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.
We sometimes observe in horticultural works the term English Elm. This is a vague definition of a tree; about as definite as some of the descriptions of fruit given in the Horticulturist recently by the writer. If a European catalogue should speak of the American Ash or American Hickory, we should certainly be ignorant of the variety for sale.
We have some noble specimens of English Elm, so called, on Long Island, some seventy years planted, which, I presume, are the same variety Reuben saw growing so finely on the grounds of our friend Charles Downing. They are the English Cork-Bark Elm (Ulmus suberosa). Again, there are specimens of very fine and quite distinct trees of the English Elm growing here, and they are the Broad-Leaf, or English Field Elm ( Ulmus eampestris). Then we have a hardy and desirable Elm, the Scotch, or Wych Elm. This is not as rapid a grower as the others, but it is one of the best for our climate. The Exmouth Elm is not as fast a grower as the first two, but we think it the prettiest elm we have seen. It is rather high priced, and not very plenty, owing to difliculty in propagating young trees. The Fastigiate is still more rare, and grows somewhat in the form of a feather, and the Huntington, with other varieties, and the Camperdown and common English Weeping, are English Elms. The comments we make, it should be remembered, apply only to Long Island; they may not be appropriate to other sections.
The English Field Elm and the Cork-barked English and Dutch Elms are liable to have the young growth killed back in winter, for the reason that their wood does not ripen perfectly, and often become unsightly objects, especially young trees. For this reason, these three kinds are but little planted here, and the nurseries at Flushing have nearly or quite abandoned their propagation. The two Corkbark Elms are very much addicted to throwing up suckers after they are about fifteen years old, and soon become a great nuisance, and many are the owners that wish they had never planted them. If there were no other desirable shade trees, we might endure them, but there are many, and if planters wish to avoid the mowing and grubbing of the suckers, they will not plant the Cork-barks. We can not have a flower bed or plant shrubbery near them before, ere long, the elm roots spread through the enriched soil, robbing them of their nourishment, and commence to throw up suckers forthwith.
Our American Elm, called the Weeping and White Elm sometimes, is a first-class tree in all respects. We do not know of a fault, if justice is only done to it. The Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) is not common here, and but few in comparison are planted, probably on account of its slower growth and small size. Neither do we see many of the Corky White Elm, or the Winged or Wahoo, as they are inferior to our noble American White Elm.
The next class of trees, the Maple, are equally as desirable shade trees, and are now the most fashionable class for planting around New York. The Sugar Maple is the finest American species, but it requires a rather moist soil to reach its perfection. On light and dry soils, the European Sycamore and Norway succeed better. The Red Flowering Maple grows plentifully in moist soils and woods, but for a shade tree it is in but little demand. It is inferior in its best estate to the Norway Sycamore and Sugar. The Silver-leaf, or White Maple, will grow more in one year with us than the Swamp, or Red Maple, will in three. Its chief beauty is in its early and brilliant bloom. We have the Striped-bark Maple, pretty when young, sometimes called Moosewood; the Mountain Maple, a shrub; Black Sugar Maple, differing but little from the Rock Maple; the White Maple, the fastest grower of all; and the Ash-leaf Maple, Negun-do, or Box Elder. The growth of this is so crooked, and it throws out so many side shoots, that but few are fit for sale in the nurseries.
They look pretty, with their green bark and light-green foliage, in contrast with other trees, but they are not, and probably will never be, extensively planted.
If we were asked what tree to plant near the house for shade that would combine the elements of beauty of form, density of shade, long continuance in foliage, pretty bloom, and fine autumnal decoration, with entire hardiness and freedom from any objection, we should select the Norway Maple. The European Sycamore Maple is a faster grower, and makes a fine bushy head, but is inferior, in some respects, to the Norway.
We may add that, with us, the American Linden, or Basswood, grows faster than the European, and its leaves do not turn brown and fall off in autumn, as the latter generally does. Isaac Hicks.
My good friend Hicks thinks English Elm not a true, but indefinite name, because some people in speaking of it mean the Cork-Bark. All are English Elms, and when speaking in general terms of them, the name I think is correct, as showing the distinction between them and our American Elm. They are all Elms - one species a native of Europe and one of America, and unless we particularize, the term is all right; but, again, the term English Elm will, I think, hold good over the country as conveying to the mind the variety (Ulmus campestris).
I must differ with friend'Hicks in his values of comparisons of the Maple; and while I concede the Silver-Leaf Maple a more rapid grower than the Red-flowering, I can not allow that it is as perfect a tree, and I must claim that it is frequently liable to break away in its branches and thus spoil its symmetry; and again, my experience has not been favorable to the Norway Maple for dry soil.