WITHIN the last twenty years a complete revolution has taken place in the character of our out-of-door planting of ornamental trees and shrubs; trees which twenty years ago were rarities that a lover of arboriculture would go miles to see, are now to be met with in every gentleman's shrubbery or lawn with any pretensions to artistic arrangement. A really good hand-book was greatly wanted, to enable a planter to choose the species best suited to the climate, and best adapted to the special circumstances of his own particular estate. Such a handbook Mr. Mongredien's “Planter's Guide” proposes to furnish, and to a great extent successfully. The plan of the book is admirable. We first have a list of 621 species of trees and shrubs, “selected from the large multitude which from time to time have been introduced from all parts of the world, and of which the vast majority are not worth cultivation for ornamental purposes.” A brief description accompanies each name, with instructions as to the best aspect or position, and other needful particulars. These 621 species are then looked at from different points of view, and in the second part are classified accordingly: first, as to their height, then as to their foliage, next as to their flowers, and finally as to their fruit. Furthermore, we have selected lists of species remarkable for singularity of aspect, for rapidity of growth, suitable for hedges, thriving under the drip of trees or in the smoke of cities, adapted for different soils, &c. On looking closer into the manner in which this programme is carried out, we certainly find defects, as might be expected in a work which covers so much ground; but the defects are such as the author is sure to have brought under his notice, and which may easily be remedied in a second edition. Thus, although the list seems an extensive one, we miss many species, either old favourites or newly introduced, which ought to have had a place in it for their beauty or their useful properties: such as, among flowering shrubs, the Berberis aquifolium, a desideratum in every shrubbery, from its early flowering and the beautiful gloss of its evergreen leaves; B. vulgaris, the scarlet fruit of which is one of the most beautiful ornaments for the table; and the butcher's broom, Ruscus aculeatus, very easy of cultivation, and striking from the weirdness of its appearance, and the very peculiar growth of its flowers: and among climbing-plants, the common hop, used in some of the London parks in a very graceful manner to cover the stems of the poplar-trees. The list of plants thriving in the smoke of cities might also have been more than doubled by any of the author's friends who happen to have a London suburban garden. The illustrations interspersed here and there are very pretty; the frontispiece, however, a magnificent specimen of Araucaria imbricata, is unfortunate. If really taken from that tree, and not from another species of Araucaria not mentioned in Mr. Mongredien's list, it is very badly drawn.
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New Trees and Shrubs for English Plantations*. Nature 2, 68–69 (1870). https://doi.org/10.1038/002068a0