Poplar Trees Saturday February 9, 2013

Considering how much I love trees I know very little about them. I can identify an oak, silver birch, cherry, willow, yew, and poplar. I am currently learning to identify the ash tree because I think there are lots of them on my walks and I half know them for what they are; I just have to pay more attention.

I’m not too keen on poplars. They always seem slightly artificial to me, used as they are to build wind shields and visibility shields. You see them for example beside railway lines and motorways. There are poplars at Chorlton Meadows where I walk regularly, and at the rear of where I live there used to be two of them – there still are two of them – but as you see in this video they’ve now been lopped down to a smaller size. The result is brutal and rather sad. You see in this video a photograph I took of them a few years ago. I’m not too keen on poplars but all trees, as you see in the photograph, have their own beauty:

Poplars in wind are when you see them at their best. Oaks, ash, cherries, birch and yews are squatter trees not blown around so much but solid and resisting, planted, anchored, rooted.

The symbolism of a tree is such that it represents strong roots in the earth, healthy growth above it, and a final reaching for the skies. The tree passes from heaven to earth, earth to heaven, and poplars in the wind are a fine sight: flexing, sighing, flying, flung around and – you imagine – happy and exhilarated to be what they are whatever anyone thinks of them because when they are blown around like this they are the best:

This is a fine place to watch poplars, beside the River Mersey in Manchester, because you are in a dipped area sheltered from the roar of the wind but where you can hear it above you in the trees.