Manchester Poplars

We’ve been doing a series of Socially distanced walks – here’s a beautiful response from Roger and Anastasia (thanks to Rae at the Mapping Manchester’s Quiet Spaces blog for putting it together)

Roger and Anastasia sent the following, on their discovery of the beautiful Black Poplar.

Image by Anastasia


Artwork from our trip to Alex Park, 24th September,  which I enjoyed immensely! A combination here of photo’s taken on my phone,  bark rubbing, (the paper was too thick, and I think pastels or charcoal would have been more effective), contour drawing (it’s so hard not to peek at the paper!!), and sketching using Caran D’Ache watercolor crayons:

Roger Howard:

I came across this blog when in Alex Park with Anastasia and Akinyemi. Anastasia and I saw this magnificent tree with deeply fissured bark and I did a quick identification on an app on my phone. From the bark alone, it came up as an oak, but when I looked at the leaves (spade-like ♠️, typical of poplars) I knew what it was. 

I remember reading about “Manchester Poplars”, which thrived at the height of the Industrial Revolution, as they were resistant to pollution and came across this:’s-very-own-tree Anastasia and I attempted bark rubbing, but as the bark was so rough, it was hard to get a good impression, so we played with colours and line. Anastasia has got some fantastic drawings of this tree, so it is great that she’s agreed to share them with us. Akinyemi came later and did some ink and watercolor paintings of trees too. 

This is one of my efforts, but Anastasia has got much more of the range of colours and textures, as you can see above:

Image by Roger Howard

We had a great afternoon in the park and I’d love to repeat it with Pool Arts members and others if we could arrange another date. I know the year is on the decline weather-wise, but we could find the odd day when it’s sunny or at least not raining. Also, the colours will be changing now, so it would be a good opportunity to catch some of those “autumnal hues“ before the leaves fall. 

We all agreed how important it is to our good mental and physical health to have trees around us and to get out and be amongst them. Other trips to other places would satisfy this yearning! Chorlton Meadows, Styal woods, Fletcher Moss, etc, etc. Tree hugging was also touched on (and attempted!) and I remember a trip with Rae to Formby once, where we had microphones to hear their inner processes. 

I also came across this poem, posted on FB by Sue Aunty of Whalley Range All Stars, 

Binsey Poplars

    felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,

   Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,

   All felled, felled, are all felled;

     Of a fresh and following folded rank

                Not spared, not one

                That dandled a sandalled

         Shadow that swam or sank

On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

   O if we but knew what we do

          When we delve or hew—

     Hack and rack the growing green!

           Since country is so tender

     To touch, her being só slender,

     That, like this sleek and seeing ball

     But a prick will make no eye at all,

     Where we, even where we mean

                To mend her we end her,

           When we hew or delve:

After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.

   Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve

      Strokes of havoc únselve

           The sweet especial scene,

      Rural scene, a rural scene,

      Sweet especial rural scene.


Credit: Gerard Manley Hopkins

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