The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section III. On Wood.

Drooping and round-headed tree groups

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When drooping trees are mixed indiscriminately with other round-headed trees in the composition of groups or masses, much of their individual character is lost, as it depends not so much on the top (as in oblong and spiry trees) as upon the side branches, which are of course concealed by those of the adjoining trees. Drooping trees, therefore, as elms, birches, etc., are shown to the best advantage on the borders of groups or the boundaries of plantations. It must not be forgotten, but constantly kept in mind, that all strongly marked trees, like bright colors in pictures, only admit of occasional employment; and that the very object aimed at in introducing them will be defeated if they are brought into the lawn and park in masses, and distributed heedlessly on every side. An English author very justly remarks, therefore, that the poplar, the willow, and the drooping birch, are "most dangerous trees in the hands of a planter who has not considerable knowledge and good taste in the composition of a landscape." Some of them, as the native elm, from their abounding in our own woods, may appear oftener; while others which have a peculiar and exotic look, as the weeping willow, should only be seen in situations where they either do not disturb the prevailing expression, or (which is better) where they are evidently in good keeping. "The weeping willow," says Gilpin, with his usual good taste, "is not adapted to sublime objects. We wish it not to screen the broken buttress and Gothic windows of an abbey, or to overshadow the battlements of a ruined castle. These offices it resigns to the oak, whose dignity can support them. The weeping willow seeks an humble scene-some romantic footpath bridge, which it half conceals, or some grassy pool over which it hangs its streaming foliage, - 'And dips Its pendent boughs, as if to drink.'"* (* Forest Scenery, p. 133.)