The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section IV. Deciduous Ornamental Trees

Alder trees Betulaceae

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Nat. Ord. (Natural Order) Betulace�. Lin. Syst. (Linnean System) Mon�cia, Tetrandria. The alder tree is a native of the whole of Europe, where it grows to the altitude of from thirty to sixty feet. Our common Black alder (A. glauca), and Hazel-leaved alder (A. serrulata), are low shrubs of little value or interest. This, however, is a neat tree, remarkable for its love of moist situations, and thriving best in places even too wet for the willows; although it will also flourish on dry and elevated soils The leaves are roundish in form, wavy, and serrated in their margins, and dark green in color. The tree rapidly forms an agreeable pyramidal head of foliage, when growing in damp situations. As it is a foreign tree we shall quote from Gilpin its character in scenery. "The alder," says he, "loves a low, moist soil, and frequents the banks of rivers, and will flourish in the poorest forest swamps where nothing else will grow. It is perhaps the most picturesque of any of the aquatic tribe, except the weeping willow. He who would see the alder in perfection must follow the banks of the Mole in Surrey, through the sweet vales of Dorking and Mickleham, into the groves of Esher. The Mole, indeed, is far from being a beautiful river; it is a silent and sluggish stream, but what beauty it has it owes greatly to the alder, which everywhere fringes its meadows, and in many places forms very pleasing scenes. It is always associated in our minds with river scenery, both of that tranquil description most frequently to be met with in the vales of England, and with that wider and more stirring cast which is to be found amidst the deep glens and ravines of Scotland; and nowhere is this tree found in greater perfection than on the wild banks of the river Findhorn and its tributary streams, where scenery of the most romantic description everywhere prevails."* (* Lauder's Gilpin, i. p. 136.)