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such tokens of artificial arrangement, are destructive of beauty and grace in landscape, unless kept well back, and only just hinted at, not shown. As, in a sea-view, one enjoys the distant sails flitting along the horizon, careening with the wind, now gleaming white in the sunlight, now dim and gray in the ocean haze, but would resent as an intruder the best ship that ever sailed, if she came so near as to break in, with the details of her build and rig, upon his contemplation of the waves in their eternal unrest, the sky, with its clouds flitting like the sails, and restless as the waves, and the wave-worn rocks and surf-swept beach, the one wearing itself out in stubborn opposition, the other ever growing in unresisting submission; so in artificial accessories to land scenery there should be a modest yielding of precedence in color to the azure of the sky, the gold of the sunshine, the countless hues and tints of leaf and flower, of cloud and earth; in form, to the wide sweep of the dim horizon, the boldly-projecting hill, the gentle curve of the valley, and, in surface, to the restful green of the grass, the massed foliage, the blue waters, and the glittering white snowfield.
The three aspects of scenery in nature, that is, sky, earth, water, have each certain elements which we have to recognize if we would attempt to discuss, study or analyze them. Prominent among these elements are form, color, light and shade, and tone, as it is technically called by artists. But being neither artist or critic of art, but only an unlearned student of Nature, writing for those who are,—some of them, perhaps-not much more learned than myself, I have not much to say about “tone" of foliage as seen in nature. For, beyond doubt, the element in a view which is termed tone, is derived as much from the state of the atmosphere and the quality of the light by which it is seen, as from the character of the surfaces viewed through that atmosphere and reflecting that light. But the two former conditions are constantly varying, and so indeed is the last, in the cases of sky and water; but the earth and its clothing of herbage and foliage, though varying, to a certain extent with regard to the surfaces exposed to view, with the seasons, with the dews of morning, the moisture of showers, the heat and drought of noon, the evening's coolness, the dead calm, the gentle breeze, and the rushing gale, is still, in a measure, constant in character. So we may well give attention, not only to the form, habit or style of different species of trees; not alone to these, and the coloring of their leaves, flowers, and wood; nor merely to all these, combined with their ability, or want of ability, to show strong, sharp, and well-marked contrasts of light and shade, but, with them all, to the character or texture of surface which they present to the eye, especially when grouped or massed in groves or woodlands.
I do not know that any poet has ever termed clouds the groves of the sky, but as elements, in scenic effects, there always seemed to me to be a close resemblance between these airy groups and masses, and the terrestrial shades which they overlook. But not to run a fancy to death, I will only instance the similarity in form, style and depth of coloring between the foliage of the sugar maple, with its solid massiveness, rich lights and deep shades, and the cumulus, the "thunder head;" or the pale, thin, cool-tinted cirrus, curl-cloud or "rain-streak," and the weeping birch. But it is not fanciful to remark that clouds and foliage are so much alike in structure as to present very similar phenomena in absorbing, transmitting and reflecting light, so that the rarer medium in each case, will be softer in tone and paler in coloring, than that which is more dense, and a mass of either, which has a smooth, clearly defined surface will reflect brighter lights and cast deeper shades, than one having a ragged, loose, irregular surface, Then too, the very form, size and surface-finish of leaves have a great significance in the general effect of the masses which they go to make up. Witness the varying aspect of trees and groves when tossed by the wind.
To bring all this to bear on our present purpose, we may say that in certain species, or in most, we have certain combinations of the above elements which give a definite character or expression to their foliage, especially as seen in the mass. Thus our oaks (except the burr oak) combine unyielding rigidity in form, with a degree of dullness in color, and lack of contrast, of light and shade, which makes them seem to me plainly dressed, and also makes the aspen, with its green at once soft and lively, the very best foil in color, as its light and airy form is in shape for them. The elm, single, is strength and grace combined; in a mass, its rounded piles of grayish-green are just a little tame of themselves, but if you want a superb effect, let a few fir or spruce shoot up the ugly blackness of their cones among the elms. It is like mixing a group of Spanish brigands in full costume, into a Quaker meeting. This is no fancied
grouping, for I have seen such an effect in the borders of lowland woods in New England. Even a Lombardy poplar looks well for once when it sends up its spire from among a group of elms. The soft maples (acer rubrum and dasycarpum), are akin in effect to the elm, the last still more weak in character of foilage, and requiring to be toned up by a free mixture of riper and bolder forms and colors, the linden, burroak, sugar maple, hickory, and mountain ash, are all good for this purpose, and I might add to the list, black and white ash, box elder, ironwood, and all the pines and cone-shaped evergreens, planting of course tall-growing kinds inside the grove, and the more diminutive species on its borders.
The sugar maple has been denounced as "ugly, hard in outline and ungraceful in form," etc., by writers upon landscape and ornamental planting, and I am ready to admit that an unthrifty sugar maple is a very unsatisfactory tree, and except on a soil that suits it, it will not thrive. Sandy, alluviun, and clayey soils are its abhorrence, and its revenge for being torn from its native loam and set upon sach, is to be as stunted and ill-looking as possible. Then its rich coloring, solid and massy character, excessive boldness of shading, require, for the best effects, to be mellowed by distance or softened by mixture with foliage of a lighter and more undecided character, and forms either more graceful and flowing, as the silverleaf maple, golden or weeping willow, etc., or those more symmetrical, like the aspen and larch. Even the stiff, dark and somber forms and colors of firs and spruces will harmonize well in a grove with this noble tree, if planted upon high ground and viewed from a distance of a mile or so.
But it will not be my time, if ever, that one can see, in Wisconsin, grouped in a frame of fresh green pasture sod, clumps of this maple mingled with low-headed beech, with broad arms and leaves of the tenderest green,with limber-twigged, yellow and black birches, feathery hemlocks clothed to the ground, and black spruces, frowning like grim old Puritans at the gay attire of their neighbors, and for aught I know, foretelling a hard winter as a judgment upon them for the vanity of their apparel.
Truly I now know full well that there was an idle, mischievous boy who lived with, loved, aud delighted in those groves and without thinking of that, or of anything else for that matter. I remember too, an old church on a hill, from whose gallery windows such a boy, when the most of the congregation, upon a summer Sunday, were nodding their approval of the points of the sermon, could look up a valley whose western slope rose into hill-pastures where groves of rock maple, springing up after the original timber, had been cut off, had been thinned of all other species of trees and allowed to grow up low-limbed, heavy-topped, aud well-developed for sugar groves. These were miles away; in the foreground were groves of tall young pines, then a deep gorge in the bottom of the valley had its bottom and one side filled with a lusty growth of deciduous trees, and its right hand bluff rose a dense mass of hemlock that were trees no doubt when Columbus sailed, with a few old pines of a hundred feet or more, near the top. There were woods all along the tops of the ridges, groves and sturdy oaks; and fringes of trees and shrubbery along fences and roads; orchards upon slopes, and elms along the stream in the meadows, but my eyes always rested upon those distant clumps of maples. It seemed as if they were most perfectly in keeping with the glorious sunshine, with the rich summer haze that only softened but did not dim their glowing lights and deep black shades; perhaps it was because my taste was uncultivated, but may it never be so cultivated that that effect shall cease even in memory to be a joy forever.” But those sugar-groves could give picturesque effects in a background of wintry snow as well. Only give them sunshine, and the silvery gray of their wood changed by distance and the contrast of the bright snow to a tint that was marvellous; it seemed too clear and too airy to belong to earth; such as the Pilgrims might have witnessed in the groves of Beulah.
Though this State affords a great deal of ground suitable for this maple, there is still more where it does poorly, if at all, but we have two other native trees, both highly valued by all admirers of fine foliage, that are much more difficult to grow in our climate. I mean the hemlock and yellow birch. Still, on proper soils, on northern slopes, with shelter from the west and southwest, they may be made to flourish; but success with them will always be among the rarities of tree-growing in southern Wisconsin. Not so, however, ought it to be with the sugar maple. It has long been a wonder to me that planting this tree in large groves for sugar and timber has received no attention in the United States. Would it not be well for horticultural societies to take the matter up and by such methods as seem best, endeavor to cause a beginning to be made? I am aware that we, as a people, are tree-destroyers, not tree-planters; but considering the economic use that is made of this tree and its products, it seems strange that no attempt is made to start new groves. I can find abundance of farms in the hilly, “white oak" lands of Dane county, on which are tracts, reduced by cropping and for which the farm affords little manure, which might be set with maples, cultivated two or three years and then turned to pasture to a better purpose than they now answer, and fresh land, on which timber is now growing, cleared to take its place. Of course, I suggest this as likely to be done at present by but few, but are there none to begin now to do what, no doubt, after a little time many will do? As I have already hinted, high points and ridges, hillsides, often too steep for profitable cultivation, are the very best lands we have for the maple, and here its style and character of foliage appear to the best advantage.
I am inclined to offer two axioms in tree-growing for scenic effect; the first, I think, also, will hold good in forest-growing for economic purposes, and for ameliorating defects of climate, viz:
Ist. Clear valleys, bottom-lands, and foot-slopes; grow woods upon high lands, steep hill-sides and rough broken ground.
2d. The bolder, more abrupt and more strongly contrasted with adjacent level and clear ground, the situation, the more bold, hard and decided in character let the foliage covering it be. There are many modifications, and some apparent exceptions to the above rules: Let us examine one of the latter. Take a craggy pinnacle, such as are common in this region; we shall usually find it bearing upon its summit red cedar, trailing juniper and white birch. These, though slow in growth, are healthy and vigorous, and are in perfect keeping with the situation; the two first, according to rule second, harsh in coloring and rude in character, but the birch soft in color and character is the most striking object and seems to finish the picture most perfectly of the three. Now we say first; the evergreens are, being rude and harsh, in keeping by consonance; the birch, being soft and graceful, is, by so far, in keeping by contrast, and this, being always a more striking effect than mere consonance is the better suited to such bold scenery; and second, the birch, spread out, almost creeping from exposure to violent winds and the aridity of the soil, also by its whiteness of wood, but still more