walnut, chestnut, hemlock, or spruce was growing wild at that time, plentiful as they must have been here originally, and in the opinion of Frank Henderson
, Thomas Young, and other old residents, there were more trees in Somerville
when it celebrated its semi-centennial in 1892 than there were in 1842.
But everywhere was a profusion of those shrubs and low bushes that make so much of the beauty and variety of New England
From the spice-bush in April to the weird witch-hazel of November was a succession of fair flowers and bright berries, and our country lanes were picturesque, if our hills were barren and our pastures bare of trees.
In those years bushels of blueberries and huckleberries were picked every summer in the pastures round Oak and Springfield streets, cranberries grew abundantly in the meadows where the American Tube Works now stand, and everywhere was a wealth of wild roses, which the children gathered by the basketful, to be distilled into rose-water.
One old resident of East Somerville remembers that the cardinal flower grew luxuriantly on the banks of the old canal, where it passed near her home on Mystic avenue, and Henry Munroe
, a native of Somerville
, and for many years a teacher of botany in the Chicago
, high schools, writes that in all his botanical trips, east and west, he has seldom seen a more beautiful sight than the bed of the old canal on Ten Hills Farm, when in early spring it was white as a snowdrift with the starry blossoms of the blood-root.
And here I would like to read a few verses from a song written by Mrs. Nancy T. Munroe
, whose house on Walnut street was the first one built on the west slope of Prospect Hill
Walnut street was one of the original rangeways laid out in 1680.
It was very steep and narrow, and this song was written in 1851 or '52, when the county commissioners ordered that it should be widened and the grade made easier, thus changing the country hillside lane into a town road.
No description I could write would give so graphic a picture of the wildness and beauty of our narrow roads at that time:—