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

Lime trees Tilaceae

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Nat. Ord. (Natural Order) Tilace�. Lin. Syst. (Linnean System) Polyandria, Monogynia. This tree, or rather the American sort, is well known among us by the name of basswood. It is a rapidly growing, handsome, upright, and regularly shaped tree; and all the species are much esteemed, both in Europe and this country, for planting in avenues and straight lines, wherever the taste is in favor of geometric plantations. In Germany and Holland it is a great favorite for bordering their wide and handsome streets, and lining their long and straight canals. "In Berlin," Granville says in his travels, "there is a celebrated street called 'unter der Linden,' (under the lime trees,) a gay and splendid avenue, planted with double rows of this tree, which presented to my view a scene far more beautiful than I had hitherto witnessed in any town, either in France, Flanders, or Germany." In this country the European lime is also much planted in our cities; and some avenues of it may be seen in Philadelphia, particularly before the State-house in Chestnut-street. The basswood is a very abundant tree in some parts of the middle states, and is seen growing in great profusion, forming thick woods by itself in the interior of this state. With us the wood is considered too soft to be of much value, but in England it was formerly in high repute as an excellent material for the use of carvers. Some very beautiful specimens of old carving in lime wood may be seen in Windsor Castle and Trinity College.* The Russian bass mats, which find their way to every commercial country, are prepared from the inner bark of this tree. The sap affords a sugar like the maple, although in less quantities; and it is stated in the Encyclop�dia of Plants (p. 467) "that the honey made from the flowers of the lime tree is reckoned the finest in the world. Near Knowno, in Lithuania, there are large forests chiefly of this tree, and probably a distinct variety. The honey produced in these forests sells at more than double the price of any other, and is used extensively in medicine and for liqueurs." (* The art of carving in wood, brought to such perfection by Gibbons, is now, we believe, much given up; therefore the lime has lost a most important branch of its usefulness. Perhaps the finest specimens of the works of Gibbons are to be seen at Chatsworth, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, in Derbyshire. The execution of the flowers, fish, game, nets, etc., on the panelling of the walls is quite wonderful. It was of him that Walpole justly said, 'that he was the first artist who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers, and chained together the various productions of the elements, with a free disorder natural to each species.' The lime tree is still, however, used by the carver, and we hope that the art of wood carving may gradually be restored."�Sir T. D. Lauder.