Populus x candicans ‘Aurora’

Some plants I have learnt to love only relatively recently, a case in point being this poplar. Its distinguishing feature is its leaves, which are not variegated in the conventional way – with an edging of white, cream or yellow – but liberally spattered over their entire upper surface with cream spots and blotches.

The leaves of Populus x candicans 'Aurora' are extravagantly splashed with white and cream

Previously I thought they gave the tree a diseased appearance. But having come across an avenue of strictly pollarded specimens in the Haddonstone show garden (www.haddonstone.com) in nearby East Haddon, I now think they are rather pretty.

The pair I acquired only recently have been giving me cause for concern, in that the young leaves are plain green. It is only as they are expanding that they are starting to show their characteristic markings. They repay study, as no two are exactly alike.

Pollarding – a technique that involves ruthlessly cutting back the crown every year (or every other year) – is entirely appropriate therefore. It makes sure that all the leaves are at, or just above, eye level.

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