It is a mistaken idea, scarcely worthy of notice, that the beauty of a group of trees consists in odd numbers, such as five, seven, or nine; a conceit which I have known to be seriously asserted. I should rather pronounce, that no group of trees can be natural in which the plants are studiously placed at equal distances, however irregular in their forms. Those pleasing combinations of trees which we admire in forest scenery, will often be found to consist of forked trees, or at least of trees placed so near each other that the branches intermix, and by a natural effort of vegetation the stems of the trees themselves are forced from that perpendicular direction, which is always observable in trees planted at regular distances from each other. No groups will therefore appear natural unless two or more trees are planted very near each other,* whilst the perfection of a group consists in the combination of trees of different age, size, and character.
*[To produce this effect two or more trees should sometimes be planted in the same hole, cutting their roots so as to bring them nearer together; and we sometimes observe great beauty in a tree and a bush thus growing together, ï¾°r even in trees of different characters, as the great oak and ash at Welbeck, and the oak and beech in Windsor Forest. Yet it will generally be more consonant to nature if the groups be formed of the same species of trees.]