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A Select List Of Trees

Many large trees, especially elms, about a house, are a sure indication of family distinction and worth. Any evidence of care bestowed on these trees receives the traveler's respect as for a nobler husbandry than the raising of corn and potatoes.

— Henry David Thoreau

It will not do to be exclusive in our tastes about trees. There is hardly one of them which has not peculiar beauties in some fitting place for it.

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

In any save the smallest places the trees form the framework of the plantings. They are the first to be considered, and the first to be placed. And unless they are felicitously selected and happily placed and well grown the whole composition is apt to fall to pieces, since it lacks the necessary framework.

Moreover, trees are sometimes able to make a whole landscape by themselves. A forest is frequently beautiful. And if there are pleasant openings, with long perspectives, and views of wooded hills, or of craggy mountains, or of river, lake or sea, the landscape requires little else to make it satisfying to the most fastidious taste.

Then, too, a tree is a beautiful thing by itself. Each good tree has its own peculiar and sufficient beauties, and even the blasted and storm-torn tree may make a fascinating picture. In all large plantings there should be included a number of specimen trees, so placed as to show their individual good qualities, and so grown as to possess those good qualities in the greatest measure.

For all these reasons the selection of suitable trees becomes one of the landscape gardener's first and most important duties. Familiarity with trees and a sympathetic understanding of their manners and moods is the best basis on which to make this choice; but the following notes, which make no claim to completeness, may be of some service to those who have not made trees a special study.

ASH.—There are three or four native species of ash which may usually be collected from the woods or bought from the nurseries. All are good. They are excellent for large masses, and will bear comparatively thick planting.

BEECH.—The common American beech is a fine tree where it will succeed. It is not practicable to mass it except in waste places, on hillsides, and the like. An occasional single tree in rich soil makes a specimen to be proud of. The Purple-leaved beech is a good tree of its color; but one or two will be enough for a very large place.

BIRCH.—Pyramidal and weeping birches have found many buyers during recent years. However, they partake more of the nature of curiosities than of indigenous trees, and are not to be recommended. Nearly all the native forms and species are good in their place, however, in garden planting, though any of them must be sparingly used. The White birch, Canoe birch and Yellow birch deserve special mention.

BUTTERNUT.—See Walnut.

CATALPA.—Catalpa speciosa is the species most planted. It makes a small or moderate sized tree, with large foliage, which is quite ornamental; and the species is further desirable for its fine display of flowers. Catalpa bignonioides and Tea's Japan Hybrid are good sorts less frequently planted.

CEDAR.—The Red cedar, Juniperus Virginiana, is a fine ornamental evergreen much used in the western states, but scarcely known in some parts of the east. It is suitable for almost every situation where evergreens may be used; it can be massed with fine effect; it has a very attractive color; and other qualities recommend it for more general notice.

COFFEE TREE.—This beautiful ornamental tree, Gymnocladus Canadensis, makes a good specimen on almost any lawn. Not more than two or three are usually desirable, but they should not be omitted.

ELM.—The American elm was the typical American tree, and the one indispensable street tree. It was, perhaps, the most generally useful ornamental tree we had. No other elm was so good as the common species, though the following were used for special purposes: Slippery elm, Ulmus fulva, English elm, U. campestris, Huntingdon elm, U. Huntingdoni, Wych elm, U. Montana.

GINKGO.—This strange tree, sometimes called the Maidenhair tree, makes an odd and pretty specimen, but is not suited to grouping. It makes a very good street tree when well grown.

HACKBERRY.—Sometimes called Nettle tree, Celtis occidentalis. This is a good, hardy tree, especially desirable in the western prairie states.

HONEY LOCUST.—This is one of our very best shade and ornamental trees. Its very large thorns, which sometimes prove annoying, may be avoided by securing thornless trees. These thornless trees may be found in almost any nursery.

HORSE-CHESTNUT.—This is a fine tree for small groups. It is not useful in masses, and not at its best in street planting. For grouping, the Ohio Buckeye or Western horse-chestnut is a good tree of small size.

KOELREUTERIA.—Koelreuteria paniculata has found many friends in this country, and may be seen in many parks and private places. It makes a small tree, fifteen to thirty feet high, with feathery pinnate leaves, and pretty yellow blossoms. To be chosen for middle-ground plantings, and used in small numbers.

LINDEN.—The American linden or Basswood is a good park tree, and also good for street planting. It deserves more general use.

MAGNOLIAS.—The magnolias seem most in keeping with southern landscapes, but many of them are useful as far north as New York city. Among the best species are Magnolia conspicua, M. glauca, M. Soulangeana, M. macrophylla, M. stellata, and M. Lennei.

MAPLES.—This is one of our noblest genera of trees. The common Sugar maple is a typical American tree and one of the most valuable for planting anywhere where it will thrive. In the western states it does not succeed, but is there replaced by the Silver or Soft maple, Acer dasycarpum. A fine, semi-weeping variety of this latter species is Wier's Cut-leaved maple, which is especially suitable for specimen planting in grounds of moderate extent. Schwerdler's maple is another fine ornamental variety. The Japanese maples are not hardy in the northern states. Though very satisfactory specimens are sometimes grown as far northward as Massachusetts, they are not generally successful beyond New York, and are at their best in the latitude of Washington. The Norway maple, Acer platanoides, makes a fine ornamental, street or shade tree. The Striped maple or moosewood, Acer Pennsylvanicum, is rather a large shrub than a tree, but is very fine for masses on sloping banks, for small screens, and similar purposes. The Mountain maple, A. spicatum, may be used in the same way.

MULBERRY.—The native American mulberry, Morus rubra, makes a good tree, and should be oftener chosen for general planting. The Russian mulberry and the Multicaulis mulberry are useful treated as shrubs. They may be worked into thickets and cut back from year to year.

OAK.—Oaks are slow to grow, but they are worth waiting for. Almost every species is desirable for planting in parks and private grounds. Special mention may be given to the American White Oak, Quercus alba, Swamp White Oak, Q. bicolor, and the Scarlet oak, Q. coccinea. A dozen other extremely valuable species may be selected from almost any catalog.

PAULOWNIA.—This fine tree is seldom seen in perfection. Perhaps it is difficult to grow, though the experience of gardeners generally does not enforce this point. It does fairly well as far north as New York city, where some excellent specimens may be seen in Central Park. At Washington it is perhaps at its best.

PINE.—The genus Pinus contains the best of the evergreen trees, though for general park planting spruces are more easily managed. The best park pines are the Austrian, the Scotch, the White, Pinus Strobus, and the Dwarf Mugho. The latter makes a small, round-topped tree six to ten feet high, which is very attractive in certain situations.

PLUMS.—Pissard's plum is the one most commonly chosen for ornamental planting. This makes a clean, pretty, small tree, with bright, red foliage. It cannot be used in quantity. Several of the native plums, particularly Prunus Americana, are suitable for more frequent use in general composition.

POPLAR.—Several of the poplars are useful, particularly on account of their easy and rapid growth. They are, however, short-lived, and sometimes objectionable on account of their cottony seeds, which they sow broadcast. The Lombardy poplar has its own peculiar and obvious role in gardening practice.

SPRUCE.—Next to the pines, the spruces are our finest evergreens, and are, perhaps, even more useful than the former in general ornamental planting. The best are the Norway, White, Black and Colorado.

SWEET GUM.—This tree is especially suitable to the southern states, where, in artistic effect, it takes the place of the Sugar maple in the north. Where it succeeds well it may be planted in masses of almost any size.

SYCAMORE, Plane tree or Buttonwood.—The America sycamore is one of the very finest street trees we have, as one will readily believe after seeing it on the Capitol grounds at Washington. It is also useful in general park composition, the striking color and texture of its foliage marking it for special notice. It is not hardy north of Vermont, and not at its best north of Pennsylvania.

THORN TREES.—The various species of the genus Cratægus make fine additions to lawn plantings, their effect being usually somewhat picturesque. Their small size adapts them to certain positions. Among the best native species may be named Cratægus crusgalli, .C. tomentosa, and C. coccinea. The English hawthorn, C, oxyacantha, is sometimes planted in this country with fair success.

TULIP TREE, Liriodendron tulipifera.—This is a good tree for situations where something large is required. It may be massed in any quantity. Prefers good soil.

WALNUT.—The common Black walnut makes a fine tree, though it is slow of growth. The Japanese walnuts may sometimes be planted to advantage. The common butternut seldom makes a good tree, but it has characteristic foliage which makes it useful for planting with other trees.

WILLOW.—Many of the willows are useful, especially on low, moist land. The best are Royal willow, Salix regalis, the Shining willow, S. lucida, the Laurel-leaved willow, S. laurifolia, and the Golden willow, S. vittelina aurea. The Babylon willow is good in spite of its weeping habit. In general, weeping willows are to be avoided, unless an exception be made for cemeteries.

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