London plane tree project

As a Londoner, born and bred I’ve always been both surrounded and entranced by the London plane tree. With their dramatic camouflage trunks allowing them to survive the London grime, their majestic canopies in summer, and their beautiful delicately balanced seed display in winter which outstrip any over-dressed Christmas tree, they steal any show. 

 

But I’ve always wondered why there are never any baby plane trees to be seen. Year after year I’ve collected the seeds, separated the little parachutes and planted them, never with any success. Last year I planted them in my own compost and was very excited when lots of seedlings appeared, all of which turned out to be tomatoes.

During our first lockdown, on 3rd April 2019, a few days after the first leaf appeared this spring, I started to draw the finest of the four remaining survivors everyday. Had I given it any thought, I’d never have started the project. What took 10 minutes a day ended up taking one and a half hours. It grew from 15cm to 46cm and I kept having to buy bigger and bigger and more and more pads of paper. I set myself the task of drawing the tree every day until its last leaf dropped, which happened on 24.11.20, leaving me wth 213 drawings. Had we not been in lockdown, I’d have had a party.

 

I have donated all the drawings to the Garden Museum to help them recoup what they have lost in the

pandemic.