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Variety In Materials, Color, and Texture

Very few people have any conception of the multitudinous species and varieties of trees, shrubs, climbers, flowering and foliage plants at the command of the horticultural architect. With twenty sorts of maples, and as many oaks; with poplars in all shapes and sizes; with dozens of varieties of lilacs, scores of spiraeas and hundreds of roses; with evergreens and deciduous trees; fastigiate and weeping trees; dark-colored and yellow trees; broad-leaved and cut-leaved trees; big trees and little trees; with other trees, shrubs, climbers and hardy plants literally "too numerous to mention," the gardener need never want for variety of material. To know these resources and to understand the possibilities of each species and variety is to master the landscape gardener's useful alphabet.

"From the artistic point of view, trees have three characteristics which may be separately studied,— form, texture and color."* We have already noticed the general variety in forms available to the landscape gardener; but it is worth while, in the present connection, to emphasize the attractive variety of forms which meet the admiration of the tree lover. The form of a tree is its first and most evident characteristic. Its outline is always beautiful, either in its symmetry or its irregularity, as the case may be; and the man who does not notice the difference between the form of a Sugar maple and a Mossy Cup oak is one to whom l'Angelus might as well have been a chromo.

There are considerable contrasts of color among trees. One may cite as examples the Red oak, the Silver poplar and the Golden willow. But the most pleasing and numerous varieties of color in trees and shrubs are separated from each other as barely distinguishable tints. The proper combination of these tints is delicate work for a sympathetic and artistic mind; but there is, nevertheless, a wide difference between good combinations and bad ones.

The difference between a strip of mosquito netting and a piece of sail cloth is chiefly one of texture. We speak of texture oftenest in connection with woven fabrics, and in that connection we best understand what it means. But it is not a difficult matter to transfer this notion of texture to the apparent solidity, or lack of solidity, in the mass of green which the foliage of any tree may present. A plane tree is not greatly different in form from a Kentucky coffee tree, and yet what a difference in the effect they have on the observer! Compare a catalpa with a honey locust; a tulip tree with a willow. What a difference in the whole aspect of the trees contrasted! These examples may, perhaps, suggest the meaning of Mrs. Van Rensselaer's definition: "By texture of a tree I mean the character of its masses of foliage as determined by the manner of growth of the lighter spray, and the number, shape, disposition and tissue of its leaves." In no other quality of a tree is variety more effective than in the texture. Some striking differences of texture in foliage are shown in Fig. 16.

*Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer, "Art Out of Doors."


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