This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Dear, Editor: L. F. A. has contributed an article on "Lombardy Poplars," to your excellent journal. He seems to hold it in very high estimation for ornamental purposes, calling it a "universal tree," and after presenting it as an entirely faultless tree, even not suckering, .etc, finally urges us to " give renewed life to this long-neglected Lombardy Poplar".
"Not suckering!" it may behave so well about Black Rock, but certainly, in this locality, I could point out places where it has spread over acres by no other process, and so densely, presenting an appearance not unlike the impenetrable cane-brake; the ground being overgrown with its roots, to the exclusion of everything else, all sending up shoots from every available point. Would that be desirable for the ploughman? Who would like such an acquisition for our gardens and lawns?
It is a tree that, with us, has had its day for planting - but, unfortunately, it takes care of itself. It has become inexterminable, and acts the part of a weed rather than an ornament (unless you make no distinctions as to conduct); yet we prefer a proper name by which to know all things, and arrange accordingly - for everything should have its place, and nowhere is this more essential than in landscape gardening to be. carried out with good taste.
We have all the requisite materials in our own Sylva, for (all) ornamental purposes; these are, unfortunately, the too much neglected. There is entirely too much desire - a morbid taste - for foreign acquisitions in planting, by which our natives and oft far superior materials are left uncultivated and neglected. Now this is wrong, and American journals on horticulture should lend encouragement in the direction it is most needed.
Nature has furnished us with the most complete patterns for planting, and associated her particular varieties of trees, rocks, water, and lawn, most desirable for us, and wherever we trespass upon this rule, we lose sight of the great object for which landscape gardening was instituted, namely: to re-establish by art, genius, Ac., as though planted by the. hand of nature, what have become to us so lovely in their original form and composition. It is simply to re-establish, in some cherished spots, this state of things, where the unrelenting axe. of the woodman has destroyed the last remnant of nature's superior planting.
According to some this tree is too stiff; so it is. We want the more graceful elms, sublime tulips, and majestic oaks, and regret that men with taste would supersede these, in any way, with thin, tall, gaudy, dandy-like L. poplars. They won't do for Americans.
If such a thing as straight lines are essential in landscape gardening, why can-sot such be effected by our red cedars, junipers, arbor vitaes, etc, of our own country, which are certainly more effective, graceful, and beautiful, than the L. poplar?
There is the Ailanthus, worst of all. It proved a deceiver to those who first brought it from its native shores in Asia (they took it for an improved sumac), and when these speculators found out their error,* they contrived to retrieve their loss by presenting it to the public as an oriental ornamental tree, calling it Tree of Paradise, etc. But it has equally cheated those who Were, by these high-sounding names and false graces, misled to plant it for ornament, in place of our own trees, far superior in beauty, and I doubt whether any spot was ever rendered more celestial by planting it with this misnamed "Tree of Heaven".
We do not want this Asiatic trash in America; let us devote our attention to those we have, and something will be accomplished of real stability; and, besides the objectionable qualities, its snckering propensities are fully equal to the Paper Mulberry (a cousin from the same country), and then, when the season of blooming roses is at hand, and lilies render the air redolent with sweet perfume, how contrast the exhaling fames of the Ailanthus! if not actually unwholesome, it is certainly very obnoxious.
It is said that these trees grow fast, and this quality is sometimes urged in their behalf, as an inducement to plant them. It is often the case, too fast things have a bad end.
No fair lady is prized or appreciated more than the one who is won after an anxious and attentive course of courtship; and so in this case Our native trees may not grow so readily nor so rapidly as these exotic weeds; they may require a little extra attention - courting, if you like - but, if once gained, if once established, would not by me be exchanged for the whole catalogue of these foreign trees that have been of late crowded upon us.
Let us cultivate our own - these are at home with us - and note to what degree of perfection we can attain, and not until this great catalogue is exhausted, let us call in foreigners for our ornamental planting.
* It proved indeed a Tartar.
A gentleman of Illinois writes us as follows: "Please record my vote for Mr. Allen, on the Lombardy Poplar question, with an express restriction, by way of amendment, that planters are not to set them out a la ten-pin alley. There is no tree, native or foreign, that will flourish in this climate, and exactly fill the place of the Lombardy Poplar for a break in the scenery of low, flat traots. When set from cuttings, as it ought to be,, it will never sucker. The L. Poplar man has lazily planted a tucker, grown from a tree that suckered by reason of its lower buds not being removed from the cutting, and which has naturally suckered again.