Posts Tagged ‘pollarding’

Populus x candicans ‘Aurora’

June 22, 2010

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 ( 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.

Pollarded horse chestnuts

August 3, 2009

I spent a very pleasant afternoon in Worcester the other day, including a visit to the cathedral. I mention this, because it’s possible to walk down from there to the river, along the side of which stands a row of horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum).

With impressive girths, these must be of considerable age – but they have been kept within a reasonable height (say 8m) by pollarding. In other words, the canopy has been regularly cut back, so is now dense and spreading rather than making the usual narrow tiered pyramid.

Leaves of the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Leaves of the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

At this time of year, you would expect to see the trees laden with their conkers still in their distinctive spiny cases. But close inspection revealed none of these – pollarding prevents flowering – so I was able to make an identification only by their handsome, handlike leaves. I have never seen the trees treated in this way, and none of the RHS books I’ve consulted suggest it as a possibility. But it certainly gives food for thought. Under normal circumstances, these trees are far too large for anything but country estates.