Black poplars prove popular

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SIR David Attenborough and Mursley resident Roger Jefcoate CBE recently presented young black poplar trees to the mayors of all thirty-two London boroughs to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; he grew these at his home following a request from the Greater London Lord-Lieutenant and former Lord Mayor Sir David Brewer.

Roger discussed this project with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh last year at Sandringham while planting his Mursley black poplars there.

The black poplar (populus nigra betufolia) is Britain’s rarest native timber tree, once common and widespread in England and Wales; most lowland villages had some, being so useful for farming, building and other needs, but now only a few thousand remain nationwide and they are not reproducing naturally.

Aylesbury Vale has half the national population of these fine landscape trees, outranking even the oak and ash in size and splendour, often reaching one hundred feet tall and sixty feet across. Aylesbury Vale District Council’s bio-diversity team works hard to promote this beautiful tree locally, also hosting meetings of the UK Black Poplar Conservation Group, which Roger co-founded.

For over thirty-five years Roger has grown and planted hundreds of black poplars throughout Britain, many in prominent places like Royal parks in London and Windsor, Buckingham Palace, Sandringham, Gatcombe, Lambeth Palace, Chequers, and Salisbury Cathedral to replace those painted by John Constable. In London Roger created a special Royal Jubilee black poplar nursery in Holland Park in conjunction with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where the tree presentations took place.

There are fine mature black poplars along the River Ouzel near the Open University, where Roger has planted many more; also the Parks Trust has planted several from Roger’s cuttings along the Great Ouse near Stony Stratford and Wolverton, and Roger has planted along the Ouse near Lavendon. There is a very large tree by the river near Haversham, also near North Crawley and Calverton, and five large trees near the south end of V10 near Bletchley.