Another native Black Poplar has been planted in Poplar – the part of the Borough that drew its name from a time when this now rare species was plentiful. It happened as part of an event organised by the parish churches of All Saints and St.Nicholas which, after a gap of over 100 years, reintroduced the ancient practice of Beating the Parish Bounds. This was a ceremony traditionally held at ‘Rogationtide’ – which normally falls in May – when priest and people would process around the parish perimeters asking for God’s blessing on the crops, and on the place and its people.
Since the Poplar boundaries run for some seven miles, stretching from the Limehouse Cut in the north to Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs in the south, the walk was a considerable undertaking. Nonetheless nearly 50 people took part in all or some of it with the youngest person completing the entire route being six years old, and the oldest 83. The walk ended in the large churchyard of All Saints, just off the East India Dock Road, where the formal planting of the poplar took place. The tree was kindly donated by the Hackney Tree Nursery and had originated from a parent tree in Suffolk. This contributes to a target in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan to plant 25 Black Poplars by 2019. The Council planted 17 Black Poplars in parks last winter.
It has been regularly watered and tended since its planting and to date is doing well. Bob Gilbert, who arranged the tree planting, adds “Last time I visited, a colony of ants had built their nest in its roots and were climbing up and down the tree to ‘farm’ some newly arrived aphids. Clearly, it has already become part of the local ecology!”