The Garden Guide

Book: A treatise on the theory and practice of landscape gardening, adapted to North America,1841
Chapter: Section VI. Vines and Climbing Plants

Use of climbing plants on trees

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Some persons object to the growth of climbing plants upon trees, that, by compressing the stems and tightening themselves around the limbs of trees, they gradually check their growth, and finally by preventing the expansion of the trunk, put an end to the life of the tree. This, we have no doubt, has been the case when young trees in the full vigor of growth have been completely encompassed and wound about with the strong growing woody creepers; but it so rarely happens (scarcely ever in the case of middle-sized trees, on which vines are more generally planted), that we consider the objection of no moment. Indeed, were all this true, the management of the growth of any vine, however luxuriant, is so completely within the power of the cultivator, that by a very trifling annual attention, he can entirely prevent the possibility of any such injurious effects. The reader must not imagine, from the remarks which we have here made on the beauty and charms of climbing plants, that we would desire to see every tree in an extensive park wreathed about, and overhung with fantastic vines and creepers. Such is by no means our intention. We should consider such a proceeding something in the worst possible taste. There are some trees whose rugged and ungraceful forms would refuse all such accompaniment; and others from whose dignity and majesty it would be improper to detract even by adding the gracefulness of the loveliest vine. Such, too, is never the case in nature, as for one tree decked in this manner we see a hundred which are not, and the very rarity of the example imparts additional beauty and interest to it when it appears. This should be the case in all artificial plantations; and he who has a true and lively feeling for the beautiful and picturesque, will easily understand at a glance where these expressions will be strengthened or weakened by the addition of more grace and elegance. A few scattered trees here and there, with whose forms the plans adopted harmonize, draped and festooned with the most appropriate climbing plants, will be all that can be properly introduced in any scene, unless it be of a very artificial character; but even these additional accessories, simple as they may seem, often produce an effect singularly beautiful, which shows how much in real landscape, as well as in painting, depends upon a few finishing touches to the scene.