Words by Jessica Peace
It’s one of Mamma Nature’s biggest anti-pollution machines in Blighty, and although it’s giving us hay fever hell right now, we salute the London Plane tree.
Clapham born Victorian Amy Levy was a poet, feminist, lover of Vernon Lee and the London Plane tree. In her poem, Levy distills the London Plane as the beautiful, city lovin’ beast we adore:
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.
‘A London Plane-Tree’ (1889)