Fragrant Conifers from Transactions, Volume 8

"It is a beauty anywhere," said he, resuming his discourse "It is a globe of rich yellow, green leaves, compact, even and soft; and on the lawn near a house, deserves careful recognition. The Irish juniper is particularly handsome. Its lovely green, its trim form, its thread-like twigs, so erect and pert, make it worthy of attention. But the pines and the hemlocks, for landscapes, are the monarchs of the evergreens; the pine is king, and the hemlock queen of the race. They are regal from the day when the needlelike leaves of the pine, or the grain-shaped leaves of the hemlock peep out of the soil, till they are thrust a hundred feet and more toward heaven, and poised on their smooth polished pillars, great masses of perennial verdure and freshness and balmy odor. By mingling these evergreens with the deciduous trees, we are arranging spaces for Nature to put on a vast variety of forms and colors, and to work more wonders beneath our eyes in our landscape than the mirage can do. Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter will all become artists for us, and show us a skill beyond the imagination of the past. We may thus change the character of the country almost, and indeed its climate, in a large degree. Evergreen trees attract and condense moisture from the air. They also act to moderate the heat of summer and the cold of winter. For it has been found, by experiment, that their leaves produce, by the friction of the air blown by winds through them, a degree of heat which no other tree does. In winter, therefore, they will warm the country, and in summer their pointed leaves will radiate heat and produce abundant dews."
"I see," said I, ''how they are especially adapted to our variable climate in Illinois. They will catch our prairie winds in winter, and wring heat from them by friction; or, according to science, will convert the motion of the cutting winds into warmth. And in our dry summers they will disperse heat, and condense, thereby, moisture. They are the trees for us to plant and cultivate. How Nature does give us the means of compelling her to alter her plans and obey us!"
"Will you not quote Bacon again?" said Erastus, laughing. "But I am not quite through with my statement of the profits of the pines and hemlocks. The odor of the pine tree: how it heals the lungs like a balm. A pine forest seems to give oxygen to the blood, and till the whole of the veins with freshness and vigor. And the smell of hemlock boughs, particularly when the winds beat and bruise them, has an invigorating power like the perfume of heaven; it creeps into the marrow of the bones, and seems to make the soul strong. The old fable of the fountain which would renew youth, could be true only among hemlocks, and it always seems possible to me when I drink in the sight and smell of their bruised branches and leaves. Pulmonary diseases—the fashionable sins of society—and nerve affections—ailments so genteel for ladies—cannot live and thrive where the pine and the hemlock breathe out this divine fragrance. The pines are a large and useful family; the white pine is the best; the Austrian and Scotch are excellent The hemlock is only one. Let them be cultivated for their beauty, their variety, and for their health-giving powers. When I sit beneath their heaven-kissing tops, and hear them whisper to the air, as if conversing with the good angels who watch us from the skies, and see them draw warmth from the winds, and inhale their blood-purifying odors, I feel as if I were immortal"