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

Visual character of locust tree

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As an ornamental tree we do not esteem the locust highly. The objections to it are, 1st, its meagreness and lightness of foliage, producing but little shade; secondly, the extreme brittleness of its branches, which are liable to be broken and disfigured by every gale of wind; and lastly, the abundance of suckers which it produces. Notwithstanding these defects, we would not entirely banish the locust from our pleasure-grounds; for its light foliage of a fresh and pleasing green may often be used to advantage in producing a variety with other trees; and its very fragrant blossoms are beautiful, when in the beginning of summer they hang in loose pendulous clusters from among its light foliage. These will always speak sufficiently in its favor to cause it to be planted more or less, where a variety of trees is desired. It should, however, be remembered that the foliage comes out at a late period in spring, and falls early in autumn, which we consider objections to any tree that is to be planted in the close vicinity of the mansion. It is valuable for its extremely rapid growth when young; as during the first ten or fifteen years of its life it exceeds in thrifty shoots almost all other forest trees: but it is comparatively short-lived, and in twenty years' time many other trees would completely overtop and outstrip it It is easily propagated by seed, which is by far the best mode of raising it, and it prefers a deep, rich, sandy loam.* (* There is a great difference in the growth of this tree. In cold or indifferent soils it presents a rough and rugged aspect; but in deep, warm, sandy soils it becomes quite another tree in appearance. The highest specimens we have ever seen are now growing in such soil on the estate of J. P. Derwint, Esq., at Fishkill Landing, on the banks of the Hudson, New York. Some specimens there measure 90 feet, which is higher than Michaux saw on the deep alluvials in Kentucky, where they are natives. The finest single tree is one standing in front of the mansion at Clermont, on the Hudson, which is four feet in diameter.)