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

Maple trees Aceraceae

Previous - Next

Nat. Ord. (Natural Order) Acerace�. Lin. Syst. (Linnean System) Polygamia, Mon�cia. The great esteem in which the maples are held in the middle states, as ornamental trees, although they are by no means uncommon in every piece of woods of any extent, is a high proof of their superior merits for such purposes. These consist in the rapidity of their growth, the beauty of their form, the fine verdure of their foliage, and in some sorts, the elegance of their blossoms. Among all the species, both native and foreign, we consider the Scarlet-flowering maple as decidedly the most ornamental species. In the spring this tree bursts out in gay tufts of red blossoms, which enliven both its own branches and the surrounding scene long before a leaf is seen on other deciduous trees, and when the only other appearances of vegetation are a few catkins of some willows or poplars swelling into bloom. At that season of the year the Scarlet maple is certainly the most beautiful tree of our forests. Besides this, it grows well either in the very moist soil of swamps, or the dry one of upland ridges, forms a fine clustering head of foliage, and produces an ample and delightful shade; while it is also as little infected by insects of any description as any other tree. The latter advantage, the Sugar maple and our other varieties equally possess. As a handsome spreading tree, perhaps the White maple deserves most praise, its outline and surface being, in many cases, quite picturesque. There is no quality, however, for which the American maples are entitled to higher consideration as desirable objects in scenery, than for the exquisite beauty which their foliage assumes in autumn, as it fades and gradually dies off. At the first approach of cold we can just perceive a bright yellow stealing over the leaves, then a deeper golden tint, then a few faint blushes, until at length the whole mass of foliage becomes one blaze of crimson or orange. "Tints that the maple woods disclose Like opening buds or fading rose, Or various as those hues that dye The clouds that deck a sunset sky."