THE TRANSPLANTING OF EVERGREENS
(Mary Penrose to Barbara Campbell)
Woodridge, August 8. Back again in our camp, we thought to pause awhile, rest on our oars, and drift comfortably with the gentle summer tide of things. We have transplanted all the ferns and wild herbs for which we have room, and as a matter of course trees and shrubs must wait until they have shed their leaves in October. That is, all the trees that do shed. The exceptions are the evergreens, of which the river woods contain any number in the shape of hemlocks, spruces, and young white pines, the offspring, I take it, of a plantation back of the Windom farm, for we have not found them anywhere else.
The best authorities upon the subject of evergreens say that trees of small size should be transplanted either in April, before they have begun to put on their dressy spring plumes, or, if the season be not too hot and dry, or the distance considerable, in August, after this growth has matured, time thus being given for them to become settled in the ground before winter.
We weighed the matter well. The pros in favour of spring planting lay in the fact that rain is very likely to be plentiful in April, and given but half a chance, everything grows best in spring; the cons being that the spring rush is usually overpowering, that in a late season the frost would not be fairly out of the knoll and ground by the fence, where we need a windbreak, before garden planting time, and that during the winter clearing that will take place in the river valley, leaf fires may be started by the workmen that will run up the banks and menace our treasure-trove of evergreens.
The pros for August consisted mainly of the pith of a proverb and a bit of mad Ophelia’s sanity: “There is no time like the present” and “We know what we are, but know not what we may be!”
At present we have a good horse, Larry, and plenty of time, the con being, suppose we have a dry, hot autumn. The fact that we have a new water-barrel on wheels and several long-necked water-pots is only a partial solution of the difficulty, for the nearest well is an old-fashioned arrangement with a sweep, located above the bank wall at Opal Farm. This well is an extremely picturesque object in the landscape, but as a water-producer as inadequate as the shaving-mug with which the nervous gentleman, disturbed at his morning task, rushed out to aid in extinguishing a fire!
Various predictions as to the weather for the month have been lavished upon us, the first week having produced but one passing shower. Amos Opie foresees a muggy, rainless period. Larry declares for much rain, as it rained at new moon and again at first quarter; but, as he says, as if to release himself from responsibility, “That’s the way we read it in Oireland, but maybe, as this is t’other side of the warld, it’s all the other way round wid rain!” Barney was noncommittal, but then his temperament is of the kind that usually regrets whatever is.