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Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture
^be preservation of 1Roab0i^e Zvccs anb tbe
llmprovement of public (Brounbe/'
DELIVERED IN THE FARMERS' MEETING COURSE IN BOSTON,
BY JAMES DRAPER, A MEMBER OF THE WORCESTER
" Woodman, spare that tree ;
Touch not a single bough ;
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand
That placed it near his cot;
There, Woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not."
The incident that gave thovight to the poem of which the above
is the opening stanza is familiar to many ; yet in a word I will al-
lude to it as emphasizing the importance of considering and acting
upon the problem suggested as the topic of our discussion, " The
Preservation of Road-side Trees," etc.
In the year 1837 George P. Morris, of New York, while driving
with a friend along the lane that led to his early home in that por-
tion of New York City know as Bloomingdale, discovered a man
with axe in hand, about to fell to the ground an aged and noble oak
that had been planted by his grandfather, before he was born, and
under whose shade, for many years, with parents and sisters, he
had spent many happy hours.
Touched to the heart at the thought of the demolition of this
historic tree, he first tried to persuade the owner to desist from his
purpose, without avail, and then he negotiated with him, on the
payment of a sum equal in value to the wood and timber the tree
would make, and going into the old homestead, he took paper, drew
up a bond for him to sign, stipulating that as long as the property
remained in his possession, or that of his family, that "old oak"
should never be disturbed.
That this feeling of veneration for these noble roadside trees has
not died out is evinced by the interest taken by those lovers of trees
who have been instrumental in securing a legislative enactment for
the preservation of roadside trees in this state.
The law as it now stands is as follows :
"Chapter 196 of the Acts of 1890, as amended by chapter 49 of
the Acts of 1891 and chapter 147 of the Acts of 1892.
"Section 1. The mayor and aldermen of ^cities and the select-
men of towns within the Commonwealth are hereby authorized to
designate and preserve, as hereinafter provided in this act, trees
within the limits of the highways for the purposes of ornament and
shade ; and to so designate not less than one such tree in every )
thirty -three feet where such trees are growing and are of a diameter
of one inch or more.
<'Sect. 2. Said mayor and aldermen and selectmen shall, at such
seasons of the year as they deem proper, designate such trees as are
selected by them for the purposes set forth in this act, by driving
into the same, at a point not less than four nor more than six feet
from the ground and on the side towards the centre of the highway,
a nail or spike with a head with the letter M plainly impressed
upon it ; said nails and spikes to be procured and furnished by the
secretary of the state board of agriculture to said mayor and alder-
men and selectmen as required by them for the purposes of this act.
Said mayor and aldermen and selectmen, at such seasons of the
year as they deem proper, shall renew such of said nails and spikes
as shall have been destroyed or defaced ; and shall also designate,
in the same manner as hereinbefore stated, such other trees as in
their judgment should be so designated to carry out the require-
ments of this act.
"Sect. 3. Whoever wantonly injures, defaces or destroys any
tree thus designated, or any of said nails or spikes affixed to such
trees, shall forfeit not less than five nor more than one hundred
dollars, to be recovered by complaint, one-half to the complainant
and one-half to the use of the town wherein the offence was com-
"Sect, 4. This act shall not apply to ornamental or shade trees
whose preservation is now provided for by chapter fifty-four of the
Public Statutes and the acts amendatory thereof."
The requisite nails or spikes have been procured by the secretary
of the Board of Agriculture, and he is now prepared to furnish
them, on request of selectmen of towns or mayor and aldermen of
cities, for the purposes set forth in the act above mentioned.
I am aware that action has been taken but in a very few instances
as yet by the town or city officials in carrying out the provisons of
this act. It seems to me that it is of the highest importance that
the initative steps in this work be taken at once by defining some
uniform method of procedure and to designate what varieties of
trees it is most desirable to have preserved, and where, within these
roadside limits, the same will be best protected from injury.
The new law clearly defines the proper authorities entrusted with
this work. The Board of Selectmen in the several towns, and in
the case of our cities tlie Parks Commission, would seem to me to
be the proper authorities.
WHAT TREES TO PRESERVE.
The white oak, American white beech, rock or sugar maples,
American white elm (when space is ample), and American white
ash seem to me to be the most desirable.
The objection to the red oak and basswood or linden is their sus-
ceptibility to the attack of the borer ; the poplars and white or red
maples, their liability to injury or wreckage by ice storms. The
red or slippery elm, if discovered by traveling man or boy will not
escape the robbing of its bark, and the chestnut and walnut become
the victims of severe clubbing and injury to their trunks, by pound-
ing without mercy to induce a few stray nuts to leave their snug
quarters before being ordered out by the autumnal frosts.
LOCATIOX OF TREES.
But two positions can safely be agreed upon in the roadside pres-
ervation of trees. Either they must be in close proximity to the
boundary wall or fence, or far enough distant therefrom to allow a
foot-walk six or more feet between the trees selected and the boun-
While this should apply to the trees of smaller dimensions which
are to be designated for preservation, in the instance of an occasional
tree which may be found between these lines, that have reached
nearly to their maximum height and breadth, the owners of adja-
cent land would do honor to themselves and confer blessings upon
posterity by giving to the highway sufficient land to allow a foot-
walk on one side and an ample road-bed in the line of travel on the
other, so that these noble "sons of the forest" may be fully pre-
Whenever the tree to be preserved can be found standing close
to the boundary lines, the chances of its being left undisturbed are
far greater than those six feet or more distant therefrom when they
so often become hitching-posts for careless and thoughtless drivers,
or the victims of barbarous treatment at the hands of road repairers
with their death-dealing road machines or ploughs or scrapers.
While we have alluded thus far only to such roadside trees as
have sprung up as by chance, and have now reached sufficient size
to be designated for permanent preservation, it may not be out of
place to note the plans adopted by the Worcester Parks Commission
in the planting of shade trees on the city thoroughfares or highways
in the suburbs.
In the city proper no trees are planted until the grades of the
streets have been permanently established by the city engineer and
the curbstones placed in their permanent position.
They are planted eight inches inside the curb, und distant from
each other from thirty-five to forty feet.
Where trees have been planted under these directions outside the
curbstone limit by private individuals, they recommend a distance
of forty to fifty feet, and within one foot of the wall or fence, or
either six or seven feet distant therefrom, being governed some-
what by the width of the highway where the trees are planted.
While this work of planting shade trees has been carried on very
successfully by the Commission for many years, and over ten thou-
sand trees are now growing in a thriving condition, their greatest
care and anxiety now is their preservation from injury by reckless
drivers of all kinds of vehicles, and their utilization as hitching-posts
Cor horses by those of whom better things should be expected.
To the credit of the irrepressible small boy who has to bear such
a liberal share of denunciation in these matters, be it said, that the
iniurv from sharp-edged tools in their hands is very meagre m com-
parison with the destruction wrought by the teeth of hungry
horses. Tree-guards of the strongest construction which are from
seven to eight feet in height are found of little avail where a hungry
horse is bent on a meal of the tender growth of a thrifty sugar or
Norway maple. , ■, , -, j. -4.
While the destruction of the more recently planted trees is try-
ing in the extreme, the reckless mutilation of road-side trees outside
the city limits by the employes of the several telegraph and tele-
phone companies overshadows every other line of destruction
Some of the finest oaks, elms and maples, along the routes occu-
pied by these corporations' wires have been mutilated and disfigured
bevond measure, while some specimens have been so nearly ruined
that they can never be restored to any degree of symmetry. And
what is the remedy ? These companies have acqmred their fran-
chise without cost, by the simple application to City Council or
Board of Selectmen, for leave to locate their poles along certain
thoroughfares. This privilege does not carry with it the right to
destroy a single tree that may come in their way, yet the employes
invariably get in their deathly work before they are discovered, and
their would be prosecutors are unable to bring them to justice.
There is room enough in the world both for the trees and the
wires ; but as trees do not root in the air, they must take the lower
strata in the premises, while the telegraph companies oy using fifty
and sixty feet poles instead of those only thirty to thirty-five feet
in height, can carry their wires well above the tops of the avei-age
shade or roadside trees without injury. Any branches to the tree
that will interfere with the wire of that height can safely be re-
moved without any injury to the tree or disfigurement to their
symmetrical proportions, excepting, however, the gigantic elms and
oaks, when it would be impracticable. In such cases the use of
insulated wires will overcome the difficulty. United and decisive
action on the part of the city and town officials demanding the re-
construction of their lines on higher poles, alone will prove the
"^^ While much has been done of late in this embellishment of our
streets and roadsides with shade trees, we have but comparatively
few drives of any great length that have become prominent f oi their
shade attractiveness, that are the results of the labor of our public-
spirited and tree-loving citizens, thirty or forty years ago.
In my own city, and I refer to it as some of you iire familiar with
the situation, I recall nothing more beautiful and effective in the
way of roadside ornamentation than the double rows of magnificent
Norway maples that over-arch Lovell street southerly from May
street, which were planted by our esteemed fellow-citizen B
Hadwen. A short section of May street west of June street speaks
words of living praise for the labor of the Hartshorn fami y in the
planting of sujar maples, while a long stretch on the Gratton road
planted with the American white ash, perpetuates the memory ot
the late Darius Rice.
We take much pride in many small groups of trees and some
magnificent single specimens that adorn the homes and roadsides of
our rural citizens, but we cannot point to a single mile of continu-
ous shade upon any suburban road, from trees of twenty-five or
more years of age. It is to encourage this roadside embellishment
by the preservation and planting of suitable shade trees upon the
treeless roads that has prompted the consideration of this subject
to-day. J u
While I have been greatly impressed with the grandeur and sub-
limity of the natural scenery of the country that it has been my
privilege to visit and gaze upon, I still hold in high veneration
those marked features of the landscape where the work of nature
has been supplemented by the hand of man in the laying out of
broad avenues and the planting of roadside trees.
What is it that most impresses the visitor to our rural town of
Lancaster ? Nothing more nor less than its broad central avenues
overarched with stately elms, planted early in the present century
The town of Shrewsbury will ever revere the name of Harlow and
Hapgood, who, when in the prime of life, erected their own monu-
ment by the planting of those rows of sugar maples that now at-
tract the attention of every lover of nature. "Yea, verily they
cease from their labors but their works do follow them."
While our State has many towns whose shade trees have made
them famous and attractive, the work of street embellishment m
Washington City, is not only of special interest but of great magni-
tude. During a period of ten years, over 20,000 shade trees were
planted on the streets and avenues, and as many more m the parks
and reservations. What impresses one most m their method of
planting is the large variety of trees that have been utilized.
The climate in that locality allows the utilization of many trees
that are not indigenous to this New England climate. Certain ave-
nues are planted exclusively with one variety of trees, and the ef-
fect is most pleasing. The perfectly formed and evenly rounded
head of the sugar or Norway maples on certain avenues while the
more spreading silver maple type characterizes another. Ihe
American linden furnishers another type of symmetrical and finely
formed trees. The tulip or white wood is clean and shapely while
the gingko or maiden hair, furnishes a peculiarly striking foliage
that attracts much attention. The elms are used in some cases
where space will allow. The Carolina poplar and Negundo maples
were planted largely at first, but proved very unsatisfactory after a
few years ; the Negundo becoming badly infested with insects, and
the poplar becoming sadly disfigured by breakage.
The city of Boston has completed a broad avenue several miles
in length from the city proper to "Chestnut Hill Reservoir 'in
Brookline, that is unequalled by any drive in tnis section of the
country. Its distinctive features are its generous width iOO feet
most of the distance, the location of the double tracks of the elec-
tric railroad system in the center of the avenue and on either side
of these tracks rows of shade trees are planted, while the surface
of the ground is well turfed with grass. An equestrian drive comes
next to the railroad location, while a broad, thoroughly constructed
roadbed is located on each side of the avenue for carriages. Broad
sidewalks are located between the carriage drives and the boundary
line, and here again rows of trees are planted, the whole forming a
grand colonnade with four rows of trees the entire length.
This is Boston's great pleasure drive of which she feels justly
Cannot other cities hope to possess even in a small measure such
grand features in their system of roads or pleasure drives?
In ray journey through California a few years ago I was impressed
with the interest taken there in this roadside tree planting. We
found at San Jose a broad avenue called the " Alameda," leading to
Santa Clara three miles distant, with a double row of poplars and
willows. These were planted by Jesuit missionaries over one hun-
dred years ago, and, although we cannot approve the selection of
trees for durability, they are entitled to the honor of being the pio-
neers in tree planting on the Pacific Coast. At Riverside in South-
ern California may be found one avenue, the Magnolia, which is
nine miles in length, and planted the entire distance with huge
palm trees on each side, and a row of pepper trees in the centre.
In another town, Pomona by name, the leading attraction is a
broad avenue planted with two rows of cypress trees, and two of
the Eucalyptus, which make a most charming effect.
These are but a few of many illustrations ; time will not allow
the mentioning of more.
In considering the question of the improvement of public grounds,
it is not my purpose to touch upon the work of the landscape gar-
dener or the laying out and embellishment of public parks, but to
advocate a certain line of improvement that would not come under
their province. I refer to the land, coming within the boundary
limits of our highway as well as that of school-house grounds. It
was my privilege a few years ago, as the executive officer of the
Massachusetts State Grange, to recommend the observance, by
the subordinate granges of the state, of a fixed day in the early
part of the month of May as Arbor Day ; and in addition to the
planting of fruit and ornamental trees around the home, and trees
for shade and shelter along the roadsides, I urged the importance of
cleaning the grounds around the buildings and along the roadsides
of all useless underbrush, stones, stumps or any other unsightly ob-
jects, and then grade the same and seed it down to grass. It is
gratifying to note how much interest was manifested in this work
in many towns, and what great improvements were made through
this vmited, as well as individual, effort.
I am aware that many will assert that this kind of work does
not pay or that the activities of farming life will not allow time
for any such improvements. No one would urge any neglect of
their duties that at many seasons of the year become imperative,
but there are many broken days or partially rainy days in the course
of the year, and even between the busy seasons, that can be de-
voted to this work if one is so disposed.
Have this roadside improvement as one object in view that shall
have a few days' attention every year, and in ten years from now
the suburban roads of this state would show a most wonderful and
"Will this Work be appreciated?" may be asked. There cer-
tainly is no negative answer to this question. The number of
owners of teams for pleasure driving is increasing largely every
year. This driving is not confined to our busy thoroughfares, or the
main roads that have been sacrificed to the traffic of the horse or
electric railway systems. These are being largely avoided and re-
sort is taken to the rural drives, of which no state can boast of
more charming ones, or a grander or more diversified landscape.
It appears from the early records of my native city of Worcester,
that in the year 1783 an ordinance was passed by the town as fol-
lows : —
"Whereas, a number of persons have manifested a disposition to
set out trees for shade, near the meeting house and elsewhere about
the town, and the town being very desirous of encouraging such a
measure, which will be beneficial as well as ornamental, voted —
that any person being an inhabitant of this town who shall injure
or destroy such trees so set out shall pay a tine not exceeding twenty
shillings for every offense, to the use of the poor."
The attention given to street ornamentation, inaugurated over a
century ago, continued in later years by men who were the founders
and promoters of the Worcester County Horticultural Society, the
Lincoln family for three generations most prominent of all, has
given us for enjoyment the refreshing shade of our Common and
the streets in the immediate vicinity.
The authorities in charge of the highways in the cities and
towns are doing more each year to improve the roadbeds in every di-
rection. It now remains for the owners of land bordering on these
highways to supplement this work by improvement of the roadside,
the planting and preservation of our shade-trees, and thus add to
the attractiveness, enjoyment and general prosperity of an appre-
Some of our railroad corporations are setting us a good example
in the way they are utilizing the vacant land around the stations by
planting trees, vines and shrubs in a most attractive manner, and
the travelling public are certainly enjoying the grand improvement.
In the matter of —
a few suggestions may be offered, as it comes within the pi'ovince
of the question under consideration.
The suggestions made for Arbor Day observance, already al-
luded to, while intended more especially for the towns in the State
where Granges were organized, found no heartier support than in
my own city. It was very gratifying to me to be invited to ad-
dress a meeting of the school teachers of Worcester upon this sub-
ject, giving hints and suggestions that might aid them in their
work. It was still more pleasing to note the interest taken by so
many of the teachers and scholars in the initiative work of plant-
ing the shade-trees, vines and shrubs within so many of the school-
yard enclosures in this city.
The predictions of those who doubted the expediency of sueh au
000 925 707 fl
undertaking, and predicted the certain demolition of every vestige
of plant-life, the first season, have not proved true, but on the
other hand, those trees and shrubs that the pupils had planted with
their own hands, or had secured by their own efforts either by pur-
chase, solicitation or contribution, were guarded with a care and in-
terest that has been most commendable. The class-tree that adorns
the grounds of nearly every one of our colleges and other institu-
tions of learning, some that have stood for half a century or more,
are held in sacred veneration by the graduates of those institutions
Who shall say that the boys and girls of the primary and inter-
mediate schools who have aided in the planting of their class-trees
will not ever after cherish pleasant recollections of this chapter of
their school-day life, and also that these early impressions will lead
to higher appreciation of the value of trees for shade or shelter, and
closer acquaintance with the numberless varieties of plants, shrubs,
vines or flowers that are adding so much to the pleasure and com-
fort of mankind, whether planted in garden or park, or growing in
their natural wildness and beauty on roadside or in woodland or
We are cognizant of the fact that our school-yards are limited in
space and but little can be spared for this work, but is it asking too
much that one-tenth of the area be appropriated to this work ?•
And all this space can be taken in the borders or in the corners so
as not to interfere with the playground, for no one would interfere
with all that is necessary to develop the physical nature and the
enjoyment of our outdoor games and pastimes. The open space
allowed for this exercise and pleasure can be made much more en-
joyable if protected by suitable shade which can be secured in a
large measure by planting trees around and near the border-line of
the enclosure ; and as these trees will take room above the heads of
the children, their available area for sport is not diminished in the
least. If a strip varying in width from five to ten feet along the
borders, or in close proximity to the building, can be taken for the
dwarf growing trees and flowering shrubs, a most pleasing effect
can be produced and the large variety to select from that are indig-
enous to this climate will afford a choice assortment of color in
flower and leaf and continual bloom during the season.
We have reason to take pride in our finely constructed school-
buildings, their pleasing architectural design and effect, their loca-
tion and adaptability for instructive purposes.
Let us hope that the work so happily inaugurated in our State
Normal Schools of embellishing the grounds around them may con-
tinue, and that the inspiration of their Arbor Day observance may
prove lasting, so that teachers who graduate therefrom, as well as
those now in the service, may be earnestly devoted to their noble
work till every schoolyard shall be made to possess, in small meas-
ure at least, these attractive surroundings that conduce to the
greater refinement and higher moral sentiment of our children.
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