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AT the end of the famed Wissahickon drive, the conditions presented r\ by the Andorra Nurseries do no violence to the portion of Fairmount Park which is adjoining. Indeed, the last half-mile of the most lovely park drive in America is bounded by a part of the Andorra Nurseries; and a sharp turn to the left, as one emerges from the shade by the Wissahickon, leads into a beautiful tree-bordered nursery road.
With the wide extent and varied contour of our Nurseries, and with the great variety of trees and plants grown, there comes a special attractiveness. No day in the year is without its own attractions at Andorra, and during the spring and summer months, every morning brings something of special beauty in flower or leaf.
The fields of Iris and of Peony are great sheets of brilliant bloom for many weeks. The surprising display of Mountain Laurel, growing here most happily, is matched by the gorgeous Rhododendrons, not in set fields, but in lines and corners which make their colors the more enjoyable. The beauty of the more delicate hardy perennials is enhanced by contrast with stately borders of specimen trees and shrubs. One may see, too, a perfect scale of delicate, deep and rich colors in the evergreens, contrasting with the brilliancy of the Japanese Maples.
Andorra needs a visit — many visits — to be appreciated. The visitor can see suggestive effects; he can pick out the actual trees and plants he likes, and have them reserved for him. By all means, then, visit Andorra, and see nurseries not paralleled anywhere.
The Andorra Nurseries can be reached by either the Philadelphia & Reading or Pennsylvania railroads to Chestnut Hill station, and from there by the Chestnut Hill (City Line) Trolley to the city line, from where it is only three minutes' walk to the Nursery.
The descriptions in this Catalogue have been made with care, to fairly represent the great stock from which they are written. We have kept nothing unworthy. As the stock varies constantly, prices are not here included; they may be found on a separate list.
In view of the special class of trees and shrubs we handle, it is possibly well for us to say a word about them. Ever since the establishment of these Nurseries it has been our practice to grow a stock of thoroughly fine trees and shrubs to a large size, so well rooted and prepared for transplanting that it is possible for our customers to secure trees and shrubs to give immediate effects, and not be obliged to wait several years for stock to make a showing, as is the case with ordinary nursery trees.
To attain this object it has been necessary, not only to practice careful cultivation, but to allow the amount of space necessary for each tree or shrub in order that it might become a perfect specimen of its kind. With this in view, our plantations are laid out with wide rows, and when the small plants are set out from the seed- and cutting-beds, they are placed far enough apart to develop without interfering with the growth of their neighbors, and when they are again regularly transplanted, the same point of "plenty of room" is carefully considered. We take pride in the fact that here at Andorra trees and shrubs are given more individual space than at any other nursery in this country, and we are able to dig specimen trees without in any way interfering with others in the rows. This enables us to get the entire root system of the tree or shrub, and accounts for the successful growth of our stock after transplanting to the destined positions.
Our shipments are packed under personal supervision, and our system is so arranged that all orders are cross-checked, not only to avoid possible errors but to eliminate the chance of a plant which may not be in thoroughly first-class condition leaving the place. We are often asked how large a tree we can ship. Every day during our busy season we are handling material up to 30 feet in height, and as much as 6 to 7 inches in diameter. When trees are too large for our ordinary packages, in bales and cases, we ship by car-load, and frequently use gondola cars and build them up. For large quantities this is by all means the most economical and best method of packing. We build the four sides of the car, board by board, as the stock is loaded, and when finished and roofed in we have practically a large box 40 feet in length, 10 feet in width and 8 to 9 feet in depth. In this way it is possible to avoid all chance of broken branches or of having the trunks and limbs barked by forcing them into the ordinary box cars.
Evergreens are always given special attention, and, when necessary, the roots are carefully burlaped. Owing to our careful system of packing we can ship even car-loads to the Pacific coast in perfect condition.
On Arrival, the bales or cases should at once be opened, and if the material cannot be promptly planted it should be "heeled-in." To do this, dig a trench from I }i to 2 feet in depth and of sufficient width to accommodate the roots without bending them. In this trench set the trees close together, cover the roots with soil, mounding it up along the line of the trench, so that it will turn off the water in case of heavy rains. This is of special importance where trees must remain heeled-in any length of time. If the trees can be planted at once, the most important point is the preparation of the hole; this should be dug at least one foot wider than the spread of the roots of the tree to be set, and in good soil should be from 15 to 24 inches in depth, unless for a very large specimen, when it should be proportionately deeper. In case the soil is not good, a much larger hole should be excavated and filled with good soil. Should the planting space be in a clayey soil, the bottom of the hole should be loosened up; if possible, dig entirely through the clay. If not, dig deep enough to fill in with stone or some loose material that will insure drainage.
When Setting THE TREE, take care that all broken portions of roots are cut off in a clean, careful manner; then set the tree, spreading the roots in a natural position, taking care that the small fibers are not twisted or crowded. Fill in with good, fine soil, which should be worked carefully under the roots so that no spaces remain unfilled. Be careful not to plant too deep. The tree will generally show by the soil-mark on its bark the depth at which it stood in the nursery, and it should not be set more than 2 or 3 inches deeper. As the soil is filled in by layers, it should be carefully trampled until quite firm, and when the hole is filled within an inch or two of the top, the last of the soil should be spread without trampling.
Kind Of Soil.—We are frequently asked what kind of soil to use and with what to enrich it. Just here we would emphasize the fact that too much care cannot be taken with the preparation of the hole for planting. It is absolutely necessary that the tree be given a quantity of good soil if one would attain satisfactory results. The very best soil obtainable is that from an old meadow where the rich top-soil and sod can be stripped and thrown together. It is always advisable, where much planting is done, to have a compost heap prepared the season previous by putting soil and manure in alternate layers, and have the pile turned two or three times. When either of these kinds of soil is not possible, old thoroughly rotted manure can be mixed with the soil for planting; but in no case should fresh manure or patent fertilizers be used.
After Planting.—As soon as the hole is filled and the tree has been properly and firmly set, spread over the surface a layer 4 or 5 inches thick of either old or fresh manure; this layer should extend a foot or two beyond the line of the newly filled hole, and this mulching is important, as it will help to hold moisture; and moisture is, after careful planting, the most important aid to insure success. It should be borne in mind that when a tree is transplanted, no matter how carefully the work is done, it is impossible to take up the entire root system, and therefore before it is able to care for itself it must form new roots, which must take hold of the soil. In the meantime, by the action of the wind and sun, the moisture is being continually evaporated from the trunk and branches, and this must be balanced by an artificial supply. During dry spells and hot weather of the following season, the soil around the base of the tree, for a space wider than the original hole, should be frequently watered, but not so as to make the ground soggy. When possible the foliage should be sprayed.
As it is impossible to transplant a tree without affecting the root system, it is important, in order to balance the supply and to help avoid excessive evaporation, that the top of the tree should be cut back. The amount of cutting depends entirely on the amount of fibrous root carried by the tree, although hard-wooded varieties usually require harder cutting than soft woods. It is a good rule to remove about three-fourths of last year's growth from all the branches; and in doing this use a sharp knife, making a perfectly clean cut, and taking off the branch or part of branch either at a fork or close to a strong bud. Be very careful not to leave stumps, as they invariably die back and create decay- The best time for pruning is when the trees are set out, and if they are large it will be found advisable to cut them before they are planted; but in every case be careful to preserve the natural form of the tree, and do not cut back into old heavy wood that does not show buds. Shrubbery pruning should be done with a knife, not with hedge shears, and as a rule just after the plants have flowered; but in some cases this would prevent the showy fruits and seeds in the autumn. It is almost impossible to give general directions for pruning shrubbery that will apply to all.
The whole subject of successful planting may be briefly summed up as follows: A well-drained hole larger than the spread of the roots; good soil, broken roots carefully trimmed and the top branches shortened in; soil packed so that the tree stands quite firm, a heavy mulching as soon as the planting is completed, and careful watering during the first season.