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 oak trees

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As an ornamental object we consider the oak the most varied in expression, the most beautiful, grand, majestic, and picturesque of all deciduous trees. The enormous size and extreme old age to which it attains in a favorable situation, the great space of ground that it covers with its branches, and the strength and hardihood of the tree, all contribute to stamp it with the character of dignity and grandeur beyond any other compeer of the forest. When young its fine foliage (singularly varied in many of our native species) and its thrifty form render it a beautiful tree. But it is not until the oak has attained considerable size that it displays its true character, and only when at an age that would terminate the existence of most other trees that it exhibits all its magnificence. Then its deeply furrowed trunk is covered with mosses; its huge branches, each a tree, spreading out horizontally from the trunk with great boldness, its trunk of huge dimension, and its "high top, bald with dry antiquity;" all these, its true characteristics, stamp the oak, as Virgil has expressed it in his Georgics- "Jove's own tree, That holds the woods in awful sovereignty; For length of ages lasts his happy reign, And lives of mortal man contend in vain. Full in the midst of his own strength he stands, Stretching his brawny arms and leafy hands, His shade protects the plains, his head the hills commands." DRYDEN'S TRANS.