In the beginning
When we moved to the Villas the piece of land behind the house which by no stretch of the imagination could be called a garden had been stripped and flattened by the previous owners (property developers I believe) in preparation for a building project that never happened.
We could see by looking at Google Earth that only a year or so earlier it’d had several outbuildings and more interestingly several trees – mostly fruit trees such as Cherry Plum I think – that had subsequently been chopped down (I honestly don’t think I could bear to cut down a tree – it’s like taking a life and it would break my heart). Anyway, this is what we were faced with at the beginning of our gardening journey.
Over the following two or three years we designed and laid out the area to our satisfaction with raised beds and lawns but I couldn’t help feeling something was missing. Then I had a moment that alcoholics refer to as clarity – it needed some height! So early one Sunday morning I settled down on the internet and started researching trees.
I didn’t want anything too pretty or blatantly ornamental (I’m just not that kind of person) but something architectural and striking that wouldn’t cast too much of a shadow – a bit of a tall order perhaps? Then I discovered on a Sunday newspaper site an article about unusual trees suitable for gardens, that sung the praises of Poplar Tremula Erecta – a fast grower with branches that grow upwards instead of outwards that is a smaller version of the common Poplar (of which there are many growing wild in Broadland Norfolk). The Tremula bit of its name describes the rustling sound its small heart shaped leaves make in the breeze.
I located a tree nursery in nearby Cambridgeshire that stocked them and put in an order for a five year old tree that was already ten feet tall – I wanted instant results and decided it was worth every penny of the £160 it cost to get them.
Now standing proudly in the centre of our Secret Garden, the tree’s been in the ground now for eighteen months and is flourishing. We’ve watched it change through all four seasons and are delighted with our purchase. It seems to be loving the slightly heavy soil we have at the Villas and has no doubt tapped into our relatively shallow water table.
I referred to its small heart shaped leaves earlier which brings me to my final point – a bit of a mystery, in fact. Last week I noticed at the top of the tree a second leader seems to be growing . Its red leaves indicate it is very new growth while the rest of the leaves on the tree have long since turned green but stranger than that, the leaves are huge by comparison. I have taken a photo and plan to email the nursery that it came from to ask their opinion. My worry is this – could it possibly be reverting to a common Poplar? I’ll keep you posted.