The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Tree planting in Italy

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4. Italian Gardening, its respect to the planting of Timber Trees and Hedges 137. The self-sown forests of the Alps and Apennines are the chief resources of the Italians for timber; and timber trees are chiefly propagated for parks, public walks, and lining the great roads. The vine is still, in many places, trained on the poplar and elm; but in Tuscany and Lombardy, where the culture is deemed superior, the common maple (A'cer campestre) and flowering ash (O'rnus europï¾µ'a) are preferred. (Sismondi, Tab. de l'Agr. Toscane; Chateauvieux, Lettres, &c., 1812.) In Sicily, plantations of the manna tree are numerous and extensive: on the very worst of soils, even mere beds of stones, each tree, Hoare informs us, produces manna to the value of an ounce of gold. (Class. Tour, &c., p. 334.) The most common tree for every other purpose is the narrow-leaved elm, which lines the road from Rome to Naples, for upwards of twenty miles together. Near Milan, the Lombardy poplar is a great deal used; but a late author, Gautieri (Dello Influsso delli Boschi, &c., 1817), argues in favour of cutting down, rather than planting, in the Milanese plains. The finest avenues and public equestrian promenades in Italy are those around Milan and at Monza; the trees are of various sorts, as the tulip tree, Platanus, lime, Acacia, Melia Azedarach, various oaks, chestnuts, beeches, &c. The sorts are every where mixed, in order that the failure or defective growth of one species may have a chance of being compensated by the growth of that or those adjoining; so that, if a malady were to attack one sort of tree, it might not lead to continuous defalcation. Most of those trees were planted by the late Villoresi, who, before the political changes in 1815, had constantly under his direction not fewer than three thousand men for public and royal improvements.