But the greatest sink-hole for our money is the " Dutch game." The cheapest evergreens you can buy are those freshly imported from Holland and as they always look the best, they are irresistible to a beginner. Every one has to lose at this game before he will heed the warnings of thousands who have had the same experience.
The reason why the Dutch plants cost the least is that they can be grown faster in Holland than anywhere else. There is an inexhaustible supply of water only eighteen inches below the surface of the soil in many of these nurseries and consequently the growth is really forced.
The reason why the Dutch plants always look best to a beginner is that their leaves are darker and shinier, because of this abnormally fast growth.
The reason why they die soonest is that plants which have been grown abnormally fast are set back when removed to average conditions. They suffer especially from drought and winter killing.
Moreover the Dutch soil is most treacherous in another way. We have nothing in the East that will amalgamate with it. That black waxy earth looks moist when it is really dry, and if evergreens once get thoroughly dried out at the root it's "good-by" to them.
If you wish to back your judgment against the world's, buy freshly imported Dutch evergreens. But I should not be surprised if America has paid as much as #20,000,000 in the past for Dutch evergreens that died a lingering death in five years after planting.
The only safe plan is to buy English stock that has been grown under normal conditions or else "acclimated stock," i. e., stock which has been freed from the Dutch soil and grown a year or more in America, obviously, the only time economy is to pay a fair price for something that has a chance to grow.
There are half a dozen buying plants worth considering. The first big fact to notice is that every foot of height adds about 300 per cent, to the cost! Therefore, the simplest plan is to buy only the smallest sizes. But nobody wants to do this, because it means the longest wait.
The most sensible plan is to buy just as few large plants as are necessary. A good way to cut down one's list is to omit all the specimen plants you intended to put on the lawn and all the plants you had thought of putting in a border of mixed shrubbery, because these effects are inferior. Concentrate on special beds for broad-leaved evergreens on two sides of the house. The cheapest large plants are those with few stems and no foliage at the base. These you can put in the back row where their deficiencies will be hidden. But the grandest effects come from naturalizing broad-leaved evergreens on a great scale in woods or groves. If you can afford such effects, it may be well to split your order, buying the species from one man and the hybrids from another. The species are the cheapest and hardiest and therefore the best for wild gardening. The hybrids cost the most, because they have larger flowers and more and better colours; and also because they have to be grafted or propagated by a costlier process. Consequently, it is economy to use these only in the most important situations, near the house.