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

Beauty of Liquidambar

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We hardly know a more beautiful tree than the Liquid amber in every stage of its growth, and during every season of the year. Its outline is not picturesque or graceful, but simply beautiful, more approaching that of the maple than any other: it is, therefore, a highly pleasing, round-headed or tapering tree, which unites and harmonizes well with almost any others in composition; but the chief beauty lies in the foliage. During the whole of the summer months it preserves, unsoiled, that dark glossy freshness which is so delightful to the eye; while the singular, regularly palmate form of the leaves readily distinguishes it from the common trees of a plantation. But in autumn it assumes its gayest livery, and is decked in colors almost too bright and vivid for foliage; forming one of the most brilliant objects in American scenery at that period of the year. The prevailing tint of the foliage is then a deep purplish red, unlike any symptom of decay, and quite as rich as is commonly seen in the darker blossoms of a Dutch parterre. This is sometimes varied by a shade deeper or lighter, and occasionally an orange tint is assumed. When planted in the neighborhood of our fine maples, ashes, and other trees remarkable for their autumnal coloring, the effect, in a warm, dry autumn, is almost magical. Whoever has travelled through what are called the pine barrens of New Jersey in such a season, must have been struck with the gay tints of the numberless forest trees, which line the roads through those sandy plains, and with the conspicuous beauty of the Sweet gum, or Liquidamber.