dollars for each half-mile so planted and cultivated, to be paid out of the State treasury ; but such bounty shall not be paid any longer than such line of trees is maintained." If I may be pardoned for repeating a personal allusion, the maples which I planted, when a mere boy, before the old homestead in Litchfield county, are now beautiful and stately trees. As I have often said, they have paid me a thousand-fold for the work they cost, and added new charms to that beautiful spot, to which I count it a privilege to make an annual visit. Among the memories of my boyhood, no day has recurred with such frequency and satisfaction as that then devoted to tree-planting. My interest in the subject is due to this incident (or perhaps accident) of my boyhood. I should be thankful if I could help put a similar incident, and an equally grateful experience, into the childhood of our boys of to-day. In this good work may I earnestly bespeak the cooperation of the farmers of Connecticut.
In tree-planting, the economic and ornamental touch at so many points that the cases are rare where they really diverge. Nothing, for example, can add so much to the beauty and attractiveness of our country roads as long avenues of fine trees. I saw this beautifully illustrated in France, last summer, where, for over a hundred miles on a stretch, the road was lined with trees. In many ways the first Napoleon's interest in arboriculture proved a benefaction to France. No time should be lost in securing the same grand attraction to the highways of Connecticut. Growing on land otherwise running to waste, such trees would yield most satisfactory returns. The shade and beauty would be grateful to every traveler, but doubly so to the owner and the planter, as the happy experience of many Connecticut farmers can testify. A grand work in this direction is already well started. No class can contribute so much to the adornment of our public roads as the farmers. They have already in abundance the very best trees for the roadside, such as the elm, maple, ash, American linden (or bass), oak, and in some localities the walnut. The hard maple will thrive in dry and gravelly soils, while the elm and red maple are specially desirable for moist, low ground. As the maples should be planted twenty-five feet apart, and the elms from forty to fifty, poplars or willows or trees growing rapidly from scions, may be placed between, to be cut down when their statelier neighbors require the room for their full development.
Tree-planting is fitted to give a needful lesson of forethought to the juvenile mind. Living only in the present and for the present, too often youth will sow only where they can quickly reap. A meager crop soon in hand, outweighs a golden harvest long in maturing. Youth should learn to forecast the future as the condition of wisdom. Arboriculture is a discipline in foresight—it is always planting for the future, and sometimes for the distant future. Says Washington Irving, " There is something nobly simple and pure in such a taste for trees. It argues a sweet and generous nature to have this strong friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the forest. There is a serene majesty in woodland scenery that enters into the soul, dilates and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations. There is a grandeur of thought connected with this heroic line of husbandry. It is worthy, of liberal and free-born and aspiring men. He who plants an oak, looks forward to future ages and plants for posterity. He cannot expect to enjoy its shelter, but he exults in the idea that the acorn which he has buried in the earth shall grow up into a lofty pile, and shall keep on flourishing and increasing and benefiting mankind long after he has ceased to tread his paternal fields." It was the trees of his own planting at Sunnyside-on-the-Hudson, more than the beauty of the surrounding landscape, that led Irving to say, " After all my wanderings, I return to this spot with a heartfelt preference for it over all others in the world." It was the simple beauty he had created at Marshfield,—the grassy lawns, the shaded approaches, the hundreds of trees of his planting,—that bound Daniel Webster so strongly to that sequestered spot. The charm of Abbotsford, the grand Mecca of Scotland, comes mainly from its beautiful ivy and shrubbery and the thousands of trees planted by the hand of its illustrious proprietor. Says Sir Walter Scott, " My heart clings to this place I have created. There is scarce a tree in it that does not owe its being to me. Once well planted, a tree will grow when you are sleeping, and it is almost the only thing that needs no tending."
Any wealthy citizens of Connecticut, who desire to become public benefactors, can hardly find a more inviting field for their liberality than by offering prizes for sylviculture. A few thousand dollars placed in the hands of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture would widely stimulate tree-planting, and greatly enrich the State. The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, offer three thousand dollars in the following prizes:
For the best plantation of not less than five acres, $1,000 ; for the next best, $600 ; and for the next best, $400. For these prizes the European larch must be planted, except in Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties, where the Scotch pine or Corsican pine must be used, as best adapted to sandy plains. Only plantations made on poor, worn-out land, or that which is unfit for agricultural purposes, and containing at least 2,700 trees to the acre, can compete for these prizes.