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 Sweet Chestnut

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In considering the chestnut as highly adapted to ornament the grounds of extensive country residences, much that we have already said of the oak will apply to this tree. When young, its smooth stem, clear and bright foliage, and lively aspect, when adorned with the numerous light greenish yellow blossoms, which project beyond the mass of leaves, render it a graceful and beautiful tree. It has long been a favorite with the poets for its grateful shade; and as the roots run deep, the soil beneath it is sufficiently rich and sheltered to afford an asylum for the minutest beauties of the woods. Tennyson sweetly says:- "That slope beneath the chestnut tall Is wooed with choicest breaths of air, Methinks that I could tell you all The cowslips and the king cups there." When old, its huge trunk, wide-spread branches, lofty head, and irregular outline, all contribute to render it a picturesque tree of the very first class. In that state, when standing alone, with free room to develope itself on every side, like the oak, it gives a character of dignity, majesty, and grandeur, to the scene, beyond the power of most trees to confer. It is well known that the favorite tree of Salvator Rosa, and one which was most frequently introduced with a singularly happy effect into his wild and picturesque compositions, was the chestnut; sometimes a massy and bold group of its verdure, but oftener an old and storm-rifted giant, half leafless, or a barren trunk coated with a rich verdure of mosses and lichens. The chestnut in maturity, like the oak, has a great variety of outline; and no trees are better fitted than these for the formation of grand groups, heavy masses, or wide outlines of foliage. A higher kind of beauty, with more dignity and variety, can be formed of these two genera of trees when disposed in grand masses, than with any other forest trees of temperate climates; perhaps we may say of any climate.