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.
[ See Frontispiece. ]
There is as much difference between a wild forest tree and a park tree, as between a wild horse and the finest trained Arabian courser. Full, as our forests are, of native trees in the richest variety to be found on the globe, but few Americans are familiar with the beauty of finely developed trees. Even in our ornamental grounds, it is too much the custom to plant trees in masses, belts, and thickets - by which the same effects are produced as we constantly see in ordinary woods - that is, there is picturesque intricacy, depth of shadow, and seclusion, growing out of masses of verdure - but no beauty of development in each individual tree - and none of that fine perfection of character which is seen when a noble forest tree stands alone in soil well suited to it, and has "nothing else to do but grow" into the finest possible shape that nature meant it to take.
One sees such trees, to be sure, occasionally, all over the country. Witness the elms of the Connecticut valley, the maples of the Housatonic, the tulip trees of Pennsylvania, and the oaks of Western New-York. But there are two places where this kind of park-like development of trees, is most perfect and complete.
The first is, in the English Parks - those broad grassy surfaces, studded with scattering trees and groups of trees - hundred of years old - many of them allowed to grow into the most beautiful forms that nature has impressed into their organization, and spread out into the richest drooping umbrageous heads of foliage that so favorable a climate for their growth can beget.
The other position is in the natural parks of America - the oak openings of the West - where, over a gently rolling surface of thousands of acres, you see grouped, precisely as in an English Park, but sometimes on a still grander scale, the noblest trees - now singly, and now three or four, or half a dozen together. - trees, each one of which would have been chosen by Claude as a study for the foreground of his wonderful landscapes - which are the master-pieces of sly van beauty. Nearer home, such a growth may be seen in the meadow park at Geneseo. - the Wadsworth estate, previously described by us - where are as fine oaks, by hundreds, as are to be found in any park in England.
It is remarkable, that these grand parks of America, and the best specimens of English taste in Landscape Gardening, should be such close counterparts of one another. And though a man may have room to plant only half a dozen trees, yet he should study such examples as a sculptor would study the Apollo or the Venus - to make himself familiar with that high-water level of the beautiful in form, where both art and nature meet and become identical.