There are so many leaves on London’s streets at the moment. Lots of different colours and shapes. Some of them are so large that you look up expecting to find some huge specimen from which it has fallen, but instead you find yourself under a not particularly tall London plane. Platanus × acerifolia is our most popular street tree, a gift from the Goddess to London and many other urban areas. It works so well for us here, where other trees falter, clearing and withstanding pollution by shedding bark, and coping with limited root space and changeable conditions, to give us all the things that trees can, like shade, beauty and oxygen. Currently, the fallen leaves as well as those still hanging, brighten up the wet, dirty, grey streets with big, broad, palm-like leaves, that turn to yellows at this time of the year.
Amy Levy (1861-1889) included this poem as part of her collection A London Plane‐Tree and other Verse published in 1889, the year of her premature death. A young pioneering, creative woman, who appreciated what this tree gives us in London.
A London Plane‐Tree by Amy Levy
GREEN is the plane‐tree in the square,
The other trees are brown ;
They droop and pine for country air ;
The plane‐tree loves the town.
Here from my garret‐pane, I mark
The plane‐tree bud and blow,
Shed her recuperative bark,
And spread her shade below.
Among her branches, in and out,
The city breezes play ;
The dun fog wraps her round about ;
Above, the smoke curls grey.
Others the country take for choice,
And hold the town in scorn ;
But she has listened to the voice
On city breezes borne.